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This Week in MLS – August 29, 2016

This Week in MLS – August 29, 2016
  • 59 MLS players called up during September FIFA window, featuring critical 2018 World Cup qualifiers
  • 14 MLS standouts to lead U.S. in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying
  • Six MLS players hope to help Canada to first World Cup qualification
  • Golden Boot race heats up as Villa and BWP have opportunity to break away from reigning winner Giovinco
  • Week 25 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 26 Game Previews
59 MLS players called up during September FIFA window, featuring critical 2018 World Cup qualifiers
International soccer is back with a bang as the September FIFA window opens this week, highlighted by a full slate of critical 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. A total of 59 MLS players have been called up to their national teams during the window, representing 17 different countries spanning North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. All 20 MLS clubs contributed players, with all but one player set to feature in World Cup qualifying action.
The U.S. will rely heavily on MLS players as it continues its quest to book a ticket to Russia, calling up a leading 14 players from 11 different MLS clubs. Jamaica follows suit with a total of nine MLS players named to its roster and Canada with six. Western Conference clubs FC Dallas, San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps FC lead the way in MLS representation, contributing a league-high of six players each.
2017 expansion team Atlanta United will also be represented on the international stage as longtime Trinidad & Tobago national team captain Kenwyne Jones will be called upon during qualifiers. Jones was signed by Atlanta this summer and is currently on loan with T&T club FC Central through the end of the year.
The September FIFA window will also be a special one for LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane, who will represent the Republic of Ireland for the last time against Oman on Aug. 31. Keane is Ireland’s all-time leader in goals (67) and appearances (145) over an historic 18-year international career. Keane is also the 15th leading goal scorer in international history.
For a live tracker of international call-ups, please click here.
MLS call-ups during the 2016 September FIFA window
Total of 59 players as of Aug. 29, 2016
By Country (17)
Albania (1)
Shkëlzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids)
Armenia (1)
David Arshakyan (Chicago Fire)
Cameroon (1)
Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC)
Canada (6)
Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)
Maxime Crepeau (Montreal Impact)
Marcel De Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
David Edgar (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC)
Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto FC)
Costa Rica (4)
Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC)
Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact)
Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Ghana (2)
David Accam (Chicago Fire)
Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC)
Guatemala (3)
Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas) - On loan with Rayo OKC
Marco Pappa (Colorado Rapids)
Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew SC)
Ecuador (1)
Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas)
Honduras (3)
Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City)
Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas)
Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo)
Iraq (1)
Justin Meram (Columbus Crew SC)
Ireland (1)
Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
Jamaica (9)
Giles Barnes (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Simon Dawkins (San Jose Earthquakes)
Shaun Francis (San Jose Earthquakes)
Omar Holness (Real Salt Lake)
Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls)
Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers)
Jermaine Taylor (Portland Timbers)
Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution)
Panama (5)
Armando Cooper (Toronto FC)
Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes)
Blas Perez (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Alberto Quintero (San Jose Earthquakes)
Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders FC)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1)
Oalex Anderson (Seattle Sounders FC)
Trinidad & Tobago (5)
Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes)
Aubrey David (FC Dallas)
Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders FC)
Kevin Molino (Orlando City SC)
Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids)
Uruguay (1)
Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC) 
U.S. (14)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union)
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids)
Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) 
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

By Club (20)
FC Dallas (6)
San Jose Earthquakes (6)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6)
Colorado Rapids (5)
Seattle Sounders FC (5)
Columbus Crew SC (4)
Toronto FC (4)
Portland Timbers (3)
Sporting Kansas City (3)
Chicago Fire (2)
Montreal Impact (2)
New York Red Bulls (2)
Orlando City SC (2)
Philadelphia Union (2)
Real Salt Lake (2)
D.C. United (1)
Houston Dynamo (1)
LA Galaxy (1)
New England Revolution (1)
New York City FC (1)
14 MLS standouts to lead U.S. in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann will rely on 14 MLS standouts for two pivotal 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday, Sept. 2 in Kingstown (3:30 p.m. ET, beIN Sport) and Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday, Sept. 6 in Jacksonville, FL (8 p.m. ET, FS1/UniMás).
Rejoining the national team in triumphant fashion is New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan who is among the most discussed names in this year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP race. A motivated Kljestan used his resilient play in MLS to earn the call-up from Klinsmann, and will provide a dangerous option in the midfield as the American No. 10 has five goals to go along with his league-leading 15 assists this season.
Joining Kljestan is a veteran contingent that includes Toronto FC teammates Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, who have both suited up for the U.S. in the past two World Cups (2010, 2014). Altidore, the third all-time leading scorer in U.S. Men’s Soccer history with 34 goals, is in tremendous form with five goals and one assist in his last seven games for TFC, while leading the U.S. with three goals in World Cup qualifying play this year. Bradley, who sits third in national team history with 21 assists, has been indispensable for Toronto since returning from Copa America duty, captaining the club to the top of the Eastern Conference table.
Looking to make their first ever trip to a World Cup are two of the most exciting young players in the league, Homegrown Players Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC) and Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas). One of the leaders for Rookie of the Year, the 21-year-old Morris makes a return to the U.S. squad after missing out on the Copa America Centenario. Since his Copa snub, Morris now leads Seattle with nine goals and ranks fourth with three assists. Acosta, meanwhile, ranks second for Dallas with five helpers this season, serving as a critical piece in the midfield and on the back line for the current Supporters’ Shield leaders. The 21-year-old has two career caps for the senior squad following an illustrious youth career including two appearances for the U.S. at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup (2013, 2015).
MLS Players named to U.S. Men’s National Team roster
Goalkeepers (1): Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Defenders (3): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
Midfielders (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
Forwards (3): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Six MLS players hope to help Canada to first World Cup qualification since 1986
Canada’s battle to secure a spot in the challenging Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying hits the road, when it heads to Honduras on Friday, Sept. 2 (3 p.m. ET) before hosting El Salvador in Vancouver at BC Place on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (7 p.m. ET).
Among coach Benito Floro’s roster are six MLS standouts led by Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin. One of the brightest young prospects in MLS, the 21-year-old Larin set a rookie record with 17 goals scored last season en route to 2015 Rookie of the Year honors, and currently ranks fifth league wide with 13 goals. Larin has become one of Canada’s most important figures in the country’s quest to make its first World Cup appearance since 1986, with his three international goals ranked second for Canada and fifth across all CONCACAF players in World Cup qualifying play.
Newly acquired Toronto FC forward and Canadian veteran Tosaint Ricketts joins the squad as the sixth all-time leading goal scorer in Canada Men’s National Team history (12 goals). Ricketts has been indispensable, leading Canada with four goals in 2018 World Cup qualifying – good for second among all CONCACAF players. FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele, the 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year, joins a talented and youthful MLS contingent for Canada after ranking second in combined goals (six) and assists (four) this season for Dallas.
MLS Players named to Canada Men’s National Team roster
Goalkeepers (1): Maxime Crepeau (Montreal Impact)
Defenders (2): Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), David Edgar (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Forwards (3): Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas), Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto FC)
Golden Boot race heats up as Villa and BWP have opportunity to break away from reigning winner Giovinco
The MLS Golden Boot race is coming down to the wire as three phenomenal goal scorers are tied atop the standings with 16 goals apiece. This week brings an opportunity for New York City FC star David Villa and New York Red Bulls all-time leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips to pull away from reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner Sebastian Giovinco, as the Italian international will be out for up to four weeks due to an injury suffered on Saturday. 
Villa will have the first chance to break away this week as NYCFC play host to Eastern Conference foes D.C. United on Thursday, Sept. 1 (7 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer and 2010 FIFA World Cup winner has been spectacular for NYCFC, notching 16 goals in 26 appearances so far this year, just two shy from his 2015 total. With Thursday’s match to be played in the familiar confines of Yankee Stadium, NYCFC will hope Villa can continue his fine form at home where he has nine goals and one assist in 12 games in 2016.
Wright-Phillips will get the opportunity to add to his tally on the road when the Red Bulls head to Canada to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Saturday, Sept. 3 (7 p.m. ET, TSN1, MLS LIVE). The Red Bulls’ leading man is in search of his second Golden Boot crown after winning the honor in 2014 after tying the MLS single-season goal record with 27 tallies. The Englishman is currently on a tear, scoring seven goals in his last six games to help NYRB to a nine-game unbeaten run, the club’s longest undefeated streak in 16 seasons. With 60 goals scored from 2014-16, Wright-Phillips is just one finish away from tying an MLS record for most goals scored in three consecutive seasons currently held by San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski (61 goals, 2010-2012).
  AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open (Week 25) – CLICK HERE to vote
  • Igacio Piatti (MTL) Collects ball on the run and send left-footed game winner past goalkeeper Alex Bono
  • Nicolas Lodeiro (SEA) Scores equalizer at the death with left-footed one timer
  • Yura Movsisyan (RSL) Reverses direction and sends beats goalkeeper Tim Howard with blast to upper 90
  • Keegan Rosenberry (PHI) Scores game winner with left-footed strike well within the box
  • Michael Barrios (DAL) Bends in a beautiful ball in transition to extend the Dallas lead
  • Luciano Acosta (D.C.) Finishes a Marcelo Sarvas cross with a quick touch in front of goal
  • Roland Alberg (PHI) Rockets shot from outside the box into top corner to give Philadelphia the lead
  • Alex (HOU) Weaves through defenders, giving Houston early advantage with left-footed strike just inside the box
Check It Out
New England Revolution: Mascot Night at Gillette Stadium
“We want to make the soccer experience great. This stadium will provide jobs in the community and we want to put out the best team possible. Soccer is booming right now and we want to be the best in MLS.”
LAFC owner Magic Johnson on the team’s goals following groundbreaking on a new open-air stadium
"Today was a special game for us, for everybody. I think also for our staff because Jason came from that team. So a lot of motivation for the game. Congratulations for us because we need it and we deserve it.”
Orlando City SC midfielder Kaká on the team’s performance in a 2-1 victory over New York City FC
“It was an exciting moment, one I wanted to take in. It was a special night for me and obviously for the team to get three points. It was a fun one to share with RFK. I’m not going to forget this one.”
D.C. United forward Patrick Mullins after scoring a hat trick in a 6-2 victory over Chicago Fire
"Our backs were against the wall coming into the game. The great thing about this team and way we built it and the group of guys that I have is they don't dwell on past games and past failures. They respond the ways good pros do."
Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter on the team’s victory over rival Seattle Sounders FC
"No team is going to come into this building and try to push us around or beat us. This is a lot of fun. This is our house."
Real Salt Lake forward Yura Movsisyan on defeating rival Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium
Sweet Tweets
Connor Lade (‏@clade5): Incredibly well deserved and a longtime coming for @SachaKljestan! Right back where he belongs!
Kendall Waston (@kwaston88): Happy to start training with #LaSele once again, totally focused so we can, with God's help, earn those 6 points. #CostaRica
Shkëlzen Gashi (@s_gashi11): National Team is calling! Back to Europe now! #Gashi #Albania #Kosovo #Denver #Prishtina #Tirana #SG11
Andrea Pirlo (@Pirlo_official): After many years together made of victories, it's always a pleasure to see each others on field! @KAKA
Dom Dwyer (@ddwyer14): I have a feeling you're going to do more than "Fill these shoes" 
Week 26 Game Previews
Thursday, September 1
New York City FC vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m. ET
  • New York City FC had their undefeated streak put to an end after four games, losing for the first time in more than a month, in their 2-1 defeat by Orlando City SC on Sunday evening.
  • D.C. United equaled their club record – set three times previously in their 21-year history – hitting for six goals in a 6-2 defeat of the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. Patrick Mullins scored three goals, his first professional hat trick, while Luciano Acosta scored a goal and added three assists for the biggest game in his first MLS season.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. David Villa and Khiry Shelton scored goals four minutes apart early in the second half as NYCFC claimed a 2-0 victory May 8 at RFK Stadium.
  • The teams met twice in New York City FC’s inaugural MLS season, each winning on their home ground. NYCFC won 3-1 on Aug. 13 at Yankee Stadium, and United won 2-1 on Oct. 2 at RFK Stadium.
Saturday, September 3
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m. ET (TSN)
  • Whitecaps FC had their winless streak extended to seven matches, the club’s longest in league play since the 2013 season, though they snapped a four-game losing skid following a goalless result with the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at StubHub Center.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips moved into a tie atop the MLS Golden Boot standings with his 16th goal of the season, scoring for a third consecutive match in hitting for the game’s only goal as the Red Bulls defeated the New England Revolution on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. Wright-Phillips has scored seven goals in his last six matches. The Red Bulls extended their undefeated run to nine matches with the victory, matching their club record set back in 2000.
  • Whitecaps FC have never lost to the Red Bulls. Vancouver has won the last three meetings, including the last two matches at Red Bull Arena, the last a 2-1 win last June 20 in the only meeting between the clubs a year ago.
  • Whitecaps FC won the last meeting at BC Place, a 4-1 win in the season opener for both teams in 2014. The teams played to three consecutive 1-1 draws in 2011-12, two of those coming in Vancouver.
New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The Revolution were shut out for a fourth consecutive match, their winless run now at six games in league play following a 1-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Revs’ goalless streak is now at 362 minutes, the second-longest in the club’s 21-year history and the fourth-longest in MLS this season.
  • The Rapids went down to a league defeat for just the second time since April 13, falling 2-1 to arch-rivals Real Salt Lake on Friday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Shkelzen Gashi scored his fifth goal of the season, his third goal in the last five matches.
  • The Revolution won in the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 2-0 victory April 4 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, their first win in Colorado since 2002. The Rapids had won six of the 11 meetings at home with New England in between; it was the Revolution’s first win ever in Commerce City.
  • The Rapids haven’t won at Gillette Stadium since 2010; the Revolution won the last meeting in Foxborough, a 3-0 triumph July 30, 2014.
Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • The Fire conceded a club record-equaling six goals – achieved previously on the final day of the 2003 season – falling 6-2 to D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. Michael de Leeuw did net the Fire goal while adding an assist.
  • Union won their second game on the trot, snapping a three-game winless run at Talen Energy Stadium, defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on Saturday evening. Roland Alberg scored his ninth goal of the season – all over the club’s last 13 matches – while also setting up the second.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, each winning on their home ground. Roland Alberg netted a hat trick and Union held off a late comeback for a 4-3 win June 22 at Talen Energy Stadium; Kennedy Igboananike scored the game’s lone goal six minutes into the second half to give the Fire a 1-0 win April 2 at Toyota Park.
  • The Union win in the last meeting snapped a seven-game winless streak in the league series. The Fire had won three matches, with four draws, since the last Philadelphia victory in the series, May 18, 2013 in Chester.
  • The Fire have won the last two meetings at Toyota Park, their first wins at home vs. Union since 2012; Philadelphia had won two of the four Bridgeview meetings in between, with two draws.
FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m. ET
  • Michael Barrios netted a pair of goals for a second time this season as FC Dallas put an end to their brief two-game winless run, coming back for a 3-1 win against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The Timbers rebounded for a loss to their arch-rivals just a week earlier, scoring four first-half goals on their way to a 4-2 win against Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park, snapping their two-game losing slide overall. Fanendo Adi scored for a second consecutive match, his 13th goal of the season and his fourth goal in the last seven matches.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, and FC Dallas have won the first two. Tesho Akindele and Fabian Castillo each scored a goal and added an assist as FC Dallas took a 3-1 win April 13 at Providence Park; Ryan Hollingshead and Walker Zimmerman scored two minutes apart in the second half as FC Dallas took a 2-1 win May 11 at Toyota Stadium.
  • The win in the first meeting was the first ever for FC Dallas at Providence Park; the Timbers had won four of the six league meetings there with two draws. The Timbers have won once in seven visits all-time to Frisco, on Oct. 25, 2014.
  • The teams also met in the Western Conference Championship last year. The Timbers claimed a 3-1 win at Providence Park in the first leg, before the teams reached a 2-2 draw in the return match at Toyota Stadium as the Timbers advanced to MLS Cup for the first time.
LA Galaxy vs. Columbus Crew SC, 10:30 p.m. ET
  • The Galaxy had their winless streak extended to six games with a fifth draw in that time, reaching a goalless result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at StubHub Center.
  • Crew SC put an end to their seven-game home winless streak – one game shy of the club record – winning for the first time at Mapfre Stadium since May 28 in their 2-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening. Justin Meram scored a goal and set up another
  • The teams met once a year ago, reaching a 1-1 draw June 13 in Columbus. The Galaxy have won five of the last eight meetings between the teams, with two draws; the lone Crew SC win in that span came in 2014 in Columbus.
  • The Galaxy have a four-game home undefeated streak alive vs. Columbus dating back to 2007, with two wins and two draws in that time. The Galaxy have not won in Columbus since 2011, though the teams have played to draws in two of the last three meetings there.