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This Week in MLS – April 4, 2016

This Week in MLS – April 4, 2016
  • MLS Soccer Sunday to feature non-stop action with three back-to-back matchups
  • Dreams Fulfilled: Trio of Ghanaians share similar start on path to MLS  
  • Happy Birthday, MLS! MLSsoccer.com to celebrate 20th anniversary of inaugural match
  • Week 5 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 6 Game Previews
 
MLS Soccer Sunday to feature non-stop action with three back-to-back matchups
MLS Soccer Sunday packs a punch this week with three action-packed matches set to air on national television back-to-back. The non-stop soccer begins when Seattle Sounders FC travel to take on the highest scoring team in the league in Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (4 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes). Action then swings over to FS1 for the first of a double-header as Chicago Fire takes on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium (7 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes), followed by a must-see tilt at StubHub Center between the two previous MLS Cup champions: Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes).
 
Seattle’s Dempsey is a man on a mission but Dynamo bring firepower at home
With their first victory of the season in the books, Seattle hopes forward Clint Dempsey can continue his scoring ways after notching the game-winning goal in last week’s win over the Montreal Impact and opening the floodgates in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 4-0 rout of Guatemala in World Cup Qualifying. Hoping to join Dempsey on the scoresheet is fellow USMNT and Homegrown Player Jordan Morris, who is looking to make his mark on his hometown club as he rallies from U.S. U-23 Olympic Qualifying. Houston, meanwhile, began the season with a barrage of goals and continues to lead the league with 11 team tallies while forward Will Bruin remains tied for second in the Golden Boot race with three goals. With both teams’ numerous attacking weapons able to break through at any time, Sunday’s test is one to watch.
 
After seven-goal affair in Chicago, NYCFC play host to Fire in season-opening rematch
In their first meeting of the year, New York City FC and Chicago Fire put on a scoring clinic with NYCFC eventually prevailing in a thrilling 4-3 contest at Toyota Park. Viewers won’t want to miss this rematch to see if the two clubs can reproduce the same fireworks at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. NYCFC defender Ronald Matarrita will try to ensure Chicago has nowhere near the same level of success on the offensive end. The 21-year-old has locked down a starting position on the Costa Rica National Team’s backline despite his young age, most recently starring in a pair of strong performances against Jamaica in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. With Costa Rica sitting atop its group with only two goals allowed in four games, Matarrita hopes to bring the same level of success to a NYCFC squad in contention for its first MLS postseason appearance.     
 
Match of champions: 14’ Cup winners LA Galaxy welcome reigning champs Portland Timbers
Fans will be treated to a gem in the finale of MLS Soccer Sunday action when the two previous MLS Cup champions – Portland Timbers (2015) and LA Galaxy (2014) – face off in Southern California. Although both teams have recently lifted the title trophy at the end of the season, the ways in which they have constructed their rosters could not be more different. LA underwent a major roster overhaul in the offseason bringing in veteran European players such as Ashley Cole, Nigel de Jong and Jelle Van Damme, who have all suited up for their national teams and played for some of the largest clubs in the world. Portland, meanwhile, focused on chemistry and continuity with a lineup that features a young attacking unit, including South Americans Dairon Asprilla, Diego Chara, Lucas Melano, as well as Nigerian international and Timbers all-time scoring leader Fanendo Adi. As the two clubs meet for the first time in 2016, each team’s championship prowess is expected to be on full display.
 
Dreams Fulfilled: Trio of Ghanaians share similar start on path to MLS  
The paths to fulfilling the dream of playing professional soccer in MLS for Ghanaians David Accam (Chicago Fire), Emmanuel Boateng (LA Galaxy) and Joshua Yaro (Philadelphia Union) were vastly different, but each of their journeys had a common starting point: A helping hand from the Right to Dream Soccer Academy which provides children in Ghana ages 12-18 educational opportunities in both the classroom and on the pitch.
 
The eldest of the trio, 25-year-old Accam, grew up playing barefoot soccer on the streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital, until he was recruited to join Right to Dream at the age of 14. Following four years of hard work on and off the field, Accam was awarded a scholarship to study in England before impressing coaches and prompting a move to play professionally in Sweden. Starring for one of the most successful clubs in the country, Helsingborg IF, Accam’s exploits caught the attention of Chicago Fire, who brought in the speedy forward in 2015 to much success. Accam led the team with 10 goals scored last season, garnering club MVP honors, and already has Chicago’s fortunes looking up with two goals and one assist in two appearances this season. Accam’s journey from Ghana came full circle when he represented his native country in international play including the team’s run to the 2015 African Cup of Nations championship game.
 
Boateng’s equally humble upbringing in Accra took a major turn when he was recruited to join Right to Dream at 12-years-old, where he trained and studied for three years. At the age of 15, Boateng moved to the United States, attending Cate School in Carpenteria, California, where he quickly developed a reputation as a quick goal scorer, winning the 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year award. Boateng spent one acclaimed season at nearby UC Santa Barbara before joining Accam to play professionally at Helsingborg. After three seasons in Sweden, Boateng returned to the familiar confines of Southern California, signing with the LA Galaxy where he has settled in as a key piece in the team’s dangerous attacking unit.
 
Yaro’s path to MLS began in Kumasi, Ghana where he joined Right to Dream at the age of 15. Following a year in the academy, Yaro moved across the globe, joining Boateng at Cate School in California before attending college at Georgetown University. Yaro would spend three award-filled seasons at Georgetown before the Union selected him No. 2 overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft as a Generation Adidas player.
 
Happy Birthday, MLS! MLSsoccer.com to celebrate 20th anniversary of inaugural match
Major League Soccer officially turns 20 on Wednesday with the 20th anniversary of the league’s inaugural match that took place on April 6, 1996 between the San Jose Clash (now Earthquakes) and D.C. United. MLSsoccer.com plans to celebrate with an exclusive stream of the groundbreaking match on MLSsoccer.com starting at 7:50 p.m. ET. A special pregame show on Facebook Live Video (7:30 p.m. ET) will add to the unique viewing experience with a first-hand recounting of the historic match by former MLS players and personalities.
 
Premium 20th Anniversary content will also be available on MLSsoccer.com throughout the day on Wednesday, including an oral history of the inaugural game with audio and video interviews, a “Where are they now?” piece on D.C. United and San Jose Earthquakes, and an in-depth look at the creation of the Clash name and logo, plus much more.
 
20th Anniversary Stream on MLSsoccer.com
7:30 p.m. ET: Pregame show featuring former MLS players and personalities (Facebook Live Video)
7:50 p.m. ET: San Jose Clash vs. D.C. United (MLSsoccer.com)
 
AT&T Goal of the Week (Week 5) – CLICK HERE to vote
· Brek Shea (ORL) Scored first goal of the season with a left-footed volley to far post
· Kaká (ORL) Sent home first goal of the season with low blast from inside the box
· Luis Solignac (COL) Sneaks past defense and rifles shot from inside the box for first MLS goal
· Justin Meram (CLB) Headed home a curling corner kick towards far post for first goal of the season 
· Adam Jahn (SJ) Extends full length to deflect cross into far post and past a diving Travis Worra
· Luke Mulholland (RSL) Long-range right-footed strike bounces through traffic and into goal
· Kennedy Igboananike (CHI) Bangs volley shot off far post and into net for second goal of the season
· Patrick Nyarko (DC) Sends a blazing header into back of the net
 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
 
“It’s amazing. We are on top of the league in our conference today. We beat the last champions, and it’s given us a lot of confidence for the next game. Today begins a new phase for our team this season.”
Orlando City SC midfielder Kaká on his team’s performance in a 4-1 victory over the Portland Timbers
 
"We've had some tough games over the years here. Tonight is obviously a huge high. So proud of the boys — tremendous effort out there. This is a huge win for the club and a big statement to the league, as well."
Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran on the team’s 2-1 victory against rival Sporting Kansas City on the road
 
“We’re still getting used to each other. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to play. But it comes from confidence, too. We were on a little bit of a slide. It was good to finally get that win, and I think you’ll start to see the boys get a little bit more confident.”
Seattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey on the team’s 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Saturday, the team’s first of the season
 
“We believe in the process. If I ask (the media) if you think we’re a good team, you’d probably say yes. And we are (a good team). And we can do damage to teams whether it’s away or in Columbus. We know that. Once we hit our stride, we’re going to be pretty good.”
Columbus Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter on Crew SC’s early season struggles
 
"A lot of the stuff we've done to get ourselves into the position that we're in now, we looked at the Timbers. Their rise has been almost exactly like ours. They won the championship last year, which was great. Let's hope we can follow suit."
Orlando City SC coach Adrian Heath on the organization’s blueprint for success and improvement
 
Sweet Tweets
 
David Villa (@Guaje7Villa): My face when @NYCFC doesn't have game in the weekend. NYCFC-CHICAGO next Sunday at 7pm on Yankee Stadium. See you.
Amadou Dia (@Amadou_iT11): Falling in love with KC more & more everyday so its only right I jump on the @Royals bandwagon. Goodluck this season gentlemen.
Kevin Alston (@KAlston30): Cheers to three years and being in remission #CML https://www.instagram.com/p/BDq2HfFKagf/ 
Nat Borchers (@natborchers): Congrats to @justen_glad on his first @MLS goal!  Taught you well my son.
 
Dillon Powers (@powerhour5): 3 pts at home again! Im starting to see a trend here. Lets keep it going! #DSGP #OurHouse
 
Week 6 Game Previews
Friday, April 8
Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC, 7 p.m. ET (UNI)
  • Kaká made a stellar return to the Orlando City SC lineup, keeping his team undefeated on the season with a second consecutive win in their 4-1 defeat of the Portland Timbers on Sunday evening. After missing the first three games of the season, Kaká set up the first two goals of the match, then scored one of his own as Orlando City moved to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
  • Union saw their two-game winning streak put to an end in a 1-0 loss on the road at the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon at snowy Toyota Park.
  • The teams met twice in Orlando City’s inaugural season, with one goal scored between the two games. Sebastien Le Toux scored the game’s only goal in a Union win Oct. 25 in Chester; the teams played to a scoreless draw Aug. 8 at the Citrus Bowl.
 
Saturday, April 9
Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew SC, 4 p.m. ET
  • The Impact suffered their second consecutive shutout loss after two wins to open the season, falling 1-0 at Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening.
  • Crew SC are still looking for their first win of the season, but made it two draws in a row following two defeats after coming away with a 1-1 tie with FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium.
  • The teams met twice during the regular season a year ago, the Impact winning both. Montréal’s 2-1 on June 6 in Columbus was its first ever in Columbus, in six meetings there all-time. Crew SC won 2-1 Sept. 14, 2013 at Stade Saputo, the only other victory by the away team in 10 meetings in the all-time series.
  • The Impact won 3-0 on July 11 at Stade Saputo, their second league win by shutout in the last two years in Québec.
  • The teams also met in a pulsating Eastern Conference Semifinal Series. The Impact won the first leg 2-1 at Stade Saputo, then Crew SC advanced behind a 3-1 win in extra time in the second leg in Columbus as Kei Kamara netted a pair of goals, including the overtime winner.
 
New England Revolution vs. Toronto FC, 4 p.m. ET
  • The Revolution won for the first time in 2016 as Diego Fagundez netted the only goal of the game in a victory against the New York Red Bulls on Friday evening at Gillette Stadium. Fagundez has been involved in four of the Revolution’s five goals this season, with two goals and two assists.
  • Toronto FC suffered their second consecutive defeat by shutout on their eight-game road swing to start the season, falling 1-0 at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening.
  • The Revolution have a seven-game undefeated streak alive vs. Toronto FC, dating back to the 2013 season, with five wins and two draws in that time. The Revolution have won the last two meetings between the teams, a pair of 3-1 victories, last Aug. 1 at Gillette Stadium and Sept. 13 at BMO Field.
  • The Revolution have won the last three meetings in Foxborough. TFC have not defeated the Revolution at home since 2010, now winless in six straight games since a 1-0 win May 22 at BMO Field. New England has won on its last three trips to Ontario.
 
D.C. United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • D.C. United held a lead for the first time since early in the season opener, but were still left looking for their first win of 2016 after the San Jose Earthquakes hit for a late equalizer for a 1-1 draw Saturday evening at Avaya Stadium.
  • Whitecaps FC extended their undefeated streak to three matches, going a man down but holding out for a point in a scoreless draw with the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at BC Place.
  • D.C. United won the lone meeting between the clubs a year ago, a 2-1 win April 25 at BC Place, their first win vs. Whitecaps FC since a 4-0 victory in the first meeting ever between the clubs on Aug. 13, 2011 at RFK Stadium. Vancouver won two of the four encounters in between, with two draws, including a 1-0 win in 2013 in Washington, D.C. in the only other meeting there.
  • Last year’s result was the first time goals were scored in a meeting at BC Place in 2011. The previous two matchups in British Columbia both ended in scoreless draws.
 
New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. ET
  • The Red Bulls weren’t able to build upon their first win of 2016 following two defeats to start the campaign, dropping a 1-0 decision to the New England Revolution on Friday evening at Gillette Stadium.
  • Sporting saw their perfect start to the season put to an end with their first defeat, falling 2-1 to Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Children’s Mercy Park.
  • The Red Bulls have a five-game undefeated streak alive in league play against Sporting, after the teams reached a 1-1 draw in their only meeting a season ago, March 8 at Sporting Park. SKC last won in the series in the first meeting in 2013.
  • Sporting had come away with points on their last three visits to Red Bull Arena before a New York win in the only Harrison encounter during the 2014 season. The Red Bulls have come away with points on their last five visits to Sporting Park.
  • The teams also met in the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2014, the Red Bulls taking a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena.
 
FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9 p.m. ET
  • FC Dallas extended their undefeated run to three matches, Tesho Akindele scoring a late equalizer to give his club a 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium.
  • Adam Jahn scored his first goal since last May, hitting for a late equalizer to give the Quakes a 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Saturday evening at Avaya Stadium.
  • FC Dallas is undefeated in the last four matchups between the clubs. FCD won both meetings at Toyota Stadium a season ago, a 1-0 win in the season opener for both teams on March 7, and a 2-1 win on Oct. 25 on Decision Day to close out the regular season.
  • The FC Dallas victory in the final meeting at Buck Shaw Stadium – a 5-0 victory Aug. 16, 2014 – was their first on the road against San Jose since 2009, a 2-1 win in Santa Clara. The teams reached a scoreless draw last June 7 in the first meeting at Avaya Stadium.
 
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • Real Salt Lake took a two-goal lead for a fourth time in four matches this season and remained undefeated on the year with a second victory, hanging on for a 2-1 win against Sporting KC on Saturday evening at Children’s Mercy Park. Joao Plata recorded an assist; he has been involved in six of RSL’s eight goals (three goals, three assists).
  • The Rapids extended their undefeated run to three matches with a second consecutive 1-0 home win, this time against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Marco Pappa set up the lone goal; he has been involved in all three Colorado goals this season (one goal, two assists).
  • The teams met three times last season – evenly splitting the season series for the Rocky Mountain Cup, a trophy awarded by the supporters groups of both teams. The teams reached a scoreless draw June 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium, then split the two meetings at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a 3-1 Rapids win July 11 and a 2-1 RSL win Oct. 4.
  • Real have a 12-game home undefeated streak alive vs. Colorado. Since the Rapids last win in Utah, a 2-0 victory April 30, 2007 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Real have won eight games with four draws. Colorado has never won at Rio Tinto Stadium (0-6-4 all-time in league play).
  • The Rapids victory last July was their first vs. Real since 2013, ending a five-game winless streak in the series, when RSL had three wins and two draws over the stretch.
 
Sunday, April 10
Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • The Dynamo return to action coming off a second consecutive defeat in their first attacking shutout of the season, falling 1-0 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on March 26 at BC Place.
  • Sounders FC put an end to their three-game losing slide to start the season, Clint Dempsey scoring the game’s only goal for a victory against the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field.
  • The Dynamo have never lost to Sounders FC in Houston. In five meetings all-time there, the Dynamo have won three, with two draws, including a 1-1 result last Oct. 18 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo also won a game in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • Sounders FC have never lost to the Dynamo in Seattle. In six league meetings all-time, Sounders FC have won five, with one draw, outscoring Houston 10-2, following their 1-0 win last April 4 at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC also won a U.S. Open Cup match at home vs. Houston; the teams played a scoreless draw in Seattle in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs.
 
New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • NYCFC return to action after a week off, reaching a draw for the second time in their last three matches last time out in a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on March 26 at Yankee Stadium.
  • The Fire made a winner of Veljko Paunovic for the first time as an MLS head coach, Kennedy Igboananike scoring his second goal of the season for the game’s only goal in a win against Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Tommy McNamara scored a goal and an assist – the first goal of the 2016 MLS season – and Mix Diskerud and Khiry Shelton also had a goal and an assist as New York City FC claimed a 2-1 win in the season opener March 6 at Toyota Park.
  • The teams have now evenly split their three meetings all-time. Last year, the Fire claimed a 1-0 win April 24 at Toyota Park; the teams reached a 2-2 draw May 15 at Yankee Stadium.
 
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers, 9:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • The Galaxy return home following their second shutout on the road this season, playing to a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at BC Place. The Galaxy have scored seven goals in two home wins this year.
  • The Timbers suffered their second consecutive loss on the road and saw their winless run stretched to three games, following their 4-1 defeat at Orlando City SC on Sunday evening.
  • The teams evenly split their three meetings last season – each scoring five goals in winning one contest. The Galaxy had five different players score in a 5-0 victory June 24 at StubHub Center; Fanendo Adi netted yet another brace as the Timbers rolled to a 5-2 win Oct. 18 in Carson. The teams reached a 2-2 draw March 15 in the lone meeting at Providence Park.
  • The Timbers victory in the last encounter snapped a five-game winless streak vs. the Galaxy (0-3-2). It was also the Timbers first win ever at StubHub Center; the Galaxy won six of the first seven meetings there, with one draw.
  • The Galaxy haven’t won on their last four trips to Portland, with the last two ending in draws. The only Galaxy victory all-time in Portland came July 14, 2012 – a 5-3 victory.