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This Week in MLS – June 28, 2016

This Week in MLS – June 28, 2016
  • No. 1 SuperDraft pick Jack Harrison prepares for New York Derby match on Sunday
  • Montreal Impact’s Laurent Ciman becomes first MLS player to reach Euro quarterfinals
  • MLS teams welcome back U.S. internationals in three nationally televised matchups
  • Familiar foes: MLS clubs face off in next round of U.S. Open Cup play
  • Amway Canadian Championship coming down to the final whistle
  • Update: 2016 All-Star Fan XI voting
  • 2016 MLS All-Star Jersey Unveiled
  • Week 16 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 17 Game Previews
No. 1 SuperDraft pick Jack Harrison prepares for New York Derby match on Sunday
The 2016 MLS SuperDraft No. 1 overall pick Jack Harrison has proven dangerous in attack for NYCFC through the last three games – earning his first starts of the year and recording a goal and an assist while the club has gone 2-1-0. With a run-up, Harrison prepares to make his first appearance in the New York Derby as NYCFC hosts the New York Red Bulls in the second meeting of the season this Sunday, July 3 at Yankee Stadium (12 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes).
Harrison grew up in England where he played for the heralded Manchester United academy from the ages of seven through 14 before his mother Deborah made the ultimate sacrifice. Concerned over her son’s education, Deborah, a single mother, decided to send Jack to the U.S. to attend a prep school in Massachusetts where he could focus on both soccer and academics. Despite the distance from home, Harrison excelled, dominating opponents on the pitch at every step on his way to his selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Harrison has been a revelation since returning from a drastic hip injury that put his soccer career into question during the offseason. Now fully healthy, Harrison has shown a penchant for making plays in pivotal moments be it through his ability to distribute or score himself. Already showing an ability to play alongside world class talent like David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, Harrison’s potential has New York City FC fans excited for what’s in store on Sunday. 
Montreal Impact’s Laurent Ciman becomes first MLS player to reach Euro quarterfinals
One of the strong contingent of players often referred to as part of “the Golden Generation” of Belgium soccer, Montreal Impact defender Laurent Ciman and his Belgium squad have a chance to make history in Euro 2016 as it has advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament – its best appearance in Euros since a runner-up finish in 1980. Ciman and LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane of Ireland were the first MLS players to advance out of the group stage at Euros, with Belgium’s run qualifying as the furthest an MLS players has ever gone in the tournament. The 2015 MLS Defender of the Year, Ciman has provided Belgium with a strong defensive presence throughout the tournament, even adding a goal scored in a pre-tournament friendly. Already Belgium has shown a strong defensive side, shutting out its last three opponents by an 8-0 margin, including most recently defeating Hungary 4-0 in the Round of 16. Belgium will continue its run on Friday when it takes on Wales (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2) at Stade Pierre-Mauroy for a spot in the semifinals. 
MLS teams welcome back U.S. internationals in three nationally televised matchups
After helping the U.S. National Team to a historic run in Copa America Centenario and a fourth-place finish behind South American heavyweights Chile, Argentina and Colombia, numerous MLS players will provide boosts to their respective clubs in a return to league action this week. Soccer fans worldwide were treated to a tremendously successful and entertaining Copa America tournament aided in large part by the significant contributions from MLS players, and can continue to see the same skillset on display in MLS this week.
Prolific goal scorer Chris Wondolowski looks to climb the MLS record books in return to San Jose
Currently ranked fourth in goals scored all-time in MLS with 116, San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski returns to his club off another appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team – his 34th all-time – hoping to continue his ascent in the MLS record books. The prolific scorer re-joins an attacking contingent of fellow Copa America participants Panamanians Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero, who have gone 4-2-2 when all three are on the field together this year. Wondolowski will continue to hunt down Landon Donovan’s all-time scoring mark of 144 in the first of a Viernes de Futbol doubleheader on July 1 vs. Chicago Fire at Toyota Park (8 p.m. ET, UniMás).
Defensive stalwarts Beckerman and Birnbaum return to MLS action as foes
U.S. Men’s National Team teammates Kyle Beckerman (RSL) and Steve Birnbaum (DC) return to MLS action as foes in the second Viernes de Futbol matchup between Real Salt Lake and D.C. United at Rio Tinto Stadium (10:30 p.m. ET, UniMás). Real Salt Lake will gladly welcome back its captain after the MLS veteran made four appearances for the U.S. in Copa America (57 total caps), while D.C. hopes the return of center back Birnbaum can continue the club’s defensive prowess into the second half of the season as the club has allowed the second fewest goals (16) in MLS play this year.
Sporting Kansas City welcomes back star duo as they host 2015 MLS Cup runner-ups Columbus Crew SC
Sporting Kansas City performed admirably without midfielder Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler, but will it surely welcome the duo back with open arms when hosting Columbus Crew SC at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes). The only MLS team to supply two players to the U.S. team, Sporting KC enters the contest with a three-game undefeated streak thanks to a veteran lineup that only figures to improve with the return of its two stars. Zusi appeared in all but one Copa America match for the U.S., providing a goal in the U.S.’s 4-0 drubbing of Costa Rica, while Besler put in a strong performance at left back against Ecuador to help the U.S. advance to the semifinals. SKC is 4-3-2 in 2016 when both Besler and Zusi are on the pitch.  
Familiar foes: MLS clubs face off in next round of U.S. Open Cup play
MLS clubs meet as foes once again as the U.S. Open Cup resumes play with the Round of 16 featuring six MLS-on-MLS matchups, while the New England Revolution and Orlando City SC face the only two lower division teams left in the tournament: New York Cosmos and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
The battle for dominance in the Midwest kicks off with the Chicago Fire – tied for most Open Cup wins by an MLS club with four – hosting Columbus Crew SC on Tuesday night, while the battle of the West begins in Sandy, Utah with Real Salt Lake welcoming Seattle Sounders FC to Rio Tinto Stadium. On Wednesday night, another edition of an I-95 rivalry is in store between the Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls followed by the Houston Dynamo hosting U.S. Open Cup reigning champs Sporting Kansas City. Round of 16 action will conclude with two Western Conference heavyweight matchups as FC Dallas plays host to league-leading Colorado Rapids, and reigning MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers square off against five-time Cup winners LA Galaxy.
With a 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League berth on the line, you can bet these familiar foes won’t be meeting on friendly terms.
For a full U.S. Open Cup schedule, click here.
Amway Canadian Championship coming down to the final whistle
There will be more on the line than bragging rights when Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC square off in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final on Wednesday at BC Place (10 p.m. ET, TSN, MLS Live). With a 2017-2018 CONCACAF Champions League birth up for grabs, Vancouver will look for its second consecutive Canadian Championship as Whitecaps FC claimed its first ever crown a year ago. This is the fifth time the two squads have met in the championship match with Toronto winning four years in a row from 2009-2012. Toronto came off the first leg with an important 1-0 advantage thanks to reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco’s goal but Vancouver is determined to defend its title on its home turf and has some history on its side, going 3-1-2 vs. Toronto at home across all competitions.
Update: 2016 All-Star Fan XI voting
There is only one week left for fans to vote their favorite MLS players to the All-Star Fan XI and on their way to San Jose. Fans can continue to vote via online ballot and/or the AT&T/EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge through July 4 at 3 p.m. ET. The MLS All-Stars will face Arsenal FC on July 28 at Avaya Stadium in the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
Ten players – one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and two forwards – with the highest combined votes will be named to the All-Star Fan XI. The 11th player – a forward – will be determined by the AT&T/EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge.
Below are the players that currently lead in All-Star Fan XI voting:
All-Star Fan XI Leaders
as of June 28, 2016
Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes)
Joe Bendik (Orlando City SC)
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
Marvell Wynne (San Jose Earthquakes)
Brek Shea (Orlando City SC)
Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose Earthquakes)
Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union)
Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy)
Kaká (Orlando City SC)
Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC)
Alberto Quintero (San Jose Earthquakes)
Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact)
David Villa (New York City FC)
Quincy Amarikwa (San Jose Earthquakes)
EA Sports More Than a Vote Leaders
2016 MLS All-Star Jersey Unveiled
The 2016 MLS All-Star jersey has been unveiled. The best of MLS will don the adidas jersey, designed with inspiration by hosts San Jose Earthquakes and Avaya Stadium, as they take on Arsenal FC on July 28. The jersey styling also features marks that signify MLS, such as the the Canadian flag and stars and stripes of the US flag inside the neckline, the three pillars of MLS ‘Club, Country, Community,’ on the outside of the neckline, and a jock tag highlighted by three red wood trees in tribute of the reclaimed wood used inside Avaya Stadium. Pictures of the jersey can be accessed here and used with credit to SoccerBible.
AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open (Week 16) – CLICK HERE to vote
  •          Lamar Neagle (D.C.) Volleys home powerful shot past goalkeeper Brad Knighton
  •          Jordan Hamilton (TFC) Slots low shot past goalkeeper off Sebastian Giovinco flick
  •          Andrew Wenger (HOU) Jukes defender with skilled move and sends shot past goalkeeper Jake Gleeson
  •          Dom Dwyer (SKC) Sends deflected shot off defender and into back of the net
  •          Kekutah Manneh (VAN) Starts run from own half before sending shot past goalkeeper Andre Blake
  •          Giovani dos Santos (LA) Heads home a Steven Gerrard cross into corner of the net
  •          Lucas Ontivero (MTL) Heads home a rocket off a Hassoun Camara cross
  •          Fabian Castillo (DAL) Finishes tremendous shot far post off a Mauro Diaz bicycle kick pass
Check It Out
“I just wanted that so bad. My last PK, I missed it, and I just wanted it so bad, and so I kicked so strong, and when it hit the post I thought, ‘Again? No.’ And the ball came back, and so my heart skipped.”
Orlando City SC midfielder Kaka on his game-winning penalty kick goal in the final moments of the match against Toronto
“It was a good 90 minutes for me. To get a ‘dub’ at home, you make it a fortress. That’s the whole point to make RFK a fortress, and that was a good start to do so.”
D.C. United defender Jalen Robinson on helping secure a shutout in his first career start
"The fans, the staff, my teammates - I don't know the word, but they love me. The feeling is incredible. I never scored a hat trick in my life. This is the first time for me. . . . I'm happy. I want to enjoy tonight."
Philadelphia Union midfielder Roland Alberg on scoring his first career hat trick
"We feel we're one of the strongest teams in the league when we're all clicking and playing at that level."
FC Dallas forward Fabian Castillo on his team’s dominant victory over Real Salt Lake
"It was a massive gut-check for us. There's no doubt about that. When you come out down 2-0 you've got to dig yourself out of that."
Portland Timbers defender Nat Borchers on the Timbers’ come from behind victory against Houston
Sweet Tweets
Shkelzen Gashi (‏@s_gashi11): Take a lot of positive moments from EURO2016 with me to Denver!Now I look forward to my teammates and the @MLS #SG11
David Villa (@Guaje7Villa): Disfrutando de la final @CA2016 #ARG-CHI
Stefan Frei (@Stefan24Frei): #Pride2016
Will Bruin (@wbruin): So proud to have scored my 50th MLS goal in 5.5 seasons, unfortunately, result was not what we expected. Have to keep working hard
Nat Borchers (@natborchers): That was a massive gut check for us today!  Field was .  Thanks for keeping that belief @timbersarmy.    Moving on up.  #RCTIDnly those who love this sport can understand this pic.Can't wait to be Wednesday  #Life ##RBNY #goodnight
Week 17 Game Previews
Friday, July 1
Chicago Fire vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m. (UNI)
  • The Fire equaled their season-high with three goals, but lost for a second consecutive match last time, dropping a 3-2 decision at Philadelphia Union on June 22. The defeat extended the Fire’s all-time MLS-record road winless streak to 32 games.
  • Chad Barrett scored his second goal in as many games as the Earthquakes scored a dramatic equalizer for a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy at a sold-out Stanford Stadium on Saturday evening. It was a second consecutive draw for the Quakes, who have now gone five games since their last win.
  • The Earthquakes have won the last two meetings in the series, both played in northern California, winning 2-1 on March 22, 2015 in the only meeting between the teams a year ago in the first-ever encounter at Avaya Stadium.
  • Neither team has won on the road in the series since 2010, when each team won away in the two meetings that year.
Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United, 10:30 p.m. (UNI)
  • Real Salt Lake had their three-game winless streak put to an end in a 2-0 defeat at FC Dallas on Saturday evening.
  • D.C. United scored for the first time in two games – but goalkeeper Bill Hamid recorded his third shutout in four starts this season – as United claimed a 2-0 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium.
  • The teams met once a year ago, a wild 6-4 D.C. United win Aug. 1 at RFK Stadium. United equaled their club record for goals in a league game; the 10 total goals were tied for second-most in a game in MLS history.
  • United won on their first ever trip to Utah in 2005 – a 3-1 win at Rice-Eccles Stadium – and haven’t won there again. Real are 7-0-1 at home since, including a 3-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium in the last meeting there in 2014.
  • Real Salt Lake have never won at RFK Stadium. United have won six of the nine league encounters all-time on East Capitol Street, and also claimed a U.S. Open Cup play-in match there in 2010.
Saturday, July 2
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 p.m.
  • The Dynamo fell to defeat for the first time in four matches – following three consecutive draws – with Wade Barrett in charge as interim head coach, as the Portland Timbers scored twice on late penalty kicks for a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon at Providence Park.
  • Roland Alberg scored his fifth goal over the past three matches, but Union lost for the first time this season at Talen Energy Stadium, dropping a 3-2 decision to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening. Alberg’s hat trick at midweek vs. Chicago was the first for a Union player since Sebastien Le Toux did it April 10, 2010 – the club’s second game ever, a span of 214 games between hat tricks.
  • Union won the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 2-0 victory Aug. 20 in Chester, snapping a six-game winless streak vs. Dynamo. Union are undefeated in the last three meetings at Talen Energy Stadium; two scoreless draws came in 2014.
  • The Dynamo have won the last four meetings at BBVA Compass Stadium, after Union won on their first two visits ever to Houston.
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 5:30 p.m.
  • The Impact extended their undefeated run to three games with a second consecutive draw, playing to a 2-2 tie at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening. Ignacio Piatti converted a penalty kick for his ninth goal of the season, now tied for second place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • The Revolution saw their two-game winning streak put to an end, shut out at the attacking end for a third time this season by D.C. United in a 2-0 loss Saturday evening at RFK Stadium.
  • The Impact have a four-game undefeated streak alive in the all-time series, winning twice in three meetings between the teams a year ago, including once at each ground. The last Revolution win in the series came Sept. 13, 2014.
  • The Impact have won two of the last three meetings in Montréal, with one draw. The Impact won the final meeting between the teams last Oct. 17 at Gillette Stadium, their third win in five visits to New England all-time.
Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m.
  • Toronto FC suffered their third consecutive loss on their travels as they equaled the MLS record for the latest goal ever conceded in a match, Orlando City SC’s Kaká converting a penalty kick at 100+ minutes for a 3-2 win Saturday evening at Camping World Stadium.
  • Sounders FC suffered a second consecutive defeat by shutout – their fifth loss in their last six matches – falling 2-0 to New York City FC on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.
  • Sounders FC won the lone meeting between the clubs a year ago, a 2-1 victory at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 5, their seventh win in 10 all-time meetings between the clubs.
  • TFC last won at BMO Field vs. Seattle on April 25, 2010; Sounders FC have won on their last two visits to Toronto, and on three of four games there all-time.
Sunday, July 3
New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 12 p.m. (ESPN1)
  • Frank Lampard scored for a second consecutive game as New York City FC extended their road undefeated streak to four matches, defeating Seattle Sounders FC 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his sixth goal over his last five games, but the Red Bulls were hauled back into a late draw at Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening, ending in a 1-1 tie.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. The Red Bulls defeated NYCFC 7-0 on May 21 at Yankee Stadium, the victory matching the largest margin of victory in MLS history – all of which were achieved by teams playing on the road. The seven goals scored by the Red Bulls was also the most in a single game in the club’s 21-year history, tied for the second-most goals ever scored by one team in an MLS game.
  • The teams have four times, and the Red Bulls have won all four, twice at each ground, now with a 14-2 goal differential in the series. Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has owned the rivalry, scoring in each match, netting six goals in all, including two in the first game this year.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew SC, 7 p.m. (FS1)
  • Dom Dwyer scored two goals in a game for the second time this season and seventh time in his MLS career, but Sporting saw their road winless streak extended to seven games in a 2-2 draw at the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening.
  • Ola Kamara scored his fifth goal over the last four games, netting a late, late equalizer as Crew SC gained a second consecutive draw in a 1-1 result with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Mapfre Stadium.
  • Crew SC won the only meeting between the teams a year ago, a 3-2 win Aug. 22 in Columbus, snapping a five-game Sporting winning streak in the all-time series. It was Crew SC’s first home win in the series since a 1-0 win April 16, 2011.
  • Sporting had a six-game undefeated streak vs. Crew SC until last year’s win; the last Columbus victory had come July 28, 2012, a 2-1 win in Kansas City.
Monday, July 4
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m.
  • The Rapids return to action after a weekend off, extending their club-record undefeated streak to 11 games in their last match, a scoreless draw at the LA Galaxy on June 22. The Rapids last defeat came April 9, at Real Salt Lake; they are 7-0-4 over the current run.
  • Diego Valeri set up one goal then converted two penalty kicks over the final eight minutes plus stoppage time, as the Timbers came back for a 3-2 win against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon. It was the Timbers’ third consecutive win at Providence Park, extending their overall undefeated run to five games.
  • The Timbers have a four-game undefeated streak alive in the series, including wins in both meetings a year ago, once at each ground, a 2-1 win May 30 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and a 4-1 win Oct. 25 at Providence Park.
  • The visiting team has won just twice in the all-time series, the Rapids winning in Portland on June 11, 2011 before last year’s Timbers win in Commerce City. The Timbers have a five-game home winning streak alive vs. Colorado.
FC Dallas vs. Orlando City SC, 9 p.m.
  • FC Dallas put an end to a three-game winless run as Mauro Diaz set up both goals in their 2-0 win against Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. Diaz now has seven assists, good for second place in the MLS assist standings.
  • Kaká converted a penalty kick at 100+ minutes – equaling the latest goal ever scored in an MLS game – as Orlando City claimed a 3-2 win Saturday evening at Camping World Stadium. It was a third consecutive game where Orlando City have scored the tying or winning goal in stoppage time; they have scored six goals after the 90th minute this season, most in MLS.
  • The teams met once in Orlando City’s inaugural MLS campaign, FC Dallas claiming a 2-0 win July 11 in Orlando.
LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. (Univision)
  • Giovani dos Santos put an end to the Galaxy’s goalless drought after three complete games and 371 minutes – the second-longest shutout streak in MLS this season – but they still reached a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Stanford Stadium. The Galaxy had their winless streak extended to seven games, the club’s longest since the 2012 season.
  • Whitecaps FC snapped their three-game winless run, coming back for a 3-2 victory against Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at Talen Energy Stadium.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They reached a scoreless draw April 2 at BC Place.
  • Whitecaps FC have a three-game undefeated streak alive in the series, after winning both league meetings between the teams in 2015. The Galaxy were 9-1-2 vs. Vancouver over the first 12 meetings between the teams, before last season.
  • The Whitecaps FC win in the second meeting a year ago, on June 6, was their first ever vs. the Galaxy in Carson. The Galaxy had won the first six regular season home meetings with Whitecaps FC, outscoring them 13-1; they also took a victory there in the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs, a 2-1 win in the Knockout Round.