Why Beckham knows Rooney will be successful (ESPNFC.com)
Rooney wants to win trophies in DC (ESPNFC.com)
Thousands of fans watch World Cup at Avaya Stadium (SportsCenter – ESPN)
Martino’s picks for MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta are in (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Minnesota United player Collin Martin comes out publicly as gay (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota United's Collin Martin comes out as gay (ESPNFC.com)
Wayne Rooney is on the way to D.C. United after finalizing deal (Washington Post)
Kendall Waston scores for Costa Rica at the World Cup (The Province)
Five-day event schedule for MLS All-Star Game announced (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Atlanta United has no choice but move forward without Nagbe (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
'Play the kids': Sporting KC's youngsters continue to shine in spotlight (Kansas City Star)
Loons hopes for better at home vs. FC Dallas (FOX Sports)
Tested by World Cup absences, LAFC’s depth comes through (The Athletic)
Struggling Orlando City focuses on finishing in training (Pro Soccer USA)
Rooney fulfilling a 'career ambition' with MLS move (FourFourTwo)
Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas, 8 p.m. ET – ESPN+
Minnesota United-FC Dallas game preview (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Lineup shuffling to come for FC Dallas, Minnesota United when two sides meet Friday (Dallas Morning News)
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, 4:30 p.m. ET – FOX / FOX Sports GO / FOX Deportes
Timbers, Sounders renew rivalry for 100th time (FOX Sports)
Atlanta United vs. Orlando City SC, 7 p.m. ET – ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Atlanta United vs. Orlando City: 4 questions (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Montreal Impact vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. ET – TVAS / TSN 4 / TSN 5 / ESPN+
Impact look to keep winning against Sporting KC (FOX Sports)
Columbus Crew SC vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN+
Crew will try to get Real in home match (FOX Sports)
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN+
Revolution return to MLS play against DC United (FOX Sports)
Revolution welcome travel-weary DC United to Gillette following World Cup hiatus (The Bent Musket – SB Nation)
Chicago Fire vs. New York City FC, 8 p.m. ET – ESPN+
Fire hope to stay on upward trajectory vs. NYCFC (FOX Sports)
With MLS playoffs still in reach, Fire must pick up the pace (Chicago Daily Herald)
Los Angeles Football Club vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. ET – ESPN+
Union-Los Angeles FC Preview (FOX Sports)
Borek Dockal makes history, Jim Curtin coaches against his mentor, and other Union observations (Philadelphia Inquirer)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy, 10 p.m. ET – UniMás / Twitter
Earthquakes look to end winless streak vs. Galaxy (FOX Sports)
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 4:30 p.m. ET – FOX / TSN 1 / TSN 3 / TSN 4/ TSN 5 / FOX Deportes
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls | 2018 MLS Match Preview (MLSsoccer.com)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 7 p.m. ET – TSN 1/ TSN 4 / ESPN+
Tata Martino unveils MLS All-Star team for 'great spectacle' vs. Juventus
ESPNFC.com – June 29, 2018
Atlanta United coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino believes the 2018 MLS All-Stars can offer up a "great spectacle" against Juventus, as he revealed the rest of his team on Friday.
"This is a team that likes to attack, to score goals, so that should provide a great spectacle for the fans," said Martino in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC on Thursday. "But it also has to be evened out by players who can defend well and can dispossess opponents."
Martino filled out the squad after fans picked the first 11 players earlier this week -- including five from the Argentine coach's Atlanta United.
The former Barcelona and Argentina boss feels like the heavy presence of players from the home team will make for an exciting atmosphere.
"I think the fact that the game is in Atlanta and you have so many Atlanta players will really add to the spectacle. The fans here are very enthusiastic and it will be exciting for all of us," said Martino.
On a personal level for Martino, he is looking forward to having the chance to work with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa and others.
There are some really great players in this team: Zlatan, Villa, [Carlos] Vela, [Sebastian] Giovinco, [Ignacio] Piatti, [Miguel] Almiron is another. We cannot lose sight of the fact of that these players will play 30 minutes or so instead of 90, but it is a nice challenge for this group to play against Juventus and we'll try to do our best," said Martino.
There will also be a Russia 2018 flavor to Martino's squad, with four World Cup players -- Francisco Calvo, Yoshimar Yotun, Jonathan dos Santos and Vela - included in the squad. Vela, in particular, has impressed Martino with his play in Russia.
"I think Vela has played very well in this World Cup. You could see in the match against Germany how much he played a part in that victory. He is proving that you can be a player in MLS and still be decisive in the World Cup and he's showing he's one of the best forwards in the world," said Martino.
Among the 26 names on Martino's roster, 17 different nationalities are represented with a near equal distribution among CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and UEFA nations, which further reflects the diversity seen in MLS.
"To see not only so many different teams represented but also nations from North America, South America and Europe, it will be a nice celebration for the league," Martino said.
MLS commissioner Don Garber reserves two picks selected by the league, and this year he opted to name Vancouver Whitecaps teenager Alphonso Davies and New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.
2018 MLS All-Star Game Roster by Position (*-Fan XI)
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan* (Atlanta United), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)
Defenders: Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Laurent Ciman* (LAFC), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Michael Parkhurst* (Atlanta United), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City), Graham Zusi* (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders: Miguel Almiron* (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco* (Atlanta United), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Ilie Sanchez (Sporting Kansas City), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Alexander Ring (New York City FC), Diego Valeri* (Portland Timbers), Wilfried Zahibo (New England Revolution)
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Zlatan Ibrahimovic* (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez* (Atlanta United), Carlos Vela* (LAFC), David Villa (New York City FC), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
Martino’s picks for MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta are in
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – June 29, 2018
The 13 players on the MLS All-Star roster selected by Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino were picked because he likes how they play, while also trying to represent as many of the league’s 23 teams as possible.
Martino’s picks were revealed on Friday. The 11 players selected by the fans were released on Monday.
Here is the entire roster, complete with commissioner Don Garber’s two selections, which were Vancouver’s Alphonso Davies and New York Red Bulls’ Bradley-Wright Phillips.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC).
Defenders: Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Alexander Ring (New York City FC), Ilie Sanchez (Sporting Kansas City), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), Yoshimar Yotún (Orlando City SC), Wilfried Zahibo (New England Revolution).
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club), David Villa* (New York City FC), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls).
Martino admitted that he spent no more time than necessary on the selections because Atlanta United will host Orlando City on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Martino smiled when asked if the All-Stars can beat Juventus, the opponent for the Aug. 1 game.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We will see. The important thing is to conserve the spirit of the All-Star game and make it a game that people can enjoy.”
Atlanta United, which leads MLS with 34 points, leads the teams with five selections. Darlington Nagbe was voted in by the fans, but was removed from the roster because of the adductor injury he suffered in last week’s draw with Portland. The New York Red Bulls, second in the East, are next with three. Sporting KC, which leads the West, had two players, as did LAFC and the L.A. Galaxy.
This should be the second consecutive All-Star game for Atlanta United standouts Parkhurst and Almiron. It will be the first for the team’s remaining players who were selected.
“I just want to thank all the fans for voting me in and congratulate my teammates as well for all the work that they’ve put in to help me and the team this year,” said Martinez, who leads MLS with 14 goals.
“I’m really happy about it,” Barco said. “It’s important news for me in this point in my career. I’m really happy.”
Martino said there wasn’t any particular player he was looking forward to managing or training.
“We don’t want the guys who we are later going to have to play against to get any better or improve while I’m coaching them,” he said.
A few of the players selected by Martino have played great games against Atlanta United this season.
Ring scored a fantastic goal for NYCFC in a 2-2 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Murillo and Long put in solid shifts, and Wright-Phillips scored two goals (with an assist from Murillo) in the Red Bulls’ 3-1 win over the Five Stripes, which finished the game with 10 players. Calvo was part of a Minnesota team that was defeated by Atlanta United 1-0, but the Loons’ constant pressure was impressive. Zahibo is part of a Revs’ team that also worked Atlanta United to a 1-1 draw at Gillette and Elis tore up Atlanta United in their season-opening 4-0 loss with one assist and six shots. Of course, Steffen was the hero for the Crew in last year’s playoff loss and Giovinco’s free kick in the final minutes of the regular season finale moved Atlanta United from second place in the East to fourth, which resulted in the playoff game against Columbus.
Here are bios on each player provided directly (cut-and-paste) by the league:
Brad Guzan | Goalkeeper | Atlanta United | Nationality: USA | Born: September 9, 1984
A member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Guzan was named to his country’s 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup rosters, competed in the 2007 and 2015 Concacaf Gold Cups, the 2007 Copa America and the 2016 Copa America Centenario, where he was the starting goalkeeper. In his first season with Atlanta United in 2017, Guzan made 14 starts and finished with the third-best goals-against average (0.71) in the league. In addition, he also recorded the sixth-longest shutout streak in MLS at 541 minutes. Guzan was previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2007 and was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. U-21 team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This is Guzan’s second MLS All-Star selection (2007, 2018).
Zack Steffen | Goalkeeper | Columbus Crew SC | Nationality: USA | Born: April 2, 1995
Steffen has been dubbed the future of goalkeeping for the U.S. National Team, notably posting seven saves to earn a draw against France earlier this year. The 23-year-old with 30 saves in 14 appearances this regular season is tied for a league-best seven shutouts, including five clean sheets and 17 saves from May 5-27. Steffen leads MLS with the lowest goals-against average (0.79) among goalkeepers appearing in nine or more games in 2018. His 19 saves during the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs were instrumental in Crew SC’s postseason run to the Eastern Conference Championship. This is Steffen’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Francisco Calvo | Defender | Minnesota United FC | Nationality: Costa Rica | Born: July 8, 1992
The captain of Minnesota United FC and a member of the Costa Rica National Team, Calvo earned a trip to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Calvo tallied two goals and an assist in 27 games during his inaugural MLS season in 2017. A versatile player who can play multiple defensive positions, Calvo has earned his first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Laurent Ciman | Defender | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: Belgium | Born: August 5, 1985
A member of the Belgium National Team, Ciman was a part of the squad in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In his inaugural year in MLS, he brought Montreal to the Concacaf Champions League final and the MLS Cup Playoffs and earned Impact Defensive Player of the Year. In addition, Ciman was named to MLS Best XI in 2015 and was awarded MLS Defender of the Year. This is Ciman’s third selection to the MLS All-Star Game (2015, 2016, 2018).
Matt Hedges | Defender | FC Dallas | Nationality: USA | Born: April 1, 1990
The 2016 MLS Defender of the Year, Hedges has become one of the most important players to the FC Dallas team and defense. Hedges was previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2015 and 2016. He has also earned five caps with the U.S. National Team. This is Hedges’ second MLS All-Star Game selection (2017, 2018).
Aaron Long | Defender | New York Red Bulls | Nationality: USA | Born: October 12, 1992
After winning the 2016 USL Cup and earning USL Defender of the Year with the New York Red Bulls II, Long has made a smooth transition to the Red Bulls back line for the past two MLS seasons. From 2017-18, Long has started in 43 of 46 games with three goals in regular-season play. He also made three starts during the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. This is Long’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Michael Murillo | Defender | New York Red Bulls | Nationality: Panama | Born: February 11, 1996
A member of the Panama National Team, Murillo has most recently taken his talents to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Murillo originally played for San Francisco FC’s youth academy in Panama, eventually transferring to the club’s first division team. This is Murillo’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Michael Parkhurst | Defender | Atlanta United | Nationality: USA | Born: January 24, 1984
The six-time MLS All-Star selection (2005, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2017, 2018) is one of the most celebrated defenders in MLS. Parkhurst has played for the U.S. Men’s National Team, earning 25 caps and winning the 2007 and 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup. He was awarded MLS Rookie of the Year in 2005, Defender of the Year in 2007, and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2007. Parkhurst became the first team captain for Atlanta United.
Graham Zusi | Defender | Sporting Kansas City | Nationality: USA | Born: August 18, 1986
The U.S. National Team defender has made 55 international appearances and was an integral player for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Zusi has excelled for Sporting Kansas City, spending the entirety of his 10-year career with the team, and has helped Sporting earn the current top spot in the Western Conference. He is second in club history with 57 assists. Zusi was also previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2012 and 2013. This is Zusi’s sixth MLS All-Star selection (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018).
Miguel Almirón | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: Paraguay | Born: February 10, 1994
A member of the Paraguay National Team, Almirón starred for his country in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup before breaking out in 2016 at the Copa America Centenario. The 24-year-old had an impressive first season, recording nine goals and 14 assists. On the 2018 season, he currently has six goals and seven assists. He was named the 2017 MLS Newcomer of the Year, was ranked No. 1 in the 2017 MLS 24 Under 24 list, was named to the 2017 MLS Best XI and was a finalist for 2017 Most Valuable Player. This is Almirón’s second MLS All-Star selection (2017, 2018).
Ezequiel Barco | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: Argentina | Born: March 29, 1999
The Argentina youth star, despite an early-season injury, has showcased his talent to the tune of three goals and an assist since early May to lead the club to first place in the Eastern Conference. He has played for Argentina’s U-20 team and made eight appearances. Before playing for Atlanta this season, Barco played for Independiente, and made appearances in Copa Sudamericana and Copa Argentina. This is Barco’s first MLS All-Star selection.
Alphonso Davies | Defender | Vancouver Whitecaps FC | Nationality: Canada | Born: November 2, 2000
The Canada National Team phenom and one of the youngest active MLS players in the league, Davies had an impressive inaugural year in 2017 with Vancouver. Davies also earned international acclaim when he won the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup Golden Boot and was named to the tournament’s Best XI at age 16. During the 2018 MLS season, Davies ranks fifth in assists with seven. This is Davies’ first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Jonathan dos Santos | Midfielder | LA Galaxy | Nationality: Mexico | Born: April 26, 1990
A member of the Mexico National Team, dos Santos has most recently represented his country in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Dos Santos signed with the LA Galaxy in 2017 as a Designated Player after playing for Barcelona and Villarreal. This is his first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Alberth Elis | Midfielder | Houston Dynamo | Nationality: Honduras | Born: February 12, 1996
A member of the Honduras National Team since 2014, the 22-year-old Elis has been a budding member of the Dynamo since his 2017 debut. Elis scored 10 goals and four assists in 2017, and he is on his way to an even stronger 2018 MLS campaign. This year he has tallied eight goals and five assists in just 15 matches. During Concacaf Champions League play, Elis was named the tournament’s Best Young Player when he was competing for Olimpia. Elis earns his first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Ignacio Piatti | Midfielder | Montreal Impact | Nationality: Argentina | Born: February 4, 1985
The Montreal Impact star is once again putting together strong season in 2018 with eight goals and six assists. Piatti was named the Impact team MVP the past three seasons (2015-17). A model of consistency, Piatti recorded 17 goals and six assists in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He was named to the MLS Best XI in 2016. This is Piatti’s third MLS All-Star Game selection (2016, 2017, 2018).
Alexander Ring | Midfielder | New York City FC | Nationality: Finland | Born: April 9, 1991
A member of the Finland National Team, Ring has earned 44 appearances while scoring two goals in international play. Ring was selected as New York City FC’s Newcomer of the Year in 2017, posting four assists in 29 regular-season games after a successful career with FC Kaiserslautern. This is Ring’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Ilie Sanchez | Midfielder | Sporting Kansas City | Nationality: Spain | Born: November 21, 1990
Sporting Kansas City’s Newcomer of the Year in 2017 had a strong first season, appearing in 33 regular season games while adding two assists and helping contribute to 11 shutouts. This year, Sanchez has recorded two goals and three assists in 16 games as SKC leads the Western Conference. This is his first selection to the MLS All-Star Game.
Diego Valeri | Midfielder | Portland Timbers | Nationality: Argentina | Born: May 1, 1986
The 2017 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, Valeri finished last season with 21 goals and 22 assists and has starred for the Portland Timbers in all six years in the league, winning the Golden Boot in 2013, his first year with Portland. Valeri, who has made three appearances for the Argentina National Team, holds the record for the fastest goal in MLS Cup history and was previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2013, 2014 and 2017. This is Valeri’s fifth MLS All-Star Game selection (2013, 2014, 2016-2018).
Yoshimar Yotún | Midfielder | Orlando City SC | Nationality: Peru | Born: April 7, 1990
A starter and difference-maker for both club and country, Yotún played a heavy part in Peru’s run to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as well as the buildup toward Peru’s first World Cup goal in 40 years. Yotún started in all three group matches in Russia. For Orlando City SC, Yotún has three goals and five assists this season. The creative midfielder has the versatility to also play as an attacking left back. This is Yotún’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Wilfried Zahibo | Midfielder | New England Revolution | Nationality: France | Born: August 21, 1993
In his inaugural season with the New England Revolution, Zahibo has three goals and four assists in 16 games played. After seven professional seasons in France and Spain, Zahibo made the transition to MLS from Valencia CF and La Liga. This is Zahibo’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Sebastian Giovinco | Forward | Toronto FC | Nationality: Italy | Born: January 26, 1987
Giovinco led Toronto FC to a historic treble in 2017 – the Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup crown and the Canadian Championship title. A game changer since his MLS debut in 2015, Giovinco’s opening campaign included a record-breaking tally of combined goals and assists as he collected MLS Golden Boot, Newcomer of the Year, and Landon Donovan MLS MVP honors. Earlier in 2018, Giovinco was named the MVP of the Concacaf Champions League, leading Toronto to a runner-up finish. This is Giovinco’s fourth MLS All-Star Game selection (2015-18).
Zlatan Ibrahimović | Forward | LA Galaxy | Nationality: Sweden | Born: October 3, 1981
Signing with the Galaxy earlier this year, Ibrahimović stormed into the league with two late goals during his LA Galaxy debut on March 31. For 2018, he has tallied seven goals and three assists in 11 games played. The former Juventus player is Sweden’s all-time leading goal scorer with 62 goals in 116 games. Ibrahimović has played in two FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006). This is Ibrahimović’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Josef Martínez | Forward | Atlanta United | Nationality: Venezuela | Born: May 19, 1993
The top goal scorer in MLS for the 2018 season, Josef Martínez, had a wondrous first season in 2017 with recording 19 goals – the most ever by a player on an expansion team. In 2018, Martinez has scored a league-leading 14 goals. The 24-year-old was awarded both MLS Player of the Month and MLS Player of the Week two times in 2018. Martinez is a member of the Venezuela National Team in which he has been capped 42 times. This is Martínez’s first MLS All-Star selection.
Carlos Vela | Midfielder | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: Mexico | Born: March 1, 1989
A crucial member of the Mexico National Team, Vela has played in two World Cups (2010, 2018) and has won the Concacaf Gold Cup on two occasions. Before coming to LAFC, Vela played for such teams as Arsenal, Salamanca, Osasuna and Real Sociedad. He earned the Real Sociedad Player of the Year in 2011-12 and 2013-14. Now playing for LAFC, Vela has a team-leading seven goals and five assists. Vela has earned his first MLS All-Star selection.
David Villa | Forward | New York City FC | Nationality: Spain | Born: December 3, 1981
The 2016 Landon Donovan MLS MVP and captain of New York City FC, Villa was also an integral member for the Spain National Team in three FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014); he scored five goals in leading Spain to its first World Cup crown in 2010. In 2018, Villa has tallied eight goals and four assists as New York City FC is once again among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. This is Villa’s fourth consecutive MLS All-Star Game selection (2015-18).
Bradley Wright-Phillips | Forward | New York Red Bulls | Nationality: England | Born: March 12, 1985
A two-time MLS Golden Boot Winner, Phillips has spent the entirety of his MLS career with the Red Bulls since 2013. In the 2018, he has netted 11 goals, which ranks second among the league leaders. In 2017, Wright-Phillips became the first player in Red Bulls history to reach 100 goals among all competitions – MLS regular season and postseason play, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League. He was named to the MLS Best XI in 2014 and 2016. This is his second MLS All-Star Game selection (2014, 2018).
Minnesota United player Collin Martin comes out publicly as gay
Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 29, 2018
Collin Martin has always been definitive. Someone who knows what he wants and is unafraid to stand out in his pursuit of it.
For most of his life, that’s been soccer, and that passion has led him to reach the pro level as a midfielder for Minnesota United. So it’s not surprising that Martin decided to become the only publicly gay athlete currently playing in one of the five major U.S. men’s sports leagues without too much internal debate or angst.
“I’m kind of different that when one day, sometimes it just clicks for me,” Martin said with a snap of his fingers. “If I’m able to then just be cool with it and move forward, then let’s make it happen.”
With his social media statement Friday morning in which he publicly came out as gay, Martin, 23, is the first male athlete from any of the major leagues to say he is gay since 2014, when Michael Sam came out ahead of the NFL draft. Martin is believed to be the first male athlete from a pro Minnesota team to come out publicly during his career.
Martin, a typically private person who rarely posts on Instagram or Twitter, informed the team on Monday of his plan to announce he was gay ahead of United’s Pride Night game at 7 p.m. Friday against FC Dallas at TCF Bank Stadium.
“I never thought that was completely important because I thought it’d been done before,” Martin said of publicly coming out. “But, I mean, you look around, there’s still not an out professional athlete in the five major sports in America … right now. So it’s still important.”
Robbie Rogers, a former LA Galaxy and U.S. national team winger/defender, was the first openly gay man to compete in one of the top-five leagues after he came out in February 2013. Rogers retired at the end of 2017 after missing the whole season with injuries.
About two months after Rogers came out, NBA center Jason Collins announced he was gay and played for the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 before retiring that same year. Sam, who played college football at Missouri, came out almost a year after Rogers before the St. Louis Rams drafted the defensive lineman, but he never played an official NFL game and retired from the sport in 2015.
In baseball, a minor league player from the Milwaukee Brewers’ system, David Denson, came out as gay; he retired in 2017. The NHL has never had an out player. Non-major sports have several out male athletes, such as figure skater Adam Rippon and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy from the winter Olympics.
Martin has played in 20 games with 13 starts since joining the Loons last season, including starting five of the past eight. The Maryland native has been out to his four siblings and friends for about four years, and his parents and teammates for about two. He said a few things recently inspired him to make a public statement.
One was seeing how much support there is in his sport for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, with 125 men’s and women’s soccer players from all different levels participating in Playing for Pride, a fundraising campaign in its second year that raises money and encourages conversation about inclusion.
“The big thing, and the point I’m trying to bring across, is that I’ve been out with the team and with my teammates and the staff for over a year now, and I’ve had nothing but support,” Martin said. “It’s taken me a while to feel comfortable on the teams I’ve played on and to be completely myself and talk to my teammates about my [ex-]boyfriend and who I’m going on dates with or about being gay myself. And all that has been super rewarding.
“At this point, it was just trying to maybe get over that hump and to maybe see if I can just affect more people, because I think I’ve affected a lot of people in my daily life and around this locker room positively just by being myself.”
In a statement released Friday morning after Martin publicly came out, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, “We admire Collin's courage, and are proud of him and of the support from the soccer community.”
Martin’s statement attracted more than 1,000 retweets and 4,000 likes on Twitter just 45 minutes after it posted.
Teammates such as Christian Ramirez and Eric Miller tweeted their support. Ramirez wrote, “You the man Col! Proud to call you a teammate and friend! Now Let’s go get this W!” Miller wrote, “Proud of this guy who is an incredible person and amazing teammate. Takes so much courage to be one of the first to come out, but everyone at @MNUFC is fully supporting you,” followed by a string of rainbow heart emojis.
Martin's former team D.C. United tweeted, “Sending you love and support from D.C., Collin! Have fun tonight!” Players from around the league, including D.C.’s Travis Worra, Vancouver Whitecaps’ Sean Franklin and Houston Dynamo’s AJ DeLaGarza also showed support on Twitter.
Martin said he also read several coming-out stories from athletes in other sports and at other levels that share a negative aspect or barrier to overcome. He admits to having those, too, culminating during his one year at Wake Forest when he used alcohol as a defense mechanism while trying to figure out his sexuality as well as his place within a soccer team and a heteronormative world.
But since he returned home and signed his first professional contract as a homegrown player for D.C. United in 2013, he was finally able to explore the sexuality he knew he identified with since he was a little boy.
Those he has come out to have met him with support and understanding. And while Martin shies away from talk of being brave or an inspiration, he does hope sharing his positive story will encourage younger gay athletes to know there is a space for them, just as athletes who came out before encouraged him.
“It’s important for people to just respect themselves and respect their own timeline but to also just be open and honest and understand that locker rooms are changing,” Martin said. “And professional sports are a place for people to be themselves wholeheartedly.”
When Martin came to Minnesota in a trade ahead of the Loons’ inaugural 2017 MLS season, Martin didn’t make any big announcement to the whole team.
“It’s funny. I told maybe one or two guys last year, and it just spread really fast,” Martin said. “You tell the right person, and he’ll tell everyone for you.”
Martin’s best friend on the team, fellow midfielder Collen Warner, said he remembered early on last season going to dinner with Martin and several of the draft picks when Martin told them he was gay. But the group didn’t believe him at first, since Martin is known for joking.
“All of us basically said, ‘You’re lying to us.’ … Everybody was, like, chirping at him. But then he was like, ‘No, seriously, I’m gay,’ ” Warner said. “I remember it being an emotional night because I’ve never really experienced anything like that as far as a close friend or anything. Never actually been there when somebody’s felt comfortable enough to tell a group of people like that.”
Martin said for some of his teammates, such as Warner, he’s their first gay friend or first gay person they know. To sit down to lunch with them and have intimate conversations about what it’s like to be gay is “priceless,” he said.
“For them to ask me … anything that you would ask a normal person that’s your friend and for them to ask me those questions and feel comfortable with it, I love that,” Martin said. “And for them to ask dumb questions for me to be like, ‘No. You have it completely wrong. You’re ignorant. You’re being stupid.’ That stuff means a lot. Or for them to be like, ‘How was your date the other night, Collin?’ Mainly because, I mean, I’m very open. I like to tell them everything. But for them to also engage with me makes me feel … like nothing else is new, which is how it should be.”
Martin hasn’t fully anticipated what reaction he will receive from his announcement. But his father, Gerard Martin, said he knows his son is prepared for anything and has been since he was 6 years old. He drew attention for being the smallest, youngest and most-talented player on his youth soccer team, which tended to rattle some of the more intense parents.
“Parents would scream at him and say, ‘You don’t belong here. Play with your own age.’ And he would just sit there and laugh,” Gerard Martin said. “He would play the soccer game, and he would do something amazing, and he’d turn around and look at the father who was yelling the most at him and point right at the father and then he’d put his finger to his lip like, ‘Shh.’
“He always had a huge personality. If someone was going to get after him, he was going to show them.”
Minnesota United's Collin Martin comes out as gay
ESPNFC.com – June 28, 2018
Minnesota United midfielder Collin Martin announced on Friday that he is gay.
Martin, 23, becomes the only openly gay male athlete active in a major professional American sports league, following the retirement of LA Galaxy winger Robbie Rogers last November.
Martin wrote in a statement on Twitter that many of his teammates have long known about his sexuality, though he had never previously spoken about it.
"Tonight my team, Minnesota United, is having their Pride night. It's an important night for me I'll be announcing for the first time publicly that I am an openly gay player in Major League Soccer.
"I have been out as a gay man for many years to my family and friends, and this includes my teammates. I have played Major League Soccer for 6 seasons: 4 seasons with DC United and 2 seasons with Minnesota United. Today, I'm proud that my entire team and the management of Minnesota United know that I am gay.
"I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer and that has made the decision to come out publicly that much easier. As we celebrate Pride night, I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support for who I am.
"In light of my experience as a professional athlete, I want to take this moment to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly. June is Pride month, and I am proud to be playing for Pride, and to be playing as an out gay man."
Minnesota United will wear jerseys with rainbow numbers as the team celebrates Pride Night in Friday's game against FC Dallas.
Martin came up through the D.C. United academy and played sparingly for their first team, appearing in 32 league games over four seasons after making his MLS debut in 2013, as well as playing in the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
D.C. traded Martin to Minnesota ahead of the 2017 season, and he has found more playing time in recent weeks, starting three MLS games and two in the U.S. Open Cup since the start of May.
"We admire Collin's courage, and are proud of him and of the support from the soccer community," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
Martin is a former U.S. youth international, playing with the national team at the under-14 though under-20 levels. In 2013, he played with the U20s at the Toulon Tournament in France.
Sounders make their move: Signing of Liga MX scoring champion Raul Ruidiaz is official
Seattle Times – June 29, 2018
One of the worst-kept secrets in Major League Soccer was confirmed Friday. The Sounders officially announced the signing of Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz to a Designated-Player contract, which is worth $14 million and runs through 2021, according to a league source.
Another poorly kept secret is that the team’s season is hanging by a proverbial thread so thin that Ruidiaz can’t be rushed onto the field quickly enough. The soonest that can happen is four games from now, when the Sounders head to Atlanta for a nationally televised July 15 clash against the league’s top team.
Until then, they’ll try to notch some wins and hope the coming arrival of a two-time Liga MX scoring champion and Peruvian national-team fixture brings some badly needed offensive reinforcement after the July 10 opening of the summer-transfer window.
“We’ve made a major investment,’’ Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “It certainly took a big commitment from our owners, but we got our eight-figure player.’’
The Sounders have wanted for some time to get ink on that eight-figure deal, which includes a $7 million transfer fee to his former Morelia team as well as $7 million in total salary the next 3½ seasons. They’ve been under increasing pressure to add a bonafide scoring threat after a 3-8-3 start that’s threatened their streak of nine playoff appearances.
Ruidiaz, 27, just came off playing for Peru at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, and his plucky team’s first-round elimination paved the way to get him to Seattle sooner. Sounders vice president Chris Henderson had gone to see him play live at the Peruvian team’s training camp.
Ruidiaz will be added to the Sounders roster pending receipt of his P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate. The goal is for him to play in the Atlanta match if the legal paperwork is done in time.
“That’s certainly what we hope,’’ Lagerwey said.
It’s the biggest Sounders signing since midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro arrived from Boca Juniors in Argentina two years ago and helped lead the team to a second-half turnaround and their only MLS Cup title. The transfer fee for Ruidiaz was $1 million more than the Sounders paid Boca for Lodeiro’s rights. Lagerwey has been seeking another Designated Player striker since striker Jordan Morris was lost for the season to a knee injury in February.
In April, Lagerwey promised an eight-figure DP signing and has strongly hinted that additional offensive help will be added as well. For now, he says candidates have been identified and the team will try to get somebody here as quickly as possible.
Lagerwey also had no immediate updates on defender Roman Torres, who injured an ankle Thursday while playing for Panama at the World Cup. Injuries to key players throughout the season are as big a reason for the slow start, as is the time it’s taken to bring in a proven goal-scorer.
Ruidiaz has scored more than 100 goals in a decade of professional experience in Mexico and South America.
His arrival to Seattle was easily tracked by scores of Sounders fans after the player posted an Instagram photo Wednesday taken from a hotel in Bellevue. The photo was later taken down, but the fact he was already in town came as little surprise given his team was telling Spanish-speaking journalists two weeks ago that the deal with the Sounders was done.
Having Ruidiaz play in the Atlanta match would be a boon not only for the team but MLS as well.
That Atlanta game will be immediately preceded on Fox by the World Cup final, meaning the national viewership numbers for that Sounders match should be huge. And going up against high-powered Atlanta United FC, the Sounders will need all the attack help they can muster.
They’ve scored 11 goals in 14 matches, and forwards Clint Dempsey and Will Bruin have just four goals combined after scoring 23 last year. Ruidiaz, who scored 40 goals over his last two full seasons in Mexico, is expected to take some heat off both.
“He’s been a really good goal scorer for a long period of time,’’ Lagerwey said. “He’s in his prime. We felt like, particularly with Jordan (Morris) going down, we needed an elite finisher.
“And now we feel like we have an elite playmaker in Lodeiro and an elite finisher in Ruidiaz. And hopefully that’s the right combo to build the rest of the team around.’’
Wayne Rooney is on the way to D.C. United after finalizing deal
Washington Post – June 28, 2018
Wayne Rooney, the decorated English soccer star, has agreed to a deal with D.C. United and will join the MLS club in time for the opening of its new stadium, ushering in a fresh era for an organization eager to make a splash on and off the field.
According to people close to the negotiations, United finalized a package with Rooney, 32, on a 2 1/2-year guaranteed contract worth about $13 million. The club will hold an option for an additional year. The organization also agreed to purchase his rights from Premier League club Everton for an undisclosed transfer fee. United is awaiting only final paperwork to arrive from Everton.
The forward will become the highest-paid player in team history by a large margin and inject the team with a marquee name to appeal to the masses in a city with several larger-than-life sports heroes.
D.C. United and Everton on Thursday morning both acknowledged the move, first reported as finalized by the Insider on Wednesday night.
Rooney, the career scoring leader for both fabled Manchester United and the English national team, is scheduled to arrive in the Washington area on Thursday afternoon and begin training with his new teammates soon. He is not eligible to play until MLS’s transfer and trade window opens July 10, four days before the grand opening of Audi Field, United’s new venue in Southwest D.C.
He’ll be available for 20 league matches, including 15 at home.
“It is fantastic to be joining D.C. United at such an exciting time in the club’s history with the new stadium opening in just a few weeks,” Rooney said in a statement released by United on Thursday. “Moving to America and MLS fulfills another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give D.C. 100 percent — as I have always done for every team I have ever played for.”
Earlier this week, when asked about Rooney, Coach Ben Olsen said, “It’s stirring, it’s stirring, it’s stirring . . . If and when additions come, it will be exciting. I think the additions that we will bring in will help this club in a whole bunch of different ways. First and foremost, on the field. That’s where we need help right now, to get us over the hump.”
Rooney brings with him a heady resume and a long list of superlatives. He’ll instantly become the most high-profile player to ever don a United kit and, while the league has turned to younger talent in recent years, he joins a prominent group that gravitated toward MLS late in their careers. It included David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Steven Gerrard, Kaká and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who joined the Los Angeles Galaxy this season.
Rooney has 16 Premier League seasons under his belt — nearly 500 games — and while he may no longer be in his prime, United, last in the Eastern Conference after missing the playoffs last year, is counting on a player who can provide an immediate impact. He is a high-motor goal scorer with vision and top-notch passing skills.
“Wayne is undoubtedly one of the best players in Premier League history and his goal scoring record for club and country speaks for itself,” United General Manager Dave Kasper said in a statement. “He is a world-class player and he elevates those around him, both through his work-ethic and winning mentality. We are beyond excited to add someone of Rooney’s caliber and we are thrilled to welcome him to D.C.”
Rooney made his name as a striker but played in central midfield for Everton much of the last Premier League campaign. United is likely to deploy him as a forward. Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks leads the team with seven goals.
The splashy signing coincides with United’s biggest off-the-field move to date: Located two blocks from Nationals Park, Audi Field will have a capacity of 20,000 and a price tag of about $400 million. Rooney will give Olsen a much-needed offensive weapon on the field and provide the team with a marquee name to market off it. United hasn’t featured a globally recognized player since Argentina’s Marcelo Gallardo, who played for the team in 2008.
Jason Levien, United’s managing partner and chief executive, called the agreement “a seminal moment for our fans and organization.”
The deal required a two-pronged approach to negotiations: United needed to come to terms with Rooney, an agreement that was largely completed last month, but also with Everton.
The team’s courtship of the star began last summer when he was leaving Manchester United, and after he signed with Everton for the 2017-18 season, talks resumed this spring when it became clear he might seek a new team.
Rooney had a year left on his contract with Everton. Recent reports in the British press suggested he was no longer in Everton’s long-term plans and could have been forced into a diminished role had he returned for another season there.
Everton acknowledge the transfer Thursday morning with a video tribute and a statement that concluded, “From everyone at Everton, we thank Wayne for his service to the Club and wish him every success in the next three-and-a-half years with D.C. United.”
Rooney made a whirlwind visit to Washington in late May, meeting with club officials, touring the city, surveying the new stadium and undergoing a physical. United officials became increasingly optimistic and the deal had been considered imminent ever since. In anticipation of the deal, Rooney applied for a U.S. work visa this month in Belfast.
He’ll join a United team eager to have him. D.C. (2-6-4) will play two more away matches — against New England and the Galaxy — before christening Audi Field against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Not long ago, Rooney was one of the most highly paid players in the world, believed to be earning north of $30 million annually. He earned about $10 million at Everton. United entered the season with one of the smallest MLS payrolls but, with increased revenue from the new stadium, began making plans to pursue more expensive players.
Rooney scored 10 goals this past season for Everton, his boyhood club, though none in the last 5 ½ months. His 208 Premier League goals are second in history behind Alan Shearer’s 260. He scored 53 times for his national team and played in three World Cups before retiring from international soccer two years ago.
Kendall Waston scores for Costa Rica at the World Cup
The Province – June 27, 2018
Costa Rica finally have a goal in Russia.
Kendall Waston got his first start and first appearance at the World Cup on Wednesday against Switzerland.
He also got his first goal. And it’s Costa Rica’s first goal of the tournament.
Intriguingly, Waston’s last goal for his country was the one that got them into the World Cup, a late, desperate header off a corner. Not unlike this one.
Of course, Waston whipped his shirt completely off last October in celebrating the goal, which was just about the final play of the game.
In Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday, he pulled his shirt up a little, but didn’t lose it.
The Costa Rica tally means every team in Russia now has at least one goal.
Costa Rica will not advance beyond the pool round, meaning Waston will return to Vancouver soon and could even figure in this weekend’s Whitecaps game on Canada Day.
Five-day event schedule for MLS All-Star Game announced
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – June 27, 2018
The five-day schedule for the 2018 MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta was released by the league on Wednesday. The festivities will include a free concert and access to training sessions for both Juventus and the MLS teams. Some events require tickets and can be purchased at TicketMaster.
The game will be played on Aug. 1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Here is the list of events:
* Saturday, July 28: MLS Block Party, Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark on the BeltLine, Noon-11 p.m., Free
* Sunday, July 29-August: MLS Digital HQ, Southern Exchange (200 Marietta St NW Atlanta, GA 30303), 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. (Opens at noon Sunday. Closes at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday), Free
* Sunday, July 29: MLS All-Star Concert, Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark on the BeltLine, 6 p.m., RVSP (more information to come)
* Monday, July 30: Men in Blazers LIVE MLS All-Star Extravaganza, Tabernacle, 6:30 p.m. Tickets required
* Tuesday, July 31: Juventus Open Training followed by MLS All-Star Open Training, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 10 a.m., Tickets required
* Tuesday, July 31: Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Showcase, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta training ground, 6 p.m.. Tickets required
* Tuesday, July 31: MLS Homegrown Match, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta training ground, 8 p.m.. Tickets required
* Wednesday, Aug. 1: Soccer Celebration, Georgia World Congress International Plaza, 3-7 p.m., Free
* Wednesday, Aug. 1: MLS All-Star Game, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 7:30 p.m., Tickets required
Atlanta United has no choice but move forward without Nagbe
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – June 27, 2018
Some of Darlington Nagbe’s teammates said they feel for the injured midfielder, but are confident the team will overcome the loss of the influential player.
“Guys are going to have to step up,” captain Michael Parkhurst said on Wednesday. “I’m sure they will. We have to keep things going. Other teams won’t feel bad for us because we’ve lost a key guy. It is a big loss for the team. He’s an important part of our success this year. He’s been fantastic.”
The team announced on Tuesday that Nagbe is expected to miss 2-3 months after suffering an adductor injury in last week’s 1-1 draw with Portland at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta United, which leads MLS with 34 points, will host struggling Orlando City on Saturday. The stadium will be open to full capacity for the game.
With Nagbe playing more minutes than anyone on the team and serving as invaluable player linking defense to offense in the midfield, Atlanta United also leads the league in goals (34).
“Its all part of the game,” fullback Mikey Ambrose. “Injuries happen every year. You feel terrible for the guys that are going through them. The next guy has to step up and that’s why you have a 30-man roster. The organization has built the roster very well so the next guy has to step up and do the job.”
Ambrose would know. He has moved into the starting lineup in place of Greg Garza, who is likely out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury and undergoing surgery in late May.
Parkhust said he expects manager Gerardo Martino may continue to do what he did on Sunday when Nagbe left the game early in the second half: play Julian Gressel in his place. The German moved from the right side of the midfield into the center, with Hector Villalba coming off the bench to play on the right. Villalba led the team in shots on goal (3).
Martino also mentioned Kevin Kratz as a possible replacement. Kratz, 31, has been used mostly as a sub to tidy up the midfield in the second half of games. He is also excellent at free kicks, with two goals from set pieces this season.
“Whoever it is will have to step up because he has big shoes to fill,” Parkhurst said.
Giovanni Savarese's tactical flexibility proving to be critical to Portland Timbers' success
The Oregonian – June 28, 2018
During his playing career, Giovanni Savarese always kept a notebook inside his locker.
After each practice, he would sit in the changing room quietly taking careful notes on the the training session. If he wasn't writing, he was eagerly discussing tactics with his teammates. Every so often, he would also ask to talk privately with his coaches about their tactical approach, hoping to better understand why a particular system could be effective against a specific opponent.
"When I was a player, I liked to look at things and understand why we were playing this way or that way, why we were doing this or that, so I could analyze it and learn," Savarese said. "I'm a student of the game. I think you always learn when you're watching and when you're playing and when you're coaching."
Savarese's inquisitive nature and unquenchable thirst for knowledge has been integral to his development as a coach and his success at the helm with the Portland Timbers so far this season. Savarese's Timbers (6-3-5, 23 points) are currently riding a nine-game unbeaten streak in MLS play and an 11-game unbeaten streak overall.
During an 18-year professional career where he played in four different countries and represented the Venezuela National Team, Savarese was exposed to a range of different coaching philosophies and systems and had the opportunity to learn from distinguished managers, such as former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and former Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz.
When he was hired by the New York Cosmos for his first professional head coaching job in 2013, Savarese had already developed his own coaching philosophy and had clear ideals that he wanted to implement, which included having a proactive, hard-working and disciplined team that would be able to control the flow of a game.
But at the same time, years of studying his own coaches had convinced Savarese that it was critical to be tactically flexibility with his formations and be willing to make changes and adjustments for each opponent.
"When I started out, I had my philosophy and my ideas and the way I liked my team to play," Savarese said. "That hasn't changed, but I have learned to understand each of the different matches and how to adapt to different things."
That tactical flexibility has become a hallmark of Savarese's coaching style.
When he became the head coach of the Timbers this season, Savarese initially rolled out a 4-2-3-1 formation that was similar to the system that the club had used for five years under former coach Caleb Porter. But after the Timbers opened the season with two-straight losses, Savarese made an adjustment. He switched to a 4-3-2-1 formation with three defensive midfielders in the third game of the year to give more protection to the backline. Since then, he has employed a 4-1-4-1 formation and conceded possession to pick up a huge victory over NYCFC in April and used a 4-3-1-2 formation in a U.S. Open Cup game in order to get two forwards on the field.
And on Sunday, Savarese made yet another tweak to his formation when the Timbers traveled to face Atlanta United, the current Supporters' Shield leaders and the most potent attacking team in MLS. For the first time this season, Savarese rolled out a 5-3-2 formation and instructed his team to absorb pressure, stay disclipined and try to punish Atlanta on the counter attack.
As they've done consistently over the last three months, the players stepped up to execute Savarese's vision as the Timbers went on to draw Atlanta 1-1.
"It's the way he wants to do it and I think it's smart," Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri said. "The concepts don't change, which is important for the team, to have some concepts that don't change. But formations can change depending on the team and how he wants to surprise the rival."
Savarese's willingness to change his formation -- or even his starting 11 -- has made it difficult for opponents to know what to expect from the Timbers in any given game. That's how Savarese wants it.
His favorite moments as a coach are spent analyzing an upcoming opponent or sitting with his notebook drawing out a game plan that he believes will get his team the best result. He struggles to talk about matches two or three weeks in advance because his mind is always on the upcoming game -- as it has been this week with Saturday's rivalry match against the Seattle Sounders (3-8-3, 12 points).
But even with his club currently sitting on the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS, Savarese isn't satisfied. He has never stopped being a student of the game and still believes he has more to learn.
"I really love what I do," Savarese said. "I'm a soccer fanatic and I'm always watching games and analyzing games and thinking, 'I would like to try this or this looks like it works.' I constantly try to be better. I never think that I've arrived. I always think that I can learn something new."
'Play the kids': Sporting KC's youngsters continue to shine in spotlight
Kansas City Star – June 28, 2018
Sporting Kansas City youngsters Wan Kuzain, 19, and Jaylin Lindsey, 18, are a lot like any pair of teenagers. They hang out together, play FIFA, watch the World Cup — Lindsey is even bold enough to think Belgium will win the whole tournament.
But they’re also set apart from their peers. They play alongside World Cup veteran defenders like Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. They’ve also both been featured in starting lineups in front of sold-out crowds at Children’s Mercy Park.
The pair are two of four youngsters who have broken into the Sporting KC first team in the last two years, joined by forwards Daniel Salloi, 21, and Gianluca Busio, 16. Together, they’ve created a movement called "play the kids," an idea that seems to have stuck with Peter Vermes, as youngsters from the Sporting KC Academy and Swope Park Rangers are appearing more often with the first team.
The kids aren’t disappointing either. Sporting KC hasn’t lost a game since a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution on April 28, going nine games undefeated since then. The quartet has combined for 22 appearances in that span, contributing eight goals and two assists.
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"It's a true honor to play at this level, for my age, right now. It's something that most kids my age aren't doing nowadays,” Lindsey said. “Three years ago, I was sitting here when I first got to the academy, I was watching these guys play on the first team. Now I'm playing with them and it's awesome, it's an amazing feeling.”
The influx of players coming through the academy system started with Salloi four years ago. He made the move to the United States from his native Hungary in 2014. Three years and several stints with the Swope Park Rangers and teams in Hungary later, Salloi had become part of the furniture of Peter Vermes’ squad, appearing in 22 games in the 2017 season.
His ascension through the ranks marked the first time a player had done so successfully in Sporting KC’s system, and ultimately gave hope to players like Kuzain and Lindsey.
“I think he was the first real role model to all the other kids that if you're good enough and if you work your way, then you'll get a chance,” Kuzain said. “And it's just really awesome to see that me, Jaylin and Busio are coming up, and hopefully we can inspire the next generation to hopefully one day get here.”
The pair are slowly becoming household names in Kansas City, but the progression doesn’t stop there.
“Each step from the academy, you want to prove yourself in the academy,” Kuzain continued, “then you go to Swope Park, you want to prove yourself as well, and now you're with the first team, of course you want to prove yourself against some of the best players in the MLS.”
Their focus now turns toward the veterans on the team. Players like Roger Espinoza and Ike Opara, who have the experience to take them to the next level.
“All the guys have helped. Even the guys in my position, they've always looked at me and helped me out — even if it's not their position,” Lindsey said. “I know they look at us and they invest in us, and they want us to probably be better than them someday.”
With Sporting KC atop the Western Conference by three points, it's likely that Vermes will continue to play the kids. And even if they don’t lift the MLS Cup this season, Sporting KC fans have a lot to look forward to in the future.
Loons hopes for better at home vs. FC Dallas
FOX Sports – June 28, 2018
Minnesota United FC returns home for a Friday game against FC Dallas, hoping that things get better in the friendly confines of TCF Bank Stadium.
Minnesota, which is 5-9-1 overall and 4-2-1 at home, last played at home May 26, when it beat Montreal 2-0. The Loons have played four straight road games since, including two in the U.S. Open Cup.
They lost both MLS games in that span, including Saturday’s disappointing 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rapids.
Christian Ramirez scored in the 65th minute to put Minnesota ahead, but Joe Mason tied the game nine minutes later and Tommy Smith scored the winner in stoppage time.
Amid the Rapids’ surge was a scuffle that later led to the MLS Disciplinary Committee issuing a warning to each team for its first violation of the league’s policy on physical confrontations.
“We kept a lot of possession and switched the play a lot,” United coach Adrian Heath told mlssoccer.com. “We had a lot of possession and I don’t think we did enough with it at times. That would be my only disappointment considering we had so much of the ball in the first half. I don’t think we had enough end products out of the game.”
Minnesota, which sits ninth in the Western Conference, needs wins.
“We have to have a short memory and get our minds ready on the next game,” Minnesota defender Brent Kallman told mlssoccer.com. “It is going to be good to be back at home. Our home form is good. It is important that we find a good performance and find a way to get a result, which is three points.”
Dallas, which is 8-2-5 overall and 3-2-1 on the road, was riding high before losing to the New York Red Bulls 3-0 on the road last weekend. That ended a seven-match unbeaten streak in MLS play, with Dallas going 5-0-2 in that span.
The loss was hard to swallow because Dallas played with an extra man for more than an hour. Coach Oscar Pareja cited a lack of intensity.
“I would say it was noticeable in the game. They had a lot of energy and for some reason we couldn’t match that,” Pareja told mlsscoocer.com. “We had many parts of the game where we could have done a better job in that part, but we couldn’t. It was a night to forget.”
Dallas is in second place in the Western Conference and has a potent attack led by midfielder Roland Lamah and forward Maxi Urruti, who have six goals apiece.
Dallas has also allowed the third-fewest goals against in the league, conceding only 17 through 15 matches and has kept five clean sheets.
Minnesota will be without midfielder Miguel Ibarra, who is serving a red-card suspension for his part in the altercation with Colorado. Defender Eric Miller is questionable with a hamstring injury.
Tested by World Cup absences, LAFC’s depth comes through
The Athletic – June 27, 2018
Despite LAFC’s fast start to the season, some pitfalls common to every team have taken a toll. Injuries, the integration of new players, a heavy match schedule, and international duty—including three players to the World Cup—have combined to keep Bradley from establishing a consistent lineup during his latest run at building a successful expansion team.
“It’s obviously a difficult thing, losing four guys from our starting lineup, but there is a blessing in disguise,” midfielder Benny Feilhaber told The Athletic after a recent practice, saying it offered “a great opportunity to test our depth, something which is very important in MLS. With the long season and hopefully playoffs, you need players who aren’t making the field every week that you can trust when their name is called.”
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Struggling Orlando City focuses on finishing in training
Pro Soccer USA – June 27, 2018
ORLANDO, Fla. — Toward the end of Orlando City training Monday morning, with the sun bearing down, interim coach Bobby Murphy could be heard clearly across the fields.
He was demanding perfection from the Lions during finishing drills. He wanted the passes to be crisp and the didn’t want to see players letting up as they entered the box.
The Lions – and Murphy, for that matter – were drenched in sweat. They were in the final minutes of Monday’s training session.
If the drill wasn’t done to Murphy’s standards, it was done again.
Quality in the final third has been an issue for Orlando City throughout the club’s seven-match MLS losing streak. At first, it was an issue of chances created, but not finished. Against the Montreal Impact on Saturday, the Lions struggled to create chances.
“I think when the goals dry up, it exposes so many other issues,” Murphy said. “I think we’ve had – with the exception of Saturday, where we didn’t really create very much – in every game during this stretch we’ve created chances, you know? We just haven’t sharp in front of goal for whatever reason.
“I was just trying to keep a positive sort of mindset toward finishing and doing things the right way. So that’s at full speed and doing it right and not pretending. That’s what we’re trying to create.”
After scoring 17 goals over a six-match win streak, Orlando City (6-9-1, 19 points) has scored five goals during its seven-match losing streak in league play, which includes three shutouts.
The Lions are about to enter a brutal stretch of matches against some of the top teams in the league. First, they play first-place Atlanta United on Saturday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. After that, it’s a gantlet that includes matches against LAFC, Toronto FC, the Columbus Crew and NYCFC.
After Tuesday’s training session, striker Dom Dwyer could be seen putting in extra work. Dwyer leads Orlando City with seven goals scored in 10 appearances (nine starts), but he’s found the back of the net just once since returning from an adductor injury.
Before that injury, he had six goals in seven starts.
Against Montreal on Saturday, Dwyer didn’t take a shot.
“It’s been fine,” Dwyer said about returning from an injury that kept him out for three matches. “A fairly quick transition. Obviously, I hate to miss a couple games, but it’s nice to be back involved again and hopefully we can get to the winning ways again.
“The better we play, I think the more quality chances we’ll get. It’s about us getting quality chances and finishing them off.”
Coaching search means opportunities
Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão on Saturday said he expects to name a new head coach this week.
The thought of a new manager isn’t looming of the heads of the players.
“Every week for us is an opportunity,” Dwyer said. “We’re just trying to work hard and get better as a squad. Stay together, stay as a collective. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of changes going on right now. We’ve got a new manager coming in. We’re just trying to fix something right now and have some quality performances leading up to that.”
For Dwyer, switching coaches isn’t a distraction.
“I think it’s more of a positive,” Dwyer said. “It’s something we’re trying to build on now. We’re trying to build as a club and move forward and look forward.”
Orlando City is in its second week with Murphy running the show in training.
“We’ve got a bunch of quality professionals, so whoever’s out there, we’re going to listen and try to train and work hard,” Dwyer said. “It’s easy when you have a good group of guys, a hungry group of guys. Like I said, we’re enjoying our training right now and trying to get used to this weather and the climate and we’re looking forward to the game on Saturday.”
Although lacking style, Berget trusts he’ll be a reliable goal scorer for New York City FC
Pro Soccer USA – June 28, 2018
Brazil was preserving a two-goal lead late in their World Cup match against Serbia on Wednesday when Gabriel Jesus received the ball while hugging the touchline with two then three defenders converging. Jesus, through a series of deceptive spins and masterful ball control, maintained possession. The crescendo from the spectators at the Otkrytie Arena in Moscow indicated their delight with the flair of the Manchester City striker.
That volume of anticipation is not perceptible at Yankee Stadium when Jo Inge Berget is on the ball. Moreover, the New York City FC supporters wonder how the clumsy Norwegian fits into the scheme of City’s principles to present the “beautiful game” to Major League Soccer – especially now with former Manchester City assistant Domè Torrent in charge of the side.
“As a fan you like to see goals and dribbles and stuff like that and you may not notice all the dirty work,” Berget said after Tuesday’s training session. “The working and running part of the game is huge for me – it’s part of my game.”
If Berget is not going to provide panache, then surely supporters assume he will instead deliver a reliable finishing touch. He led Malmö FF with 10 goals en route to a second consecutive championship in the Swedish top tier last season. His compensation in year one with NYCFC is just shy of $817,000 trailing only David Villa and Maxi Moralez for salary honors.
Berget trusts that his game-deciding brace against Toronto FC on Sunday will lift the doubt from supporters who have often compared the 6-1 Scandinavian to the failed project named Adam Nemec – a 6-3 Slovakian striker whose goose egg total of goals was met with sarcasm and anger in the expansion 2015 season.
Prior to Sunday, Berget had managed just one goal in 12 starts with memorable miscues including a walk-in attempt that could have earned his side three points in the cauldron at Atlanta United.
“For me, I’ve been in the game for awhile so I knew it was going to come,” the 27-year old Berget said.
His experience includes a pair of UEFA Champions League tallies for Malmö FF against his former club Celtic at the famed Parkhead in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The most important thing is to get to those chances and be in the right positions for them.”
Cue the skeptical public that fail to be satisfied with proper location – they desire the finished product. What changed against the defending league champions on Sunday?
“They went in,” Berget said with a chuckle. “It’s more about continuing to do what you’re doing and you know the goals eventually are going to come.”
Berget was 17 when he inked his first professional contract with Lyn in Norway. Along the way he registered 17 goals in 63 matches at Molde in Norway’s premier division and totaled 25 goals in 77 games with Malmö FF.
“I know it’s going to go up and down of course you always wanted it to go up and up and up but that’s not the case always,” Berget said. “At times it’s a bit frustrating when you miss and miss and miss that’s just the way it is – eventually it has to turn around and hopefully that’s the case now.”
Under former coach Patrick Vieira he became a fixture in the starting XI and Berget rewarded Torrent’s decision to place him up top at the start of the TFC match.
“The teammates and the coaches they all know what work you put in,” Berget said. “Of course it’s always nice to top that with some goals. Hopefully, they are going to come now.”
Rooney fulfilling a 'career ambition' with MLS move
FourFourTwo – June 28, 2018
Wayne Rooney says it has been a "career ambition" to play in MLS after agreeing terms on a three-and-a-half-year deal with DC United.
Rooney spent a single season back with first club Everton before ending his career-long stay in the Premier League, where he scored 208 top-flight goals across 16 seasons for his boyhood side and Manchester United.
The former England captain, his country's record goalscorer, follows previous international team-mates including Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole by playing in MLS.
And Rooney - who could make his league debut on July 14 pending receipt of his international transfer certificate - cannot wait to get started at DC.
"It is fantastic to be joining DC United at such an exciting time in the club's history with the new stadium [Audi Field] opening in just a few weeks," said Rooney.
"Moving to America and MLS fulfils another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give DC 100 per cent - as I have always done for every team I have ever played for.
"When I visited earlier this summer I was really impressed with everyone I met connected with the club, and of course the new Audi Field. Now I can't wait to get on the pitch in a United shirt and join my new team-mates to bring success to this club."
Rooney joins a DC side struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in MLS but Jason Levien, managing general partner and chief executive at the club, hailed the 32-year-old's arrival.
"This is a seminal moment for our fans and organisation," Levien said in a club statement. "Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at DC United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country.
"Wayne has thrived when competing at the most elite levels of soccer and we're thrilled to have his leadership as we enter this new era at Audi Field."
Minnesota United-FC Dallas game preview
Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 28, 2018
A tough test ahead
Preview: United (5-9-1), coming off a loss Saturday to what was then the worst team in the league (Colorado Rapids), now faces the second-best squad in the Western Conference in Dallas (8-2-5). United will be missing an important attacking piece in winger Miguel Ibarra, who is suspended. Striker Christian Ramirez said he and Darwin Quintero will have to continue to pick their moments of attack and find new areas to exploit without Ibarra. But potentially having a midfielder like Ibson back in the lineup should help control the game.
Players to watch: “They’re not near the top of the Western Conference for nothing. But we did well against them last year. They came in here in the same situation last year. We managed to get a 4-1 result. So I’ll more than settle for that this weekend.” – United coach Adrian Heath.
Numbers: Before being shut out 3-0 by the New York Red Bulls last Saturday, Dallas had scored at least one goal in 15 consecutive MLS games.
Absences: For United, M Sam Cronin (concussion), D Francisco Calvo (national team duty), D Marc Burch (knee), D Jerome Thiesson (calf/Achilles), Ibarra (suspended) and F Abu Danladi (leg) are out while D Eric Miller (hamstring) is questionable. For Dallas, D Reto Ziegler (suspended), M Santiago Mosquera (hamstring), D Kris Reaves (hernia) and F Cristian Colman (ankle) are out.
Lineup shuffling to come for FC Dallas, Minnesota United when two sides meet Friday
Dallas Morning News – June 28, 2018
After having a four-game win streak snapped with a loss at New York Red Bulls last weekend, FC Dallas looks to rebound on the road against Minnesota United FC on Friday night.
Dallas (29 points) remains second in the Western Conference after seeing their streak of 15 games with a goal end in a 3-0 loss.
FC Dallas could be bolstered by the return of Santiago Mosquera, who took part in training this week after recovering from a hamstring problem. But with a difficult schedule looming, FCD may decide not to rush back the dynamic midfielder.
Minnesota United -- ninth in the West (16 points) -- is coming off back-to-back losses, including a heartbreaking, stoppage-time loss to Colorado Rapids last weekend.
"It's going to be good to be back at home," said United center back Brent Kallman. "You know, our home form is good. So, it's really important that we find a good performance and we find a way to get a good result, which is three points."
FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said the biggest hurdle playing at TCF Bank Stadium will be the surface.
"Minnesota, yeah, the first challenge is obviously the turf," Pareja said. "We're trying to get used to it in the couple of training sessions that we have prior."
Up-and-coming homegrown midfielder Paxton Pomykal, who saw some late game action at New York last weekend, said the turf won't be an issue. At least not for him.
"For me personally, in the [FC Dallas] Academy, we trained every morning on turf and played a lot of our games on turf, so I don't think that it will be very difficult to transition," Pomykal said.
Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath is missing several key pieces because of international duty, suspensions, and injuries. Defender Francisco Calvo is in Russia with Costa Rica for the World Cup, midfielder Miguel Ibarra is suspended for his red card against Colorado and another seven players are listed on the club's injury report.
Losing Ibarra is probably the biggest blow to the Loons, as they are 0-4-1 in the previous 5 games he has missed.
"We'll assess what we think is available to us," Heath said. "Do we change the shape a bit to see if that gives us some more options? We'll come up with a plan, and as I've said all along, we've been really good at home and our performances have been really competitive, and I expect the same this weekend."
Pareja said United is still a dangerous squad despite the missing pieces.
In addition to Darwin Quintero (three goals and two assists), Minnesota will have the services of their leading goal scorer Christian Ramirez (four goals) up top.
Pareja has his own lineup shuffling to do.
Already dealing with the loss of left back Anton Nedyalkov and the imminent departure of playmaker Mauro Diaz, Pareja also has to contend with the red card suspension of center back Reto Ziegler. Veteran defender Maynor Figueroa is the most obvious replacement, with Ryan Hollingshead perhaps slotting in at left back. Another option might be homegrown rookie Kris Reaves, who has gotten some first-team looks in training this week.
Timbers, Sounders renew rivalry for 100th time
FOX Sports – June 28, 2018
Even at midseason, there’s plenty at stake when the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders meet.
The Cascadia Cup rivals will battle for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. Portland defeated visiting Seattle 1-0 in the first matchup on May 13, with Sebastian Blanco scoring in the 86th minute.
That last game was the 100th meeting between the teams, dating to 1975 in the old North American Soccer League.
“These are the easiest games in regards to the mentality, because everybody understands when you play Seattle and you’re a Portland Timbers player, this is going to be a huge game and it’s going to be a difficult game and it’s a derby,” first-year Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “These are the games that actually every player on the team understands clearly what is at stake.”
The Timbers (6-3-5) are undefeated in their past nine matches after a 1-1 draw Sunday in Atlanta. Diego Valeri scored for Portland and Jeff Attinella made eight saves.
It was Portland’s third straight tie after six consecutive wins.
The two-time defending Western Conference champion Sounders (3-8-3) are coming off a 1-1 tie at home with the Chicago Fire. Clint Dempsey scored for the Sounders, his first goal of 2018 and the 47th regular-season goal with Seattle, tying Fredy Montero (2009-2012) for the franchise record.
“Obviously, it’s a big game for a lot of different reasons,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Number one, it’s our archrival, number two we need to collect points after dropping a couple on the weekend. But it’s Portland, so I’ll just stick with that.”
The Sounders, in their 10th season in MLS, are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time.
“There’s a lot at stake,” midfielder Cristian Roldan told The Seattle Times. “We’ve said that for the last couple of weeks. We have so much to lose at this point. We’re at the bottom of the table, and if we continue to lose then Portland can just laugh at us.
“We have to continue to fight together as a team and realize that it’s survival mode. We have to win games, and in order to do that you have to play these big teams and beat them up.”
Making matters tougher for the Sounders is that goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who made six saves against the Fire, was injured late in that match and is in the concussion protocol. Frei is listed as questionable against Portland.
The Sounders are 9-6-6 against the Timbers in regular-season MLS play, including 7-0-3 at home.
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders: Players to watch, TV channel, how to watch online
The Oregonian – June 28, 2018
What: The Portland Timbers (6-3-5, 23 points) will travel to face rival Seattle Sounders (3-8-3, 12 points) in an MLS regular season game.
When: Saturday, June 30 at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Where: CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.
TV Channel: FOX (In Portland: Comcast 12/712).
Online: Stream live on Fox Sports Go.
How to listen on the radio: 750 AM/102.9 FM The Game; Spanish radio: La GranD 1150 AM/93.5 FM.
Players to Watch
Larrys Mabiala, D: Mabiala scored a goal off a free kick to help lead the Timbers to a big 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on the road Sunday. Mabiala now has two goals and one assist this season. Along with being a weapon on set pieces, Mabiala has been critical to Portland on defense this year. While the Timbers have dealt with numerous changes on the backline, Mabiala has continued to bring consistency and leadership to the field.
Jeff Attinella, GK: Attinella tied his career high by making nine saves to help lead the Timbers to a 1-1 draw at Atlanta Sunday. He was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his performance. The Timbers have not lost in the last 10 games that Attinella has started dating back to last season. Attinella has made 31 saves, earned four shutouts, recorded a save percentage of 88.6 and posted a goals against average of 0.63 this season.
Diego Valeri, M: Valeri leads the Timbers with six goals and is tied for the team lead with three assists this season. The Argentine playmaker was also voted to the Fan XI for the MLS All-Star Game this week. The 32-year-old is critical to the Timbers in the attack. Valeri, who recorded 21 goals and 11 assists in 2017, is the reigning MLS MVP.
Will Bruin, F: Bruin leads the Sounders with three goals and four assists in 11 starts this season. The MLS veteran is also coming off a successful 2017 campaign where he recorded 11 goals and two assists in his first season with the Sounders. Bruin wasn't in the lineup when the Timbers last faced Seattle in May and he should add some firepower to the Sounders' attack Saturday.
Nicolas Lodeiro, M: Lodeiro has missed time this year due to injury, but has still recorded one goal and two assists in eight starts for the Sounders. Lodeiro wasn't in the lineup when the Timbers last faced the Sounders in May and the Designated Players should give Seattle a boost this time around. Lodeiro has 12 goals and 22 assists in 54 career starts for Seattle.
Clint Dempsey, F: Dempsey hasn't been as productive for the Sounders this year, but still has a goal and an assist in eight starts this season and remains a dangerous piece in Seattle's attack. Dempsey scored Seattle's lone goal in a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire last week. Dempsey is coming off a 2017 campaign where he recorded 12 goals and five assists in 25 starts.
Atlanta United will be without Nagbe against Orlando City
FOX Sports – June 29, 2018
Atlanta United begins a stretch without one of its key cogs Saturday when the Five Stripes host struggling Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
United is riding a five-game unbeaten streak and sits atop the Supporters Shield standings, but it will be without playmaking midfielder Darlington Nagbe for several months.
Nagbe, who was acquired in the offseason, suffered an abductor injury in a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers last week. He is expected to miss two to three months.
“He’s been very important for us this season,” Atlanta captain Michael Parkhurst told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “He does a lot of things that probably go unnoticed, especially with some of the bigger names on the team getting the headlines.
“He doesn’t have a ton of stats, but he does a lot of work with Jeff (Larentowicz) in the middle. He’s just such a good two-way player, really connects the team defensively to offensively. Possession-wise, he’s so important for us because he doesn’t lose the ball. He’s just so clean in and out of pressure. He just makes our life a lot easier in the back.”
Orlando City SC has dropped seven straight games, a stretch that includes a coaching change. The Lions parted ways with coach Jason Kreis. Assistant Bobby Murphy took over on an interim basis.
“I think it’s just going to take a complete performance,” Murphy said when asked how the team can end its skid. “I think so often we’ve been so close. It’s going to take everybody playing to their best and playing for the group, getting a break here or there, and it can all turn around.”
Saturday’s match will be the second meeting this season between Atlanta and Orlando City. The Five Stripes won 2-1 on May 13 at Orlando City behind goals from Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco.
Orlando City has never defeated Atlanta, going 0-2-0 in four meetings.
“It is what it is. I see it as a huge challenge and a great opportunity to go up there in front of a hostile crowd,” Murphy told reporters on Tuesday. “Hopefully, the players will take it as a great opportunity and play with a bit of freedom, knowing nothing is really expected of them to go in there and get a result. … sometimes you can surprise people when that happens.”
Atlanta United vs. Orlando City: 4 questions
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – June 29, 2018
Atlanta United will host Orlando on Saturday at a open-to-full capacity Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The teams are trending in different directions.
While Atlanta United leads MLS with 34 points, Orlando City has lost seven consecutive, fired its coach, and fallen below the red line while wasting a six-game winning streak put together earlier this season.
Jordan Culver (@JordanCulver) covers Orlando City for the Orlando Sentinel. He answered four questions about Saturday’s game:
Q: What has gone wrong for Orlando during the seven-game losing streak?
A: Several things have gone wrong. Orlando City can't stop leaking goals in transition. Four of the matches were on the road, and that takes its toll. Dom Dwyer was injured and hasn't found his way again. The attack has been stifled. When chances have been created, they haven't been finished. There are a lot of issues, and Orlando City isn't scoring enough goals to put pressure on opposing sides.
Q: What do they do need to do turn it around and get back above the red line?
A: If Orlando City could go just one match without giving up the first goal, it would be interesting to see how things go. Constantly playing from behind means opening up and giving other teams opportunities in transition. If Orlando City could play with a lead for a few minutes, it could do wonders.
Q: How have the players reacted to the coaching change?
A: It appears they've reacted well. It looks like there's still fun being had in training, even though the coaching change hasn't produced an MLS win yet. I think the players are just ready to see who the next permanent head coach will be so they can move forward.
Q: Key matchup on Saturday and how do you think it will go?
A: Orlando City's back line vs. Atlanta United's attack. Because that's what all of Orlando City's matches have come down to. How well can the back line play? Can whoever is in back recover in the face of a midfield turnover? Is the 1v1 defending there? Can a centerback not put the ball in his own net? Orlando City's midfield has been an issue lately with bad turnovers, but Orlando City's defenders are the key here.
Impact look to keep winning against Sporting KC
FOX Sports – June 28, 2018
Confidence is growing inside the Montreal Impact locker room — and now it will be put to the test.
After posting consecutive wins for just the second time all season — and the first time since late March — Montreal faces a tough task when it hosts Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at Saputo Stadium.
“It’s a good test for us,” defender Chris Duvall told reporters. “Sporting’s been one of the best teams in the league since the start of the season and they’re always near the top. We want to prove that we don’t only win against struggling teams but also against the best.”
The Impact (6-11-0) head into Saturday’s match fresh off back-to-back shutouts against a struggling Orlando City SC side, marking the midway point of the season for Remi Garde’s group. It was the club’s third victory in its past four games, matching its win output in its previous 18 MLS games.
The first half of the 2018 season was a mostly forgettable one for Montreal. Unable to put the ball in the opposition’s net and keep it out of their own, the Impact stumbled through the first two months of the season, allowing 21 goals through the first eight games and scoring just 10.
The offense continues to struggle, but things have improved defensively, conceding just 10 goals in the past nine games — none in the past 252 minutes.
“It’s a mentality. We’ve had the right pieces for a long time, it was just a matter of flipping a switch and wanting to win more than anyone else,” Duvall told the team’s website. “It’s far from finished. We’re still below the red line and we’ve got half the season to go. This is a good start to the second half and we’ll hopefully push to make it to the top.”
Four of Montreal’s wins are on its home pitch, where it will play six of its next nine games.
Sporting KC has been dangerous regardless of venue, failing to collect points just twice in 16 games — once at home and once on the road. The club (9-2-5) came close to suffering its third loss of the season on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo.
Trailing 2-0 at halftime and 3-1 with five minutes remaining, substitutes Diego Rubio and Khiry Shelton led the team to three crucial points in the race for the Western Conference lead and the Supporter’s Shield.
“I’m not concerned about the first half. I’m more angry than anything else because we know that in this league, it doesn’t matter who you play, the effort and intensity has to be there,” coach Peter Verdes told the Sporting KC website.
“And so, the lack of that and making that mistake of not doing anything in the first half, and putting yourself two goals behind, you can’t come back like this every time. So hopefully this winds up being a great learning lesson for us going forward.”
Verdes’ squad arrives in Montreal on a seven-game unbeaten streak (four wins, three draws), during which it has conceded four goals. It has allowed a league-low 16 goals this season and since April is averaging 0.4 goals-against.
Sporting KC is unbeaten in its last six matches against the Impact (four wins, two draws), outscoring them 14-5 during that stretch.
Montreal Impact vs. Sporting Kansas City | 2018 MLS Match Preview
MLSsoccer.com – June 27, 2018
With two victories over struggling Orlando City SC in 10 days, and three wins in their last four games, the Montreal Impact appear to have turned the page from their struggles in the first half of the season. This weekend, however, they host a Sporting Kansas City side that have gone seven games without defeat.
Sporting KC are unbeaten in their last six matches against Montreal (4W-2D), outscoring them 14-5 in the process, per Opta.
Vermes praises SKC's response to early errors
Anatomy of a Goal: How SKC got their game-winner
Wiebe: The moment Salloi's hype train took off
SKC "lit up" after euphoric rally: "We don't quit"
How SKC stormed back to steal crucial result
Report: French winger linked to three MLS clubs
Ignacio Piatti scored a late insurance goal, which followed a Lamine Sane own goal in the first half, to lift Montreal (6-11-0) to a 2-0 road win over Orlando City SC, which comes on the heels of a 3-0 victory at home over the Lions.
The Impact have kept a clean sheet in each of their three wins in their last four games. In fact, the only time Montreal claimed three points this season while conceding was a 4-2 victory over New England on May 5.
“We are more united than before,” midfielder Samuel Piette said. “Everyone wants the good of the team before their own good. It makes us work better for the collective. The players have taken on more responsibilities and realize that in the end, we are the players in the field who decide how the match takes place. We control our destiny.”
Suspended after next caution: M - Samuel Piette
International duty: None
Injury Report: OUT: D - Zakaria Diallo (ruptured Achilles tendon), D - Kyle Fisher (tibia injury), D - Victor Cabrera (calf injury), M - David Choiniere (ankle surgery), M - Louis Beland-Goyette (foot injury); QUESTIONABLE: M - Jeisson Vargas (undisclosed injury)
Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Evan Bush — Chris Duvall, Rod Fanni, Rudy Camacho, Daniel Lovitz — Ken Krolicki, Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider — Alejandro Silva, Matteo Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti
Notes: Piatti has had a hand in seven of the eight goals Montreal have scored in MLS play since the start of May (four goals, three assists). … The Impact have won three of their last four games (1L), keeping clean sheets in all three wins. They had won three of their previous 18 MLS matches (15L), keeping two clean sheets in that time.
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting (9-2-5) fell into a two-goal hole at halftime following a Mauro Manotas brace, but they dramatically rallied to score three unanswered goals to defeat Houston Dynamo, 3-2, at Children’s Mercy Park Saturday.
Daniel Salloi sparked the comeback in the 59th minute, followed by Diego Rubio’s 85th-minute equalizer and Khiry Shelton’s winner two minutes from full time to extend SKC’s unbeaten streak to seven straight games.
“The first half we were non-committal and we were playing backwards the whole time,” Peter Vermes said. “We allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game and in the second half, we pushed the game. We took it to another level. We dictated the game and we pushed forward.”
Suspended after next caution: None
International duty: None
Injury Report: OUT: M - Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery), D - Jimmy Medranda (knee injury), D/M - Brad Evans (thigh injury), M/D - Cristian Lobato (knee injury), M - Gianluca Busio (hamstring injury); QUESTIONABLE: D - Matt Besler (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Tim Melia — Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Graham Smith, Jaylin Lindsey — Roger Esinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Yohan Croizet — Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Gerso Fernandes
Notes: Roger Espinoza has created 35 chances from open play, one behind New England’s Diego Fagundez for the most in league play this year. … Since the start of April, Sporting Kansas City are 2-1-2 on the road, conceding an average of 0.4 goals per game. Only two other teams have allowed fewer than 1.4 goals per game in that time.
Overall: Montreal Impact 3 wins, 11 goals … Sporting Kansas City 6 wins, 20 goals … 3 draws
At Montreal: Impact 1 win, 5 goals … Sporting 3 wins, 10 goals … 2 draws
Last meeting at Montreal: Montreal Impact 2, Sporting Kansas City 2 (June 25, 2016)
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Jason White, Danny Thornberry
4th Official: David Barrie
VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.
Crew will try to get Real in home match
FOX Sports – June 29, 2018
Columbus isn’t in a free fall, but Crew SC has taken a few tumbles of late that dropped it to fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The Crew (7-5-6) are winless in their last five MLS matches — draws in three straight and 2-0 defeats in the past two games — entering Saturday’s home match against Real Salt Lake.
RSL (7-7-2) is in better form with three wins and last Saturday’s 1-1 tie with visiting San Jose in its past five MLS matches. But it was a frustrating outing against the Earthquakes as Real Salt Lake dominated the stats yet couldn’t get the full points.
“I feel like we’re in a great situation going forward to the next game,” RSL midfielder Sebastian Saucedo said. “Everyone is still motivated to get three points in Columbus. Not every game is going to be perfect at home, but we have to go through slumps to be able to achieve those three points anywhere else.”
Real Salt Lake is in a three-way tie for fourth in the Western Conference with Portland and Vancouver at 23 points.
RSL is bogged down by a 1-6-1 road record and has one win in the past 12 away matches (nine losses, two ties) since last season.
The Crew have worries at both ends of the pitch. Opponents have effectively concentrated on stopping leading scorer Gyasi Zardes (10 goals) and playmaker Federico Higuain (four goals, seven assists) while the rest of the team struggles offensively. The Crew has been blanked seven times.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, the 23-year-old rising star for the U.S. National Team, will miss his second straight Crew match because of a knee injury sustained June 21 in practice. He underwent surgery on his left knee on Monday and his status for the July 7 match at the Los Angeles Galaxy is in question.
Steffen (6-4-4, 0.79 goals-against average) had a team-record 525-minute shutout streak from April 28 to June 13. Jon Kempin (1-1-2, 1.75) started against Los Angeles FC last week and allowed two quick goals from which the Crew was never able to recover.
“(To) not give up two goals in the first eight minutes would help,” Crew captain Wil Trapp said. “I think once that happens, it changes the complexion of how we’re trying to address the game.”
The Crew will also be without defender Milton Valenzuela because of yellow-card accumulation.
Mike Petke's not sleeping on details as RSL's midway point approaches
Deseret News – June 28, 2018
HERRIMAN — On a blazing summer day, just a few steps outside Real Salt Lake’s climate-controlled indoor practice facility, the team readied for Saturday’s match at Columbus.
The moment was pregnant with symbolism.
Made in the shade? No, but you might say the heat was on.
Real’s pairing with Columbus should be spirited. Both are fourth in their conference, and both would make the playoffs if held today. The game marks the official midway point of the season, No. 17 of 34 for RSL. Regardless of wins and losses, if there had been a cloud in the sky, it wouldn’t have dampened the mood of coach Mike Petke. He’s as upbeat as a game show host.
Raised in the City that Never Sleeps, neither does he. Call him at midnight and he might, in a wide-awake voice, answer “Petke,” as though he were a night watchman clocking in.
“I never sleep well,” Petke said. “I’m not a big sleeper. I actually function better on less sleep than I do on more sleep.”
There are at least a few reasons for him to stay awake at night. His team is in respectable shape, with 23 points. Real is tied with two other Western Conference teams, but just one loss from seventh place, which is below the postseason watermark.
“Am I OK with that?” Petke said. “Yes, I’m good with it. I don’t want to move any lower, but it’s a long season. There’s ups and downs.”
All too often this year, RSL has, well, kicked away scoring opportunities. It has been as unpredictable as one of Petke’s colorful postgame pressers. (He once passed out photos to the media, highlighting officiating errors.) Real recently won six straight home games, but settled for a draw last weekend against lowly San Jose. Although RSL dominated possession against the Quakes, and launched 26 shots — eight on target — it had only a single goal.
“I’m trying to think of the last time we had a natural, natural goal-scorer,” Petke said. Then he ticked off some of the naturals who have played in Salt Lake: Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales, Robbie Findley and Yura Movsisyan.
“We rely on getting goals from other places,” Petke said.
That’s the kind of team it is; everyone needs to contribute a great game or two. But it has been a quirky year. Real has surrendered five goals in one game, four in two others. Its scoring differential is tied for second worst (minus-10) in the league. It is eighth in shots on goal, but just 17th in goals scored. Meanwhile, it is giving up the fifth-most goals in MLS.
The road has been far less kind than home. Real has won only a single away match, while losing six and drawing one. In games against LAFC, Vancouver and Orlando “for 60 minutes we were sitting there going, ‘It’s not a matter of if we win, but by how many,’ and then we lose.”
The second half of the season includes games against several of the league’s leading teams, beginning with Kansas City on July 4 at Rio Tinto. Also on the second-half schedule: Dallas, LAFC and Atlanta. Real has three more home games than road games in the second half.
Petke pointed out that last year at this time “we were dead in the water and ended up fighting back.” His team wasn’t eliminated from playoff contention until the final game of the season.
Sometimes mental lapses have cost his team scoring opportunities. Other times technical mistakes, game management or faulty technique were the culprit.
“The important thing,” he said, “is that the players don’t make the same mistake twice.” That’s why Real — still three wins ahead of where it was a year ago — can’t afford to wait for a late run again in 2018. Petke isn’t panicking.
“I’m confident we’re going to work things out,” he said. “What that means, who knows? Only the soccer gods know.” Surely they must have an idea. Real clearly needs to find the back of the net when chances arise. Conversely, it needs to respond faster after allowing goals, rather than letting the gap widen.
It doesn’t take heavenly powers to deduce that.
Revolution return to MLS play against DC United
FOX Sports – June 29, 2018
After a long break, the New England Revolution look to open a key stretch at home with a victory. That also means snapping a long winless streak against a team at the bottom of the MLS standings.
New England looks to end an eight-game winless skid to D.C. United on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
With 24 points, the Revolution are fifth in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the fourth-place Columbus Crew SC with two matches in hand. However, New England (6-4-6) is 0-5-3 in its last eight meetings with United.
The clubs have played to draws in each of the last three matchups in Massachusetts.
The Revs kick off a three-game homestand with this matchup, and leading scorer Teal Bunbury said it’s key to get off to a good start.
“I think our last 10 (of 15) games or something is going to be on the road, so it’s going to be pretty tough. So these next few games at home are going to be crucial for us,” said Bunbury, who needs one goal to reach 10 for the first time in his career. “We’re going to start off with D.C., but our mindset is to win all these games at home.”
New England logged its fourth draw in its last five MLS games after a 2-2 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes on June 13. Diego Fagundez registered a goal and an assist, giving him five of each.
If he starts Saturday, the 23-year-old Fagundezwould become the second player in MLS history to make his 200th regular-season appearance before turning 25 years old and third player with 150 league starts before his 24th birthday.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me, especially coming in as a young player, playing games, and getting the eye of the coaches to allow me to play these games. But it’s another game for me. I know it’s my 200th, but it’s another game that’s important no matter what number it is,” said Fagundez, who has two goals and three assists in his last five matches.
D.C. United (2-6-4) is last in the Eastern Conference and 11 points behind the Philadelphia Union for the final playoff spot in the conference with 22 matches to play,
United is also well-rested as it returns to league play for the first time since a 4-4 draw with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC on June 13. Yamil Asad scored twice and Darren Mattocks extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-best four games.
Mattocks, who played for the Portland Timbers last year, leads United with seven goals. Asad, who ranks second on the team with five goals, had seven goals in 32 games with Atlanta United in 2017.
United has given up 14 goals and scored 13 in its last six league matches but is 1-3-2 during that span.
On Friday, United announced it has added Wayne Rooney from English side Everton, but fans will need to wait a few weeks before seeing the 32-year-old megastar suit up in red and black. Rooney is scheduled to make his MLS debut on July 14 when United faces the Vancouver Whitecaps at Audi Field.
“This is a seminal moment for our fans and organization,” Jason Levien, United managing general partner and CEO, told the team’s official website. “Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at D.C. United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country.”
Revolution welcome travel-weary DC United to Gillette following World Cup hiatus
The Bent Musket – SB Nation – June 29, 2018
Former US international Jermaine Jones left an indelible mark in New England. In just 18 months from 2014-2015, he led the Revolution to two playoff appearances and an MLS Cup final. His fiery grit and desire to win were unquestionable, and they helped turn New England matches into must-see TV. Jones’ final scene in a Revs’ kit, though, was rather inglorious, with his passion getting the best of him. The team captain was sent off with a second yellow in stoppage time after shoving referee Mark Geiger following a missed handball call in the box. New England would eventually fall 2-1 in that October 2015 knockout round, a road playoff match which is, to date, their last taste of the postseason.
The victors that fateful night? Four-time MLS Cup champions DC United.
Breaking Down DC United
Record: 2-6-4, 10 pts, 19 GF, 24 GA, -5 GD
Standing: 11th in Eastern Conference (11 points below red line)
Current Form: D-L-D-W-L
Following consecutive fourth-place finishes in the Eastern Conference, DC United hit rock-bottom in 2017. Their 20 losses, -29 goal differential, and 32 points put them dead last in each category. Their 31 goals scored were tied for fewest in the league last year, while their 60 goals allowed were fourth most.
Accordingly, eighth-year head coach Ben Olsen partially overhauled his roster in the offseason, moving familiar faces Bill Hamid, Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Lamar Neagle, Lloyd Sam and Patrick Nyarko out of the nation’s capital. Attacking midfielder Yamil Asad and veteran forward Darren Mattocks highlighted the winter arrivals for DC on offense. Asad was brought in on loan from Velez, his home club in Argentina, by way of Atlanta United FC where he spent 2017. In his first MLS season, he scored 7 goals and dished out 13 assists for the Five Stripes’ potent attack. He’s already scored five and assisted on two more for DC while playing on the left side of the midfield.
Mattocks, the Jamaican international acquired from Portland, scored just four goals in 24 appearances (11 starts) last season for Timbers FC, but the physical striker already has seven goals in 10 starts for the Red and Black. In fact, he’s scored in four straight — and in 5 of his last 6 — league matches. Compared to 2017, Mattocks’ seven goals have already eclipsed the totals of last year’s DC United season co-leaders Luciano Acosta and Patrick Mullins, each with just five scores. In his third season with the club, former Revolution forward Mullins has two goals and an assist in 9 appearances (2 starts) as Mattocks’ backup.
Fellow Argentinian and Boca Juniors’ product Acosta, in his third season with DC, joins Asad as the primary playmaker, operating more centrally for the Red and Black. His six assists on the year are already tied with last year’s leader, the departed Sam. The right side of the DC United midfield is patrolled by US international Paul Arriola, now in first full season with the club following his transfer from Liga MX side Tijuana. He’s scored twice and assisted on five others while also working in a box-to-box role in place of the injured Ulises Segura. The former Saprissa midfielder is currently on the disabled list. Hungarian international Zoltan Stieber, in his first full season after spending time in the Bundesliga, has two goals and three assists playing on the right flank.
Midfielder Chris Durkin, now in his third full season with DC, has finally become a regular starter, cracking the lineup seven times as a holding mid in Olsen’s 4-1-4-1 formation. DC United’s youngest-ever Homegrown shares duty with Venezuelan international Junior Moreno, who was acquired early in 2018 from Venezuelan first-division side Zulia FC.
The centerpiece of DC’s backline is fifth-year centerback Steve Birnbaum. He’s joined by former NYCFC defender Frederic Brillant in the absence of another fifth-year centerback, Kofi Opare, who’s been out all year with an ankle injury. Veteran Nick DeLeon, now in his seventh year with the the Red and Black, can play both outside back positions, but he’s primarily been on the right. The former winger, however, has been out with a knee injury for a couple of weeks. Jamaican international Oniel Fisher, acquired from Sounders FC earlier this year, has started on the right in DeLeon’s stead. Costa Rican Joseph Mora, formerly of Saprissa, has made eight starts this season, mostly at left back.
Longtime Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted has taken over for Hamid between the sticks. In his nine starts, though, he’s only saved 61% of shots faced without recording a clean sheet. Former Crew SC netminder Steve Clark, in just three starts, has a 73% save rate and a shutout in his account.
DC United have had an irregular start to their season, playing ten of their first twelve on the road as they await the opening of Audi Field next month. Their two home matches have been played at the Maryland Soccerplex. With just a dozen matches under their belt, the Red and Black have four games in hand over most Eastern Conference teams. With that in mind, the club’s playoff position—DC stands 11 points south of the red line—doesn’t look so bad after all.
Breaking Down New England
Record: 6-4-6, 24 pts, +4
Standing: 5th in Eastern Conference (6 points above red line)
Current Form: D-D-W-D-D
New England is coming off a 2-2 draw at San Jose in their last league match from over two weeks ago. The Revs fell behind early, scored two goals to take a 2-1 halftime lead, then gave up the equalizer just after the break. Despite 35 total shots on the night, neither team could snap the deadlock in the final 40 minutes. First-year coach Brad Friedel and a few players rued the result after the match, feeling as if two points were dropped.
The Revs came out in a 4-4-2, with first-time captain and assists leader Diego Fagundez lined up adjacent to top team goalscorer Teal Bunbury at forward. Cristian Penilla started on the left midfield flank, with Krisztian Nemeth making his third start as his opposite number on the right. Luis Caicedo and Kelyn Rowe deployed centrally, with Rowe dropping a bit deeper into the defensive midfield. Recently benched Gabriel Somi got the start at his normal left back spot in the absence of the suspended Claude Dielna. Andrew Farrell remained on the right, while Jalil Anibaba and Antonio Delamea got the call once again at centerback. Matt Turner made his 16th straight start in goal.
New England’s occasional high pressure didn’t seem to trouble San Jose all that much. The visitors’ goals came from a set piece and a counterattack. However, their high line certainly provided ample operating space for the Quakes in the attacking half, which they exploited with moderate success all night.
The Revs have not lost in five straight, gaining four draws and a win. This match vs DC United is the first of three straight home games before New England closes out their season with ten of fifteen away from Gillette Stadium.
In nine home matches this season, the Revolution have averaged just under two goals per match while allowing exactly one goal on average per game. In ten road matches, DC United, on the other hand, have allowed more than two goals each match, on average, while averaging about one-and-a-half goals per game.
DC likes to counterattack with Mattocks and Asad leading the way, which could be problematic for the Revs backline which doesn’t close down well and isn’t great at one-on-one defending. However, New England likes to press and counter, as well, and a DC back four missing DeLeon and Opare could likewise be vulnerable.
By The Numbers
This is the 72nd all-time regular season meeting between these historic rivals. DC United leads the series with a 33-26-12 record. New England holds a 17-10-8 edge at home. New England hasn’t won in seven straight and eight-of-nine vs DC. Their last win was a 2-1 home victory in 2014. All three home matches since then have resulted in draws. The Revs have only scored two goals in their last five matches vs the Red and Black dating back to 2015.
With the new Audi Field under construction, DC United has only played two “home” matches in the DC area. They’ve already been on the road for ten games and have a 1-6-3 record. Their only road win came at San Jose — the Revs’ last opponent — in mid May. DC is winless in three straight away from home. They’ve also been outscored 22-16 at road venues in 2018.
The Revolution are 5-2-2 at Gillette Stadium and are unbeaten in four of their last five at home. Overall, New England has just one win in their past five matches, but they are unbeaten in all five. DC United has won just once in their last six league matches.
Of the Revolution’s 27 goals this season, six have been scored just before halftime, while another seven have occurred in the final fifteen minutes of the match. New England has allowed four goals after the 75th minute.
Of DC United’s 19 goals scored this season, 11 have been scored in the first half, with five in the first 15 minutes. Another five have been scored after the 75th minute. However, they’ve also allowed five opposition goals in the final 15 minutes. D.C. has given up three scores right after the break.
DC United has scored 16 goals in ten matches away from home this season. They’ve allowed 22 goals on the road, which is more than two per match.
The Revolution are undefeated when scoring first at 5-0-2. Conversely, DC United is just 2-3-2 after scoring the opening goal.
New England is 1-4-4 in matches in which they’ve conceded first, but the Red and Black are winless with a 0-3-2 record when conceding first.
DC United has a 1-3-2 record vs. Eastern Conference teams. New England has a 3-3-4 mark against the East.
The teams meet for the second and final time in 2018 at the new Audi Field in mid August.
How to Watch
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 30
Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: NBC Sports Boston (Boston); NewsChannel 8 (DC)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub (Boston); WILC 900 AM (in Spanish) (DC)
Streaming: MLS Live (now on ESPN+)
Fire hope to stay on upward trajectory vs. NYCFC
FOX Sports – June 28, 2018
The Chicago Fire will try to stretch their unbeaten streak to five games when they host New York City FC on Saturday night at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
Chicago (5-7-5) has 20 points in 17 games and sits just outside the top six playoff spots in the Eastern Conference as the season’s second half commences. The Fire are coming off three straight draws against the Seattle Sounders, Colorado Rapids and New England Revolution, as well as a win earlier this month over the San Jose Earthquakes.
Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic senses positive momentum building during the team’s unbeaten streak.
“I think the pieces are fitting together better and I think the guys now know better each other,” Paunovic said to his team’s official website. “I’m talking about the new players, who had opportunity to play, who actually needed time to get on the same page with the old guys. It’s getting to the point where we are understanding much better each other, and now the team actually plays more as a team.”
A new energy also is developing for New York City FC (9-3-4), which will mark its second game under new coach Domenec Torrent. The club’s previous coach, Patrick Vieira, headed to France to accept the top job with Nice.
Torrent watched as his players posted a 2-1 win over Toronto FC on Sunday evening. New York City FC is unbeaten in its past three games and has lost only one of its past six.
Jo Inge Berget scored both goals for New York City FC in its most recent win. The 27-year-old forward from Norway has three goals in 13 games this season.
“We have to play a little quicker,” Torrent said to his team’s official website. “Sometimes in the first (half), we passed the ball and nothing happened. Everybody knows we have a player like Jo, he’s able to play like a striker, sometimes we play quick, long ball, set the ball and attack and attack quickly. It’s the best way.”
New York City FC could be without forward David Villa, who has a right knee injury. Injured defensemen Cedric Houtondji (hamstring) and Ronald Matarrita (hamstring) also could miss the game.
The Fire will remain without several injured players, including defenseman Matt Polster, forward Michael de Leeuw and midfielder Djordje Mihailovic. All three players are recovering from knee surgeries.
Chicago is led in scoring by midfielder Aleksandar Katai and forward Nemanja Nikolic, who have six goals apiece. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger leads the team with five assists.
Meanwhile, Villa leads New York FC with eight goals, three of which have been game-winners. Forward Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is next on the club with seven goals, and midfielder Maximiliano Moralez has six goals and a team-leading seven assists.
New York City FC has a 3-1-3 edge in the all-time series. The teams played to a 1-all tie in their last meeting on Sept. 30.
Chicago is 3-4-2 at home. New York City FC is 2-3-3 on the road.
With MLS playoffs still in reach, Fire must pick up the pace
Chicago Daily Herald – June 27, 2018
It doesn't take a thesaurus to sum up the first half of the Chicago Fire's season.
"Mediocre" works just fine. Throw in "enigmatic" for good measure.
The Fire has played very well at times. Just not often enough.
The Fire has played poorly at times. Fortunately, not too much.
You never know what you'll get from this team, but we know what we've gotten.
Seventeen games into a 34-game regular season, the Fire is 5-7-5 for 20 points, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference of MLS. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs.
"For my money it's not good enough," Fire captain Dax McCarty said earlier this week. "We shouldn't be happy or satisfied with where we're at. That's something that I think in the locker room we feel that. We recognize that. ... But we also have to realize that we're right in the middle of the playoff race. We're not out of it."
Last year the New York Red Bulls earned the sixth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs with 50 points. The Fire is on pace for 40 points. That's a drop from last season, when it earned the third-best regular-season record in MLS before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
"We gave away 7, 8 points at least," German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. "Very simple. If you could add 7, 8 points in our standings, we would probably be a little bit more happier."
Actually, the team and its fans would be a lot happier. Unfortunately, that's not how MLS works.
"We have to feel good about the fact that we started the season poorly and we're starting to play a little bit better. And now the results just have to match the play on the field," McCarty added.
They can also feel good about reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Considering their status as a borderline MLS playoff team, the Open Cup looks like the Fire's best chance at a trophy this season.
Injuries and a lack of impact players on the roster are the big reason the Fire enters the second half of the season needing to play catchup. On the bright side, Fire midfielders Michael de Leeuw and Lemont native Djordje Mihailovic, each of whom tore an ACL late last season, worked with their teammates at training for the first time Tuesday and hope to be available for selection sometime in July.
The team will work them into the lineup slowly and carefully. They were among eight Fire players unable to go full tilt with their teammates Tuesday due to injury.
The lack of quality will be aided by the return of de Leeuw and Mihailovic, but the Fire also needs to be busy in the summer transfer window, which opens July 10. The Fire has one more designated player spot it can fill on the roster, and another impact player or two looks like what this club needs to win its first playoff game since 2009.
The Fire also has to decide whether to extend the loan that brought Aleksandar Katai here from Spanish side Deportivo Alaves or buy his contract outright. That decision is due Saturday, but team president/general manager Nelson Rodriguez offered no guidance on the choice Tuesday.
Katai is tied for the team lead with 6 goals and also has 3 assists. The 27-year-old is the only player on the roster with the technical skills to consistently create his own shot.
Without more players like Katai, the Fire must continue to rely more on effort and character than pure skill.
"We're a never-giving-up team," Schweinsteiger said. "We came back in a lot of games."
Added coach Veljko Paunovic: "The team have more pieces to play and more guys who know and understand each other and who know how to get 3 points, how to win and how to perform."
The Fire has 17 more games to show that never-say-die attitude, starting with Saturday's home game against second-place New York City FC (7 p.m., ESPN+).
Union-Los Angeles FC Preview
FOX Sports – June 29, 2018
After experiencing the first slump of its inaugural season, Los Angeles FC is heating up again without its best player as a new scoring option emerges.
LAFC looks to win its third straight match and remain unbeaten at Banc of California Stadium, where it faces the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.
Heading into the weekend, LAFC (8-4-3) is in third place in the Western Conference, five points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City. LAFC has picked up 12 of a possible 18 points at home thanks to a 3-0-3 record.
The club posted its second straight victory after a four-game winless skid with a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew last Saturday. Defender Laurent Ciman scored his third goal of the season — all on free kicks — in the fourth minute and Adama Diamonde capped the scoring in the eighth minute.
Diamonde, a Norwegian striker, has four goals in three games to provide a scoring punch while Carlos Vela (seven goals, five assists) is playing for Mexico at the World Cup.
“He’s a big, strong dude, obviously has a nose for the goal, and he gives us something extra up there with his hold-up ability and his speed and his strength,” LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber told the league’s official website. “He gives us another aspect of the game that helps is a lot in keeping possession and creating chances.”
And Diamonde says he can be better.
“I would say (I need better) sharpness with the ball. … It’s just the small details (that need to come),” he said.
Philadelphia (6-7-3) holds the final playoff spot in Eastern Conference, but things could shake out this weekend. The Chicago Fire are one point behind Philadelphia, Orlando City SC trails by two points and the Montreal Impact are three back.
The Union are 1-5-1 on the road, including four shutout losses.
Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin will face LAFC’s Bob Bradley for the first time. Curtin played for Bradley in 2000 and 2001 with the Chicago Fire.
“It will feel strange,” Curtin told philly.com. “The environment that he created in Chicago, I owe a lot of my coaching career (to). … A guy that I look up to a great deal, not only for on-the-field things I learned there, but also off the field, what it means to be a leader of men.”
Philadelphia looks to build off a 4-0 home win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last Saturday. Borek Dockal scored twice for his first multi-goal game in MLS and Ilsinho and Fafa Picault scored on penalty kicks.
Dockal, a Czech native, leads the club with five goals, including three game-winners, and has six assists. Fellow midfielder Ilsinho has four goals.
Borek Dockal makes history, Jim Curtin coaches against his mentor, and other Union observations
Philadelphia Inquirer – June 28, 2018
A few observations on the Union ahead of their first-ever game against Los Angeles FC on Saturday (8 p.m., PHL17):
• Borek Dockal’s player-of-the-week-winning performance against Vancouver was a rare feat, and not just because it was only the seventh time ever that a Union player won the award. The Czech playmaker received a perfect 10.00 rating from the analysts at WhoScored.com.
It’s the first time since WhoScored started tracking MLS data in 2013 that any Union player drew a perfect score. League-wide, it’s the 43rd time out of just under 55,000 recorded scores.
• Here’s an example of why C.J. Sapong can be so frustrating to watch: Six minutes into last weekend’s win over Vancouver, he had stationed himself at the edge of the six-yard box as Ilsinho received the ball from Keegan Rosenberry. Ilsinho turned to shoot, and ended up misfiring the ball to just in front of Sapong. Instead of reaching a leg out to shoot, Sapong moved to get out of the way of the ball.
If Sapong thought he was offside, he clearly wasn’t. If he thought he was trying to avoid stealing someone else’s goal, with all due respect, put the ball in the net and buy your teammate a meal later.
• Alejandro Bedoya can play well in more than one tactical style. He showed it against Vancouver when Warren Creavalle replaced the suspended Haris Medunjanin. When Medunjanin plays, Bedoya does a lot of defensive work so the Bosnian can dictate the tempo. Creavalle is a more traditional defensive midfielder whose main job is to break up opponents’ plays. Bedoya thus became involved in the attack.
Compare Bedoya’s touch map against Vancouver (left) to his touch map in the Open Cup win over the Red Bulls (right), the last game he played with Medunjanin:
• Curtin will coach against his old coach, Bob Bradley, for the first time on Saturday. Curtin’s playing career started with Bradley’s Chicago Fire in 2001 and 2002.
“It will feel strange,” Curtin said. “The environment that he created in Chicago, I owe a lot of my coaching career [to]. … A guy that I look up to a great deal, not only for on-the-field things I learned there, but also off the field, what it means to be a leader of men.”
• The Union are fortunate to be facing LAFC when their star playmaker Carlos Vela is at the World Cup with Mexico. Vela has seven goals and five assists this season, and according to WhoScored is the seventh-best chance creator in MLS with 2.7 per game. Dockal ranks No. 6 with 2.6 per game.
• When you watch the game, take a moment to admire LAFC’s new Banc of California Stadium. It’s across the street from the L.A. Coliseum, and a short walk from one of the city’s light rail lines.
Yes, the soccer stadium in Los Angeles has better public transit access than the one near Philadelphia. And yes, that matters to many soccer fans here who find going to Union games to be too much of a hassle to be worth the effort.
Earthquakes look to end winless streak vs. Galaxy
FOX Sports – June 28, 2018
The San Jose Earthquakes have stopped the losing streak. Now they’ll try to find the win column.
A month after falling 1-0 to the LA Galaxy, the Earthquakes will host their California Classico rivals on Saturday at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif.
Forward Danny Hoesen has scored all three San Jose goals in the past two games, draws with New England and Real Salt Lake, to end a four-game losing streak.
Hoesen scored the equalizer in the 64th minute at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 23 to earn the Quakes (2-9-5) a 1-1 draw against RSL.
“As a striker, people look at goals and assists,” Hoesen said, according to the MLS website. “I’m having a good season numbers-wise.”
Hoesen has eight goals in his last 10 matches and a team-leading 10 goals in 2018 MLS play, but he wasn’t particularly happy with his game in Salt Lake City.
“Ten is a good number,” he said. “I don’t think my performance was any good today, but I scored. So, for me, that’s a good moment.”
The Quakes’ last win came almost two months ago when they won 3-1 on the road at Minnesota United on May 12.
For the Galaxy (6-7-2), Saturday’s game will be their first in league play since a 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake on June 9.
In the interim — and in the midst of the MLS’s World Cup break — the Galaxy fell out of the U.S. Open Cup with a 1-0 loss at Portland in the Round of 16.
“I didn’t think we started the game well,” LA coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought Portland was the better team at the beginning, probably deservedly took a lead. I thought the second half was better. I thought even the last 15 minutes of the first half were better. But for some reason we came out a little bit tentative. Maybe it was Portland playing a slightly different formation, and it took us a little bit of time to adjust.”
On Saturday, the Galaxy will be without brothers Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos, who are participating in the World Cup with Mexico.
San Jose will be missing Harold Cummings and Anibal Godoy, both of the Panamanian team.
The Earthquakes, who will be halfway through the season after Saturday, are sitting in last place with 11 points, 12 behind sixth-place Vancouver.
LA is in eighth place, three points below the playoff cutline.
San Jose Earthquakes head coach Mikael Stahre sees benefits in formation adjustments
Pro Soccer USA – June 28, 2018
SAN JOSE, Calif. — After tying their last two games, the San Jose Earthquakes are at a crossroads when it comes to results. On one hand, they are not losing, which was their fate in the four previous games. But on the other hand, their failure to win has seen them drop to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
The Quakes are certainly searching for some level of consistency — their 2-9-5 record marks the worst start to a season in the MLS era — and even earning a point per game would be a marked improvement, but everyone within the organization expects more.
For head coach Mikael Stahre, the nightmare start to his time in MLS is something the Swedish manager is looking to put behind him. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake, a team that had won six straight at Rio Tinto Stadum prior to the Earthquakes’ visit, was another step in the right direction in his assessment, and he’s using a full week of training at the team’s training facility just outside Avaya Stadium to build on those advances.
“We have to look at the entire game against Salt Lake and find the positives, even the small things,” Stahre told Pro Soccer USA. “Now we have played two games in a row where we have broken that negative record of lots of defeats. It is always hard to play on the road in MLS, and they are a very good home team. It was a decent performance, for sure.”
During the past few games, Stahre has adjusted the team’s formation to resemble a more familiar 4-4-2. In games against Los Angeles FC and the New England Revolution, he used a diamond formation in the midfield, pushing Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili to the point and keeping Florian Jungwirth as his true defensive midfielder. For the contest against RSL, the midfield line was often collapsed more into a flat four, as the Quakes looked to defend more effectively on the road.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Stahre said. “When you play at home against LAFC and New England, we wanted to use a little bit more of an offensive approach, a direct approach, and more use of the longer ball. But in the last game, we couldn’t press as high or use as direct an approach because of their side, so we took the decision to change the shape a little bit. Vako was still in a higher position, for sure, but he did drop a little bit more into the normal 4-4-2 shape in that game.”
The switch to the 4-4-2, regardless of whether Vako plays in an advanced position or not, has proved more effective for the Earthquakes attacking duo of Danny Hoesen and Chris Wondolowski, who together have scored six goals in the last four games. Hoesen now has 10 goals on the season, including two against the Revs, and is tied for third best in MLS.
“I must say that, you know, we can still expect more,” Stahre said, “but if you look at Danny Hoesen, who has scored 10 goals and Wondo with four goals, they are getting their chances. I think we can expect more goals from both, and we can expect more points from Vako. He is doing better and better in his position behind the two strikers.”
Vako scored the opening goal against LAFC, and he has been a critical part of the Earthquakes buildup on offense. The more direct style of play that Stahre has instituted of late has also been energizing to Wondolowski, who before had struggled to find his scoring touch in a system that demanded a more methodical possession based style. The coach is pleased to see his captain respond in such a positive way to the formation change.
“Chris is a guy that is leading by action,” Stahre said. “He is a warrior. He is always the first in the line, and his effort is absolutely brilliant. Especially now, when we’ve changed our style to be a little more direct, he is playing higher up, which means that he can also express himself better on the field. It’s hard to be a leader if you are struggling, then you have to deal with the team and you have to deal with yourself. And now when he is doing better again, and he is playing in his position higher up, he can press and chase and set the tone as the leader.”
The 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake was also important in that it marked the first time this month the Quakes conceded fewer than two goals. Stahre is well aware that his team has yet to record a shutout this season, but he was encouraged by the effort of the defense to keep RSL from breaking open a tight game. Their next opponent, the LA Galaxy, have an even more potent offense, and Stahre knows his back line will be tested this Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
Injuries have also hampered the coach’s ability to field a more consistent defense, and the team added central midfielder Kevin Partida on a season-long loan from USL affiliate Reno 1868 FC to help at left back. Stahre will have some help for this weekend, as both Shea Salinas and Joel Qwiberg return to the squad, but the coach would not say who would get the start against the Galaxy.
“We will see,” Stahre said. “Shea will be available for selection, and from my perspective, Joel had a little bit of a problem after the Portland game, but he is now available too.”
Salinas was the hero of last year’s California Clasico at Stanford, scoring in dramatic fashion to give the Quakes a thrilling 2-1 victory in front of over 50,000 fans. The 11-year MLS veteran may get his chance to repeat his magical moment if Stahre inserts him back in the starting eleven. Otherwise, it will likely be Partida making the start in front of the biggest crowd he has ever played for.
The Quakes are not expected to have Anibal Godoy and Harold Cummings back for the match against the Galaxy. Although Panama has been eliminated from the World Cup, the players will need time to travel from Russia and recover from the experience. Both are expected to be available for San Jose’s following game, at the Portland Timbers on July 7.
Frustration continues to build for Toronto FC as veterans have “grown silent”
The Athletic – June 29, 2018
One by one in the 68th minute of last Sunday’s game, three of Toronto FC’s attacking players keeled over.
TFC was tied 1-1 against New York City FC. A pass from midfielder Marky Delgado was out of the reach of Victor Vazquez, who immediately stopped, grabbed his shorts and bent over due to what appeared to be exhaustion.
Even as the pass was casually intercepted, forward Sebastian Giovinco and midfielder Nicolas Hasler stopped, doubled over and gave up on the play. NYCFC quickly moved the ball through the midfield and countered with a goal to go up 2-1. The fatigue on TFC’s part was obvious.
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Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls | 2018 MLS Match Preview
MLSsoccer.com – June 28, 2018
For the first time since a contentious Eastern Conference Semifinal series and that now infamous halftime tunnel tussle, Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls meet at BMO Field. Both teams, though, look vastly different several months removed from that incident.
The Red Bulls sit in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, five points behind Supporters Shield leaders Atlanta United after losing just once in their last nine league games.
The Reds, meanwhile, have just one win in their last five games, and are 14 points behind the Red Bulls and six below the playoff line in the East. Still, Toronto have lost just one of their last six league meetings with the Red Bulls (3W-2D), averaging 2.0 goals per game, per Opta.
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Toronto (4-8-3) didn’t look refreshed after a World Cup break, appearing gassed in the second half of a 2-1 loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium Sunday.
The start, though, was a positive one for the Reds, who took a 1-0 lead on Victor Vazquez's 37th-minute chip and were unlucky to not have a two-goal lead at the break after Jonathan Osorio hit the woodwork. But Jo Inge Berget struck for a second-half brace to lift NYCFC to the come-from-behind victory.
“First half was OK, I think both teams had a fair number of chances in the first half,” Greg Vanney said. “Again, I think, as a group, as the game progresses and evolves, we need to just continue as a group to evolve with the game, continuing to work through different guys showing up in different places, communicating to one another, continuing to work through the tough moments.”
Suspended after next caution: None
International duty: None
Injury Report: OUT: F - Jozy Altidore (foot surgery), D - Drew Moor (quadricep strain), D - Chris Mavinga (hamstring strain), GK - Caleb Patterson-Sewell (elbow injury); DOUBTFUL: D - Ashtone Morgan (hamstring strain)
Projected Starting XI
(4-1-4-1, right to left)
GK: Alex Bono — Auro, Nick Hagglund, Gregory van der Wiel, Justin Morrow — Michael Bradley — Nicholas Hasler Jonathan Osorio, Victor Vazquez, Marky Delgado — Sebastian Giovinco
Notes: Vazquez has tallied a MLS-best four assists in the month of June. He had two assists in the first three months of the 2018 season. … Toronto FC have lost four of their last eight MLS matches (2W-2D). They lost five league games in all of 2017.
New York Red Bulls
New York (9-4-2) played with 10 men for nearly 60 minutes when Daniel Royer was sent off following Video Review, but the Red Bulls played with more energy than FC Dallas and came away with an impressive 3-0 victory at Red Bull Arena Saturday night.
Before Royer’s straight red card, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 11th goal of the season. Aaron Long doubled the Red Bulls' lead with a volley off a Sean Davis corner kick before halftime. Kemar Lawrence put the finishing touches on a quality win with his first of the season three minutes into the second half.
“What it was was a show of our character,” Jesse Marsch said. “We talk a lot around here about our style of play and our tactics and all the different things that we try to be about from a soccer, technical perspective. But this was more to do about the character of the group and their commitment and their mentality and their will on the day to play for each other and do whatever it was going to take.”
Suspended: M - Daniel Royer
Suspended after next caution: None
International duty: D - Fidel Escobar, D - Michael Murillo
Injury Report: OUT: D - Kyle Duncan (torn right ACL), M - Vincent Bezecourt (MCL sprain), GK - Ryan Meara (knee injury)
Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Lus Robles — Connor Lade, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence — Tyler Adams, Sean Davis — Florian Valot, Kaku, Alex Muyl — Bradley Wright-Phillips
Notes: Wright-Philips has scored 10 times in 13 career appearances against the Reds. He has scored more goals against just one MLS club (11 against NYCFC). … The Red Bulls are coming off a 3-0 win over FC Dallas last weekend, tied for their largest margin of victory in a league game where they have received a red card since 2010. They have lost just once in their last nine games in MLS play (6W-2D).
Overall: Toronto FC 8 wins, 33 goals … New York Red Bulls 13 wins, 54 goals … 7 draws
At Toronto: Toronto FC 6 wins, 23 goals … Red Bulls 3 wins, 19 goals … 5 draws
Last meeting at Toronto: Toronto FC 4, New York Red Bulls 2 (Sept. 30, 2017)
Referee: Chico Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Kyle Atkins, Jonathan Johnson
4th Official: Silviu Petrescu
VAR: Jon Freemon
J.J. Adams: ‘Big Man’ Kendall Waston back on campus with the Whitecaps
The Province – June 28, 2018
The Vancouver Whitecaps’ training room at UBC erupted in cheers and joy Wednesday morning, triggered into a jubilant, chaotic mass of players after seeing their captain score for Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Kendall Waston, who scored the huge goal to put the Ticos into the 2018 World Cup, had been rooted to the bench in his country’s first two games. In his first minutes of the tournament, he scored the first — and, technically, only — goal for Costa Rica in a 2-2 tie with Switzerland.
“The big man. Big man,” said Caps striker Kei Kamara. “From the Headmaster to another, the man’s a beast. I said it before going into the World Cup. It’s tough to not see him play more minutes, but … I said when he comes on, when he gets his chance, he’s definitely going to put one in.
“His celebration just really shows how much it means to him. For a player to play in the World Cup — or even to be named for their nation — it’s amazing. He’s done it not once, big goals. That’s a goal I’m going to remember, saying ‘that’s somebody I played with, that’s my teammate for years.’”
The Ticos went winless in group play, but were a fine line from victory in all three matches. They were blanked 1-0 by Serbia and 2-0 by Brazil, but both of Brazil’s goals came in injury time.
Costa Rica had the Swiss on the ropes, banging shots off the crossbar, but settled for the tie when team captain Bryan Ruiz’s injury-time penalty kick bounced off the crossbar and off the back of diving Switzerland keeper Yann Sommer and in, going into the books as an own goal.
Waston’s goal came off a corner kick, with the 6-4 defender starting high in the box, shedding the mark of Borussia Dortmund centre-back Manuel Akanji, then rising to nail the header in the 56th minute.
“Big for the big man. He deserved it; I thought he deserved more playing time,” said Caps’ centre-back Doneil Henry. “It’s a testament to his selfless attitude and his love for the game. He got his opportunity, and he did well for his country. That’s the dream Kendall wanted, and I’m glad that he got it.
“If you knew Kendall, and his personality, his perseverance, and what he does on a day-to-day basis, he’s a threat at any level in the box. To score goals, his physique, yes, it helps him a lot, but his willingness and how determined he is to attack every ball … it’s not easy to defend.”
The Whitecaps (6-6-5) needed something positive after returning from the World Cup break with a thud, putting forth a listless performance in a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia last weekend. They host the Colorado Rapids (3-9-3), the league’s only team without a road win (0-5-3) on Sunday in a Canada Day showdown at B.C. Place Stadium (4 p.m., TSN, TSN 1040 AM) looking to return to the form they showed in the six-game unbeaten streak leading up to last Saturday’s game with the Union.
“It definitely wasn’t the way we wanted to come back from the break,” said Kamara. “But it’s a wake-up call.”
Kamara added: “We’d done well for five or six games … and we go for the away game and we let that many goals in. They were ready. They played their home game right.
“We wanted to make sure we were defending right so we had a chance to attack, but that didn’t come. That didn’t click as well as we wanted. And they were on top of us at the end of the day.”
The Union’s high press forced the Caps on the defensive from the start, with Philly coach Jim Curtin negating Vancouver’s most dangerous offensive players by forcing them to defend. The Caps didn’t manage a shot on target all game, getting outshot 25-2 overall.
“When Kei Kamara is defending inside their 18-yard box, with Alphonso Davies, that’s the best defence we can have,” Curtin said post-game.
What Vancouver’s defence will look like this weekend is still shrouded in secrecy. Waston will be back from Russia — Costa Rica’s final game was Wednesday — and available, but coach Carl Robinson will be careful in the minutes he doles out to Waston, given the jet-lag and intense training he had in Russia.
Jose Aja is suspended for the game after earning a red card last weekend — Yordy Reyna is also out for the same reason — leaving just Henry as the only definite starter. Whether it’s Waston or Aaron Maund — who started the first four games of the season, but has sat 13 straight since — slotting in beside Henry has yet to be determined.
There are also question marks on the left, where Brek Shea started three consecutive games, as Marcel De Jong is available after missing three games in a row with injury, as is Brett Levis.
The defensive alignment might be the most critical component currently for the Caps, as only two teams have conceded more goals than their 16 in their past seven games. Orlando, losers of seven straight, have given up 19 goals in that span.
Eleventh-place Colorado, who have scored the second-fewest goals in MLS (19) have surrendered 17 in seven games.
Having Waston back will be a big boost for the Caps, even if he doesn’t play. His presence in the locker room is unifying and positive. Kamara’s humorous answer as to who the real headmaster on the team proves that.
“I’m great at headers,” grinned Kamara. “He’s good at headers … it’s a big difference.
“But then again, one header goal in the World Cup just gave him 100 goals ahead of me. But it’s beautiful, it’s the World Cup, it’s the biggest stage in soccer, and for our captain … for what he’s done and achieved, it’s an amazing thing.”
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids | 2018 MLS Match Preview
MLSsoccer.com – June 28, 2018
The winless streak is no more for the Colorado Rapids, who dramatically defeated Minnesota United, 3-2, for their first victory since April 14 — an agonizing stretch of nine winless games.
They head to BC Place to take on an angry Vancouver Whitecaps FC side that had a six-match unbeaten streak snapped Saturday night in a 4-0 drubbing by the Philadelphia Union.
Vancouver has gotten a result in seven of their last eight league meetings with the Rapids (4W-1L-3D), scoring multiple goals in all of but two of those games, per Opta.
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Vancouver Whitecaps FC
After back-to-back wins preceded by four straight draws, Vancouver (6-6-5) suffered their second most lopsided loss of the season, falling to the Union, 4-0. The Whitecaps finished the match with nine men after Jose Aja and Yordy Reyna received red cards inside the final 20 minutes.
The ‘Caps were outshot 25-2 and failed to put an attempt on frame on a night to forget in Chester.
“Football is a strange game,” Robinson said. “Two weeks ago, we were on Cloud Nine and people thought we were at a certain level, which I knew we weren’t and this week people are disappointed, the players are disappointed and we’re not at that level either. We’re somewhere in between. It’s important you refocus and get back to work.”
Suspended: D - Jose Aja, M - Yordy Reyna
Suspended after next caution: D - Jose Aja, D - Kendall Waston
International duty: D - Kendall Waston
Injury Report: OUT: GK - Stefan Marinovic (left knee sprain); PROBABLE: D - Marcel de Jong (left hamstring strain)
Projected Starting XI
(4-4-2, right to left)
GK: Brian Rowe — Jake Nerwinski, Aly Ghazal, Doneil Henry, Brek Shea — Cristian Techera, Jordon Mutch, Felipe, Alphonso Davies — Kei Kamara, Anthony Blondell
Notes: In his last four games, Alphonso Davies has five goals+assists, four of which came in a 5-2 win against Orlando. He had five goals+assists in his first 47 appearances. … The Whitecaps have suffered just one home loss this season (3W-3D) and are sixth in MLS in both goals per home game (2.0) and xG per home game (2.3).
Trailing by a goal after 65 minutes, it looked like the Rapids (3-9-3) would suffer a similar fate as the last two months when they dropped eight games in a row. But Joe Mason leveled in the 74th minute and Miguel Ibarra was sent off for his part in a post-goal scrum. Tommy Smith then netted the dramatic winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time to lift Colorado to a 3-2 win over the Loons Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
First-year coach Anthony Hudson has lauded his team’s approach despite the doldrums and the Rapids were finally rewarded for their work. Now they’ll try to avenge a 2-1 defeat at Vancouver on June 1.
“We showed a huge amount of character to keep going and force the issue and force the result in the end,” Hudson said. “I think we’re showing some strong signs in these games, we’re taking leads and we’re coming back. We’re responding very well. The signs are good for us and I think we need to build on the character from what we showed on Saturday.”
Suspended after next caution: D - Danny Wilson
International duty: None
Injury Report: OUT: D - Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: Axel Sjoberg (concussion), D - Marlon Hairston (undisclosed injury)
Projected Starting XI
(3-5-2, right to left)
GK: Tim Howard — Deklan Wynne, Danny Wilson, Tommy Smith — Marlon Hairston, Johan Blomberg, Jack Price, Sam Nicholson, Edgar Castillo — Dominique Badji, Jack McBean
Notes: Last weekend, Jack Price became just the seventh Rapids player since 2010 to create 6+ chances in a MLS match and the first to do so since Shkëlzen Gashi in 2015. … The Rapids snapped a nine-game winless run with their 3-2 win last weekend. They have scored as many goals in their last two games (1W-1D) as they had in their prior eight (8L).
Overall: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 7 wins, 26 goals … Colorado Rapids 9 wins, 28 goals … 4 draws
At Vancouver: Whitecaps FC 6 wins, 20 goals … Rapids 2 wins, 13 goals … 3 draws
Last meeting at Vancouver: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Colorado Rapids 1 (Sept. 23, 2017)
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Eric Weisbrod, TJ Zablocki
4th Official: Daniel Radford
VAR: Katja Koroleva