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Colorado Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki named MLS Rookie of the Year

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki is the 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year, the league announced Tuesday.

Shinyashiki was one of three finalists for the award, a list that included midfielders Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union) and Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United).

“It’s such an honor,” Shinyashiki said, via the club’s website. “Going against guys that are such high quality, like Hassani and Aaronson, and for me to win the award, not necessarily over them but together, is good because those guys are very quality players and to come out on top and win is amazing and a dream come true.”

Read: Pro Soccer USA’s 2019 MLS Awards

The Brazilian tallied seven goals and three assists in 31 appearances (18 starts for Colorado) in his rookie campaign. Colorado selected Shinyashiki fifth overall in the 2019 SuperDraft, moving up in the draft to select the University of Denver product.

Read: ‘Always a top target’: Colorado Rapids draft pick Andre Shinyashiki pays dividends

“We couldn’t be more proud of Andre’s achievement,” Rapids executive VP & GM Padraig Smith said in a statement. “It’s a testament not just to his natural talent, but also to his strong work ethic and mentality. He was a key figure in our club’s turnaround this year and we’re excited to see him build on this year’s performances and become a key contributor for us in 2020 and beyond.”

Shinyashiki becomes the first Rapids’ player to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award since midfielder Dillon Powers won it in 2013 as a co-finalist with teammate Deshorn Brown. He becomes only the fifth non-MLS domestic player (USA & Canada) to win it and the second Brazilian to win the award since Rodrigo Faria with the Metrostars in 2001.

The post Colorado Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki named MLS Rookie of the Year appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Pro Soccer USA’s 2019 MLS Awards

The 2019 Major League Soccer regular season featured single-season records in the golden boot and Supporters’ Shield race, and 10 teams eclipsed 50 points. 

The best individual performers were scattered across the league, and that is shown in our Pro Soccer USA MLS awards balloting. 

On the ballots we received from our beat writers across MLS, 30 different players were mentioned in best XI voting and only one award was unanimous. 

Our voting group included Julian Cardillo, Dan Santaromita, Chris Fuhrmeister, Dylan Butler, Glenn Crooks, Laura Gomez, Robert Jonas, Tristan D’Amours and Arman Kafai. 

Most Valuable Player

Carlos Vela, Los Angeles FC

LAFC forward Carlos Vela (10) scores a goal against LA Galaxy in the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Vela was the only unanimous award winner. 

The Mexican broke Josef Martínez’s single-season scoring record with 34 tallies, and he also provided Los Angeles FC with 15 assists. 

Vela closed the regular season with a nine-game scoring streak, including a hat-trick on decision day versus Colorado.

Coach of the Year 

Bob Bradley, Los Angeles FC 

Mar 4, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Los Angeles FC head coach Bob Bradley walks off the pitch after the game against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Los Angeles defeated Seattle 1-0. (Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports)

More than half of our writers believed Bob Bradley’s job with LAFC was the best of the season. 

Bradley’s second-year side won the Supporters’ Shield with 72 points from a 21-4-9 record. 

The Black and Gold outscored opponents 85-37, notching the most goals and conceding the fewest in MLS. 

LAFC has home-field advantage throughout the postseason, and it should be on a mission to win MLS Cup after falling to Real Salt Lake in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Others Receiving Votes: Matías Almeyda, San Jose Earthquakes; Bruce Arena, New England Revolution; Domènec Torrent, New York City FC

Newcomer of the Year

Carles Gil, New England Revolution

Sep 25, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil (22) scores a goal on a penalty kick against the Portland Timbers during the second half at Providence Park. The game ended tied 2-2. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

Carles Gil was one of the most consistent attackers over 34 games. 

The Spaniard tallied 10 goals and 14 assists in his first season with New England after joining from Deportivo La Coruña in Spain.

After New England acquired forward Gustavo Bou, Gil enjoyed even more success, including a stretch over the summer with a goal and an assist in four of five matches. 

Others Receiving Votes: Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto FC; Héber, New York City; Brian Fernández, Portland Timbers

Rookie of the Year 

Brenden Aaronson, Philadelphia Union

Jul 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson (22) in action against the Chicago Fire at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Brenden Aaronson’s MLS career began with a March 17 start at Atlanta United. By October, Aaronson earned his first United States men’s national team call-up.

The 18-year-old homegrown midfielder totaled three goals and two assists over 1,722 minutes and was one of a few players who displaced Marco Fabián from the Union lineup.

Aaronson started six of the Union’s past seven games and is in contention to make Jim Curtin’s XI for the Eastern Conference first-round clash with the New York Red Bulls

Others Receiving Votes: Andre Shinyashiki, Colorado Rapids; Hassani Dotson, Minnesota United

Defender of the Year

Ike Opara, Minnesota United

Sep 11, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) controls the ball as Houston Dynamo midfielder Tomas Martinez (10) defends during the second half at BBVA Compass Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

The hefty amount of allocation money Minnesota United used to trade for Ike Opara was well spent. 

The former Sporting Kansas City center back helped the Loons earn their first playoff berth and the third-best defensive record in the Western Conference. 

In the second half of the season, the Loons recorded six clean sheets, including shutouts of LAFC, New England and Portland, twice. 

Others Receiving Votes: Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC; Eddie Segura, LAFC

Goalkeeper of the Year 

Vito Mannone, Minnesota United

Sep 1, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone (1) defends the goal against the LAFC in the second half at Banc of California Stadium. Minnesota United defeated LAFC 2-0. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Vito Mannone secured many goalkeeper of the year votes with his performances in the final weeks of the regular season. 

The 31-year-old recorded 15 wins, 11 shutouts and 129 saves in Minnesota’s best campaign since it joined MLS. After Sept. 1, the former Arsenal man turned away 39 of the 45 shots he faced.

Others Receiving Votes: Bill Hamid, D.C. United; Matt Turner, New England Revolution

Best XI (3-4-3) 

Goalkeeper: Vito Mannone

Mannone received the majority of our staff votes, while Matt Turner and Bill Hamid split a pair each. 

Defenders: Ike Opara, Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson 

Thirteen defenders in a variety of formations were nominated by our writers, but Opara, Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson were constant figures on the ballots. 

Zimmerman helped LAFC earn the best defensive mark in MLS, and Robinson took a major step up under Frank de Boer and earned his first USMNT call-ups from Gregg Berhalter.

FC Dallas‘ Ryan Hollingshead and New York City FC’s Anton Tinnerholm also received multiple votes. LAFC’s Eddie Segura and Jordan Harvey, Seattle’s Brad Smith, FC Dallas’ Reto Ziegler, NYCFC’s Maxime Chanot, Kai Wagner of Philadelphia and D.C.’s Frederic Brillant all had a single vote. 

Midfielders: Maxi Moralez, Alejandro Pozuelo, Eduard Atuesta, Carles Gil 

Assists leader Maxi Moralez was on every best XI ballot we received. 

Pozuelo, Eduard Atuesta and Gil were on more than half of the nomination sheets, which created a significant gap between them and the other potential honorees. 

Pozuelo and Gil were two of four players with 10-plus goals and assists, Moralez played a hand in 27 of NYCFC’s 63 goals and Atuesta was a dominant force behind LAFC’s record-setting attack.

LAFC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye, Philadelphia’s Haris Medunjanin, the Portland duo of Diego Chará and Diego Valeri as well as Atlanta’s Darlington Nagbe also received best XI midfield votes. 

Forwards: Carlos Vela, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Josef Martínez

The top three scorers in MLS were the only forwards our writers chose for the best XI.

Vela, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Josef Martinez scored 91 goals between them. 

The gap between Martínez in third (27) and Diego Rossi in fourth (16) was 11 goals, and only three other strikers reached the 15-tally mark. 

The post Pro Soccer USA’s 2019 MLS Awards appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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Colorado Rapids willing to spend over $1 million to get Columbus Crew CB Lalas Abubakar

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Colorado Rapids are making a big push to acquire center back Lalas Abubakar from the Columbus Crew. Abubakar joined the Rapids on loan this season and was named the club’s defender of the year. The loan move cost Colorado $125,000 in targeted allocation money, and the Rapids are willing to spend over $1 million in assets to acquire Abubakar permanently, sources told Pro Soccer USA. The assets would be a mixture of targeted allocation money (TAM) and general allocation money (GAM).

Colorado is one of several teams interested in Abubakar, according to a Crew spokesperson, who would not confirm specific bid amounts.

The Rapids’ original loan deal did not include an option to buy at the end of the season, but Abubakar endeared himself to the Rapids community with his personality and style of play. Speaking to Ghanaian outlet Zuria FM, Abubakar stated that he wants to stay in Colorado, but he knows Columbus wants him back.

A Rapids spokesperson would not confirm specifics but said, “I can confirm that Lalas is one of our offseason targets. He integrated himself well with the group in such a short amount time and was a solid contributor to our back line, so we’re hopeful we can bring him back next season.”

The current record fee for an intra-MLS defender transfer is $1 million, paid by Minnesota United to acquire Ike Opara from Sporting Kansas City before this season. The Rapids are willing to break that record for Abubakar.

Should the Crew accept the offer, it will give them the largest reported allocation-money transfers in league history for MLS SuperDraft picks on both offense and defense. Abubakar was the fifth-overall pick in the 2017 draft. Columbus also set a record when it transferred Justin Meram, the 15th-overall pick in 2011, to Orlando City SC for $1.05 million in 2018. 

The post Colorado Rapids willing to spend over $1 million to get Columbus Crew CB Lalas Abubakar appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Ben Ferree, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Power Rankings Week 31: Toronto FC surges into top 10

The MLS regular season came to a dramatic end on Decision Day and, along with it, comes the final Pro Soccer USA MLS Power Rankings of the 2019 season.

It’s no surprise the top two seeds in each conference — LAFC and NYCFC — top the Week 31 power rankings. Toronto FC, which ended the regular season on a 10-game unbeaten streak and earned a first-round playoff home game following a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew SC, made the biggest leap, advancing five spots to No. 7.

The Portland Timbers and FC Dallas, which both needed wins to clinch their postseason berths, each made four-spot positive advancement, while the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls both dropped four spots after disappointing Decision Day defeats.

The Major League Soccer Power Rankings are created by averaging the rankings submitted by a committee of Pro Soccer USA’s editors and writers.

(1) Los Angeles Football Club (21-4-9, 72 points): Carlos Vela claimed the Golden Boot emphatically with a hat trick and LAFC set a new MLS record for points in a regular season following a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. (2) New York City FC (18-6-10, 64 points): Ronald Matarrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored inside the opening half hour to help lead NYCFC to a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union. No team is hotter down the stretch (7-1-2) than the East’s top seed. (4) Atlanta United FC (18-12-4, 58 points): Julian Gressel had a goal and assist and Josef Martinez returned from injury to score in a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. The Five Stripes went 3-1-1 in their last five games. (6) Seattle Sounders FC (16-10-8, 56 points): Roman Torres scored the lone goal as the Sounders clinched the second seed in the West, beating Minnesota Untied for their second consecutive 1-0 victory to end the season. (5) Philadelphia Union (16-11-7, 55 points): The boos rained down at halftime and although the Union rallied to pull within a goal in an inspired second half, they ended the regular season with consecutive defeats. (3) Minnesota United FC (15-11-8, 53 points): The bad news for the Loons is they won just one of their final four regular season games, ending with a 1-0 loss to Seattle. The good news? Their first-ever MLS Cup playoff game is at Allianz Field vs. the Galaxy. (12) Toronto FC (13-10-11, 50 points): Alejandro Pozuelo’s second-half free kick was the difference for Toronto FC in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew which helped the Reds move up to fourth in the East and clinch a home playoff game. (10) Real Salt Lake (16-13-5, 53 points): It’s back-to-back wins for Real Salt Lake, which defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 courtesy of a Damir Kreilach headed goal in the 28th minute. They are home in the first round against the Timbers, who handed them one of four losses at RioT. (7) D.C. United (13-10-11, 50 points): The good news is D.C. United didn’t concede a goal over the course of the final five games of the regular season. But failing to score in a regular season finale against FC Cincinnati cost them a home game. (14) Portland Timbers (14-13-7, 49 points): The Timbers needed a win on Decision Day and they got one, beating the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 to extend an unbeaten streak to four consecutive games to end the regular season. (15) FC Dallas (13-12-9, 48 points): What an emphatic way to book a playoff berth as FC Dallas crushed Sporting Kansas City 6-0 on Decision Day. Zdenek Ondrasek struck for a brace in the victory. (8) LA Galaxy (16-15-3, 51 points): The Galaxy are leaking goals at the most inopportune time, conceding a combined eight goals in consecutive defeats to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Houston Dynamo, a pair of teams that missed the playoffs. (9) New York Red Bulls (14-14-6, 48 points): The Red Bulls had an outside shot at a first-round home game, but that went out the window with another decisive defeat in Montreal. The Red Bulls lost five of their final 10 games of the season and haven’t scored in consecutive games. (11) New England Revolution (11-11-12, 45 points): Cristian Penilla leveled five minutes after Darlington Nagbe’s opening goal, but the Revs conceded twice in an eight-minute span early in the second half in a 3-1 loss to Atlanta, their opponent in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs. (13) Colorado Rapids (12-16-6, 42 points): The Rapids needed a win, and some help, to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs. That didn’t happen with a 3-1 ouster at LAFC. Winning five of their last seven was impressive. (17) Chicago Fire (10-12-12, 42 points): The Fire missed the playoffs, but they ended the regular season on a high note, beating Orlando City SC, 5-2, to extend an unbeaten streak to five straight games. (16) San Jose Earthquakes (13-16-5, 44 points): The Earthquakes needed a Decision Day win to book a playoff spot, but they fell to the Timbers 3-1. Their season ended with six straight defeats. (18) Columbus Crew SC (10-16-8, 38 points): The Crew saw their five-match unbeaten streak snapped with a 1-0 Decision Day loss to Toronto FC. But for the first time since 2016, Columbus has missed out on the playoffs. (19) Montreal Impact (12-17-5, 41 points): There’s questions abound about the future of Nacho Piatti and others, but the Impact gave their home fans one last thrill with a convincing 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. Bojan, Maxi Urruti and Orji Okwonkwo scored a goal apiece. (23) Houston Dynamo (12-18-4, 40 points): DaMarcus Beasley closed out his stellar career in fine fashion as the Dynamo defeated the Galaxy, 4-2. Christian Ramirez scored a brace and Alberth Elis had one goal and two assists. (20) Orlando City SC (9-15-10, 37 points): Another season that ended without a playoff berth was capped by a decisive defeat to the Chicago Fire. The Lions fell 5-2 at home and, a day later, James O’Connor was fired as head coach. (22) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8-16-10, 34 points): After three consecutive matches without a loss, the Whitecaps season ended with a 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake. How much will the roster be overhauled again. (21) Sporting Kansas City (10-16-8, 38 points): And the award for most disappointing Decision Day defeat went to Sporting Kansas City, which conceded six goals without response in a blowout loss to playoff-bound FC Dallas. (24) FC Cincinnati (6-22-6, 24 points): Despite finishing the match with nine men, FC Cincinnati managed to earn a 0-0 season-ending draw at D.C. United. Their expansion season finished with three consecutive draws and three clean sheets in their final five games.

Pro Soccer USA writers Dylan Butler, Chris Fuhrmeister, Robert Jonas and Emily Olsen contributed to this report.

The post MLS Power Rankings Week 31: Toronto FC surges into top 10 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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LAFC sets records on Decision Day, eliminates Colorado Rapids from playoff picture

Despite having its No. 1 playoff seeding and the 2019 Supporters Shield secured, Los Angeles FC opted for a strong starting lineup as it looked to add another mark: the all-time record for points in an MLS season. It was also an opportunity for LAFC striker Carlos Vela to break the all-time record for goals scored in a season.

LAFC broke both.

Bob Bradley’s side defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-1 at Banc of California Stadium, snuffing out the slim chance the Rapids at making the playoffs entering Major League Soccer’s Decision Day.

With the win, LAFC set an all-time record of 72 points for the season and Vela’s hat trick gave the Mexican International 34 regular-season goals. Josef Martinez held the previous record after scoring 30 goals in 2018.

Vela opened the scoring with a laser from outside the 18-yard box into the upper 90, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute. Moments later, Vela made it 2-0, collecting a pass from Tristan Blackmon inside the six-yard box, spinning and then hitting a bicycle kick to score the brace.

It was indicative of the offensive pressure Colorado had absorbed for the opening half hour. But in the 40th minute, the Rapids pulled a goal back. Kei Kamara’s header off a Diego Rubio cross helped Colorado pull the score to 2-1 before halftime.

LAFC extended its lead again and Vela completed a hat trick by slotting home a low cross from Blackmon for a 3-1 advantage in the 51st minute.

In the 65th minute, LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman collided with Kamara and sustained a head injury, prompting his substitution for Lee Nguyen in the 70th minute.

LAFC closed out the win and ended the match outshooting its opponent 15-10 while holding 64 percent possession.

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With the loss, Colorado’s season comes to a close and the 3-1 result will stand as goalkeeper Tim Howard’s final match as a player. The 40-year-old tallied two saves in the effort.

As the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed entering the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, LAFC will play its next match on either Oct. 23 or 24, hosting the winner of the first-round match between No. 4 seed Minnesota United and No. 5 seed LA Galaxy, a series which will take place the weekend of Oct. 19.

The post LAFC sets records on Decision Day, eliminates Colorado Rapids from playoff picture appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Decision Day playoff scenarios

Eleven of the 12 games to be played on Decision Day have playoff implications. 

In the Eastern Conference, all seven playoff teams are locked in, but there could be a change in positioning between No. 2 and No. 3, as well as No. 4 through No. 7. 

The excitement grows when you look to the Western Conference, where four teams are fighting for the final two berths. 

Portland and San Jose square off with each other, while FC Dallas needs a win to get in and Colorado requires help along with three points. 

Below is a look at every Decision Day game and how it affects the playoff race. All games are scheduled to kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET. 

Eastern Conference 

New England Revolution at Atlanta United

Sep 29, 2019; Montreal, Quebec: Montreal Impact midfielder Samuel Piette (6) and Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) battle for the ball at Stade Saputo.(Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta controls the No. 2 seed in the East.

With a win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Five Stripes beat out Philadelphia on the wins tiebreaker and land on the opposite end of the bracket as top seed New York City FC. 

New England’s ceiling is sixth place. A road win combined with a Toronto FC loss would move Bruce Arena’s team up from seventh to sixth. 

If the Revs win and TFC draws with Columbus, they would have to outscore the Toronto by 10 goals to win the goal-differential tiebreaker. In this situation, both sides would be even on 12 wins. 

FC Cincinnati at D.C. United

Sep 29, 2019; Harrison, NJ; D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (24) makes save against New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

A win secures a home playoff game at Audi Field for D.C. United. That match could be against rival New York Red Bulls. 

Anything other than three points complicates the hosting picture for Ben Olsen’s side. D.C. United would drop to sixth place if it somehow loses to FC Cincinnati and the Red Bulls and Toronto win.

If D.C. loses, the Red Bulls tie Montreal and Toronto stumbles, then Chris Armas’ side earns the No. 4 seed by tiebreaker for number of wins.

New York Red Bulls at Montreal Impact

Sep 29, 2019; Harrison, NJ; New York Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr (23) plays the ball against D.C. United during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Bulls need help from FC Cincinnati to earn a postseason contest at Red Bull Arena. 

A win over Montreal and a D.C. victory leaves New York in fifth place with a first-round matchup in the nation’s capital. If D.C. loses and the Red Bulls win or draw, Chris Armas’ side lands the No. 4 seed. 

A loss or draw could allow Toronto to swoop in for the No. 5 seed. If the Red Bulls and Toronto end level on points, the Red Bulls hold the wins tiebreaker and are ahead by one in goal differential. 

New York City FC at Philadelphia Union

Sep 22, 2019; Harrison, NJ; Philadelphia Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin (6) plays the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Josh Sims (20) at Red Bull Arena. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Philadelphia needs a win and help from New England to leap over Atlanta for the No. 2 seed. 

If the Union don’t get that assistance, a win is still imperative for possible Concacaf Champions League qualification. 

If LAFC (Supporters’ Shield), NYCFC (first in East) or Atlanta (U.S. Open Cup) win MLS Cup, the team with the fourth-most points in MLS receives the final CCL bid. 

Jim Curtin’s side is two points ahead of Seattle and Minnesota going into Decision Day. 

Columbus Crew at Toronto FC 

Sep 29, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto FC defender Omar Gonzalez (44) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire at SeatGeek Stadium. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto’s best-case scenario is landing the No. 4 spot and a home playoff game. 

However, that is unlikely since D.C. is expected to take care of business versus FC Cincinnati, but strange things have happened on Decision Days past. 

With some help from Canadian rival Montreal, the Reds could leapfrog the Red Bulls for the No. 5 spot and a meeting with D.C. on either Oct. 19 or 20. 

If D.C., the Red Bulls and Toronto FC all win, then TFC remains in sixth place and in line for a road trip to Philadelphia. 

Chicago Fire at Orlando City

No playoff implications. Both teams are eliminated. 

Western Conference

Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas

Sep 29, 2019; Commerce City, CO; FC Dallas midfielder Bryan Acosta (8) controls the ball in the first half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Three games in the West will decide the final two playoff berths. 

FC Dallas sits in seventh place with 45 points, one point ahead of the San Jose Earthquakes and three points above the Colorado Rapids. A victory over already-eliminated Sporting Kansas City puts Luchi Gonzalez’s team in the postseason. 

FC Dallas also qualifies with a San Jose loss or draw, or through losses by both San Jose and Colorado. A victory combined with an Earthquakes win sets up FC Dallas with the No. 6 seed. A draw requires a Portland win and Colorado loss, or a draw between San Jose and Portland at Providence Park, which would leave the Quakes one point short. 

If Gonzalez’s side somehow loses, it could be in trouble if San Jose pulls out three points from Cascadia. But if the Quakes and Rapids both fall as well, FC Dallas gets in. 

San Jose Earthquakes at Portland Timbers

Sep 29, 2019; San Jose, CA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas (6) controls the ball against the Seattle Sounders during the second half at Avaya Stadium. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Simply put, this is a win-and-get-in game.

Portland clinches the No. 6 seed and a possible playoff showdown with the Sounders by earning all three points. Last year’s MLS Cup runner-up can also get in by way of a FC Dallas loss or draw. 

If Matias Almeyda’s side earns a single point in Oregon, it gets in with losses by FC Dallas and Colorado, or a FC Dallas defeat combined with a Rapids win by one goal over LAFC. 

Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles FC 

Sep 29, 2019; Commerce City, CO; Colorado Rapids midfielder Andre Shinyashiki (99) controls the ball as FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon (2) defends at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s your Root for Chaos situation. 

The Rapids make the playoffs with a win at Banc of California Stadium and losses by FC Dallas and San Jose. They could also make it through a three-goal triumph over LAFC, a FC Dallas loss and a San Jose tie.

If the Rapids win by two goals, FC Dallas loses and San Jose ties, then Robin Fraser’s side gets in because of the goals scored tiebreaker. 

LA Galaxy at Houston Dynamo 

September 29, 2019; Carson, CA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Chris Pontius (12) celebrates with forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) his goal scored against Vancouver Whitecaps at StubHub Center. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

The LA Galaxy need three points to lock up one of the first-round hosting spots in the West. 

A win combined with a draw between Seattle and Minnesota would give the Galaxy in the No. 2 seed and set up a collision course for an El Trafico in the Western Conference final. 

A draw and a Real Salt Lake draw would keep the Galaxy in fourth place. A loss and a Real Salt Lake win would send the Galaxy to fifth. 

Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps

Sep 29, 2019; Sandy, UT; Real Salt Lake players celebrate forward with Jefferson Savarino (7) after his second half goal against the Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

Real Salt Lake could jump as high as third if a certain scenario plays out. 

That includes a win, a Galaxy loss or tie to the Houston Dynamo and a loss by either Seattle or Minnesota United. That would land RSL third place with more wins than Sounders or Loons. 

If a draw occurs in Seattle and the Galaxy win, RSL will be stuck in the No. 5 position, one point back of the three-way tie on 54 points. 

Minnesota United at Seattle Sounders

Sep 18, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris (13) dribbles against FC Dallas during the second half at CenturyLink Field. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

A draw allows both Minnesota and Seattle to host a playoff game, but they may drop a spot in the standings depending on the Galaxy. 

If there is a winner at CenturyLink Field, it gets the No. 2 seed in the West.

The loser could be in danger of dropping to No. 5 if RSL and the Galaxy win because RSL would have one more win if they tied at 53 points. 

Both teams will also have an eye on the Union. If Philadelphia ties NYCFC, a Minnesota win would vault them into fourth place in the Supporters’ Shield on goal differential, which would make them the first choice for the Concacaf Champions League if LAFC, NYCFC or Atlanta win MLS Cup. 

The post MLS Decision Day playoff scenarios appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Power Rankings Week 30: Minnesota United moves up to No. 3

The final week of the MLS regular season is upon us, which means there’s one more week for team to move up, or down, the Pro Soccer USA power rankings.

Week 30 of the regular season brought the expected drama, with teams clinching playoff berths and Concacaf Champions League spots. But what does it mean in our power rankings?

Minnesota United, following a draw with Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC, moved up two spots to No. 3, while the Colorado Rapids made the biggest noise, jumping four places after a stunning 3-0 win over FC Dallas that kept their slim playoff hopes alive.

The Major League Soccer Power Rankings are created by averaging the rankings submitted by a committee of Pro Soccer USA’s editors and writers.

(1) Los Angeles Football Club (20-4-9, 69 points): Carlos Vela tied the MLS single-season scoring record and LAFC secured the Supporters’ Shield in a four-point week. (2) New York City FC (17-6-10, 61 points): Alexandru Mitrita struck for a hat trick in a 4-1 win over Atlanta, which was followed by a 2-0 loss at New England. But NYCFC still clinched first in the East. (5) Minnesota United (15-10-8, 53 points): After a win at Banc of California Stadium, the Loons tied LAFC 1-1 at Allianz Field with Michael Boxall heading in the equalizer. (3) Atlanta United (17-12-4, 55 points): A 1-1 draw in Montreal followed that stunning loss in the Bronx for Atlanta, which can still finish second in the East. (4) Philadelphia Union (16-10-7, 55 points): An emotional rally in the midweek against Portland was followed by a flat performance in a 2-0 loss at Columbus. (8) Seattle Sounders FC (15-10-8, 53 points): Jordan Morris struck for the 94th-minute winner in a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes that moved the Sounders level on points with second-place Minnesota ahead of a tasty Decision Day clash. (6) D.C. United (13-10-10, 49 points): D.C. United made it four consecutive clean sheets with a 0-0 draw against the rival Red Bulls, giving Ben Olsen’s side the edge to finish fourth place in the East. (7) LA Galaxy (16-14-3, 51 points): The Galaxy were brought back to earth a bit with a shocking 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. A similar result against Houston on Decision Day could bounce them from a home playoff game. (9) New York Red Bulls (14-13-6, 48 points): The Red Bulls haven’t conceded a goal in three games, but they failed to score against D.C. United and it might cost them a home playoff game. (11) Real Salt Lake (15-13-5, 50 points): Jefferson Savarino scored the 75th-minute winner in Nick Rimando’s final regular season game at Rio Tinto Stadium. The victory over the Dynamo also clinched a playoff spot. (13) New England Revolution (11-10-12, 45 points): Gustavo Bou scored a beauty of a chip and Matt Turner was a beast as the Revs defeated NYCFC 2-0 to clinch a playoff berth. (10) Toronto FC (12-10-11, 47 points): Omar Gonzalez headed in the equalizer in the 80th minute as Toronto FC drew the Chicago Fire to extend an unbeaten streak to 10 matches. (16) Colorado Rapids (12-15-6, 42 points): The Rapids are still alive thanks to a 3-0 win over FC Dallas, their fourth victory in their last five games. Colorado needs a win at LAFC, a bit of help, to clinch an unlikely playoff berth. (14) Portland Timbers (13-13-7, 46 points): The Timbers didn’t get the win they desperately wanted, but they’re still alive for a playoff spot after back-to-back draws against New England and Sporting KC. (15) FC Dallas (12-12-9, 45 points): It’s four straight games without a win for FC Dallas, who are clinging to seventh place in the West ahead of a Decision Day clash with Sporting Kansas City. (12) San Jose Earthquakes (13-15-5, 44 points): The Quakes are confident, but they can book a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs despite going into the final regular season game against the Portland Timbers on a five-match losing streak. (17) Chicago Fire (9-12-12, 39 points): The final game at SeatGeek Stadium was an entertaining one, with Aleksandar Katai and Fabian Hebers scoring nine minutes apart in the second half. But the Revs home win over NYCFC meant the Fire would miss out on the postseason yet again. (20) Columbus Crew SC (10-15-8, 38 points): Despite being eliminated from postseason contention, the Crew extended an unbeaten run to five following a 2-0 win over the Union.  (19) Montreal Impact (11-17-5, 38 points): Bojan scored an 81st-minute equalizer in a 1-1 home draw against Atlanta United for the Impact, who will again miss the MLS Cup playoffs. (18) Orlando City SC (9-14-10, 37 points): The Lions search for a first playoff berth will reach a sixth year after a 1-1 draw with FC Cincinnati. (21) Sporting Kansas City (10-15-8, 38 points): A four-match losing streak was snapped as SKC battled, quite literally, the Timbers in a 2-2 draw. (23) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8-15-10, 34 points): They’ve already been eliminated from playoff contention, but the Whitecaps made it three matches without a defeat following a wild 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy. (22) Houston Dynamo (11-18-4, 37 points): Tomas Martinez scored a 32nd-minute equalizer, but the Dynamo conceded a 75th-minute winner to fall at Real Salt Lake 2-1. (24) FC Cincinnati (6-22-5, 23 points): Allan Cruz scored the opening goal, but FC Cincinnati drew Orlando City 1-1.

Pro Soccer USA writers Dylan Butler, Julian Cardillo, Marco Cummings, Chris Fuhrmeister, Robert Jonas, Emily Olsen and Joe Tansey contributed to this report.

The post MLS Power Rankings Week 30: Minnesota United moves up to No. 3 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Player Rankings Week 30: Alexandru Mitrita, Jordan Morris surge into Top 10

Alexandru Mitrita and Jordan Morris have been huge down the stretch for their respective clubs to lock them into the MLS Cup playoffs.

Mitrita’s hat trick against Atlanta United helped New York City FC move one giant step closer to clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while Morris is on a roll with a trio of goals since the start of September. 

Their recent performances landed them into the top 10 of the Pro Soccer USA MLS Player Rankings. 

The players at the top remain the same, but there are some new entrants at the bottom, including one from a team with an outside chance of qualifying for the playoffs. 

Our player rankings take into account performances over the last four weeks, with the most-recent showing carrying more weight. 

20. Allan Cruz, M, FC Cincinnati 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Sep 29, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; FC Cincinnati midfielder Allan Cruz (15) reacts after the game against Orlando City SC at Nippert Stadium. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Allan Cruz has been a bright spot for FC Cincinnati as it stumbles to the finish line in its first season.

The Costa Rican midfielder scored in his second consecutive game Sunday versus Orlando City.

Additionally, he put all four of his shots on target against the Lions. If anything, Cruz appears to be a piece to build around for the first full season under coach Ron Jans. 

19. Gyasi Zardes, F, Columbus Crew SC

Previous Ranking: 11

Sep 29, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC forward Gyasi Zardes (11) and Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis (28) battle for the ball in the first half at MAPFRE Stadium. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

Gyasi Zardes was unable to extend his scoring streak to three games. 

The U.S. men’s national team forward failed to put a single shot on target against the Philadelphia defense in the Crew’s penultimate match of the season. 

The 13-goal scorer has one more chance to increase his scoring total at BMO Field versus Toronto FC. 

18. Matt Turner, GK, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 21, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) makes a save on New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo (17) during the second half of their 0-0 tie at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Turner has put himself in contention for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. 

The New England goalkeepers picked up shutouts in back-to-back games and recorded six saves in Sunday’s victory over NYCFC, which clinched the Revs’ playoff berth.. 

17. Jeremy Ebobisse, F, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Sep 25, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse (17) celebrates after scoring a goal off a header against the New England Revolution during the second half at Providence Park. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

Jeremy Ebobisse reached double digits in goals for the first time in his MLS career with a brace Wednesday. 

The American’s pair of tallies allowed the Timbers to pick up a vital home point in the hunt for a playoff position. 

If he continues to play at this level, he could earn a call-up from USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter. 

16. Jack Price, M, Colorado Rapids

Previous Ranking: 19 

Sep 11, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Jack Price (19) controls the ball in the first half against the LA Galaxy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Jack Price added to his 11 assists with his first goal of the 2019 campaign in Colorado’s victory over FC Dallas. 

The strike was just his second in a Rapids uniform, but his handout total has moved up seven from a year ago. 

Price will be vital in Colorado’s Decision Day meeting with Los Angeles FC in which they need a win and some help to clinch a playoff spot. 

15. Kei Kamara, F, Colorado Rapids

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Sep 29, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara (23) scores on a shot in the second half against FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Kei Kamara is over a dozen goals for the second straight season. 

Kamara, who has double-digit goals in six seasons, found the back of the net in back-to-back contests versus Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas. 

The goals are a welcome sight after a drought that lasted five matches.

14. Kacper Przybylko, F, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 6

Sep 29, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Eloy Room (1) makes a save over Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko (23) in the second half at MAPFRE Stadium. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

Kacper Przybylko had an up and down week in front of goal. 

On Wednesday, the 26-year-old bagged his 15th tally in a come-from-behind victory over San Jose, but he was unable to hit the back of the net in a deflating loss to Columbus in which the Union were eliminated from the race for the No. 1 seed. 

13. Omar Gonzalez, D, Toronto FC

Previous Ranking: 15 

Sep 29, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto FC defender Omar Gonzalez (44) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire during the second half at SeatGeek Stadium. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Omar Gonzalez added to his strong return to MLS with a goal in Toronto FC’s 2-2 draw with Chicago. 

It was the centerback’s first in MLS since April 18, 2015, when he tallied as a substitute versus Sporting Kansas City. 

The Reds need a massive performance out of the 30-year-old on Decision Day to earn the best seed possible in the East. 

12. Ike Opara, D, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 14 

Sep 25, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) passes the ball away from Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio (13) in the first half at Allianz Field. (Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota United defense let up two goals while earning four points in Week 30.

The pair of results allowed the Loons to grab a hold of second place going into Decision Day. 

A win in Seattle Sunday would allow Adrian Heath’s side to land on the opposite side of the bracket as LAFC. 

11. Uriel Antuna, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 10 

Sep 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy midfielder Uriel Antuna (18) attempts a shot while Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler (5) defends during the second half at StubHub Center. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Uriel Antuna struck twine for the sixth time this season in the LA Galaxy’s heartbreaking loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

In the last four games, the Mexican playmaker has three goals and a pair of handouts. 

If the Galaxy make a deep run in the postseason, Antuna could be the X-factor. 

10. Justin Meram, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 16

Sep 18, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta United FC forward Justin Meram (14) walks off the field after defeating FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Justin Meram is another player who could be a difference-maker in the postseason. 

In Atlanta United’s draw with Montreal, he dished out a pair of key passes and won three aerial duels. 

With Josef Martinez out, the Five Stripes need production out of their midfield and the former Columbus and Orlando could be the answer. 

9. Cristian Pavon, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

September 29, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cristian Pavon (10) moves the ball against Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half at StubHub Center. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Cristian Pavon’s run of form has taken a back seat because of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s scoring run. 

In 10 matches, the 23-year-old has two goals and eight assists, and he is riding a seven-game assist streak. 

In two games, the Argentine produced a goal and an assist. If opponents key in on Ibrahimovic, Pavon could break out and lead the Galaxy deep into the postseason. 

8. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 9

Sep 25, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil (22) scores a goal on a penalty kick against the Portland Timbers during the second half at Providence Park. The game ended tied 2-2. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

Carles Gil joined the 10-goal and 10-assist club with a strike in New England’s midweek draw with Portland. 

The Spanish playmaker has wreaked havoc on opposing defenses for the majority of the season. 

Gil, Carlos Vela, Nani and Alejandro Pozuelo are the members of the 2019 double-digit goal and assist club. 

7. Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 13

Sep 18, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris (13) dribbles against FC Dallas during the second half at CenturyLink Field. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Morris bagged a crucial strike for the Sounders in their 1-0 road win over San Jose. 

The game-winning tally kept Brian Schmetzer’s team level on points with Minnesota heading into their Decision Day meeting at CenturyLink Field. 

6. Alexandru Mitrita, F, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: 20 

Sep 25, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC forward Alexandru Mitrita (28) celebrates with midfielder Alexander Ring (8) after scoring his second goal of the game against Atlanta United during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Mitrita fired off his first-ever MLS hat trick Wednesday versus Atlanta United. 

The Romanian has been massive for Dome Torrent’s side with Heber out injured. 

Since August 31, Mitrita has struck the back of the net on six occasions. 

5. Vito Mannone, GK, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 7 

Sep 25, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone (1) cheers behind defender Michael Boxall (15) and defender Ike Opara (3) after making a save against Sporting Kansas City in the first half at Allianz Field. (Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)

Vito Mannone turned away 11 shots over 180 minutes in Week 30. 

The 31-year-old has saved 26 of the 29 attempts on goal he has faced in the last four matches. 

During that run, the Loons have pulled eight points and secured a home postseason contest at Allianz Field.

4. Gustavo Bou, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 5

Sep 29, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York City FC during the second half at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Gustavo Bou is one goal away from joining the growing list of double-digit scorers.

The 29-year-old Argentinian scored twice against Portland and NYCFC to pull his total up to nine and land the Revs a postseason spot. 

Since entering the Revs lineup, Bou hasn’t gone multiple games without a tally. 

3. Frederic Brillant, D, D.C. United

Previous Ranking: 4

Sep 29, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; D.C. United defender Frederic Brillant (13) during the first half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Frederic Brillant recorded seven clearances, two blocked shots and a pair of tackles in D.C. United’s road clean sheet at Red Bull Arena. 

The Black-and-Red’s draw with the New York Red Bulls kept them ahead of their rival in the hunt for the No. 4 seed in the East. 

If Ben Olsen’s side shuts out FC Cincinnati, it will enter the playoffs on a five-game shutout streak. 

2. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 3

Sep 29, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; LAFC forward Carlos Vela (10) controls the ball during the first half of a match with Minnesota United at Allianz Field. (Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports)

Since his return from injury September 14, Carlos Vela has built up a four-game scoring streak. 

In fact, the 30-year-old has tallied in eight consecutive matches for the Supporters’ Shield winner. 

In his first meeting against the Rapids, Vela failed to score. If he finds the back of the net on Decision Day, he could knock Colorado out of playoff contention. 

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 1 

September 29, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) controls the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half at StubHub Center. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Ibrahimovic needs to make up a two-goal deficit on Sunday to tie or beat Vela for the Golden Boot. 

In Week 30, the towering Swede recorded two goals and a pair of assists versus Real Salt Lake and Vancouver. 

In the last four games, the Galaxy forward has six tallies and three assists for a club that is likely going to land the No. 4 seed in the West. 

The post MLS Player Rankings Week 30: Alexandru Mitrita, Jordan Morris surge into Top 10 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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Howard’s sendoff and one underlying concern: Takeaways from Colorado 3, FC Dallas 0

In Tim Howard’s final home regular-season appearance for the Colorado Rapids, the hosts notched a 3-0 win over visiting FC Dallas in a match that carried Western Conference playoff implications.

Jack Price opened the scoring for Colorado with his 10th-minute goal, and Diego Rubio doubled the lead with a direct free kick in first-half stoppage time to give the Rapids a 2-0 lead into halftime.

After missing a penalty in the first half, Kei Kamara added a third for Colorado in the 72nd minute as the Rapids sealed a 3-0 victory to keep their playoff hopes alive heading into the final match of the season.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s win:

Thank you, Tim

Appropriately, Colorado maintained a clean sheet in Howard’s return to action following more than a month of dealing with a nagging leg injury.

Postgame, the Rapids honored the 40-year-old goalkeeper with an on-field ceremony. Head coach Robin Fraser and several of Howard’s teammates were highly complimentary of a goalkeeper who is considered to be one of the best players in the history of U.S. soccer.

“It’s wonderful that we all could be a part of Tim’s career for a little while,” Fraser told reporters postgame. “He’s an extremely classy and talented person who’s had a tremendous career and a tremendous impact on U.S. soccer and really everyone that he’s touched. I think we’re all really privileged to be a part of this celebration and to have taken some small part in Tim’s career.”

Rapids defender Tommy Smith said his team was aware of this game’s significance.

“I think once you cross the white line it’s just another game, but we know that in the build up to the game it was Tim’s last home game,” Smith said.” We knew the importance of that to him and to the club as well. We knew we had to win to keep ourselves in with a chance to make playoffs. We’re glad we’ve done that with a bit of style for Tim tonight.”

Playoffs? Playoffs.

For the first time since 2016, Colorado has a shot at the postseason heading into its final match of the regular season. Following a 0-9-2 start to the 2019 season, it’s an accomplishment that seemed improbable.

“This season has been crazy,” Howard said. “It’s been up and down. I think before the Portland game in the snow, you would have interviewed me and told me with one game to go and you make the playoffs, we all would’ve said it’s been a pretty good season.

“Well here we are and through the grace of God, a lot of hard work and resilience we figured out a way to a way to sneak into the conversation. I still don’t know how, but you want games to be meaningful. Whether we get into the playoffs, push for a playoff run and push for a championship, who knows. The fact that we have meaningful games now says a lot. In July that wasn’t even feasible.”

Fraser credited the mentality of the Rapids’ players, which he also identified as one of his reasons for accepting Colorado’s head coaching job. Under his direction, the Rapids have now won five of their past six matches and have yet to score fewer than two goals in a match.

“If you would have asked any of us after 11 games that we could potentially make the playoffs, I think you would have called us crazy if we said yes,” the Rapids manager said. “To be in this position is fantastic. Hats off to the group. Not just the players and not just the coaching staff either, but everyone. Everyone behind the scenes has always stayed in a positive frame of mind. The fans as well. They’ve never turned on us and backed us even when it wasn’t going well. To be in the position we are in now is fantastic. We just have to go to LAFC next week, do our job and see how the chips fall.”

Colorado needs a win over Los Angeles FC combined with losses by FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes to qualify for the playoffs on MLS’ decision day.

Penalty Perturbance

Lost in the positive result is one key issue that’s been plaguing the Rapids of late: missed penalty kicks.

Kamara’s missed penalty against Dallas Sunday night marked his third of the season and second in three weeks following a miss in a 3-2 loss to Toronto FC Sept. 15. It’s a mark that stands out considering Colorado’s goal differential: minus-three heading into the final match of the regular season.

Fraser told the media that he is unconcerned, and that penalty takes are something for the players to sort out themselves.

“I mean, the fact of the matter is more times than not the players on the field decide who take the penalty kicks,” Fraser responded when asked about the penalty misses. “I’m sure that debate will continue as the week goes on and into the weekend.”

The post Howard’s sendoff and one underlying concern: Takeaways from Colorado 3, FC Dallas 0 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Colorado Rapids keep playoff hopes alive with win over FC Dallas during Tim Howard’s final home match

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – With playoffs on the line, Tim Howard played his final home match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, helping the Colorado Rapids earn a 3-0 win over FC Dallas Sunday afternoon.

Heading into the match with a minus-six goal differential in the Western Conference table, Colorado also did well to make up ground with three goals from Jack Price, Diego Rubio and Kei Kamara.

“The result was fantastic,” said Rapids head coach Robin Fraser postgame. “I mean,
kind of difficult conditions, backs against the wall, pretty much all year and they just keep fighting.”

The game marked Howard’s first start and appearance since a 2-0 win over New York Red Bulls on Aug. 31. The 40-year-old has been dealing with a nagging leg injury since late July.

“With regard to Tim retiring, it’s wonderful that we all can be a part of Tim’s career for a little while,” Fraser continued. “He’s an extremely classy and talented person who’s had a tremendous career and a tremendous impact on us soccer and really everyone that has touched. So I think we’re all really privileged to be a part of this celebration, and to have taken part in some small part in Tim’s career.”

Price opened the scoring for Colorado in the 10th minute, hitting a shot from the top of the box into the side netting to put the Rapids in front 1-0.

Despite the nagging injury, Howard came to play, notching an early close-range blanking of Jesus Ferreira in the 31st minute. Howard ended the match with three saves total, preserving the clean sheet for Colorado.

Colorado had an opportunity to double the lead in the 38th minute when Ryan Hollingshead was called for a handball in the box, but Kamara’s ensuing penalty effort was saved by FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.

Colorado finally found a second goal in first half extra time when Diego Rubio found the back of the net on a free kick at the top of the 18-yard box. Rubio’s effort snuck past the Dallas wall, giving the Rapids a 2-0 lead entering the half.

The Rapids added a third goal in the second half as substitute Nicolas Mezquida sent in a deft through ball to Kamara, who smoothly finished to extend the lead to 3-0 in the 72nd minute.

“We wanted to continue,” Fraser said of the continued offensive pressure from Colorado, which looked to erase some of their playoff goal differential heading into the match. “At the end of the day, we want to do things well, we do things well and execute, then we hope the result of that is that we create some chances to score some goals. the more we could push, and the more we can perhaps create some things then, obviously, then the goal differential thing comes into play.”

Colorado nearly added a fourth in the 82nd minute, but four different shots from the Rapids offense were kept out by Gonzalez and the post.

Despite Dallas holding an edge in shots and possession, Colorado saw out the remainder of the match to seal the result.

“We just keep going out trying to get results,” said Fraser. “Things work out. We get closer and closer and now here we are in the last week and we have a chance. So I think it’s again testament to the how this team has been how they’ve responded really to their start.”

With the win, Colorado remains mathematically in the playoff race heading into their final regular season match. As it stands, Colorado’s easiest path to the postseason would be a win against LAFC combined with a losses by Dallas and San Jose.  

“We’ve got a hell of a chance,” said Howard. “With these guys, we could beat Barcelona, so next week against LAFC, let’s do it.”

Dallas hosts Sporting Kansas City next Sunday while Colorado will travel to LAFC. Both matches kick off at 4 p.m. ET.

The post Colorado Rapids keep playoff hopes alive with win over FC Dallas during Tim Howard’s final home match appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Thank You, Tim: Five Highlights from Tim Howard’s Colorado Rapids career

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – With two regular season games remaining and a final home match looming for the Colorado Rapids, soccer fans will see the last minutes from Rapids designated player and goalkeeper Tim Howard, who announced at that start of 2019 that this would be the final season of his playing career.  

Ahead of the Rapids’ final home game, Pro Soccer USA is taking a look back at some of Howard’s finest moments in Burgundy. Here are five highlights of Tim Howard’s time with the Colorado Rapids:

July 4, 2016 – Howard’s debut for Colorado

His first game for the Colorado was also his first clean sheet for his new club as the Rapids blanked a potent Portland Timbers attack at home on the Fourth of July.

The Independence Day match is annually the most attended match of the year for the Rapids, and the crowd was electric, gasping at every shot and cheering for every save that Howard made.

The decision to sign an aging goalkeeper as an MLS team’s highest paid player will always be a point of debate in MLS circles when looking back at Howard’s Rapids career, but at the time, his signing and subsequent debut was a display of ambition from a club that had struggled throughout its history. It gave fans a chance to see a recognizable name in the world’s game don the local colors.

November 6, 2016 – Penalty shootout win in playoffs over LA Galaxy

In 2016, the Colorado Rapids surprised many as they ascended to the top of the Western Conference table and became the eventual No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Hosting their first playoff game in five seasons, the Rapids pulled back a 1-0 deficit on aggregate thanks to a first half wonder goal from Shkëlzen Gashi.

With the series tied on aggregate after 120 minutes, it went to penalties and Howard’s saves of Ashley Cole and Jeff Larentowicz helped propel Colorado to the Western Conference Championship.

Howard’s Heroes

During his time with the Rapids, Howard has spent time meeting children from around the country who are diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. The kids usually get a swag bag and a chance to meet and chat with Howard, who himself was diagnosed with Tourette’s as a child. The program serves as both a community outreach and as a method for Howard to increase awareness of the condition.

Last night we had two #HowardsHeroes! Jack, age 13, was diagnosed with TS 2 years ago and enjoys soccer, skiing, basketball and video games. Michael, age 12, was diagnosed with TS in February, and loves to dance. Always an honor to meet these kids! pic.twitter.com/2FBUZJ222f

— Tim Howard (@TimHowardGK) September 12, 2019

October 15, 2017 – Lone win of Rapids career against rivals RSL

For the duration of his time with Colorado, Real Salt Lake and Howard’s former U.S. Youth National Team roommate Nick Rimando got the better of Howard. A 1-0 win over RSL in 2017 will stand alone as Howard’s lone Rocky Mountain Cup win, and it was a hard earned victory.

After Josh Gatt put Colorado ahead early in the third minute, it was a lot of defending for the remaining 87 minutes of the match, and Howard was the catalyst for the win, notching seven saves to preserve the clean sheet.

July 1, 2018 – Ten-save performance against Vancouver Whitecaps.

On the four-year anniversary of his 16-save effort against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, Howard put forth arguably his best performance in net for Colorado, notching ten saves and a clean sheet in Colorado’s 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Ten saves and three points 👏@TimHowardGK had a day! #VANvCOL pic.twitter.com/eimGm4UB2C

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 2, 2018

It was on a night where the Whitecaps put in 25 shots on goal, with an attack led by current Colorado Rapids teammate Kei Kamara.

The post Thank You, Tim: Five Highlights from Tim Howard’s Colorado Rapids career appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Scottish talisman Sam Nicholson finding form with resurgent Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Kei Kamara is the leading goal scorer. Jack Price leads the team with set piece assists. But in the background, another Colorado Rapids player is starting to find his rhythm.

In his third MLS season, midfielder Sam Nicholson has produced two goals and four assists – his best mark since arriving stateside in 2017 having previously played in his native Scotland for Premiership side Hearts. To Rapids fans, he would be, as the Scots would say, “Pure Barry”.

Wing play has been a big reason behind the Rapids’ offensive resurgence under Conor Casey, and then Robin Fraser, averaging 1.81 goals per game since the firing of Anthony Hudson.

“I think the wing play has been good,” said Fraser. “I’ve talked about it since I got here, it’s important that we have good wide play. Because our wingers are getting into dangerous positions, they’re creating opportunities for themselves and for the forwards.”

Opposite Jonathan Lewis and others, Nicholson has been a big part of that. While he hasn’t put up huge numbers statistically, his assists mark is telling of the unselfish play he tries to bring to the pitch.

“In terms of being a winger, it’s more about assisting,” Nicholson said. “But I think if I can add goals, it would definitely help.”

Nicholson relishes opportunities on the ball, which he explained as a benefit of the style of play Fraser has been implementing since coming on board as Colorado’s manager. It’s during those times where he’s been a threat, scoring a goal (which was intended to be an assist to Diego Rubio) against Toronto FC in a 3-2 defeat and drawing a foul, which sent off Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler off early in the Rapids’ 3-2 win Saturday.

“The he way that we play definitely gets wide players on the ball as much as possible, which suits me as well,” Nicholson explained.

After making the transition from abroad with Minnesota United, Nicholson again made a change when he was traded to Colorado last season. While his team has remained the same this year, changes have persisted with the Rapids’ two coaching changes. On a personal level, Nicholson also dealt with injury, most notably a back injury sustained last season and which persisted into the early parts of the 2019 campaign.

But these days, Nicholson finally feels things have settled down.

“Making a big move to America and then having to move from state to state was obviously difficult, because I’m still young,” said the 24-year-old.  “It was just getting used to that. But I’m settled in now.”

He credits teammates for helping him transition to a new country and team. On the Rapids, he’s formed especially close bonds with teammates Tommy Smith and Price. The trio has a classic English-Scottish rivalry, with locker room banter and small pranks such as trying to see who’ll laugh first during an interview while the others are joking around behind the scenes.

“We keep each other on our toes,” he laughed.

Outside of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Nicholson likes to keep things low key, watching television and spending time with his two dogs.

On the pitch, he’s still full of enjoyment, and playing some of the best soccer of his Colorado career.

“I’m just enjoying myself, really,” said Nicholson. “We play a system that suits the way the players want to play and that’s been good.”

The post Scottish talisman Sam Nicholson finding form with resurgent Colorado Rapids appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Power Rankings Week 29: New York Red Bulls blast into top 10

More MLS Cup playoff berths were clinched and LAFC inched closer to capturing the Supporters’ Shield as the Major League Soccer season heads into its final two weeks.

And while LAFC remain atop the ProSoccerUSA Power Rankings, there was some musical chairs played by some of the teams below them with Atlanta United moving up three spots, the Seattle Sounders dropping three spots and the Philadelphia Union and Minnesota United both dropping one.

The biggest movers were the New York Red Bulls, who made a five-spot jump to No. 9 after consecutive 2-0 wins over the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union.

The Major League Soccer Power Rankings are created by averaging the rankings submitted by a committee of Pro Soccer USA’s editors and writers.

(1) Los Angeles Football Club (19-4-8, 65 points): Carlos Vela leveled from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time to secure a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC. LAFC are winless in five, but can wrap up the Supporters’ Shield Wednesday night with a win. (2) New York City FC (16-5-10, 58 points): Taty Castellanos staked NYCFC to a lead inside the opening minute in a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas that extended an unbeaten streak to eight games. (6) Atlanta United (17-11-3, 54 points): Emerson Hyndman and Pity Martinez scored late to secure three massive points, but all eyes are on Josef Martinez and his injury. How long the reigning Golden Boot winner is sidelined could determine how far the Five Stripes go in the playoffs. (3) Philadelphia Union (15-9-7, 52 points): The Union’s hopes of finishing atop the Eastern Conference took a major hit in a 2-0 loss to the rival New York Red Bulls Sunday night. They also lost Mark McKenzie and Sergio Santos to hamstring injuries. (4) Minnesota United FC (14-10-7, 49 points): A scoreless draw in Portland have brought the Loons to the edge of a first-ever playoff berth. That can be clinched with a midweek win over Sporting Kansas City. (8) D.C. United (13-10-9, 48 points): D.C. United extended a shutout streak to 324 minutes following a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, which moved the Black-and-Red back into fourth place in the East a few hours after being leapfrogged by the rival Red Bulls. (9) LA Galaxy (15-13-3, 48 points): Cristian Pavon set up goals by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna to lead the LA Galaxy to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact, the club’s second straight win. (5) Seattle Sounders FC (14-10-8, 50 points): The Sounders remain in second place in the West, but their hold to that spot is anything but secure with Minnesota United and the LA Galaxy just behind them. (14) New York Red Bulls (14-13-5, 47 points): Don’t look now, but here come the Red Bulls. They have matching 2-0 wins over the Portland Timbers and the Union, have clinched a postseason berth for a 10th straight year and can take a big step toward a home playoff game against D.C. United Sunday. (7) Toronto FC (12-10-10, 46 points): Toronto FC extended a league unbeaten streak to eight games, but were mere moments from securing a huge win at LAFC thanks to a 19th-minute goal by Tsubasa Endoh. Instead they settled for one point after conceding a late PK. (11) Real Salt Lake (14-12-5, 47 points): A heavily-rotated RSL side earned a road point with a 0-0 draw at New England and host the LA Galaxy in a massive midweek tilt. (10) San Jose Earthquakes (13-13-5, 44 points): Cristian Espinoza and Chris Wondolowski are suspended and the Earthquakes have lost three straight games heading into a critical midweek clash vs. the Union. (13) New England Revolution (10-10-11, 41 points): The Revs pressed, and came close, but couldn’t find an elusive goal and settled for a 0-0 home draw against Real Salt Lake. They can inch closer to a playoff berth with a win in Portland Wednesday. (12) Portland Timbers (13-13-5, 44 points): The Timbers haven’t scored in three straight matches and, following a 0-0 draw against Minnesota United, are below the playoff line in the West with three games to play. (15) FC Dallas (12-11-9, 45 points): Paxton Pomykal helped set up Zdenek Ondrasek for a 66th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 home draw against NYCFC, moving FC Dallas one point above the playoff line in the West. (16) Colorado Rapids (11-15-6, 39 points): The Rapids rallied from an early two-goal deficit to defeat Sporting Kansas City for their fourth win in their last five games, which kept their slim playoff hopes alive. (18) Chicago Fire (9-12-11, 38 points): The Fire were frustrated to settle for a 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. While their unbeaten streak is now three matches, three points were needed to keep playoff hopes flickering. (17) Orlando City SC (9-14-9, 36 points): The Lions squandered a chance to move closer to a first playoff berth when a 1-0 lead evaporated into a 2-1 loss at Houston Saturday. (21) Montreal Impact (11-17-4, 37 points): The Impact fell to the LA Galaxy Saturday night and their third straight loss and sixth in the last eight games have dropped them to four points below the playoff line in the East with two games to play. (19) Columbus Crew SC (9-15-8, 35 points): The Crew are on the precipice of playoff elimination after conceding a stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw against the already-eliminated Whitecaps Saturday. (20) Sporting Kansas City (10-14-7, 37 points): It went from bad to worse for Sporting Kansas City, which saw an early two-goal lead go up in smoke as they finished with 10 men and suffered a brutal 3-2 defeat to the Rapids, their third consecutive defeat. (23) Houston Dynamo (11-16-4, 37 points): The Dynamo likely won’t make the playoffs, but they’re not going down without a fight, rallying from a one-goal halftime deficit to beat Orlando City SC 2-1 at BBVA Stadium Saturday. (22) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7-15-10, 31 points): Playing spoilers, Fredy Montero rescued the Whitecaps from another disappointing defeat with a stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Crew SC. (24) FC Cincinnati (6-22-4, 22 points): FC Cincinnati will likely set a new record for most goals conceded in a season, but it wasn’t happening at Nippert Stadium Saturday as the expansion side played the Fire to a 0-0 draw.

Pro Soccer USA writers Dylan Butler, Chris Fuhrmeister, Robert Jonas, Emily Olsen and Joe Tansey contributed to this report.

The post MLS Power Rankings Week 29: New York Red Bulls blast into top 10 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Player Rankings Week 29: Frederic Brillant, Ike Opara lead defensive-heavy list

Defenders often don’t get the love they deserve. 

That changes for the Week 29 edition of the Pro Soccer USA Major League Soccer Player Rankings. 

Six defenders and one goalkeeper are on the list because of their tremendous form, most of whom are building that up with the playoffs on the horizon. 

Some of the defenders listed have not been discussed on the national level yet, but have been key pieces in their respective setups to clinch playoff berths. 

At the top, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Josef Martinez and Carlos Vela are still jockeying for the No. 1 spot. All three of the league’s top forwards scored in Week 29. 

Our MLS Player Rankings take into account a player’s performance over the last four weeks, with the most-recent one carrying more weight.

20. Alexandru Mitrita, M, New York City FC 

Previous Ranking: 9

Sep 14, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC forward Alexandru Mitrita (28) plays the ball against San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson (22) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Alexandru Mitrita was unable to hit the 10-goal mark Sunday in New York City FC’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas. 

The Romanian got off a single shot on goal for a side that totaled four attempts on target at Toyota Stadium. 

A return home to face Atlanta United and Heber’s comeback from injury should help the 24-year-old reach double digits before the end of the regular season. 

19. Jack Price, M, Colorado Rapids

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 7, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Jack Price (19) corner kicks in the first half against the Seattle Sounders at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

While no one has been paying attention to Colorado, Jack Price has racked up assists. 

The 26-year-old Englishman provided a pair of helpers in Colorado’s come-from-behind victory over Sporting Kansas City. 

With three assists in his last two starts, Price is up to 11 assists, which puts him a tie for eighth in MLS alongside Alejandro Pozuelo and Nicolas Gaitan. 

18. Kyle Duncan, D, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 17, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Red Bulls defender Kyle Duncan (6) dribbles the ball against Toronto FC during the first half at BMO Field. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Kyle Duncan impressed in the New York Red Bulls’ pair of 2-0 victories over Portland and Philadelphia. 

The 22-year-old right back scored in the third minute at Providence Park Wednesday and contributed four tackles and two interceptions.

On Sunday versus Philadelphia, Duncan made four clearances and two interceptions while clogging up the flanks for the Union, who could not get out of first gear. 

17. Miles Robinson, D, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 20 

May 5, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) moves the ball during the match against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

May 5, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) moves the ball during the match against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta United jumped into second place in the Eastern Conference by outscoring San Jose and FC Cincinnati by a combined 5-1. 

In the midweek triumph over the expansion side, Miles Robinson won six aerial duels while holding Ron Jans’ side to two shots on goal. 

On Saturday, the Five Stripes held the Quakes to a pair of attempts on target. In the last 270 minutes, they have conceded twice. 

16. Justin Meram, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jun 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring his second goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Jun 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring his second goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Justin Meram has provided balance to the Atlanta United midfield.

The former Columbus and Orlando midfielder has been a key piece of the six wins since the start of August that have landed the Five Stripes four points back of first-place NYCFC. 

In the win over San Jose, the 30-year-old scored his fourth goal of the season.

15. Omar Gonzalez, D, Toronto FC 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 24, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC Omar Gonzalez (44) passes the ball against the Montreal Impact at BMO Field. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)

You haven’t heard Omar Gonzalez talked about much since return to MLS. 

That’s a good thing for Toronto FC since center backs are not supposed to be the center of attention. 

The former LA Galaxy man has helped the Reds secure road points at NYCFC and LAFC. Greg Vanney’s side has an eight-game unbeaten run in league play and is in contention to secure a home playoff game through the No. 4 seed. 

14. Ike Opara, D, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 18 

Sep 11, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) controls the ball as Houston Dynamo midfielder Tomas Martinez (10) defends during the second half at BBVA Compass Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Ike Opara added to his Defensive Player of the Year resume by playing a role in shutting out Portland Sunday. 

Unfortunately, Opara missed the second half with stomach issues, but the Loons hope he is ready for Wednesday’s home meeting with Sporting KC. 

Minnesota holds a two-point advantage over Real Salt Lake in the fight for a home postseason contest. 

13. Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 8

Sep 18, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris (13) dribbles against FC Dallas during the second half at CenturyLink Field. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Morris was left without a goal or assist Sunday for the first time in his last four starts. 

The American forward had two goals and three assists in his previous three appearances in the starting XI, but only mustered a pair of shots and key passes in the loss to D.C. United

Morris and the Sounders still hold a lead over Minnesota and the LA Galaxy for the No. 2 seed in the West, which will keep them away from LAFC until the conference final.

12. Kai Wagner, D, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 6

Sep 22, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Josh Sims (20) plays the ball against Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner (27) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Philadelphia suffered a letdown at Red Bull Arena in all aspects of the game Sunday. 

Kai Wagner was effective, but not good enough against Chris Armas’ side, who looked strong in transition moments. 

The Union have a chance to rebound Wednesday versus a  San Jose squad without suspended Cristian Espinoza and Chris Wondolowski. 

11. Gyasi Zardes, F, Columbus Crew

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Sep 21, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes (11) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau (16) (not pictured) with midfielder Jouness Mokhtar (34) during the first half at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Gyasi Zardes is now up to 32 goals in two seasons for the Columbus Crew. 

That is two fewer than the number he recorded over a five-year span with the LA Galaxy. 

In his last four matches, Zardes has four goals for Caleb Porter’s side, including back-to-back road strikes versus Atlanta and Vancouver. 

10. Uriel Antuna, M, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy midfielder Uriel Antuna (18) reacts after a goal during the second half against Sporting Kansas City at StubHub Center. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Believe it or not, a Galaxy goalscorer not named Ibrahimovic is allowed on this list. 

In the last four games, Uriel Antuna has produced three goals and two assists. 

That production is significant as Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side looks for scoring support around the towering Swede with the playoffs on the horizon. 

9. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 19 

Sep 21, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil (22) holds off Real Salt Lake forward Brooks Lennon (12) during the second half of their 0-0 tie at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Carles Gil could not land a goal or assist Saturday, but he was still a workhorse in the middle of the park. 

The New England midfielder dished out seven key passes and completed 84.8 percent of his passes. 

The owner of nine goals and 14 assists has been one of the most valuable midfielders in MLS, and the Revs will need him to step up his game in the final two weeks to secure the seventh playoff berth in the East. 

8. Mauro Manotas, F, Houston Dynamo

Previous Ranking: 15

Sep 14, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Houston Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas (9) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Zac MacMath (18) (not pictured) during the second half at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

In a week where other forwards on this list failed to make an impact in the final third, Mauro Manotas notched an assist in Houston’s win over Orlando City

In the last three contests, the Colombian has two goals and two assists and has played a role in all but one of his team’s tallies. 

7. Vito Mannone, GK, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 15, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone (1) takes a free kick against Real Salt Lake during the first half at Allianz Field. Mandatory Credit: Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

There is a chance Minnesota United could have the Defender of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year on their roster. 

Vito Mannone turned in an 11-save performance Sunday to help the Loons leave Providence Park with a valuable point in the Western Conference playoff hunt. 

In September, the former Arsenal man has conceded three times and turned away 25 shots. 

6. Kacper Przybylko, F, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 5 

Aug 31, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko (23) takes a shot during the first half against the Atlanta United at Talen Energy Stadium. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in four games, Kacper Przybylko did not find the back of the net. 

The Philadelphia forward was held to a single shot on target by the Red Bulls defense Sunday night. 

The 14-goal scorer will be relied upon to produce strikes versus San Jose and Columbus to give the Union an opportunity to land one of the top two seeds in the East. 

5. Gustavo Bou, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 4

Aug 31, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring against the Toronto FC during the second half at Gillette Stadium. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

None of Gustavo Bou’s six shots over 45 minutes found the back of the net Saturday. 

Since August 10, the 25-year-old Argentinian has tallied in five of New England’s seven games. 

Bruce Arena’s side needs that same level of production Wednesday in Portland and Sunday at home versus NYCFC to lock up a postseason spot. 

4. Frederic Brillant, D, D.C. United

Previous Ranking: 12

Aug 31, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; D.C. United defender Frederic Brillant (13) stops Montreal Impact Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti (37) during the second half at Stade Saputo. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time since Week 13, a defensive-minded player has cracked the top four.

In addition to scoring Sunday against Seattle, Frederic Brillant has been a part of a defense that recorded three consecutive clean sheets. 

Thanks to the efforts of the back four, Ben Olsen’s side goes into Red Bull Arena Sunday with a 324-minute shutout streak. 

3. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 3 

Sep 21, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) shoots a penalty kick for a goal during the second half against Toronto FC at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Carlos Vela extended his scoring streak to six games with LAFC’s lone tally against Toronto FC.

The Mexican forward is up to 29 goals, but only holds a two-strike advantage over Ibrahimovic heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. 

Vela has home matches with Houston and Colorado and a road trip to Minnesota left on the docket. 

2. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 2 

Sep 18, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez (7) controls the ball against FC Cincinnati in the second half at Nippert Stadium. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Josef Martinez notched his seventh brace of 2019 Wednesday in Atlanta’s win over FC Cincinnati

Unfortunately, the Venezuelan’s scoring run came to an end Saturday when he was taken off the field with an injury. 

The injury likely takes him out of Golden Boot contention since he is three back of Vela and is expected to miss some time. 

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 1

Sep 21, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) steals the ball from Montreal Impact defender Rod Fanni (16) and takes it down field in the second half of the game at StubHub Center. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

 Ibrahimovic’s next goal in MLS will be his 50th for the Galaxy. 

If he records it in his next match, the Swede will have 50 strikes in 50 games started for one of the top clubs in league history. 

His 49th regular-season tally occurred Saturday versus Montreal. Since August 14, Ibrahimovic has scored 11 times. 

 

 

The post MLS Player Rankings Week 29: Frederic Brillant, Ike Opara lead defensive-heavy list appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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Keep Fighting 2.0? Takeaways from Colorado’s 3-2 comeback win over Sporting KC

The Colorado Rapids traveled to Kansas City hoping to play spoiler and they did, downing Sporting KC in a 3-2 comeback win. SKC went out to an early lead with goals from Gerso (3’) and an own goal from Rapids defender Tommy Smith (14’) to take an early 2-0 lead. The game changed when a second yellow was issued to SKC midfielder Matt Besler and Colorado was able to take advantage, cutting the lead to 2-1 at halftime on Kei Kamara’s bicycle kick goal in the 42nd minute.

Colorado drew even in the second half on a Diego Rubio goal in the 76th minute before Tommy Smith redeemed himself by scoring the game winner on a header in the 85th minute, securing the 3-2 victory.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 3-2 win over SKC:

Price of admission

Jack Price has answered all doubts on whether he can be a set piece specialist, and with great vigor.

With Price’s assist of Kamara in the first half in Kansas City, Price set a mark for the most set piece assists since 2010(9), passing LA Galaxy’s David Beckham(8) and SKC’s Graham Zusi(8).

“I’ve actually told him that his deliveries haven’t been good enough because he had a few free kicks in the first half that hit the first man,” Rapids defender Tommy Smith joked post-match. “I’d like to think I claim an assist for the assist.”

On a more serious note, Smith offered praise for his English comrade, saying,

“Obviously, all season his delivery has been top notch and hats off to him for getting that MLS record. It’s fully deserved and hopefully we can get a couple more for him before the season finishes.”

Price offered a humbled response to securing the assist mark.

“I just put the ball in the box,” he said. “I just put it in a good area and hopefully people get their heads on it and they do. It’s a proud moment for me to get a record like that. There are some high caliber players I took over and it’s a nice feeling. But, like I said, I just do what I do and hopefully somebody gets their head on it.”

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

Perhaps fittingly, two of Colorado’s goals were score by former SKC players, Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio.

“I still call it home,” said Kamara. “It’s nice to come back home and play in front of friends and family, but tonight was special because we came up with all three points.”

Kamara’s bicycle kick to pull back a goal was a highlight-reel worthy effort.

“It’s weird to say, but I actually had a dream about it,” added Kamara. “The only other time I’ve score a half bicycle scissor was in this stadium. The goal gave us a little bit of momentum going back out there.”

In the second half, Rubio bagged the equalizer, which was huge in gaining second half momentum.

“I don’t know how Diego feels on the inside, but I’m sure he feels great,” said Kamara.

Keep Fighting 2.0?

In a span of minutes, the 2019 Colorado Rapids season went from the near brink of mathematical elimination to still holding on to a breath of life in the playoff race. At time of writing Colorado (39 points) still is mathematically alive in the Western Conference, and still has a hope of surpassing FC Dallas, Portland and San Jose if they win out and receive help in other results. It’s impressive for a team that went winless for 10 games to start the season under former head coach Anthony Hudson.

Their comeback win on Saturday was further evidence of the resilience that the team has brought back in the second half of the season and continues to be fostered under head coach Robin Fraser.

“Credit to [SKC], they took their chances and we dug ourselves a hole once again, but I talk about this every week it seems like, it’s the resiliency of the team,” said Fraser. “Even being down two goals in spite of being up a man, that’s a tough situation. This is an organized team. They’ve done this before. They sat back in and made it very difficult for us to create scoring chances, but we were pretty relentless in our endeavor to go forward. Certainly, things could have been better and cleaner. We would have liked to see the game be more controlled, but at the end of the day you can’t fault the effort.”

 

The post Keep Fighting 2.0? Takeaways from Colorado’s 3-2 comeback win over Sporting KC appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Colorado Rapids take down Sporting Kansas City 3-2

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Tommy Smith scored in the 85th minute and the Colorado Rapids secured a 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City Saturday.

Gerso Fernandes notched the first goal for Sporting Kansas City (10-14-7) in the third minute on a shot 20 yards out from the edge of the box. Smith put Sporting Kansas City on top 2-0 with an own goal in the 14th minute.

Kei Kamara put Colorado (11-15-6) on the scoreboard in the 42nd minute on a shot 17 yards out from the edge of the box, assisted by Jack Price.

Diego Rubio tied it at 2-2 for Colorado in the 76th minute with a shot 16 yards away from the center of the box, assisted by Smith.

Smith sealed the victory for Colorado in the 85th minute on a header 19 yards out from the edge of the box, assisted by Price.

[See image gallery at appserver-927ee6c5.c.pantheon-dmz.internal]

The Rapids outshot Sporting Kansas City 19 to 10, with eight shots on goal to two for Sporting Kansas City.
Colorado drew six corner kicks, committed 14 fouls and was given four yellow cards. Sporting Kansas City drew six corner kicks, committed 11 fouls and was given one yellow cards and one red card.

Sporting Kansas City’s next match is Wednesday on the road at Minnesota United, and the Rapids next play Sunday at Dallas.

The post Colorado Rapids take down Sporting Kansas City 3-2 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: The Associated Press
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Old faces of Colorado-Kansas City rivalry sharing the pitch again as managers

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – In the early 2000’s, Robin Fraser and Peter Vermes shared the field as players and the Colorado-Kansas City rivalry was one of the marquee match-ups in Major League Soccer.

Nearly two decades later, they’ll share it once more — now as managers — this Saturday when Sporting KC hosts the Colorado Rapids in a fight for positioning in the Western Conference.

“At the time [the rivalry] was all about proximity,” Fraser recalls. “It’s not that close but [Kansas City] was the closest thing to Colorado when the league started. There were tough games, close games, playoff games.”

A lot has changed since then. Both are now head coaches of their respective clubs; Fraser now four games into his head coaching tenure with Colorado and Vermes a constant fixture at SKC for a decade. The rivalries have also changed. Colorado now claims Real Salt Lake as its biggest rival while SKC also claims bigger rivals in RSL and Houston.

One thing that hasn’t changed is a mutual respect between Vermes and Fraser.

“I know Robin really well,” said Vermes. “He’s a great guy. He knows the game. He’s a serious guy and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Likewise, Fraser was complimentary of his colleague.

“Peter has done a good job with that team,” he said. “One thing you know is, you 100 percent expect, is for them to be well organized.”

Vermes and SKC aren’t taking this one lightly, either. Colorado has taken nine out of a possible 12 points in the games under Fraser and has averaged two goals a game in each of the four games since his hiring.

“Colorado is playing well. We need to get points, we’re playing at home, so we need to give everything we have for the game,” said Vermes. “[Fraser] is really good at what he does and is slowly putting his mark on the team and getting a chance to evaluate players. They’re going to have to show him if they’re going to be around for another year.”

Evaluation will indeed be a major part of Fraser’s process as the team looks towards an important rebuild this off-season, which Rapids GM and vice president of operations Padraig Smith has billed publicly as one of the most important in franchise history.

“You’re assessing everything, really,” Fraser explained. “Decision making, ability, technical execution, adaptability to different asks in terms of what the team is doing, and just see how they fare and all these different scenarios.”

Both teams still have an outside shot at the playoffs if they win out and receive help, making Saturday’s game all the more important. A single point currently separates SKC (37 points) and Colorado (36 points) in the Western Conference standings.

“Whether you agree or not, the games at the end take on a different life,” said Vermes. “They’re more like playoff games than regular season games towards the end of the season. That’s what these games are now.”

Maybe there’s still a little luster left on that old school rivalry, after all. 

The post Old faces of Colorado-Kansas City rivalry sharing the pitch again as managers appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Player Rankings Week 28: All hail Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Vela and Josef Martinez have set themselves apart from the rest of the talent in Major League Soccer. 

The trio of goal-scorers have occupied the top spots in our MLS Player Rankings for most of the season, and they are now locked into a battle for the Golden Boot. 

Vela seemed like the runaway winner, but Ibrahimovic is within two and Martinez is four back with a handful of games left. 

Ibrahimovic left the biggest mark on Week 28 in the LA Galaxy’s thumping over Sporting Kansas City, but both Vela and Martinez found the back of the net as well.

Our MLS Player Rankings take into account a player’s form over the last four games, with the most-recent performance carrying the most weight. 

20. Miles Robinson, D, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 13

May 5, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) moves the ball during the match against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

May 5, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) moves the ball during the match against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta United’s defense has had a few shaky weeks with the concession of six goals to Philadelphia and Columbus. 

Saturday’s home loss to the Crew was the more surprising of the two results given how poorly Caleb Porter’s team has played this season. 

Before the two-game losing streak, Miles Robinson and Co. put up three clean sheets in four games. They need to revert back to that form in Week 29 against FC Cincinnati and San Jose to secure a home playoff match. 

19. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 14 

Aug 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Carles Gil (22) passes the ball against the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

Carles Gil dished out his 13th and 14th assists in New England’s 3-3 draw with Orlando.

The pair of handouts were a welcome sight for the Spaniard, who went two games without an assist, a rare drought in his debut MLS season. 

From July 17 to August 24, the 26-year-old had an assist in six of seven games. That form will be needed down the stretch for the Revs to secure a postseason berth. 

18. Ike Opara, D, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 9 

Jul 20, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Saucedo (23) and Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) battle for the ball in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

In three September games, Ike Opara and the Minnesota United defense have conceded a trio of goals. 

On Sunday versus Real Salt Lake, the Loons held the Claret-and-Cobalt to five shots on target in a 3-1 victory

The Loons rank third in goals against in the Western Conference, where they are third behind LAFC and Seattle.

17. Mark-Anthony Kaye, M, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Apr 17, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Los Angeles FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye (14) passes the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Mark-Anthony Kaye dished out four key passes and had the shot that helped create Carlos Vela’s goal in LAFC’s 1-1 draw at Philadelphia. 

The Canadian midfielder also recorded four tackles, a clearance and an interception against the second-place side in the Eastern Conference. 

On the season, Kaye has a pass completion rate of 83.9 percent and is averaging 2.2 tackles, 1.7 key passes and 1.3 interceptions. 

16. Luis Diaz, M, Columbus Crew SC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 14, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Columbus Crew midfielder Luis Diaz (18) celebrates his goal in the second half against the Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

The acquisition of Luis Diaz flew under the radar because of the Crew’s struggles this season, but he has turned into one of the better midseason signings. 

The 20-year-old Costa Rican has two goals and an assist in his last three games, including a strike in the Crew’s road upset of Atlanta United. 

In 10 contests, the midfielder has two goals and three assists. 

15. Mauro Manotas, F, Houston Dynamo

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 14, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Houston Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas (9) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Zac MacMath (18) (not pictured) during the second half at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Mauro Manotas added to his second-highest scoring season in MLS with a strike in each of Houston’s two Week 28 games. 

The Honduran forward, who should be poised for a move in the offseason, found the back of the net against Minnesota and Vancouver. 

Eight of Manotas’ 13 goals have occurred against Western Conference opposition. 

14. Darwin Quintero, M, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 15, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota United midfielder Darwin Quintero (25) controls the ball against Real Salt Lake during the second half at Allianz Field. (Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports)

Darwin Quintero earned his second straight 10-goal season with a brace Sunday versus RSL. 

The 31-year-old Colombian scored in the 20th and 51st minutes to help Adrian Heath’s side rebound from a midweek loss to Houston.

The Loons need Quintero to continue scoring in a three-game stretch versus Portland, Sporting KC and LAFC in order for the club to host a postseason game at Allianz Field. 

13. Keaton Parks, M, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 14, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC midfielder Keaton Parks (55) plays the ball against San Jose Earthquakes defender Marcos Lopez (27) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Keaton Parks has not received the love he deserves. 

The New York City FC on-loan midfielder rose into the spotlight with his first MLS goal Saturday in a 3-1 win over San Jose, and he has quietly been a rock in the center of the park. 

If Parks continues to thrive for Dome Torrent’s side, he may command a spot in Gregg Berhalter’s U.S. men’s national team.

12. Frederic Brillant, D, D.C. United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 11, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Uriel Antuna (18) leaps in front of D.C. United defender Jalen Robinson (20) and D.C. United defender Frederic Brillant (13) to head the ball in the first half at Audi Field. D.C. United won 2-1. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Two clean sheets have helped D.C. United move four points above the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference. 

Frederic Brillant has turned in a pair of solid showings against Montreal and Portland. 

In the 1-0 victory over the Timbers, Brillant and the D.C. defense limited the home side to four shots on goal of the 23 attempted. 

11. Sebastian Lletget, M, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sep 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget (17) reacts after a goal during the second half against Sporting Kansas City at StubHub Center. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

In his first game back from USMNT camp, Sebastian Lletget exploded for two goals and an assist in the LA Galaxy’s 7-2 rout of Sporting Kansas City. 

The midfielder’s brace occurred two minutes apart during a 16-minute stretch in which the Galaxy poured in four goals. 

The Galaxy will not score seven goals each week, but if they can continue to put pressure on opposing defenses, they will ease any concerns about their playoff hopes. 

10. Nani, M, Orlando City SC

Sep 14, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City forward Nani (17) kicks the ball during the first half against the New England Revolution at Exploria Stadium. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

From June 26-August 31, Nani recorded one goal for Orlando City.

In the last two games, he has three goals and an assist, but the increase in production was not good enough to power the Lions to victory. 

Orlando sits in a tough spot, four points below the playoff line with three games to play, so it needs to win out and some help to claw back into the top seven. 

9. Alexandru Mitrita, M, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 20, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; New York City FC midfielder Alexandru Mitrita (28) controls the ball in the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Alexandru Mitrita has helped fill the scoring void left by the injured Heber. 

The 24-year-old Designated Player scored once in both of New York City FC’s victories in Week 28, and now has three strikes in the last four matches. 

With Heber out until at least Decision Day, the Pigeons need Mitrita to continue scoring in order to lock up the No. 1 seed. 

8. Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 10, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris (13) pursues the ball against the New England Revolution in the second half at CenturyLink Field. The teams played to a 3-3 tie. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Morris has secured the Comeback Player of the Year with his September start. 

Morris, who missed all of 2018 with an injury, bagged his ninth goal and handed out his seventh assist in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls Sunday. 

Since the start of August, the U.S. international has experienced an uptick in form that includes a goal and assist in two of his last three games. 

7. Chris Wondolowski, F, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: 15 

Aug 31, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski (8) reacts after scoring a goal against the Orlando City FC during the first half at Avaya Stadium. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

While we’ve been fawning over the flashy scorers in MLS, Chris Wondolowski has brought his lunch pail and blue-collar mentality to continue to find the back of the net. 

Wondolowski moved his season total up to 14 with the opening goal in San Jose’s loss to NYCFC on Saturday. 

In the last four matches, the 36-year-old has four tallies to get up to his fifth-highest scoring total in MLS at 14. 

6. Kai Wagner, D, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 12 

Jul 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner (27) in action against the Chicago Fire at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Kai Wagner did what few defenders in MLS have done all season: frustrate Carlos Vela.

Vela still scored in the 1-1 draw at Talen Energy Stadium, but it occurred off a rebound in the box, not a moment of individual brilliance. 

Wagner leads defenders in assists with eight and has become one of the lock-down left backs in the league, something the Union will benefit from in their hunt for the No. 2 seed in the East. 

5. Kacper Przybylko, F, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 8

Aug 31, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko (23) takes a shot during the first half against the Atlanta United at Talen Energy Stadium. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Kacper Przybylko scored for the third straight game and fifth time in six games. 

The 14-goal scorer struck the back of the net in the third minute versus LAFC, a game in which the Union proved they could play with MLS’ best. 

Next up for Przybylko is a three-game road swing against the Red Bulls, Earthquakes and Crew. 

4. Gustavo Bou, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 4 

Aug 31, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring against the Toronto FC during the second half at Gillette Stadium. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

Gustavo Bou is now up to seven goals in 10 games. 

The New England forward netted one of his team’s three goals in the draw against Orlando City. 

While other forwards have scored in bunches, Bou has been Mr. Consistent, which is exactly what the Revs needed out of their big-money signing. 

3. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 5

Sep 14, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) celebrates with forward Diego Rossi (9) after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Even though he spent most of Saturday night trying to get away from Wagner, Vela still impacted the game. 

The 30-year-old knocked in his 28th goal right before halftime to double his scoring total from a year ago. 

Vela is in possession of a five-game scoring streak that dates back to August 11. He and his LAFC teammates can clinch the Supporters’ Shield with a win over Toronto FC Saturday. 

2. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 2

Sep 14, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates his goal with midfielder Pity Martinez (10) in the first half against the Columbus Crew at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Speaking of scoring streaks, Josef Martinez is now up to 14 consecutive games with a goal.

The Venezuelan striker bagged Atlanta United’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

In the last four matches, Martinez has deposited four goals into the net on six shots on target. 

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 1 

Jul 4, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) and Toronto FC midfielder Richie Laryea (22) battle for the ball in the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Gakaxy defeated Tornto FC 2-0. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

There is a real chance Zlatan Ibrahimovic steals the Golden Boot away from Vela. 

The towering Swede produced his fourth multi-goal performance in six games Sunday by notching a hat trick versus Sporting KC. 

Since August 14, Ibrahimovic has scored 10 goals to move two goals behind Vela with four games remaining. 

The post MLS Player Rankings Week 28: All hail Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Power Rankings Week 28: Toronto FC, LA Galaxy surge, FC Dallas falls

With the MLS regular season rapidly winding down, some teams are starting to separate themselves at the top of the table heading into the home stretch.

That is also reflected in the Pro Soccer USA’s Power Rankings following Week 28, with Los Angeles Football Club, New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union all unchanged in the top three spots.

But then it gets fun. The next 12 spots, and 19 of the final 21 overall, have shuffled. Some teams, like Toronto FC, coming off a dramatic 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids, and the LA Galaxy, following a 7-2 trouncing of Sporting Kansas City, have made giant leaps forward. Others (see: FC Dallas) have fallen quite a bit.

The Major League Soccer Power Rankings are created by averaging the rankings submitted by a committee of Pro Soccer USA’s editors and writers.

(1) Los Angeles Football Club (19-4-7, 64 points): It’s now four straight matches without a win — the longest stretch of a remarkable season. After consecutive road draws at Orlando City SC and the Philadelphia Union, is it time to worry LAFC has lost its magic? (2) New York City FC (16-5-9, 57 points): Three games, a shorthanded roster and seven points. It was quite a week for NYCFC, which are now five points clear atop the East with four games to play. (3) Philadelphia Union (15-8-7, 52 points): For a second straight game, the Union made some noise with a positive home result, following an emphatic win over Atlanta United with a draw against LAFC. (5) Minnesota United FC (14-10-6, 48 points): Darwin Quintero struck for a brace and Ethan Finlay added a late insurance goal in a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake that moved the Loons into third place in the West. (7) Seattle Sounders FC (14-9-7, 49 points): It was a fast start and a strong finish for the Sounders, who beat the New York Red Bulls 4-2 at CenturyLink Field to move into second place int he West. (4) Atlanta United (15-11-3, 48 points): The Five Stripes took the lead through Josef Martinez, but they looked listless in conceding three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss to Columbus. (14) Toronto FC (12-10-9, 45 points): The biggest movers of the week had a big double-game week, earning a 1-1 draw at East-leading NYCFC and defeating Colorado 3-2 at BMO Field to move to fourth in the East. (13) D.C. United (12-10-9, 45 points): It was ugly, but Ben Olsen’s team doesn’t really care about aesthetics at this point of the season. They’ll gladly take the three points in rainy Portland, courtesy of an own goal. (15) LA Galaxy (14-13-3, 45 points): Zlatan Ibrahimovic proclaimed himself to be the best player in MLS history and it’s hard to argue with a guy who just scored a hat trick in a match that catapulted his team above the playoff line in the West. (6) San Jose Earthquakes (13-12-5, 44 points): Chris Wondolowski gave the Quakes the early lead, but they conceded twice in quick succession in a 2-1 loss to NYCFC. It was Matias Almeyda’s club’s fifth loss in their last seven games. (9) Real Salt Lake (14-12-4, 46 points): A big win over the Earthquakes was followed by a loss at Minnesota United. RSL are fourth in the West, three points behind second-place Seattle, but just three points above the playoff line. (8) Portland Timbers (13-12-4, 43 points): Luck was not in the Timbers’ favor Sunday. Gio Savarese’s club, without injured key attackers Brian Fernandez and Sebastian Blanco, twice hit the woodwork and Bill Tuiloma scored an own goal in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United. (11) New England Revolution (10-10-10, 40 points): The Revs are three points above the playoff line in the East, but will rue blowing a two-goal halftime lead and dropping a pair of valuable points in a 3-3 draw with Orlando City SC. (12) New York Red Bulls (12-13-5, 41 points): The Red Bulls battled back from an early two-goal deficit, but conceded twice late in a 4-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders, their third in a row that dropped them to sixth in the East. (10) FC Dallas (12-11-7, 43 points): FC Dallas conceded four goals before halftime in a loss at Chicago that, coupled with other results, has them below the playoff line on a tiebreaker with four games remaining. (16) Colorado Rapids (10-15-6, 36 points): The three-match winning streak came to an end Sunday, though not without a fight. The Rapids erased an early two-goal deficit and probably should have led 3-2 if not for Kei Kamara’s saved penalty kick. (19) Orlando City SC (9-13-9, 36 points): Nani put his team on his shoulders, scoring a brace and, along with a Dom Dwyer strike, rallied from a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 draw against New England. A great rally, but truth be told the Lions needed all three points. (20) Chicago Fire (9-12-10, 37 points): The Fire’s playoff hopes are not doused yet as, led by CJ Sapong’s brace, they blasted FC Dallas at home Saturday. But there is no margin for error going forward. (21) Columbus Crew SC (9-15-7, 34 points): Gyasi Zardes and Luis Diaz responded to an early Josef Martinez goal and an own goal by Miles Robinson put the finishing touches on a stunning 3-1 win over Atlanta that keeps Crew SC’s flickering playoff hopes still alive. (18) Sporting Kansas City (10-13-7, 37 points): A three-match winning streak has turned into consecutive defeats and it feels like the 7-2 loss at the LA Galaxy just might have been the death knell for Sporting. (17) Montreal Impact (11-16-4, 37 points): Perhaps worse than a five-goal loss at playoff-hopeful LA Galaxy is a 1-0 defeat at home to an FC Cincinnati team long eliminated from playoff contention. (23) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7-15-7, 30 points): The Whitecaps have also been eliminated from playoff contention, but that didn’t stop them from battling until the end and claiming all three points in a 2-1 win over the Dynamo courtesy of a Fredy Montero 90th-minute goal. (22) Houston Dynamo (10-16-4, 34 points): Mathematically still alive, albeit barely, the Dynamo rallied to level thanks to Mauro Manotas, but left BC Place with nothing but frustration after conceding Montero’s winner. (24) FC Cincinnati (6-21-3, 21 points): Ron Jans has waited a long time, but his first win as FC Cincinnati coach came in Montreal Saturday thanks to Allan Cruz’s first-minute goal.

Pro Soccer USA writers Dylan Butler, Chris Fuhrmeister, Robert Jonas and Joe Tansey contributed to this report.

The post MLS Power Rankings Week 28: Toronto FC, LA Galaxy surge, FC Dallas falls appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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Toronto FC beats Colorado Rapids 3-2, spoiling Robin Fraser’s homecoming

Jonathan Osorio broke a tie in the 70th minute and Toronto FC beat the Colorado Rapids 3-2 Sunday  at BMO Field to spoil Rapids coach Robin Fraser’s homecoming.

Fraser, a former Toronto assistant coach, had won three straight matches since taking charge of the Rapids Aug. 25.

Toronto FC (12-10-9, 45 points) extended an unbeaten run to seven matches and moved up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of D.C. United on a tiebreaker. The Rapids (10-15-6, 36 points) suffered a blow to their already slim hopes of reaching the MLS Cup playoffs. 

Returning home from a 1-1 draw against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium Wednesday, Toronto FC roared out of the gate and led 2-0 after just 13 minutes. Tsubasa Endoh opened the scoring in the 8th minute. After Richie Laryea was played into the box by Jozy Altidore, he cut the ball back to Endoh, who hammered his shot in off the crossbar. 

Five minutes later, Alejandro Pozuelo doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Lalas Abubakar pulled back Altidore in the box. Pozuelo, who went 1-for-2 from the penalty spot in the Bronx Wednesday night, made no mistake with his panenka. 

Just when it looked like the rout was on, Keegan Rosenberry pulled the Rapids back a goal in the 31st minute, following his initial shot that was blocked by Michael Bradley to beat Quentin Westberg. After taking down Sam Nicholson inside the box, Westberg atoned for his mistake with a diving stop on Kei Kamara’s penalty just before halftime. 

Nicholson, who helped setup Rosenberry’s goal, then leveled in the 62nd minute, sliding in front to meet Rosenberry’s lofted cross. However, the final heroics came from Osorio, who came off the bench for the injured Nicolas Benezet, clipped an Erickson Gallardo pass over Clint Irwin and into the net for the winner. 

[See image gallery at appserver-927ee6c5.c.pantheon-dmz.internal]

— The Associated Press contributed to this story

The post Toronto FC beats Colorado Rapids 3-2, spoiling Robin Fraser’s homecoming appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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