MLS Newsstand - June 19, 2018

MLS All-Star Game jersey targets Atlanta’s railroads
Atlanta Business Chronicle – June 18, 2018
The red Target bullseye on the new 2018 MLS All-Star Game jerseys is hard to miss, but a subtle ode to Atlanta's history may be what catches the attention of what has become a soccer-crazed city.
The Major League Soccer All-Star Game will be held inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 1, and the MLS has released the official jerseys that will be worn during the match. The re-styled jerseys are cream white, with red and blue chevrons on the sleeves, and the MLS mantra of "Club, Country, Community" used at the back neck. The are also four intersecting lines shaped into a railroad crossing, which is a direct nod to the rich history of Atlanta’s transportation structure, first with the construction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad and now the location of the busiest international aerial hub in the world.
Every game, Atlanta United honors the city's history as a railroad town with a Golden Spike, which signifies "the berth of a movement, a new home unifying culture and generations."
Because of the All-Star Game sponsorship with Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), the jerseys are making their debut at 20 Atlanta Target stores.
Jerseys are big business among Atlanta soccer fans. Atlanta United President Darren Eales told 92.9 the Game during its innaugural season in 2017, that The Five Stripes ranked second in jersey sales among North American pro sports teams -- following only the Chicago Cubs. The team also ended with five players among the Top 25 list of most MLS jerseys sold. United's 24-year-old star midfielder Miguel Almiron had the best-selling jersey, with teammate Josef Martinez at No. 3.
The MLS invites a leading team, often from Europe, to America every year for the All-Star showcase, and this year's group will take on Juventus FC. There will also be a week of events in Atlanta surrounding the game, including concerts, community service initiatives, player appearances and an additional showcase match featuring the best young players from across the league.
Atlanta United, which has already broken most every attendance record, is once again the most popular team in the MLS, averaging 48,401 fans per home game, according to Soccer Stadium Digest. Average attendance for the league is 20,612.
adidas Launch The 2018 MLS All Star jersey
Soccer Bible – June 18, 2018
The mark of the elite. Ahead of the annual fixture in August this year adidas Football have unveiled the 2018 MLS All Star Jersey for this summer's match against Italian heavyweights Juventus at Atlanta United's stunning Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Each year adidas create a typically crisp design for the MLS All Star team, and the 2018 edition doesn't break that trend. Using a bold restyling of an iconic design, the jersey is coated in cream white with red and blue chevrons on the sleeves – in a similar style to the adidas kits currently being worn in the 2018 World Cup.
The MLS mantra of Club, Country, Community is used at the back neck of the jersey, and the 2018 All Star game mark is at the jock tag. The four intersecting lines shaped into a railroad crossing is a direct nod to the rich history of Atlanta’s transportation structure, first with the construction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad and now the location of the busiest international aerial hub in the world. The sleeve has as special 2018 MLS All Star triangular patch to work within this modern design.
The Serie A champions will visit Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on August 1 to take on the best of the MLS players. The midseason showcase annually attracts the most prominent clubs in the world, and Juventus follow in the footsteps of the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Bayern Munich.
The city of Atlanta is currently riding a football wave of hype as Atlanta United are drawing in crowds of over 70,000 for their home games, and MLS will tap into that success by bringing the party to the people.
LAFC after spot in Open Cup quarterfinals
Los Angeles Times – June 19, 2018
Reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup would be a significant accomplishment for an MLS expansion team, but it’s one the Los Angeles Football Club could add to a growing list of achievements with a win over the Sacramento Republic on Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The U.S. Open Cup, which features a field of 94 teams from all tiers of the U.S. soccer ladder, is the oldest ongoing competition in the country. Sacramento is one of three teams from the second-tier United Soccer League still alive in the tournament.
The Seattle Sounders won the tournament as a first-year club in 2009, but since then just one of six MLS expansion teams eligible to play in the competition made it as far as the quarterfinals
The game marks the end of LAFC’s brief World Cup break; the team returns to MLS play Saturday when it plays host to Columbus. Coach Bob Bradley remains without four starters who went to Russia with their national teams, but he is expected to start the rest of his first-team players against the Republic (8-4-4), which is third in the USL’s Western Conference standings.
LAFC is 7-4-3 in MLS play, also good for third in that league’s Western Conference table.
Sacramento’s roster contains a half-dozen former MLS players including one-time Galaxy midfielder Jaime Villarreal and Scottish midfielder Adam Moffat, who made more than 130 MLS appearances with five teams over eight seasons. The Republic eliminated Seattle in extra time a round of 16 game two weeks ago.
Three MLS teams have already been knocked out of the Open Cup by USL sides this month. The winner of Wednesday’s game will play the Portland Timbers in the quarterfinals next month.
Minnesota United falls 1-0 to Houston, eliminated in U.S. Open Cup
Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 19, 2018
Minnesota United center back Brent Kallman was looking forward to making a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup this year, to see what that winning sensation would feel like.
But hope for such a streak will have to wait until 2019.
United’s run in the tournament that pits all levels of U.S. soccer against each other ended Monday on the road against Houston.
Following a galvanizing penalty kick shootout victory in the Loons’ first game of the tournament, United lost 1-0 to the fellow Major League Soccer team in the round of 16. United had beaten Houston earlier this year at TCF Bank Stadium. But in three trips to BBVA Compass Stadium since last season, the Loons have yet to leave Texas as winners.
Coach Adrian Heath fielded a fairly full-strength lineup, with another league game not until Saturday night at the Colorado Rapids. The Loons managed to keep a 0-0 score line through the first half. But shortly after halftime, Houston took the lead.
Defender Adam Lundqvist sent a corner kick to the near post and found forward Mauro Manotas, who headed in a goal in the 47th minute.
But the Loons provided some late drama in the closing minutes of the game. Winger Alexi Gomez crossed the ball to fellow winger Miguel Ibarra, who jumped up to meet the ball with a header when a Dynamo player undercut him. The referee awarded a penalty kick for the contact, but playmaker Darwin Quintero hit the post, squandering his team’s best chance at an equalizer.
Ibarra briefly left the field with what appeared to be a cut near his left ear. But he continued to play, as United was out of substitutions.
This was the furthest United had ever made it in the Open Cup. Houston moves on to face defending champion Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals. Kansas City beat FC Dallas in its Sweet 16 game and also knocked United out of last year’s tournament.
Crew SC | Coach says players must believe in themselves
Columbus Dispatch – June 16, 2018
Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter veered into self-criticism last June after his team suffered a humbling 3-1 defeat at Atlanta to conclude the first half of the season.
Before the season, he and his staff had implemented a three-center-back system in addition to their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation. The Crew wasn’t playing particularly well with either setup; the Atlanta loss dropped the team to 7-9-1.
“If I have a vision of how we want us to play, I need to do a better job of communicating that because for large parts of the game I didn’t see what we were looking for and that’s an issue,” he said then.
Another multi-goal loss to Atlanta this past Wednesday — this one 2-0 at Mapfre Stadium — sent the Crew to the midpoint of the 2018 season. Berhalter acknowledged Thursday that things are better than they were 12 months ago despite finishing an 0-1-2 homestand. The Crew is 7-4-6, five points clear of its 2017 halfway total and its best start through 17 games since 2010.
“I think we’re a good team. To get over the hump and be an elite team, we need more belief,” Berhalter said. “Guys need to believe more that we are that team.”
He cited Wednesday’s game as a prime example.
“I think guys perhaps think we have no business winning that game or think it’s going to be difficult to beat Atlanta,” Berhalter said. “But when you look at the end, we controlled them from a defensive standpoint, we created enough chances. To me, it’s the small margins that it comes down to.”
Despite allowing six goals over its past three home games, the Crew’s total of 16 goals allowed is tied for the lowest in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.
Scoring was a concern for Berhalter entering the season after the team traded Justin Meram and Ola Kamara. Gyasi Zardes has shown to be a good fit by scoring 10 goals in the first half, and the Crew has hit the woodwork more than any team in MLS. It will need increased production from its wings to keep teams off-balance.
“Now it’s can we create more goals and not just rely on Gyasi to score for us?” midfielder Wil Trapp said. “Set pieces have been positive for us, but can we score more from the run of play? That’s where we need to get better.”
Midfielder Federico Higuain, who has four goals and seven assists, said the Crew is best when all 11 players are involved.
“In offense and defense, to me it’s a game of 11 guys,” he said. “But (it’s) true, we are much better defensive than offensive this year.”
Trapp has noted a resiliency among players this season, one that has carried the team to ties in games it often lost in the past. The Crew clawed out road ties at Seattle and Kansas City, games in which it finished with 10 players, and secured a home tie against Toronto that required a three-goal comeback.
The Crew under Berhalter historically has been better late in seasons. Since 2014, 34 of the team’s 53 wins have come in the second half.
A common refrain of Higuain’s in crunch time last season was, “This team likes to play in these types of games.” Asked if he expects a similar attitude from the 2018 Crew, he smiled before answering.
“I hope so, but I don’t know,” he said. “We’re in a good position. We know we have to improve in a couple areas of the game, but we’ll see.”
Atlanta United: 5 things to know this week
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – June 18, 2018
Here are five things to know about Atlanta United this week:
1. The team enters Week 17 still atop the Supporters’ Shield standings in MLS with 33 points. Josef Martinez leads the race for the Golden Boot with 14 goals. Atlanta United also leads the league in goals scored (33) and is tied for second in goal difference (plus-14). It is also dominating the All-Star voting, which closes 11:55 p.m. PST June 20.
2. The team has two games this week. It will host Chicago in the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It will return to league play on Sunday when it hosts Portland.
3. In the U.S. Open Cup, teams are allowed to use just five international players. That rule, combined with injuries to Miguel Almiron (shoulder) and Josef Martinez (broken nose), should make manager Gerardo Martino’s choice for the 18 very interesting.
4. Atlanta United advanced to the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup by dispatching Charleston 3-0. Chicago advanced by winning an 11-round shootout against Columbus.
4. The Timbers, after a rough start that saw them go winless in their first five games, rebounded to win six consecutive. However, it has posted draws in its past two games.
Portland Timbers' Jeff Attinella shares a passion for sports by authoring children's books for his daughter
The Oregonian – June 18, 2018
After matches, Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella generally makes a beeline for the east side of Providence Park to find his daughter, Remy Rose. He relishes the opportunity to bring the 20-month-old onto the field and make the slow walk around the perimeter of Providence Park with her in his arms.
"I love being a dad and it's something I'm really proud of," he said.
The ardent Timbers fans known as the Timbers Army agree that it's a fitting role for the lovable goalkeeper, who they've come to call "Dadttinella."
"I think it's just funny that they caught on to that pretty early," Attinella said. "I think with my style and just the way I live my life, it's probably a really fitting nickname."
Attinella enjoys heading back to his home in Lake Oswego every day after the Timbers' training sessions to spend afternoons with Remy, his wife, Kendall, and their dog, Lyla. But his exuberance for the game doesn't disappear when he steps off the field. From the moment he became a father, Attinella knew that he wanted to share his immense love of sports with his daughter. That's how he became an author of children's books.
"I wanted to create an avenue to share what I thought were sports stories that shouldn't be forgotten," Attinella said. "I'm just trying to tie it all together so that when I'm reading to my daughter, it's stuff that hopefully we can both connect with. These are stories that I really love and hopefully she really loves in the future."
Over the last year and half, Attinella has written children's books about the Chicago Cubs' historic 2016 World Series victory, LeBron James leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA championship and the success of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He describes the books as "nursery rhymes with a sports emphasis." He has also written a book about the space race and plans to release another one this year on the Alabama football program.
The books have all been released through It Had to Be Told, a publishing company started by Attinella, Kendall, and in-laws, Wayne and Rosemary Curtiss. The books are already available online and will be sold at Safeway locations throughout the Portland area later this year. Knowing the massive role that sports played in his own childhood, Attinella is hopeful that the books will resonate with other children that are passionate about sports.
And of course, he has read every book to Remy, who likes to point and laugh as she sits in her dad's lap.
"She's still at this stage where I think if there's a pop-up animal or something, the books will be a little bit more engaging," Attinella said. "But I've read her all my books and she definitely likes pointing and trying to rip the pages. So, at least that's a good start."
Remy was born in Salt Lake City in 2016 when Attinella was still a goalkeeper for Real Salt Lake. But she spent just a few months in Utah before her dad was taken by Minnesota United in the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft and immediately traded to the Timbers. Suddenly, Attinella and Kendall found themselves packing up their apartment and getting set to move as they were caring for a newborn.
Over the last year, Kendall has consistently brought Remy to Providence Park to watch Attinella compete. Remy can often be seen with pink headphones and a matching bow.
At first, Kendall and Remy were just watching Attinella sit on the bench. But over the last year, the 29-year-old has gone from backup to starter for the first time in his career. After missing time with an injury earlier this season, Attinella has started the last seven games for the Timbers, earning four clean sheets, which ties his career-high for shutouts in a season.
"It's really cool," Kendall said. "I took her down to the sideline while we were waiting for the last few minutes of extra time at the last game and pointed and said, 'There's daddy.' She definitely homed in on him. She knew he was on the field."
Along with taking her to Timbers games and passing along his favorite sports memories, Attinella wants Remy to grow up watching the Portland Thorns so she can see women competing at the highest level as well.
Whether she takes to sports, like her dad, or finds a different passion of her own, Attinella can't wait to see the person that his daughter becomes. But he also knows that the memories of reading his books to her and walking around Providence Park with Remy cradled in his arms will be something that he continues to cherish long after he stops playing. 
"When she's older and when I'm done playing and retired, we can look back at it and at how I was cool at one point in my life to her," Attinella said. "It's a memory that for me will be unforgettable and hopefully when she's older she will be able to remember it as a great memory as well."
Toronto FC hopes kids cash in on World Cup ‘lottery’
Toronto Star – June 16, 2018
Tim Bezbatchenko send two text messages following the announcement that Canada, the United States and Mexico would co-host the 2026 World Cup.
The first was congratulating the group involved with the successful United 2026 bid.
The second message from the Toronto FC general manager went to coach Greg Vanney, assistant academy director Anthony Capotosto and a couple of people in the soccer operations department, about the Reds’ current prospects.
“I said: These kids just won the lottery. Now they just need to buy their ticket,” Bezbatchenko recalled.
The Canadian men’s national team is ranked 79th in the world by FIFA, and the average age of the 41 players listed on Canada Soccer’s website is 25.4 years old. In eight years, when the World Cup hits Canadian soil, that group will average 33 years old. By comparison, the average ages of teams competing now in Russia range from about 26 to 29.
That’s why Bezbatchenko is excited for the under-12 to under-17 groups in Toronto’s academy. Those players will be 20 to 25 come 2026, ready to complement those in Canada’s current program who should be seasoned veterans by then.
“Right now, we have the players,” Bezbatchenko said. “It’s really interesting to think about. The players on that team (in 2026) are already in the academy. You know Johnny on U14 who’s performing well? If he works hard and is dedicated and we teach him the right things and give him the best environment for him to improve, he’ll be a player for Canada. This is a critical moment.”
It’s up to the players to show up every day, work hard and improve, Bezbatchenko said. On the club side, it’s up to Toronto FC to provide top competition.
“There’s a common saying that’s been going around the GMs of Major League Soccer, that you’ve got to get the best with the best against the best,” Bezbatchenko said.
The Reds officially joined the U.S. Soccer Development Academy this month. Founded in 2007 with the intent to maximize player development, it’s made up of 197 member clubs. TFC was the last of the 23 MLS academies to join, and the 25- to 30-game season runs from September to June. The Reds will field three teams: under 15, under 17 and under 19.
'I hope you were very proud of me' - Mexico's Vela pays tribute to late grandfather – June 19, 2018
Carlos Vela has posted a heartfelt tribute to his grandfather, who passed on Monday, just a day after Mexico's stunning win over Germany.
The Mexico international was an important figure on Sunday, as he helped El Tri come away with a seismic 1-0 victory over the defending World Cup champions in their Group F opener.
The Los Angeles FC man went 58 minutes in the victory, which was decided by Hirving Lozano’s 35th-minute goal, and received praise after the match from Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
“He was one of our best players today,” Osorio told reporters post-match. “If you remember, Carlos was the one who made the last pass for the shots we had, for the chances in the final third, and the idea with him was to give us everything for 60 minutes. He made a very big effort.”
However, Vela’s joy has turned bittersweet as he announced the loss of his grandfather a day after that triumph in Russia, along with confirmation that his loved one did get to see the win.
Posting on Instagram, Vela wrote: "Last victory that you got to see, Grandpa. I hope you were very proud of me.”
Previously, Vela has attributed family as a big reason as to why he has been enjoying soccer more these days with his move to LAFC, giving credit to his partner and their son for their support and helping him focus on the game.
That support has translated on the field as Vela has already scored seven goals and added five assists in just 12 games so far in his debut season for the MLS expansion side.
Mexico is next in action on June 23 against South Korea.
Large Panama contingent heads MLS representation
Soccer America – June 19, 2018
A fleet of MLS players were on the field Sunday and Monday as Costa Rica and Panama, respectively, kicked off their World Cup campaigns.
Costa Rica has five current MLS players as well as three other players with MLS experience. Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez named 13 current or former MLS players to his 23-man squad and started eight of them in the Canaleros' opener.
Here’s a game-by-game rundown on how league players fared during the first round of group play that concluded Tuesday:
Uruguay 1 Egypt 0. Los Angeles FC midfielder Omar Gaber watched from the sidelines in Ekaterinburg as Uruguay pulled out a dramatic victory with a goal in the 89th minute.
Denmark 1 Peru 0. A key member of Peru’s midfield, Yoshi Yotun (Orlando City) started his nation’s first World Cup game in 32 years and played the entire match. He took one shot and completed 54 of 59 (92 percent) of his passes.
-- Striker Raul Ruidiaz traveled to Russia as negotiations with Seattle continued for his transfer from Mexico's Morelia continued. He came off the bench against Denmark in the 80th minute and committed one foul.
-- The Timbers signed Peruvian midfielder Andy Polo to an MLS deal in January. He did not play against the Danes.
Serbia 1 Costa Rica 0. The Costa Rican starting lineup included defender Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), midfielder David Guzman (Portland) and striker Marco Urena (LAFC), as well as Johan Venegas, who is on loan from Minnesota to Deportivo Saprissa, Giancarlo Gonzalez, who played briefly for the Columbus Crew in 2014 before moving to Italy, and Bolanos.
Costa Rica matched Serbia in shots (10) and shots on goal (3) but was beaten on a free kick by Aleksandar Kolarov in the 56th minute. Urena managed one shot that missed the target; Calvo and Guzman were the two Costa Rica players cautioned.
-- Whitecaps centerback Kendall Waston and New York City winger Rodney Wallace didn't play. Wallace's NYCFC teammate, Ronald Matarrita, was a last-minute injury scratch from the World Cup.
Mexico 1 Germany 0. A glorious day in the long and rich history of Mexican soccer featured LAFC attacker Carlos Vela in the starting lineup. Nine minutes after Hirving Lozano finished off a swift counterattack with a low shot into the corner, Vela nearly doubled Mexico’s lead with an effort just wide of the past. It was his only attempt to score but Vela helped unhinge the German defense a few times with accurate passes and sharp runs.
-- Vela was replaced in the 59th minute by Edson Alvarez, a more defensive midfielder who shored up Mexico’s resistance. So did former Red Bull Rafa Marquez, whose substitute appearance enabled him to join ex-MetroStar Lothar Matthaeus and ex-Mexico keeper Antonio Carbajal as the only men to play in five World Cup tournaments.
-- The LA Galaxy duo of Jonathan dos Santos and Giovani dos Santos didn't play for Mexico.
Switzerland 1 Brazil 1. Blerim Dzemaili, who played for Montreal before returning to Italy this winter, to went the distance for the Swiss in their surprise 1-1 tie with Brazil.
Sweden 1 South Korea 0. Gustav Svensson of the Sounders was on the field as Sweden held on to win. He had replaced Sebastian Larsson in the 83rd minute and completed two of this three passes. Defensively he was credited with five tackles and three clearances.
Belgium 3 Panama 0. It was a learning day for the Panamanian players and their fans as Belgium took command and scored three goals in the second half. Starting for their country were defenders Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar (both of the Red Bulls) and Roman Torres (Seattle), as well as Quakes midfielder Anibal Godoy. Murillo and Godoy were two of five Panamanians to be cautioned as they were outshot, 15-6.
-- Former MLS players Jaime Penedo (LA Galaxy), Armando Cooper (Toronto FC), Gabriel Gomez (Philadelphia) and Blas Perez (Vancouver, FC Dallas) started and Gabriel Torres (Colorado) and Luis Tejada (Real Salt Lake) came on as subs. Godoy’s San Jose teammate, Harold Cummings, and Houston defender Adolfo Machado, as well as former San Jose midfielder Alberto Quintero, did not play.
Manotas goal sends the Dynamo to the next round of U.S. Open Cup
Pro Soccer USA – June 18, 2018
HOUSTON – When it comes to U.S. Open Cup games, the Houston Dynamo prefer to do their scoring in the second half.
That was true in their fourth-round matchup against amateur side NTX Rayados — where the Orange scored five times — and it proved true once again against Minnesota United FC on Monday.
And against the Loons, La Naranja did it two minutes after halftime when Mauro Manotas notched his fifth career U.S. Open Cup goal.
Adam Lundqvist, who was making his first start at left back after seeing time at right back with Andrew Wenger’s injury, whipped in a corner kick to the near post. Mauro Manotas outran two Minnesota defenders to the near post and head it backward. The header surprised Loons ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth who could only throw his hands up in an attempt to deflect it.
The assist is Lundqvist’s first as a Dynamo and the Swede was excited to finally play his preferred position.
“I felt good, I guess that is my favorite position. I played there the last couple of years and I think I can get my own game, the things that I’m best at and I can get them,” Lundqvist said on finally getting to play left back. “I can show them more on my left foot, on my left side, so yeah it felt good.”
The first half was nothing to write home about. Minnesota came out firing on all cylinders but had no dangerous shot to show for it. Houston didn’t fare any better. Aside from a long-range shot from Dynamo midfielder Luis Gil, which Shuttleworth confidently saved, Houston was unable to create dangerous scoring opportunities.
“We were a little bit erratic with the ball when passing and with our movements. You can consider that normal because some of the guys haven’t been able to play consistently, but they worked hard,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “In the second half, I think we improved. We came off much better — more energetic, sharper. We created some options.”
Unlike the game versus NTX Rayados, in which Houston used a mixture of their bench players and recently signed players from their USL-affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamo opted to start a couple starters.
Manotas, Lundqvist, Alejandro Fuenmayor, and Eric Alexander, were some of the regulars inserted into the lineup. The Loons, however, played their first-choice lineup, including their first-ever Designated Player, Darwin Quintero.
Quintero, who’s been worth every penny for the Loons this season after being acquired in March, had the chance to send the game into extra time in the 88th minute when he stepped up to take a penalty.
The Colombian stepped up to the spot. He took a couple of steps towards the ball before letting his shot rip but his effort would clank off the post.
Five minutes later, the referee would blow his whistle signaling the end of the game.
Houston now sets their sights on the next round of the U.S. Open Cup in July where they will face off against an old rival, Sporting KC.
“The next [U.S. Open Cup] game will be here at home, July 18, and that game against Sporting Kansas City is an important one for us,” Cabrera said. “Let’s hope that at that moment we have a team that’s competitive and that we can continue advancing in this tournament because we’re close now.”
And as fate would have it, Houston’s next MLS game is Saturday on the road against Sporting KC.
MLS-based referee crew selected for Portugal-Morocco World Cup match – June 18, 2018
Three of the five MLS-based referees at the 2018 World Cup in Russia have been selected to officiate the Portugal vs. Morocco match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, FIFA announced on Monday.
The PRO (Professional Referee Organization) delegation is led by veteran MLS ref Mark Geiger (USA) and also includes assistant referees Joe Fletcher (Canada) and Frank Anderson (USA), with two Russian officials on fourth official and VAR duty. 
Wednesday's Group B clash is the first on-field assignment for any of the five referees from PRO who are working in Russia, though Geiger and his colleague Jair Marrufo fulfilled VAR assignments in the tournament's opening week. Geiger is on his second World Cup, having served in several games at Brazil 2014.
The 7 Best MLS players at the 2018 World Cup
HITC – June 19, 2018
7. Yoshimar Yotun - Orlando City and Peru
28-year-old Peruvian international Yoshimar Yotun has been playing in the MLS since August 2017, when he joined Orlando City from Malmo in Sweden. Renowned for his versatility, Yotun is a bit of an all-rounder, and he is capable of playing on the left wing, at left back or even in the centre of midfield. Capped 70 times by Peru, Yotun will most likely operate in a central midfield role in Russia.
6. Rodney Wallace - New York City and Costa Rica
Five of Costa Rica’s 23 man squad play their club football in America, and two of them do so for New York City FC. Ronald Matarrita is one, and Rodney Wallace is the other. Along with Ian Smith, Rodney Wallace serves as a clear indication that not all Costa Ricans have as exotic sounding names as Giancarlo Gonzalez or Cristian Gamboa. Wallace is a left winger who previously spent four years with Portland Timbers, and he’s unlikely to start many games in Russia.
5. Gustav Svensson - Seattle Sounders and Sweden
The only US-based player representing a European nation at the 2018 World Cup, Gustav Svensson has been with Seattle Sounders since January 2017. Another capable utility player renowned for his versatility, Svensson can play at centre-back or in central midfield, but is probably at his best in defensive midfield. Svensson is unlikely to start but his versatility could come in handy for the Swedes.
4. Roman Torres - Seattle Sounders and Panama
The second consecutive Seattle Sounders player in this seven, Roman Torres is the defensive linchpin operating at the centre of a back three in Panama’s defence. The experienced centre-back or sweeper is strong in the air and strong in the tackle. Capped more than 100 times by Panama, Torres has been with the Sounders since 2015, and he scored the goal which took Panama to this summer's World Cup.
3. Jonathan dos Santos - LA Galaxy and Mexico
There have always been good Mexican players in the MLS, and right now is no exception. Jonathan dos Santos was once a highly-regarded prospect in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, and he made 28 appearances over five seasons in the Barca first team. He left Barcelona for Villareal, before joining the Galaxy in 2017. Technically gifted and an excellent passer of the ball, it’s touch and go whether dos Santos will start for Mexico.
2. Giovani dos Santos - LA Galaxy and Mexico
The older brother of Jonathan, both dos Santos brothers began their careers at Barcelona, both had spells with Villareal, both now play for LA Galaxy and both are in Mexico’s squad for the 2018 World Cup. They’re pretty inseparable then, and it was tough to split them apart in this seven. The older Giovani tends to play as either a forward or as an attacking midfielder. A quick and positive player who is good on the ball, dos Santos has bagged 25 goals in 77 games in LA, and we’d be surprised if he didn’t start for Mexico in Russia.
1. Carlos Vela - Los Angeles FC and Mexico
That’s right, the top three all represent Mexico at international level and all play their club football in Los Angeles. Unlike the dos Santos brothers, though, Vela doesn’t play for the Galaxy, but the newer franchise of LAFC. Quick, tricky and a constant goal threat, the former Arsenal man has been prolific since moving to the MLS earlier this year, scoring 7 goals in 12 games, and he’ll almost certainly start on the right flank for Mexico in Russia.