The Philadelphia Union are one of the Eastern Conference's early season surprise contenders, and a lot of that comes down to the goal scoring exploits of Jack McInerney. The 20-year old forward leads Major League Soccer with seven goals from just 10 games played, winning the league's Player of the Month award for April in the process. McInerney has played to such a level in 2013 that he is beginning to draw early comparisons to Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
MLSsoccer.com's Samantha Yarock caught up with McInerney and teammate Amobi Okugo at a recent post-training visit, and picked up some pointers on how to replicate McInerney's recent scoring ventures inside the penalty area.
And don't worry about Jack; he recovered from Samantha's rocket shot to the chest just fine, by scoring the only goal of the game in the Union's 1-0 victory at Chicago this weekend.
Welcome to a new series on MLSsoccer.com, where each week we'll take a look at some of the best images from the week that was in Major League Soccer. Here's a look back at the best shots from May 11-12, and check back every Monday as the series continues.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath (center) skies to take the ball off the head of Chicago's Gonzalo Segares during the Union's 1-0 win at Toyota Park.
Felipe's 39th minute goal wasn't the game-winner for Montreal against Real Salt Lake last weekend - far from it, in fact, in what turned out to be a 3-2 thriller - but the Brazilian celebrated in style, playing up to Impact fans behind the corner flag.
The backflip goal celebration is nothing new to the world of soccer, but it's always spectacular when it gets thrown out on the field. Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins broke out the celebration during Seattle's 4-0 romp over San Jose.
We already knew Vancouver Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks (right) could jump over the top of MLS defenders, but we had yet to see him jump chest high on Omar Gonzalez and throw a freeze frame pose at us. Now we have.
Don't lose focus of that ball, Bobby Shuttlesworth. Stare right on down that tunnel and don't break eye contact.
I'm just praying that Columbus Crew midfielder Matias Sanchez stuck the landing on this splitting dismount, and didn't rip the seat of his pants.
Well, see what had happened was.... FC Dallas midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (left) really wanted to win the ball, but then Dwayne De Rosario told him, "Shoulder ride's over, pal," and dropped him like a sack of potatoes.
Portland Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace (right) is in the form of his life of late. So much so, that he's carrying the entire Timbers team on his back right now. Literally, and figuratively.
This is Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City in a nutshell, right here. Mechack Jerome (left) wins the ball in the air, gets upended and slams heavily to the ground. Sporting got slammed to the ground a few times, but won, 1-0.
There might not be a "Most Interesting Man in MLS Award" at the conclusion of each and every Major League Soccer season (there should be, by the way), but if there was, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen would be a worthy finalist for the award, year after year. And Nielsen got just that much more interesting on Tuesday afternoon when The Guardian's Paolo Bandini announced that he has been working in partnership with the 35-yeard old Danish keeper to write his second autobiography, Welcome To The Blue Heaven.
— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) May 14, 2013
— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) May 14, 2013
Just ask anyone who's spent more than five minutes with Nielsen; they'll tell you the only thing more infectious and inspiring than his net-minding on the field, is his friendly and lovable personality off it. Needless to say, this is a book that you're going to want to get your hands on and breeze right through.
The official release form Ascend Books, publisher of Welcome To The Blue Heaven, states the book will range from topics, but not limited to, Nielsen's past gambling addiction that almost cost him his career, the trials and tribulations it caused amongst his family, the woman - his wife - that stuck by his side and helped him piece his life back together, and a whole new lease on life and career found in - of all places - the United States' Heartland, that has seen him become one of the club's all-time fan favorites and finally a Cup-winning captain.
Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara was first to break the news of Nielsen's book, tweeting out a picture of his copy last week, followed up by this picture with the subject at hand, and the first ever signed copy of Welcome To The Blue Heaven:
— KEI KAMARA (@keikamara) May 11, 2013
There's only one thing that could be a more interesting time than Nielsen's autobiography itself, and that's the Jimmy Nielsen book tour, which kicks off later this month and into the summer at various Kansas City retailers.
You can order your copy of Welcome To The Blue Heaven on Amazon, for $24.95.
Statistics are often overlooked in soccer, and we here at MLSsoccer.com think that's too bad.
So each Monday, we'll be bringing you five of the most telling stats following the previous weekend's round of games. They might be about the individual game itself, a team's recent run of results or an individual player lighting it up. This week, we've got all three.
Here's five key stats from Week 11:
- 25 players have scored 3 or more goals in MLS 2013 so far. Five of the 25 – exactly one-fifth – are Portland Timbers players. [Mike Donovan, @TheMikeDonovan]
The five players are Ryan Johnson, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe. The New York Red Bulls come in a close second with four players (Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Fabián Espíndola and Jámison Olave). To make up for those two hogging all the three-goal scorers, Chivas USA, Seattle, Vancouver, Colorado, D.C. United, Chicago and New England have a combined zero. Ouch.
- With Sunday night's victory against the Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City have now handed MLS opponents their first loss at a new stadium at six different stadiums: BBVA Compass Stadium, BMO Field, Qwest Field, Rio Tinto Stadium, Robertson Stadium (Houston Dynamo) and Spartan Stadium (San Jose Earthquakes). [Sporting Kansas City]
Quite rude of them to crash house parties in such a manner, really.
- Jack McInerney's game-winning goal against the Chicago Fire on Saturday was his 15th goal in 30 appearances since John Hackworth took over as Philadelphia Union head coach for Peter Nowak last June. [Philadelphia Union]
Jack Mac has done everything in his power to earn a US national team call-up for this summer's Gold Cup. It would be more than a mild shock if his early season form doesn't translate to his first senior team cap. Are you paying attention, Jurgen?
- Following their 3-2 road loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, Real Salt Lake have yet to win in Canada in the club's history, moving to 0-6-4 in 10 matches across all competitions north of the border. [Real Salt Lake]
The math is in their favor, though; only one Canadian team resides in the Western Conference, so they'll avoid Toronto FC and Montreal for a second (and/or third) time in the regular season as well as the playoffs, barring an MLS Cup meeting.
- The San Jose Earthquakes have won just one of their past eight games, a stretch that includes three losses. During their Supporters' Shield-winning 2012 campaign, the fewest games they won during an eight-game stretch was four, and that run was without a loss.
For context's sake, the 2012 stretch came during the final eight games of the season with the Supporters' Shield already won and San Jose resting starters for the playoffs. Granted, it's still early in the season, but the Earthquakes are well behind their 2012 pace of 1.94 ppg (1.17 so far in 2013), which is a difference of 26 points over a 34-game season.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.
L’émission Coup Franc de cette semaine (à écouter ici) est consacrée en grande partie à Houston. Pour peaufiner l’analyse, nous vous invitons à lire le blog de Vision du Jeu, sur lequel nous nous sommes basés également et qui fournit des données et des exemples clairs.
- Finaliste de la Coupe MLS ces deux dernières années, le club est-il encore armé pour jouer les premiers rôles ?
- Son début de saison pas toujours convaincant, marqué par plusieurs absences d’éléments importants
- Une équipe prévisible qui passe systématiquement par les côtés, est efficace en attaque posée mais manque de vitesse
- Sa défense, ni particulièrement mauvaise ni particulièrement bonne, qui peine à subir le jeu
- Les individualités de l’équipe qui se démarquent
- On tente de comprendre pourquoi Houston est imbattable à domicile mais plus friable à l’extérieur
On ne pouvait (évidemment) pas ne pas revenir sur la victoire 6-0 de Montréal contre Toronto en Championnat canadien Amway, le changement d’état d’esprit par rapport au match aller, ses conséquences pour les deux clubs, etc.
Autre gros sujet de discussion cette semaine : le retour de Kei Kamara à Kansas City. Écoutez aussi la chanson qui lui a été consacrée lors de son séjour en Angleterre. La première période des transferts vient de prendre fin : quels sont selon vous les meilleurs renforts engagés ces derniers mois ?
Want some free Chipotle? Sporting KC's Kei Kamara is back from Norwich and he's footing the burrito bill
"What?! You don't want free Chipotle?"
That's what I imagine Kei Kamara is saying in the above photo from Monday's press conference in Kansas City to welcome the fan favorite back into the Sporting fold.
There's a reason Kamara and his heart-shaped hands are beloved in Kansas City. He does things like offer all his Twitter followers free Chipotle.
Come one, come all. And leave your wallet at home. Kei's picking up the tab!
Dinner party at Chipotle on the plaza tonite 6:30pm. Leave you piggy bank at home and bring ya empty belly. #ChipotlePartyWithKei
— KEI KAMARA (@keikamara) May 6, 2013
Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney can score goals. He can also do the weather.
McInerney was a guest forecaster alongside meteorologist Katie Fehlinger on CBS3 in Philadelphia on Monday and, although he wasn't as good as D.C. United's Chris Pontius, the Union youngster still delivered on the day's weather forecast as well as next Saturday's, when Philadelphia host the Seattle Sounders.
Many MLS fans associate D.C. United's Carlos Ruiz with the game's so-called “dark arts,” thanks to his reputation for diving, gamesmanship and a general “anything goes” approach when it comes to scoring goals.
The veteran striker's true character off the field is something different, however, and is being hailed by CONCACAF with a rare honor this week. “El Pescadito” will receive the confederation's first-ever President’s Award for his role in uncovering match-fixing in his homeland of Guatemala.
“Mr. Ruiz’s courage and integrity led him to denounce match-fixing within the Guatemalan national team,” explained a CONCACAF press release on Wednesday. “His actions led to a full-scale investigation, as well as unprecedented measures taken in the fight against match-fixing in the region.”
In addition to being one of the most successful goalscorers in MLS history, Ruiz also carved out a distinguished career in his country's colors, scoring a record 55 goals in 104 appearances for Guatemala over more than a decade of service to Los Chapines.
Though the release did not state so explicitly, Ruiz's award may be related to the lifetime FIFA bans handed down to Guatemalan players Gustavo Cabrera, Yoni Flores and Guillermo Ramírez last year for their roles in three suspicious matches from 2010-12. Two of the games were Guatemala national team friendlies and one a CONCACAF Champions League match between CSD Municipal (the club where Ruiz began his pro career) and Mexico's Santos Laguna.
“The success of football within our region is constantly being shaped by individual actions of players, coaches, administrators and executives,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb in the press release. “We want to recognize Carlos for his incredible courage to stand up for the integrity of our game and denounce match manipulation activities. His long legacy to football has now a deep footprint both inside and outside the pitch.”
Ruiz's actions will be celebrated in a ceremony at Palacio Bolivar in the Cancillería General de la República in Panama City, Panama, on Thursday.
Choisissez trois joueurs de MLS autour desquels vous bâtiriez votre nouvelle équipe : la question lancée par Frédéric Lord a inspiré l’équipe, à nouveau renforcée par Olivier Brett, pour la thématique de l’émission Coup Franc de cette semaine (à écouter ici).
Pensez-y bien… et écoutez l’émission pour vous rendre compte que nos spécialistes ont des visions très différentes. L’un choisit un joueur par ligne, l’autre se concentre sur la colonne vertébrale dans l’axe du jeu, un autre encore choisit trois joueurs d’un même secteur pour définir un modèle de jeu déjà précis. Et aucun nom ne fait l’unanimité. Nous sommes très curieux d’avoir votre opinion !
Autre débat très animé de cette émission : la Ligue des champions. Comment la MLS se compare au championnat du Mexique. La priorité que devraient lui accorder les entraîneurs. Le rayonnement qu’elle apporte à la MLS, qui veut à moyen terme entrer dans le top mondial. La discussion bifurque (évidemment) sur la compétition qui permet au représentant canadien de s’y qualifier et le fonctionnement du soccer au Canada. Là encore, des avis divergents de nos spécialistes : nous aimerions avoir les vôtres.
Enfin, on revient sur le match entre Montréal et Columbus. L’Impact retombe-t-il dans certains de ses travers de 2012 ? Le jeu sur les flancs reste problématique et les pistes de solution ne semblent pas nombreuses. Faut-il être inquiet ou confiant en vue de l’affrontement contre Toronto ?
Norwich City forward Kei Kamara, on loan from Sporting Kansas City, will make his first trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal on Saturday.
It's no easy task, obviously, to get a result in North London, especially for the Canaries, who are in 14th place, just four points above the English Premier League relegation zone.
Scoring will be no easy task for Kamara, especially if Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has his way. The French tactician is impressed with Kamara, the first Sierra Leonean to score in the EPL, and also pretty wary of him.
"It's absolutely fantastic what he is achieving," Wenger told Arsenal.com. "It's down to quality of scouting that these clubs do, and you have to give them credit for that. To keep Grant Holt out of the team, [Kamara] must have something special. We have, of course, to keep him quiet on Saturday."
The Arsenal-Norwich City match is on Fox Soccer at 10 am ET, if you want to see if the Gunners can indeed keep the chatty Kamara quiet.