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This Week in MLS – February 20, 2017

This Week in MLS – February 20, 2017
  • Three Homegrown driven MLS squads on quest to make history in CONCACAF Champions League
  • Oscar Pareja squares off against former Colombian rival on the sideline in CCL
  • Kit reveals, starting roles highlight final week of MLS preseason
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
Three Homegrown driven MLS squads on quest to make history in CONCACAF Champions League
Three Homegrown driven teams continue the quest to become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League this week when they begin quarterfinal action. Boasting some of the strongest youth academy systems in the league, Homegrown Players are expected to play key roles in leg one when the New York Red Bulls host Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, Facebook.com / UDN), before FC Dallas welcomes Panamanian side Arabe Unido to Toyota Stadium on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, Facebook.com / UDN).
 
In a matchup that will guarantee an MLS team in the semifinals, NYRB’s Homegrown 24-year-old Sean Davis is queued up to capture an important starting position in the midfield on the heels of the much-talked about offseason trade of captain Dax McCarty. Vancouver comes back with 16-year-old Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies, a potential starter on the wing after playing hero by scoring the game-winning goal in stoppage time that pushed Vancouver through in CCL group play.
 
With all three MLS teams expected to rely on Homegrown talent throughout the season, this week’s action will give fans an early chance to see how some of the most exciting young talents in MLS stack up against top competition in CONCACAF.
 
Homegrown Leaders
  • Dallas leads MLS with nine Homegrown Players on its current roster; NYRB ranks second with eight.
  • All three teams rank top five in MLS league history in overall Homegrown Player signings (NYRB and FC Dallas tied at No. 1 with 18 signings, Vancouver tied at No. 4 with 12 signings).
  • Vancouver tied for the league lead in current Homegrown Players who have played for their respective senior National Team with three: Marco Bustos, Ben McKendry and Russell Teibert.
    • Of Vancouver’s current four Homegrown Players on its roster, all four have played for their respective youth national teams
    • Of Dallas’s current nine Homegrown Players on its roster, eight have played for their respective youth national teams, with one playing for the senior U.S. team: Kellyn Acosta.
    • Of the Red Bulls’ current eight Homegrown Players on its roster, six have played for their respective youth national teams, with one playing for the Haitian senior Men’s National Team: Derrick Etienne, Jr.
  • FC Dallas ranked second in MLS last season with 4,629 minutes played by Homegrown Players.
 
Oscar Pareja squares off against former Colombian rival on the sideline in CCL
Before Oscar Pareja brought his playing and coaching talents stateside, the reigning MLS Coach of the Year experienced a tremendous decade-long playing career in his native Colombia, suiting up for national powers Independiente Medellin and Deportivo Cali. When FC Dallas faces Arabe Unido in CONCACAF Champions League play on Thursday, Pareja and the man coaching opposite will share a similar background in their paths to the CCL Quarterfinals. Arabe Unido coach Sergio Guzman, like Pareja, was born and raised in Medellin and later starred for numerous teams in Colombia including Independiente Medellin, just missing playing with Pareja by one season.
 
Although the two never played together, Pareja and Guzman faced off numerous times as rivals in Colombia throughout the 1990s. Both coaches have seen considerable success at the helm of their respective clubs, with Pareja and Guzman both named 2016 CONCACAF Coach of the Year finalists after seasons that saw FCD win the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup, and Arabe Unido finish first in the 2016 Apertura.
 
With high stakes on the line in Thursday’s match, Pareja will look to outmaneuver his fellow countryman and take the next step in adding a historic piece of silverware to his impressive haul at FC Dallas.   
 
Kit reveals, starting roles highlight final week of MLS preseason

Teams across MLS are making final tactical adjustments through the final week of preseason play before Opening Weekend kicks off on March 3, with players looking to lock down starting XI roles. But new players and starting positions won’t be the only things to make their debut when the 2017 campaign begins, as clubs are currently ushering in fresh new looks with 2017 kit unveilings. All but three teams have unveiled their 2017 kits, with Columbus Crew SC and 2016 MLS Cup participants Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC set to unveil new threads before the start of the season. With MLS Opening Weekend just days away, the countdown is on as fans will soon get the chance to see their club’s newest players and kits in competitive action.

 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
“But having additional resources will only help us in our mission to win championships. Now we’ll have an opportunity to build on what we’ve already established.”
D.C. United managing general partner Jason Levien on the impact of the team’s new stadium plan
 
“The qualities you bring on the field, off the field, we know it’s important for us being a new club in the community, for Atlanta as well, so congratulations. We’re excited. We’re proud of you. The first captain of Atlanta United.”
Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra on naming Michael Parkhurst first team captain in franchise history
Atlanta United names captain (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
 
“You get nervous to come in to a new environment and a new team, and it’s always nice to have someone you can be close to and rely on. Cristian and I bonded pretty quickly. So, having him to hang out with and go through the ups and downs with was awesome.”
Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris on his friendship with teammate Cristian Roldan
 
"He doesn't look in awe. For a lot of young players, that's the biggest hurdle they have to get over, the mental side of going from being a youth player to a first team player. He's a guy that isn't shying away from it."
Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter on Homegrown Player Marco Farfan
 
“You can see it in everyone. There’s a big spring in the steps.”
Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson on new signing Fredy Montero
 
Sweet Tweets
Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien): Today I played #fútbol with superstar @OficialGio. Here's my signature move: "Running with Limp Hands." #ConanMexico
 
Kaka (@KAKA): Natural model  nice photo shoot @MLS
 
Shkelzen Gashi (@s_gashi11): It's been  year since my arrival to the Rapids and the US . Crazy how time flies . To a great 2017 . #Gashi #Preseason #Countdown #MLS  
 
Alejandro Bedoya (@AleBedoya17): Good win down here in Tampa tonight with the boys. Getting excited about the start of the season. #DOOP @PhilaUnion
 
Dominique Badji (@dbadji14): New 2017 Kit