Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chivas USA - Where are they now?

Here's a look at what the players from Chivas USA's final days did in MLS this season:

Dispersal Draft:

1. Dan Kennedy - FC Dallas - 16 GS, 30 Saves, 19 GA, 5 Shutouts, 7-5-4
2. Matt Dunn - New York City FC - 1 appearance (waived in June)
3. Thomas McNamara - New York City FC  (exp draft) - 19 Apps, 15 Starts, 5 Goals, 3 Assists
4. Donny Toia - Montreal Impact - 31 Apps, 29 Starts, 1 Goal, 0 Assists
5. Caleb Calvert - Colorado Rapids - DNP (On Loan to Charlotte Independence)
6. Kris Tyrpak - DNP (waived by San Jose in Feb, played w/ Austin Aztec & San Antonio Scorpions)
7. Marco Delgado - Toronto FC - 20 Apps, 19 Starts, 3 Goals, 3 Assists


Bobby Burling - Colorado Rapids - Waiver Draft - 22 Apps, 22 Starts, 2 Goals, 0 Assists
Carlos Bocanegra - Did Not Play, Retired
Tony Lochhead - Did Not Play in MLS
Martín Rivero - Did Not Play in MLS, Plays for Aldosivi (Argentina)
Nigel Reo-Coker - Montreal Impact - Waiver Draft - 28 Apps, 20 Starts, 0 Goals, 2 Assists
Agustín Pelletieri - Did Not Play in MLS, Plays for Tigre (Argentina)
Michael Nwlioh - Did Not Play in MLS
Akira Kaji - Did Not Play in MLS, Plays for Fagiano Okayama (Japan)
Eric Avila - Orlando City SC (Loan from Santos Laguna) - 21 Apps, 15 Starts, 1 Goal, 2 Assists
Andrew Jean-Baptiste - Did Not Play in MLS, Released by New York Red Bulls in June
Marvin Chávez - Did Not Play in MLS, Plays for San Antonio Scorpions
Ryan Finley - Did Not Play in MLS, Plays for Charlotte Independence
Trevor Spangenberg - New England Revolution (Loaned to Richmond Kickers) - DNP
Nathan Sturgis - Houston Dynamo - Reentry Draft - 18 Apps, 15 Starts, 1 Goal, 2 Assists
Oswaldo Minda - Did Not Play in MLS, Plays for Barcelona (Ecuador)
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - Did Not Play in MLS

Designated Players:

Cubo Torres - Houston Dynamo - 11 Apps, 3 Starts, 0 Goals, 1 Assist

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Postseason Goal Scorers by Nationality - Conference Finals Leg 1

Lots of goals this weekend as the conference finals kicked off with both home teams coming away with two-goal victories. Here's how all of the postseason goals break down by nationality of the goal scorer. Kei Kamara leads everyone with three goals in this year's postseason while Liam Ridgewell became the fifth player to score in this year's playoffs after not scoring during the regular season.

Argentina (3)

Federico Higuaín (Columbus) - (1) - 8 goals in 32 appearances
Ignacio Piatti (Montreal) - (1) - 9 goals in 26 appearances
Maximiliano Urruti (Portland) - (1) - 4 goals in 30 appearances

Austria (1)

Andreas Ivanschitz (Seattle) - (1) - 1 goal in 6 appearances

Canada (3)

Patrice Bernier (Montreal) - (2) - 0 goals in 20 appearances
Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas) - (1) - 5 goals in 28 appearances

Monday, November 23, 2015

MLS Cup Conference Finals Diary, Leg 1


All right, time to watch the first leg of the Conference Finals. We'll start off with the Red Bulls taking on the Columbus Crew and then we'll follow that up with FC Dallas against the Portland Timbers. Hopefully we can get through both games, but that will really depend on whether or not my poor laptop can hold it together and if my wife can hold off on going into labor (due date is tomorrow). Let's start with Columbus vs New York...

The big story for Columbus is the fact that they're without their starting center back, Gastón Sauro, who's on a yellow card suspension. Sauro has been a tremendous addition to a defense that had issues all year, but tonight it'll be on Tyson Wahl teaming up with Michael Parkhurst in the heart of the Crew defense. Here we go!

0' - WOW. So the game has been going for all of 10 seconds and Justin Meram already has the Crew up 1-0. Taylor Twellman made the comment before the game started that this game would have some fireworks, and so far it has not disappointed. Ethan Finlay got absolutely trucked my Matt Miazga on that play too, but funny how those plays don't seem to hurt as much when you score.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

U.S. Settles For Draw in Trinidad and Tobago

So, the U.S. played a feisty Trinidad and Tobago side to a 0-0 draw and people are freaking out a little bit. My favorite comment though came from @benpkaufmann:

Phenomenal performance if we're in the WC needing a tie w/ Brazil. Qualifier v Trinidad? Not so impressive #USMNT #USAvTRI

Similar stuff from @Metro_Soccer:

Yes, Klinsmann said a draw would be good enough on the road, and no, it should not be. Trinidad isn't Argentina or Brazil #USMNT #USAvTRI

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Looking Back at Previous World Cup Qualifying Cycles

In preparations for this afternoon's World Cup Qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and look at how we fared in previous World Cup Qualifiers over the last four World Cup cycles. Not surprisingly, the U.S. generally has performed pretty well sporting an overall mark of 44-12-12 between 2000 and 2012. Here's some of the more notable observations I made:

1) Earnie Stewart was a beast during the 2002 World Cup Qualifying cycle scoring 8 goals in a 12 match span. He only scored 19 international goals in his entire career. He didn't pile them up against just the minnows either scoring against Mexico, in Costa Rica, and in Honduras.

2) Eddie Johnson scored goals during qualifiers during the cycles of 2006, 2010 and 2014. The only other players to do that were Carlos Bocanegra and Landon Donovan.

3) Clint Dempsey, an omission from the current squad, scored 8 times in World Cup Qualifying for the U.S. during the 2014 cycle.

4) The last American to score in a World Cup Qualifier in Trinidad and Tobago was Ricardo Clark (2009).

5) For all the talk about how Mexico is such a tough place for the U.S. to play, the U.S. has lost every World Cup Qualifying match they've played in Costa Rica going back to the 1990 cycle and have been outscored 19-6 over their last eight matches. You have to go back to the 1985 CONCACAF Championship - the precursor to the current World Cup Qualifying - where the U.S. drew 1-1 inCosta Rica to find a qualifier the U.S. didn't lose there.

6) The U.S. had just 7 shutouts in 16 World Cup Qualifying matches during the 2014 cycle. Only one of those shutouts came on the road, and that was in Mexico.

7) Of all the U.S. players who scored against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, only Jozy Altidore had previously scored for the U.S. in a World Cup Qualifier.

8) The U.S. lost in Trinidad and Tobago in 2008, 2-1.

9) Jozy Altidore's first international hat trick came against Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.

10) Dating back to last cycle, the U.S. has won four consecutive World Cup Qualifying matches.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

U.S. U-23s Throttled in Loss to Brazil, 5-1

An early 1-0 lead quickly became a distant memory as the U.S. U-23s found themselves on the wrong end of a rout in Brazil. The two teams went into halftime tied at one goal apiece before the floodgates opened up and Brazil wound up winning 5-1. The U.S. were outscored 7-2 in their two game series with the Brazilians. It was a disappointing trip for the U.S. as they get ready for next year's two-game series with Colombia to determine the final spot in the 2016 Olympics. Colombia split two games with Brazil earlier this year in the South American Youth Football Championship, dropping their first match 2-1, before beating them 3-0. Here's a look at how MLS was represented in the Starting XI of today's defeat:

Starters vs Brazil

Dave Romney - LA Galaxy
Eric Miller - Montreal Impact
Dillon Serna - Colorado Rapids
Matt Polster - Chicago Fire
Khiry Shelton - New York City FC

Saturday, November 14, 2015

USMNT and CMNT MLS Contingent Results

For the U.S. vs St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Around CONCACAF - World Cup Qualifying

By now, the fact that the U.S. has defeated St. Vincent and the Grenadines is old news, but what about the rest of CONCACAF? Just as a refresher, the Fourth Round of Qualifying for CONCACAF consists of round-robin play for three four-team groups. The top two teams in each group will advanced to the Fifth Round, commonly known as the Hexagonal. The U.S. is in Group C with Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The other two groups are Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Canada and Honduras, and Group B: Panama, Jamaica, Haiti and Costa Rica. Here's a quick glance at the rest of the matches on Match Day 1 (home teams in bold):

Group A

Mexico 3 El Salvador 0
Canada 1 Honduras 0

Group B

Costa Rica 1 Haiti 0
Panama 2 Jamaica 0

Group C

Trinidad and Tobago 2 Guatemala 1
United States 6 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1

And here's the match schedule for Tuesday:

Mexico at Honduras
Canada at El Salvador
Jamaica at Haiti
Costa Rica at Panama
Guatemala at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
United States at Trinidad and Tobago

Friday, November 13, 2015

U.S. Opens World Cup Qualifying with 6-1 Win

Five Thoughts on the U.S.'s 6-1 Win over St. Vincent & The Grenadines

1) Yes, the U.S. won this match, and won big in the end, but a 6-1 win over a team like St. Vincent & The Grenadines really doesn't tell you a whole lot. In fact, it's probably more significant that the U.S. trailed in this match than it is that the U.S. won by five goals. The St. Vincent goal was a result of a bad clearance and soft defending, and it's still unclear if the U.S. has settled on a starting back four moving forward. This much is for certain, we'll know a lot more about the U.S. after Tuesday's match against Trinidad and Tobago. On a side note, the St. Vincent goal scorer, Oalex Anderson plays in the USL for Seattle Sounders FC 2 which means you might see him in a Sounders uniform next season. Anderson, who just turned 20, has already scored 10 goals for St. Vincent & The Grenadines.

2) One of the biggest stories of this match is the fact that the U.S. was able to get both Matt Miazga and Darlington Nagbe onto the field which means that both will (hopefully) be a part of the U.S. soccer team for years to come. Miazga was being actively courted by Poland while Nagbe was born in Liberia and still eligible to play for them. Now, having appeared for the U.S. in a Qualifier, they're both "Cap-Tied" to the United States. Obviously it's too early to tell what kind of impact they'll have, but adding a center back and playmaking midfielder into the mix are never a bad thing.

3) Three of the six U.S. goals came as a result of set pieces, but what was interesting was that it was Fabian Johnson taking the kicks early on instead of Michael Bradley. The result was a free kick that deflected in off the wall, and a pair of corners flicked on to players making a back post run. Johnson, who started in the midfield instead of outside back, was dangerous all night and if Klinsmann can afford to keep him in the midfield, that could be a huge boost to the U.S. attack moving forward.

4) All Bobby Wood does is score big goals. He's scored four times (all this year) for the U.S. and his four goals are as follows: 1) Game Winner against the Netherlands, 2) Game Winner against Germany, 3) Extra time equalizer against Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, 4) Equalizer in World Cup Qualifying against St. Vincent & The Grenadines. I know Clint Dempsey's still out there, but could Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore be our solution up top? We should know more after we see the Trinidad and Tobago game next week, but there's no question that Bobby Wood is for real.

5) With a pair of goals, Jozy Altidore moved ahead of Brian McBride and into fourth place on the all-time scoring list with 31 career goals for the United States. Altidore now needs just three goals to catch Eric Wynalda for third place.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

U-23s Drop Opener in Brazil, 2-1

The U.S. U-23s dropped the first of two friendlies scheduled with Brazil, 2-1 on Wednesday. Jerome Kiesewetter, who scored 4 goals during Olympic Qualifying, converted a penalty kick for the U.S.'s only goal after they'd already fallen behind 2-0. Of the 11 U.S. starters, four weren't a part of the group that participated in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (John Brooks, Eric Miller, Julian Green, Khiry Shelton), and a fifth (goalkeeper Charlie Horton) was on the U.S. roster, but didn't appear in any matches. Here's a look at how MLS was represented in the Starting XI.
Starters vs Brazil
Boyd Okwuonu - Real Salt Lake
Eric Miller - Montreal Impact
Fatai Alashe - San Jose Earthquakes
Matt Polster - Chicago Fire
Khiry Shelton - New York City FC

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

U.S. Rosters for World Cup Qualifying/U-23 Friendlies

Here's a look at how the U.S. will line up in their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers as well as in a pair of U-23 friendlies against Brazil. The biggest surprise has to be the omission of Clint Dempsey who led the U.S. in scoring in 2015 with 9 goals in 10 matches. You could also argue the inclusion of Alan Gordon is also a bit of a surprise given that he doesn't start for his club team, the LA Galaxy, but his strong showing in the Champions League and knack for scoring goals off the bench was likely a factor. Here's a look at both rosters. The U-23s play Brazil today and Sunday, while the Senior National Team plays St. Vincent & The Grenadines on Friday and Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.

World Cup Qualifying

From MLS/U.S.

GK - Bill Hamid - DC United - 2 Caps
DEF - Matt Besler - Sporting Kansas City - 27 Caps
DEF - Matt Miazga - New York Red Bulls - 0 Caps
DEF - Brek Shea - Orlando City SC - 34 Caps, 4 Goals
MID - Kyle Beckerman - Real Salt Lake - 51 Caps, 1 Goal
MID - Michael Bradley - Toronto FC - 107 Caps, 15 Goals
MID - Mix Diskerud - New York City FC - 36 Caps, 6 Goals
MID - Jermaine Jones - New England Revolution - 54 Caps, 3 Goals
MID - Darlington Nagbe - Portland Timbers - 0 Caps
FWD - Jozy Altidore - Toronto FC - 87 Caps, 29 Goals
FWD - Alan Gordon - LA Galaxy - 2 Caps
FWD - Jordan Morris - Stanford - 6 Caps, 1 Goal
FWD - Gyasi Zards - LA Galaxy - 17 Caps, 2 Goals

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nigeria Wins U-17 World Cup

Victor Osimhen broke the U-17 World Cup Scoring Record with his 10th goal of the tournament, and that was all Nigeria would need as they shutout Mali 2-0 on their way to their 5th Championship. Funsho Bamgboye added an insurance goal a few minutes later for the Champions who finished the tournament with a record of 6-1-0 and outscored their opponents 23-5. Osimhen took home the Golden Boot and Silver Ball, while teammate Kelechi Nwakali took home the Golden Ball and Bronze Boot. Mali's Aly Malle won the Bronze Ball and their keeper Samuel Diarra won the Golden Glove. Finally, Germany's Johannes Eggestein won the Silver Boot and Ecuador won the FIFA Fair Play Award. In the consolation game, Mexico drew even with Belgium in the 88th minute on a goal from Francisco Venegas, but Belgium answered with a dramatic stoppage time winner when Dante Vanzeir clinched the match in the 93rd minute with his second goal of the game.


Nigeria 2 Mali 0

Consolation Game

Belgium 3 Mexico 2

Monday, November 9, 2015

Final Thoughts on the Conference Semifinals

Wow, what a Sunday! All four games were highly contested and just made for some really exciting soccer. In no particular order, here's a bunch of my observations from an action-packed day:

1) Of the four conference semifinal winners, the Red Bulls are the only ones who won both legs of their respective match-up.

2) Substitutes on Sunday accounted for 2 goals (Tesho Akindele, Walker Zimmerman) and 4 assists (Marco Pappa, Blas Pérez, Gonzalo Verón, Cedrick).

3) Every player to come off the bench for FC Dallas on Sunday (Tesho Akindele, Walker Zimmerman, Blas Pérez) notched either a goal or an assist. Akindele and Zimmerman also both scored PKs during the shootout. During the regular season, Akindele (goal) scored just once in fourteen appearances as a substitute, Zimmerman (goal) did not log a goal or an assist during the entire regular season, and Pérez (assist) did not log a goal or an assist in nine appearances as a substitute.

Playoff Match-Ups: Conference Finals


New York Red Bulls (1) vs Columbus Crew (2)

2015 Meetings

3/28/15 - New York Red Bulls 2 Columbus Crew 1
NYRB: B. Wright-Phillips, Grella; CLB: Tchani

7/4/15 - Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1
NYRB: Abang; CLB: Finlay 2

10/3/15 - New York Red Bulls 2 Columbus Crew 1
NYRB: Sam, B. Wright-Phillips; CLB: Meram

New York In Brief

Record: 18-10-6, 62 Goals For, 43 Goals Against (+19)
Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips - 17 goals
Assists: Sacha Kljestan - 14 assists
Goalkeeping: Luis Robles - 9 shutouts, 1.26 GAA, 18-10-6

Defeated DC United, 1-0 - McCarty (1)
Defeated DC United, 1-0 - B. Wright-Phillips (1)

Columbus In Brief

Record: 15-11-4, 58 Goals For, 53 Goals Against (+5)
Goals: Kei Kamara - 22 goals
Assists: Ethan Finlay - 13 assists
Goalkeeping: Steve Clark - 6 shutouts, 1.56 GAA, 15-11-8

Lost to Montreal, 2-1 - Higuaín (1)
Defeated Montreal, 3-1 (a.e.t) - Kamara 2 (2), Finlay (1)

MLS Postseason Goal Scorers by Nationality, 2015 Edition, Week 2

Quite a weekend in MLS as we're down to the final four teams. This weekend featured some incredible matches with both likely and unlikely heroes stepping up. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his first goal of the postseason to clinch a win for the Red Bulls; FC Dallas's Walker Zimmerman scored both the goal that forced extra time and the winning penalty kick despite not scoring in 2015 (or 2014); Chad Marshall was in line to be the hero before Zimmerman's heroics when, after going scoreless in 2015, he headed in the go-ahead goal in the 90th minute for Seattle; Kei Kamara scored a goal, hit the crossbar with a header, had a penalty kick saved, and then scored the game winner in extra time in Columbus's emotional win over Montreal; and Fanendo Adi helped Portland to the only upset of the Conference Semifinals. Here's a rundown of all your goal scorers broken down by nationality through the first two rounds of the 2015 postseason.

Argentina (3)

Federico Higuaín (Columbus) - (1) - 8 goals in 32 appearances
Ignacio Piatti (Montreal) - (1) - 9 goals in 26 appearances
Maximiliano Urruti (Portland) - (1) - 4 goals in 30 appearances

Austria (1)

Andreas Ivanschitz (Seattle) - (1) - 1 goal in 6 appearances

Canada (3)

Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas) - (1) - 5 goals in 28 appearances
Patrice Bernier (Montreal) - (2) - 0 goals in 20 appearances

Postseason Rookie Watch, Week 2

Only three teams featured rookies in the second leg of the conference semifinals, and all three of those teams lost. Vancouver's Tim Parker and Seattle's Oniel Fisher both started for their respective clubs, but both sides were eliminated from the competition.


17 - Miguel Aguilar - DC United - Sub vs NYRB (Leg 2), 9 mins


13 - Tim Parker - Vancouver - Started vs Portland (Leg 2),  90 mins
16 - Cristian Roldan - Seattle - Sub vs FC Dallas (Leg 2), 44 mins
40 - Oniel Fisher - Seattle - Started vs FC Dallas (Leg 2), 88 mins

Friday, November 6, 2015

Season in Review: Houston Dynamo

Record: 11-14-9, 42 pts, 8th Place Western Conference
Goals For: 42
Goals Against: 49

Team Leaders

Goals: Will Bruin - 11
Assists: Brad Davis - 10
Shutouts: Tyler Deric - 7
All-Stars: DaMarcus Beasley

Year in Review

It was a tough year for the Dynamo as they missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Giles Barnes, a year after scoring a team-high 11 goals, endured a 13-match scoring drought midseason, Cubo Torres failed to score on the heels of his 15-goal season with Chivas USA in 2014, and injuries derailed the seasons of rookies Rob Lovejoy and Taylor Hunter, as well as veteran Jermaine Taylor. Meanwhile, the Dynamo's aging veteran core - DaMarcus Beasley (33), Ricardo Clark (32), Brad Davis (33) - while still productive, is now another year older with another season of miles on their legs. But while there are certainly question marks going forward, not everything was a disaster in 2015. Tyler Deric won four Save-of-the-Week honors in his first full year in net after the departure of Tally Hall, Beasley made the All-Star team, Davis notched his seventh double-digit assist season, Clark doubled his career-high with 8 goals, Will Bruin scored double digit goals for the third time in four years, and youngsters Mauro Manotas, Zach Steinberger, Lovejoy, and Rasheed Olabiyi all logged playing time. But Houston never won more than two games in a row at any point in the season and their longest unbeaten streak was just 3 matches.

What's Next?

With Giles Barnes, Cubo Torres and Will Bruin (if he re-signs), the Dynamo have proven goal scorers, but Barnes and Torres in particular will have to do more than they did in 2015. Clark and Davis were both solid in 2015, but they won't continue on forever, and at some point replacments will need to be groomed. Rumors of Davis's departure have already started swirling, but it's too early to tell if those hold water. Torres and Beasley are currently holding down Designated Player spots on the Dynamo roster which means Houston could go out and get another piece. I'd expect a midfielder or a defender. The Dynamo defense was solid if not spectacular in 2015 with Beasley, David Horst, Raúl Rodríguez and Jermaine Taylor/Sheanon Williams holding down the backline. Still, depth was an issue as there were times this year when midfielder Boniek García was forced to play in the back due to injuries. The Dynamo aren't that far removed from back-to-back Finals runs, but they'll need to make some adjustments if they want to end the playoff drought in 2016.

U-17 World Cup Update - Semifinal Edition

It's going to be an All-African Final at the U-17 World Cup as Nigeria will face off against Mali in the title match on Sunday. Mali won their rematch against Belgium 3-1 rallying for 3 unanswered goals after falling behind 1-0 in the 16th minute. Nigeria overcame a similar 1-0 deficit in their 4-2 defeat of Mexico. Nigeria's Victor Osimhen continued his scoring tear with a converted penalty in the 83rd minute tying the tournament record for goals with nine. Nigeria will be playing in their 8th Final and going for their 5th win while Mali is playing in their first U-17 Final. Mali won the 2015 African U-17 Championship back in February, but didn't face Nigeria in the tournament (Nigeria finished fourth).

Semifinal Match-ups

Nigeria 4 Mexico 2
Mali 3 Belgium 1

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Season in Review: New York City FC

Record: 10-17-7, 37 pts, 8th Place Eastern Conference
Goals For: 49
Goals Against: 58

Team Leaders

Goals: David Villa - 18
Assists: David Villa - 8
Shutouts: Josh Saunders - 4
All-Stars: David Villa, Frank Lampard

Year in Review

New York City FC stormed out of the gates with a win and a draw in their first two matches, but followed that up with an eleven game winless streak (0-7-4), and despite winning four of their next five, they never truly recovered. Ultimately, they capped their season with a three-game losing streak, a three-game winning streak, and finally another three-game losing streak. The season started without franchise centerpiece Frank Lampard, as his loan to Manchester City was extended, and when Lampard finally did arrive, City lost the first four games he played in. Lampard would play in only 10 matches all year during which City went 3-7-0. Mix Diskerud struggled mightily in his first MLS season scoring just three goals in 27 appearances, injuries tabled top draft pick Khiry Shelton and striker Tony Taylor for much of the season, and while the mercurial Andrea Pirlo brought sensational playmaking to the table, he didn't help City's defense which allowed a league-worst 58 goals. Still, despite the struggles and the disappointment of missing the postseason, David Villa showcased his abilities to the tune of 18 goals and 8 assists in his MLS debut season and youngster Kwadwo Poku was a great story as he delivered four goals and seven assists despite starting just 6 matches and logging less than 1000 minutes on the season. Still, when you have Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, David Villa and Mix Diskerud, you expect to win more than a third of your matches, and an eighth place finish in the East was seen as cause to fire first-year head coach Jason Kreis.

What's Next?

City is going to have to address their defense moving forward. Just four shutouts in 34 matches and a league-worst 58 goals surrendered was more than their offensive arsenal could overcome. Josh Saunders faced 20 more shots than any other keeper in the league and while he led the league in saves, he also led the league in goals allowed. I would expect to see improvement in the back as City's ownership has not shown themselves to be the types to sit idly by. For example, this past season they brought in RJ Allen, Angeliño, Andoni Iraola, Jefferson Mena and Pirlo; all months after the season began. While the offense certainly wasn't a weak point in 2015, I'd expect to see it be even stronger in 2016. Mix Diskerud should improve upon his poor showing (3 goals, 1 assist), Lampard and Pirlo will have a full season to get used to playing together, and youngsters like Shelton and Poku should get more time on the field. It will be interesting to see how City goes upon filling the vacancy left by Kreis, as that will go along way in deciding just how far City can go next season.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Season in Review: Real Salt Lake

Record: 11-15-8, 41 pts, 9th Place Western Conference
Goals For: 38
Goals Against: 48

Team Leaders

Goals: Javier Morales - 8
Assists: Javier Morales - 12
Shutouts: Nick Rimando - 8
All-Stars: Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando

Year in Review

For the first time since 2007, Real Salt Lake failed to make the MLS postseason. With 8 losses in their final 12 matches, the perennial contenders fell below the red line and closed out the season with three straight losses during which they scored just one goal TOTAL. RSL's leading scorer from 2014, Joao Plata, never truly returned to the form he had before his injury and scored just 4 goals in 19 appearances. And while RSL remained ever dangerous on set pieces thanks to Javier Morales, the rest of the attack struggled mightily ranking 19th in goals out of 20 teams. Strikers Sebastián Jaime, Juan Manuel Martínez, Olmes García and Devon Sandoval combined to score just 12 goals, and all-time leading scorer Álvaro Saborío was traded away midseason to DC United for Luis Silva. Silva, who had 11 goals a year ago for DC United, had 0 goals and 0 assists in 530 minutes for RSL after the trade. Defensively, RSL struggled to overcome the offseason losses of veterans Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert and Ned Grabavoy, and then to add injury to insult, defender Chris Schuler was limited to just five games due to multiple injuries during the season. Despite all the issues, 2015 wasn't a total loss though. Youngsters Jordan Allen (20), Luis Gil (21), Justen Glad (18) and Elías Vásquez (23) all logged a good chunk of minutes, and despite their struggles in league play, Real Salt Lake still managed to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. But ultimately, after a seven year run of postseason appearances including two MLS Cup appearances, 2015 feels like a failure.

What's Next?

Kyle Beckerman (33), Javier Morales (35), Jámison Olave (34), Demar Phillips (32) and Nick Rimando (36) don't have too many years left in them, but all five made at least 16 starts in 2015. While, some youngsters on the roster have begun to emerge as legitimate contributors, there is still a significant bridge to be gapped before torches can be passed. First and foremost, Real Salt Lake needs to address their attack. The lack of a big-time goal scorer hurt them down the stretch, and I'm not sure the answer is currently on their roster unless Plata bounces back in 2016. RSL has used all three of their designated player slots on Plata, Jaime and Martínez (who ironically are all strikers), and if all three are back next year, they MUST do better. Still, this team is better than their 9th place finish suggests, and now that they are equipped with a high draft pick, they should be able to turn things around relatively quickly.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Meet Patrick Foss, Long Range Bomber

So, I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I came across this in a recent Sports Illustrated issue (still catching up on my magazines). Last month, the University of Virginia's Patrick Foss scored two goals on free kicks as Virginia defeated Louisville 3-2. Foss's second goal came from beyond midfield which, to be honest, I had to see to believe. Sure enough, Foss, late in the second half, delivered a game winning blast from wayyyyyyy down town (on his 21st birthday no less). No question it was a terrible play by the keeper, but goals are goals, and it won his team the match. Here's the highlights.

Those are Foss's only two goals this season. He also has five assists for the 9-3-3 Cavaliers.

Monday, November 2, 2015

U-17 World Cup Update - Quarterfinal Edition

Victor Osimhen has scored in all five of Nigeria's matches as the defending U-17 World Champions are through to the semi-finals where they'll face off against unbeaten Mexico (4-0-1). Osimhen, who plays for Ultimate Strikers FC in Nigeria, leads all players with 8 goals so far during the tournament, the most since Souleymane Coulibaly (Ivory Coast) scored 9 goals during the 2011 competition. In the other semifinal, unbeaten Mali (4-0-1), who has been scored on just once in five matches, will take on Belgium. The two countries played to a scoreless draw on October 18th in the opening match of the tournament for both teams. Both semifinals will be played on Thursday, with the 3rd Place Game and Championship to be held on Sunday.

Quarterfinal Match-ups

Nigeria 3 Brazil 0
Mali 1 Croatia 0
Mexico 2 Ecuador 0
Belgium 1 Costa Rica 0

Season in Review: Philadelphia Union

Record: 10-17-7, 37 pts, 9th Place Eastern Conference
Goals For: 42
Goals Against: 55

Team Leaders

Goals: C.J. Sapong - 9
Assists: Cristian Maidana - 15
Shutouts: Brian Sylvestre - 5
All-Stars: None

Year in Review

The Union won just once in their first 11 matches in 2015 (1-7-3) and were never able to recover from their slow start. Still, posting a nearly .500 record over the final 2/3 of the season (9-10-4) and advancing to the U.S. Open Cup Finals for a second consecutive season leaves fans reasons to be optimistic moving forward. Andre Blake emerged out of the wreckage that was Philadelphia's goalkeeping situation and the 24 year-old Jamaican will likely hold down the position for the Union for years to come. C.J. Sapong (26) resurrected his declining career with his best MLS season despite an early injury and gave the Union attack some youth as Conor Casey (34) and Sébastien Le Toux (31) were the club's top two scorers in 2014. Cristian Maidana was second in MLS with 15 assists and the addition of Swiss International Tranquillo Barnetta added stability to the midfield. But the defense lacked consistency and their -13 goal differential was the second worst in the league behind only the Chicago Fire. On offense, promising loanee Fernando Aristeguieta contributed only 14 starts and scored just twice after April 5th, and the Union never won more than two in a row at any point during the season.

What's Next?

Cristian Maidana definitely earned his designated player paycheck, but neither Maurice Edu nor Aristeguieta delivered memorable performances in 2015. Aristeguieta's loan is up and assuming he returns to Nantes (France), that will free up a designated player spot on the Union roster. The emergence of Blake finally solves Philadelphia's goalkeeping issues and allows them to focus their attention elsewhere going into 2016. The backline wouldn't be a bad place to start, but a strike partner for Sapong wouldn't be a bad thought either. The midfield with Maidana and Barnetta is surrounded with young talent in Andrew Wenger (24), Eric Ayuk (18), Zach Pfeffer (20), and if Edu can somehow get pushed out of central defense, he'll shore that group up even further. If the Union play like the team that ended the season instead of the one that started it, they should be in the mix in the East next year, but they'll need better performances than they got from a lot of the supporting cast this year.

MLS Postseason Goal Scorers by Nationality, 2015 Edition

Just one week into the 2015 postseason and already we've had quite a good bit of craziness; bicycle kicks, shootouts, comebacks, free kick brilliance... But in the goal scoring realm perhaps nothing has been more impressive than Montreal captain Patrice Bernier who was held scoreless in 20 matches this season, and 26 more last season, and is tied for the playoff scoring lead with two goals through the Impact's first two matches this postseason (both wins). Bernier isn't the only player held scoreless during the regular season to score in this year's playoffs though as Seattle's Erik Friberg scored the game winner against the Galaxy in the knockout round after going scoreless since his acquisition in June. Here's a rundown of all your goal scorers broken down by nationality through the first week of the 2015 postseason.

Argentina (3)

Federico Higuaín (Columbus) - (1) - 8 goals in 32 appearances
Ignacio Piatti (Montreal) - (1) - 9 goals in 26 appearances
Maximiliano Urruti (Portland) - (1) - 4 goals in 30 appearances

Austria (1)

Andreas Ivanschitz (Seattle) - (1) - 1 goal in 6 appearances

Canada (2)

Patrice Bernier (Montreal) - (2) - 0 goals in 20 appearances

Postseason Rookie Watch, Week 1

Of the 12 teams to make the postseason in 2015, only three have started a rookie through the first eight matches. While Sporting Kansas City, who started TWO rookies (Saad Abdul-Salaam and Amadou Dia), was eliminated in a heartbreaking penalty kick shootout in one of the most entertaining matches in MLS postseason history, both teams that started a rookie in Leg 1 of the conference semfinals found success as Oniel Fisher and Seattle knocked off FC Dallas 2-1, and Tim Parker and Vancouver shutout Portland on the road in a 0-0 draw. Here's a rundown of all the rookie action through Week 1 of the MLS postseason.


17 - Miguel Aguilar - DC United - Sub vs NYRB (Leg 1), 6 mins


12 - Saad Abdul-Salaam - Sporting KC - Started vs Portland, 120 mins, yellow card, missed PK*
13 - Tim Parker - Vancouver - Started vs Portland (Leg 1), 90 mins, 1 shot
16 - Cristian Roldan - Seattle - Sub vs LA, 2 mins
16 - Cristian Roldan - Seattle - Sub vs FC Dallas (Leg 1), 14 mins
20 - Amadou Dia - Sporting KC - Started vs Portland, 120 mins, 1 assist, yellow card, made PK*
40 - Oniel Fisher - Seattle - Started vs FC Dallas (Leg 1), 90 mins

*Shootout Penalty