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Toronto FC

27 July 12:57 de la tarde

Llegamos al punto medio del año, un momento en la temporada regular donde los clubes de la MLS empiezan a mover sus fichas para buscar llegar a los playoffs. Estos equipos usan este momento para deshacerse de aquellos fichajes que no respondieron a los chances dados en la primera mitad del año.

Desafortunadamente muchos de estos son de los nuestros y eso me tiene decepcionado. Mi frustración más grande es que yo esperaba – como muchos que conocen su talento – que estos jugadores latinos mostraran la casta que los llevó a ser de interés para la MLS… por una razón u otra, ahora se van sin pena ni gloria.

Estos son los que llegaron al inicio de la campaña y se despiden por ahora…

Rafael Robayo (Chicago Fire)

El volante colombiano es una leyenda en el Millonarios de su país y por consiguiente llegó al Fire con grandes expectativas. Sin embargo, nunca fue fundamental en el equipo de Frank Klopas. Robayo no registró goles o asistencias y jugó apenas 439 minutos en 16 partidos donde salió principalmente de suplente. ¿Cómo darle la titularidad cuando solo cinco tiros al arco en ese tiempo?

La continuidad influye y Robayo tiene talento. El problema pudo ser de adaptación y el Fire aun tiene confianza en él, por lo que fue cedido de vuelta a Millos a modos de préstamo.

Federico Puppo (Chicago Fire)

El otro fichaje latino del Fire considerado de alto calibre al inicio de la temporada tampoco sirvió y se va de préstamo de vuelta a Defensor Sporting club de Uruguay, de donde fue fichado originalmente. El delantero no anotó en 11 partidos y salió de titular tan solo una vez. Aunque registró una asistencia, no fue suficiente.  

Muchos se preguntarán si es que al Fire no le gustan los jugadores de estilo latino, pero si es el caso ¿Cómo explicar el éxito de Marco Pappa o Pavel Pardo? Hasta el mismo Sebastián Grazzini, quien esta inactivo por problemas familiares, brilló para los Hombres de Rojo.

Tressor Moreno (San Jose Earthquakes)

Lejos del nivel que solía tener, el mediocampista colombiano no pudo ganarles un espacio en el centro del campo a jugadores jóvenes como Rafael Baca y Simon Dawkins. Aunque los Quakes ganaron mucho en términos de posesión de balón con Moreno en la cancha, perdieron mucho en definición y velocidad, lo cual afectó la titularidad del experimentado cafetero.

Tressor jugó 12 partidos, seis de titular y sumó tres asistencias antes de terminar su contrato con los Quakes.  

Miguel Aceval (Toronto FC)

Lo primero que se notó de este defensa chileno al inicio de la temporada fue su lentitud en comparación a otros defensas, lo cual es algo letal para cualquier zaguero que quiera triunfar en la rápida y física liga norteamericana. Aceval solo jugó cinco partidos y a pesar de darse a conocer por sus excelentes cobros de tiro libre, no pudo ganarse un espacio en la defensa de un equipo de Toronto que está de último lugar en las tablas de la MLS. Un acto de indisciplina en Houston también empeoró su situación en el equipo canadiense que lo dejó ir esta semana.

25 July 1:09 de la tarde

On vient de dépasser la mi-saison et j’avais envie de voir à quel point les équipes en étaient par rapport au même stade l’an dernier. Le calendrier de la MLS étant ce qu’il est, j’ai d’abord réalisé un classement des 18 premières rencontres de chaque club (qui permet au passage de relativiser le classement actuel). Ensuite, je l’ai comparé avec le classement de leurs 18 premiers duels l’an dernier pour voir leurs progressions / régressions respectives. Même s’il faut prendre ces tableaux avec des pincettes, notamment en raison du déséquilibre entre les matchs joués à domicile et à l’extérieur, ils n’en demeurent pas moins des indicateurs très intéressants. À vous d’en tirer vos propres conclusions… N’hésitez pas à les partager !

CLASSEMENT 2012 APRÈS 18 MATCHS
    J Pts
1. San José 18 36
2. DC United 18 33
. Kansas City 18 33
4. Salt Lake 18 32
5. New York 18 31
6. Vancouver 18 30
7. Chicago 18 28
8. Seattle 18 27
9. Columbus 18 25
. Houston 18 25
11. Chivas USA 18 23
12. Colorado 18 22
. New England 18 22
14. LA Galaxy 18 20
. Philadelphie 18 20
16. Portland 18 19
17. Montréal 18 18
18. Dallas 18 15
19. Toronto 18 13
COMPARAISON 2012 / 2011 APRÈS 18 MATCHS
    J 2012 2011 Diff.
1. Vancouver 18 30 14 +16
2. San José 18 36 22 +14
3. Kansas City 18 33 22 +11
4. DC United 18 33 23 +10
5. Chicago 18 28 18 +10
6. New England 18 22 16 +6
7. New York 18 31 25 +6
8. Houston 18 25 20 +5
9. Chivas USA 18 23 21 +2
10. Salt Lake 18 32 31 +1
11. Seattle 18 27 28 -1
12. Colorado 18 22 23 -1
13. Columbus 18 25 27 -2
14. Portland 18 19 21 -2
15. Toronto 18 13 15 -2
16. Philadelphie 18 20 28 -8
17. LA Galaxy 18 20 34 -14
18. Dallas 18 15 34 -19
 
21 July 12:43 de la tarde

American owners in the Premier League have a tendency to divide the opinions of even the most like-minded supporters.

Such is the case at Liverpool, where John W. Henry and Tom Werner's (pictured above) Fenway Sports Group are attempting to bring the club back into the English elite after a few disappointing seasons.

PHOTO GALLERY: John Henry at Liverpool training in Boston

On Thursday, I chatted with Mariner about a myriad of topics surrounding Saturday's friendly against the Reds at the Rogers Centre (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer/Sportsnet), including his thoughts on American owners in general as well as what was happening at Liverpool specifically.

READ: Henry says Rodgers is inspirational

Here is what he had to say:

“I’m a massive fan of North American ownership. Being around some fantastic owners in Robert and Jonathan Kraft [in New England] and now Larry Tanenbaum at MLSE, these guys are extremely wealthy people but they really care about the game. It’s similar to with [American players], there’s a certain stigma attached to American owners: ‘Oh, they don’t really know the game.’ They absolutely do know the game, the traditions, everything about what it means to take ownership of Liverpool Football Club. They know what it means to all the fans. They’re fantastic businessmen.

"If you look at what we have in MLS, it’s single entity and we’ve got the salary cap, which early on – I must admit – was laughed at a little bit by the European clubs. But with the advent with teams going into administration, like Glasgow Rangers which I never ever in a million years would have thought that they would be going into administration, they’re looking at the American model and thinking, ‘You know, this is not such a bad idea.’ When I would go to business conferences before I was head coach and I was director of player development, people would come to me and say, ‘You know, this business model that you’ve got, this salary cap, is not such a bad idea.” A lot of people are looking at this in a really serious way and saying this is a really good way to go. I know for a fact that Liverpool Football Club are in fantastic hands.”

20 July 12:33 de la tarde

Paul Mariner is tasked with slowing down Liverpool FC on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he isn't averse to sharing a few pointers with a fellow English No. 9.

Andy Carroll's future with the Reds may be in doubt – rumors have been swirling about his future under Brendan Rodgers, with a return to Newcastle gaining the most momentum – but Mariner didn't hold back when asked what advice he would give the 23-year-old striker.

A former England international and target forward back in his day, Mariner drew on his own experiences to identify a weak point in Carroll's game.

“I learned from a very early age that if you want to be successful at the highest level, you’ve got to be very consistent and you’ve got to have tremendous movement," Mariner told MLSsoccer.com. "In the old days, when defenders could come through the back of you, if you stood still, you were absolutely stupid because you wouldn’t last two minutes on the football pitch. You had to be constantly on the move.”

And how would Mariner apply that lesson with Carroll? As it turns out, with a little help from US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“Andy's an unbelievably imposing figure. He can strike fear in any defense. The one bit of advice that I would give Andy is that when he’s in the box I’ve noticed he’s just a bit static," Mariner said. "He’s got such tremendous ability. One of the greatest players that I saw in the modern era was Klinsmann. Klinnsman in the box was unbelievable.

"I remember one of the first goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday. He basically made a step in front of the defender, then stepped out, the ball was delivered and all of a sudden it was in the back of the net. I’m only talking about a yard or half a yard, not massive distances. You’ve just got to unsettle the defenders when the ball is coming into the box. If Andy was to do that, then he’s very difficult to stop.”

Of course, Toronto FC fans will hope Carroll doesn't heed that advice come Saturday afternoon.

18 July 3:02 de la tarde

If you haven't already, give this morning's OPTA Spotlight on Danny Koevermans and his contributions to Toronto FC over the past year a quick read.

Here are some diagrams (the first a plot of the result of each of his shots this season and the second a map of his shots on target) that show how Koevermans has scored each of his nine goals in 2012. As you can see, he's almost exclusively been a poacher that relies on proximity to goal rather than pinpoint finishing to be successful.

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

17 July 11:58 de la mañana

Cette semaine, les trois mousquetaires de l’émission (à écouter ici) sont quatre, puisque Patrick Leduc, consultant sur la chaîne de télévision RDS, les accompagne pour un Coup Franc presque totalement consacré aux trois clubs canadiens :

- Tous ont fait le grand ménage : Montréal s’est départi de Braun, Wahl et Montaño, Toronto a envoyé De Guzman, Plata et Soolsma sous d’autres cieux, alors que Chiumiento et Le Toux ont quitté Vancouver. Lequel a réalisé les meilleures opérations ?
- Lequel des trois clubs est en meilleure posture, cette saison et à plus long terme ?
- Pourquoi le changement soudain de philosophie à Vancouver, qui prend un virage écossais ? Les amateurs de beau jeu doivent-ils s’inquiéter ?
- Martin Rennie est-il toujours maître à bord ?
- Toronto se portera-t-il mieux sans De Guzman ? Y attendait-on trop de lui ?
- La blessure de Koevermans n'est-elle finalement pas la plus grande perte pour le TFC ?
- Di Vaio n’a pas encore marqué pour Montréal (revoir sa grosse occasion à Philadelphie) : le doute s’installe-t-il ?
- Dans quelle logique s’inscrivent les récents départs à l’Impact ?
- Lequel des entraîneurs restera en poste le plus longtemps ?
- San José - Salt Lake : un sommet à sens unique.

De nombreuses questions auxquelles nous tentons de répondre, mais nous aimerions aussi recevoir votre opinion. N’hésitez pas à nous l’envoyer par courriel (coup.franc@MLSsoccer.com) ou sur Twitter (@CoupFrancMLS). N’oubliez pas non plus de nous envoyer vos compositions pour le générique de l’émission.

L'émission Coup Franc est disponible sur iTunes.

13 July 9:19 de la mañana

Julian de Guzman appears to be on his way out of Toronto after four years spent as one of the biggest names on the Reds’ roster.

Sportsnet in Canada is reporting that de Guzman has been traded to FC Dallas, although it’s unclear exactly what head coach Paul Mariner’s club will get in return for one of their three Designated Players.

De Guzman has appeared in 65 games for Toronto since signing as the first Designated Player in club history in 2009. Read the report here.

12 July 12:56 de la tarde

La finale de la Coupe des États-Unis, programmée de longue date à Kansas City, opposera le Sporting local à Seattle, triple tenant du titre. L’affiche rêvée !

Lors des demi-finales programmées ce mercredi, Kansas City s’est imposé 0-2 à Philadelphie, vengeant le cinglant 4-0 concédé en championnat il y a quelques semaines, alors que Seattle a confirmé son retour en forme en battant Chivas USA 4-1. Mais Sigi Schmid ne sera heureux qu’en cas de victoire lors de la finale, le 8 août. Rappelons que le vainqueur décrochera aussi un ticket pour la Ligue des champions 2013-2014.

La journée a également été très animée du côté nord de la frontière. On a commencé par des transferts : Davide Chiumiento quitte Vancouver pour le FC Zurich, Justin Braun rejoint Salt Lake et quitte Montréal qui s’est renforcé avec l’arrière gauche suisse Dennis Iapichino, alors que Toronto se sépare de Nick Soolsma et prête Joao Plata.

En soirée, le duel entre les Ontariens et leurs compatriotes du Pacifique a eu des allures de feu d’artifice (résumé vidéo complet). Le marquoir indiquait 2-1 à la fin du temps réglementaire, avant que Mattocks n’égalise de la tête suite à une détente digne de la NBA. Mais tard dans les arrêts de jeu, Dunfield a offert les trois points au TFC.

06 July 3:18 de la tarde

Joao Plata was at the "White House" on Friday afternoon and his former club in Toronto couldn't seem any farther away.

Although there has been no official word from Toronto FC, the Reds fan favorite was holding up a Liga de Quito jersey in a press conference held at the Ecuadorian club's Casa Blanca, where reports indicate he will remain through the end of the year.

Plata returned to Ecuador earlier this week unbeknownst to TFC, who were expecting him to show up to practice earlier this week although they admit they were investigating a potential loan deal with his former club.

The 20-year-old did not appear under new Toronto manager Paul Mariner, who took over for Aron Winter, and Plata told FutbolMLS.com earlier this week that he did not figure in the Englishman's plans.

But they were happy to have him in Ecuador, if this photo from Friday is any indication.

01 July 6:21 de la tarde

There's like a 99 percent chance that, if you're reading this blog post, you also watched the 2012 European Championship final between Spain and Italy.

It was awesome. Even if you had no rooting interest (full disclosure: I'm a quarter Italian, but was pulling for Spain), it's hard not to get caught up when the stakes are that high and the quality of soccer on display matches it.

And it just kills me that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL can't figure out a way to get a "Copa Américas" up and running every four years, starting immediately after the Euros. What an incredible opportunity the two confederations are missing.

Hopefully someday, they'll figure it out.

Anyway, only one real observation this week...

Scoring keeps going up and up and up

You should be reading Andrew Wiebe's Opta Spotlight every week. This past week's edition was especially good. Click me!

OK, now that you've read it, you know that teams are passing more, passing more accurately, passing more aggressively, and as a result (we assume), scoring more. Before this week scoring was already up 12 percent over last season's pace. That will have gone up some more, since in Week 17's 10-game slate there were 34 total goals.

And it's not just a blip. Since the end of the international break, MLS clubs have produced 100 goals in 33 games (thanks to Greg Lalas for that little tidbit).

It's the reversal of a 10-year trend. Back in 2001 MLS averaged 3.28 goals per game; by 2010, that was down to 2.46. Here's the whole table:

2011 -- 2.58
2010 -- 2.46

2009 -- 2.54
2008 -- 2.81
2007 -- 2.66
2006 -- 2.62
2005 -- 2.87
2004 -- 2.61
2003 -- 2.89
2002 -- 3.01
2001 -- 3.28
2000 -- 3.19
1999 -- 2.86
1998 -- 3.57*
1997 -- 3.26
1996 -- 3.37

The key thing here isn't just that MLS have imported guys like Thierry Henry (one of the league's elite finishers) and David Beckham (one of the league's elite chance creators). The league's also kept guys like Dwayne De Rosario and Brad Davis, who've both had overseas interest; they've developed highly rated talents like Chris Pontius and Will Bruin, who've both been given plenty of time to figure out where the net is; and, of course, used the Reserve League to help build Chris Wondolowski, who's turning into one of MLS' all-time greats.

It's a multi-faceted approach to finding and cultivating talent, and the numbers say it's working.

* For those of you who don't remember 1998 for one reason or another ... yes, that season was as crazy as the numbers indicate. Go find some YouTube clips of that year's Galaxy squad — it'll be worth your time.