Do you like the Caleb Porter signing for Portland? Because I do.
Here are a couple of positives:
He'll likely keep Darlington Nagbe playing like this. Way back in February, everybody in Timbers camp assured me that Nagbe was one of the most talented players in the league. Then head coach John Spencer went so far as to say he's the most talented player in MLS.
I shook it off as a coach predictably trying to build the confidence of a youngster who'd shown flashes, but didn't seem to have the mindset (or a clear position) to be successful. Nagbe didn't score enough to play as a second forward, didn't pass aggressively enough to be a No. 10, and didn't work the flanks like a winger. Barring the Goal of the Year vs. Sporting KC, his 2011 season was, frankly, disappointing. He was a guy you'd want on your side in five-v-five keep-aways, but not in a game that counts.
GOAL: Nagbe puts the Timbers ahead
And that continued to be the story until about three weeks ago. Something clicked, and now Nagbe is a devastating force any time he's in the final third. Y.P. Lee doesn't get left on his rear too often, but that's exactly what happened this weekend when Nagbe scored the opener in the 2-1 win over the Whitecaps.
I'm happy about this not just because the Timbers deserve a bit of luck, but because Nagbe is in the process of getting his US citizenship (and is reportedly fairly close). And anyone who's playing this well, and is that tidy with the ball, will hopefully translate that to the international level.
Porter, of course, coached Nagbe at Akron, and brought the best out of him there. So purely from a "Selfish US Fan" perspective — yes, I like this hire.
I also like what Porter's done with Akron. Recruiting to northeast Ohio is, we'll say, just a bit harder than recruiting to Westwood or Chapel Hill. He had a vision for his program, and saw it out against fairly significant odds.
That success in the college ranks is actually a pretty good predictor of MLS success. It's something I had the chance to talk with Frankie Hejduk about last season, as he was riding the wave to his second Shield/Cup double with one of the great teams in MLS history. He'd done so before, back in 2008 with the Columbus Crew — one of the other great teams in MLS history.
To paraphrase, Hejduk felt that the biggest similarity between the 2011 Galaxy and 2008 Crew was the way the teams were managed. Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid — the two best managers in MLS history (apologies to Dom Kinnear) — had created an atmosphere that Hejduk compared to college, an atmosphere of competitiveness but unity that he said doesn't often exist at the professional level.
Coming from a guy who's played in the UEFA Champions League, the CONCACAF Champions League, a pair of World Cups and won the Supporters' Shield winners in three different decades, that observation has some weight.
Porter, by all accounts, is cut from the same cloth. A lot of people see a college background as a handicap, but Frankie and I see it as a plus.
And here are the negatives:
Porter's Under-23 Olympic qualifying team was lamentably rigid. He stayed with the 4-3-3 come hell or high water, and the US both burned and drowned. The Canadians exposed his squad badly, and then he failed to adjust for the group finale against El Salvador. You want to forget, but you remember.
It's a case of him failing to make the best use of his available resources. This past U-23 group was loaded with pacey wingers and fullbacks who can cross, and big, strong forwards who can finish those crosses. A 4-4-2 was called for given the personnel — imagine El Salvador trying to contain Terrence Boyd and Will Bruin, just for a moment if you would. It's laughable.
But the adjustment never came. It was 4-3-3 to the very end, and it was ugly. The good news for Timbers fans is that he hasn't been that rigid at Akron, so perhaps it wasn't really his call with the U-23s.
He gets cute and plays guys out of position far too often for my tastes. Sometimes the best bet is just to keep it simple, and he seems to be against doing that a bit too often. I don't know if it's because he's young or if it's just how he's wired, but it definitely puts a ceiling on my expectations from him.
Anybody who watched MLS in 2011 — anybody! — could've told you that Perry Kitchen (another Akron product) was going to struggle at central defense in Olympic qualifying. It was also fairly apparent even at that point that Amobi Okugo would end up being a backliner.
Yet Kitchen spent the tournament in the heart of defense, while Okugo played defensive mid. Five months later, that's practically inconceivable.
Not to sell the job short, but 90 percent of managing is keeping the players pointed in the right direction emotionally and then putting everyone in the right spots on the pitch. I have little doubt that Porter will be successful at the first (I can't stress this enough: Every single player I've talked to who's played for him at any level absolutely loves him).
For the second ... if I were a Timbers fan, that's where my worries would be.
Une fois n’est pas coutume, l’émission Coup Franc (à écouter ici) est diffusée le mercredi cette semaine et accueille Olivier Brett en studio. Allongée et enrichie, en voilà le menu :
- Rémi Roy, entraîneur des gardiens de New England, nous parle de la saison actuelle de son club, de la transition en cours, de ses gardiens et des qualités des meilleurs portiers de la compétition.
- Amos Magee, entraîneur adjoint à Portland, se penche sur l’échange Perkins - Ricketts, tente d’expliquer pourquoi son équipe n’a pas confirmé sa bonne première année, évoque ses difficultés en déplacement et la Cascadia Cup qui pourrait sauver la saison.
- Nos deux invités confirment aussi les avantages de parler français en MLS.
- Discussion sur les gardiens : Qui sont les meilleurs en MLS ? Comment les évaluer ? Serait-il opportun d’avoir un joueur désigné à ce poste ?
- Caleb Porter sera-t-il l’homme de la situation à Portland ? Quel est le profil idéal d’un entraîneur en MLS, comment et où le recruter ? Quelles sont les erreurs à ne pas commettre ?
- Débat : Qui de Colombus, Montréal, Houston, Chicago et DC United disputera la phase finale de la saison ? Nous avons analysé le classement et le calendrier de chacune des équipes pour vous faire le portrait le plus clair possible de la situation. Voyez aussi le fameux tableau de Frédéric Lord.
- Kansas City - New York : 1-1, alors que New York n’a pas tiré une seule fois au but !
For nearly a year now, Bob Bradley has blazed an unlikely trail as manager of the Egyptian national soccer team as it attempts to reach the 2014 World Cup amidst a turbulent political climate in the country.
Filmmaker Jeffrey Plunkett – a midfielder on Bradley's Princeton University team that reached the 1993 NCAA Final Four – has used his camera to chronicle Bradley's often harrowing journey in a documentary titled We The Pharaohs and, based on the trailer above, it looks to be quite the film.
On the field, Bradley has gotten off to a solid start on the road to Brazil, with Egypt topping Mozambique and Guinea to get off to a perfect start in qualifying.
However, just as important as his results on the field has been his ability to endear himself to the Egyptian people, standing in solidarity as they go through one of the most difficult times in their history. Political upheaval and violence have rocked the country for more than a year, and the deaths of 79 people at a local soccer game in Port Said in February were strongly linked to the political violence enveloping the country at the time and had a dramatic impact on the national soccer scene.
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing the end product of the film chronicling this incredible journey any time soon – work on the film will be completed next fall, around the end of the World Cup qualifying, with the film set for release in spring 2014. Still, be sure make a note of this one – if the trailer and story so far are any indication, it promises to be outstanding.
Empêtré en bas de classement en championnat, Toronto espère humer à nouveau les effluves du début d’année en Ligue des champions. Ce soir, les Ontariens rêveront d’exploit contre Santos Laguna, champion du Mexique en méforme qui les avait éliminés en demi-finale de l’édition précédente. S’il est rétabli, Eric Hassli pourrait disputer ses premières minutes dans la compétition.
Face aux Puerto Rico Islanders, la tâche s’annonce plus facile demain pour le LA Galaxy que rien n’arrête en ce moment, même d’importants maux d’estomac qui n'ont pas empêché Beckham de jouer dimanche. En forme également, à l'image de Rosales, Seattle ne devrait guère connaître de problèmes jeudi sur le terrain des Trinidadiens de Caledonia.
La tâche la plus ardue sera pour Houston, en déplacement à Olimpia (Honduras) : les Texans ont tout intérêt à retrouver le rythme !
On jouera aussi d’importants matchs de championnat ce mercredi. Après un déplacement difficile à Kansas City, New York rendra visite à DC United, qui visera une 13e rencontre consécutive sans défaite sur ses terres, ce qui lui permettrait d’égaler son record de 2007. À Philadelphie, Columbus pourrait devoir faire appel à son troisième gardien, Matt Lampson. New England, qui a officialisé l’acquisition du milieu offensif Juan Toja, accueillera Chivas USA.
Notez par ailleurs que Kansas City sera privé de Teal Bunbury pour le reste de la saison. Quant à notre podcast hebdomadaire, il sera diffusé ce mercredi en raison de la disponibilité de nos invités.
EN LIGUE DES CHAMPIONS
(Ma 20h00) Toronto - Santos Laguna (Mex)
(Me 22h00) LA Galaxy - Puerto Rico Islanders (PRi)
(Je 20h00) Caledonia (T-T) - Seattle
(Je 22h00) Olimpia (Hnd) - Houston
EN MLS (tous mercredi 20h00)
Philadelphie - Columbus
DC United - New York
New England - Chivas USA
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv
Is Roger Espinoza Wigan's next Honduran hard man?
The Mirror seems to think so, reporting that the Sporting KC midfielder has caught the eye of Latics manager Roberto Martinez. If Wigan want to secure the services of the Honduran international before January, they'll have to move quickly as the international transfer window closes on Aug. 31.
Espinoza impressed for his country in the London Olympics, scoring against Brazil in the quarterfinals before receiving a standing ovation after being sent off in the final minutes. He's been a starter for Peter Vermes in Kansas City since 2010, gradually working his way onto the list of the best box-to-box midfielders in MLS.
What do you think? Would Espinoza fit at Wigan? Can Sporting afford to lose him after Teal Bunbury was lost for the season with a torn ACL?
All 32 goals from Week 25 action. Three belong to Fredy Montero, three to Federico Higuain. Two each to Alan Gordon, Simon Dawkins... and Kei Kamara.
ALL GOALS FROM MLS Week 25
This might come as a shock, but we don't make it down to the NASDAQ MarketSite building in Times Square too often. Still, MLS was in the house today, along with some pretty impressive company.
The occasion? Check out the tweet below, as well as this brand new video spot produced by the Department of Homeland Security:
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) August 27, 2012
Together with Department Secretary Janet Napolitano, NBA Commissioner David Stern, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Congresswoman Yvette Clark, Commissioner Don Garber helped to announce the day's big news.
MLS, along with all the other major leagues, will be actively working with the DHS to expand the Department's "See Something, Say Something" campaign into professional sports venues nationwide. Very cool.
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) August 27, 2012
Garber's message to the DHS and the crowd of TV cameras/media on hand: MLS is behind this initiative to keep fans safe in our stadiums, 100%.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) August 27, 2012
Following the announcement the crowd stepped outside for a brief photo op situated just underneath the following display, smack in the middle of Times Square:
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) August 27, 2012
It's a good reminder for everyone. If you're out at a match and you see something sketchy, be sure to speak up. It can't do any harm.
Il y a quelques semaines de cela, le classement était coupé en deux. 10 équipes se détachaient, équitablement réparties entre conférences Est et Ouest. Le portrait change peu à peu.
Équipe en forme du moment, Montréal recolle au peloton de tête, mais compte plusieurs matchs d’avance. Les Québécois, emmenés par Patrice Bernier, ont battu DC United qui n’avait titularisé aucun de ses atouts offensifs. Il faut aussi surveiller Columbus, où Higuain continue d’impressionner, en embuscade et qui n’a jamais lâché le morceau contre New England. Quant à Houston, il doit éviter de se reposer sur ses lauriers, comme contre Toronto, ce qui lui a coûté deux points.
Dans le sommet de la journée, Kansas City n’a pas laissé New York tirer une seule fois au but… mais le match s'est pourtant terminé sur un partage 1-1 ! Ce qui n’empêche pas l’entraîneur visiteur de déclarer « On aurait pu gagner »…
En tête du classement, San José, large vainqueur de Colorado, reprend ses distances et se réjouit aussi de l’imminence du début de la construction de son nouveau stade. Grâce à un Montero en super forme, Seattle a sans doute fait honneur aux débuts de l’US Open pour s’imposer sur un score de tennis à Chivas USA. Malgré son point à Philadelphie et des changements dans l’équipe, Salt Lake continue de faire du surplace.
Philadelphie - Salt Lake
Montréal - DC United
Columbus - New England
Houston - Toronto
Portland - Vancouver
San José - Colorado
Chivas USA - Seattle
LA Galaxy - Dallas
Kansas City - New York
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo
I've got goosebumps right now. Just trust me when I tell you that's not the norm here at MLS HQ come Friday afternoon.
For that, I have to thank the Vancouver Whitecaps, who put out quite the hype video ahead of Saturday's trip to Portland (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Check out the video below and let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Our MLS clubs have gone above and beyond in the community this week running successful fundraisers and events, like the Chicago Fire's White Party. Toronto FC front office and players spent 12 straight days in the community giving back through their TFC/TWELVE campaign while the Portland Timbers completed building a soccer field at a local high-school. The Dynamo launched the 2012 Bald is Beautiful campaign and the Revolution will partner with Taylor Twellman on a fundraiser while the Rapids continue to give back to their fans. These are just a few of the highlights from this week. Check out all of the incredible stories from the community...
For more community news from around the League, visit the MLS W.O.R.K.S. news section.