Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Top Scorers and Standings

Top 10 Leading Scorers

1. Bradley Wright-Phillips (England) - New York Red Bulls - 17
2. Dom Dwyer (England) - Sporting Kansas City - 14
2. Erick Torres (Mexico) - Chivas USA - 14
4. Jermain Defoe (England) - Toronto FC - 11

5. Robbie Keane (Ireland) - LA Galaxy - 10
6. Clint Dempsey (USA) - Seattle Sounders - 9
7. Obafemi Martins (Nigeria) - Seattle Sounders - 8
7. Joao Plata (Ecuador) - Real Salt Lake - 8

7. Sebastien Le Toux (France) - Philadelphia Union - 8
7. Maximiliano Urruti (Argentina) - Portland Timbers - 8

Latest Standings

*Teams in red would make the playoffs if the regular season ended today

Monday, July 28, 2014

Impact's Struggles Continue and Big Week for Sporting KC

Beasley, Zusi and Besler

Busy week in MLS, and an even busier week here as evidenced by the fact that it's Tuesday morning and we're just now getting to the "Sunday" Soccer Blog. We'll try and get updated scoring leaders and standings out later in the week, but first a quick recap: DaMarcus Beasley is coming back to MLS where he'll suit up for the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo traded Warren Creaville for the rights to Beasley, the only American to play in four World Cups.

Meanwhile in Kansas City, amid speculation that Graham Zusi and Matt Besler might be headed overseas following their World Cup performances, both players signed on as Designated Players, as Sporting's odds of defending their title improved dramatically. It's an exciting turn of events if you're an MLS fan, as the league gets to keep some of its home grown talent. It also improves the likelihood of a successful Champions League run as Sporting gets set to take on Saprissa and Real Estelí starting in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Keane, Feilhaber, Wright-Phillips Pace High Scoring Week

Messi Messi Messi
Look, I LOVE watching Lionel Messi play. I think the man's just absolutely brilliant with a ball at his feet. That being said, was he really deserving of the Golden Ball in this year's World Cup? I guess it comes down to your interpretation of what the Golden Ball winner should be. Should it be the best player playing in the tournament, or the player who had the best tournament? Messi is arguably the best player in the world, but I don't think you can say that there weren't people who outplayed him in Brazil. Arjen Robben comes to mind, as does James Rodriguez, or even Thomas Muller. It just seemed like a cop-out to say that Messi, after an unspectacular 120 minute finale, should have been named the tournament's MVP.

MLS Week in Review 

Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa scored late in the second half last Sunday as the Seattle Sounders persevered with a 2-0 win over their rival, the Portland Timbers. With their U.S. Open Cup win over Portland last Wednesday it marked the second time in 5 days that Seattle had defeated the Timbers.

Conor Casey got Philadelphia on the board early, and Fred and Sebastien Le Toux added goals late as Philadelphia defeated New York 3-1 on Wednesday. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 16th goal of the season in a losing effort.
Benny Feilhaber delivered the game winner in the 93rd minute as Sporting Kansas City stole a 2-1 win in Columbus. C.J. Sapong opened the scoring in the first half, but Columbus was able to equalize after Aurelien Collin was sent off early in the second.

Jermain Defoe's second half penalty forced a draw between Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Caps struck first behind a goal from Darren Mattocks.

Robbie Keane scored 2 goals and added 2 assists as the Galaxy steamrolled the Revolution on Wednesday 5-1. Gyasi Zardes added a pair of goals of his own in a game that saw both LA's Dan Gargan and New England's AJ Soares sent off with straight red cards.

Argentineans Diego Valeri and Maximiliano Urruti each scored in the second half as the Timbers rallied for a 2-1 home win over the Colorado Rapids on Friday night.
Benny Feilhaber struck for the second time this week and Lawrence Olum added a goal as Sporting KC dealt the Galaxy their first loss since May, 2-1. Robbie Keane scored his third goal of the week in a losing effort.
Steven Lenhart's 85th minute tally denied the Red Bulls a home win as San Jose and New York played to a 1-1 draw. Bradley Wright-Phillips buried a penalty kick for his league leading 17th goal of the season.
Bernardo Anor scored a pair of goals to give the Crew a 2-1 win over Montreal in front of a sellout crowd in Columbus. The Venezuelan striker doubled his goal total for the year, finding the net for the first time since March 22nd. 38 year old Marco Di Vaio, who scored 20 goals for the Impact a year ago, scored his fourth goal of the season in a losing effort.
Sebastien Le Toux scored a stoppage time penalty as the Union stole a point from the Fire in a 1-1 draw. Jeff Larentowicz, now in his 10th MLS season, had put Chicago in the lead earlier in the second half with a header.
FC Dallas extended their unbeaten streak to five games as they cruised to a 2-0 win over New England at home. Andrew Escobar and rookie Tesho Akindele scored for Dallas. Akindele, the 6th overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft has three goals on the season.
Houston squandered another 2-goal lead, but this time salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC. Will Bruin and Giles Barnes scored for the Dynamo with Gilberto and Dominic Oduro finding the net for Toronto. All four goals were scored in the first half.
Joao Plata's 8th goal of the season gave Real Salt Lake a 1-1 tie against Vancouver. The 5'2" Ecuadorian's 81st minute strike negated an earlier goal from Darren Mattocks. Mattocks has just four goals on the season, but 2 in the last 5 days.
Eddie Johnson, Perry Kitchen and Luis Silva all scored for DC United as they soundly defeated Chivas USA 3-1. Erick Torres accounted for Chivas USA's only goal, the sixth straight match he's found the back of the net.

The All Stars

Here's a look at your 2014 MLS All-Stars, the 23-man squad was announced on Saturday:
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Goalkeeper: Bill Hamid (DC United)
Defender: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Defender: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Defender: DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Defender: Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)
Defender: Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC)
Defender: Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew)
Midfielder: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielder: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Midfielder: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
Midfielder: Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielder: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielder: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielder: Will Johnson (Portland Timbers)
Midfielder: Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
Forward: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Forward: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Forward: Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders)
Forward: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
Forward: Erick Torres (Chivas USA)
Forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
Forward: Jermain Defore (Toronto FC)

Top 10 Leading Scorers

1. Bradley Wright-Phillips (England) - New York Red Bulls - 17
2. Dom Dwyer (England) - Sporting Kansas City - 14
2. Erick Torres (Mexico) - Chivas USA - 14
4. Jermain Defoe (England) - Toronto FC - 11

5. Robbie Keane (Ireland) - LA Galaxy - 10
6. Clint Dempsey (USA) - Seattle Sounders - 9
7. Obafemi Martins (Nigeria) - Seattle Sounders - 8
7. Joao Plata (Ecuador) - Real Salt Lake - 8

7. Sebastien Le Toux (France) - Philadelphia Union - 8
10. 5 tied with 7

Latest Standings

Player Bio of the Week

The Chicago Fire announced the signing of Romanian midfielder Razvan Cocis this week, and I'll be honest, my first reaction was... who? So here's the lowdown on the attacking central midfielder. Now 31 years old, Cocis has played for a number of clubs since his professional debut in 2001 including FC Universitatea Cluj (Romania), FC Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova), Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia), Politehnica Timisoara (Romania), Al-Nassr FC (Saudi Arabia), FC Karpaty Lviv (Ukraine), FC Rostov (Russia), and FC Hoverla Uzhhorod (Ukraine). He's tallied 56 goals for his career and finished 3rd in the Moldovan National Division in scoring in 2004-05 and 2005-06 with 12 and 10 goals respectively. He helped FC Sheriff Tiraspol to a pair of championships during his tenure with the club albeit with early Champions League exits. He has appeared in 50 matches for the Romanian National Team bagging goals against Armenia in a 2006 friendly and the Faroe Islands in a 1-0 win in 2008 during the 2010 World Cup Qualification. Cocis last appeared in a Romanian jersey in the final match of World Cup Qualifying for 2014 where they fell to Greece 4-2 on the aggregate and missed the final spot in Brazil. He joins a Chicago squad that has missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and currently find themselves in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. That said, they are in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals next month, but they must figure out a way to solve the Seattle Sounders.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The World Cup is Over... MLS Week in Review

Germany Wins the World Cup

What an epic finish to just a sensational World Cup. Mario Götze, the 22 year old Bayern Munich striker, delivered just a clinical finish in the second half of extra time to give the Germans a 1-0 win, and their first World Cup title since 1990. It wasn't the high-scoring affair that we all might have wanted, but it wasn't short on entertainment. Ultimately, Argentina just didn't create enough chances in the attacking third, and they coughed away some of the ones they did have. Still, they can hold their heads high knowing they played a really strong tournament. Germany just played a better one. Now sadly we wait for four more years until Russia, 2018.

U.S. Open Cup Semifinals Set

The semifinal pairings for the 2014 U.S. Open Cup are set with FC Dallas set to take on the Philadelphia Union on August 12th, and the Seattle Sounders hosting the Chicago Fire on August 13th.

Philadelphia defeated New England 2-0 behind Sebastien Le Toux's 14th career U.S. Open Cup Goal. Le Toux now is the tournament's all-time leading scorer in the modern era (1995-present).

Dallas got all they can handle from the Charlotte RailHawks in a high scoring affair. Down 1-0 early, Dallas got three goals from Blas Pérez and a goal and two assists from Fabián Castillo en route to a 5-2 win.

Chicago got late goals from Jeff Larentowicz and Alex to defeate a plucky Atlanta Silverbacks squad 3-1. Chicago lost Mike Magee to a red card though and will be without him for their semifinal match against the Sounders.

Seattle saw Darlington Nagbe steal a win from them late in stoppage time with a dramatic equalizer, but Kenny Cooper, tied for the lead with a tournament-high four goals, headed in the game winner in extra time after Portland had gone a man down. Marco Pappa added an insurance goal a few minutes later to send Seattle through 3-1.

MLS Weekly Recap

DC United defeated San Jose 2-1 on Friday behind goals from former U.S. National Teamer Eddie Johnson and Luis Silva. Chris Wondolowski, in his first game back from the World Cup, scored his sixth goal of the year in a losing effort.

Thierry Henry had a goal and three assists giving him 37 for his career in a New York uniform making him the franchise's all-time leader as New York routed Columbus 4-1. Bradley Wright-Phillips, a former Manchester City product, added his league leading 15th goal of the season.

Jermain Defoe, who scored for England in the 2010 World Cup, bagged a pair of goals in the second half as Toronto came back from being 2-0 down to defeat the Houston Dynamo 4-2. U.S. World Cup veteran Brad Davis scored twice for Houston in the first half.

After scoring just 7 goals in his first 5 MLS seasons, Quincy Amarikwa is in the midst of a break-out season in 2014. The 26 year-old striker tallied his sixth goal of the season to give Chicago a 1-0 win over New England. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson denied Chris Tierney on a PK late in the match to preserve the win and earn the shutout.

22 year-old Gyasi Zardes scored the only goal of the match as the LA Galaxy extended their unbeaten streak to 7 games with a 1-0 victory over Nick Rimando and Real Salt Lake. Rimando saved a late penalty to keep the game close, but Real Salt Lake was unable to find an equalizer.

Colorado rallied from a 3-1 deficit to draw with the Philadelphia Union 3-3 on Saturday. Jamaican-born Deshorn Brown scored in the 86th minute to even up the score and break the hearts of the Philadelphia faithful. Argentinian midfielder Cristian Maidana, in his first MLS season, delivered his 8th assist of the year for the Union, second in the league behind Henry's 9.

Dom Dwyer scored two more goals, giving him 14 on the year, as Kansas City defeated Montreal 2-1. Dwyer has 6 goals this year against the Impact, the last of which came in the 89th minute of this match to break a 1-1 tie. Unfortunately for American soccer fans, if you're hoping Dom Dwyer is the future for U.S. strikers, Dwyer is English.

Erick Torres, on loan to Chivas USA from Guadalajara (Mexico), scored for the fifth straight match as Chivas USA defeated Vancouver 3-1. Vancouver's Jordan Harvey sustained a costly red card in the 69th minute of the match with the game still tied at 1. The Whitecaps were unable to hang on after going a man down.


Top 10 Leading Scorers
1. Bradley Wright-Phillips (England) - New York Red Bulls - 15
2. Dom Dwyer (England) - Sporting Kansas City - 14
3. Erick Torres (Mexico) - Chivas USA - 13
4. Jermain Defoe (England) - Toronto FC - 10
5. Obafemi Martins (Nigeria) - Seattle Sounders - 8
5. Clint Dempsey (USA) - Seattle Sounders - 8
7. Fabián Espíndola (Argentina) - DC United - 7
7. Robbie Keane (Ireland) - LA Galaxy - 7
7. Joao Plata (Ecuador) - Real Salt Lake - 7
7. Jack McInerney (USA) - Montreal Impact - 7

Player Bio of the Week

This week's focus is on striker Bradley Wright-Phillips. The 29 year old Englishman leads MLS this year with 15 goals for the New York Red Bulls. Signed in late July of 2013, the Red Bulls were 4-0 in games he started last year and he scored once during the regular season and again in the playoffs. In 2014, he's become a mainstay up top with Thierry Henry helping New York to an Eastern Conference high 30 goals through 23 matches. Wright-Phillips has a pair of hat tricks on the season, and has scored in 9 of his last 11 league matches. He began his career with Manchester City, but after an unproductive couple of seasons there, he was sold to Southampton before later ending up with Plymouth Argyle, Charlton Athletic and Brentford. Wright-Phillips' best season came in 2011-12 when he led Charlton Athletic to the English Football League One Championship behind his league leading 22 goals. His success didn't transfer up a division though as he scored just once in 19 league matches during the 2012-2013 season and was subsequently released. Wright-Phillips logged five appearances with the English U-20 National Team back in 2005, but has not been a member of the National Team picture in recent years.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thiago Silva, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham

Ok, so I said this would be an MLS blog, but how can I talk about the MLS without at least mentioning the World Cup? Let's be reasonable. So Germany destroyed Brazil in Tuesday's semifinal by a score of 7-1, a more-or-less unprecedented drubbing against the South American powerhouse. Now there's been a lot of talk about Neymar's absence due to his broken vertebra, but very little about Thiago Silva's yellow card that led to his suspension. If you missed it, Silva received his second yellow card of the tournament (an automatic one-game suspension) for trying to interfere with Colombian goalie David Ospina's punt. It was a completely unnecessary foul, especially given that he already had a card to his name. It was selfish, stupid, and offered zero tactical advantage to his team. As a result, Brazil was forced to take on the force that is Germany without him. Would his presence have spelled victory for Brazil? Probably not, the addition of one player probably wouldn't have prevented 7 goals. That said, Brazil completely crumbled without their two best players, and had Silva been there, he at least could've given them some fight with his on-field leadership. Instead we watched an utter meltdown of arguably one of the top teams in the world. So what does this have to do with Wayne Rooney and David Beckham? In 1998, David Beckham senselessly retaliated against Argentine Diego Simeone which led to his ejection in England's Round of 16 match against Argentina. The match ended in a 2-2 draw and England went on to lose in penalties.


In 2006, Wayne Rooney was involved in a similar play where he stomped on the groin of Ricardo Carvalho in a quarterfinal match against Portugal. The match ended in a 0-0 draw with England again losing in penalties.

Both Beckham and Rooney were vilified for their actions, isn't it only fair that Silva get similar treatment? In all three cases, senseless acts by these stars put their teams at a disadvantage. At least Beckham and Rooney were young and hot-headed (not that that's an excuse). Silva's 29 years old and the team captain. You expect better from a player of that caliber. Just my thoughts.

Blog Kickoff

Every four years, soccer in the United States gets a massive bump in popularity as casual fans get wrapped up in the drama of the World Cup. Since 1994, we've seen the U.S. battle soccer powerhouses Brazil, Germany, Italy, England, Portugal and others; every tournament taking steps towards becoming accepted in the world's soccer conversations. Still, once the tournament ends, we see a marked drop-off in interest as Major League Soccer isn't able to sustain the momentum built up by the World Cup. For the U.S. to become a world power in soccer, this needs to change, and it starts by increasing the league's popularity. As the league becomes more popular, it will bring it more money. As it brings it more money, it will be able to draw better talent. As it draws better talent, it will increase the level of play. And as it increases the level of play, it will improve our players thereby further improving the talent pool of our National Team. 

I've been a soccer fan forever. I remember watching the San Jose Clash take on D.C. United in the first ever MLS game where Eric Wynalda delivered the memorable game winner and first ever MLS goal. The MLS has come a long way since then getting big names like David Beckham and Thierry Henry (albeit past their primes), but the league is still several cuts below the top leagues in Europe, and you could argue that it's still not even on par with the Mexican Premier League to the south. Now I figure that if a fan like me, someone who doesn't just check into soccer once every four years, can't get on board with MLS, then how can I expect anyone else to? So the "mission" of this blog, is to increase MLS awareness and hopefully draw in a few more fans. Every little bit helps, right? 

So every Sunday (hopefully), I'll be chiming in with updates from around the league as well as from the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League, as we start the cycle for World Cup 2018. Here we go!