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This Week in MLS – April 18, 2016

 

This Week in MLS – April 18, 2016
  • Ironman Quincy Amarikwa making a name for himself in second stint with San Jose
  • Canadian rivals Montreal and Toronto to meet for first time since memorable playoff clash
  • All of MLS Participating in 2016 Greener Goals Week of Service
  • Week 7 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 8 Game Previews
 
Ironman Quincy Amarikwa making a name for himself in second stint with San Jose
 
“I’m telling you, this guy is one of the strongest guys you will ever see.  He can surprise people, [or] people can know it’s coming – he’s that strong. He can still hold them off. I’ve been saying that since 2009; he’s one of the strongest guys you’ll ever see.” – Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes (MLSsoccer.com)
 
A Bakersfield kid with grown-man strength far beyond his size, San Jose Earthquakes forward Quincy Amarikwa has a flair for the extravagant and is quickly making a name for himself as an electric player who also happens to be a business savvy player off the pitch. Producing the early frontrunner for goal of the year with an amazing long distance shot named No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 (Watch Goal), the 28-year-old’s athletic and aggressive attacking style will be on full display when San Jose hosts Sporting Kansas City at Avaya Stadium in MLS Soccer Sunday action (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes).
 
A pre-med student at UC Davis, Amarikwa owns his own marketing business and offers advice through his personal website blog, using his voice as a professional soccer player to further other’s business endeavors. While Amarikwa shines in the spotlight with his business acumen, highlight reel play on the field, and natural charisma on camera (Watch Video), the success of #Quincytime in San Jose was far from a certainty early in his career. Now back with the original club that drafted him in 2009 after spells with three other MLS clubs, Amarikwa has proved his second stint with San Jose would be far more successful, scoring six goals along with four assists last season and forming a deadly combo with forward Chris Wondolowski by overpowering much larger defenders despite his 5’9” frame.
 
With his strong run of form garnering plenty of attention across the league, Amarikwa’s mind is on a more global scale, as he hopes to one day suit up for the Nigerian national team. His father moved from Nigeria to the United States, thus making Amarikwa eligible to represent the African nation and culture he holds in such high regard. Whether it be his international flavor, incredible goal scoring or the entertaining celebrations that ensue, it’s easy to see why Amarikwa has quickly become a fan favorite in the Bay Area and one of the most electrifying playmakers in Major League Soccer.   
 
Canadian rivals Montreal and Toronto to meet for first time since memorable playoff clash
Fierce regional rivals. Star-studded rosters. Revenge-minded players. Those are just a few of the many headlines fans can lookout for when the Montreal Impact host Toronto FC on Saturday at Stade Saputo in the rivals’ first encounter of the season (4:00 p.m. ET, TSN4). After being eliminated by Montreal 3-0 in the knockout round of last season’s playoffs, the team’s first-ever postseason appearance, Toronto FC’s players will surely enter the match looking to avenge the loss and establish national supremacy in the first of three matchups scheduled this season.
 
Montreal enters the week atop the Eastern Conference standings with 12 points following a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire last week featuring plenty of fireworks. Forward Didier Drogba scored his first goal of the year with a tricky backheel goal to draw Montreal even and looks to bring the same flare for an Impact squad playing its first match at Stade Saputo this season (Watch Goal). Teaming with Drogba in the attack is Argentine maestro Ignacio Piatti, who ranks third in the league in goals scored after rocketing a shot from just outside the box in stoppage time to secure the victory for Montreal (Watch Goal).
 
With Toronto’s roster filled with some of the league’s most exciting players like Landon Donovan MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco and U.S. Men’s National Team mainstays Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, Saturday’s match will certainly be packed with emotion as the two in-form Eastern Conference teams battle it out. 
 
“It’s a big game … regardless of point totals or what happened last year,” Bradley told the Toronto Sun. “Toronto red versus Montreal blue. There’s history. There’s passion. People from both cities should be excited. I think it could play out in a way where we have two of the best teams in the league.”
 
Orlando City SC offense finding its groove ahead of MLS Soccer Sunday action at New York Red Bulls
With an attacking unit featuring dangerous weapons seemingly at every position, Orlando City SC hopes it can continue its Eastern Conference-leading goal scoring pace in MLS Soccer Sunday action against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes). Orlando has quickly established itself as a playoff contender this year and proven they can compete with the top teams in the league in what is just the club’s second season in the league. Recently signed forward and Brazilian international Julio Baptista played a major role in his first MLS start last week, drawing a foul in the box in the opening minute of play capitalized by a successful Kaká penalty kick (Watch Goal). Following the 2-2 draw against New England Revolution, Orlando sits in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, powered by 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin’s team-leading three goals. A return to Red Bull Arena for the Red Bulls will be a welcome sight for a squad expecting the return of several key players who were recently out of action due to injury.
 
All of MLS Participating in 2016 Greener Goals Week of Service
Today kicks off MLS WORKS Greener Goals Week of Service. Taking place for the first time, all of MLS – including all twenty clubs, the League Office and MLS National Sales Center – will be giving back to their local communities leading up to Earth Day. Beginning on April 18, the League-wide initiative will include various efforts to give back in each market. By partnering with local organizations, MLS will do its part to help support and create sustainable communities. With more than 1,000 employees volunteering their time through April 18 – 23, we’re anticipating approximately 84,000 individual hours of service will be completed, assisting in the League-wide effort to create sustainable communities.
 
MLS WORKS Greener Goals aims to support the environment by undertaking community initiatives in partnership with MLS clubs and educating the soccer community about the importance of sustainability. The platform helps to identify ways to reduce the league’s carbon footprint and raise awareness about environmental issues through the soccer community. For additional information on MLS Greener Goals, visit http://www.mlssoccer.com/mls-works/greener-goals.
 
AT&T Goal of the Week (Week 7) – CLICK HERE to vote
  • Didier Drogba (MTL) Slotted home a fleet-footed backheel goal to draw Montreal even against the Chicago Fire
  • Jack McInerney (POR) Broke free past the San Jose defense with a sweet slide to extend the play and register a right-footed shot far post
  • Fabian Castillo (DAL) Sent a chip shot from just outside the box over a fast approaching Adam Kwarasey into the back of the net
  • Burrito Martinez (RSL) Jukes a defender with a cutback towards goal before sending a right-footed shot past David Ousted
  • Kennedy Igboananike (CHI) Gives Chicago an early lead with a arching shot from the side of the box into the back post
  • Ignacio Piatti (MTL) Rocketed a stoppage time game-winning goal from outside the box towards far post and into the back of the net
  • Giovani Dos Santos (LA) Showed deft touch securing a Steven Gerrard cross and evading a defender before sending home a dribbler past Joe Willis
  • Mauro Rosales (DAL) Scores directly from a free kick hooking in his first FC Dallas goal over a wall of defenders
 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
 
“I am sure he feels more relief than I do. I am sure he is very, very happy. I know he had a couple of really, really good looks in the first half…It’s great for him, it’s great for our city, it’s great for our team.”
Seattle Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid on Jordan Morris scoring his first career MLS goal.
 
"He injected the group with a lot of energy, a lot of quality football, a lot of guile, experience. This is a guy that hasn't played a 90-minute game in I don't know how many months. In these kind of conditions, you can make so many excuses, but he was a real leader out there. And just found a way to get involved and really make a difference on both sides of the ball."
Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni on Jermaine Jones’ performance and impact in his first match with the team.
 
"It feels really good to win like that, credit to Didier and Nacho. They made special plays and their quality gives the whole team a lot of confidence. It felt like we had the quality to score the winning goal. We're happy to come back to Montreal with the three points."
Montreal Impact midfielder Harry Shipp on highlight reel goals by Didier Drogba and Ignaccio Piatti during Montreal’s 2-1 victory over Chicago Fire on Saturday.
 
"We went out there and we just battled. It just shows what kind of locker room we have. We came out here on Wednesday and got embarrassed and I think we were fortunate to have a home game this weekend in front of our fans to show that we're not that type of team.”
Portland Timbers forward Jack McInerney on the team’s 3-1 victory over San Jose in response to earlier struggles in the season.
 
"It just brings me a lot of optimism when I see a team wining in spite of the squad that is on the field. That tells us that we have a squad that is prepared to respond to the challenges and the players that are there. They're responding very well. That is one of the best things we can take out of this game. It's going to be a long season, and we need these kinds of players that can help us at any time."
FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja on his team’s 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City despite several regular starters missing the match.
 
Sweet Tweets
Dom Dwyer (@Ddwyer14 ): Big big thank you to @ChipotleTweets Loving my new card, can't wait to get started
Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire): Thanks @ChipotleTweets for the goods and for letting us these reactions @eGehrig16 @MattPolster @BrandonVincent
 
Brad Davis (@Brad_Davis11): It's been an honor and privilege playing 400 games in @MLS.  Thx for all the support throughout the years.
 
Shkelzen Gashi (@s_gashi11): 3 Home Games, 3 Wins! Always keep pushing for more Rapids @ColoradoRapids @MLS #Gashi #SG11
 
Jordan Morris ‏(@JmoSmooth13 ): Awesome win last night! Congrats to @OzzieAlonso and @brad_evans3 on their milestones! What great players. Thank you to all the fans! #ssfc
 
Week 8 Game Previews
Saturday, April 23
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC, 4 p.m. ET
  • Didier Drogba scored his first goal of the season, making his second appearance this year, coming off the bench in the Impact’s 2-1 win at the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon. Drogba has 12 goals in 13 career league appearances for the Impact, scoring in eight different games.
  • Sebastian Giovinco scored his fourth goal of the season, his second in as many games, leading Toronto FC to their first victory since the season opener in a 1-0 win at D.C. United on Saturday afternoon. The goal came after just 58 seconds, the earliest goal in TFC club history; it was the fifth time in MLS history the only goal of the game was scored in the opening minute.
  • The Impact defeated Toronto FC twice in four days at the end of the season a year ago, first winning 2-1 on Oct. 25 – their first win in the league series at Stade Saputo – then a 3-0 win in the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, also at Stade Saputo, in TFC’s first-ever postseason match. The Impact have won two league meetings at Olympic Stadium.
  • Since coming to MLS, the Impact have not won in Toronto, with six losses and four draws in 10 meetings in all competitions at BMO Field.
  • The teams have met in every season they’ve been together in MLS in the Canadian Championship, with the Impact winning the title in 2014 by defeating TFC 2-1 on aggregate in the final. The Impact have won with the teams have met in the semifinals on two of the three occasions, in 2013 and 2015, when they won on away goals after the level was level 3-3 on aggregate.
 
Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC, 4 p.m. ET
  • Union fell back to an even .500 record for the season, after their 2-1 defeat at Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening. Sebastien Le Toux scored his second goal of the year, assisted by C.J. Sapong; Sapong has three goals and one assist, among Union’s eight goals scored this season.
  • David Villa scored two goals in a game for the second time this season – his sixth career MLS multiple-goal game, in 36 league appearances – but NYCFC saw their winless run extended to five games in a 3-2 defeat at Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening.
  • The teams evenly split their season series in NYCFC’s first season in MLS. The teams split the two encounters in Chester, Union taking a 2-1 win on April 11, and NYCFC returning the favor in a 2-1 win June 6.
  • The teams reached a 1-1 draw in the only meeting at Yankee Stadium, on April 16.
 
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • United suffered their second home defeat of the season – now with one win in four matches at RFK Stadium this year – in their 1-0 loss to Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon.
  • The Revolution extended their undefeated streak to four games, scoring an equalizing goal deep in stoppage time for a second time this season, as they came back for a 2-2 draw Sunday at Orlando City SC. Lee Nguyen scored the latest penalty kick in the club’s history, in the 96th minute. The Revs have lost just once this season in seven games.
  • The teams are playing for the second time this season. They reached a scoreless draw March 12 at Gillette Stadium.
  • United have won the last two league meetings between the teams at RFK Stadium, including a 2-1 win last June 21 in their last regular-season matchup in Washington. The Revolution have a five-game undefeated streak alive at home in the series in league play (2-0-3). United’s last win in Foxborough came in 2012.
  • The teams also met in the MLS Cup Playoffs, United taking a 2-1 win at RFK Stadium in the Knockout Round. United have won three of the four series all-time between the teams in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
 
Columbus Crew SC vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Justin Meram had the single best day of his six-year MLS career, scoring a goal and adding two assists, involved in all of the goals in Crew SC’s 3-2 win against New York City FC on Saturday evening – the first victory of the season for the defending Eastern Conference champions after a five-game winless run.
  • The Dynamo saw their winless streak extended to four games with their third defeat in that time, falling 4-1 to the LA Galaxy on Friday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The Dynamo won the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 1-0 win March 7 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The road team has not won in the series since 2011, when the Crew claimed a 2-0 victory at Robertson Stadium in Houston. It is one of just two wins for the away team all-time in 20 meetings between the clubs.
  • The Crew have not lost to the Dynamo in Columbus since June 10, 2007, a 2-1 Houston victory. Since then, the Crew have won five of the eight meetings at home, with three draws.
 
Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 9 p.m. ET
  • Jermaine Jones scored a goal and added an assist in his Rapids debut, leading his new team to a second consecutive victory in a 2-1 win against the New York Red Bulls at a snowy Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening. It was Jones’ first goal in league play since Oct. 4, 2014, when he netted for the New England Revolution.
  • Jordan Morris scored the first goal of his professional career, hitting for the game-winner as Sounders FC won for a second time this season and extended their undefeated streak to three games in a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union at CenturyLink Field.
  • The Rapids won the last meeting between the teams a year ago, a 1-0 victory on July 18 at CenturyLink Field, ending a five-game Sounders FC winning streak in the all-time series and the club’s first victory ever in Seattle in 10 regular-season visits.
  • The final meeting win was just the second for the Rapids vs. Seattle over the last five seasons. Since the start of 2011, Sounders FC have 12 of 15 meetings in regular season and MLS Cup play, with one draw.
  • Sounders FC have won on their last two visits to Commerce City, including a 3-1 win last April 18 in the only meeting at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
 
LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Giovani dos Santos had the first multiple-goal game of his MLS career, in his 13th league appearance, and also added an assist as the LA Galaxy rolled to a 4-1 win against the Houston Dynamo on Friday evening. The Galaxy are now riding a four-game undefeated streak (2-0-2).
  • Real Salt Lake remained undefeated for the season, winning their third consecutive match in their 1-0 defeat of Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Juan Manuel Martinez scored his first goal of the season, assisted by Joao Plata; Plata now has four goals and four assists for the year, among RSL’s 10 goals scored this season.
  • The last three meetings at StubHub Center have all ended in a 1-0 scoreline, the Galaxy winning two, including a victory last May 27 in the only meeting in Carson.
  • Real have a four-game undefeated streak at Rio Tinto Stadium alive in the series, winning 3-0 in the last meeting there last Sept. 19.
  • The teams have met three times in the last five years in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Galaxy have advanced on two occasions, including in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals, when they took the series after a 5-0 win in the second leg at StubHub Center. The teams also met in MLS Cup 2009, RSL winning in a penalty shootout.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Whitecaps FC were shut out for a third consecutive match, losing for a second game in a row in their 1-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening. The ‘Caps have now gone 337 minutes since their last goal, the second-longest goalless drought in the club’s MLS history (they went 450 minutes without scoring in the 2014 season).
  • FC Dallas extended their undefeated streak to six games with a second consecutive win in their 2-1 win against Sporting KC on Sunday evening at Toyota Stadium. Michael Barrios scored for a second consecutive game, now with four goals over the last five games; FCD extended their home unbeaten streak to 10 games dating back to last year, the fifth-longest such streak in club history.
  • The teams split their season series a year ago, each winning once, with one draw. FC Dallas took a 2-0 win on Oct. 14 at Toyota Stadium, ending a three-game winless streak in the series vs. Vancouver.
  • FC Dallas have won all six encounters between the clubs in Frisco. Whitecaps FC have come away with points in their last five home matches with FC Dallas, with a win and three draws.
 
Sunday, April 24
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Chris Wondolowski scored the 115th goal of his MLS league career – now fourth in all-time league leaders – with his league-leading sixth goal of the season, but the Quakes remained winless away from Avaya Stadium following their 3-1 defeat at the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening.
  • Sporting KC suffered their second consecutive loss and third in the last four matches, falling 2-1 at FC Dallas on Sunday at Toyota Stadium, their first road defeat this year.
  • San Jose won both meetings between the teams a season ago, a 5-0 victory at Sporting Park on Aug. 19, and a 1-0 win Oct. 16 at Avaya Stadium.
  • The first meeting victory for San Jose was the first win for the road team in the series since 2004, when San Jose won at Arrowhead Stadium. The Quakes victory also snapped an eight-game home winning streak for Sporting vs. the Quakes.
  • Kansas City has not won in San Jose since Aug. 16, 2000. The Quakes have won 10 of the 15 meetings since in northern California, with five draws.
 
New York Red Bulls vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • The Red Bulls lost their fourth consecutive match, and for a sixth time in seven outings this season, dropping a 2-1 decision at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening. Ronald Zubar scored the Red Bulls’ lone goal, their first since March 19, ending their goalless drought after 337 minutes, the fifth-longest attacking shutout streak in the club’s history.
  • Kaká and Kevin Molino each scored their second goals of the season – both in the last three games – but Orlando City SC conceded a late equalizer for a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution on Sunday afternoon at the Citrus Bowl. Kaká’s goal came from the penalty spot after just 97 seconds – the earliest converted penalty kick in MLS history.
  • The teams split their two meetings a year ago in Orlando City’s first MLS season, the road team winning on each occasion. The Red Bulls claimed a 2-0 victory on July 18 at the Citrus Bowl, then Orlando City turned the tables in a 5-2 triumph Sept. 25 at Red Bull Arena.