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MLS Power Rankings Week 23: Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire make big jumps

There appears to be some separation at the top of the Pro Soccer USA power rankings after Week 23.

LAFC remain the class of the league, making yet another second-half statement in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls Sunday night. It wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia Union did enough to eek out a win over the Houston Dynamo to remain atop the East. Hot in pursuit of the Union is Atlanta United, which comes in No. 3 after an impressive 2-1 win over NYCFC.

As for the biggest movers this week, that honor is shared by the Seattle Sounders at No. 7 and the Chicago Fire at No. 17. Both moved up three spots, while the San Jose Earthquakes had the stiffest drop — also three spots to No. 6.

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 (17-3-4, 55 points): After a two-goal lead evaporated, LAFC regrouped at halftime and had a sensational second-half response in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls. Carlos Vela led the way with a goal and two assists. (2) Philadelphia Union (13-7-6, 45 points): It was a clunky goal, but one that counts the same as a bicycle kick from outside the area as Jack Elliott’s 78th-minute goal was the difference in a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo. (4) Atlanta United (13-9-3, 42 points): Josef Martinez scored two more goals, Julian Gressel was a threat out wide and the Five Stripes imposed their will on NYCFC in a 2-1 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (7) Seattle Sounders FC (11-7-6, 39 points): Harry Shipp struck for a brace and Nico Lodeiro added the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute. But the Sounders settled for one point after conceding three minutes from full time. (6) New York City FC (10-5-8, 38 points): NYCFC ceded possession and played uncharacteristically long in the first half. Heber pulled the Cityzens to within a goal, but that came in the 81st minute. Too little, too late. (3) San Jose Earthquakes (11-8-5, 38 points): The Earthquakes suffered their second loss in the last 13 games when they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Colorado Rapids. Vako scored the lone goal for San Jose, a 62nd-minute equalizer. (5) Minnesota United FC (11-8-5, 38 points): The Loons had a seven-match unbeaten streak snapped Saturday, losing 5-3 to FC Dallas. Ethan Finlay struck for a first-half brace and Hassani Dotson added a 73rd-minute equalizer before Brandon Servania scored twice in the final five minutes. (6) New York Red Bulls (11-10-4, 37 points): After quickly conceding twice, the Red Bulls rallied to level Supporters’ Shield leaders LAFC 2-2 on goals by Cristian Casseres and Brian White. But set piece defending proved to be their undoing. (11) New England Revolution (9-9-7, 34 points): Michael Mancienne and Gustavo Bou scored first-half goals and, after conceding twice one minute apart midway through the second half, Carles Gil netted the dramatic equalizer in the 87th minute in a 3-3 tie with the Seattle Sounders. (9) Portland Timbers (10-9-4, 34 points): Marvin Loria and Jeremy Ebobisse struck for second-half goals after Sebastian Blanco opened the scoring in a 3-1 Cascadia Cup win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. (13) FC Dallas (10-9-6, 36 points): Ryan Hollingshead, Santiago Mosquera and Reggie Cannon scored first half goals and Servania struck for a late brace in a 5-3 win over Minnesota United. (10) LA Galaxy (12-11-1, 37 points): Zlatan Ibrahimovic set an MLS record with 14 shots, but only one was on frame and that was saved by Bill Hamid. Favio Alvarez scored the lone goal three minutes into the second half in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United. (14) D.C. United (10-7-9, 39 points): No LuchoRoo, no starting defensive midfielders, no subs, no problem. D.C. United battled defensively and took their chances on the other end with Lucas Rodriguez scoring the 73rd-minute winner. (12) Real Salt Lake (11-9-4, 37 points): It’s now five consecutive games without a loss and two straight wins for RSL, which defeated Sporting Kansas City 2-1 thanks to a goal in each half by Corey Baird. (15) Toronto FC (9-10-6, 33 points): Toronto FC squandered a chance to move above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference when they settled for a 1-1 home draw with Orlando City SC. Patrick Mullins scored the 77th-minute equalizer for the Reds. (16) Orlando City SC (8-11-6, 30 points): Benji Michel broke the scoreless stalemate in the 69th minute, but the Lions concede eight minutes later and settled for a 1-1 draw at Toronto FC ahead of a critical double-game week. (20) Chicago Fire (7-10-9, 30 points): For the second time this season the Fire have consecutive wins, beating the Montreal Impact 3-2. Bastian Schweinsteiger netted the winner two minutes from full time. (18) Montreal Impact (10-13-3, 33 points): The Impact rallied from a two-goal deficit to pull even on goals by Saphir Taider and Bacary Sagna, but they conceded the late winner and lost Nacho Piatti to another injury in the process. (17) Sporting Kansas City (7-10-7, 28 points): A screaming free kick by Johnny Russell in the 31st minute put SKC in front, but Felipe Gutierrez put a penalty kick off the post and Daniel Salloi was sent off in the second half for a harsh challenge on on Damir Kreilach in a devastating defeat. (21) Colorado Rapids (7-12-5, 26 points): Kellyn Acosta scored one minute from halftime and Diego Rubio netted the winner in the 74th minute as the Rapids upset the Earthquakes 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (19) Columbus Crew SC (7-14-5, 26 points): Hell is Real and so are the nightmares Gyasi Zardes is having after coming agonizingly close to a late winner against FC Cincinnati. Instead, they settled for a 2-2 draw at MAPFRE Stadium. (22) Houston Dynamo (9-13-3, 30 points): The Dynamo have mastered the art of playing well enough to make the opponent sweat before conceding late. It happened twice in a pair of road losses to Eastern Conference opposition. (24) FC Cincinnati (5-17-3, 18 points): Darren Mattocks and Emmanuel Ledesma got FC Cincinnati off to a rousing start and staked the expansion side to a two-goal lead after 23 minutes. But Zardes and Pedro Santos responded as the Ohio rivals shared the points. (23) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5-12-9, 24 points): The plus is Theo Bair scored a stunning 38th-minute equalizer for his first MLS goal. The bad news was the two goals conceded after halftime and a sixth loss in the last eight games.

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 23: Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire make big jumps appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Player Rankings Week 23: Latif Blessing leaps into top 10

By now, we have come to expect at least three players from Los Angeles FC to land in the Pro Soccer USA Major League Soccer Player Rankings. 

This week is no different with a quartet of players led by Carlos Vela dominating one-fifth of the spots on the list of the top 20 in-form players in MLS.

Some of the other top teams across the league have multiple players on the list as well, including Atlanta United, New York City FC and the New England Revolution.

FC Dallas also put a duo on the list after Week 23 after scoring five goals in a victory over Minnesota United. 

Our player rankings take into account a player’s form over the last four games, with the most recent performance carrying a bit more weight.

20. Eduard Atuesta, M, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 9

Aug 11, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) and New York Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr (23) battle for the ball in the second half of the game at Banc of California Stadium. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Eduard Atuesta is typically one of the most consistent performers in the Los Angeles FC midfield, but his numbers dropped off a bit Sunday in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls. 

The 22-year-old completed 76.7 percent of his 90 passes, almost 10 percent less than the 86.5 percent pass-success rate he has put together in 2019. 

Atuesta also committed four fouls while making three interceptions and a tackle in the defensive half. 

19. Kei Kamara, F, Colorado Rapids

Previous Ranking: 6

Aug 10, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Magnus Eriksson (7) and midfielder Luis Felipe (96) and Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara (23) collide in the second half at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Kei Kamara failed to follow up his Week 22 hat-trick with a goal in Colorado’s 3-1 win over San Jose. 

Kamara struck the post with one of his two shots, but that was the closest he would get to hitting the target at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. 

Since the Gold Cup break, the Sierra Leone international only has three tallies, all of which came against Montreal last week. 

18. Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC

Previous Ranking: 7 

Aug 10, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Patrick Mullins celebrates his second half goal with forward Jozy Altidore (17) during the game at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Once August began, Jozy Altidore’s production in front of the net dried up. 

The U.S. Men’s National Team forward is scoreless in two games after striking in four consecutive games in July for Toronto FC.

In order for Greg Vanney’s team to emerge from the mess around the red line in the Eastern Conference with a playoff berth, Altidore must turn in a slew of solid performances. 

17. Przemyslaw Tyton, GK, FC Cincinnati

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 10, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton (22) chases a loose ball ahead of midfielder Derrick Etienne Jr (16) during the second half against Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

Przemyslaw Tyton becomes the second FC Cincinnati goalkeeper to crack this list after Spencer Richey did so earlier. 

Tyton came up with a few massive denials to keep a point for the expansion side in the inaugural Hell Is Real meeting between FC Cincinnati and Columbus in MLS. 

In total, Tyton made four saves and earned a nod on the MLS Team of the Week. 

16. Brian White, F, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: 19 

Aug 3, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Brian White (42) plays the ball against Toronto FC during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Brian White was credited with his ninth goal of 2019 after the New York Red Bulls loss to LAFC.

White’s strike was initially ruled an own goal, but the club tweeted Monday it was overturned and given to the young American striker. 

White is currently tied with Altidore, Gyasi Zardes and Chris Wondolowski as the highest-scoring American in MLS. 

15. Valentin Castellanos, M, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Aug 11, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York City FC midfielder Valentin Castellanos (11) gets off a shot in front of Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Valentin Castellanos produced his second brace of the season in New York City FC’s 3-2 victory over the Houston Dynamo Thursday. 

The 20-year-old Argentine achieved the feat in a 32-minute stint off the bench in a match that was not decided until the final minutes. 

Castellanos also chipped in with an assist on Heber’s goal in the 2-1 defeat to Atlanta United Sunday. 

14. Sebastian Blanco, F, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 10, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco (10) passes the ball during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

With Diego Valeri, Brian Fernandez and Diego Chara in the Portland lineup, Sebastian Blanco sometimes gets overlooked, but he is just as important to the Timbers success. 

In Saturday’s 3-1 win over Vancouver, Blanco scored his fourth goal and picked up his 10th assist of 2019, giving him back-to-back 10-assist campaigns. 

With his next handout, Blanco will have 30 in his three years with the Timbers. 

13. Paxton Pomykal, M, FC Dallas

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Aug 10, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Brandon Servania (18) celebrates with midfielder Paxton Pomykal (19) after scoring a goal during the second half against Minnesota United at Toyota Stadium. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Paxton Pomykal was an integral part of FC Dallas’ attacking success in Saturday’s 5-3 triumph over Minnesota United. 

The U-20 World Cup participant more than doubled his assist total for the season by playing a role in three of his team’s scores. 

The individual performance and victory were welcome sights for a squad in the thick of the playoff hunt. 

12. Michael Barrios, M, FC Dallas

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Aug 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios (21) looks to kick the ball during the second half against the Orlando City at Exploria Stadium. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

Michael Barrios also contributed three assists to the FC Dallas attack at Toyota Stadium. 

The 28-year-old Colombian ended up with five key passes in the eight-goal thrilled in Frisco. 

Barrios’ handouts were his 33rd, 34th and 35th in a FC Dallas shirt and it secured a second double-digit assist season in three years. 

11. Marco Fabian, M, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 5 

Aug 11, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Marco Fabian (10) controls the ball against the Houston Dynamo during the first half at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Marco Fabian was not as active in the Philadelphia attack on Sunday as he was in Week 22. 

The Mexican midfielder dished out three key passes, but he failed to fire a shot on target after scoring twice a week ago. 

In order for the Union to avoid future letdowns, Fabian needs to be at his best in every game with first place in the team’s sights. 

10. Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 13 

Aug 10, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (10) celebrates with forward Jordan Morris (13) after scoring a goal 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)

A week after scoring twice, Jordan Morris turned into a provider for the Seattle Sounders with a pair of assists in the 3-3 home draw with New England. 

Morris is in the middle of his best three-game stretch of the season with three goals and two assists in games against Houston, Sporting Kansas City and New England.

Unfortunately for the Sounders, the American’s increased production has not yet translated to wins, with four dropped points at CenturyLink Field in the last two matches. 

9. Gustavo Bou, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 18 

Jul 27, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) runs after the ball during the first half against the Orlando Cityat Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Gustavo Bou deposited his third goal in a Revolution shirt into the back of the net Saturday. 

The Argentinian has been a difference-maker in all facets of the game for Bruce Arena’s side, which recovered from a loss to LAFC with a hard-fought point in Seattle. 

Bou’s numbers may not be as eye-popping as others in the top 10, but his impact has been as large in the five games he has played. 

8. Julian Gressel, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 20 

Aug 11, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) reacts with defender Julian Gressel (24) after scoring on a penalty kick against the New York City FC during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Julian Gressel’s uptick in form in the Atlanta United midfield has helped the Five Stripes earn a stronghold in second place in the Eastern Conference. 

On Sunday against NYCFC, the German midfielder delivered seven key passes and picked up his eighth assist of the campaign. 

Since July 17, Gressel has produced one goal and five assists for Frank De Boer’s side. 

7. Latif Blessing, M, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Aug 11, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Latif Blessing (7) and New York Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr (23) battle for the ball in the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Latif Blessing is one of the many unsung heroes in the LAFC squad producing at a high level all season. 

The midfielder, who recently earned a contract extension with the club, scored in his second straight game in the 4-2 win over the Red Bulls. 

Blessing only has four goals and five assists, but has been a relentless worker for Bob Bradley’s side in all aspects of the game. 

6. Diego Rossi, F, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 3 

Aug 3, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) celebrates with defender Jordan Harvey (2) and forward Latif Blessing (7) after scoring against the New England Revolution during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Diego Rossi attempted a single shot that went off target in LAFC’s latest win. 

The reality is every LAFC player will not have immaculate performances week in and week out, but what makes the runaway Supporters’ Shield leaders so strong is there is no major drop off because others pick up the load. 

In seven games since the start of July, Rossi has five goals. In the two games he has not scored, Rossi failed to put a shot on goal. 

5. Heber, F, New York City FC 

Previous Ranking: 10 

Aug 11, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York City FC forward Heber (9) reacts after scoring a goal against Atlanta United during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Heber joined the growing list of double-digit scorers in MLS by striking the back of the net at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday. 

The Brazilian forward, who earned an assist in the win over Houston Thursday, is up to 10 goals and four assists in 16 games for Dome Torrent’s side. 

In Week 24, Heber faces a FC Cincinnati squad he scored twice against June 6. 

4. Vako, M, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: 8 

Jul 12, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Vako Kazaishvili (11) moves the ball against the LA Galaxy in the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Earthquakes defeated the Galaxy 3-1. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Vako inched closer to the 10-goal mark in Week 23 by scoring his eighth tally of 2019. 

The midfielder is one of many players on this list on a tear that started in July.

Vako has found the back of the net in four of his last five games and has nine shots on target in his last four. 

3. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 4

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Carles Gil (22) reacts after a goal during the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

For the fourth time in five games, Carles Gil recorded a goal and an assist for New England. 

The Spaniard’s play was one of the main reasons why the Revs were able to steal a vital point from Seattle in the playoff race. 

With one more goal, Gil will join Carlos Vela as players with 10+ goals and assists in 2019. 

2. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 2 

Aug 11, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) is congratulated after scoring on a penalty kick past New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles (31) in the second half of the game at Banc of California Stadium. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Speaking of Vela, he turned in yet another impressive showing for LAFC Sunday night. 

This time around, the Mexican forward produced a goal and two assists to help his side rally for the win after the Red Bulls tied the game just before halftime. 

Vela is now tied with Sebastian Giovinco for the most combined goals and assists in a single MLS season with 38 (23 goals, 15 assists). 

1. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 1 

Aug 11, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) reacts with defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (5) after scoring on a penalty kick against the New York City FC during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Aug 11, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) reacts with defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (5) after scoring on a penalty kick against the New York City FC during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Josef Martinez is not ready to surrender the top spot back to Vela. 

The Venezuelan striker pounced for two more goals Sunday to boost his season total to 20. In the process, he broke his own record of consecutive games with a goal, which now stands at 10. 

That scoring streak, and the trio of three-goal performances since the start of July, has Martinez pegged above Vela for the time being. 

The post MLS Player Rankings Week 23: Latif Blessing leaps into top 10 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Week 23 Review: Josef Martinez breaks record amid scoring frenzy

Fifty goals were scored across 12 Major League Soccer games Saturday and Sunday. 

All 24 clubs got in on the action in front of goal, but a few individuals and teams stood out among the pack.

Atlanta United’s Josef Martínez continued his remarkable form by scoring in his 10th consecutive game, setting an MLS record.

Last season, Martínez tied the old record of nine games in a row with goal, and he now owns two of the three longest scoring runs in league history.

Sunday’s brace handed the Venezuelan 70 goals in 76 regular-season appearances over two-plus seasons with the Five Stripes. 

Josef Martinez now owns the longest scoring streak in MLS history.

He broke a tie with Diego Valeri (2017) and … Josef Martinez (2018) 🔥 pic.twitter.com/o3ZNvLjwW9

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 12, 2019

In the process of torching nets across North America, Martínez has moved within three tallies of Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela in the golden boot race, an honor that just two months ago seemed destined for the Mexican star. 

In addition to bringing some real drama in the race to be MLS’ top scorer, Martínez has helped Frank de Boer’s side right the ship and by beating the LA Galaxy and New York City FC at home. In between those victories, the Five Stripes advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final with a road win in Orlando. 

While Martínez captured the individual spotlight once again, FC Dallas leaped to the forefront of the league discussion for one night with a five-goal performance against Minnesota United, a win the club needed in the thick of the hunt for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.

What was so exciting about Luchi Gonzalez’s side in Week 23 was the play of Paxton Pomykal and Brandon Servania. The pair of United States under-20 teammates combined for two goals and an assist, with Servania providing the tallies in a 15-minute stint off the bench.

Entering Saturday, there were some concerns regarding who would score FC Dallas’ goals, and at least for one night Pomykal and Servania answered that call. 

LAFC was its dominant self again by putting four goals past the New York Red Bulls, while Seattle, New England, Chicago, Portland and Minnesota all scored three times. 

Including Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium, the total goes up to 55 goals since New York City FC knocked off Houston 3-2. 

Goals of the Week 

Theo Bair, Vancouver Whitecaps 

WHAT THE WHAT! THEO BAIR, ARE YOU KIDDING US!? 😱 #PORvVAN pic.twitter.com/qILUu94rgO

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 11, 2019

Pedro Santos, Columbus Crew

.@Pedro32santos on repeat. 🔁🔥 #Crew96 pic.twitter.com/jtn7a3NycJ

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 11, 2019

Hassani Dotson, Minnesota United

Hassani Dotson with the equalizer! We're even again at 3-3! #DALvMIN pic.twitter.com/VKklStnLdy

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 11, 2019

Santiago Mosquera, FC Dallas 

Y en menos de 5⃣ minutos, @FCDallas remonta el marcador. #DALvMIN | 2-1 pic.twitter.com/vhc3M237qA

— Fútbol MLS (@futbolMLS) August 11, 2019

Red-Line Battles Heating Up

Aug 10, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Orlando City defender Ruan (2) and Toronto FC defender Auro Jr (96) chase the ball during the game at BMO Field. (Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports)

Week 23 muddied the red-line races in both conferences. 

In the Eastern Conference, New England’s draw in Seattle, the 1-1 tie between Toronto FC and Orlando City and Chicago’s 3-2 victory over Montreal shrunk the gap between sixth and 10th place to four points. 

Since none of the playoff contenders meet in Week 24, and Orlando has its game in hand Wednesday, the race is only going to get muddier before it clears up. 

The West is less crowded than the East, but there still is plenty of intrigue since Portland sits on 34 points in eighth place with at least one game in hand on everyone else in the conference. 

FC Dallas’ victory on Saturday was even more massive because of that advantage for Portland.

Real Salt Lake earned three huge points over Sporting Kansas City in what could be seen as an elimination game for Peter Vermes’ side, which is now eight points adrift of seventh place. 

Hell Is Real Drama

Aug 10, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; FC Cincinnati midfielder Allan Cruz (15) dribbles the ball in the second half of the match against the Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The first “Hell Is Real” derby in MLS ended in a frantic set of chances for the Columbus Crew, but they could  not secure a stoppage-time winner to get past FC Cincinnati

Overall, the first Ohio rivalry game was a success with the blue-and-orange clad FC Cincinnati fans traveling to Mapfre Stadium to pack the oldest ground in MLS. 

The match will be remembered by Gyasi Zardes’ horrific miss from close range, but Przemysław Tytoń deserves a round of praise for keeping out a handful of late scoring opportunities and allowing Ron Jans to pick up a point in his first match in charge of the expansion side.

In two weeks, the rivals will square off again at Nippert Stadium as part of rivalry week. 

Ferrari Stopped By An Audi 

Zlatan Ibrahimović recorded a whopping 15 shots Sunday at Audi Field, but only one went on target.

That effort was denied in spectacular fashion by Bill Hamid, who had a big night for a D.C. United side that needed three points with its back against the wall. 

Bill Hamid with a WILD reflex save pic.twitter.com/z9oIZfoZQZ (via @dcunited)

— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) August 12, 2019

The victory allowed D.C. United to poke fun at Ibrahimović, who compared himself to a Ferrari at the end of July.

Ya hate to see it… #DCU | #DCvLA pic.twitter.com/KVBx0XFZ9U

— D.C. United (@dcunited) August 12, 2019

Stock Up, Stock Down

Stock Up: Chicago Fire

Mar 30, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (31) reacts with fans after defeating the New York Red Bulls at SeatGeek Stadium. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Bastian Schweinsteiger rescued the Chicago Fire Saturday night with an 88th-minute game-winner, his first goal of the season. 

The German legend also dished out an assist on Dax McCarty’s opener in a victory that pulled the Fire within striking distance of seventh place in the East. 

After struggling for most of the summer, Veljko Paunović’s side has gathered eight points from its past five games, including two straight wins. 

The Fire’s playoff hopes suddenly are alive, but they could be extinguished in Week 24 with a midweek road trip to Portland and a Saturday home clash with Philadelphia

Stock Up: Orlando City’s road form 

Orlando City SC forward Benji Michel (19), forward Santiago Patiño (29) and defender Kamal Miller (27) celebrate as they beat the Columbus Crew SC Saturday at Exploria Stadium (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

James O’Connor’s Orlando City has quietly picked up points on the road in July to keep in the hunt for a playoff position.

After earning draws at Philadelphia and Portland, the Lions went into BMO Field and drew Toronto FC to improve their road mark to 3-5-5. 

It is not an immaculate road record, but the 14 road points gained is comparable to the Lions’ direct competition for the Nos. 6 and 7 spots in the East. 

New England also has 14 road points, while Montreal has 12 and Toronto holds 11. Chicago is worst among that group of teams with six road points. 

Stock Up: Real Salt Lake 

Aug 3, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (10) plays against the New York City in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

With interim manager Freddy Juarez in charge, Real Salt Lake has picked up consecutive victories over New York City FC and Sporting KC. 

The pair of victories have RSL sitting in sixth place with 37 points ahead of a three-game home swing that includes matches versus Seattle and LAFC in Week 24. 

After Mike Petke’s contract was terminated Sunday night, Juarez has full control of the team until the end of the season, and if the last two weeks are any indication of their play, the Claret and Cobalt could be a team to watch in the West. 

Stock Down: Montreal Impact

Aug 10, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Montreal Impact midfielder Saphir Taider (8) dribbles the ball forward as Chicago Fire midfielder Aleksandar Katai (10) defends during the second half at SeatGeek Stadium. The Fire won 3-2. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Remí Garde’s Montreal Impact are putting together a crash course in how to miss the postseason. 

After its 3-2 loss to Chicago, Montreal has fallen in six of its last seven games and is in danger of dropping out of the top seven by the end of August. 

The return of Ignacio Piatti and entrance of Bojan Krkic could help the Impact re-discover their form. If a reversal of results is coming, it needs to happen soon.

Stock Down: Sporting Kansas City 

Aug 4, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic (15) backs down Seattle Sounders FC defender Xavier Arreaga (25) and midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (10) during the second half at CenturyLink Field. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Hopefully you did not buy too much Sporting KC stock after it won in Seattle last week. 

Vermes’ side once again took itself out of the West playoff race with a disastrous home loss to a playoff competitor. 

Sporting KC still can try to claw itself back into contention with San Jose, Minnesota and Portland upcoming on the schedule, but the team is are running low on hope. 

Stock Down (Maybe?): Seattle Sounders

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)

Seattle dropped points at home for the third straight game in its 3-3 draw with the Revs Saturday. 

Since defeating Atlanta July 14, Brian Schmetzer’s team has lost to Portland and Sporting KC and tied with New England at CenturyLink Field. 

Every team goes through lulls in different parts of the season, but the recent string of results is concerning since second through sixth in the West are separated by two points. 

 

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Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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Rosenberry Redemption: Takeaways from Colorado’s 3-1 win over San Jose

The Colorado Rapids earned their second-straight home win on Saturday night, dispatching the visiting San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1. Despite several early chances from the visitors, Colorado took a 1-0 first half lead on a 44th minute strike from Kellyn Acosta. San Jose equalized in the second half with a strike from Vako in the 62nd minute. But Diego Rubio sealed the win for the Rapids with a goal 12 minutes later.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 2-1 win over San Jose:

Rubio as good as gold

The acquisition of forward Diego Rubio was touted in the preseason as one of Colorado’s best offseason moves and now it’s starting to pay dividends.

When graded alongside the other players involved in the move which brought Rubio to Colorado, Kelyn Rowe no longer plays for Kansas City (having moved to RSL at the summer transfer deadline) while Edgar Castillo is facing a downturn year in New England.

While slow out of the gate, Rubio is now a hot hand in the offense for Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey, having scored a goal in three-straight games and six in the Rapids’ past eight fixtures.

“I just try to be close to the goal,” Rubio explained, regarding his recent run of form. “Some people say once you score one, they keep coming. But it’s just working hard. It’s about the hard work of the team, it’s not just me.”

Clint’s Clangers

He received a bit of help in the first half with San Jose hitting the post and missing a few sitters in the first half, but it was an otherwise solid performance in net for Rapids backup keeper Clint Irwin, who filled in for Tim Howard (calf) for the fourth game in a row.

“He’s come in and done great,” said Rapids defender Danny Wilson. “He’s come in and made key saves at important times and he always talks well. He’s a good goalkeeper so we know that when we’re without Tim, we have a trustworthy guy behind us.”

Saturday’s result marked the first home start for Irwin for Colorado since his previous stint with the Rapids in 2015, and his first home win playing between the sticks for the side since August of the same year.

Wingardium Leviosa

Compared to their previous meeting with San Jose just two weeks ago, the Rapids made the proper adjustments including improved play on the wings.

Keegan Rosenberry, who was exposed in the prior meeting, bounced back with solid play on the wings, both defensively and in the attack.

“I thought both sides were very good [on the wings],” explained Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey. “Part of it was individual defending but also putting more pressure on [San Jose’s] center backs and sixes so they didn’t have as much time to pick people out.”

In addition to assisting Rubio’s game winner, Rosenberry was solid defensively with two interceptions and two recoveries to go along with a clearance inside the box and a crucial late game tackle to preserve the lead in the 82nd minute.

The post Rosenberry Redemption: Takeaways from Colorado’s 3-1 win over San Jose appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Colorado Rapids win second consecutive home match, defeat San Jose Earthquakes 2-1

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Two weeks removed from their 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, the Colorado Rapids found redemption and defeated the ‘Quakes 2-1 at home by virtue of goals from Kellyn Acosta and Diego Rubio.

“We were fortunate,” Acosta said of the result. “In the first half, we were flat. At halftime, we regrouped and did a lot better defensively. We were well connected through the midfield and were able to create some chances.”

San Jose (11-5-8, 38 points) nearly took an early lead in the 4th minute, but Chris Wondolowski’s shot from the top of the box bounced off the left post directly into the hands of Clint Irwin. Irwin once again filled in for regular starter Tim Howard.

“We were balanced,” Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda said postgame. “It’s hard to make a fair analysis right after a game, but I think the first half was managed well by our team. We could have had two or three goals easily with some of the plays we had, but I’m also realistic and know that football is won by scoring goals.”

The post blocked another shot in the 21st minute and denied San Jose midfielder Judson a goal-scoring opportunity.

Colorado (6-12-5, 23 points) followed with a decent opportunity in the 25th minute, but Sam Nicholson’s shot missed just wide of the mark.

Two minutes later, Wondolowski missed another prime opportunity, skying the effort over the bar inside Colorado’s six-yard box.

Prior to the goal, one of Colorado’s best opportunities of the opening half came in the 38th minute when Jack Price delivered a ball in to Kei Kamara, but the forward’s header was high of the mark.

The Rapids finally opened the scoring when Acosta quickly collected the ball on a throw-in, dribbling across the top of the box and sending a low shot into the bottom left corner of San Jose’s net. The goal gave Colorado a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.

“I was happy just to get a goal and get on the scoresheet,” Acosta said.

Colorado entered halftime with the lead, despite the Earthquakes leading the game in shots (11-7) and possession (65%).

In the second half, San Jose responded with an equalizer. Just as he had done in their prior meeting, ‘Quakes midfielder Vako found the back of the net to level the match 1-1 in the 62nd minute.

“The second half was more back and forth,” Almeyda said. “The game ended the way it did with little opportunities for the opponent, but that’s respectable, everyone wants to play the way they play.”

Colorado took the lead again 10 minutes later. Rapids defender Keegan Rosenberry laid the ball off to a streaking Diego Rubio, whose accurate strike put Colorado in front 2-1 in the 73rd minute.

“He’s been huge for us the past couple of months,” Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey said of Rubio. “He’s got a lot of goals now so he’s confident and he’s working so hard. He comes in everyday and gives you everything.”

Despite an added five minutes of extra time, Colorado saw out the win, earning back-to-back victories for the first time since June.

The Rapids will now embark on a four-game road trip, beginning with Wednesday’s trip to face Minnesota United (8 p.m. ET). San Jose will continue its current three-match road tilt with a trip to Kansas City next Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET).

“It’s all about mentality,” Acosta said of the looming road trip for Colorado. “We’ve got to come out strong and be sound defensively. Road games are tough but that’s part of it. We’ve got to take it game by game to get a result.”

 

 

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Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Recapping the secondary transfer window for all MLS teams

Almost all of the clubs in Major League Soccer made improvements to their rosters during the secondary transfer window. 

Among the highlights of the acquisition period, which ran from July 9 to Aug.7, were late moves made by the two Los Angeles clubs, which made splashes with signings from South America.

Some summer signings, such as New England’s Gustavo Bou, have already made an impact on their respective clubs with the playoff push intensifying every week. Below is a look at all of the transfer window moves for all 24 MLS clubs. 

Atlanta United

Emerson Hyndman shoots during Atlanta United's 2-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal win over Saint Louis FC

Emerson Hyndman shoots during Atlanta United’s 2-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal win over Saint Louis FC at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., on July 10, 2019. (Courtesy of Atlanta United)

In: Emerson Hyndman (loan from AFC Bournemouth), Mo Adams (trade with Chicago) 

Out: Romario Williams (traded to Columbus), Gordon Wild (waived) 

Atlanta United’s pair of additions have already contributed in the scoring column in their short time with the club.

Emerson Hyndman, who scored in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals Tuesday, has provided the Five Stripes with a valuable midfield piece behind their slew of high-profile attackers. 

Mo Adams, who scored within two minutes of his club debut at Los Angeles FC, is going to be relied upon as a depth option at fullback with Brek Shea out injured for the rest of the season. 

Chicago Fire

Jonathan Bornstein

Mar 1, 2016; Washington, DC; Queretaro defender Jonathan Bornstein possess the ball as D.C. United midfielder/forward Patrick Nyarko defends at RFK Stadium. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Jonathan Bornstein (from Maccabi Netanya), Micheal Azira (trade with Montreal)

Out: Mo Adams (traded to Atlanta), Jorge Corrales (trade with Montreal) 

Chicago brought in a few experienced pieces, one from abroad and another via intraleague trade. 

Jonathan Bornstein will provide more stability on the defensive flanks for a team that has struggled in that area of the field 

Azira is now with his fourth MLS team since debuting with the Sounders in 2014. His best seasons came in Colorado in 2016 and 2017, but he hasn’t been able to be a regular contributor for the Rapids and Montreal since then. 

FC Cincinnati 

Oct 28, 2018; Harrison, NJ; New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne celebrates his goal during the second half against Orlando City at Red Bull Arena. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Maikel van der Werff (free transfer), Andrew Gutman (loan from Celtic, via rights trade with Chicago), Derrick Etienne (trade with New York Red Bulls), Joe Gyau (transfer from MSV Duisburg) 

Out: Kenny Saief (loan expiration), Forrest Lasso (loaned to Nashville SC), Emery Welshman (mutual parting), Eric Alexander (waived) 

FC Cincinnati is going to go through more roster overhaul during the offseason when new head coach Ron Jans has an opportunity to evaluate every piece in his hands. 

Andrew Gutman and Derrick Etienne are two young players who could make a difference right away and establish their spots for the 2020 season, while Maikel van der Werff comes with familiarity to Jans and general manager Gerard Nijkamp from their time at PEC Zwolle. 

Colorado Rapids

In: None

Out: Nana Boateng (mutual parting) 

Colorado held firm with its only major move being the parting of ways with Nana Boateng, who hadn’t played a single minute in 2019.

Columbus Crew

August 3, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Eloy Room (1) during the first half against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Romario Williams (trade with Atlanta), Luis Diaz (transfer from Herediano), Eloy Room (free transfer), Jordan Hamilton (trade with Toronto), Youness Mokhtar (free transfer), Chris Cadden (free transfer) 

Out: Robinho (trade with Orlando), Patrick Mullins (trade with Toronto), Joe Bendik (trade with Philadelphia), Chris Cadden (loan to Oxford United), Niko Hansen (trade with Houston) 

Most of the Columbus Crew’s additions allowed them to make deals across the league, shipping Robinho, Patrick Mullins, Joe Bendik and Niko Hansen away. 

Eloy Room will make the biggest impact in the short term as Zack Steffen’s replacement. Counting on a Gold Cup standout to be the No. 1 goalkeeper could be seen as a risk by some, but the Crew are confident in the Curacao international.

Romario Williams and Jordan Hamilton are solid pieces to have on the bench and may benefit from a change of scenery. Luis Diaz has two assists in four appearances, but he only has one start and 176 minutes so far for Caleb Porter’s side. 

D.C. United

Apr 20, 2019; Orlando, FL; Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Felipe Martins handles the ball during the second half against the Orlando City at Orlando City Stadium. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Gordon Wild (free transfer), Felipe Martins (trade with Vancouver), Emmanuel Boateng (trade with LA Galaxy), Ola Kamara (transfer from Shenzhen FC) 

Out: Akeem Ward (waived), Zoltan Stieber (mutual parting), Chris McCann (mutual parting) 

Obviously, the biggest transfer news involving D.C. United is the departure at the end of the season of Wayne Rooney to Derby County. The Black-and-Red should be able to supplement Rooney’s scoring through Ola Kamara, who recorded three double-digit goal seasons with Columbus and the LA Galaxy before bolting for China. 

Emmanuel Boateng will give Ben Olsen’s side a boost in pace on the wing, while Felipe Martins covers for the injury losses in defensive midfield. 

FC Dallas

Jul 27, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Edwin Gyasi (7) in action during the game between FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake at Toyota Stadium. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Edwin Gyasi (loan from PFC CSKA Sofia) 

Out: Pablo Aránguiz (loaned to Club Unión Española S.A.D.P) 

One of FC Dallas’ top concerns is who will find the back of the net in the home stretch of the regular season. Edwin Gyasi should be able to provide more chances to Dominique Badji and Co., while generating a few scoring opportunities on his own. 

FC Dallas’ best acquisition mechanism is its academy, and some young players need to step up in the final few months to secure a playoff position. 

Houston Dynamo 

Jul 3, 2019; LAFC forward Christian Ramirez celebrates with Latif Blessing after scoring a goal against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports)

In: Jose Bizama (transfer from Huachipato FC), Christian Ramirez (trade with LAFC)

Out: Chris Duvall (waived) 

Christian Ramirez was deemed as surplus behind Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande on the LAFC depth chart, and he will be a welcome addition to the Dynamo attack.

Ramirez scored 14 goals with Minnesota in 2017, and he should provide an extra dimension alongside Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas. He also eventually could be the successor to those two players if they move on to Europe or Liga MX. 

Los Angeles FC

In: Brian Rodriguez (transfer from Club Atlético Peñarol) 

Out: Niko Hämäläinen (end of loan), Shaft Brewer Jr. (mutual parting), Christian Ramirez (trade with Houston) 

The rich got even richer at the end of the secondary window, with LAFC bringing in Brian Rodriguez. The 19-year-old followed the same path as Diego Rossi, who might be the next young star to head to Europe from MLS if the price is right. 

LA Galaxy

In: Cristian Pavon (loan from Boca Juniors) 

Out: Emmanuel Boateng (trade with D.C.) 

LA Galaxy worked the monetary tightrope to reunite Cristian Pavon with his former Boca Juniors manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto. How Schelotto unlocks Pavon’s potential in Los Angeles remains to be seen, but it is a coup for Dennis Te Kloese and Co. to get the deal done. 

Minnesota United 

Uruguay’s Thomas Chacon controls the ball during the Group C U-20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Uruguay, in Lodz, Poland, May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

In: Robin Lod (transfer from Real Sporting de Gijón S.A.D.), Wilfried Moimbe (free), Thomás Chacón (transfer from Danubio FC) 

Out: Eric Miller (traded to NYCFC) 

Minnesota United followed the trend of bringing young South American players to MLS with Wednesday’s announcement of 18-year-old Thomás Chacón. 

Robin Lod and Wilfried Moimbe should also be key pieces to Adrian Heath’s squad in its hunt to earn a home playoff game in the first year of Allianz Field. 

Montreal Impact

Jul 27, 2019; Montreal, Quebec; Montreal Impact midfield Lassi Lappalainen plays the ball against Philadelphia Union during the first half at Stade Saputo. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Lassi Lappalainen (loan from Bologna FC 1909), Bojan Krkić (free transfer), Jorge Corrales (trade with Chicago) 

Out: Harry Novillo (mutual parting), Micheal Azira (trade with Chicago) 

Bojan Krkić has bounced around Europe since leaving Barcelona in 2014. If the Impact get the best out of him, combined with the return to fitness of Ignacio Piatti, they could create some distance between themselves and the red-line competitors in the Eastern Conference.

Lassi Lappalainen already made an immediate impact on the squad with a pair of goals in his debut against Philadelphia.

New England Revolution

New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou reacts after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Gustavo Bou (transfer from Club Tijuana) 

Out: Justin Rennicks (loaned to North Carolina FC); Isaac Angking (loan to Charlotte Independence)

Gustavo Bou scored in his first appearance for the New England Revolution, and he is expected to be a massive piece of the resurgence under coach Bruce Arena to finish in the top seven.

Due to Bou’s addition, United States U-20 forward Justin Rennicks was sent to USL Championship side North Carolina FC, who is coached by Dave Sarachan, a longtime Arena lieutenant. 

New York City FC

May 4, 2019; Saint Paul, MN; Minnesota United defender Eric Miller during a game between Minnesota United and Seattle Sounders at Allianz Field. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Gary Mackay-Steven (free transfer), Eric Miller (trade with Minnesota) 

Out: None 

Gary Mackay-Steven should provide coach Domence Torrent with some necessary wing depth, while Eric Miller is a valuable veteran asset to have in defense with a busy conclusion to the regular season ahead. 

But New York City FC’s best addition this season will turn out to be Héber, who joined in the primary window. 

New York Red Bulls 

Jan 7, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana defender Rece Buckmaster (red vest) fights for the ball during the MLS combine at Orlando City SC Stadium. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Rece Buckmaster (signed from USL affiliate), Josh Sims (loan from Southampton) 

Out: Derrick Etienne (traded to FC Cincinnati), Marcus Epps (loan to Memphis 901) 

New York Red Bulls continued to benefit from their USL pipeline with the addition of Rece Buckmaster, and they also brought in Josh Sims from Southampton, but he is only here until the end of the season. 

Losing Etienne might not be that big of a deal in the long run for the Red Bulls if they continue to churn out young midfield and forward prospects. 

Orlando City 

Valencia’s Geoffrey Kondogbia, left, and FC Krasnodar’s Mauricio Pereyra challenge for the ball during a Europa League round of 16 match at the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Vitaliy Timkiv)

In: Robinho (trade with Columbus), Mauricio Pereyra (free transfer) 

Out: None

The pressure is on coach James O’Connor to get the best out of Mauricio Pereyra with the team four points behind the Revs, who hold the final playoff spot in the East.

Orlando City has played well of late, and now that it does not have to focus on the U.S. Open Cup, it can put all of its assets toward achieving the club’s first postseason berth.

Philadelphia Union

(Courtesy of Philadelphia Union)

In: Andrew Wooten (free transfer), R.J. Allen (free transfer), Joe Bendik (trade with Columbus) 

Out: Carlos Miguel Coronel (loan termination) 

The Union filled their need at forward through Andrew Wooten, who performed well despite not scoring against D.C. United on Sunday. 

R.J. Allen and Joe Bendik were brought in solely as depth options and they have yet to see the field for Jim Curtin’s side. 

Portland Timbers

In: None

Out: Lucas Melano (mutual parting) 

Portland’s most important acquisition was Brian Fernandez in May. Parting ways with Lucas Melano made sense since he played less than 300 minutes in 2018 and 2019. 

Real Salt Lake 

kelyn rowe

May 29, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting Kansas City midfielder Kelyn Rowe (11) throws the ball in at Children’s Mercy Park. (Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports)

In: Kelyn Rowe (trade with Sporting KC) 

Out: Pablo Ruiz (loaned to Pinzgau Saalfelden) 

Real Salt Lake is taking a chance on Kelyn Rowe for the rest of the season before he becomes a free agent. Rowe was not able to make an impact during his time with Sporting Kansas City, and he has not been a significant contributor since he had a goal and seven assists in 2017 as a member of the Revs. 

San Jose Earthquakes

In: Carlos Fierro (transfer from Cruz Azul), Andrés Ríos (transfer from Racing Club de Avellaneda) 

Out: None 

Matias Almeyda brought in two more pieces to his squad that should keep the San Jose Earthquakes in contention for a home playoff spot. 

Even without Carlos Fierro and Andrés Ríos, the Quakes were on the path to the postseason, but adding the midfielder and forward, respectively, complements the depth already in place and makes the Quakes a legitimate top-four team. 

Seattle Sounders

In: Emanuel Cecchini (loan from Málaga CF), Luis Silva (signed from Hobro IK) 

Out: None

Seattle pulled off two deals before the window closed, and it received a significant boost with Brad Smith remaining with the club. 

Emanuel Cecchini should compete for minutes in central midfield and he could provide some valuable depth to the squad, while Luis Silva carries MLS experience and he could add scoring support off the bench.

Sporting Kansas City 

In: Cameron Duke (Homegrown), Luís Martins (free transfer) 

Out: Kelyn Rowe (traded to RSL)

Sporting Kansas City added left back Luís Martins to a defense that has already let in 41 goals in 23 games. 

In order to make the push for the playoffs, Peter Vermes’ side needs to clean up its defensive record. 

Toronto FC 

Jul 27, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Patrick Mullins (13) battles for a ball with FC Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston (2) at BMO Field. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

In: Jacob Shaffelburg (Homegrown), Erickson Gallardo (transfer from Zamora FC), Patrick Mullins (trade with Columbus), Nicolas Benezet (loan from EA Guingamp) 

Out: Jordan Hamilton (traded to Columbus), Terrence Boyd (mutual parting) 

The biggest boost to Toronto FC’s playoff push is the return of Jozy Altidore to the lineup. 

Of the new additions, Jacob Shaffelburg has made the most significant impact in a small timespan, but just like the other clubs that made upgrades, the Reds need their new depth to contribute in order to reach the top seven.

Vancouver Whitecaps

In: Michaell Chirinos (loan from Olimpia); Tosaint Ricketts (signed from FK Sūduva)

Out: Lucas Venuto (mutual parting); Chituru Odunze (transfer to Leicester City)

One player is not going to turn around Vancouver’s season. 

Michaell Chirinos is a nice piece to add to the club’s attacking unit, but the Whitecaps need more than just one addition to move out of the Western Conference basement.

The post Recapping the secondary transfer window for all MLS teams appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Week 23 Preview: Massive Sunday slate, Hell is Real debuts

Six of Major League Soccer’s most recognizable teams grace the national stage in Week 23. 

Atlanta United, New York City FC, D.C. United, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles FC and New York Red Bulls will all be on display on Sunday. 

The Los Angeles clubs stole the headlines at the end of the secondary transfer window to reinforce their positions ain the Western Conference, and even if their new players do not play on Sunday, it will be interesting to see if they provide a mental boost in the middle of the postseason push. 

Of the six teams, D.C. might be the most intriguing to watch this week to see its response to Wayne Rooney leaving at the end of the season, as well as the countless new faces it added over the last week. 

Before some of the top clubs in MLS steal the spotlight on Sunday, we will witness the MLS debut of the “Hell is Real” derby on Saturday between Columbus and FC Cincinnati.

There are two other rivalry clashes on Saturday, one between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake and the other in Cascadia, and there are some showdowns that could send shockwaves through each conference table. 

MLS Week 23 Schedule

Saturday, August 10 

New England Revolution at Seattle Sounders (4 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

FC Cincinnati at Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Orlando City at Toronto FC (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN4) 

Minnesota United at FC Dallas (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Montreal Impact at Chicago Fire (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

San Jose Earthquakes at Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Vancouver Whitecaps at Portland Timbers (11 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN 1/4) 

Sunday, August 11

New York City FC at Atlanta United (3:55 p.m. ET, ESPN) 

Houston Dynamo at Philadelphia Union (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

LA Galaxy at D.C. United (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) 

New York Red Bulls at Los Angeles FC (10 p.m. ET, FS1) 

Things To Watch 

Bounce Back In Seattle

Aug 4, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei (24) reacts following a 3-2 defeat against the Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The first game of the weekend presents New England and Seattle with an interesting dynamic.

Both the Revs and Sounders are coming off disappointing home defeats, with Bruce Arena’s side falling to LAFC and Brian Schmetzer’s squad dropping a result to Sporting Kansas City.

In theory, the Sounders should be favored in this game because they did not have to travel cross-country and prepare for a tough opponent. 

But this is around the time of year when teams right above and below the red line get a little desperate, and even though the Revs have played well under Arena, they need to show a stronger sense of urgency with Toronto FC hot on their heels. 

Saturday also marks the start of an important stretch for the Revs, who have four of their next six on the road. 

Elimination Game at BMO? 

Aug 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; The Toronto FC celebrate a goal scored by defender Drew Moor (3) in the first half against the Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC sits three points ahead of Orlando City going into Week 23. 

If the Reds knock off the Lions, that would create a six-point difference with nine games left.

It is not an insurmountable deficit for Orlando City to make up, but falling in Ontario would make life more difficult with Toronto and New England playing well. 

On top of that, a victory by Greg Vanney’s side would give it a two-win advantage over Orlando. Wins are the first tiebreaker if teams are even on points. 

Hell Is Real 

August 3, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Columbus Crew SC midfielder Artur (8) during the second half against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

FC Cincinnati and Columbus should treat their two derby matches like MLS Cup. 

Neither team is making the postseason and none of their remaining matches will carry more significance than the first two editions of the Ohio derby. 

The Crew have taken eight points from the last four games. Before their recent run of form, the Crew earned 10 points from March 30-July 13. 

FC Cincinnati has lost its last four league matches, but it has reinforcements on the way and a new manager, Ron Jans, in charge. 

The Crew also have some new players they would like to integrate into the squad, so there could be some growing pains on both sides as the intensity pours on to the field from the expected boisterous support from both teams in attendance. 

Is Sporting KC Back? 

Aug 4, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell (7, right) backs down Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan (7, left) during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

We have asked this question a few times this season and on each occurrence Sporting KC has disappointed in its response. 

After beating the Sounders at CenturyLink Field in Week 22, Peter Vermes’ side returns home for a crucial clash with Real Salt Lake that could inch it back into the playoff discussion.

Sporting KC has four of its next five games at home, all of which are against Western Conference foes. If it can take advantage of that run at Children’s Mercy Park, it has a chance to sneak into the No. 7 seed, but we are not fully convinced it can since it is 4-3-3 at home. 

Can Portland Break Its Vancouver Curse? 

May 10, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps defender Erik Godoy (22) reaches for the ball against Portland Timbers during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers have not defeated Vancouver in league play since October 22, 2017.

The Whitecaps swept the season series in 2018 and shut out the Timbers in their first Cascadia Cup clash back in May. 

Since then, Marc Dos Santos’ team has two wins from 14 matches, but it does carry some momentum from a late game-winner against FC Cincinnati a week ago. 

Portland is the better of the two sides based on pure talent, and there is a chance it could take out all its anger from back-to-back losses to Minnesota United on the Whitecaps at home. 

Second vs. Third In East 

Apr 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC’s Valentin Castellanos (11) celebrates his goal with forward Heber (9) during the first half against the Chicago Fire at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Depending on who you ask, Atlanta United and all of its talent, or New York City FC and its games in hand will eventually top the Eastern Conference. 

The Five Stripes sniffed first place overnight in Week 22 before Philadelphia snatched it back, and now they have an opportunity to create some distance between themselves and NYCFC for the time being. 

Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez, Ezequiel Barco and Josef Martinez are coming off their best performance of the season, but they could face a tough time against Alexander Ring and NYCFC’s defensive-minded players. 

We do not talk about NYCFC’s attackers as much as we should, but they can pack a massive punch in the final third as well between Maxi Moralez, Valentin Castellanos and Heber. 

How Will D.C. Respond To Wild Week?

Jul 4, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) in action during the game between FC Dallas and the D.C. United at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United experienced one of the most tumultuous weeks of any MLS team in 2019, with Rooney announcing his departure at the end of the season and a handful of players coming into the squad. 

All of the moves occurred days after the Black-and-Red received a 5-1 thumping at the hands of the Union. 

Ben Olsen’s side needs a positive result to erase any doubt that the Rooney situation is weighing down its chase to secure a postseason berth.

There is no better way to make a statement than to do it on national television against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy, who themselves need a result in Week 23 after being bumped from the top four in the West a week ago. 

The post MLS Week 23 Preview: Massive Sunday slate, Hell is Real debuts appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Power Rankings Week 22: Philadelphia Union, Minnesota United move into top 5

Nobody likes the status quo in power rankings, unless you are a fan of the team in the No. 1 spot. Los Angeles Football Club have been in the penthouse for much of the season and remains there again following Week 22.

But there is plenty of movement in the Pro Soccer USA MLS Power Rankings. In fact, LAFC are one of just three teams — FC Dallas at No. 13 and Toronto FC at No. 15 — to remain in the same spot they were a week ago.

The Philadelphia Union moved up five spots following a 5-1 victory over D.C. United at Audi Field, a result that dropped the hosts five places. Atlanta United moved back into the top five after a convincing 3-0 victory over the LA Galaxy, as did Minnesota United, which advanced six places after a 1-0 home win over the Portland Timbers. 

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 (16-3-4, 52 points): The league’s best team knocked off the hottest one as LAFC defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 on goals by Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing. Next up is a tasty home tilt against the New York Red Bulls. (7) Philadelphia Union (12-7-6, 42 points): Marco Fabian struck for a brace and Alejandro Bedoya, Kacper Przbylko and Fafa Picault had a goal apiece in a 5-1 drubbing of D.C. United at Audi Field. (2) San Jose Earthquakes (11-7-5, 38 points): The winning streak ended at four matches, but the Quakes are now unbeaten in five following a 1-1 home draw with Columbus Crew SC. Magnus Eriksson scored San Jose’s lone goal late in the first half. (8) Atlanta United (12-9-3, 39 points): Do the defending MLS Cup champs have their swagger back? In front of 72,548 fans at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta United dismantled the LA Galaxy 3-0 with Josef Martinez scoring from the penalty spot following a pair of first-half own goals. (11) Minnesota United FC (11-7-5, 38 points): The Loons took the express elevator to the top five thanks to a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers with Ethan Finlay scoring the loan goal from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time. (10) New York Red Bulls (11-9-4, 37 points): An own goal by Chris Mavinga set up by a moment of brilliance from Kaku and a Kemar Lawrence insurance tally in second-half stoppage time secured a 2-0 home win over Toronto FC. (5) Seattle Sounders FC (11-7-5, 38 points): The Sounders rallied thanks to a Jordan Morris second-half brace, but they suffered a 3-2 defeat at home to Sporting Kansas City. (3) New York City FC (9-4-8, 35 points): NYCFC got off to a hot start thanks to another Alex Ring goal, but the visitors appeared to run out of gas in a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night. (4) Portland Timbers (9-9-4, 31 points): The Timbers tumble five spots following a loss to Minnesota United that snapped a six-match unbeaten streak. (12) LA Galaxy (12-10-1, 37 points): The Zlatan-less Galaxy fell flat in a 3-0 loss at Atlanta with Dave Romney and Giancarlo Gonzalez accounting for two of the goals with first-half own goals. (6) New England Revolution (9-9-6, 33 points): The league’s longest unbeaten streak is no more as the Revs run ended at 11 matches with their first defeat since Bruce Arena took over. (14) Real Salt Lake (10-9-4, 34 points): It’s now four matches without defeat for RSL, which rallied from an early deficit to beat NYCFC at RioT thanks to goals by Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnak and Nick Besler. (13) FC Dallas (9-9-6, 33 points): Like so many other teams in the league, FC Dallas are searching for consistency. After a win and a draw, they suffered a 2-0 loss to Orlando City S C on the road. (9) D.C. United (9-7-9, 36 points): It was a rough week for D.C. United, which suffered a lopsided home loss to the Union, are now winless in their last three and learned star forward Wayne Rooney will leave at season’s end to be a player-coach at Derby County. (15) Toronto FC (9-10-5, 32 points): The Reds lost on the road to the Red Bulls and finished with 10 men, but were the better team in the opening 45 minutes, but couldn’t solve Luis Robles, who robbed Jacob Shaffleburg late in the first half. (17) Orlando City SC (8-11-5, 29 points): The Lions secured three huge home points Saturday, beating FC Dallas on goals by Tesho Akindele and Carlos Ascues. (21) Sporting Kansas City (7-9-7, 28 points): Felipe Gutierrez had a first-half brace and Erik Hurtado scored the eventual game-winner in the second half in a huge 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field Sunday. (16) Montreal Impact (10-12-3, 33 points): Three goals are usually good enough to secure a win, but not when the Impact leak six in a nine-goal thriller at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday night. (19) Columbus Crew SC (7-14-4, 25 points): Gyasi Zardes scored the second-half equalizer as Crew SC secured a 1-1 draw at San Jose to extend an unbeaten streak to four games. (24) Chicago Fire (6-10-9, 27 points): The Fire snapped a five-match winless streak with a 1-0 victory over the host Houston Dynamo with Nemanja Nikolic scoring the lone goal in first-half stoppage time. (20) Colorado Rapids (6-12-5, 23 points): Kei Kamara struck for a hat trick, not including his early own goal, and Diego Rubio and Andre Shinyashiki aded goals for the Rapids in a 6-3 win over visiting Montreal. (18) Houston Dynamo (9-11-3, 30 points): BBVA Stadium was once a fortress for the Dynamo, but it’s now three consecutive home losses, including two straight by the same 1-0 scoreline. Next up is a tricky Thursday night match against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. (23) Vancouver Whitecaps (5-11-9, 24 points): A nine-match winless streak ended Saturday night with the Whitecaps pulling out a 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. Felipe, who was dealt to D.C. United three days later, scored the late winner. (22) FC Cincinnati (5-17-2, 17 points): It’s four consecutive defeats and losses in 10 of the last 12 for FC Cincinnati, which fell to the Whitecaps at Nippert Stadium. Next is the first “Hell is Real” derby against Columbus Crew SC.

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

The post MLS Power Rankings Week 22: Philadelphia Union, Minnesota United move into top 5 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Player Rankings Week 22: Marco Fabian, Kei Kamara barge into top 10

It is hard for a player to crack the top 10 of the Pro Soccer USA Major League Soccer Player Rankings if they were not ranked the week prior. 

That trend has been bucked in a major way after Week 22, with Marco Fabian of the Philadelphia Union and Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara both bursting into the top half of the rankings.

The duo headline a collection of six new entrants to the list of the top 20 in-form players across MLS. 

At the top, the battle between Carlos Vela and Josef Martinez wages on, while Los Angeles FC once again placed three of its stars in the top 10.

The Pro Soccer USA MLS Player Rankings are determined by a player’s form over the last four games, with the most recent showing carrying a bit more weight. 

20. Julian Gressel, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 13 

Julian Gressel directs a teammate during Atlanta United's 3-2 loss to Toronto FC at BMO Field in Toronto on June 26, 2019. (Steve Kingsman-Atlanta United)

Julian Gressel directs a teammate during Atlanta United’s 3-2 loss to Toronto FC at BMO Field in Toronto on June 26, 2019. (Steve Kingsman-Atlanta United)

Julian Gressel failed to extend his points streak to four games in Atlanta United’s 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

 The German midfielder handed out four key passes in the victory while completing 76.7 percent of his passes.

19. Brian White, F, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: 11

Jul 27, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Brian White (42) plays the ball against Columbus Crew SC defender Aboubacar Keita (30) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Brian White could not manage a shot on target in the New York Red Bulls 2-0 win over Toronto FC, ending his second two-game scoring streak of the 2019 campaign. 

White opened August with an 82-minute shift in the victory that moved Chris Armas’ side up to third place in the Eastern Conference. 

Three of White’s last five tallies have come on the road, and he will try to add to that total in Week 23 at Banc of California Stadium against Los Angeles FC.

18. Gustavo Bou, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 9

New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Gustavo Bou and the New England Revolution failed to make a statement at home Saturday against LAFC. 

In the 2-0 defeat, the 29-year-old Argentinian didn’t take a single shot over 90 minutes against the defensive unit led by Walker Zimmerman. 

It was the first time Bou did not contribute to a goal since joining the club a few weeks ago.

17. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 5 

May 11, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) moves in for a shot on goal against New York City during the second half at StubHub Center. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

In the last month, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored three goals, all in the El Trafico triumph over LAFC. 

That performance was sandwiched between a shotless showing against San Jose and an outing vs. Portland that led to a yellow-card accumulation suspension for Week 22. 

The Swede should be back on the field Sunday for the Galaxy’s nationally-televised clash with D.C. United at Audi Field. 

16. Alexander Ring, M, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 3, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; New York City midfielder Alexander Ring (8) and Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (5) go for the ball in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

Like Portland’s Diego Chara, New York City FC’s Alexander Ring does not receive as much credit for his performances week in and week out that he deserves. 

The NYCFC captain, who is a relentless worker in the middle of the park, scored for the second game in a row Saturday against Real Salt Lake. 

In addition to being a defensive stalwart, the Finnish midfielder has two goals and two assists in his last 180 minutes. 

15. Ike Opara, D, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Mar 30, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) during the first half against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Ike Opara returns to the list after Minnesota United climbed up to second place in the Western Conference in Week 22. 

The Loons defense limited the chances provided to Portland’s Brian Fernandez by holding the big-money signing to a pair of attempts on target. 

Opara has anchored a defensive unit that has held opponents to one goal in the last four contests. 

14. Jefferson Savarino, F, Real Salt Lake

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 3, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino (7) takes a shot against New York City defender Ronald Matarrita (22) in the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

Jefferson Savarino has had his way with Eastern Conference defenses at Rio Tinto Stadium in the last month. 

After scoring twice and assisting on another strike on July 13 against the Union, the 22-year-old Venezuelan provided a tally and a handout in the 3-1 win over NYCFC Saturday. 

With his next goal, Savarino will have 20 goals and 20 assists in three season with the Claret-and-Cobalt. 

13. Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 27, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris (13) controls the ball as Houston Dynamo midfielder Tomas Martinez (10) defends during the second half at BBVA Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Morris is rounding into form at the perfect time for the Seattle Sounders. 

The U.S. Men’s National Team forward netted his second brace of 2019 in his club’s 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City Sunday.

Although the Sounders did not win on home turf in Week 22, Morris’ three strikes in two games is a positive development for a team in the thick of the race for a home playoff game in the West beneath LAFC.

12. Magnus Eriksson, F, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: 15 

August 3, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Magnus Eriksson (7) during the first half against the Columbus Crew SC at Avaya Stadium. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Magnus Eriksson bagged the lone San Jose goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew. 

The 29-year-old Swede has contributed to a strike in each of the last three Earthquakes games, with two goals and one assist. 

Eriksson and the Quakes head to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Week 23 to take on a Colorado Rapids team he picked up an assist against July 27.

11. Adama Diomande, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 10 

Jul 12, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande (99) controls the ball during the first half against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Adama Diomande took a back seat to the other forwards in the LAFC lineup in Saturday’s victory at Gillette Stadium.

The Norwegian striker didn’t place a shot on target in 79 minutes against the Revolution after picking up a goal and an assist vs. Atlanta in Week 21. 

10. Heber, F, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: 8 

Jun 6, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC forward Heber (9) celebrates his goal against FC Cincinnati during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Heber’s five-game scoring streak that dated back to June 1 came to a halt at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The Brazilian forward put two shots on target in his attempt to bag the 10th goal of his inaugural MLS campaign. 

The 27-year-old will have plenty of opportunities throughout August to bolster his scoring total, starting Thursday at home against a struggling Houston side. 

9. Eduard Atuesta, M, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 17 

Apr 21, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) celebrates his goal during the first half against the Seattle Sounders FC at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Eduard Atuesta continued his remarkable season in the middle of the field with 124 touches, three key passes and an 84.7 percent pass-completion percentage against the Revs.

The 22-year-old Colombian also made five tackles and three clearances in his club’s seventh shutout in league play. 

8. Vako, M, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: 4

Jun 29, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Vako Kazaishvili (11) celebrates after a win against the LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite not finding the back of the net Saturday night, Vako was still an active participant in the Quakes attack. 

The Republic of Georgia international rattled off a pair of shots on target and dished out two key passes against the Crew. 

In his last four matches, the scorer of seven goals has put at least two attempts on the opposing net. 

7. Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC 

Previous Ranking: 6 

Apr 19, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) plays the ball against Minnesota United in the second half at BMO Field. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Jozy Altidore’s quest to score in five consecutive games came up short in Toronto FC’s defeat to the Red Bulls. 

In fact, the USMNT forward was unable to fire a single shot at the Red Bulls net against a defense led by international teammate Aaron Long. He was ruled offside on his own shot that eluded Luis Robles.

Altidore and Toronto FC return to league play Saturday against an Orlando City team that will also be dealing with short rest. TFC plays in the Canadian Championship Wednesday, while the Lions took on Atlanta Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup.

6. Kei Kamara, F, Colorado Rapids

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Aug 3, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara (23) scores on a penalty kick during the first half against the Montreal Impact at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. (Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports)

Kei Kamara moved into double digits in the scoring column for the third straight season by way of a Saturday hat trick against Montreal.

The Sierra Leone international has hit the 10-goal mark with three different clubs in the last three years. 

In total, Kamara has six double-digit scoring seasons with five clubs (Sporting Kansas City/Kansas City Wizards, New England, Vancouver, Columbus, Colorado) 

5. Marco Fabian, M, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jun 2, 2019; Saint Paul , MN, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Marco Fabian (10) carries the ball during the second half against Minnesota United at Allianz Field. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Marco Fabian turned in his best performance in a Philadelphia Union shirt at the perfect time for the first-place side in the East.

The Mexican midfielder scored his first brace in MLS, handed out six key passes and sent five of his six attempts on goal. 

Fabian has scored three times in his last five contests after finding the back of the net on three occurrences in his first 10 matches. 

4. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 3

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Carles Gil (22) reacts after a goal during the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

 Carles Gil had a rare off night in the Revolution midfield against LAFC by producing a single shot on target and zero key passes. 

The Revs were held to one attempt on goal in the 2-0 defeat that ended their 11-game unbeaten run in league play. 

The top team in the league ended a run of three straight games with a goal and an assist from the 26-year-old Spaniard. 

3. Diego Rossi, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 7

Aug 3, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) celebrates with defender Jordan Harvey (2) and forward Latif Blessing (7) after scoring against the New England Revolution during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Diego Rossi was one of the few players listed in the top 10 last week to scorch the back of the goal in Week 22. 

The Uruguayan deposited his 13th tally of the season in LAFC’s victory that cooled down the red-hot Revs. 

In 55 MLS games, Rossi has 25 goals and 14 assists. 

2. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 1

Jul 3, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) dribbles the ball against Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic (15) during the second half at Children’s Mercy Park. (Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports)

For just the sixth time in 2019, Carlos Vela failed to score in a game in which he started.

That means he has scored in 16 of his 22 starts, a remarkable run that is one of the many reasons why LAFC sits atop the West and Supporters’ Shield standings. 

Vela was still an active part of LAFC’s attack in Week 22 by putting four of his seven shots on goal and handing out a quartet of key passes.

1. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 2

Aug 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) reacts after scoring a goal on a penalty kick against Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Josef Martinez moved within four goals of Vela in the Golden Boot race with his tally against LA Galaxy Saturday. 

With his 18th tally of 2019, the Venezuelan tied the MLS mark for longest consecutive scoring run at nine games, a point he hit a year ago as well. 

Martinez will try to become the first player in league history to hit the back of the goal on 10 straight occasions Sunday against NYCFC. 

The post MLS Player Rankings Week 22: Marco Fabian, Kei Kamara barge into top 10 appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Week 22 Rewind: Eastern Conference leaders deliver statements

The top three teams in the Eastern Conference at the end of Week 22 won their games by a combined 10-1 score Saturday and Sunday. 

Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls have established a hierarchy atop the crowded playoff race for now, with D.C. United, who lost 5-1 to Jim Curtin’s side on Sunday, sitting in fourth. 

The Union arguably made the biggest statement of the three after losing two of their previous three games by 4-0 scorelines. 

Captain Alejandro Bedoya and big-money signing Marco Fabián were at the forefront of the attacking onslaught, while forwards Kacper Przybyłko and Fafà Picault bagged a goal each. 

In addition to four different players putting their names on the score sheet, Curtin got all of his lineup decisions correct. Veterans Aurélien Collin and Warren Creavalle slid into the starting XI and delivered massive performances, while Ray Gaddis recovered from a brutal stretch of poor form. 

The victory allowed the Union to leapfrog Atlanta United into first place, and in the process, they were the first team in the East to hit the 40-point mark.

Frank ee Boer’s Five Stripes took hold of first place in the East for 24 hours after their comprehensive breakdown of the Zlatan Ibrahimović-less LA Galaxy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday afternoon.

The combination play between Josef Martínez, Ezequiel Barco and Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez was the best it has been this season, and it gave us a glimpse into how strong the defending champion can be when everything is working together. 

The 3-0 victory was a welcome sight for everyone in Atlanta to clear away some of the drama that has been aired out between the manager and his players recently, and it also set the tone for the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Orlando City on Tuesday. 

As for the Red Bulls, they have waded through the muddied waters of spots four through 12 in the East to take third place with 10 games remaining on their schedule. 

Chris Armas’ team used an own goal and a late strike from Kemar Lawrence to move past Toronto FC at home to create some separation between itself and D.C., New York City FC, Montreal and New England, all of whom lost in Week 22. 

The race for first in the East is far from over, but this weekend’s play gave us a bit of an idea as to who could hold the top three places by the end of decision day on October 6. 

Goals of the Week 

Diego Rossi, Los Angeles FC 

Diego Rossi made this chip look easy 🤭 pic.twitter.com/QvsmZg614y

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 4, 2019

Albert Rusnák, Real Salt Lake 

Que golazo! An incredible goal from Albert Rusnak. #RSLvNYC pic.twitter.com/iM4ozrQIFY

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 4, 2019

Carlos Ascues, Orlando City 

The first in purple for @carlos_ascues and what a beauty it is! #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/iQNSCmM8pP

— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 4, 2019

LAFC Ends New England’s Unbeaten Run 

Saturday’s clash at Gillette Stadium between Los Angeles FC and the New England Revolution was billed as the “game of the week” by many due to the recent form of both sides. 

LAFC, as it has done on many occasions this season, stamped its dominance on the match and came away from Foxborough, Mass., with three points. 

Bob Bradley’s team has victories in five of its past six games, with the lone outlier being the loss in El Tráfico to the LA Galaxy. 

The Revs, who have undergone a resurgence with Bruce Arena in charge, did not lose any ground in the race for the final two playoff positions in the East since Toronto and Montreal both suffered defeats on Saturday.

Kamara’s Historic Night 

Speaking of Montreal, it was on the wrong end of a 6-3 thumping handed out by Kei Kamara and the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

In the process of scoring a hat trick, Kamara went over the 10-goal mark for the sixth time in his MLS career. He has reached the accomplishment with five different franchises: Columbus, Sporting Kansas City/Kansas City Wizards, New England, Colorado and Vancouver

Own Goal Week 

Own goals dominated the score sheet Saturday, with two of them netted in Atlanta’s win over the Galaxy and Colorado’s conquest of Montreal.  The Red Bulls also benefited from a Toronto FC own goal at Red Bull Arena. 

In the games in Atlanta and Colorado, the own goals were the first two tallies of the contest, and they were each followed by penalty kicks.

Stock Up, Stock Down: Western Conference Edition 

Stock Up: Minnesota United

Let’s hear it for the Loons! 

Minnesota United ended the weekend in second place in the Western Conference after a late Ethan Finlay penalty kick powered it past the Portland Timbers at Allianz Field on Sunday. 

Minnesota holds a goal-differential tiebreaker over San Jose and Seattle, who are both on 38 points and have 11 wins. 

The Loons are 7-1-4 in their new dwelling, and Adrian Heath has forced his name into the coach of the year conversation by guiding them to a surprising 11-7-5 record overall. 

Stock Up: Western Conference Bottom Feeders

Colorado, Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver all produced victories in Week 22 in an attempt to close the gap between themselves at the bottom of the West and the red playoffs line. 

The Rapids put up six goals on the Impact at home, while the Whitecaps and Sporting KC notched massive road wins. 

Marc Dos Santos’ side used a late second-half strike from Felipe to down FC Cincinnati, while Peter Vermes’ SKC went into CenturyLink Field and finished the weekend with a 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders. 

Stock Down: Houston Dynamo

The team directly above the three bottom teams in the West could join them if its form does not turn around soon.

With their home loss to Chicago on Saturday, the Houston Dynamo have lost eight of their past 10 games in league play, a streak that dates back to the resumption of games after the Concacaf Gold Cup break. 

Life could get much worse for Wilmer Cabrera’s team with four road contests left in August, including a pair against New York City FC and Philadelphia in Week 23. 

The post MLS Week 22 Rewind: Eastern Conference leaders deliver statements appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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Kei Kamara’s rare milestone for Colorado and other takeaways from the Rapids’ 6-3 win over Montreal

Colorado stormed back from an early own goal to take a 4-1 halftime lead during what turned out to be a nine-goal scoring fest between the Rapids and Montreal Impact Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Montreal closed the gap to 4-3 in the second half, but the Rapids stayed on the gas as well, tacking on two more goals to earn a 6-3 win at home and snap a four-game winless streak.  

Here are three takeaways from the match:

Lights. Kamara. Action

With a hat trick Saturday night, Rapids forward Kei Kamara reached double-digit goals on the season, making Colorado the fifth different franchise for which Kamara has accomplished that feat.

It’s an important milestone for any top-level striker in MLS, but Kamara shrugged it off as a base level of performance.

“It’s not too much pressure, but you have to hit double-digit goals,” he told reporters after the game. “You have to have a striker on your team that’s going to hit that every single year.”

For Kamara there may be no pressure, but for Colorado as a franchise it’s been a relatively rare milestone. The last time a Colorado player marked 11 goals was in 2010 when Omar Cummings (11) and Conor Casey (13) both reached that mark.

Casey, now the Rapids interim head coach, had heaps of praise for Kamara following the win.

“He was incredible,” Casey said of Kamara. “Great attitude all week. We wanted to get more service into him, because to be fair, he’s been doing a lot of the dirty work for us and hasn’t been getting a lot of reward. Today he did and he made the best of it.”

Speedy Delivery

Rapids midfielder Jack Price had three assists Saturday to match Kamara’s three goals. At the beginning of the season, questions surrounded Colorado’s set pieces after specialist and designated player Shkëlzen Gashi was released by the team.

But Price has stepped up as the team’s primary set-piece taker and Colorado continues to lead the league in opportunities created from corners and free kicks.

“He was great,” Casey said of Price’s performance. “He’s been out [with injury], so it’s been great to have him back with the team. His delivery off of set pieces and his energy were both great.”

Scoring off of set pieces has been crucial in Casey’s system.

“Obviously, a lot of them came from set pieces,” he said of Colorado’s scoring opportunities. “We were clinical again on set pieces. It’s been a big part of our success this season.”

Did you die, though?

Another crucial point to the Rapids’ success under Conor Casey has been a willingness and need to continue to pressure teams offensively late into matches. This has been a sticking point particularly at home, where Colorado has the marked advantage of altitude.

Even with a 4-1 lead, Colorado continued to attack instead of bunker to try to protect the lead. It resulted in Montreal closing the gap to 4-3, but it also paid off when the Rapids were able to close the game out with the final two goals of the match.

Rapids attacker Diego Rubio explained the mentality behind the strategy best.

“At the start of the season we talked about that. At home we need to press our opponents, because we all know there’s altitude here in Colorado and they’ll probably die,” Rubio said. “We need to score goals to do that, to give us confidence, to give us more energy. So, we scored four goals and in the second half we said ‘We need to keep going.’”

The post Kei Kamara’s rare milestone for Colorado and other takeaways from the Rapids’ 6-3 win over Montreal appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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Colorado Rapids not plagued by Montreal Impact in 6-3 home win

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Despite concerns of a plague outbreak surrounding Saturday’s match between the Colorado Rapids and Montreal Impact, the game played on and Colorado won 6-3 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“Execution, really,” Rapids coach Conor Casey said of the reason behind the win. “We created a lot of chances. We had good energy starting out. We were unfortunate to have the own goal. We were clinical again on set pieces, and a lot of positives to take away tonight.”

Montreal (10-12-3, 33 points) opened the scoring in the 18th minute when a cross from Saphir Taïder landed on the head of Rapids striker Kei Kamara, who knocked it in for an own goal.

Colorado (5-12-5, 20 points) responded in the 21st minute. A Jack Price cross deflected off Kamara and Rapids defender Lalas Abubakar before making a final bounce off Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush. The second own goal of the match leveled the score at 1-1.

Colorado nearly took its first lead of the match eight minutes later, but Kellyn Acosta’s shot from the center of the 18-yard box was high and wide of the mark.

In the 35th minute, Rapids forward Diego Rubio drew a foul in the box, prompting a penalty call. Kamara slotted home the shot in the lower right corner to give the Rapids a 2-1 lead.

Kamara extended the lead again in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. An initial shot by Sam Nicholson deflected out to Kamara, who slotted it in the lower right corner to give Colorado a 3-1 lead.

In the third minute of the four-minute stoppage time period, Colorado scored yet again. Price connected with Rubio in the box, who slotted home the header to give the Rapids a 4-1 lead before the halftime whistle.

“Mentality, work-wise and desire, he’s been giving everything to the team lately,” Casey said of Rubio, who has scored five goals in the past seven matches.

After 45 minutes, Colorado had scored four goals off three on-target efforts, while holding just 41 percent possession in the opening stanza.

Tim Howard, who made his first appearance since coming off injured two weeks ago in a 2-1 loss to NYCFC, subbed off at halftime for Clint Irwin. Casey confirmed postgame that the substitution was due to the calf injury that continues to affect Howard. 

Colorado nearly got a fifth goal in the opening minutes of the second half, but the goal was called offside.

[See image gallery at appserver-ba4e1838.c.pantheon-dmz.internal]

Montreal pulled one back in the 55th minute when Maxi Urruti sent a curling shot into the upper 90 to make the score 4-2.

Despite several Rapids counterattacks, the visitors scored the next goal. Substitute Mathieu Choinière drew a foul from Acosta in Colorado’s box. Taïder took the penalty and converted, cutting the lead to 4-3 in the 76th minute.

But Colorado continued on the attack and extended its lead to two goals yet again two minutes later. Andre Shinyashiki added the fifth goal for the Rapids in the 78th minute.

Twelve minutes later, the Rapids found the back of the net again, with Kamara completing his hat trick off a headed effort to put Colorado in front 6-3 just before stoppage time.

“He was incredible,” Casey said of Kamara. “Great attitude all week. He’s been doing a lot of the dirty work for us and hasn’t always got the reward but tonight he did.”

Colorado saw out the match to earn its sixth win of the season, all coming under interim coach Conor Casey.

“It’s a statement, but we have to continue to back it up,” Casey continued. “We know where we’re at in the table so we’ve got to keep working hard.

Still at bottom of the Western Conference, the Rapids will host San Jose next Saturday night.  Montreal returns home to host Cavalry in a Canadian Championship semifinal Wednesday before playing at Chicago next Saturday.

The post Colorado Rapids not plagued by Montreal Impact in 6-3 home win appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Week 22: Galaxy face Atlanta without Zlatan, Revs-LAFC face off at Gillette

With the flipping of the calendar from July to August comes a larger sense of urgency for the Major League Soccer clubs involved in the playoff hunt.

The only thing we know for certain regarding the 14 playoff positions, seven in each conference, is that Los Angeles FC appears to be first in line to host MLS Cup by winning the Supporters’ Shield. 

Unless Bob Bradley’s team suffers a massive setback over a month-long span, it will be the top seed in the Western Conference, but after that, everything is up for grabs. 

The difference in the Eastern Conference between first-place Philadelphia and New England in seventh is six points, with Toronto sitting in eighth one point back of the red line. 

Eight points separates second-place Seattle from ninth-place Houston in the West, with Sporting Kansas City clinging to life 10th six points out of the final playoff spot. 

There will be an intensified focus to Week 22, and every week of play that follows, and there are some key clashes on Saturday and Sunday that could give us some clarity, while others are East-versus-West matchups that could serve as litmus tests for certain clubs. 

Week 22 Schedule

Saturday, August 3

LA Galaxy at Atlanta United (5 p.m. ET, Fox) 

Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls (6 p.m. ET, TSN4, ESPN+) 

Los Angeles FC at New England Revolution (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

FC Dallas at Orlando City (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Vancouver Whitecaps at FC Cincinnati (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Montreal Impact at Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Chicago Fire at Houston Dynamo (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

New York City FC at Real Salt Lake (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Columbus Crew at San Jose Earthquakes (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sunday, August 4

Portland Timbers at Minnesota United (4 p.m. ET, ESPN) 

Philadelphia Union at D.C. United (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) 

Sporting Kansas City at Seattle Sounders (10 p.m. ET, FS1) 

Things to Watch 

How Will Galaxy Deal With Zlatan’s Absence? 

The LA Galaxy head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium without their most recognizable piece. Zlatan Ibrahimović is suspended for the clash with Atlanta United due to yellow-card accumulation. 

The Galaxy have to prove they can put in positive performance without the Swedish forward, who has 13 more goals than his next teammate on the scoring chart. 

Since Ibrahimović made his debut last year, the Galaxy have been outscored 14-9 in regular-season games in which he does not play a single minute. If you take away the 5-0 loss to Seattle from last year, the goal mark is even. 

In fact, the Galaxy are 4-4 in those games, so losing Ibrahimovic does not mean certain defeat for Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side, but it means its defense and midfield will have to work harder to halt Atlanta United and create chances in the final third. 

Look for Jonathan dos Santos, who played well in the win over LAFC, to be one of the key figures for the Galaxy if they come away from Atlanta with a positive result. 

Can Martínez Keep Scoring? 

Atlanta United forward Josef Martínez has a chance to tie his own record scoring streak in Saturday’s meeting with the Galaxy.

The Venezuelan has scored in eight consecutive league games, and with one tally versus the Galaxy, he will tie the mark he set on August 24, 2018.

Even if he doesn’t score on Saturday, Martínez will be in possession of two of the three longest scoring runs in MLS history. 

The third is held by Diego Valeri, who scored in nine straight matches from July 29 to September 24, 2017.

Will the Revs Make A Statement Against LAFC? 

An argument can be made that Saturday’s clash at Gillette Stadium is the Game of the Week. 

The New England Revolution, who most of us left for dead in May, possess the best form in MLS with an 11-game unbeaten run. 

The toughest task of Bruce Arena’s Revs tenure comes against the best team in the league in the rare clash of former United States men’s national team managers in MLS against Bob Bradley. 

While the forwards on both sides have garnered plenty of attention this season, the key to the game sits in the battle between two of the most underrated players in the league. 

New England’s Carles Gil is the engine that makes the Revs attack tick, while Eduard Atuesta has been a massive force in front of the back four for LAFC.

If Atuesta is able to jam up the channels in midfield where Gil likes to produce, the Black-and-Gold could end the Revs’ run while reasserting their dominance. 

Can the Union Re-Assert Their Spot Atop East? 

Philadelphia has two 4-0 road losses in its past three games serving as the black eye on its credentials to earn the top spot in the Eastern Conference. 

On Sunday, the Union have a golden opportunity to put those results behind them while knocking off a conference rival on a national stage. 

Jim Curtin’s side will have left back Kai Wagner back in the squad, and it appears likely that Jamiro Monteiro will return in some capacity from his ankle injury. 

The Union have had success in league play in Washington, D.C., of late with a road win in each of the past two seasons, and they hold a four-game winning streak in MLS play over Ben Olsen’s side. 

Of course, the Black and Red can turn it on at any moment through Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta, and with one win since June 29, they need this game even more than the Union to revive their form. 

A win by the Union would extend their advantage over D.C. to six points and keep their East lead at three points, while a D.C. victory would open the door for Atlanta to take first and throw more chaos into the race for the No. 1 spot. 

Minnesota-Portland, Part 1 of 2

Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers square off for the first of two matches across two competitions in three days on Sunday at Allianz Field.

Before the Western Conference sides battle for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup final, they must contest a crucial game that will affect the playoff picture. 

The Loons are coming off a disappointing home draw against Vancouver in what can only be viewed as a game in which they dropped points. 

The surge everyone expected out of Portland is happening, and it is ready to move further up from seventh with a game in hand on most of its competition. 

After Sunday, the Timbers have 10 straight games at Providence Park in league play, so picking up any extra points would be a plus. 

We all know about the midfield difference-makers in each squad, but the true advantage on Sunday could be found at fullback. Jorge Moreira and Romain Métanire both can impact the game by surging forward on the flanks, and if one of them is a constant force in the final third, their team could come away with three points. 

The post MLS Week 22: Galaxy face Atlanta without Zlatan, Revs-LAFC face off at Gillette appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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Plague confirmed in areas around Dick’s Sporting Goods Park ahead of Colorado-Montreal match

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Saturday night’s game between the Colorado Rapids and Montreal Impact will continue as scheduled, but there will be several changes at the recommendation of the Tri-County Health Department and the City of Commerce City, due to the discovery of plague-infested prairie dog colonies in the areas surrounding Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

At the recommendation of the health department, parking will be restricted to the surface asphalt lots to minimize risk to patrons, team and staff attending the game.

Additionally, the post-game fireworks display that was scheduled to follow the match has been cancelled, due to the staging area being in the affected zone of the plague contamination. It marks the third time this season in which the club has been forced to cancel or delay fireworks shows due to outside elements. Fireworks shows following the June 28 and July 4 matches due to inclement weather surrounding the stadium.

The prairie dog colonies are currently being sprayed with insecticide to kill the fleas which transmit the disease and signs are posted for people to avoid the affected areas.

“Plague in prairie dog colonies is common in Colorado and can be managed safely with insecticide to kill the fleas that spread the disease,” John M. Douglas, Jr., executive director of Tri-County Health Department told 9NEWS in Denver. “Our partners have voluntarily closed these locations to prevent any humans or pets from wandering into the affected areas.”

According to a fact sheet provided on the Tri County Health Department’s website, plague is a very serious illness which includes symptoms of swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, headache, and extreme exhaustion. However, if the disease is contracted, it can be treated by antibiotics.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie Gateway Open Space and unpaved parking areas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park are closed until further notice, the health department said in a news release.

“Our highest priority is the health and safety of our fans, staff, and local community,” the Rapids said in a team statement.

The post Plague confirmed in areas around Dick’s Sporting Goods Park ahead of Colorado-Montreal match appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Week 21 Player Rankings: Carles Gil, Jozy Altidore continue to rise

The challengers are mounting beneath Carlos Vela for the No. 1 position in the Pro Soccer USA Major League Soccer Player Rankings. 

A collection of strikers found their form in July, and it has led to one of the toughest lists we have put together all season. 

Surging teams like the New England Revolution continue to make a significant impact on the list of the top 20 in-form players in MLS. 

There are also a few midseason acquisitions who have forced their way into the rankings, including one in the top 10 after Week 21.

The MLS Player Rankings take into account the form of players over their last four contests, with the most recent performance carrying a bit of extra weight. 

20. Brian Fernandez, M, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: 7

Jul 7, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Portland Timbers forward Brian Fernandez (7) plays the ball during the second half against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Brian Fernandez was plenty active in Portland’s 4-0 win over the LA Galaxy, but he was only able to manage one shot on goal from the eight attempts he took at Providence Park. 

The 24-year-old forward, who took the league by storm in his first six games, has two goals in his last five games, both of which occurred in the Cascadia Cup victory over Seattle in Week 20.

Fernandez and the Timbers face a tough test Sunday, when they venture up to Allianz Field to take on Minnesota United in what could be a first-round playoff preview.

19. Teal Bunbury, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 6

New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury is preparing for the upcoming MLS season. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Teal Bunbury’s drop to the bottom of the top 20 happened due to back-to-back contests without a goal after striking the twine in five of six games. 

With Gustavo Bou installed in the Revs lineup, it will be interesting to see how Bunbury and the other Revolution forwards produce. 

Even though Bou is the No. 1 striker on the depth chart, Bruce Arena’s team still needs more than just the former Liga MX player to be active in front of the net in order to secure a playoff berth. 

18. Maxi Moralez, M, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: 9

Jul 7, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Portland Timbers midfielder Andres Flores (14) battles for the ball against New York City FC midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

MLS All-Star Maxi Moralez is three assists away from matching his 16 handouts from a year ago. 

In New York City FC’s 3-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City, Moralez saw his two-game assist streak come to an end.

The Argentinian is tied with Carlos Vela atop the league assist chart, and he sits one ahead of Diego Valeri with just over two months left to play. 

17. Eduard Atuesta, M, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 26, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) handles the ball in front of Atlanta United FC midfielder Julian Gressel (24) during the second half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Los Angeles FC has four players in Orlando for the All-Star Game and probably deserves more. 

Eduard Atuesta is arguably the second most important player in the squad behind Vela because of all the work he puts in midfield. 

In addition to scoring a goal in LAFC’s 4-3 triumph over Atlanta United, Atuesta dished out a pair of key passes, led the second-year side in touches and completed 78 percent of his 50 passes. 

16. Lassi Lappalainen, M, Montreal Impact

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 27, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfield Lassi Lappalainen (21) plays the ball against Philadelphia Union during the first half at Stade Saputo. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Lassi Lappalainen put himself in the discussion for the league’s best debut performance with a pair of goals in Montreal’s 4-0 thumping of Philadelphia. 

The 20-year-old from Finland jumped right into the Impact’s starting lineup and recorded a brace in 82 minutes in a game in which Remi Garde’s team needed badly to get back on track in the Eastern Conference. 

15. Magnus Eriksson, F, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 20, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Magnus Eriksson (7) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau (16) (not pictured) during the second half at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Magnus Eriksson is one of many San Jose players benefitting from Matias Almeyda’s system that has brought the club into the playoff mix after a rough start.

The Swedish forward followed up his goal in Week 20 with an assist in Week 21 against the Colorado Rapids. 

While he may not have as big of an impact on the score sheet as Vako, Eriksson has been performing at a high level for a long stretch for the Quakes.

14. Cristian Penilla, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 27, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Cristian Penilla (70) controls the ball during the second half against the Orlando City at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Cristian Penilla also has a goal and an assist in his last two games, but he receives an edge over Eriksson on the list of new entrants because he has a tally and three handouts over three contests. 

Penilla, who scored 12 goals in a debut season under the national radar a year ago, is one assist from matching his total in that category from 2018.

If the Revs are able to fend off competition around the red line, the play of the 28-year-old Ecuadorian could be one of the main reasons for success.

13. Julian Gressel, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Julian Gressel [center] celebrates a goal as Josef Martinez [left] and Eric Remedi walk back to the center circle during Atlanta United's 2-0 win over Toronto FC on May 8, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Julian Gressel [center] celebrates a goal as Josef Martinez [left] and Eric Remedi walk back to the center circle during Atlanta United’s 2-0 win over Toronto FC on May 8, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Julian Gressel is in the middle of his best form of the season for Atlanta United. 

The 25-year-old German has one goal and four assists in his last three matches for the Five Stripes, who are mounting a challenge to first-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. 

Gressel faces a tough challenge in midfield Saturday against Jonathan Dos Santos and the LA Galaxy midfield at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

12. Mason Toye, F, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 8

May 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) blocks a shot attempt by Minnesota United forward Mason Toye (23) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Mason Toye was not on the field for the majority of Minnesota United’s scoreless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

Since he had limited time to make an impact, we kept him higher in the rankings and not drop him like Fernandez and Bunbury, who had ample minutes to make a difference in Week 21. 

Toye and the Loons have an opportunity to put distance between themselves and the Timbers in the Western Conference playoff race in one of Week 22’s top clashes. 

11. Brian White, F, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: 19

Jul 27, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Brian White (42) plays the ball against Columbus Crew SC defender Aboubacar Keita (30) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

All Brian White does is score goals. 

White continued to prove to New York Red Bulls manager Chris Armas why he should remain in the starting XI by netting a goal for the second consecutive week.

The 23-year-old American is now up to eight goals for the campaign, and his success has allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to ease back from injury. With the stretch run of the regular season on the horizon, the pair of forwards should have a chance to combine at some point. 

10. Adama Diomande, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 17 

Jul 26, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande (99) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half against Atlanta United FC at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Adama Diomande picked up a goal and an assist for the second time in three games in Friday’s win at Banc of California Stadium. 

With four goals in his last four matches, Diomande has provided LAFC with an extra in-form weapon in attack who can wreak havoc on opposing back lines, and it forces defenders to not just focus on silencing Vela. 

During his recent surge, Diomande eclipsed his assist total from a year ago and moved within five tallies of his scoring haul from his first year in MLS. 

9. Gustavo Bou, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 14

New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou (7) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

 In three games for the Revolution, Gustavo Bou has two goals and one assist. 

The Argentinian’s performance is the latest in the line of new additions making an immediate impact across MLS in the middle of the season.

Since hitting the field with Bruce Arena’s side, Bou has been one of the club’s most active attackers with 16 shots, six of which have hit the target.

8. Heber, F, New York City FC

Previous Ranking: 13

Jun 6, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC forward Heber (9) celebrates his goal against FC Cincinnati during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

It is becoming clearer that NYCFC hit a home run when picking its David Villa replacement. 

No one was going to bring the unique combination of star power and scoring ability to the field that the Spaniard did, but Heber has been able to produce on a consistent basis in front of goal. 

The 27-year-old Brazilian is one strike away from hitting the 10-goal mark, and it is likely that occurs soon since he has struck the net in his last five starts.

7. Diego Rossi, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 10 

Apr 13, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) moves the ball down the field past FC Cinncinati midfielder Allan Cruz (15) during the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Diego Rossi is one of three LAFC forwards in the top 10. 

The high level of production from the Uruguayan is one of the many reasons the Black-and-Gold look like a lock to secure the Supporters’ Shield in the franchise’s second season of existence. 

Rossi, who has four goals in his last five games, and his teammates have a tough task Saturday against the surging Revs with one of the best in-form defensive units in MLS.

6. Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC

Previous Ranking: 11 

May 11, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) battles for a ball with Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott (3) during the second half at BMO Field. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto FC is a much different team with a healthy Jozy Altidore in tow. 

The U.S. Men’s National Team forward extended his scoring streak to four games in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over FC Cincinnati. 

If Altidore continues to play at a high level and combines well with Alejandro Pozuelo, the Reds could make a case to host a playoff game in the suddenly crowded Eastern Conference. 

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 3

Jun 29, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) after a game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

Although Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not scored in two of his last four games, his spot in the rankings is buoyed by a pair of multiple-strike performances. 

Unfortunately for Ibrahimovic, his two-goal effort from the start of the month will not affect his place on this list next week, and with a yellow-card accumulation ban awaiting him in Week 22, he could experience a fall depending on which players shine over the weekend. 

4. Vako, M, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: 4

Jul 12, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Vako Kazaishvili (11) moves the ball against the LA Galaxy in the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Earthquakes defeated the Galaxy 3-1. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Vako is making a strong case to push himself up into the top three, or maybe even the No. 1 spot, with his current form.

The midfielder out of the Republic of Georgia has three goals and an assist in the last three games, and up to seven tallies and three handouts for the season.

Although the overall numbers do not match those put up by Vela and others, Vako has made a similar impact on his club due to the role he has in the San Jose squad. 

3. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 5

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Carles Gil (22) reacts after a goal during the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

If you have not been paying attention to the way Carles Gil has been playing, you’re missing out.

The Spanish midfielder has put together a fantastic inaugural season in MLS, and enters August with a goal and an assist in three consecutive games. 

With two more goals and one additional assist, Gil could become the second player in MLS with double-digit marks in both categories. 

2. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 1 

Jul 21, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates after a goal against D.C. United in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

The margins are so thin for the No. 1 position.

Josef Martinez found the back of the net in eight straight starts, and has five tallies over his last four contests. 

In most weeks, he would be the top player on this list without a doubt, but Vela has a few extra numbers that pushed him over the top, at least for one week. 

1. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 2

May 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) celebrates a goal by midfielder Latif Blessing (7) during the first half against the Montreal Impact at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

The difference between Vela and Martinez is the assist the Mexican earned to go along with a goal in Week 21, as well as his most-recent two-goal performance two days after the last one from his Venezuelan counterpart.

The MLS All-Star captain also has a pair of multi-goal performances in his last three games, while Martinez recorded that achievement in his previous five. 

In July, the MVP favorite had six goals and three assists compared to seven goals and zero assists from Martinez. 

 

The post MLS Week 21 Player Rankings: Carles Gil, Jozy Altidore continue to rise appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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MLS Power Rankings Week 21: Rolling New England Revolution surge to No. 6

As some of Major League Soccer’s best descend on Orlando for the MLS All-Star Game against Atletico Madrid and the MLS Homegrown Game against Chivas de Guadalajara’s U-20 side, the best teams in MLS are starting to emerge in the Pro Soccer USA Power Rankings.

The league’s balance of power continues to trend western, with four of the top five teams from Week 21 coming from the Western Conference. The Portland Timbers continue to trend upward, advancing three spots after a convincing 4-0 win over the LA Galaxy Saturday night.

The biggest movers, though, are as Northeast as you can get as the New England Revolution blasted eight spots up following a 4-1 win over Orlando City SC, extending the club’s remarkable unbeaten streak to 11 games.

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 (15-3-4, 49 points): Bob Bradley complained about a slow start and end to the first half, but we’ll focus on a scintillating 12 minutes when they scored all four of their goals in a 4-3 win over Atlanta United. (2) San Jose Earthquakes (11-7-4, 37 points): The Earthquakes made it four straight wins and victories in six of their last seven, beating the Colorado Rapids, 3-1. They’ve made Avaya Stadium a fortress with results in their last nine at home. (4) New York City FC (9-3-8, 35 points): Playing more advanced that usual, Alex Ring had a goal and set up Anton Tinnerholm and Heber, who set a club record with goals in five consecutive games, in a 3-1 win over visiting Sporting Kansas City. (7) Portland Timbers (9-8-4, 31 points): It’s now six games without defeat for the surging Timbers, who dismantled the LA Galaxy Saturday at Providence Park. Starting in place of the suspended Diego Chara, Cristhian Paredes struck for a brace and Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse added a goal apiece. (9) Seattle Sounders FC (11-6-5, 38 points): Jordan Morris scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo, only the club’s third road win of the season, but it was the third in the Rave Green’s last four games. (14) New England Revolution (9-8-6, 33 points): The Revs picked up their third win in a row — outscoring opponents 10-1 during that stretch — with a 4-1 win over Orlando City SC Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Gustavo Bou, Cristian Penilla, Carles Gil and Diego Fagundez all scored for New England. (5) Philadelphia Union (11-7-6, 39 points): For the second time in three matches, the Union suffered a 4-0 road defeat, this to the Montreal Impact. Their gap in the East has closed to three points with Atlanta United and D.C. United in hot pursuit. (6) Atlanta United (11-9-3, 36 points): Mo Adams scored on his Atlanta debut and Josef Martinez remains in form, but the Five Stripes fell in a 4-1 hole and the friction between coach Frank de Boer and star playmaker Pity Martinez appears to be continuing. (10) D.C. United (9-6-9, 36 points): Wayne Rooney put a curling free kick over the Chicago Fire wall, but goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm was equal to the task in a 0-0 draw that moved D.C. United to within three points of first-place Philadelphia ahead of Sunday’s showdown. (3) New York Red Bulls (10-9-4, 34 points): The Red Bulls are leaking goals at an alarming rate, conceding three times in a 3-2 defeat to Columbus Crew SC last Saturday. It was the club’s fourth home defeat, the most in a single season since Red Bull Arena opened in 2010. (11) Minnesota United FC (10-7-5, 35 points): The Loons attempted 37 crosses, but only forced Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau into one save in a 0-0 home draw that extended an unbeaten streak to six games. (8) LA Galaxy (12-9-1, 37 points): All those good feels from an El Trafico win over LAFC went out the window with a four-goal defeat in Portland. It doesn’t get much easier for LA, which face Atlanta United without the suspended trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Efrain Alvarez and Diego Polenta. (13) FC Dallas (9-8-6, 33 points): Jesse Gonzalez was the Man of the Match in a 0-0 home draw with Real Salt Lake, making a pair of stunning denials against Marcelo Silva and Corey Baird en route to five saves. (12) Real Salt Lake (9-9-4, 31 points): Wins away from home continue to be tough to come by for RSL, which battled FC Dallas to a 0-0 draw at Toyota Stadium, extending an unbeaten run to three games. (17) Toronto FC (9-9-5, 32 points): Nick DeLeon and Jozy Altidore scored in each half to lift Toronto FC to a 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati, the club’s third win in their last four games. (19) Montreal Impact (10-11-3, 33 points): It was (better than a) dream debut, according to Finnish winger Lassi Lappalainen, who struck for a brace, as did Orji Okwonkwo in a 4-0 rout of the Philadelphia Union. (15) Orlando City SC (7-11-5, 26 points): A deficit that was just one goal at halftime ballooned to four in the first 30 minutes of the second half before Tesho Akindele found the back of the net in the 77th minute of a 4-1 loss to the rolling Revolution. (16) Houston Dynamo (9-10-3, 30 points): Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera had two beefs after a 1-0 loss to the Sounders at BBVA Stadium Saturday — his club’s inability to finish chances inside the 18-yard box and what he believes should have been a foul on Jordan Morris seconds before his winner. (22) Columbus Crew SC (7-14-3, 24 points): Pedro Santos struck for a brace, including the 84th-minute winner and Luis Argudo scored his first MLS goal in a 3-2 win over the Red Bulls, extending the Crew’s unbeaten streak to three games. (18) Colorado Rapids (5-12-5, 20 points): After threatening to reach the playoff line in the West, the Rapids are sinking lower in the standings with a 3-1 loss at San Jose the club’s third in their last four games without a win. Diego Rubio provided the lone bright spot Saturday with a cosmetic goal two minutes from full time. (20) Sporting Kansas City (6-9-7, 25 points): Whether it was the in-game shoving between teammates or Roger Espinoza’s red card just past the hour mark, there weren’t many good looks for Sporting, which has dropped back-to-back games after appearing to steer the ship in the right direction with consecutive wins. (21) FC Cincinnati (5-16-2, 17 points): Emmanuel Ledesma scored in the 58th minute to cut the expansion side’s deficit to one goal, but an equalizer wasn’t to be had in a 2-1 loss Saturday night at BMO Field. (23) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-11-9, 21 points): The Whitecaps defended in a low block and hit Minnesota United on counters. The plan nearly worked to perfection if not for Vito Mannone and his five saves in a 0-0 draw. (24) Chicago Fire (5-10-9, 24 points): The Fire are desperate for victories, but settled for a 0-0 home draw against D.C. United that extended a winless streak to five matches.

Pro Soccer USA writer Dylan Butler contributed to this report.

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Original author: Dylan Butler, Pro Soccer USA
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Rosenberry’s wakeup call and other takeaways from the Colorado Rapids’ 3-1 loss to San Jose

The Colorado Rapids lost their second-straight match, this time on the road, falling to the San Jose Earthquakes, 3-1. The Quakes took a 2-0 lead into halftime on an own goal by Lalas Abubakar (2’) and another from Vako (34’). Shea Salinas added a third goal for the hosts in the 83rd minute, but Diego Rubio scored for Colorado five minutes later to avoid the shutout.  

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 3-1 loss to San Jose:

Coffee Talk

Saturday’s match was arguably one of the worst outings for Rapids defender Keegan Rosenberry while wearing Burgundy. Rosenberry was caught narrow on the Quake’s second goal, unable to deal with an Allen Iverson-type crossover by Vako and was simply outpaced and out-dribbled by Shea Salinas on San Jose’s third goal.

To his credit, Rosenberry raised his hand and took his fair share of responsibility postgame.

“Credit to them, they were good individual efforts,” Rosenberry said of the goals by Vako and Salinas. “I certainly held my hand up on both, I think I can do better just staying on my feet and not overcommitting on shot fakes and what not. I think that any of us would say that before we give credit to an attack like that. I felt like we limited them to only a certain number of good chances and they took them on the day.”

Conor Casey has never been one to throw players under the bus in his public comments, but was unhappy with the Rapids’ defensive performance.

“Well we gave up three goals, so not good,” said Casey. “Plain and simple. Can’t get scored on away 2-0 and expect to still be able to get something out against a team like this.”

Ill-fated Irwin

It’s been hard times for the former Rapids No. 1 choice goalkeeper as Clint Irwin’s last win as a starting goalkeeper came back in March of 2018, a 3-1 win over RSL as a member of TFC.

Saturday marked Irwin’s second start since his return to Colorado this season, his first coming in a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union. With Tim Howard out with a strained right calf, Irwin earned another shot at the starting job in Colorado, if only briefly.

On Saturday against San Jose, Irwin faced 17 shots (4 on target), making two saves. He arguably did more work in just a half of play last week against NYCFC, making five saves against six on-target efforts. But Irwin was largely in no man’s land against a constant barrage of San Jose counterattacks.

“He was good,” Casey said of Irwin’s performance. “I thought he was solid. Made some saves for us. He was good in distribution. You get scored on three goals, obviously you’re not going to be pleased, but I thought it was good.”

The loss doesn’t fall on Irwin, who was scored with an own goal, and two possible goal of the week candidates, but instead, continued bad luck for the 30-year-old.

Has momentum run out?

As the Rapids earned their first win under interim head coach Conor Casey and continued to rack up points, it looked as though the team might have miraculously pulled itself from the doldrums and gained a fighting chance at one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.

But momentum has slowed once again with Colorado having earned just two points during a current four-game winless streak. The two-goal deficit (nearly three, if not for Rubio’s late goal) marked the worst loss so far of the Casey era.

With a solid body of work to now go off of, it now begs the question as to whether or not the Rapids have finally been figured out league-wide. San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda seemed to have good insight and a plan going into this match.

“We knew were facing a difficult opponent,” said Almeyda. “We found out that the match could be played how it was. By fortune and a great game, we were able to take the advantage through combinations and control. From there, the match became different. By controlling the match, being alert on counter attacks, they [Colorado Rapids] can do damage in their aerial play, but we had that under control.”

Once again firmly at the bottom of the West, it will take another strong, if not unprecedented, run of form to rekindle even a sniff of the postseason for Colorado.

The post Rosenberry’s wakeup call and other takeaways from the Colorado Rapids’ 3-1 loss to San Jose appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Marco Cummings, Pro Soccer USA
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San Jose Earthquakes extend winning streak with comfortable 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes weren’t as prolific with their shooting as in past games, but that didn’t matter much in a comprehensive 3-1 win over the visiting Colorado Rapids.

The Avaya Stadium announced crowd of 17,762 were treated to an entertaining performance by the Quakes. An own goal by the Rapids less than two minutes into the game and a miraculous effort from Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili gave the Quakes a two-goal halftime lead that was never in danger. Shea Salinas, a second half substitute, capped off the scoring with an individual play to ice the game late before Diego Rubio pulled one back for Colorado.

“As a collective group, we are feeling confident,” Salinas said. “I think it’s a testament to how hard guys are working. It’s impressive.”

After trailing in their previous two games, it was important for the Earthquakes to enjoy an early lead, especially against a team like the Rapids that they were expected to beat.

“We talked about that before the game,” midfielder Tommy Thompson said. “We had to be awake from the first minute, and that translated to on the field. Guys were pushing the envelope, and it was great to see.”

On the other bench, the view was more of frustration, as Colorado slumped to its fourth straight game without a win. On the night, the hosts out shot the visitors 17-11, and in possession the Quakes dominated 66.3% to 33.7%.

“It came down to individual battles,” Rapids coach Conor Casey said. “They won their individual battles tonight, and we did not.”

Last year, it was the Earthquakes that often fell short on the stats sheet and ultimately the scoreboard, so the transformation on display during their recent run of success has been a revelation to those outside San Jose, but not to the guys who call Avaya Stadium home. 

“In the past, if someone lost the ball, guys were throwing their arms in the air,” Salinas said. “Now, there’s none of that. When one guy loses the ball, the other ten bust their butts to get back for him. It’s a collective team spirit that we have to make each other better, and that shows in our play. We’re fighting for each other, and it’s making a big difference.”

The only real disappointment of the night came when Colorado scored late to deny San Jose the shutout. It was definitely not the way the Earthquakes and head coach Matias Almeyda wanted to see the game end, but it also will provide the team motivation moving forward.

“No, no, when you are scored on it’s because your opponent had a virtue, and I respect an opponent’s virtues,” Almeyda said. “If I analyze the game well, there are times I liked and times I didn’t. This just lets me know we have to keep on improving.”

Playing the guys that have brought the team to this point, Almeyda sent out the same starting XI that dominated the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend, and it paid dividends right from the opening whistle.

A turnover by the Rapids in the first minute was quickly turned into a counterattack by the Quakes, and they were off to the races. Florian Jungwirth got things started with a long diagonal pass right to the feet of Tommy Thompson on the right sideline. The homegrown midfielder turned and drove toward goal, dishing the ball off to Cristian Espinoza making an overlapping run. Espinoza, tops in assists for San Jose, sent a low cross through the box intended for Chris Wondolowski, but defender Lalas Abubakar turned the ball into his own net to put the Earthquakes up 1-0 just 74 seconds into the game.

Wondolowski, who was denied an easy tap-in by the own-goal, had his first attempt at reaching goal No. 10 of the season when he collected a pass at the top of the area in the 14th minute. The Quakes captain touched the ball to his left and rifled a shot that missed the target and caused a bit of a stir as it crashed into the stadium’s outdoor bar. A similar attempt from Magnus Eriksson in the 19th minute also sailed over the crossbar, but no beverages were endangered.

And then it was Vako’s turn, and the Quakes most effective player of the last month made his effort count. After collecting a pass from Nick Lima 25 yards from goal, the Georgian attacker did what he does best: throw defenders off balance. He cut to his left, then to his right, both times shaking off defenders before curling a perfect shot to the far post. Goalkeeper Clint Irwin could do nothing, and the ball settled into the back of the net to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.

Vako was definitely feeling it, and in the Earthquakes’ next possession into the attacking third, he again showed off his dribbling brilliance. This time, the midfielder settled for a longer shot and his effort glided just over the target.

The half ended with the Quakes up 2-0 and looking like the better team on both sides of the ball. The early mistake to give up the own goal seemed to take any wind the Rapids had in their sails, and perhaps they were lucky not to be down even more.

“It broke down in individual defending and energy,” Casey said. “The first half was not good enough, and when you make mistakes, you’re going to get punished, and we did.”

The second half started slowly for both teams. The Quakes settled into a comfortable routine and the Rapids kept their focus on defending deep. Colorado’s Andre Shinyashiki entered the game as a substitute for veteran forward Kei Kamara, but the MLS Rookie of the Year hopeful was limited in his effect.

Vako danced into the area in the 58th minute before settling the ball onto his stronger right foot. The midfielder crushed a shot from a short distance that flew right at Irwin, who made the stop.

It was the end of the evening for Wondolowski in the 60th minute, and the Earthquakes lone representative on the MLS All-Star team subbed out for Danny Hoesen. Wondolowski will join the rest of the league’s best in Orlando for Wednesday night’s showcase against La Liga giant Atletico Madrid.

Vako exited the game to his own standing ovation in the 79th minute, when Almeyda brought in an extra defender with Marcos Lopez securing the left side of the formation. Vako finished the night with a goal in his third consecutive game and six goals in his last seven games.

Espinoza had a good try at making it three goals for San Jose. He rocketed a ball from 25 yards out that rattled the post in the 82nd minute. Salinas didn’t miss his opportunity, putting on a Vako-esque display dribbling in from the left and carrying the ball through the Colorado defense before wrong-footing Irwin with a shot to the back post. It was the sixth goal of the season for Salinas, extending his personal best record.

“Yeah, I don’t really know what the difference is this year,” Salinas said. “A lot of it is how we play. My starting points are higher up the field, which makes a difference. Vako’s scoring a ton of goals, and I’m pushing to compete with him and keep pushing him forward.”

The Rapids did strike late to ruin goalkeeper Daniel Vega’s quest for a clean sheet. Rubio found the back of the net on a deflected shot that the Quakes ‘keeper desperately tried to save, but the ball lobbed over his head and outstretched gloves.

The result extended the Quakes winning streak to four games, which they last accomplished in August 2015. San Jose returns to action next Saturday at Avaya Stadium when they host the Columbus Crew.

The post San Jose Earthquakes extend winning streak with comfortable 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Robert Jonas, Pro Soccer USA
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Red hot San Jose Earthquakes look to roll Colorado Rapids

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes are the talk of MLS, having put their early season struggle behind them and cemented their name in the Western Conference playoffs conversation.

The Quakes are 5-1-0 in their last six matches, and at Avaya Stadium, where they host the Colorado Rapids Saturday night (kickoff at 7:00 p.m.), they’ve gone unbeaten in eight straight games (7-0-1).

The Rapids, meanwhile, are winless in three games this month, and are languishing alongside the Vancouver Whitecaps at the bottom of the table. Colorado has fared better, however, away from their Rocky Mountain home of late, sporting a four-game unbeaten streak on the road (1-0-3) since the start of May.

The Earthquakes are taking nothing for granted this weekend, knowing that the Rapids, like themselves, are playing with a renewed confidence that wasn’t apparent at the beginning of the season. Matias Almeyda and his coaching staff have urged their players throughout the week to be ready for a resolute opponent in Colorado.

“We’ve discussed the match and that the team we’re facing is similar to ours,” Almeyda said. “They are a team that started the season poorly but have improved, very similar to our situation. We need to have the same respect for every opponent. Just as I treat every person the same, every opponent, for me, is an equal.”

The Quakes’ three game winning streak includes two straight wins on the road, the first time the team has accomplished that since August 2015, that featured a combined 64 shots taken — an MLS record for consecutive games. The intensity of the team’s approach to games, which entails harassing opponents on the ball with man-making defending and quickly transitioning into attack when they win back possession, has afforded the offense numerous scoring opportunities.

“We had like 90 shots in the last three games, so why stop that,” defender Florian Jungwirth said this week, though he was slightly off with his numbers.

During the Earthquakes recent six game run, they’ve taken 20 or more shots in five of them: the lone sub-20 shot game was three weeks ago at Avaya Stadium against Real Salt Lake. A somewhat sluggish Quakes side managed only 12 shots that night, finally getting a goal from Danny Hoesen deep in stoppage time to eke out a 1-0 victory. Everyone with San Jose is hoping for a much more complete performance against the Rapids.

“We expect they will sit back a bit, so we need to have a lot of patience,” Jungwirth added. “I think it’s tough to compare both games, especially in the RSL game we were really tired because it was our fourth game in ten days. If RSL was our first game in that 10 day stretch I think it would have been a different one.”

The Earthquakes’ schedule has lightened up a bit in recent weeks, and the extra time between games has been beneficial. This week in particular, not having to travel and getting to practice on their own training field every day, has been an advantage, and the players know the added time in familiar environs will pay dividends against the Rapids.

“We have not had a long week in a while,” defender Harold Cummings said. “It gives us time to prepare for a match. The coach is making the modifications that need to be made for this match.”

Cummings missed over a month of the season while on international duty with Panama in the Concacaf Gold Cup, but he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat when he partnered with Jungwirth in the center of defense in last week’s impressive 3-1 win at Vancouver. Cummings replaced Guram Kashia in the lineup against the Whitecaps because the Georgian centerback was back in his home country working to secure his U.S. Green Card, which would open up an international roster slot. That process is still ongoing — Kashia has not yet rejoined the team — so Cummings is expected to start again against Colorado.

Almeyda will still have the rest of the squad to choose from in setting his starting eleven on Saturday, with defender Marcos Lopez back from suspension and added to the mix. The four-man attacking corps of Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili, Chris Wondolowski, Magnus Eriksson, and Cristian Espinoza — all who either scored or delivered an assist in the Whitecaps win — will again lead the attack, and the Quakes game plan will emphasize their ability to break down the Rapids, even if the visitors show up in a defensive shell at Avaya Stadium.

“Of course, when a team tries to play, tries to open up a bit, it’s benefiting us more because we can use our speed and our dribbling on top,” Jungwirth said, “but I’m convinced that we will find the pockets in between, get Vako and Cristian outside against the one-on-one they need.”

The Quakes may not take another 32 shots on Saturday, as they did against the LA Galaxy and Vancouver the past two weekends, but they will get their chances. And if they can find their finishing touch too, then there’s no reason to believe they won’t walk away with all three points on the night.

Match Information:

When: July 27, 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Where: Avaya Stadium, San Jose
Broadcast: Telemundo 48, KNBR 1050
Live Stream: ESPN+
Earthquakes injury/suspended report: Out: Anibal Godoy (abdomen surgery)

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MLS Week 21 Preview: LAFC-Atlanta showdown, playoff push intensifies

For the second consecutive week, the marquee match of the Major League Soccer weekend takes place Friday night in Los Angeles. 

In Week 21, Los Angeles FC welcomes Atlanta United to Banc of California Stadium in what some could hype up as an MLS Cup preview. 

Bob Bradley’s LAFC has dominated the majority of the 2019 campaign, but some concerns have emerged about the team’s ability to win in big games after last week’s El Trafico loss to the LA Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal elimination at the hands of Portland.

Friday’s meeting with the Five Stripes starts an intriguing stretch for LAFC that concludes with another El Trafico Aug. 25 on home soil. In between, there’s tricky road trips across the country to New England and to the altitude in Salt Lake, as well as home clashes with the New York Red Bulls and San Jose Earthquakes. 

Atlanta United has some questions to answer regarding road form. Frank de Boer’s side has a 3-7-0 away record, which is the worst of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta’s last road win came against Vancouver May 15. Since then, it has conceded a late game-winner to Real Salt Lake, let in five goals to Chicago and dropped games to the Red Bulls, Seattle and Toronto FC. 

A majority of the focus during Friday’s match will be on LAFC’s Carlos Vela and Atlanta’s Josef Martinez, who could be headed for a knock-down, drag-out battle for the Golden Boot after Martinez’s recent scoring surge put pressure on Vela, who recently became the fastest player in league history to hit 20 goals. 

Even after conceding three times in Week 20, LAFC has the best defensive record in MLS with 20 goals conceded, while Atlanta has given up the third-fewest goals with 25. 

By all accounts, the showdown between two of the newest, and best, franchises in the league should be as thrilling as the rivalry matches we witnessed in Week 20, and it could set the tone for 24 hours of thrilling soccer ahead of a quick break for the 2019 MLS All-Star Game. 

Week 21 Schedule

Friday, July 26

Sporting Kansas City at New York City FC (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Atlanta United at Los Angeles FC (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) 

Saturday, July 27

Orlando City at New England Revolution (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Columbus Crew at New York Red Bulls (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

D.C. United at Chicago Fire (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Seattle Sounders at Houston Dynamo (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Vancouver Whitecaps at Minnesota United (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Philadelphia Union at Montreal Impact (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TVA Sport)

FC Cincinnati at Toronto FC (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN  4) 

Colorado Rapids at San Jose Earthquakes (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

LA Galaxy at Portland Timbers (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1) 

Things to Watch

How does NYCFC manage start of busy run? 

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

When you glance at the Eastern Conference standings, New York City FC’s games in hand stand out as an unusual number. 

NYCFC has played 19 games compared to 23 from first-place side Philadelphia, and in the next month, Domenec Torrent’s side will play eight games. 

Friday’s clash with Sporting Kansas City presents NYCFC with an opportunity to gain ground at Yankee Stadium before one of the few breaks the club has before Aug. 31. 

Before NYCFC traverses the continent in the next month with little rest due to midweek contests, it takes on a Sporting KC side that needs to start playing with a sense of desperation given its current position in the Western Conference. 

The return of James Sands to the NYCFC starting lineup should allow the team’s defense to firm up against a dangerous combination of Gerso Fernandes, Johnny Russell and Yohan Croizet. 

By the end of this run of games, NYCFC could make up its seven-point deficit on Philadelphia, or still be left with work to do since games in hand don’t necessarily guarantee a surge up the standings. 

Red line battle in East 

Jul 17, 2019; Foxborough, MA; New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell congratulates forward Carles Gil after a goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during the second half at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

New England and Orlando City square off at Gillette Stadium on Saturday in one of the most important games of the weekend. 

Boosted by their 10-game unbeaten run, the Revolution are now in seventh place in the East, with the Lions lurking four points and two positions behind them. 

Since Orlando has a 4-6-1 home record, it has to make up some lost ground on the road in order to be in contention with the Revs, Toronto FC and Montreal for the final two playoff berths in the East. 

The most impressive part of the Revs’ uptick in form has been their defensive improvements. In the last five league games, New England has let in four goals, and it picked up a pair of clean sheets in Week 20, albeit against FC Cincinnati and Vancouver. 

How will Piatti’s return affect the Impact? 

May 18, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti plays the ball as New England Revolution defender Brandon Bye defends at Stade Saputo. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

The race at the red line in the Eastern Conference has gotten more interesting by the week because of the Impact’s slip in form.

Luckily for Remi Garde’s team, it has a healthy Ignacio Piatti available for selection for Saturday’s clash with the Union. Piatti’s presence on the field, whether as a starter or substitute, is massive with Samuel Piette and Bacary Sagna out. 

Before Week 20’s shutout of Chicago, the Union’s defense had not earned a clean sheet since May, and they will be without left back Kai Wagner for Saturday’s trip to Quebec due to yellow-card accumulation. 

If the Impact can take advantage of the Union’s defensive lapses, they could send a jolt throughout the standings since the top seven are separated by nine points. 

Crucial game for FC Dallas, RSL in Frisco

Jul 20, 2019; Kansas City, KS; FC Dallas forward Dominique Badji celebrates with teammate Michael Barrios after scoring a goal during the first half against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports)

Over in the Western Conference, the Portland Timbers are looming large beneath the playoff places with a plethora of home games in hand for the rest of the season. 

That means the pressure is on teams like FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake to pull points from each week in order to fend off the impending challenge from the 2018 MLS Cup runner-up. 

RSL travels to Frisco to face FC Dallas on Saturday in a clash of teams that have experienced inconsistencies throughout the season.

FC Dallas is back on the right track with two wins in the last three games and it could make a statement with its next three home contests, starting with the showdown with RSL. 

RSL has one of the best home records of the 14 teams currently in playoff positions and one of the worst road marks of the group. 

In order to secure a spot in the postseason, the Claret-and-Cobalt need to improve on the 2-7-2 road record that features wins over FC Cincinnati and Colorado in the final game before it fired Anthony Hudson. 

How will Portland deal with Chara’s absence? 

Jun 30, 2019; Portland, OR; FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal is defended by Portland Timbers defender Julio Cascante and midfielder Diego Chara at Providence Park. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

Speaking of the surging Timbers, they will be without Diego Chara due to yellow-card accumulation for Saturday’s home clash with the LA Galaxy.

Portland is a significantly different team without its midfield destroyer, and it is facing a team that bossed the central midfield battle in El Trafico last week. Joe Corona and Jonathan Dos Santos turned in strong shifts, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole the spotlight in last week’s most-anticipated match. 

If the Galaxy midfielders can control the pace of play again on Saturday, they will put the Timbers at a disadvantage and create plenty of chances for Ibrahimovic. 

Portland still has Brian Fernandez and Diego Valeri at its disposal in attack, but if it fails to link the channels between defense and attack, it could be a frustrating night. In 2019, the Timbers are 0-2-1 and have been outscored 6-2 in games without Chara.

The post MLS Week 21 Preview: LAFC-Atlanta showdown, playoff push intensifies appeared first on Pro Soccer USA.

Original author: Joe Tansey, Pro Soccer USA
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