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This Week in MLS – August 14, 2017

This Week in MLS – August 14, 2017
  • Red Bulls take on Open Cup Cinderella Cincinnati on Tuesday
  • Clash of Eastern Conference titans: Chicago Fire to host red hot Toronto FC
  • Dynamo’s last-to-first turnaround stands tall among tightly packed Western Conference
  • Mexican National Team players among young group signed to MLS clubs in Secondary Transfer Window
  • Sweet Tweets
  • Week 24 Game Previews
 
Red Bulls take on Open Cup Cinderella Cincinnati on Tuesday
For eight consecutive years in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, MLS has proven its dominance with an all-league tournament final each year out. It boils down to the New York Red Bulls to make that streak nine when they visit the USL’s FC Cincinnati for Tuesday’s semifinal at a sold-out Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati (8 p.m. ET). The winner will meet three-time Open Cup champions Sporting Kansas City (2004, 2012, 2014).
 
The Red Bulls have the opportunity to reach their second Open Cup final after the club finished as runner-up to the Chicago Fire in 2003. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is looking to become the first lower-division team since the Charleston Battery to advance to the final. In 2008, Charleston finished runner-up to D.C. United.
 
Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch enjoyed plenty of success in the Open Cup as a midfielder, winning the tournament on four occasions – once with D.C. United (1996) and three times with the Chicago Fire (1998, 2000, 2003). Now the 2015 MLS Coach of the Year is only two victories away from a first title as a manager.
 
Marsch’s side will have a difficult task against the Cinderella story of the 2017 Open Cup. Cincinnati eliminated MLS sides Columbus Crew SC and the Fire in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, before edging the NASL’s Miami FC 1-0 in the quarterfinals to reach this stage. FCC, however, will be without its top scorer Djiby Fall, who is suspended for yellow card accumulation. The Red Bulls’ Open Cup run has featured a pair of 1-0 victories against New York City FC and the New England Revolution in the quarterfinals, sandwiched around a 5-3 shootout victory against the Philadelphia Union on June 28 in the Round of 16.
 
Clash of Eastern Conference titans: Chicago Fire to host red hot Toronto FC
In an Eastern Conference showdown featuring two of the League’s highest scoring offenses, Toronto FC will face the Chicago Fire in an all-out battle between the respective No. 1 and No. 3 teams in Supporters’ Shield standings on Saturday night at TOYOTA Park (8 p.m. ET, TSN/CSN-Chicago/MLS Live).
 
Toronto FC is coming in hot off a six-game undefeated streak. However, their middle-of-the-pack road record (4-3-5) could play perfectly into the hands of the undefeated-at-home (10-0-1) Chicago Fire. Seeking a bit of revenge after suffering a 3-1 April defeat against Toronto at BMO Field, the Fire will also be playing with a chip on their shoulders after also falling 3-1 in Columbus last week. Following a midweek matchup against a Montreal Impact team hoping to claw its way back within reach of the playoff line, Chicago has an important slate of games ahead if it wants to keep pace with Toronto atop the Eastern Conference standings.
 
With Toronto led by U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Michael Bradley, forward Jozy Altidore, and 2015 MLS Golden Boot winner Sebastian Giovinco, high-profile bragging rights will be on the line when the two highest scoring teams in MLS square off.
 
With the second longest home winning streak in MLS history, Chicago will look to extend its mark while ending Toronto’s six-game undefeated streak in the process.
 
Dynamo’s last-to-first turnaround stands tall among tightly packed Western Conference
The Houston Dynamo, under head coach Wilmer Cabrera, have relished a revival following their last-place finish just a season ago. Houston enters the week atop the Western Conference at 10-7-7 (37 points), even in points with Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City. The race for the conference crown is incredibly tight, with only three points separating first place and the fifth-place Portland Timbers.
 
Houston’s turnaround is remarkable on a number of fronts. The Dynamo improved their home mark from 5-5-7 in 2016 to a robust 9-0-3 in 2017, representing one of only four clubs that are still unbeaten at home. The Dynamo offense scored 39 goals in 34 games a year ago and now touts the second-best offense in the West in 2017 with 42 goals in 24 matches. The one area that has more room for improvement is Houston’s performance away from BBVA Compass Stadium. That will be put to the test this week when Houston (1-7-4 on the road) travels to the Pacific Northwest to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at BC Place (10 p.m. ET). The Dynamo picked up their first road win at D.C. United on July 22, and thanks to their defense they have conceded only one goal in their past three road matches to go unbeaten at 1-0-2.
 
Seattle (10-7-7, 37 points) is in remarkable form, boasting an eight-game unbeaten streak (5-0-3) while enjoying a four-game shutout streak heading into Sunday’s home match against expansion side Minnesota United FC (10 p.m. ET). The Sounders greeted Minnesota with a 4-0 victory on Aug. 5 at TCF Bank Stadium. Seattle has gone 400 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, dating back to a 50th-minute tally by D.C. United’s Lloyd Sam on July 19.
 
Sporting Kansas City (9-5-10, 37 points) hosts FC Dallas (9-5-8, 35 points) on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park (8:30 p.m. ET). It certainly is one of the most impactful matches among the upper half of the Western Conference. Sporting looks to stay unbeaten at home, having gone 7-0-5 this year. The match will also mark Sporting’s 100th consecutive MLS sellout at Children’s Mercy Park. SKC carries a 21-game home unbeaten streak in regular-season competition and will need to put together another impressive outing to gain a strong result against the 2016 Western Conference regular-season leaders FC Dallas.
 
Mexican National Team players among young group signed to MLS clubs in Secondary Transfer Window
The close of the secondary transfer window saw teams across MLS make a flurry of moves, with an emerging trend of clubs signing young and in-their-prime players who have experience representing their respective national teams.   
 
The 34 players signed during the secondary transfer window average 25.61 years of age, just under the 25.67 average age of players signed in the 2017 primary transfer window. Additionally, 20 of the 34 players signed (58.8%) have at least one cap for their national team.
 
Among the marquee signings in the secondary transfer window are a pair of Mexican National Team players in 27-year-old Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy) and 28-year-old Carlos Vela, who became the first designated player signing in LAFC history ahead of the club’s expansion to MLS in 2018. The two join Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy) and Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo) as MLS players who have played for the Mexican National Team in 2017 competition.
 
Another notable signing is 22-year-old Paul Arriola who arrives to D.C. United on the heels of a breakout campaign for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and is one of four signings the club made during the transfer window. New England, meanwhile, signed Hungary National Team player Krisztian Nemeth, who previously starred for Sporting Kansas City in 2015 to the tune of 10 goals and six assists.
 
Players signed during secondary transfer window:
*non-USL signings as of August 14, 2017
 
Player Team Age Birth Country National Team
Francois Affolter San Jose 26 Switzerland Switzerland
Stefan Aigner Colorado 29 Germany  
Paul Arriola D.C. United 22 United States United States
Deian Boldor Montreal 22 Romania  
Michael Boxall Minnesota 28 New Zealand New Zealand
Russell Canouse D.C. United 22 United States  
Claude Dielna New England 29 France  
Jonathan dos Santos LA Galaxy 27 Mexico Mexico
Fidel Escobar New York Red Bulls 22 Panama Panama
Aly Ghazal Vancouver 25 Egypt Egypt
Luis Gonzalez FC Dallas 26 Venezuela Venezuela
Nicolas Hasler Toronto 26 Liechtenstein Liechtenstein
Muhamed Keita New York Red Bulls 26 Gambia  
Kelvin Leerdam Seattle 27 Suriname  
Jose Leiton Minnesota 24 Costa Rica Costa Rica
Cristian Lobato Sporting Kansas City 28 Spain  
Larrys Mabiala Portland 29 France Democratic Republic of Congo
Stefan Marinovic Vancouver 25 New Zealand New Zealand
Tomas Martinez Houston 22 Argentina  
Bruno Miranda D.C. United 19 Bolivia Bolivia
Krisztian Nemeth New England 28 Hungary Hungary
Sam Nicholson Minnesota 22 Scotland  
Samuel Piette Montreal 22 Canada Canada
Valeri Qazaishvili San Jose 24 Georgia Georgia
Victor Rodriguez Seattle 28 Spain  
Richard Sanchez Chicago 23 United States  
Pedro Santos Columbus 29 Portugal  
Philippe Senderos Houston 32 Switzerland Switzerland
Marcelo Silva Real Salt Lake 28 Uruguay  
Zoltan Stieber D.C. United 28 Hungary Hungary
Bill Tuiloma Portland 22 New Zealand New Zealand
Pele van Anholt LA Galaxy 26 Netherlands  
Carlos Vela LAFC 28 Mexico Mexico
Yoshimar Yotun Orlando 27 Peru Peru
 

Sweet Tweets
 

Good road win last night, on to Montreal. @realsaltlake

A post shared by Chris Wingert (@wingert17) on

 
Week 24 Game Previews
 
Wednesday, Aug. 16
Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Ballou Tabla gave the Impact the lead in the final minute of regulation play, but the Fire’s Luis Solignac scored the game-tying goal deep in second-half stoppage time, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw April 1 at Toyota Park.
  • The Impact won their second game in a row, defeating the Philadelphia Union 3-0. The Impact have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season in league play, also defeating the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls on May 20 and June 3.
  • Blerim Dzemaili scored a pair of goals, his first career two-goal performance since coming to MLS. Dzemaili has two goals and an assist in the past two games; he has six goals and five assists in his 12 MLS appearances.
  • The Fire suffered their third loss in their past four matches, falling 3-1 to Columbus Crew SC. It was a third consecutive loss on their travels for the Fire, now winless in their past four away matches, dating back to July 5.
 
Friday, Aug. 18
New York Red Bulls at Portland Timbers, 10 p.m. ET
  • The teams reached a scoreless draw in the lone meeting a year ago, July 10 at Red Bull Arena, the third consecutive season the home team has not won in the series. The Timbers have never defeated the Red Bulls at home in three meetings all-time.
  • The Timbers had their three-game undefeated run put to an end, falling 4-1 to Toronto FC. The loss in Toronto also put an end to a three-game undefeated streak on the road for the Timbers, their first away loss since a 3-2 defeat at Minnesota United FC on June 21.
  • Diego Valeri scored his 13th goal of the season, his third consecutive game with a goal, and the 50th goal in league play in his MLS career (in 139 appearances). He became the 18th player in MLS history to reach 50 goals and 50 assists for his MLS career.
  • The Red Bulls won their fifth match in their past six outings, defeating Orlando City SC 3-1. It was the third consecutive victory at home for the Red Bulls, now 8-2-2 at Red Bull Arena this season.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 14th goal of the season, his fourth consecutive game with a goal, with five goals over that span. Over his past 11 league games, since May 19, Wright-Phillips has 10 goals.
 
Saturday, Aug. 19
Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Crew SC put an end to a brief three-game winless run, defeating the Chicago Fire 3-1 at Mapfre Stadium.
  • Ola Kamara scored his 12th goal of the season, his third in the past three games, while Justin Meram added his 10th goal of the season for Crew SC.
  • Orlando City SC suffered their second consecutive defeat, their winless streak now at five games (with four losses in that time), following a 3-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Meram scored goals in each half as Crew SC took a 2-0 victory April 1 at Mapfre Stadium. Crew SC have won the past two meetings between the teams, including the final encounter last season, a 4-1 win in Orlando, which was their first in three visits there.
 
Real Salt Lake at Montreal Impact, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams reached a 1-1 draw in their lone meeting last season, July 9 at Rio Tinto Stadium, the first time the home team did not win in the series. The Impact have won both meetings at Stade Saputo, scoring seven goals in the process.
  • Ignacio Piatti scored a goal and added an assist in the Impact win against Philadelphia, his second consecutive game scoring a goal, now with 10 goals for the season, the second consecutive season he’s hit for double figures in goals in MLS. It was the ninth time in his MLS career Piatti has scored at least one goal and added at least one assist in his MLS career (in 81 career league appearances).
  • Real Salt Lake extended their undefeated streak to six games with a third victory in that time, defeating D.C. United 1-0 at RFK Stadium. Luis Silva scored the lone goal in the game, which was restarted after being abandoned the day before in the 28th minute because of heavy rain.
  • Real have won three consecutive games on their travels, matching the club record set three times previously (last May 19-July 13, 2013).
 
Toronto FC at Chicago Fire, 8 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Sebastian Giovinco scored a pair of goals and Victor Vazquez collected a pair of assists as TFC captured a 3-1 win April 21 at BMO Field. Toronto FC have won the last five meetings between the teams. The Fire’s last victory in the series came April 4, 2015, a 3-2 win at Toyota Park; TFC’s 2-1 win last Sept. 10 was their first ever at Toyota Park.
  • TFC extended their undefeated streak to six matches with a third victory in that time, defeating the Portland Timbers 4-1 at BMO Field.
  • Giovinco collected his sixth assist of the season, now with two goals and two assists in the past three games. Marky Delgado scored a goal and added an assist, the second time in his MLS career he’s had a goal and an assist in the same game.
  • The Fire return home riding a nine-game winning streak at Toyota Park, now tied for the second-longest in MLS history, with four other teams; the all-time league record is 12 home wins in a row, set by the San Jose Earthquakes from Aug. 25, 2001-July 24, 2002.
 
FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Maynor Figueroa scored the game’s lone goal on 77 minutes to give FC Dallas the win on April 22 at Toyota Stadium; the teams reached a scoreless draw March 11 at Children’s Mercy Park.
  • FCD has a five-game home undefeated streak alive in the series. Kansas City’s last win in Frisco came June 12, 2011, a 4-1 victory. FC Dallas have not won at Children’s Mercy Park since 2011.
  • FC Dallas put an end to a two-game losing slide but still saw their winless run extended to three games, reaching a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium.
  • Jesse Gonzalez recorded one save in keeping the clean sheet for FC Dallas, his sixth shutout of the season, his single-season career-high in his fifth MLS season.
  • Sporting had their nine-game league undefeated streak put to an end, falling 1-0 at Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon. It was SKC’s first loss since May 27, going 13 games in all competitions without a defeat.
 
D.C. United at Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. ET
  • D.C. United saw their winless streak extended to eight games with a seventh defeat in that time, falling 1-0 to Real Salt Lake in a game abandoned and restarted the next day because of heavy rain. The eight-game winless run is the club’s longest since the club-record 15-game stretch from Aug. 10, 2013 to March 29, 2014.
  • The Rapids saw their winless run stretched to five games with a third draw in that time, playing to a goalless result with FC Dallas on Saturday evening.
  • Tim Howard was credited with six saves in posting the shutout against FC Dallas, his third clean sheet of the season and his first since May 27.
  • United are undefeated in the past six meetings in the series, with two victories and four draws, dating back to May 14, 2011, after the teams reached a 1-1 draw in their only meeting last year, March 20 at RFK Stadium. But D.C. United have not won at the Rapids since 2010; that win was their first in Colorado since 2000.
 
Houston Dynamo at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Alberth Elis and Erick Torres netted goals on either side of halftime as the Dynamo took a 2-1 win May 12 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo win in the first meeting ended a four-game undefeated streak in the series for Whitecaps FC, the first Dynamo win vs. the ‘Caps since Aug. 29, 2015.
  • The Dynamo extended their undefeated streak to six games with a third victory in that span, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • Vicente Sanchez scored a goal and added an assist for the Dynamo, his first since his return to MLS this season. Elis also scored a goal and collected an assist.
  • Whitecaps FC completed their three-game road swing with a win, a draw and a loss, following their 1-0 reversal by the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
 
Philadelphia Union at San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. ET
  • The Quakes saw their two-game winning run put to an end, falling 3-0 at the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. It was the fifth consecutive away defeat for the Quakes, since a 1-0 win at FC Dallas on May 20.
  • The Union suffered their second loss in the last three games, losing 3-0 to the Montréal Impact at Talen Energy Stadium.
  • The Union hit the road riding a six-game away winless run, tied for the fifth-longest in club history. Philadelphia has been shut out in its past two away matches, now 227 minutes since their last road goal.
  • The Union are undefeated in the past three matches in the series, following a 1-1 draw April 30, 2016 at Talen Energy Stadium in the last meeting between the teams. Union won in the last encounter at San Jose, a 2-1 win Sept. 5, 2015, their first road win ever in the series.
 
Sunday, Aug. 20
New England Revolution at New York City FC, 6 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Xavier Kouassi scored the tying goal for the Revs with four minutes to play, canceling out a goal from NYCFC’s Miguel Camargo midway through the second half, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw May 31 at Yankee Stadium. The Revolution have come away with points on their last three visits to The Bronx, including draws in the last two.
  • New York City FC won a second match in a row, their third in their last four games, defeating the LA Galaxy 2-0 at StubHub Center.
  • David Villa scored his 18th goal of the season, now leading the MLS Golden Boot standings by two goals. Villa has scored four goals in the past two games; he has scored in seven of the past nine games, since June 17, with 10 goals in that time.
  • The Revolution won for a third time in the past four games, a third consecutive win at Gillette Stadium, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-0.
  • Teal Bunbury scored his fourth goal of the season – all of his goals this year have come in the past five games, since July 5.
 
Minnesota United FC at Seattle Sounders FC, 9:30 p.m. ET

 

  • The teams are meeting for the second time. Clint Dempsey scored two goals and set up a third, and Will Bruin and Jordan Morris also hit the back of the net as Sounders FC rolled to a 4-0 win Aug. 5 at TCF Bank Stadium.
  • Sounders FC extended their undefeated streak to eight games, one game shy of the club record in its MLS history, following a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field.
  • It was a fourth consecutive shutout for Sounders FC, now 400 minutes since conceding their last goal, a record for the club’s MLS history.
  • Clint Dempsey scored his 10th goal of the season, the fourth time in his MLS career he’s reached double digits in goals. It was his 50th goal scored for Sounders FC over all competitions.
  • Minnesota United FC return to action after a week off, their last match the 4-0 loss to Sounders FC, which followed a 4-0 win against D.C. United at TCF Bank Stadium.
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