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This Week in MLS – November 14, 2016

This Week in MLS – November 14, 2016
  • Familiar foes set to clash as U.S. Men’s National Team takes on MLS-led Costa Rica
  • Opportunity knocks for Colorado Rapids’ Zac MacMath
  • 51 MLS players continue play in November FIFA international window
  • Playoff leaders prepare to carry their goal-scoring ways into Conference Championships
  • Conference Championships Teleconference scheduled for next week
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
 
Familiar foes set to clash as U.S. Men’s National Team takes on MLS-led Costa Rica
Familiar foes are set to clash on Tuesday when the U.S. Men’s National Team heads to Costa Rica for a critical 2018 World Cup Qualifying match Estadio Nacional in San Jose (9 p.m. ET, beIN SPORTS/NBC Universo).
 
The U.S., led by nine MLS players on the current roster, will face a spirited Costa Rican side that has been powered by MLS stars in the early stages of hexagonal play.
 
Costa Rica’s 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Friday had a distinct MLS flavor to it, with four MLS players suiting up for the Central American power. Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Cristian Bolaños put the team on the board with a second half goal and assisted on New York City FC defender Ronald Matarrita’s last-minute tally to power Costa Rica to an important road victory in the first match of hexagonal play. Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Kendall Waston played a full 90 minutes, while Montreal Impact midfielder Johan Venegas kept up his form before his upcoming Eastern Conference Championship, entering the match with a 78th minute substitution. The in-form quartet looks to extend the U.S. Men’s National Team’s woes in Costa Rica after the U.S. fell 2-1 to Mexico in Columbus, OH.
 
Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore contributed an assist in the loss to Mexico and will look to continue his tremendous form for club and country with the 27-year-old registering a combined 16 goals and seven assists in his last 22 matches across all competitions. Colorado Rapids midfielder Jermaine Jones, meanwhile, played a full 90 minutes for the U.S. against Mexico, a positive sign for his postseason prospects after a lengthy layoff due to injury. If the United States is to improve upon its 0-8-1 record in World Cup Qualifiers in Costa Rica, the burden may fall on one of these playmakers to make the difference against a familiar Los Ticos squad on Tuesday.
 
MLS Players Called Up to U.S. Men’s National Team:
Goalkeepers (1): Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids) – left U.S. team due to injury
Defenders (2): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
Midfielders (5): Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (2): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy) – replaced injured Jordan Morris
 
Opportunity knocks for Colorado Rapids’ Zac MacMath
They say opportunity never knocks twice, but Colorado Rapids’ Zac MacMath will get his second shot in the limelight as starting goalkeeper Tim Howard was injured during international play last week. With Howard out up to four months according to the club, MacMath will likely earn the starting role when the Rapids take on Seattle Sounders FC in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at CenturyLink Field (10 p.m. ET, FS1, TSN1/3). 
 
STATISTICALLY THE BEST: Starting the season as Colorado’s No. 1 goalkeeper, MacMath made the most of his role, recording the lowest goal against average (.76) in the league through his 17 starts – still the lowest average this season among goalkeepers with more than 1000 minutes played.
 
The Rapids went 9-3-5 when MacMath was in net, recording six shutouts and an untouchable winning percentage (.676), while the Rapids earned more wins than any other team through the first 16 weeks of the season.
 
MacMath faced an uncertain future when U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Howard returned stateside in the summer to the Rapids, ultimately replacing MacMath in the starting lineup.
 
This second opportunity couldn’t come at a bigger moment for MacMath - with more than just playoffs on his shoulders, will look to capitalize on the league’s biggest stage.
 
51 MLS players continue play in November FIFA international window
A total of 51 MLS players will continue to represent 19 different national teams during the FIFA November international window, with several playing crucial minutes in World Cup Qualifiers for their respective nations.
After a standout performance in MLS, LA Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos regained a starting spot in Mexico’s lineup, playing a full 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory over the United States on Friday. Elsewhere in CONCACAF 2018 World Cup Qualifying play, four MLS players started in Panama’s 1-0 victory over Honduras, which itself saw two league players receive playing time. Mexico and Panama next square off on Tuesday in hopes of beginning hexagonal play with two consecutive victories. Elsewhere in the continent, Jamaica clinched a spot in 2017 Gold Cup play powered by a clean sheet performance from Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake in a 1-0 win over Suriname on Sunday.
 
In Europe, Montreal Impact defender Laurent Ciman played a full 90 minutes in a pair of matches for his native Belgium, first a 2-2 friendly draw against the Netherlands followed by a dominant 8-1 UEFA World Cup Qualifier over Estonia. New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot scored for in Luxembourg’s 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on Sunday in World Cup Qualifying play.
 
In Africa, Colorado Rapids defender Micheal Azira made his international debut in Uganda’s 1-0 victory over Republic of the Congo on Sunday in AFC World Cup Qualifying play. Another player still in contention for MLS Cup, Montreal Impact defender Ambroise Oyongo played a full 90 minutes in Cameroon’s 1-1 draw against Zambia.
 
CLICK HERE to see the players called up for national team duty during the November FIFA Window and their scheduled matches.
 
Playoff leaders prepare to carry their goal-scoring ways into Conference Championships
With the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs set to continue with the Conference Championships next week, the postseason’s top performers look to bring their high-scoring form into the two-legged series.
 
A total of 34 goals have been scored throughout the playoffs with Toronto FC leading the pack with 10 goals in three games played. Led by leading playoff scorer Sebastian Giovinco (4 goals) and Jozy Altidore (3 goals), TFC also claims the lowest Goals Against Average with .33% and just one goal allowed. The Reds will take on the second-highest goal scoring team in the Montreal Impact who claim seven tallies throughout three playoff games, led by Matteo Mancosu and Ignacio Piatti who both have three goals scored. 
 
Out West, MLS newcomer Nicolas Lodeiro, who claims three goals in as many games, will look to lead Seattle Sounders FC past the stingiest defensive team in the league in the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids, who have just one goal scored and one goal allowed throughout two games along with a team total of 23 shots – the same number as Sebastian Giovinco alone – will hope it can continue its defensive prowess vs. a dangerous Seattle offense.
 
Tuesday, Nov. 22
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, TSN1/3, RDS
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. ET, FS1, TSN1/3
 
Sunday, Nov. 27
Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN, TSN2, RDS2
 
Wednesday, Nov. 30
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact, 7 p.m. ET, FS1, TSN1/3/4/5, RDS
 
2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Results and Leaders
For the full Results & Leaders document CLICK HERE
 
 
GOALS
 
 
 
 
 
PLAYER                          
TEAM    
GP
GOALS
 
 
Sebastian Giovinco           
TOR      
3
4
 
 
Jozy Altidore                      
TOR     
3
3
 
 
Nicolas Lodeiro                  
SEA      
3
3
 
 
Matteo Mancosu              
MTL      
3
3
 
 
Ignacio Piatti                      
MTL      
3
3
 
 
Emmanuel Boateng         
LA        
2
2
 
 
Jonathan Osorio               
TOR      
3
2
 
 
Nelson Haedo Valdez       
SEA      
3
2
 
 
12 players tied with 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GAME-WINNING GOALS
 
 
 
 
 
PLAYER
TEAM
GP
GWG
 
 
Matteo Mancosu  
MTL
3         
2
 
 
Nelson Haedo Valdez       
SEA       
3       
2
 
 
Jozy Altidore                      
TOR       
3           
1
 
 
Emmanuel Boateng          
LA          
2
1
 
 
Giovani dos Santos    
LA          
3
1
 
 
Shkelzen Gashi 
COL
2
1
 
 
Sebastian Giovinco
TOR
3
1
 
 
Jonathan Osorio
TOR
3
1
 
 
Ignacio Piatti
MTL
3
1
 
 
Maximiliano Urruti
DAL
2
1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ASSISTS
 
 
 
 
 
PLAYER
TEAM         
GP         
ASTS
 
 
Joevin Jones                     
SEA       
3           
3
 
 
Jozy Altidore                     
TOR         
3          
2
 
 
Marco Donadel
MTL       
3           
2
 
 
Sebastian Giovinco           
TOR       
3            
2
 
 
Alan Gordon                      
LA          
3            
2
 
 
Nick Hagglund                  
TOR       
3            
2
 
 
Atiba Harris                       
DAL      
2           
2
 
 
Dominic Oduro                  
MTL       
3           
2
 
 
19 players tied with 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GAME-WINNING ASSISTS
 
 
 
 
 
PLAYER
TEAM
GP
GWA
 
 
Joevin Jones
SEA
3
2
 
 
12 players tied with 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SAVES PERCENTAGE
 
 
 
 
 
PLAYER
TEAM
GP
SAVES  
SOG
PCT
Stefan Frei
SEA
3
13
16
81.3
Tim Howard
COL
2
4
5
80
Clint Irwin
TOR 
3
8
10
80
Brian Rowe
LA
3
7
10
70
Eirik Johansen
NYC
2
9
16
56.3
Evan Bush
MTL  
3
6
11
54.5
Andre Blake
PHI
1
3
6
50
Chris Seitz
DAL
2
4
9
44.4
 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
“There will be a winner and a loser. It’s going to be important. Someone will go home. Someone will go to MLS Cup. At the end of this, I think the rivalry will grow even more.”
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney on the growing rivalry with Montreal ahead of the Eastern Conference Championships
 
“A lot of people are happy to see the team and where we’re at and what we’ve accomplished. A lot of people have come up to me and congratulated me. I think it’s great for the city. We’re a city that wants to see a champion.”
Montreal Impact coach Mauro Biello on the growing buzz for the upcoming Eastern Conference Championships
 
“Just to be in the company of two other great players was awesome. It’s a huge honor. … Growing up watching this league, it’s always been a goal of mine to win this award.”
Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris on the importance of winning of the 2016 AT&T Rookie of the Year Award
                           
“He feels at home here, he feels valued as a human being. When you have people that want the best for you, you in turn want to give everything you can for the group. I think he was inspired by being able to go back (for the funeral) and say his peace to his family and then come back and play for something greater than himself, play for something greater than this team, play for something spiritual.”
Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni on Marlon Hairston, who recently lost his grandfather
 
"There's only 22 jobs coaching in MLS, and to occupy one of them at RSL is very humbling. We've been in talks about this now for about two to three months. I was confident that we would come to an agreement, but overall, just very humbled and very excited for what's in store for this club."
Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar after receiving a contract extension
 
Sweet Tweets
David Villa (@Guaje7Villa): Thanks to the members of the @ThirdRailSC for the award last night and for your support to @NYCFC . It was a great experience!!!
 
Shkelzen Gashi (@s_gashi11): Very proud to be part of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation @GDSFoundation. A great event, a great cause & outstanding company!  #BBBY2016
 
Herculez Gomez (@herculezg): When sport brings out the best in you.. Cuando el deporte demuestra lo mejor de ti...  
 
Jozy Altidore (‏@JozyAltidore): Never easy losing your rival. Need to pick ourselves up and be better Tuesday in Costa Rica. #USMNT #1N1T
 
Jack Harrison (@Harrison_Jack11): Would've been nice to win but happy to have made it that far tbh thanks again to everyone that voted