2018 CCL - Jonathan Osorio - Toronto FC - celebration - wide angle
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MLS Trio Looks to Unseat Liga MX Sides in Concacaf Champions League

This Week in MLS – March 12, 2018
  • MLS trio looks to unseat Liga MX sides, reach Concacaf Champions League semifinals
  • Homegrown Players lifting MLS sides in CCL play
  • NYCFC’s 20-year-old Medina is new key unlocking attacking success
  • Montreal, Toronto FC tangle in first 401 Derby of 2018 campaign
  • Fireworks and flare on display when Vancouver faces Atlanta United
  • Eight former MLS players among first-ballot nominees for National Soccer Hall of Fame
  • MLS Week 3: Match Notes
MLS trio looks to unseat Liga MX sides, reach Concacaf Champions League semifinals
All three MLS clubs garnered a lead in the first leg of their respective Concacaf Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal matches against Liga MX sides. This week, the New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC hopes to finish the job with a spot in the semifinals as CCL action resumes with the second leg of the quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Advancing past their regional rivals would put them a step closer to the tournament final, where the winner qualifies for the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup hosted by the United Arab Emirates in December.
The New York Red Bulls hold a 2-0 aggregate lead, with a home-field advantage still in play, when they host Club Tijuana on Tuesday at Red Bull Arena. Later Tuesday night, defending MLS Cup champions Toronto FC visit Apertura 2017 winners Tigres UANL with a 2-1 aggregate lead. To cap off the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Seattle Sounders FC travel to take on Chivas de Guadalajara after posting a 1-0 win in Leg 1.
Homegrown Players lifting MLS sides in CCL play
Homegrown Players from all three remaining clubs in Concacaf Champions League play proved to be difference makers in the first leg of quarterfinal matchups, with the young domestic talent lifting their clubs to victory over Liga MX opponents. In the first leg matchups, MLS academy products scored or assisted on three of the five goals MLS clubs scored.
The New York Red Bulls saw five Homegrown Players suit up in their 2-0 victory over Club Tijuana on the road last Tuesday, while an additional two players who previously played in the Red Bulls United Soccer League (USL) system contributed to the victory. Overall, seven of the 14 Red Bulls players who saw action in the victory were developed in the Red Bulls system either as Homegrowns or USL players. Midfielder Florian Valot, who made his first team debut following two seasons with Red Bulls II, assisted on the second of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ goals against Xolos.
Toronto FC kept up the momentum with a 2-1 victory over Tigres UANL at BMO Field on Wednesday with a pair of Homegrown products making large contributions for the club. Midfielder Marky Delgado assisted on Jozy Altidore’s equalizing goal in the 60th minute, while Canadian National Team midfielder Jonathan Osorio scored the go-ahead goal with a sublime backheel goal in the 89th minute to lift Toronto over the reigning Mexican champions.
Seattle Sounders FC completed an undefeated week for the MLS trio with a 1-0 victory over Chivas de Guadalajara on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field, powered by a pair of Homegrown midfielders. Eighteen-year-old Handwalla Bwana put in a tremendous 73-minute performance before he was taken off the field in favor of 22-year-old Homegrown Henry Wingo. Minutes into his shift, Wingo lifted Seattle with a perfectly placed cross to set up Clint Dempsey’s score in the 78th minute.
With Homegrown Players across all three clubs impressing in CCL play, young American and Canadian products shined bright in the first leg of CCL Quarterfinals and will look to lift their clubs over Liga MX rivals in the second legs this week.
CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals
New York Red Bulls vs. Club Tijuana (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes; go90.com) –
  • Through Leg 1: New York Red Bulls lead 2-0 in aggregate
  • How New York Red Bulls can advance to semifinals: A victory, draw or one-goal loss assures the Red Bulls of advancing; if the Red Bulls fall 2-0 in regulation, the match will be decided in a penalty kick shootout; if the Red Bulls lose by two goals and concede three or more in this scenario, Tijuana advances to the semifinals.
Tigres UANL vs. Toronto FC (Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes; go90.com) –
  • Through Leg 1: Toronto FC lead 2-1 in aggregate
  • How Toronto FC can advance to semifinals: A victory or draw assures Toronto of advancing; the Reds can also advance via a one-goal loss if they score two or more goals in this scenario; if Tuesday’s second leg results in Tigres leading 2-1 through regulation in Leg 2, the match will be decided in a penalty kick shootout; Tigres will advance with a two-goal advantage or more in this second leg.
Chivas de Guadalajara vs. Seattle Sounders FC (Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes; go90.com) –
  • Through Leg 1: Seattle Sounders FC lead 1-0 in aggregate
  • How Seattle Sounders FC can advance to semifinals: A victory or draw assures Seattle of advancing; the Sounders can also advance via a one-goal loss if they score one or more goals in this scenario; if Wednesday’s second leg results in Chivas leading 1-0 through regulation in Leg 2, the match will be decided in a penalty kick shootout; Guadalajara will advance with a two-goal advantage or more in this second leg.
NYCFC’s 20-year-old Medina is new key unlocking attacking success
New York City FC are streaking into Game 3, going two-for-two in opening games for the first time in club history. With the addition of Jesus Medina, a 20-year-old Paraguayan international, orchestrating the midfield, NYCFC will host a winless Orlando City SC, their 2015 expansion-year foes, this Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET / Univision, Twitter).
Surrounded by a cast of world-class talent, Medina has made his impact known early and often by advancing the attack with slicing runs and passing precision for silver platter assists and goal-scoring opportunities. Alongside David Villa, who last week reached 100 MLS appearances, Medina’s production already includes a goal and an assist in his first two outings, including the game-winning goal during NYCFC’s 2-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City.
Orlando City, however, boasts a 5-2-1 all-time advantage against its Eastern Conference rivals – with two wins in three games last season. With the OCSC debut of Sacha Kljestan this week, the Lions and could find win No. 1 by shutting down NYCFC’s scorching offense.
Montreal, Toronto FC tangle in first 401 Derby of 2018 campaign
Between league action and the Canadian Championship, the Montreal Impact and 2017 MLS Cup winners Toronto FC have had their fair share of clashes over the years as the 401 Derby opens its 2018 version on Saturday (3 p.m. ET / TVA Sports, CTV, TSN4). TFC had the upper hand against Montreal on several occasions last year, earning a 2-1 victory to win the Canadian Championship, as well as a 2-1-0 record against the Impact in MLS regular season play. Both clubs posted impressive road victories head-to-head, with Toronto grabbing a 3-1 win on Aug. 27, 2017, and Montreal responding with a 5-3 victory on Sept. 20, 2017, which was the Reds’ only defeat at BMO Field during the regular season. In the latter match, Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel each recorded a brace for the Impact.
Canadian National Team midfielder and Toronto native Raheem Edwards – one of three Impact players called up to face New Zealand’s national team later this month in Spain – will certainly have a different viewpoint in the 401 Derby after winning an MLS Cup with Toronto last year. Edwards was selected by the Los Angeles Football Club in the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft and then traded to Montreal. Edwards opened his 2018 goal scoring account with a slick left-footed volley during this past Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Columbus Crew SC. His goal tied the score at 2-2, but the Impact would concede moments later as Montreal (0-2-0) enters this weekend still in search of its first win.
Toronto (0-1-0) will be coming off its Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal match against Liga MX’s Tigres UANL on Tuesday. The Reds opened the MLS season with a 2-0 loss to Columbus at BMO Field. Toronto FC’s roster touts four players called up for Canada’s national team in late March, including 25-year-old midfielder Jonathan Osorio who has posted a pair of goals in CCL action.
Fireworks and flare on display when Vancouver faces Atlanta United
Offense and atmosphere take center stage this week, when Atlanta United follow their recording-breaking home opener with a bout against unrelenting goal-scorer Kei Kamara and Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / TSN2, MLS Live).
There will be fireworks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which for the third time saw an MLS single-game attendance record broken with 72,035 supporters strong, propelling the club’s 3-1 win over D.C. United. With no shortage of attacking options, Atlanta’s South American trio of Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez, and Hector Villalba each found their stride and the back of the net in that three-goal home victory.
Led by Kamara, Whitecaps FC are the only Western Conference team to claim a win both at home and on the road in their two games this season. Kamara has emerged as the leader of Vancouver’s attack with a hand in three of the club’s four goals this season, including a goal against Montreal in addition to a goal and an assist in their 2-1 win over Houston last week to reach 100 regular-season tallies for his MLS career. Meanwhile, 17-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies continues to showcase his versatility, filling a void at left back to overcome a Marcel de Jong injury last week against Houston to follow up his one-goal, one-assist effort the week before in Montreal.
Eight former MLS players among first-ballot nominees for National Soccer Hall of Fame
The National Soccer Hall of Fame released its nominees for the 2018 induction, and eight of the nine first-ballot player nominees have strong ties to MLS. Atlanta United technical director and former two-time MLS Defender of the Year Carlos Bocanegra and current New England Revolution head coach and 1997 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Brad Friedel are among this group.
Also on this star-studded list is soccer legend and former New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s first signing and defender Jay DeMerit, former Colombia national team player and ex-Red Bulls midfielder Juan Pablo Angel, 12-year MLS veteran and three-time MLS All-Star Bobby Convey, 11-year MLS striker Eddie Johnson, and Houston native and former Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden.
Voting runs through March 26 and results will be announced at a later date. The 2018 induction will take place on Oct. 20 at the grand opening of the National Soccer Hall of Fame at FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
MLS Week 3: Match Notes
Saturday, March 17, 2018
D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo, 1 p.m.
  • D.C. United are searching for a first win of the new year in their first home match – the first MLS league game ever to be played at the Maryland SoccerPlex. United have a draw and a loss through their first two games, following their 3-1 defeat at Atlanta United on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Dynamo suffered their first loss of the season in a second consecutive home match to open the year, falling 2-1 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium. Alberth Elis netted his first goal of the season; he had two assists in the season-opening 4-0 win vs. Atlanta United.
  • The Dynamo won 3-1 last year at RFK Stadium in the only meeting between the clubs, following draws the previous two years. D.C. United last won in the series in 2014, a 3-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The home team has not won in the last four matches in the series. The last home wins came in the first two meetings in 2014, United winning 2-0 at RFK Stadium on May 21, and the Dynamo winning 1-0 Aug. 3 in Houston.
Minnesota United FC vs. Chicago Fire, 2 p.m.
  • Minnesota United FC won their first match of the season in a second successive away contest, defeating Orlando City SC 2-1 on Saturday evening. Ethan Finlay netted a pair of goals – the second two-goal scorer in MNUFC’s two games this year (Kevin Molino hit for the club’s goals in its 3-2 loss to San Jose to open the season).
  • The Fire began their season last Saturday with a 4-3 home loss to Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Park. Nemanja Nikolic – last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner with 24 goals – picked up where he left off, scoring two goals in the opener.
  • Minnesota United FC won the lone meeting between the clubs in their inaugural season last year, a 2-1 win Aug. 26 at Toyota Park.
Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC, 2 p.m.
  • The Union won their season opener, defeating the New England Revolution 2-0 on March 3 at Talen Energy Stadium. Anthony Fontana – who was the youngest player ever to start for the Union in their opening match of the season – scored on his professional debut, while CJ Sapong assisted on the opener then scored his first goal of the new campaign.
  • Crew SC made it two wins from two games on the season, defeating the Montréal Impact 3-2 on a late penalty kick. Gyasi Zardes scored a pair of goals – including the game-winning penalty deep in stoppage time – and now has the MLS lead with three goals this season.
  • Federico Higuaín also converted a penalty kick, his second consecutive game with a goal, the 50th league goal of his MLS career. Higuaín is one assist away from becoming the 19th player in league history to record 50 goals and 50 assists from his MLS career.
  • The teams split their two meetings a year ago played four days apart, each winning on their home ground. Crew SC won 1-0 at Mapfre Stadium on July 22; the Union took a 3-0 win July 26 at Talen Energy Stadium.
  • The Crew SC win came after the Union had won on two consecutive trips to Columbus, both in 2016. The Union have won their last two home meetings with Crew SC.
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC, 3 p.m.
  • The Impact suffered a second consecutive loss to open the season last Saturday, falling 3-2 to Columbus Crew SC on a penalty kick in stoppage time. Ignacio Piatti and Raheem Edwards scored the Montréal goals to pull their club back from a 2-0 deficit.
  • Toronto FC opened defense of their MLS Cup title with a loss, falling 2-0 to Columbus Crew SC in their league lidlifter March 3 at BMO Field.
  • TFC claimed a massive win last week, defeating Mexican powerhouse Tigres UANL 2-1 in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal at BMO Field. Down a goal, TFC got goals from Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio to take the advantage back to Monterrey this Wednesday.
  • The teams met three times a year ago, with Toronto FC winning two. Each team won away in the first two meetings, TFC cruising to a 3-1 win Aug. 23 at Stade Saputo, then the Impact taking a three-goal lead before the game was a half-hour old before winning 5-3 on Sept. 20 at BMO Field.
  • The teams have met in every season they’ve been together in MLS in the Canadian Championship, with each team defeating the other once for the title – TFC doing it last year thanks to a brace from Sebastian Giovinco in the second leg, winning 2-1 on aggregate, while the Impact won the title in 2014.
New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC, 3:30 p.m.
  • New York City FC made it two wins from two matches in the new season, defeating the LA Galaxy 2-1 in their home opener Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Anton Tinnerholm netted his first MLS goal and David Villa scored his first goal of 2018; he had an assist in NYCFC’s season-opening win vs. Sporting KC.
  • Orlando City SC suffered their first defeat of the season in their second home match, falling 2-1 to Minnesota United FC. Yoshimar Yotún converted a penalty for OCSC’s goal; they opened the year with a 1-1 draw with D.C. United.
  • Orlando City SC have come away with points on each of their last three trips to Yankee Stadium, with two wins and a draw, including a 2-1 triumph last April 23 in The Bronx.
  • NYCFC won the last meeting between the expansion class of 2015 last year, a 3-0 victory at Orlando City Stadium, their first win ever in Orlando. OCSC won the three previous meetings in Orlando; the teams played to a 1-1 draw when they opened their MLS histories against each other March 8, 2015.
Atlanta United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7:30 p.m.
  • Atlanta United made their home bow at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and notched a first win of the season, getting goals from Josef Martínez, Miguel Almirón and Hector Villalba in a 3-1 win against D.C. United. Villalba also assisted on the other two goals, while Almirón also collected an assist.
  • The attendance of 72,035 marked the league record for a standalone single match in MLS history, surpassing the total of 71,874 drawn for last year’s Decision Day contest vs. Toronto FC. It was the fifth-largest crowd for an MLS match in league history (including those games as part of international doubleheaders).
  • Kei Kamara scored his 100th league goal in his MLS career as Whitecaps FC won their second game in two starts in the new season, defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium. Kamara was making the 288th regular-season appearance of his MLS career, the 10th player in league history to reach the century mark in goals scored.
  • Whitecaps FC won the lone meeting between the teams in Atlanta United’s inaugural season last year, a 3-1 victory June 3 at BC Place.
Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8:30 p.m.
  • The Quakes opened their new season with a win, defeating Minnesota United FC 3-2 on March 3 at Avaya Stadium. Vako Qazaishvili played a part in all three goals, scoring one and setting up the other two – both scored by Danny Hoesen.
  • Sporting KC conceded four goals in a game for the first time in more than two seasons, but came back for a first victory of the season, defeating the Chicago Fire 4-3 on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. Felipe Gutíerrez scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the 86th minute, as Sporting rebounded from a 3-2 deficit after taking a 2-0 first-half lead.
  • Sporting have a four-game undefeated streak alive in the series, winning three consecutive matchups before the clubs reached a goalless draw last June 17 at Avaya Stadium in the second meeting between the teams.
  • Sporting have won the last two meetings in Kansas City, the last San Jose win at Children’s Mercy Park coming in 2015, a 5-0 victory which is the largest in the all-time series.
  • The teams also met in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal last year in Kansas City, Sporting advancing on a penalty shootout after the teams reached a 1-1 draw.
Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls, 9 p.m.
  • Real Salt Lake are still looking for a first win on the year, suffering their first defeat in a 5-1 loss to Los Angeles Football Club on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium. Joao Plata netted the lone RSL goal; he has both of the club’s goals this season. RSL conceded five goals or more in a game for the fifth time in the last four seasons.
  • The Red Bulls opened their league campaign in style, strolling to a 4-0 win against the Portland Timbers on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Ben Mines scored in his professional debut, the 15th-youngest player to score in MLS history, while Carlos Rivas netted two goals late in his Red Bulls bow.
  • The Red Bulls will be chasing history Tuesday, looking to reach the Concacaf Champions League semifinals following a 2-0 first-leg win against Mexican side Club Tijuana last week at Red Bull Arena.
  • The teams played to a scoreless draw in their lone meeting a year ago, March 25 at Red Bull Arena. The result extended the Red Bulls’ home undefeated streak in the series to three games.
  • The Red Bulls have never won in league play at Salt Lake. Real have won five of the 10 regular season meetings all-time in Utah, with five draws, including a 2-1 win in 2016 in the last matchup in Sandy. But the Red Bulls did claim the Western Conference Championship there in 2008, a 1-0 victory.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 5 p.m.
  • FC Dallas opened their 2018 campaign with a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake at Toyota Stadium on March 3, getting a late equalizer through an own goal.
  • Sounders FC return to league action after dropping their regular season opener, a 1-0 loss to expansion side Los Angeles Football Club on March 4 at CenturyLink Field. LAFC joined Sounders FC (2009), the Chicago Fire (1998) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2011) as the only teams to win their first games as an expansion club.
  • Last week, Sounders FC defeated CD Guadalajara of Mexico 1-0 in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal series, the game’s lone goal coming from Clint Dempsey after 78 minutes.
  • FC Dallas are now undefeated in their last five home encounters in league play with Sounders FC at Toyota Stadium, after they reached a goalless draw there last Sept. 16 in the first meeting between the teams.
  • Over the last three seasons in Seattle, Sounders FC have outscored FC Dallas 12-0 in three regular season meetings. Sounders FC have won the last seven league meetings between the teams in Seattle, as FC Dallas has not scored a goal in their last 408 minutes played in all competitions in Seattle, including the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals, which marked a third consecutive year the teams met in the MLS Cup Playoffs.