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This Week in MLS - April 16, 2018

This Week in MLS – April 16, 2018
  • Toronto FC is two games away from the FIFA Club World Cup
  • LAFC to unveil Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday
  • Belgian defender Ciman returns to Montreal to face former side
  • Ibrahimović, Galaxy host league’s top offense in Atlanta
  • Two most recent MVPs clash as Portland hosts league leading New York City FC
  • MLS Week 8: Match Notes
Toronto FC is two games away from the FIFA Club World Cup
History is on the line Tuesday night at BMO Field for the first game in a series that TFC President Bill Manning speculated could be the most important in MLS history.
Win the two-leg aggregate-goal series and Toronto FC will become the first MLS club to book a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup to compete against the top clubs from around the world like Real Madrid, Liverpool, A.S. Roma or Bayern Munich. Goalkeeper Alex Bono could face the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. Sebastian Giovinco could go toe-to-toe in a scoring duel against Mohammed Salah or Robert Lewandowski.
But first, Toronto FC must defeat Mexico’s all-time winningest team in Chivas de Guadalajara.
Toronto defeated defending Mexican champion Tigres UANL with a 2-1 victory at BMO Field in Leg 1 of the quarterfinals before scoring twice in a 3-2 second leg at El Volcán to advance to the semifinals on away goals. The Reds once again flexed their muscle at home defeating Club América 3-1 in Leg 1 of the semifinals before a strong defensive outing at Estadio Azteca for a 1-1 draw in the second leg.
A tournament title would be Toronto’s fourth trophy in the past year, solidifying its spot atop MLS history books. Sebastian Giovinco and Homegrown midfielder Jonathan Osorio are both tied for the Golden Boot lead with three goals scored in this tournament, helping Toronto become the first team in league history to defeat two Mexican clubs in multi-leg series. Complementing the outstanding home goalscoring, Toronto will need its defense to come up strong once again as a shutout at BMO could put Chivas in a hole without any away goals entering the second leg.
Soundbytes from Toronto FC press conference can be found here
How to Watch:
  • Toronto FC vs. Chivas de Guadalajara (Tuesday, April 17, 8:15 p.m. ET) – Watch live on UDN or TSN2, or live stream via or the go90 app.
  • Chivas de Guadalajara vs. Toronto FC (Wednesday, April 25, 9:30 p.m. ET) – Watch live on UDN or TSN, or live stream via or the go90 app.
LAFC to unveil Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday
Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) will officially unveil the 22,000-seat, $350 million Banc of California Stadium during a star-studded ribbon cutting ceremony this Wednesday. Celebrity owners, including Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, Nomar Garciaparra, and Tom Penn alongside MLS Commissioner Don Garber and local elected officials will participate in the ceremony at 11 a.m. PT before the LAFC players take the field for their first training session at the new facility. Throughout the afternoon, attending media will have the opportunity to work from the press box that features striking views of downtown.
Below is a timeline of events for Wednesday, April 18 at Banc of California Stadium. Media wishing to attend should RSVP to, as credentialed media access will be required for this event.
11 a.m.            LAFC Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
                        (Select owners available to speak with media immediately following ceremony)
1:00 p.m.         LAFC Training Session begins
2:00 p.m.         LAFC head coach Bob Bradley and players available to media
Belgian star defender Ciman returns to Montreal to face former side
Los Angeles Football Club and Belgium national team defender Laurent Ciman heads back to Montreal for the first time to face his former Impact side on Saturday at Stade Saputo (1 p.m. ET / TVA Sports, ESPN+). The 2015 MLS Defender of the Year, who will likely represent Belgium in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, spent the three previous seasons in Montreal.
Ciman was an integral part of the Impact, leading the club to the Concacaf Champions League final during his first MLS season in 2015. Now, he anchors an exciting expansion campaign with LAFC, which won its first two games to open the 2018 and enters this week fourth in the Western Conference. This match will be LAFC’s sixth straight on the road, before the club moves into its state-of-the-art new home, Banc of California Stadium, to host Seattle Sounders FC on April 29.
LAFC’s acquisition of Ciman was the first trade in organization history; the club sent their fourth- and fifth-round MLS Expansion Draft selections – former Columbus Crew SC defender Jukka Raitala and former Toronto FC forward Raheem Edwards, respectively – to Montreal.
One of the Impact’s brightest spots this season has been Chilean midfielder Jeisson Vargas, who is among a number of young South American talents who joined MLS this season. The 20-year-old leads Montreal with three goals, two of which were game-winners in March against defending MLS Cup champions Toronto FC and 2017 MLS Cup runners-up Seattle Sounders FC.
Ibrahimović, Galaxy host league’s top offense in Atlanta
The LA Galaxy’s show master, Sweden great Zlatan Ibrahimović, returns to StubHub Center this Saturday for a bout against the league’s top-scoring offense, Atlanta United (10:30 p.m. ET / ESPN+). For fans seeking goal-scoring prowess, this matchup of the Western Conference’s and Eastern Conference’s second-place teams has all the ingredients.
Atlanta (4-1-1, 13 points) leads MLS with 2.5 goals per game, led by 24-year-old Venezuelan Josef Martínez who owns the distinction of scoring more goals in his first 25 MLS games (24 tallies) than any other player in league history. Martínez is tied for the league lead with five goals alongside Sporting Kansas City’s Felipe Gutiérrez. This past week for Atlanta also featured the long-awaited debut of 19-year-old Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Barco, who has worked his way back from an early-season quad injury. The offseason acquisition played the final 20 minutes during Atlanta’s 2-2 draw against New York City FC on Saturday.
For the Galaxy (3-2-1, 10 points), the 2018 spotlight continues to shine on Ibrahimović, who has now scored three goals in three games, tallying the lone score during their 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. LA is hoping for a substantial turnaround from the only other previous meeting between the two sides, a dominant 4-0 Atlanta victory on Sept. 20, 2017, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Two most recent MVPs clash as Portland hosts league leading New York City FC
Two of the most electrifying players in MLS history and the last two winners of the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award will square off on Sunday when the Portland Timbers host league-leading New York City FC at Providence Park (6 p.m. ET, FS1 / TSN2). Portland midfielder Diego Valeri captured the 2017 MVP award, holding off a repeat effort from 2016 MVP David Villa, with both players off to strong individual starts in 2018. Valeri has three goals and two assists in six starts for the Timbers, while Villa has two goals and two assists despite starting in only two matches this season.
NYCFC currently sits atop the league standings with 17 points (5-0-2 record) and is one of two undefeated teams in MLS. Depth has been a strong suit of the club this season as 20-year-old Paraguay National Team midfielder Jesús Medina leads the league with five assists, while Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi are tied for third in the league with four goals scored. Portland will look to build off last week’s home opening 3-2 victory over Minnesota United FC with another strong performance at Providence Park. Costa Rica National Team midfielder and World Cup hopeful Sebastián Blanco is off to a strong start in his second season with the Timbers with three goals and one assist and will play a pivotal role in Sunday’s matchup.
MLS Week 8: Match Notes
Friday, April 20, 2018
Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 9 p.m. ET (TSN, ESPN+)
  • Sporting extended their undefeated streak to six games, getting a late goal from Graham Zusi to come back for a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday evening.
  • Whitecaps FC suffered a second consecutive defeat, their league home undefeated streak put to an end after nine games in a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Football Club at BC Place on Friday evening.
  • The teams met twice a season ago, and Whitecaps FC won both – a 2-0 victory on May 20 at BC Place, and a 1-0 win on Sept. 30 at Children’s Mercy Park.
  • The Whitecaps FC win at Children’s Mercy Park was their first ever in Kansas City in league play. Sporting had won four of the first five meetings there in MLS play (with one draw) – though Vancouver did win there in group play in the Concacaf Champions League in 2016.
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Montreal Impact vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 1 p.m. ET (TVA Sports, ESPN+)
  • Jeisson Vargas scored his third goal of the season, but the Impact dropped a second consecutive decision, falling 3-1 to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon. Vargas has scored each of the Impact’s past three goals, over the last four matches (since March 17).
  • LAFC put an end to a two-game losing skid, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0 at BC Place on Friday evening.
  • Diego Rossi scored his fourth goal and added his fourth assist – the only player in MLS this season with at least four goals and four assists – and Carlos Vela also added his fourth goal. The pair have combined for eight of LAFC’s 11 goals on the season.
  • The Impact have defeated an incoming expansion team in their first league meeting just once in their MLS history – a 2-1 win against Atlanta United last April 15 at Stade Saputo.
New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire, 2 p.m. ET (Univisión, UDN)
  • The Red Bulls won their third game in a row in league play at Red Bull Arena, defeating the Montréal Impact 3-1 on Saturday afternoon.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a goal and added an assist – he now has 90 goals in his MLS regular-season career, passing Carlos Ruiz for No. 11 on the all-time list.
  • The Fire saw their brief two-game undefeated run at Toyota Park put to an end, falling 1-0 to the LA Galaxy on Saturday afternoon.
  • The Red Bulls have a six-game undefeated streak alive in the series, winning four of those, coming away with points in both meetings a year ago. The Red Bulls won 2-1 at Red Bull Arena on April 29, their third consecutive win in the series at Red Bull Arena. The teams played to a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park on Sept. 9.
  • The Red Bulls have come away with a result on their past three trips to Toyota Park (one win, two draws). When the Red Bulls won on Oct. 25, 2015 at Toyota Park, it was their first win ever in Bridgeview. The Red Bulls’ last away win against Chicago had come May 14, 2005, a 3-0 victory at Soldier Field; in between, the Fire were unbeaten in 14 home games in the league series (9-0-5).
Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC, 3 p.m. ET (CTV, TSN, ESPN+)
  • The Dynamo saw their winless slide extended to four games with a second draw in that time, reaching a 2-2 result with the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on Saturday evening. Tomás Martínez and Mauro Manotas scored for the Dynamo, with Manotas netting his third of the year.
  • TFC headed into their massive Concacaf Champions League final first-leg match with a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, their third loss in four league outings.
  • Toronto FC won the lone meeting between the teams last year, a 2-0 victory at BMO Field on April 28. The TFC win ended a four-game winless streak in the series; their last win vs. the Dynamo had come July 12, 2014, a 4-2 victory at BMO Field.
  • The teams have played to five consecutive draws in Houston, all at BBVA Compass Stadium. The last win for either team there came in 2011, a 2-0 Dynamo victory at Robertson Stadium.
Columbus Crew SC vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Crew SC suffered their third consecutive defeat, conceding the opening goal after just 43 seconds and then seeing D.C. United hold out for a 1-0 victory in Annapolis, Md. It was the third-longest in MLS history a team held out for a win by the game’s only goal.
  • The Revolution saw their two-game winning run put to an end, dropping a 1-0 decision to FC Dallas at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • The teams met twice a season ago, each winning on their own ground. Crew SC claimed a 2-0 win on May 6 at Mapfre Stadium, before the Revolution took a 2-1 win on May 21 at Gillette Stadium, which ended a three-game Crew SC winning streak in the series.
  • Crew SC have won the past four league meetings in Columbus, since 2014, though the Revolution won the first leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series in 2014, as well as both matches in Columbus during the 2013 regular season.
Orlando City SC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Orlando City made it three wins on the trot, winning on the road for the first time since last September in a 2-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Friday evening.
  • Dom Dwyer netted for a third game in a row, with four goals over that span. He now has goals in each of his past four league appearances dating back to the end of last season, matching the longest goalscoring streak of his MLS career.
  • The Quakes reached a second consecutive draw but saw their winless streak stretched to four matches, playing to a 2-2 result with the Houston Dynamo at Avaya Stadium on Saturday evening. Magnus Eriksson scored for a second consecutive game.
  • The teams have played to draws in each of their three meetings all-time. The teams reached a 1-1 draw last May 17 at Avaya Stadium, the second 1-1 they have played to in San Jose (also in 2015).
  • The teams played to a 2-2 draw in their lone encounter in Orlando on June 18, 2016, at the Citrus Bowl.
FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • FC Dallas remained undefeated on the new season with a second victory in five matches, defeating the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening, FCD’s first game outside of Frisco. Jacori Hayes scored his first professional goal for the game’s lone tally.
  • The Union had their winless streak extended to four games with a second loss in that span, falling 2-0 to Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium on Friday evening.
  • The Union defeated FC Dallas for the first time in their history last year, a 3-1 win at Talen Energy Stadium on Aug. 5. Over the first nine meetings between the clubs in league play, FCD had won five, with four draws, including three wins in a row before last year’s Union victory.
  • FC Dallas have won four of the five all-time meetings in Frisco, with one draw, including each of the past two encounters at Toyota Stadium.
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • RSL were shut out at the attacking end for first time this season, falling 4-0 to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday evening.
  • The Rapids stretched their undefeated streak to four games with a second win in that time, defeating Toronto FC 2-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday afternoon.
  • The teams met three times a season ago, and Real won twice. RSL took wins on both grounds, a 2-1 victory on April 15 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, then a 4-1 victory on Aug. 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Rapids claimed a 1-0 win in Commerce City, Colo., on Oct. 15.
  • Real have a 15-game home undefeated streak alive vs. Colorado. Since the Rapids’ last win in Utah, a 2-0 victory on April 30, 2007, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Real have won 11 games with four draws. Colorado has never won at Rio Tinto Stadium (0-9-4 all-time in league play). Real Salt Lake have won three of the past six visits to Commerce City, over the last four seasons.
  • The rivals play for the Rocky Mountain Cup, a trophy awarded by the supporters’ groups of both teams.
LA Galaxy vs. Atlanta United, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović scored his third goal since coming to MLS in making his first start for the Galaxy, his new club winning for the third time this season in a 1-0 defeat of the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Saturday afternoon.
  • Atlanta United saw their club-record four-game winning streak put to an end but still extended their undefeated run, reaching a 2-2 draw with New York City FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
  • The teams met once in Atlanta United’s inaugural MLS campaign, a 4-0 win for Atlanta on Sept. 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Minnesota United FC, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Sounders FC scored their first goal of the 2018 league campaign, but still remained winless on the new season, reaching a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday afternoon.
  • MNUFC suffered their third consecutive defeat, falling 3-2 to the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday evening.
  • Darwin Quintero made his MLS debut, starting in the midfield and scoring his first league goal.
  • The teams met twice in Minnesota United FC’s inaugural MLS campaign, and Sounders FC won both. Seattle took a 4-0 win when the teams first met, Aug. 5 at TCF Bank Stadium, then claimed a 2-1 victory just 15 days later at CenturyLink Field.
Portland Timbers vs. New York City FC, 6 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • The Timbers won for the first time in 2018 in their first home match of the season after five away contests, defeating Minnesota United FC 3-2 at Providence Park on Saturday evening.
  • Diego Valeri scored his third goal of the season, now with goals in the last three matches – last year he set the all-time MLS record with goals in nine consecutive matches July 29-Sept 24.
  • NYCFC remained undefeated on the new season with their second draw in seven outings, reaching a 2-2 result with Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
  • David Villa scored his second goal of the season and added his second assist – already the 15th time in his MLS career he’s had at least one goal and one assist in the same game.
  • The teams have met three times all-time – and the visiting team has won each. The Timbers have won twice at Yankee Stadium, both by 1-0 scorelines, the first in the inaugural meeting between the clubs in 2015, and the second in last year’s lone meeting, Sept. 9.
  • NYCFC took a 2-1 win in the only encounter between the teams in Portland, May 15, 2016, at Providence Park.