Andre Blake of Jamaica plucks ball out of air in Gold Cup vs. Curacao 7-9-17
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This Week in MLS – July 24, 2017

This Week in MLS – July 24, 2017
  • USA’s Dempsey puts record on line vs. Blake, Jamaica in Gold Cup Final
  • NYCFC looks to stay unbeaten against Toronto in high-profile Eastern Conference clash
  • Streaking Sounders FC visit Galaxy in Western Conference Showdown on ESPN
  • Orlando looking to turn tables in rematch against new regional rival Atlanta
  • All-Star
  • Sweet Tweets
  • Week 21 Game Previews
 
USA’s Dempsey puts record on line vs. Blake, Jamaica in Gold Cup Final
The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final on Wednesday could potentially feature the most MLS players in tournament final history, but two will stand out among the fray when the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders FC goes up against Jamaica and Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake at Levi’s Stadium in Santa, Clara, Calif. (9:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, UDN).
 
Dempsey recorded his 57th-career international goal during the USA’s 2-0 semifinal win against Costa Rica on Saturday, tying Landon Donovan’s record for most career U.S. MNT goals. Standing in Dempsey’s way will be Blake, who carried the Reggae Boyz through the semifinals with a masterful five-save clean sheet and 1-0 victory against Mexico – a country that has won the most Gold Cup crowns (seven). Jamaica has conceded only two times in its five tournament matches this year.
 
Blake’s counterpart, U.S. and Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard, has posted back-to-back clean sheets to anchor the defense in the knockout stage of the tournament. The USA defense is tasked with shutting down a Jamaica attack that includes the Portland Timbers’ Darren Mattocks and Atlanta United FC’s Romario Williams (on loan to its United Soccer League partner the Charleston Battery) who lead Jamaica with two goals apiece, and Kemar Lawrence who scored an incredible free kick goal to push Jamaica to the finals.
 
The 1998 Gold Cup, which featured Mexico defeating the U.S. for its sixth tournament crown, included a combined 10 starters and three subs (13 MLS connections) for the match. If the 2017 semifinals are any indication, the U.S. and Jamaica could set a new precedent. The two sides in their respective semifinal games featured a combined 16 starters and three substitutions (19 total) with current MLS connections.
 
NYCFC looks to stay unbeaten against Toronto in high-profile Eastern Conference clash
New York City FC’s David Villa has been a one-man wrecking crew against Toronto FC, and his side will hope to maintain that high-level output when it visits TFC at BMO Field on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes). After a pair of strong performances last week, New York looks to close the gap with Eastern Conference leading Toronto, as a victory would tie NYCFC with their northern foes atop the standings. 
 
Villa contributed to both NYCFC scores with a goal and an assist during a 2-2 draw on July 19 at Yankee Stadium, the third match in his current four-game streak with a goal scored. In four previous appearances against Toronto, Villa has scored seven goals and contributed an assist. NYCFC has an unbeaten mark against TFC with a 2-0-4 MLS regular season record.
 
On the other side, Toronto has posted back-to-back draws, most recently a 1-1 stalemate against the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field that included Jay Chapman’s first MLS goal. The Reds will certainly be looking toward a strong performance from Sebastian Giovinco, who played the full 90 against Colorado. Despite Giovinco’s shortened outing against NYCFC the last time out, leaving with an injury in the 39th minute of that matchup, Toronto managed to level the match in stoppage time to salvage a draw.
 
Streaking Sounders FC visit Galaxy in Western Conference Showdown on ESPN
In a Western Conference showdown, featuring two of the most decorated clubs in MLS history, the stacked attacking front of reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders FC will visit the LA Galaxy and two-time MLS All-Star Jelle Van Damme at StubHub Center on Saturday (10 p.m. ET). The match will be showcased as a live MLS Special Edition simulcast, featuring an English-language broadcast on ESPN and streaming live on the ESPN App with Spanish-language commentary airing concurrently on ESPN2.
 
Sounders FC have gone a perfect three-for-three in recent matches – the club’s longest winning streak of the season – with Cristian Roldan leading the charge since returning from his first call to the represent the U.S. Men’s National Team in Gold Cup action. Highlighting Roldan’s phenomenal finishing are three goals scored in the past two games, including the two opening goals against San Jose last week. Sparks for Seattle could continue to fly as a reinvigorated offense following the Gold Cup could also see the USMNT returns from forwards Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris.
 
The LA Galaxy approach the match in high sense of urgency, hoping to snap a five-game losing streak. A bright spot for the Galaxy could be 22-year-old rising star Ariel Lassister, who scored his first league goal over the weekend. The son of former MLS star Roy Lassiter – who appeared for four different clubs – became the fifth father-son combo to find the back of the net in MLS play.
 
Orlando looking to turn tables in rematch against new regional rival Atlanta
The regional rivalry is in its infancy, and it was the newcomers Atlanta United FC who earned the upper hand against Orlando City SC. Atlanta hosts Orlando on Saturday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), and it took some late drama for the visiting side to garner a 1-0 victory at Orlando City Stadium. Hector Villalba’s 86th-minute blast was the lone tally to carry Atlanta to its fourth consecutive victory.
 
Atlanta has already put together a strong track record at Bobby Dodd Stadium, posting six wins in eight games to establish a fourth-place stance in the Eastern Conference standings. Orlando will have to turn around its road fortunes, having gone 2-5-2 away from Orlando City Stadium thus far this season as the club tries to return to the top six in the East standings.
 
Cyle Larin will be a welcome piece for the long term. He made a late second-half appearance for Orlando, shortly after his Canadian side was eliminated from the CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals. Larin will be looking for his first goal in league play since May 31.
 
Week-long of media events for 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target kick off on Sunday
The 2017 MLS All-Star Game is only nine days away as MLS’ biggest names prepare to face reigning European champions Real Madrid for what is sure to be a highlight of this year’s summer of soccer. Nearly a week of festivities begin on Sunday, including a family friendly beach soccer match, player availability from both teams, and culminating in the annual mid-season showcase.
 
The best in MLS will face Spanish giants Real Madrid, the newly minted back-to-back reigning UEFA Champions League winners, in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on August 2 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The summer showcase will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports domestically as well as more than 170 countries globally.  
 
Tickets to the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target are available via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Click here for more information about the Chicago Fire All-Star Plan and All-Star Group 2-Pack or call the Fire at (888) MLS-FIRE.
 
For the latest media schedule outlining all the must-see events at the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, click here.
 
Sweet Tweets
 
Week 21 Game Previews
 
Wednesday, July 26
Columbus Crew SC at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season, on the back end of a home-and-home series over a five-day span. Justin Meram scored the game’s only goal in the 65th minute to give Crew SC the victory Saturday evening at Mapfre Stadium.
  • Crew SC have won back-to-back games for the second time this season, the first since winning three games in a row March 18-April 1.
  • The Union suffered their second consecutive loss on the heels of a three-game undefeated run in the defeat in Columbus.
 
Saturday, July 29
Orlando City SC at Atlanta United, 4:30 p.m. (FOX)
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season – their first two meetings ever – on the back end of a home-and-home series over two weekends. Hector Villalba scored the game’s lone goal four minutes from full time to give Atlanta United the victory last Friday at Orlando City Stadium.
  • Atlanta United won their fourth consecutive game, their longest winning streak of the season and their MLS history. It matches the second-longest winning run in the league this year (Toronto FC, 6 games).
  • Orlando City SC suffered a second consecutive loss in the defeat by Atlanta United, the third time this season they have been defeated in back-to-back games, matching their longest losing slide of the season.
 
Montreal Impact at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. (TVAS)
  • The Red Bulls won their third consecutive game, defeating Minnesota United FC 3-0 at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. It matches the longest winning streak of the season for the Red Bulls, who also won three in a row from April 15-29.
  • The Red Bulls have scored three or more goals now in three consecutive games – their only three games this season with three-plus goals, netting 11 goals in that run.
  • Daniel Royer scored for a third consecutive game, while Bradley Wright-Phillips netted his 10th goal of the season, his sixth goal over the past eight games (since May 21). Wright-Phillips is now is a four-way tie for sixth place in the MLS Golden Boot race.
  • The Impact suffered a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas, putting an end to their four-game winning streak at Stade Saputo.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Blerim Dzemaili netted the game’s only goal in the 67th minute for an Impact win on June 3 at Stade Saputo. The Red Bulls have won all seven regular-season meetings at Red Bull Arena.
 
Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. CJ Sapong, Ilsinho and Roland Alberg all netted goals as Haris Medunjanin had a pair of assists in a 3-0 Union win July 2 at Talen Energy Stadium.
  • The Union have now won the past three league meetings in the series – all by heavy margins, outscoring the Revolution 10-0 over that span. A year ago, the Union won 3-0 on March 20 at Talen Energy Stadium, and 4-0 on Aug. 13 at Gillette Stadium.
  • The Revolution put an end to a four-game losing slide, also ending a two-game home losing streak, defeating the LA Galaxy 4-3 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
  • Teal Bunbury scored a pair of goals, a second consecutive game with a goal, with all three of his goals this season in that span. It was the fourth multiple-goal game of his MLS career, and his first since May 19, 2012, when he was with Sporting Kansas City.
 
D.C. United at Minnesota United FC, 8 p.m.
  • Minnesota United FC saw their winless streak extended to five games with a third defeat in that time, falling 3-0 to the New York Red Bulls at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
  • It is the longest winless streak for MNUFC in their MLS history; they also saw their home winless run extended to four games, matching the second-longest in MLS this season.
  • D.C. United suffered their fifth consecutive defeat, falling 3-1 to the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium on Saturday evening. The five-game losing streak is the longest since a club-record seven-game skid from March 23-May 11, 2013.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas, 8 p.m. (TSN2)
  • FC Dallas won their third game on the trot, defeating the Montréal Impact 2-1 at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. It’s the longest league winning streak of the season for FC Dallas; they had won back-to-back games March 18-April 8, their only other consecutive victories in MLS play.
  • Cristian Colman scored a pair of goals, his first two MLS league goals. Colman had scored two goals in four appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League run.
  • Whitecaps FC had their two-game winning streak put to an end, falling 2-1 to the Portland Timbers at BC Place.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Maximiliano Urruti gave FC Dallas a 52nd-minute lead, but Cristian Techera equalized on 74 minutes to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw on June 17 at BC Place. FC Dallas have won all seven encounters between the clubs in Frisco, outscoring Vancouver 14-2.
 
Chicago Fire at Sporting Kansas City, 8 p.m.
  • Sporting recorded a third consecutive 1-1 draw, this time with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday evening. SKC did extend their undefeated streak to seven games, dating back to June 3, with two wins and five draws in that time.
  • The Fire had their undefeated streak put to an end after 11 games, their first loss since April 29, in a 2-1 loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was one game shy of the club-record 12-game unbeaten run set Oct. 23, 2008-May 28, 2009.
  • David Accam scored his 11th goal of the season, tied for fourth-most in MLS, now with a goal and/or an assist in four consecutive matches, with four goals and three assists in that time (dating back to June 10).
  • The Fire haven’t won in Kansas City since 2012; SKC have three wins and two draws in the home meetings since.
 
Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Diego Valeri scored a pair of goals, and Fanendo Adi and David Guzmán each added a goal and an assist as the Timbers cruised to a 4-2 victory on March 18 at Providence Park.
  • The Dynamo extended their undefeated streak to three games overall with a second victory in that time, defeating D.C. United 3-1 at RFK Stadium. It was the first away win of the season for the Dynamo (1-7-3), ending their road winless streak after 12 games dating back to the end of last season, the third-longest such streak in club history.
  • Andrew Wenger scored his second goal of the season, both coming over the last three matches, while Alex collected three assists, now with 10 assists, sitting in a three-way for the MLS lead. The three assists equal the second-most in a game in Dynamo club history.
  • The Timbers put an end to their winless streak after six matches, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-1 at BC Place on Sunday afternoon.
  • Rookie Jeremy Ebobisse scored his first career MLS goal and added his first assist, making his first career MLS start, while Sebastian Blanco scored the fifth goal of his MLS career and added his fourth assist.
 
Columbus Crew SC at Real Salt Lake, 8 p.m.
 
  • Real had their two-game winning streak put to an end but still extended their undefeated run to three games, reaching a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City at Rio Tinto Stadium. Luis Silva scored the lone RSL goal, his first MLS goal since April 3, 2015.
  • Real are undefeated in the last two meetings between the clubs at Rio Tinto Stadium, the last a 2-2 draw June 27, 2015. RSL have not won in Columbus in league play since 2006, the Crew having won seven of the past eight regular-season meetings there, including a 4-3 win in the only meeting last season.
 
Colorado Rapids at San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m.
 
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Shkelzen Gashi hit for a pair of goals and Dominique Badji had a goal and an assist as the Rapids rolled to a 3-0 win May 13 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • The Quakes suffered their third consecutive defeat – their longest losing run of the season – in a 3-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. All three losses were away from Avaya Stadium.
  • The Rapids gained their first point from a road game this season, coming back for a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field. The draw put an end to the Rapids’ eight-game road losing streak, one game shy of the club record.
  • Badji scored for a second consecutive game, netting the equalizer in Toronto. Badji has been involved in each of the Rapids’ last six goals, dating back to June 21, with two goals and four assists.
 
Seattle Sounders FC at LA Galaxy, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
 
  • Sounders FC won their third consecutive game – their longest winning streak of the season – in a 3-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan scored a pair of goals, his second and third goal in two games since returning from international duty.
  • The Galaxy suffered a fifth consecutive loss, dropping a 4-3 decision to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. It’s the club’s longest losing run since dropping six in a row in the 2007 season.
  • Daniel Steres scored a pair of goals – his first career two-goal game – while Ariel Lassiter scored his first MLS goal, the fifth son of a father who also played in the league to score a goal.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Clint Dempsey had a goal and an assist and Jordan Morris also found the back of the net as Sounders FC took a 3-0 win April 23 at StubHub Center. Sounders FC have won the last two meetings at StubHub Center, the win in Carson in the final meeting last year their first victory at the Galaxy since 2009.
 
Sunday, July 30
New York City FC at Toronto FC, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season in the span of 11 days. TFC’s Victor Vazquez converted a late penalty kick, overcoming a goal and an assist from NYCFC’s David Villa, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw on July 19 at Yankee Stadium.
  • New York City FC are undefeated against Toronto FC in league play, winning two of six meetings all-time, with four draws. The teams have reached draws in their past three regular-season meetings. David Villa has scored seven goals with one assist in four league appearances vs. Toronto FC, five of those goals coming in meetings in The Bronx.
  • TFC extended their undefeated streak to three games with a second successive draw, playing to a 1-1 result with the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field.
  • NYCFC extended their home undefeated streak to seven games, defeating the Chicago Fire 2-1 at Yankee Stadium. David Villa scored for a fourth consecutive match and now has 14 goals for the season, sitting in second place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
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