Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekly Top Tens & Power Rankings - 3/31/15


1 - FC Dallas (3-0-1) - The winning streak is over, but Dallas picks up their third shutout in four as they continue their fast start. Last Week: 1
2 - Vancouver Whitecaps (3-1-0) - Rivero saw his scoring streak snapped, but once again the Caps found a way to win, this time thanks to Robert Earnshaw's late heroics. Last Week: 6
3 - New York Red Bulls (2-0-1) - Another big win against a conference rival and Bradley Wright-Phillips already has the same amount of assists he had in all of 2014. Last Week: 9
4 - LA Galaxy (1-1-2) - Hard to punish them too much for losing when both Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes are away on international duty. Last Week: 2
5 - Toronto FC (1-2-0) - Similar to what's going on with LA, with Bradley and Jozy both with the U.S. squad in Europe, can't be punished too much for a loss to RSL. That said, disappointing to see Sebastian Giovinco fail to take over in their absence. Last Week: 3
6- Seattle Sounders (1-1-1) - Despite playing short-handed, they still managed to hold dangerous Dallas scoreless. And a point is a point right now, so good on them. Last Week: 4
7 - Real Salt Lake (1-0-2) - Finally got in the win column thanks to 19 year old Jordan Allen's first MLS goal. And they get Rimando back from international duty this weekend. Last Week: 7
8 - DC United (2-1-0) - DC got their second 1-0 win of the season thanks to a late goal from Chris Pontius. Was LA short-handed? Yes. But a win is worth three points no matter what and DC found a way to get it done. Last Week: 11
9 - Columbus Crew (1-2-0) - My preseason Eastern Conference favorites lost another tough one. Things have to get better for them though, this team is too talented. Last Week: 5
10 - Sporting Kansas City (1-1-2) - Finally got their first win of the season as the defense posted a second straight shutout, and Ike Opara scored for the second time. Now if only Dom Dwyer could get hot for them. Last Week: 14

Out: San Jose (8-->11), Portland (10-->12)

SuperDraft Rookie Watch, Week 4

Week 4 featured some more rookies making their debuts as Montreal's Romario Williams, Houston's Zach Steinberger, Toronto's Clément Simonin and Seattle's Oniel Fisher all saw the pitch for the first time in 2015. In addition to that, Orlando's Cyle Larin scored his first goal for Canada in a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico and San Jose's Fatai Alashe delivered an exclamation point in the US U-23s 5-2 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Matt Polster made his third straight start for the Fire and leads all draftees in minutes played with 266 through 4 matches. Here's the rundown of everyone who got in on the action:

1 - Cyle Larin - Orlando City - Scored for Canada vs Puerto Rico
3 - Romario Williams - Montreal - Appeared as sub versus OCSC, 6 mins
4 - Fatai Alashe - San Jose - Scored for US U-23s vs Bosnia
7 - Matt Polster - Chicago - Started vs Philadelphia, 90 mins, 1 shot
8 - Zach Steinberger - Houston - Appeared as sub versus Colorado, 21 mins, 1 shot
9 - Clément Simonin - Toronto FC - Started vs RSL, 90 mins, 1 shot, Yellow Card
16 - Cristian Roldan - Seattle - Started vs FC Dallas, 61 mins
36 - Rob Lovejoy - Houston - Started vs Colorado, 59 mins, 2 shots
40 - Oniel Fisher - Seattle - Appeared as sub versus FC Dallas, 4 mins
67 - Dominique Badji - Colorado - Appeared as sub versus Houston, 13 mins

And here are our rookie rankings through March 31st:

1. Fatai Alashe (San Jose)
2. Khiry Shelton (NYCFC)
3. Matt Polster (Chicago)
4. Axel Sjöberg (Colorado)
5. Dominique Badji (Colorado)

MLS Weekly Recap - Week 4

Despite lots of the regulars away on International Duty this week, there was still plenty of action around the league. The Whitecaps snagged their third consecutive win, FC Dallas remained unbeaten through 4 matches, the Rapids posted their third consecutive 0-0 tie, while New England, Sporting KC, Chicago and Real Salt Lake all earned their first wins of 2015.



New England Revolution 2 San Jose Earthquakes 1
Montreal Impact 2 Orlando City SC 2
Sporting Kansas City 1 New York City FC 0
DC United 1 LA Galaxy 0
New York Red Bulls 2 Columbus Crew 1
Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Portland Timbers 1
Houston Dynamo 0 Colorado Rapids 0
FC Dallas 0 Seattle Sounders 0


Chicago Fire 1 Philadelphia Union 0
Real Salt Lake 2 Toronto FC 1

Thursday, March 26, 2015

U.S. Blow Another Late Lead in 3-2 Loss

Same old story for the Americans as they saw leads of 1-0 and 2-1 slip away and eventually surrendered a stoppage time winner to Nicklas Bendtner in a 3-2 loss to Denmark. Bendtner, a long-time Arsenal striker who now plays for VfL Wolfsburg, scored all three of Denmark's goals, the final two coming after the 80th minute. This marked the third time since the World Cup that the U.S. surrendered at least three goals, and the second time in 2015. On the bright side for the U.S., Jozy Altidore continued his recent inspired play with a goal and an assist, while Aron Johannsson also contributed a goal. Additionally, Mexican-American defender Ventura Alvarado earned his first CAP with the Senior National Team. The U.S. concludes this road trip on Tuesday against Switzerland.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

MLS Week 4 Predictions


San Jose Earthquakes 2 New England Revolution 1 - New England has to figure out a way to score at some point, don't they?

Montreal Impact 1 Orlando City SC 0 - Orlando's going to have trouble fielding a team due to international duty and their offense has been ineffective thus far this season. Montreal just needs to get through this match without suffering any more injuries.

New York City FC 2 Sporting Kansas City 1 - Can Sporting's rag-tag backline stop David Villa? I have my doubts.

DC United 1 LA Galaxy 0 - With Keane and Zardes both on international duty, it will be tough for LA to score goals against Bill Hamid. Well, unless Edson Buddle turns back the clock.

Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 2 - I expect this to be a wild one with both sides lighting up the scoreboard. If last weekend was any indication, Sacha Kljestan is going to be a big factor this season.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1 Portland Timbers 1 - It would appear that Portland's trying to break the Fire's record for draws set last year.

Colorado Rapids 0 Houston Dynamo 0 - So far Colorado's defense is keeping them in matches. With Houston not exactly an offensive juggernaut, I see this trend continuing.

FC Dallas 3 Seattle Sounders 1 - This is a HUGE match, but with Clint Dempsey out, the edge has to go to the hottest team in the league.


Chicago Fire 0 Philadelphia Union 0 - This is the game of the week? Ugh. Chicago should get their first point of the season.

Toronto FC 3 Real Salt Lake 0 - No Jozy? No Bradley? No Rimando? I smell a Giovinco hat trick. Just playing a hunch.

Last Week: 3-5 (Dallas, Vancouver, San Jose)

Overall: 5-11

U.S. Camps

Lots of action in U.S. camps around the globe this week as the U.S. U-20s, U-23s and Senior National Team are all prepping for matches. Here's a quick summary of the rosters and upcoming schedules:


With the U-20 World Cup just months away, the U.S. has put together a squad with only ten returning players from the recent CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Five MLS players will be in this camp led by returnees Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy), Conor Donovan (Orlando City), and Tommy Thompson. Among the newcomers are Sporting Kansas City's Erik Palmer-Brown, Toronto FC's Marco Delgado and Atlético Madrid's Dembakwi Yomba. Palmer-Brown, who's 17, has played only five minutes this season, but he's the only one of the MLS group who's seen the field in 2015. The U-20s will take on Tottenham's U-21s on Friday and England's U-21s on Sunday. The US U-20s will have one more camp in mid-April in Austria with friendlies scheudled against Qatar and Croatia.

Weekly Top Tens - 3/24/15

1 - FC Dallas (3-0-0) - Three wins in three matches compared to the Galaxy's one. I said I wouldn't move Dallas up until LA lost, but Dallas has made a liar of me. Last Week: 2
2 - LA Galaxy (1-0-2) - Still unbeaten, but Dallas is just playing better on both sides of the ball. Last Week: 1
3 - Toronto FC (1-1-0) - Let's see how they come back from their bye week. Last Week: 3
4- Seattle Sounders (1-1-0) - They've had a week to prior for a huge match against Dallas. Last Week: 5
5 - Columbus Crew (1-1-0) - Unfortunate their bye came after a big momentum-building win over Toronto, but I don't expect any negative effects this week. Last Week: 6
6 - Vancouver Whitecaps (2-1-0) - All Octavio Rivero does is score goals. Three goals in three matches, and he's yet to be held scoreless. His last gasp winner against OCSC was clutch. Last Week: 8
7 - Real Salt Lake (0-0-2) - The new formation has had mixed results thus far. Let's see what an extra prep week buys them. Last Week: 7
8 - San Jose Earthquakes (2-1-0) - Biggest reason I think San Jose is going to rebound this year? Depth. No goals from Wondo, Emeghara or Perez so they get rookie Fatai Alashe and journeyman Ty Harden to step up. Last Week: 10
9 - New York Red Bulls (1-0-1) - Looked dominant against DC United and BWP got back to his goal scoring ways.
10 - Portland Timbers (0-0-3) - Three draws in three matches, but a pair of shutouts. If the offense starts to click, these guys could be a big surprise. Last Week: 9

Out: DC United: lost 2-0 to NYRB

MLS SuperDraft Rookie Watch, Week 3

Here's a rundown of all the draft picks from this year's SuperDraft and how they fared this week. Players in red aren't currently on MLS active rosters. Of the 84 players drafted, a season high five of them earned starts in Week 3, with Montreal's Cameron Porter making his first regular season start (he started a Champions League match earlier this week). Unfortunately, Porter left the game with an injury less than 20 minutes in. Cyle Larin, the #1 overall pick in the draft made his debut this week, while San Jose's Fatai Alashe became the first 2015 draft pick to score when he tallied a goal against Chicago on Sunday night.

1 - Cyle Larin - Orlando City - Appeared as sub vs Vancouver, 18 mins, 1 shot
2 - Khiry Shelton - New York City FC - Appeared as sub vs Colorado, 29 mins
3 - Romario Williams - Montreal - Dressed, did not play
4 - Fatai Alashe - San Jose - Started vs Chicago, 90 mins, 2 shots, 1 goal
5 - Nick Besler - Portland - Did not dress

Weekly Recap, Week 3

After a big week of goal scoring, shutouts were once again commonplace with 9 of 16 clubs failing to find the back of the net this week and three 0-0 draws. But the real story was Montreal winning the first leg of their Champions League match against Alajuelense 2-0 behind goals by Ignacio Piatti and Víctor Cabrera. In other news, FC Dallas continued their perfect start with a 2-0 win over the Union making them the first to three wins this season while Colorado, Portland, LA and NYCFC all remain unbeaten. Here's a rundown of all the matches:



Montreal Impact 2 Alajuelense (Costa Rica) 0 - CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE


New England Revolution 0 Montreal Impact 0
Colorado Rapids 0 New York City FC 0
FC Dallas 2 Philadelphia Union 0
Vancouver Whitecaps 1 Orlando City SC 0
Portland Timbers 0 Sporting Kansas City 0
LA Galaxy 1 Houston Dynamo 1


New York Red Bulls 2 DC United 0
San Jose Earthquakes 2 Chicago Fire 1

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Historic Win for Impact

The Montreal Impact are 90 minutes away from the CONCACAF Champions League Finals. Their cinderella story continued yesterday as Ignacio Piatti and Víctor Cabrera netted goals in the first fifteen minutes and the Impact held serve at home against Alajuelense without conceding an away goal. The Impact can now advance, even with losses of 1-0, 3-1 or 4-2. That said, this series is far from a cake walk as Alajuelense dropped five goals on DC United in the quarterfinals. Still, it's hard not to start getting excited about Montreal's chances, because if they can advance, they likely won't see another club from Mexico as Club América trails Herediano, another Costa Rican side, 3-0 after one leg. The Impact will look to close things out on April 7th while Herediano and América meet on the 8th.

Where Your UEFA Champions League Starters Come From - Round of 16

One can't help but notice that the UEFA Champions League has a serious lack of American footballers. Here's a rundown of all 43 countries that were represented by players in the Starting Elevens for both Legs of the Round of 16. The only countries ranked higher than the U.S. in the latest FIFA poll without representation: #13 Costa Rica, #14 Romania, #22 Slovakia, #26 Israel, #28 Denmark and #29 Ecuador. Some of the more surprising nations to be represented? #89 Morocco, #80 Paraguay, #79 Armenia, #71 Bulgaria, #61 Albania and #54 Gabon. Other stuff worth noting:

-Brazil has the most players (31) despite not being in Europe.
-Portugal's FC Porto starts no Portuguese players
-None of England's 3 Teams start more than 2 English players
-Belgium and the Netherlands, the 2nd and 3rd highest ranking teams in Europe each only featured 3 players in UCL Round of 16 Starting XIs.
-The highest ranking team in Europe without representation in the UCL Round of 16 is Romania (#14)

Here's the complete list:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MLS Week 3 Predictions


FC Dallas 2 Philadelphia 1 - With Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo in form, FC Dallas is looking like the best team in the league right now. Philadelphia has picked up points in each of its first two matches, but this will be a tough one for them.


New England 3 Montreal 1 - New England's too good a team to lose three straight matches to start the season, right? Plus Montreal has a Champions League match on Wednesday so they're going to be gassed.

New York City FC 1 Colorado 0 - Colorado turned in a shutout in Week 1, but they didn't face David Villa that week.

Vancouver 1 Orlando City 0 - Orlando's defense has been solid through two matches, but I have questions about their offense. Where's Bryan Rochez??

Portland 2 Sporting KC 1 - Portland has been an early season surprise (to me at least) shutting down Real Salt Lake, and then just missing three points against LA. Sporting, meanwhile, has been in a tailspin since midseason last year. They'll pull out of it, but not this week.

LA Galaxy 1 Houston 0 - Tyler Deric is off to a fine start this season (minus the own goal versus Orlando), but LA just has too many weapons.


DC United 1 New York Red Bulls 0 - Hard to bet against Bill Hamid and company when the Red Bulls haven't shown they can adjust to not having Thierry Henry.

San Jose 3 Chicago 0 - I'm a believer in the Quakes. And Chicago has arguably been the worst team in the league through two weeks. They'll get better, but it will take time for the team to gel with all the new pieces.

Last Week: 2-6 (Dallas, Vancouver)

Overall: 2-6

U-17s Clinch World Cup Berth

It wasn't pretty, but the U.S. U-17s are bound for the World Cup in Chile this fall. Pitted against Jamaica, the club that dealt the U.S. their first loss in the tournament, the Americans again struggled to generate offense. After playing to a 0-0 tie, the U.S. pulled off a 5-4 shootout victory sending them to Chile along with Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras. The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2013 U-17 World Cup when they were upset in the knockout round by Honduras 3-1.

The U.S. last appeared in the World Cup in 2011 (tournaments are every two years) where they were knocked out of the Round of 16 by Germany, 4-0. They finished the tournament 1-2-1 with a win over the Czech Republic, a draw versus New Zealand and a loss to Uzbekistan in group play. That U.S. side featured Dillon Serna (Colorado), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy) and Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana). Matches start for the 2015 Cup on October 17th.

MLS SuperDraft Rookie Watch, Week 2

Here's a rundown of all the draft picks from this year's SuperDraft and how they fared this week. Players in red aren't currently on MLS active rosters. Of the 84 players drafted, only three of them earned starts in Week 2, with Sporting's Amadou Dia the only player to make two starts so far this season. Houston's Rob Lovejoy made his MLS debut this weekend, and we're starting to see USL rosters fill out so more players will start to find homes:

1 - Cyle Larin - Orlando City - Dressed, did not play
2 - Khiry Shelton - New York City FC - appeared as a sub vs New England, 24 mins, 1 shot
3 - Romario Williams - Montreal - BYE
4 - Fatai Alashe - San Jose - Started vs Seattle, 90 mins, 1 shot, 3-2 Win
5 - Nick Besler - Portland - Did Not Dress

Weekly Recap, Week 2

While defenses ruled week 1, the offenses started to break out in week 2. Nine different teams scored at least two goals highlighted by a wild 3-3 draw between Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia. This week was also one for the history books as expansion clubs Orlando City and New York City FC each picked up their first MLS wins. Here's a quick rundown of all the action:



Orlando City SC 1 Houston Dynamo 0


Vancouver Whitecaps 1 Chicago Fire 0
Columbus Crew 2 Toronto FC 0
FC Dallas 3 Sporting Kansas City 1
Real Salt Lake 3 Philadelphia Union 3
San Jose Earthquakes 3 Seattle Sounders 2


New York City FC 2 New England Revolution 0
Portland Timbers 2 LA Galaxy 2

Weekly Top Tens & Power Rankings


1 - LA Galaxy (1-0-1) - Alan Gordon's stoppage time equalizer spared them a defeat against the Timbers, but until they lose they'll hang onto this spot. Last Week: 1
2 - FC Dallas (2-0-0) - Blas Pérez celebrated his 34th birthday with a brace against Sporting Kansas City and Dallas is the only club to win its first two matches. Last Week: 4
3 - Toronto FC (1-1-0) - Hard to punish them for losing to Columbus after a questionable red card sent them down to ten men with the score tied at 0. Last Week: 2
4 - DC United (1-0-0) - Idle this week, United is now one of only two teams without a loss or a draw. Last Week: 5
5- Seattle Sounders (1-1-0) - Dempsey and Martins scored for the second straight week, but the defense struggled against Wondo and company. Last Week: 3
6 - Columbus Crew (1-1-0) - The Crew did what good teams do, taking advantage of their man advantage against a good Toronto team and picked up their first win of the season. Last Week: 13
7 - Real Salt Lake (0-0-2) - Not often that Real Salt Lake is going to score three goals with Nick Rimando in net and not walk away with three points. Last Week: 6
8 - Vancouver Whitecaps (1-1-0) - Two goals in two matches for Octavio Rivero and last year's leader in shutouts, David Ousted, was back on his game this week. Last Week: 9
9 - Portland Timbers (0-0-2) - Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe looked poised to carry the load until the cavalry returns from the injured reserve. Bad marking on a corner in stoppage time kept them from getting three big points against LA. Last Week: 7
10 - San Jose Earthquakes (1-1-0) - Wondo did what Wondo does, but now he's got help in Innocent Emeghara. Last Week: 12

Out: New England: Lost 2-0 to NYCFC; Sporting KC: Lost 3-1 to FC Dallas

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dynamo Forward Scores Twice for Chivas Guadalajara

Houston striker Erick "Cubo" Torres helped Chivas Guadalajara picked up three huge points in Liga MX action this weekend when he scored twice in the match's last 20 minutes to give them a 2-1 win over Puebla. The 22 year-old Mexican international led Chivas USA in scoring last year with 15 goals including goals in six consecutive matches in June and July. After Chivas USA disbanded following the 2014 season, Torres was signed by the Houston Dynamo to a designated player deal in December.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

MLS Week 2 Predictions

Here's a list of predictions for this week's matches, because why not?


Houston 0 Orlando 0 - Tyler Deric was sensational for Houston in Week 1 and the Dynamo's veteran core proved to still have some gas left in the tank. Orlando meanwhile is still working out some kinks, so I see City fans waiting a bit longer before they see their first win.


Vancouver 2 Chicago 1 - The Caps looked a little rough around the edges in Week 1, but the Fire have a ton of new faces and are still learning how to play together. They'll look better this week, but it won't be enough against a superior opponent.

Toronto 2 Columbus 2 - I picked Columbus to win the East this year, and to do so they're going to have to hang with teams like Toronto. The Red Menace looked imposing last week and will be a tough go for almost anyone in the league right now.

FC Dallas 1 Sporting KC 0 - Sporting will be without Matt Besler this week and Dallas, while under the radar, is going to make a legitimate push for the Supporter's Shield. Dallas wins at home here in a tight one.

Real Salt Lake 1 Philadelphia 0 - Nick Rimando's riding a hot streak, and Real is due to score this week. Bad news for the Union.

Seattle 3 San Jose 2 - I have San Jose as my sleeper this year, but Seattle looked SO GOOD last weekend against New England that it's impossible to pick against them. Sounders in a barn burner.


New York City FC 1 New England 1 - With all due respect to Lee Nguyen, the Revs need Jermaine Jones. David Villa was quiet against Orlando, I see him being louder here.

LA Galaxy 1 Portland 0 - Portland was surprisingly competitive in Week 1 despite all of their injuries. I think the duo of Zardes and Keane will be too much for them though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

U-17s Miss Golden Chance to Clinch World Cup Berth

Needing just a draw against Jamaica, the U.S. U-17s dropped a stunner 1-0 and now must win an elimination game against an as-of-yet undetermined opponent or miss the World Cup entirely. A Nicholas Nelson penalty was the difference in the match tonight as the U.S. couldn't solve Jamaican keeper Jahmali Waite despite outshooting Jamaica 15-10 and owning an 8-3 edge on corner kicks. After opening the tourney with 3 straight wins, the U.S. has now taken just one point from its last two matches.

U.S. Wins 10th Algarve Cup

The U.S. turned in yet another solid performance and rode goals by Julie Johnston and Christen Press to a 2-0 win over France clinching them their 10th Algarve Cup trophy and first since 2013. Johnston headed home a free kick by Lauren Holiday for her first international goal just seven minutes into the match, and then Press turned in a sensational individual effort just before halftime to essentially put the game out of reach. Hope Solo turned in another dominating performance in net with 7 saves including denying Amadine Henry on a penalty shot. The shutout was the 81st of Solo's career. Germany defeated Sweden 2-1 to win the 3rd place match.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fantasy Soccer, Week in Review

Not a great start to my fantasy season, but thanks to Jozy Altidore and Benny Feilhaber, I'm at least in the top 20%. Here's a look at my Week 1:


FWD - Jozy Altidore - 30 pts (C)
FWD - Gyasi Zardes - 2 pts
FWD - Octavio Rivero - 7 pts
MID - Ethan Finlay - 4 pts
MID - Benny Feilhaber - 10 pts
MID - Dillon Powers - 1 pt
MID - Matias Perez Garcia - 3 pts
DEF - Nick Hagglund - 0 pts
DEF - Lovel Palmer - 3 pts
DEF - Shane O'Neill - 1 pt
GK - Stefan Frei - 7 pts

Monday, March 9, 2015

U.S. Women Draw with Iceland 0-0, Head to Algarve Cup Finals

Hope Solo posted her second consecutive shutout, but the U.S. offense couldn't solve Iceland, settling instead for a 0-0 draw. Still, that was good enough to clinch Group B at the Algarve Cup and earn a place in the Championship Match against France on Wednesday. France won all three of their matches defeating Denmark, Japan and Portugal by a combined score of 8-2. They're led by midfielder Eugénie Le Sommer who is currently tied for the tournament lead with three goals. Germany and Sweden will face off for third place in a rematch of their opening match which Sweden won 4-2.

The U.S. has won the Algarve Cup 9 times since 2000 with their most recent tournament win coming in 2013 over Germany. France has never won the tournament finishing third back in 2004 and 2005.

U.S. U-17s Miss Chance to Clinch World Cup Berth

The U-17s rallied from an early deficit, but couldn't sustain a late lead and missed a chance to clinch Group A at the CONCACAF Championship which would have resulted in an automatic berth to this summer's World Cup. Luca de la Torre and Josh Perez scored the U.S. goals but Honduras's David Sanchez knocked an awkward cross off his back and into the back of the net for the hosts in the 88th minute to end the match in a 2-2 draw. The U.S. still control their own destiny and can win the group with a win over Jamaica on Wednesday. A draw will also likely put the U.S. through as their goal differential is at +10 whereas Honduras currently sits at +4.

Perez's goal was his 4th of the tournament, tying him with Joe Gallardo for the team lead.

Weekly Top Tens - 3/9/15


1 - LA Galaxy (1-0-0) - Still the reigning champ until somebody says otherwise. Despite missing several starters they had little trouble dispatching the new-look Chicago Fire.
2 - Toronto FC (1-0-0) - The trio of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco is going to be tough to beat. Just ask Vancouver.
3 - Seattle Sounders (1-0-0) - While their win over New England was dominant, the Revs were without Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones. Still, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins both looked sharp in the opener.
4 - FC Dallas (1-0-0) - Dallas can win with their offense and with their defense and if Blas Pérez can turn in another big year, they'll still be playing come November.
5 - DC United (1-0-0) - Bill Hamid picked up where he left off in 2014 as DC United bounced back from a disappointing Champions League exit.
6 - Real Salt Lake (0-0-1) - With Nick Rimando in net, they'll be in every game.
7 - Portland Timbers (0-0-1) - I honestly thought they'd look a lot worse given all the injuries they've suffered. Speaks volumes that they were disappointed to draw with Real Salt Lake.
8 - New England (0-1-0) - Not an impressive start to the season, but they weren't good without Jermaine Jones last year either.
9 - Vancouver Whitecaps (0-1-0) - I'm going to give the Caps the benefit of the doubt on this one. Plus, Toronto looks really good.
10 - Sporting Kansas City (0-0-1) - Survived an ejection of Matt Besler to salvage a draw with the Red Bulls. Kept Bradley Wright-Phillips scoreless in the process.


1. Clint Dempsey (USA) - Seattle Sounders - 2 goals, 1 assist
2. Jozy Altidore (USA) - Toronto FC - 2 goals
3. Obafemi Martins (Nigeria) - Seattle Sounders - 1 goal, 1 assist
4. 11 tied with 1 goal


1. Blas Pérez (Panama) - FC Dallas - 1
1. Clint Dempsey (USA) - Seattle Sounders - 1
1. Giles Barnes (England) - Houston Dynamo - 1
1. Jairo Arrieta (Costa Rica) - DC United - 1
1. Jose Villarreal (USA) - LA Galaxy - 1
1. Robbie Findley (USA) - Toronto FC - 1


1. Joseph Bendik (USA) - Toronto FC - 6
1. Tyler Deric (USA) - Houston Dynamo - 6
3. Nick Rimando (USA) - Real Salt Lake - 5
4. Clint Irwin (USA) - Colorado Rapids - 4
5. Bill Hamid (USA) - DC United - 3
5. David Bingham (USA) - San Jose Earthquakes - 3
5. Luis Marín (Chile) - Sporting Kansas City - 3
5. Luis Robles (USA) - New York Red Bulls - 3
5. Sean Johnson (USA) - Chicago Fire - 3
10. 6 tied with 2

Weekly Recap - Week 1

The 2015 MLS Regular Season is underway. This week featured one stoppage time game winner, one stoppage time equalizer, goals from U.S. National Teamers Jozy Altidore, Mix Diskerud and Clint Dempsey, Kaká's first MLS goal, and another goal from reigning MVP Robbie Keane. Despite the positives, overall play was fairly sloppy and disjointed with 17 of 20 teams scoring 1 goal or less in their first outing. Things will get better though as teams get used to playing together. At least I hope that's the case.



LA Galaxy 2 Chicago Fire 0


DC United 1 Montreal Impact 0
Philadelphia Union 0 Colorado Rapids 0
Toronto FC 3 Vancouver Whitecaps 1
FC Dallas 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0
Houston Dynamo 1 Columbus Crew 0
Real Salt Lake 0 Portland Timbers 0


New York City FC 1 Orlando City 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 New York Red Bulls 1
Seattle Sounders 3 New England Revolution 0

Notable Goals Scored by:

Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy) - The 21 year old Villarreal scored the first goal of the 2015 MLS regular season after logging just 19 minutes for the Galaxy last season.

Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) - The 2014 MLS MVP picked up right where he left off last year notching the 54th goal of his MLS career in just 85 games.

Octavio Rivero (Vancouver) - Rivero turned in a solid MLS debut scoring the Caps' lone goal in a 3-1 loss to Toronto. The 23 year old Uruguayan was signed to a Designated Player contract in December.

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) - Jozy scored his first MLS goals since 2008 as he bagged the equalizer and a late PK. With the brace, he has already exceeded his output for Sunderland this season before his move to Canada.

Robbie Findley (Toronto FC) - After being limited to just 1 goal in 8 starts for Real Salt Lake last season, the 2010 World Cup veteran netted a game winner in his first start for Toronto FC.

Giles Barnes (Houston) - Barnes led the Dynamo with 11 goals in 2014 and his second half tally against Columbus gave him an early lead over fellow Englishmen Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, and more importantly brought home three points for the Dynamo.

Blas Pérez (FC Dallas) - Pérez has scored at least 9 goals in each of the three previous seasons and is attempting to score double-digit goals for the third year in a row. His first goal of 2015 was a stoppage time header that denied San Jose a point on the road.

Mix Diskerud (New York City FC) - Diskerud scored the first goal in NYCFC franchise history and the first of his MLS career, only to be denied a win by Kaká's late game heroics.

Kaká (Orlando City SC) - Kaká bagged a stoppage time equalizer to send 60,000+ fans home without feeling the sting of defeat in Orlando's 1-1 draw with City. The Brazilian's last gasp free kick deflected off an NYCFC defender and past a helpless Josh Saunders for the first goal in OCSC franchise history.

Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) - Making his 100th career MLS start, Deuce delivered a first half penalty and a goal from the run of play in the second half and he factored in on all three Seattle goals in a blowout win over New England.

Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders) - Oba scored 17 goals to lead the Sounders to the Supporter's Shield in 2014 and he wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in 2015 with a goal and an assist.

Shutouts by:

Brian Rowe (LA Galaxy) - Making just his 8th MLS start in four seasons, Rowe needed to make just one save en route to his 4th career shutout.

Bill Hamid (DC United) - Hamid, the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, picked up right where he left off last year making three saves and earning his 31st career shutout. 

Raïs M'Bolhi  (Philadelphia) - Algeria's #1 keeper earned his second MLS shutout in five career starts  as he went untested against the Rapids. M'Bolhi's other shutout came against Houston last September.

Clint Irwin (Colorado) - Irwin made 4 saves as he kicked off his 3rd season as Colorado's starting net minder with the 18th shutout of his young career. 

Chris Seitz (FC Dallas) - Seitz, a nine-year veteran, recorded just his sixth career shutout and led FC Dallas to an Opening Night win over San Jose. 

Tyler Deric (Houston) - Deric turned in a monster performance making 6 saves to stun the Columbus Crew in a 1-0 win. The shutout was Deric's 5th in 14 career starts.

Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) - The U.S. National Team's current #2 Keeper extended his record with the 116th shutout of his distinguished career. Rimando needed to make 5 saves to keep the Timbers at bay.

Adam Larsen Kwarasey (Portland) - Ghana's keeper during their World Cup loss to the U.S., Kwarasey made a pair of saves in his MLS debut.

Stefan Frei (Seattle) - Frei won 20 games his first year in Seattle and started his second season with the Sounders in style with a shutout of the Lee Nguyen-less Revs.

SuperDraft Rookie Watch, Week 1

Here's a rundown of all the draft picks from this year's SuperDraft and how they fared this week. Players in red aren't currently on MLS active rosters. Of the 84 players drafted, only three of them earned starts in Week 1, and two of them did so as teammates for the Colorado Rapids. Six others appeared as substitutes. In the coming weeks we'll try and track down where all of the players who aren't on active rosters ended up. Here's the complete list:

1 - Cyle Larin - Orlando City - Did Not Dress
2 - Khiry Shelton - New York City FC - appeared as a substitute vs OCSC, 28 minutes, 2 shots
3 - Romario Williams - Montreal - Did Not Dress
4 - Fatai Alashe - San Jose - appeared as a substitute vs Dallas, 9 mins
5 - Nick Besler - Portland - Dressed, did not play

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2015 Opening Day Starting XIs

Here's a rundown of everyone's Opening Day Starting XIs. Players who also started the season opener for their club in 2014 are highlighted in red. The New England Revolution return 8 starters from Opening Day a year ago to lead all 18 teams that returned in 2015 while the Colorado Rapids, Montreal Impact and Portland Timbers each had only two returning starters. Players from 48 different countries were represented with just under 50% of starters coming from the United States. Argentina and England tied for the second best representation with 10 starters each.

CHICAGO FIRE (6-10-18)

GK - Sean Johnson (USA) 
D - Eric Gehrig (USA)
D - Jeff Larentowicz (USA)
D - Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago)
D - Lovel Palmer (Jamaica)
M - Chris Ritter (USA)
M - Harrison Shipp (USA)
M - Matt Watson (England)
M - Shaun Maloney (Scotland)
F - Kennedy Igboananike (Nigeria)
F - Quincy Amarikwa (USA)

Johannsson, Wooten Score in Europe

Not a bad day for Americans in Europe today as Aron Johannsson came off the bench for AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands) to score against Rubio Rubin's FC Utrecht in a 6-2 loss, and Andrew Wooten scored his 8th goal of the year for SV Sandhausen (Germany) as they upended Bobby Wood's former club, 1860 Munich, 3-2. Here's Johannsson's goal:

Friday, March 6, 2015

U.S. Women Win Again

Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez and Abby Wambach all scored as the U.S. defeated Switzerland 3-0 in Algarve Cup action on Friday. The U.S. is one of just two teams to win both of its opening matches and can complete a sweep of Group B with a win over Iceland on Monday. Wambach's goal was the 178th of her career and first since she netted four in the CONCACAF Championship against Costa Rica back in October. Morgan, the U.S.'s 10th all-time leading scorer, notched her 51st despite being just 25 years old, while Rodriguez's goal was her 29th.

Superman and the SoccerSmith Q&A, Episode 8

Welcome to Episode 8 of Superman and the SoccerSmith's 4-4-2 Soccer Q&A. Just in time for Opening Weekend! Here we go!


1. SoccerSmith (SS): As we kick off the 2015 regular season, give me your preseason predictions for Western Conference Champion, Eastern Conference Champion, MVP, Golden Boot, and Newcomer of the Year.

Superman (SM): Man this one is tough. With Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane on form, coupled with Stevie G arriving in May, I have the Galaxy winning the West, but not by much as Seattle, RSL, and Sporting KC should all be right there in the hunt. The East has gotten a whole lot better with the addition of NYCFC and Orlando City, and while I think both teams will do well with their powerful and star-studded rosters, I see this as being a two-horse race for the top spot between Toronto and New England with Toronto having the slight edge. Mike Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jozy Altidore should prove to be a hell of a trio and score a lot of goals. My early pick for MVP is Ricardo Kaka. I think he will prove invaluable in Orlando's playoff push. Golden Boot I'll say will belong to Dom Dwyer. The dude had a banner year last season and I fully expect that run of form to both continue and improve. Newcomer of the Year will be the Atomic Ant, Sebastian Giovinco. His creativity and dynamic play should be enough to earn him that title.

SS: I'm going to say Seattle wins the West. I think the Galaxy are going to be right there with them, but I think the tandem of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins is going to be that much better with a full season under their belts. Plus, they're coming into the season with a huge chip on their shoulder. LA lost Landon Donovan and Marcelo Sarvas and starts the season without Steven Gerrard so I think their midfield is going to be hurting early on and Seattle will exploit that fact. In the East, I'm going to go with the Columbus Crew. Columbus has quietly put together a solid core of Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay, Will Trapp, Michael Parkhurst, Tony Tchani, Justin Meram and Steve Clark. And they've added Icelandic international Kristinn Steindórsson, Kei Kamara, and Argentine right back Hernán Grana into the mix. They also have the Golden Boot winner from the CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, Romain Gall, waiting in the wings. DC United is struggling with injuries, Toronto FC will have to find its identity and establish chemistry, the Red Bulls lost playmaker Thierry Henry, the expansion clubs are tough to bet on, and New England has all their eggs in the Lee Nguyen basket. Columbus could surprise some people. As for the MVP, in keeping with my picking the Crew to win the East, I'm going to go with Federico Higuain. He may not be the playmaker his brother is, but he's scored double-digit goals in each of the last two seasons, and now he arguably has his best supporting cast around him. The Golden Boot is going to go to Bryan Róchez, how's that for a dark horse candidate? Róchez is only 20, but he's coming off a 20 goal season for Real España in Honduras and now he has Kaka setting him up. Finally, for newcomer of the year I'm going to go with Kaka. This is a guy who could make a push for 20 assists, and Orlando City's success will be totally dependent on what he brings to the table.

2. SM: Austin Berry, the 2012 Rookie of the Year has been sent on loan to FC Anyang, which is in the second division of the South Korean K league. Not precisely what I'd call progress. Can Berry get his career back on track or are we going to be asking "whatever happened to that guy?" at some point in the future?

SS: Do you think anyone foresaw this at the end of the 2012 season? It’s a long fall from MLS Rookie of the Year to South Korea’s second division. Anyhow, as far as whether or not he can put his career back together? Hard to say. Berry may have damaged his reputation with comments he made about the Union coaching staff in a recent interview: “[Jim Curtin’s] the new coach. It’s his first situation where he’s had to deal with something like this. [Chris] Albright probably wasn’t supposed to have this position for a couple more seasons… It is guys in new positions, not knowing how the league works and not really knowing what’s going on.” Now Curtin (152 starts over 9 MLS seasons) and Albright (22 CAPS for the U.S., a Best XI selection in 2005 and 3 MLS Cups) aren’t exactly nobodies. And to suggest that these guys have less of an understanding of how the league works than Berry probably wasn’t Berry’s best play, which may also be why he’s getting loaned to South Korea’s 2nd Division and not somewhere better. That said, reputation aside, yes Berry’s career can recover from this. Berry isn’t a washed up 30-something, he’s only 26. And this is a loan, not a transfer. I have to assume he’s going to start for FC Anyang, otherwise this move wouldn’t make much sense for either party (FC Anyang is limited to four international players on their roster). If he goes there and performs, perhaps helping Anyang get promoted to the K League Classic, maybe that will get him back into someone’s good graces stateside.

What has my attention most is the destination. Professional athletes have spoken out of turn about their coaches and what not since pro sports were a thing. The second division in South Korea seems a bit excessive to me if he's going on a loan spell as a sort of punishment. That being said, I think you're spot-on about his potential for a return. If he helps FC Anyang to get promoted and is suddenly the best player in their league, perhaps we'll see him back in a MLS jersey sooner rather than later. 

3. SS: Who will score more goals this season: David Villa, Jozy Altidore or Chris Wondolowski?

SM: David Villa. Wondo is a poacher, Jozy is a back-to-goal, hold up play type of guy, but David Villa seems to be able to do it all. To me he's more of a complete forward who can score in any way and that will lead to him scoring more goals.

SS: I think you could really make a case for all three of them. Wondo is going to get his. We saw this last year even when San Jose was abysmal and now they're much improved. Altidore will be getting fed by Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco which certainly won't hurt his case. But I'm with you, and would have to pick David Villa. All things being equal, he's just better. And if he had a full season of Frank Lampard, I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that he wouldn't be the favorite to win the Golden Boot. Even without Lampard, he'll still have Mix Diskerud, so I think he'll finish the season in the high teens slightly ahead of Wondo and Jozy.

4. SM: Orlando City has sold 60,000 tickets to their home opener against NYCFC this Sunday. Considering the rapid rise of the MLS the past few seasons, do you see this type of attendance becoming the norm?

SS: I’m going to go with no. Florida isn’t known for its attendance at pro sporting events. Think Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Rays or Miami Marlins. Remember the Tampa Bay Mutiny? How about the Miami Fusion? The Citrus Bowl may hold 65,000+, but their new stadium which will open next year will only hold 19,500 which is about the norm for soccer specific stadiums. I think it’s great that people are coming out for the opener, but we’ll see where the fans are in October and November if Orlando City’s first season is a rough one. Could the U.S. someday have 60,000 fan soccer stadiums? I suppose that’s a possibility, but let’s start with trying to win the Champion’s League.

SM: Call me optimistic, but I'm thinking that this is a sign of things to come. I realize this is the home opener, which is usually a big deal in any sport, and that Orlando has made a huge deal about filling the Citrus Bowl. I also am aware of the fact that the soccer-specific stadium that they're building will only hold 1/3 of the people that will be at the game on Sunday. But let's not forget that over 7,000 folks showed up to watch an open training session. And let's also take into account that they have sold 60,000 tickets for this game, THREE TIMES what their stadium will hold. I'm thinking that a lot of that can carry over, but I also think it depends on how much success they have. If they make the playoffs this year, be on the lookout for sellout crowds all through the 2016. You heard it here first. 


1. SS: Christie Rampone turns 40 this summer. How much longer can she keep playing? Can she catch Kristine Lilly and her ridiculous 352 CAPs (she currently sits at 304)?

SM: Provided she stays healthy and in form, I don't see her stopping 'til she gets good and ready to. She's played professionally since 1997 and has shown no signs of slowing down or made any announcements or mentions of retirement. Part of that I'm sure is her position. Center backs may lose a step or two, but generally become better with age, much like goalkeepers. That being said, it also wouldn't shock me to see her retire this summer if the women win the World Cup. As to whether or not she can catch up with Lilly's ridiculous number of caps, well, that obviously depends on her continuing playing for a few years, as there's a significant gap between 304 and 352 and there's a bunch of younger, extremely talented women looking to get caps of their own.

SS: Let's start off by saying what she's accomplished thus far is nothing short of amazing. 300+ CAPs with the U.S., a 3-sport star in college (basketball, soccer and lacrosse), 4 World Cups (1 Championship) and 4 Olympic Games (including three Gold Medals) and that's just to name a few of her accolades. Then you factor in that she's done all of this despite having two kids, tearing an ACL in 2001, and being diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2010. So given that she's more or less unstoppable, I'm inclined to say that Rampone could still be the U.S. Captain at 47 while suiting up for her 7th World Cup. How could you honestly bet against her? Pretty sure I'm going to have to find a spot for her on my Mount Rushmore, especially when she gets her 400th cap in 2023.

2. SM: Sacha Kiljestan has made no secret of the fact that he wants back into the National Team picture. With the load that he will be carrying in New York, can he perform well enough to play his way back into the squad?

SS: Sacha’s got his work cut out for him. He played just one match for the U.S. in 2014 and that was on the heels of his best season in Europe when he scored 9 goals across all competitions for Anderlecht. He’s 29 so you have to figure his window for contributing at the international level is closing. But, he’s playing in a big market with a striker who tied the MLS single season scoring record a year ago. If Kljestan helps Bradley Wright-Phillips enjoy similar success in 2015, and the Red Bulls are in the playoff hunt, you’d have to think his name will come up.

I swear it's like we share a brain sometimes. I like Sacha. I love his attitude and work rate. His commitment level is up there with anyone you can name. But the hard fact for him right now is that we are very full in the middle of the park. Lee Nguyen, Clint Dempsey, Mix Diskerud, Michael Bradley... All of these people are capable of playing behind the striker in the role that Kljestan will be playing in New York. And that's just the shortlist in truth. If Sacha can create magic at Red Bull arena and get BWP scoring goals like a madman, I agree he's got a legitimate shot at another call-up. But it seems to me like unless he plays well above and beyond even his own expectations, the 'stache may not get another cap for the Red, White, and Blue. 

3. SS: Has anyone stood out to you during the CONCACAF U-17 Tourney thus far?

SM: Joe Gallardo Jr. A hat trick against Cuba in the 5-0 rout last Friday closely followed by a goal from a free-kick against Trinidad and Tobago this week. The youngster seems to be playing up and above his age group. He's one to keep an eye on for the future.

SS: The U.S. has gotten hat tricks from Gallardo and Joshua Perez so far in the tournament, but I'm going throw out a name of a guy who hasn't scored yet instead. Christian Pulisic, the U.S.'s #10, has four assists through three matches and has truly been the catalyst of the U.S. attack. A product of the Borussia Dortmund youth system, he appears to be the total package already tallying 18 goals for the U.S. despite not turning 17 until this September.

4. SM: Carli Lloyd basically took over at halftime of the women's opener against Norway in the Algarve Cup this week. She scored a wicked left-footed shot and calmly buried a PK to give the Ladies a 2-1 win. Is she on your shortlist for best player of the tournament right now?

SS: I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked about her Woman of the Match performance against Norway, but there’s a lot of great teams here, and three other players who netted braces on Match Day 1, two of whom did so without the benefit of a PK and against the #1 team in the world. I think your best player of the tournament is going to be someone from Group A. With Sweden, Brazil, China and Germany all in the same group (the worst team in the group coming in at #13 in the world) there’s a lot of opportunities for players to deliver signature performances, and whoever wins that group is going to have earned it.

SM: Agreed to a point. Her comments after the game amounted to her being tired of losing, tired of being written off as an also-ran, and being a veteran and leader on this team were excellent in my opinion. Those comments along with the black eye she got in a closed-door friendly show the fire and desire she has to win. I'm looking for her to make even more of an impact as this tournament goes on. 

Wild Card

1. SS: Give me five players in MLS right now that are worth the price of admission.

SM: This is the kind of research I can really get behind. 1. Ricardo Kaka. How many times have MLS fans been able to watch a bona fide Ballon d'Or winner take the field, even one that's supposedly on the back side of his career? 2. Frank Lampard. Super Frank will be joining NYCFC this summer and should make an impact the second he takes the pitch. He's won EPL titles, Champions League titles, along with several other domestic tournaments. He's basically a living legend. 3. Steven Gerrard. Another guy who is basically a living legend who will be joining the Galaxy this summer. Having come close, but never actually winning the Premier League, he will be fired up to try to bring another title to LA. 4. David Villa. Another bona fide superstar who seems to be able to score goals at will. He's won almost every trophy there is, including the UEFA Champions League, a World Cup, and the Euros. 5. Sebastian Giovinco. The Atomic Ant has an affinity for cutting and slicing up defenses, juking defenders out of their shoes before delivering killer final balls or practically unstoppable shots.

SS: I can't disagree with any of those selections, but I'll throw out five other names just to keep this interesting. 1. Lee Nguyen. This guy's got an absolute hammer shot, and while he may never get a legitimate opportunity with the U.S., he's certainly an exciting player to watch. 2. Kyle Beckerman. As far as holding midfielders go, this guy plays the position as good as anyone. As both a distributor and a disruptive defensive presence, he's worth watching. 3. Robbie Keane. Ireland's all-time scoring leader and most CAP'd player is the reigning league MVP and even at age 34 is still a threat to score tallying over 20 goals for the Galaxy last year between the regular season and playoffs. 4. Michael Bradley. Arguably the best America has to offer right now. Nobody works harder on the field than he does. 5. Bill Hamid. Arguably the future of U.S. Goalkeeping, Hamid was a big reason DC won the East last year, and you saw how much of a difference it made not having him in net for DC's first leg Champions League match against Alajuelense.

2. SM: Freddy Adu is reportedly in talks with two separate teams in the Swedish Allsvenskan. Considering his recent exploits and the long list of teams he's represented, can he finally nail down some regular playing time and get his career back on track or is this just another stop on his interesting career?

SS: Oh boy, who knows? If given the opportunity, he could probably get his career on track, but as we’ve discussed before, Adu seems to get in his own way when things aren’t going right for him. Will he be humble about this opportunity and work his butt off or is he expecting a starting job to be handed to him? I honestly can’t even begin to guess how this plays out. At this point, Adu is just as likely to play in the Champions League as he is to end up teammates with Austin Berry in South Korea’s second division.

Freddy Adu is a special case. He's played for no less than 10 separate club teams and he's still only 25. I'd venture to say that's a record. Possibly not one anyone would like to have, but a record nonetheless. In the will he/won't he game, at this point, I honestly wouldn't know where to lay my money. Much like you said, at this point he's just as likely to end up at Real Madrid as he is the New Orleans Jesters. 

That's all for this week, folks. Follow us on twitter at @cjleonard03 and @SoccerSmith15.

Looking at the Lineups

Last week we analyzed the Leg 1 Starting XIs for DC United and Montreal in their Champions League fixtures. Here's a look at how they lined up for Leg 2.


GK - Evan Bush (USA) - 13 starts in 2014 (2-6-5), 3 shutouts
D - Bakary Soumaré (Mali) - 1st season w/ Montreal, 106 career MLS starts, 12 CAPs for Mali
D - Donny Toia (USA) - 1st season w/ Montreal, 24 starts for Chivas USA in 2014
D - Laurent Ciman (Belgium) - 1st season w/ Montreal, 9 CAPs for Belgium
D - Victor Cabrera (Argentina) - 1st season w/ Montreal, on loan from River Plate
M - Dilly Duka (USA) - split 2014 w/ Montreal and Chicago, 3 goals in 14 games for Impact in 2014
M - Ignacio Piatti (Argentina) - 4 goals in 6 games for Impact in 2014, Designated Player
M - Justin Mapp (USA) - 298 career MLS apps, 20 starts for Impact in 2014, 8 CAPs for USA
M - Marco Donadel (Italy) - 1st season w/ Montreal, Over 200 Apps in Serie A
M - Nigel Reo-Coker (England) - 1st season w/ Montreal, split 2014 w/ Vancouver and Chivas USA
F - Dominic Oduro (Ghana) - 1st season w/ Montreal, 48 goals in 252 MLS Apps, 1 CAP for Ghana

Notes: Montreal trotted out the identical Starting XI that they used in Leg 1. They brought the same batch of substitutes with them as well: Hassoun Camara, Maxim Tissot, Calum Mallace, Patrice Bernier, Cameron Porter, Jack McInerney and Kristian Nicht... Subtitutes Cameron Porter and Calum Mallace combined for Montreal's stoppage time equalizer... Marco Donadel and Dominic Oduro were subbed out in both Legs while the third substitute was used on Victor Cabrera in Leg 1 and Nigel Reo-Coker in Leg 2.

DC United

GK - Bill Hamid (USA) - 30 starts in 2014 (14-9-7), 10 shutouts, 110 saves
D - Bobby Boswell (USA) - Team Captain, 34 starts for DC United in 2014, 3 CAPs for USA
D - Sean Franklin (USA) - 28 starts for DC United in 2014, 1 CAP for USA
D - Steve Birnbaum (USA) - 21 starts as a rookie for DC United in 2014, 1 CAP for USA
D - Chris Korb (USA) - 15 starts for DC United in 2014, 30 starts in 2013
M - Davy Arnaud (USA) - 30 starts for DC United in 2014, 7 CAPs and 1 goal for USA
M- Nick DeLeon (USA) - 31 starts for DC United in 2014, 2 goals, 5 assists
M - Perry Kitchen (USA) - 31 starts for DC United in 2014, 5 goals, 4 assists, 1 CAP for USA
M - Chris Pontius (USA) - Limited to 6 games and 3 starts for DC United in 2014, 28 career goals
F - Fabián Espíndola (Argentina) - Career-highs w/ 11 goals and 9 assists for DC United in 2014
F - Jairo Arrieta (Costa Rica) - 1st season w/ DC, 5 goals for Columbus in 2014, 15 Caps for CR

Notes: Bill Hamid returned to the DC starting lineup replacing Andrew Dykstra for Leg 2 while Chris Korb replaced Taylor Kemp and Jairo Arrieta replaced Chris Rolfe... Arrieta appeared in Leg 1 as a substitute... Michael Farfan appeared as a substitute in both legs... Conor Doyle and Chris Rolfe both came off the DC bench in the second half... Goals were scored by Arrieta and Espindola... Backup Keeper Travis Worra and midfielder Jared Jeffrey were replaced on the active roster by Hamid and Doyle for the second leg.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

U.S. U-17s Win Again

The U.S. U-17s got their second hat trick in three games with Joshua Perez finding the net three times as the U.S. cruised to a 4-1 win over Guatemala. Perez wrapped up the trifecta before the first intermission converting a free kick, a goal in the run of play and a penalty kick. Pierre Da Silva scored the U.S.'s fourth goal just after half time before the U.S. conceded their first goal of the tournament later in the half. Christian Pulisic picked up his fourth assist of the tournament while also setting up Perez's penalty. He has had at least one assist in all three U.S. matches.

With three wins in as many matches, the U.S. find themselves in the driver's seat of Group A. They take on Honduras on Sunday with a chance to lock up a berth to the 2015 World Cup.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Carli Lloyd Leads U.S. Women to Win Over Norway

Carli Lloyd struck twice in the second half as the U.S. opened the Algarve Cup with a 2-1 win over Norway. Lloyd, who will be 33 this summer, scored 15 goals for the U.S. in 2014 and now has 63 goals in her international career. The U.S. now gets ready to take on Switzerland on Friday. The Swiss won their opener against Iceland 2-0.

Do You Believe in Miracles???

Ok, so this wasn't on par with Lake Placid, but Montreal's Hail Mary equalizer that eliminated Mexican powerhouse Pachuca and advanced them to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League was pretty epic. Down 1-0 in the 94th minute, rookie Cameron Porter delivered perhaps the biggest goal in franchise history fending off contact and demonstrating excellent poise tucking his shot through the oncoming keeper's legs and into the history books.

Porter was taken with the 45th pick in this year's SuperDraft after four years at Princeton. Born in Ohio, he's eligible to play for the U.S. You watching, Jurgen?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Gallardo Scores Again as U.S. U-17s Improve to 2-0

Joe Gallardo scored his 4th goal of the tournament and Haji Wright added an insurance goal as the U.S. U-17s improved to 2-0 with a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. Gallardo's goal came off a free kick at the top of the box while Christian Pulisic was able to spring Wright for his goal midway through the second half. Pulisic now has three assists through the first two matches.

Next up for the U.S. is Guatemala on Thursday.

Weekly Top Tens - 3/2/15


1) Diego Costa (Spain) - Chelsea - 17
1) Sergio Agüero (Argentina) - Manchester City - 17
3) Charlie Austin (England) - Queens Park Rangers - 14
3) Harry Kane (England) - Tottenham Hotspur - 14
5) Alexis Sánchez (Chile) - Arsenal - 12
6) Saido Berahino (England) - West Bromwich Albion - 11
6) Papiss Demba Cissé (Senegal) - Newcastle United - 11
8) Robin van Persie (Netherlands) - Manchester United - 10
8) Wayne Rooney (England) - Manchester United - 10
10) Christian Eriksen (Denmark) - Tottenham Hotspur - 9
10) Diafra Sakho (Senegal) - West Ham United - 9
10) Olivier Giroud (France) - Arsenal - 9
10) David Silva (Spain) - Manchester City - 9
10) Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) - Manchester City - 9
10) Dany Ings (England) - Burnley - 9
10) Eden Hazard (Belgium) - Chelsea - 9

Superman and the SoccerSmith Q&A, Episode 7

Welcome to Episode 7 of Superman and the SoccerSmith's 4-4-2 Soccer Q&A. Better late than never! Here we go!


1. Superman (SM): Opening weekend is almost upon us. Which fixture are you most interested/excited to see as the MLS season gets underway?

SoccerSmith (SS): Here's my top 5 for Opening Weekend in no particular order: (1) LA Galaxy vs Chicago (3/6). The Fire made substantial upgrades this offseason and I'm curious to see how it'll translate in terms of on-field success. They get a big test out of the gates, and a positive result could really set the tone for their season. (2) Seattle vs New England (3/8). East meets West in a battle of powerhouse clubs from a year ago. Seattle is doubtlessly seeking more hardware after winning 2 of 3 major titles last season while New England just missed winning the MLS Cup. Lots of big names in this one too with Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo, Charlie Davies, and more. (3) FC Dallas vs San Jose (3/7). I see the Quakes as a potential sleeper this year after a disappointing 2014, and I want to see what they can do against a playoff team like FC Dallas. Dallas meanwhile got a new keeper in Dan Kennedy who could be poised for a huge season now that he's playing for a contender after years with Chivas USA. (4) Vancouver vs Toronto FC (3/7). Toronto brought in Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco this offseason. Are they finally a playoff team? They get an immediate test with a match against the Champions League-bound Whitecaps who finished 2014 as the top ranked Canadian franchise. (5) Orlando City vs New York City FC (3/8). The league's newest clubs debut against each other as Kaka, Mix Diskerud, David Villa and Brek Shea will all be on display.

SM: Yes to all of those and I'll add one more in Sporting KC vs. The New York Red Bulls. The return of Roger Espinoza coupled with an in-form Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and Graham Zusi vs. Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dax McCarty should make for some very entertaining watching.

2. SS: Portland just lost midfielder Ben Zemanski to a torn ACL. He will now join injured teammates Will Johnson and Diego Valeri on the Timbers sideline to start the season. Given how deep the Western Conference is shaping up to be this year, can Portland stay competitive despite this rash of injuries?

SM: We all know that the west is unimaginably competitive. Almost every team seems to be a legitimate playoff contender. Having said that, no team is immune to the injury bug and the biggest problem most squads have is depth. So if Portland can manage to not drop too many points early and stay mid-table until everyone gets fully fit, they can make a playoff run. However, if they dig themselves too deep a hole in the first part of the season, it could be a disastrous year for the Timbers faithful.

SS: My gut says it's too much to overcome, but soccer's one of the rare sports where you don't have to be the better team on a given day to come away with a win. If Portland gets some lucky/fortunate results early on, they can contend. That said, if I'm a betting man, I'm not picking Portland to finish in the Top 6 in the West this year. Right now I see them behind LA, Seattle, Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Vancouver, and my sleeper team, San Jose. So if they're going stay in the hunt, they'll need a lot to go right for them.

3. SM: Tommy Thompson is only 19 and has already had a loan spell, been called back, and earned a starting spot for San Jose. So far this preseason he seems to be vastly improved over his rookie year, accounting for several goals and assists so far. Can he be the spark that pulls San Jose out of the basement and back in playoff contention?

SS: So I picked the Quakes as my sleeper team in the West this year, partly because of Thompson, but also because of the moves they made this offseason and the fact that they caught a lot of bad breaks last year. We've seen glimpses of Thompson's playmaking ability both in the recent CONCACAF U-20 tourney, as well is in MLS, but I still don't think he's quite put it all together, and he might still be a year or two away from being a big-time playmaker. Fortunately, the Quakes are going to be more than just Thompson and Wondo this year. Adam Jahn had a monster preseason, Matias Perez Garcia will be in the mix all year in the midfield, the defense is revamped and healthy, and Swiss International Innocent Emeghara was brought in to boost the offense. I do think this will be a big year for Thompson's development and if he does make the leap, it just strengthens my previous argument about San Jose's potential in 2015.

SM: I like where you're going with this, and I'll raise you this: Tommy Thompson's major problem last season was his finishing. He'd make some incredible moves, get himself into space, and either scuff his shot or play a poorly-weighted pass. This preseason has seen him up his game quite a bit so far. If he can hold form and even improve, he could be the creative force to push this team forward and maybe into the playoffs.

4. SS: Preseason games are just exhibitions so you can't read too deeply into anything that happens during them, but give me one player and one team, whose performances have stood out, good or bad.

SM: Kaka and Orlando City. Orlando City already seem to have clicked as a team and are playing with a defined style, and Kaka's performances have been nothing short of masterful. Little wonder he's been named captain of the squad, his poise and leadership speak volumes.

SS: I'm going to go with San Jose's Adam Jahn. After getting limited to just 4 regular season appearances in 2014, his second season in MLS, Jahn exploded for 7 goals this preseason. Will he be a factor for the Quakes in 2015? That remains to be seen, but in terms of preseason numbers, Jahn was far and away the league's most prolific scorer. As far as teams go, I'm going to say Montreal. Despite an influx of new personnel, the Impact went down to Mexico and defeated Cruz Azul in an exhibition match and nearly pulled off a stunning upset of Pachuca in the Champions League before settling for a draw with two huge away goals. Is this a sign of things to come for the new look Impact? Regardless, they've certainly made a statement with their work south of the border.


1. SM: Hope Solo had been reinstated. Is this good as she's the obvious first choice keeper for the women or will her off-field antics be a more of a distraction than her play is worth?

SS: We haven't seen anyone really challenge Hope Solo for her spot as the number one option and with the World Cup looming, I think this a case of the U.S. trying to field the most talented squad. I would have to imagine that there have been some closed door meetings with Solo and the Coaching Staff to address her behavioral issues, and I'm sure the decision to reinstate her wasn't one that was taken lightly. My guess is that she's fairly committed to trying to win the World Cup, something she hasn't done in her career, and that she'll be on her best behavior through the summer. There's a lot of veteran leadership on this U.S. team, and I think that, provided no new scandals arise, they can handle the distractions that Solo's already created and move past them.

SM: Agreed. So long as she stays on her best behavior we should be fine. The squad is very deep with veteran leadership and I would also bet a week's pay on there being a long conversation between her, US Soccer and the coaching staff. With the Algarve Cup around the corner and the Women's World Cup this summer, here's to hoping she keeps her nose clean so she can also continue keeping clean sheets.

2. SS: If Chris Wondolowski's career were to end today, how would you remember him?

SM: I would like to say that I would remember his goals in the Gold Cup in 2013 or the various friendlies he's featured in. I would like to say that I'd remember his very impressive scoring record in MLS while playing for what some consider to be a sub-par team. I would like to say that I would remember the fire and passion he played the game with. Unfortunately the biggest thing I'm going to remember him for is the miss inside the 6 at the World Cup last summer. The guy was brought to Brazil because of his obvious talent as a goal poacher; someone who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. However when it came time to showcase said talent and carry his country into the next round, he missed a sitter. I still have a ton of respect for the guy, but anytime someone says 'Wondo' to me, that's the first thing that will come to mind.

SS: It's a shame that he missed that shot, and for the majority of U.S. fans, that's what he'll be remembered for. If he had somehow scored there, or atoned for the miss somewhere else in the match, he has one of the best stories in U.S. soccer history. Wondo was the 41st player drafted in 2005 after a successful career at Chico State. He wasn't picked until the fourth round going after players like Steven Rhyne, Sasha Gotsmanov, Benjamin Benditson, Mike Lookingland, Aaron Pitchkolan and Eugene Sepuya. Still, he made the squad starting his career with the original San Jose Earthquakes and moved with them to Houston. He played on two MLS Cup winning sides in 2006 and 2007, but saw just limited minutes. In his first 5 MLS seasons, he appeared in just 53 regular season matches scoring only 7 goals. And then things changed. Given a chance to play every day for the new San Jose Earthquakes in 2010, Wondo came out of nowhere lead the league in scoring. He followed that up two years later with a record tying 27 goals and a career high 7 assists. He played the majority of the 2013 season with a broken foot because that's just who he is, and barring a huge setback, he'll eclipse the 100 goal mark in 2015. There is not a player in the league who does more with less, and to me he's the epitome of American Soccer. He's the hardest working guy on the field, the consummate underdog, and yet he's found success everywhere he's played. You can argue that National Team success has eluded him, but he has 9 goals in 27 matches for the red, white and blue and if you want to nitpick, he has more national team goals for than Claudio Reyna (8 goals in 111 CAPs), Tab Ramos (8 goals in 81 CAPs), John Harkes (6 goals in 90 CAPs), Taylor Twellman (6 goals in 30 CAPs), Herculez Gomez (6 goals in 24 CAPs), Roy Lassiter (4 goals in 30 CAPs), Jermaine Jones (3 goals in 50 CAPs), or Benny Feilhaber (2 goals in 41 CAPs), and more than Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies combined (8 total goals in 52 CAPs). There is only one player in U.S. Men's soccer history (Willy Roy) to score more goals in fewer appearances than Wondo and he retired from the international scene in 1973. My heart literally breaks for him every time I think of the Belgium game, but he's owned that miss, and to me, he's a guy you want to root for.

3. SM: Klinsmann is targeting yet another German-American in Ashton Gotz. The 21-year-old only recently broke into his mid-table side, Hamburger SV's, first team. Do you see him as a viable option at right back, or is Klinsmann showing a bit more of his European bias?

SS: Honestly I haven't seen much of Gotz so it's hard for me to really say if he's National Team material or not. I don't want to get too excited about his potential until he gets his citizenship paperwork sorted out. My understanding is there's some issues with that based on his relationship with his father or something. So yeah, until he's actually eligible, I have a hard time adding him into the conversation about who our right back should be. As for Klinsmann's bias, let's face it, if you play in the Bundesliga, and you're eligible to play for the U.S., Klinsmann's history suggests he's going to call you.

SM: I think we may have shared a brain on this one. It seems to me that if you're a young-ish guy who's playing any position in the Bundesliga (and almost any level of that particular league) and has even the loosest ties to an American family, you're probably going to get a call from Jurgen. I haven't seen this guy play either but he only recently broke into the first-team at a side that is currently involved in a relegation battle. I realize that doesn't always speak to the talent level of a player but this one seems a bit of a reach for me. Time will ultimately tell of course, but it seems to me that there are more viable options out there.

4. SS: The 25-woman roster for the upcoming Algarve Cup is out. What do you think of it? Any surprises?

SM: None that I can see. I like this squad. Carli Lloyd is a creative force in the middle, Tobin Heath is a threat on the wing, Ali Krieger and Becky Sauerbrunn along with Rampone and Klingenberg are as good as any defenders in women's soccer and Hope Solo, despite her off-field issues, is still the best woman between the sticks on the planet. Did I mention our forwards? Do I need to? Abby Wambach scores for fun at this tourney and with Alex Morgan, Christen Press, and Sydney Leroux all making the trip this is a squad I can get behind.

SS: The one thing that strikes me as being strange is that we're traveling with 10 defenders and just 7 midfielders. Normally, I'd think we'd have that the other way around. The only explanation I can think of is that we haven't settled on which defenders we're going to move forward with and this tourney is going to pair the ten down to a final seven or eight for the World Cup. The only real omission I noted was that backup keeper Nicole Barnhart isn't traveling with the team and we're instead sending Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher to back-up Hope Solo.

Wild Card

1. SM: Ronaldinho Gaucho has played on almost every stage imaginable. His current team in Mexico, Queretaro, is currently in 14th place in Liga MX. The 34-year-old has expressed interest in playing in MLS recently, would you like to see him here and if so, what team could use him the most?

SS: I'm kind of indifferent on Ronaldinho coming here. I don't think he should be aggressively targeted by teams, but at the same time, I don't think we should be turning him away either if he comes knocking on doors. He's getting up there in years, but he's obviously still good enough to play in Liga MX, which is arguably still a better league than MLS so that speaks to his abilities. I could see him being a fit with the Red Bulls to fill some of the void left by Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry or perhaps Orlando City alongside fellow Brazilian Kaka. Bottom line though, for the right price, there's probably not a ton of teams that would say no to his services.

SM: Personally I would love to see him in MLS. Ronaldinho brings something to the table that seems to be missing in a lot of leagues around the world nowadays: Flair. He's got more tricks up his sleeves than a ton of guys half his age and he's not afraid to use them. He tries things in games that most pros won't and more often than not he pulls them off. And I think that would be great for the MLS. A legendary guy who plays with a smile on his face and is a certified show-off? Sign him, MLS.

2. SS: Who is going to win the 2015 CONCACAF Champion's League?

SM: At this point I'd say Club America. They simply are too deep and seem to have the ability to turn it up a notch when it counts. I would love to say that DC United can turn it around or Montreal can make it happen but I just can't see either one pulling it off.

SS: After watching Leg 1, I think America is definitely looking like the favorite. They had no trouble dispatching a pretty good Saprissa team. That said, I wouldn't sleep on the other remaining Costa Rican sides as Herediano and Alajuelense are both proving to be tough outs.

That's all for this week, folks. Follow us on twitter at @cjleonard03 and @SoccerSmith15.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

10 Questions For the 2015 MLS Season

So two months ago I wrote about 10 things to watch for during the 2015 MLS season. A lot's happened since then, so now with the preseason over, let's update our list of questions for the upcoming season:

1) What effect with big name newcomers like David Villa, Frank Lampard, Kaka and Steven Gerrard have on the league?

2) Which U.S. National Teamers that joined/rejoined the league this offseason (Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea) will find success?

3) Is Sebastian Giovinco the final piece to Toronto's puzzle?

Preseason Recap

The preseason is finally over as we begin the final countdown to the 2015 MLS season. Here's a rundown of all of your preseason matches in case you missed any.

Chicago Fire (1-0-4)

2/5 - T 0-0 vs Norwich City
2/12 - W 1-0 vs Queens Park Rangers - Quincy Amarikwa
2/22 - T 0-0 vs Stabaek
2/25 - T 1-1 vs Portland Timbers - Own Goal
2/28 - T 1-1 vs Vancouver Whitecaps - Shahdon Winchester

Colorado Rapids (2-2-2)

2/13 - W 2-0 vs UNLV - Oscar Montoya, Dominique Badji
2/15 - L 2-0 vs San Jose Earthquakes
2/18 - T 2-2 vs Sporting Kansas City - Gabriel Torres, Dominique Badji
2/21 - T 1-1 vs New England Revolution - Gabriel Torres
2/25 - W 1-0 vs FC Tucson - Axel Sjoberg
2/28 - L 2-1 vs Real Salt Lake - Dillon Serna