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This Week in MLS – November 8, 2016

 
 
This Week in MLS – November 8, 2016
  • Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoff standouts set to lead U.S. Men’s National Team against Mexico  
  • 48 MLS players to represent national teams across the globe during international window
  • Rookie and Defender of the Year finalists highlight MLS’ emerging talent
  • 2016 MLS media credential application now available as Cup market reduces to three
  • AT&T Goal of the Year and MLS Save of the Year voting down to the final four
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
 
Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoff standouts set to lead U.S. Men’s National Team against Mexico  
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called up 10 MLS players, all Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoff participants, for a pair of pivotal 2018 World Cup Qualifying matches which includes another historic meeting between the U.S. and Mexico in Columbus, OH on Friday (7:45 p.m. ET, FS1/Univision). Set to lead the U.S. in one of the most intense sports rivalries in North America are five MLS players that played vital roles in helping their clubs advance to the MLS Conference Championships, four of which have previously played Mexico in a World Cup Qualifier (Howard, Jones, Bradley, Altidore).
 
Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids)
After leading the Rapids to the Western Conference Championship, Howard and Jones join the USMNT with Howard earning the starting role in between the pipes in Columbus.
  • Joining the Rapids this summer, Howard registered seven shutouts in the regular season with a 6-3-8 record. In two playoff appearances, Howard has one shutout and stunned in a penalty kick shootout with two saves to lead the club to the Western Conference Championship.
  • Howard leads the U.S. roster with 32 World Cup Qualifying appearances and will tie former teammate DaMarcus Beasley for third all-time in USMNT history with his next WCQ appearance.  
  • Howard leads the U.S. in all-time international appearances against Mexico with 10, posting a 5-2-3 record.
  • Despite struggling with injury throughout 2016, Jones still made an impact notching three goals and two assists in just eight starts.
  • Jones has 64 career caps with the USMNT, including appearances in all four of the U.S.’s 2014 FIFA World Cup matches.
 
Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley have been unstoppable for Toronto FC, leading the club to its first postseason victory and first appearance in the Eastern Conference Championship.
  •          Altidore has three goals and two assists throughout three playoff games in 2016 for TFC. Altidore finished the regular season in tremendous form with 10 goals and three assists in Toronto’s last 14 games of the season.
  • Tallying three times during the USMNT’s two World Cup Qualifying matches in September, Altidore is the USA's all-time leader in World Cup Qualifying goals with 16. Altidore sits third on the MNT's all-time goal scoring list with 37 tallies and one against Mexico.
  • Throughout three seasons with TFC, Bradley has made 74 regular season appearances, registering eight goals and 15 assists.
  • Bradley leads all cap-winners on the roster with 124 all-time U.S. appearances, and with one more assist will tie Cobi Jones for second all-time (21).  
  • The captain's four World Cup Qualifying appearances against Mexico leads the list of 11 USA players that have previously faced El Tri in qualifying, and claims the most all-time appearances against Mexico with 10.
  • Of the players named to the U.S. roster, Bradley leads the group with three goals scored against Mexico
 
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
Rookie of the Year finalist, Morris has been a tremendous addition to Seattle Sounders FC and has been crucial in the club’s late-season comeback which now sees the club in the Western Conference Championship for the third time in the club’s seven-year MLS history.
  • Morris finished the 2016 regular season as Seattle’s leading goal scorer with 12 goals, and tied for second in assists with four.
  • The Homegrown Player’s 12 goals set an American-born rookie record.
  • Morris has one assist in his three playoff appearances.
  • Morris has 12 career caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team, scoring his first goal against Mexico in a friendly on April 15, 2015
 
U.S. vs. Mexico
  • Over the past four cycles, the U.S. has recorded four straight 2-0 victories over Mexico in Columbus. Two of those wins in 2005 and 2015, booked the U.S.’s ticket to the World Cup.
  • The U.S. is unbeaten in 11 matches at MAPFRE Stadium, posting an 8-0-3 record and 10 shutouts. Nine of the 11 matches were World Cup Qualifiers with the U.S. going 7-0-2.
 
MLS Players Called Up to U.S. Men’s National Team:
Goalkeepers (1): Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
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), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
 
48 MLS players to represent national teams across the globe during international window
As of Nov. 8, a total of 48 MLS players have been called up to represent 17 different national teams in the FIFA November international window, with several teams participating in 2018 World Cup Qualifying. Relying on a mix of young talent and veteran leadership, the average age of MLS players called up during the current window is 27.5 years old.
 
A number of players suiting up for teams that qualified for the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs will look to extend their winning ways for their national teams, including a league-best seven players representing active playoff participants Seattle Sounders FC. The remaining teams in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Colorado Rapids, each have three players participating in international play.
 
Belgium (1)
Lauren Ciman – Montreal Impact
 
Cameroon (1)
Ambroise Oyongo – Montreal Impact
 
Canada (5)
Fraser Aird – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Marco Bustos – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Marcel de Jong – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
David Edgar – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Cyle Larin – Orlando City SC
 
Costa Rica (4)
Christian Bolanos – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Ronald Matarrita – New York City FC
Johan Venegas – Montreal Impact
Kendall Waston – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
 
Ecaudor (1)
Carlos Gruezo – FC Dallas
 
Ghana (2)
David Accam – Chicago Fire
Harrison Afful – Columbus Crew SC
 
Honduras (3)
Roger Espinoza – Sporting Kansas City
Maynor Figueroa – FC Dallas
Boniek Garcia – Houston Dynamo
 
Iraq (1)
Justin Meram – Columbus Crew SC
 
Ireland (1)
Kevin Doyle – Colorado Rapids
 
Jamaica (5)
Andre Blake – Philadelphia Union
Oneil Fisher – Seattle Sounders FC
Shaun Francis – San Jose Earthquakes
Omar Holness – Real Salt Lake
Damion Lowe – Seattle Sounders FC
 
Lithuania (1)
Vytautas Andriuškevičius – Portland Timbers
 
Mexico (1)
Giovani dos Santos – LA Galaxy
 
New Zealand (1)
Kip Colvey – San Jose Earthquakes
 
Panama (6)
Armando Cooper – Toronto FC
Anibal Godoy – San Jose Earthquakes
Alberto Quintero – San Jose Earthquakes
Tony Taylor – New York City FC
Roman Torres – Seattle Sounders FC
 
Paraguay (1)
Nelson Valdez – Seattle Sounders FC
 
Trinidad and Tobago (3)
Cordell Cato – San Jose Earthquakes
Aubrey David – FC Dallas
Joevin Jones – Seattle Sounders FC
 
United States (10)
Jozy Altidore – Toronto FC
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
Graham Zusi – Sporting Kansas City
 
Uruguay (1)
Nicolas Lodeiro – Seattle Sounders FC
 
By MLS Team (19)
Seattle Sounders FC (7)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7)
San Jose Earthquakes (5)
Colorado Rapids (3)
FC Dallas (3)
Montreal Impact (3)
Sporting Kansas City (3)
Toronto FC (3)
Columbus Crew SC (2)
New York City FC (2)
Philadelphia Union (2)
Chicago Fire (1)
D.C. United (1)
Houston Dynamo (1)
LA Galaxy (1)
New York Red Bulls (1)
Orlando City SC (1)
Portland Timbers (1)
Real Salt Lake (1)
 
*As of Nov. 8, 2016
 
Rookie and Defender of the Year finalists highlight MLS’ emerging talent
During the 2016 MLS season, a number of young and emerging talent became difference makers for their respective clubs, highlighted by the finalists for Rookie and Defender of the Year. With the winner of the Rookie of the Year award to be revealed on Thursday, a trio of rookies in Jack Harrison (New York City FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC) and Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union) showed no qualms in their first year as professionals with all three playing pivotal roles in getting their clubs to the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.
 
Signed as a Homegrown Player after three years at Stanford University, Morris was crucial in Seattle’s late-season comeback, scoring 12 regular season goals – an American-born rookie scoring record – and has remained just as vital in the club’s run to the Western Conference Championship. In New York, 19-year-old sparkplug Harrison recorded the fifth-most assists in MLS rookie history with seven en route to helping NYCFC make its first postseason appearance in club history. Down the I-95 corridor, 22-year-old right back Rosenberry turned heads with his defensive prowess, playing every minute of every game for Philadelphia while steering the team to its first playoff appearance since 2011.
 
Also enjoying breakout seasons in 2016 are two Defender of the Year finalists, Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) and Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids). With a few more seasons under his belt than his counterpart, Hedges had a year to remember in his fifth season with FCD, serving as the defensive bedrock for the club which captured the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. open Cup title in 2016. In Colorado, 25-year-old Sjoberg put in one of the most steadfast performances of the year, as the unsuspecting 2015 MLS SuperDraft pick became a leader along the back line for the stingiest defense in the league which is now headed to the Western Conference Championship.
 
2016 MLS media credential application now available as Cup market reduces to three
Heading into the Conference Championships, three of the four remaining teams have the possibility to host 2016 MLS Cup, as the team with the most regular season points among the finalists will play get the honor.  
 
With the best record of the teams remaining in the postseason, the Colorado Rapids would host MLS Cup should they advance against either Eastern Conference opponent. Should Seattle Sounders FC advance, they could only host if facing the Montreal Impact. In the Eastern Conference, Toronto FC would host if playing against Seattle Sounders FC, while the Montreal Impact cannot host because they have the fewest regular season points among the remaining teams.
 
The credential application for the 2016 MLS Cup is now open for media who plan to cover the event. The link can be found by CLICKING HERE and is open until Thursday, December 1 at 6 p.m. ET. MLS Cup 2016 will take place on Saturday, December 10 at 8 p.m. ET (FOX, UniMás, TSN, and RDS). 
 
AT&T Goal of the Year voting down to the final four – CLICK HERE to vote
  •          Giovani dos Santos (LA) Smashes home a stunning volley with a left-footed strike into the upper 90
  •          Jack Harrison (NYC) Jukes a defender with a cutback and clinically finishes with a left-footed strike far post
  •          Shkëlzen Gashi (COL) Drills a world-class free kick from distance into the left upper corner
  •          Quincy Amarikwa (SJ) Chips goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey from long range on full speed run
 
MLS Save of the Year final four voting now open  – CLICK HERE to vote
  •          Chris Seitz (DAL) Makes an incredible diving stop on a rocketed shot from distance to keep Dallas even
  •          Stefan Frei (SEA) Fully extends to deflect a ball headed for goal out of play off a tricky bounce
  •          Joe Willis (HOU) Shows incredible effort with a close range and diving double save to deny Erik Friberg
  •          Joe Bendik (ORL) Keeps the game scoreless with a pair of tremendous diving stops off hard hit shots
 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
“In big games you need your big players to make plays, whether it’s Tim Howard making saves or Gashi scoring goals or Jermaine bossing that midfield. Across that field, the big players stepped up for us. It was evident from the first whistle, and the rest of the group really did a great job of rising.”
Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni on his team’s big players stepping up
 
“At the beginning, even though we prepared them for the onslaught, it came at them fast and furious and it took them a little while to get their feet under them. In the second half, I think the leadership with Lodeiro, Ozzie, Scott, Marshall, those guys up the spine of team was able to really persevere in key moments get one, two, three passes to ease that pressure.”
Seattle Sounders FC coach Brian Schmetzer on a defensive emphasis and slowing down the match
 
“If you look back on the history of this league, the teams that do well are the stingiest. It’s very difficult in this league to be just a goal-scoring team and get through these key matches. In terms of us, we tried to be an aggressive, attacking team today, but we wanted to do it through our defensive effort.”
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney on the team’s strong defense on Sunday
 
“We need all the support and there’s no excuse. The Big O needs to be full (for the next game) because we need the 12th player. It’s a big factor at this stage of the season. We know what we’re doing, but we need everybody on the bandwagon … that stadium needs to be full and I’m speaking to Montreal.”
Montreal Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier on facing Toronto FC in the conference championship
                           
“Week in and week out he proves that he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world. What he exudes as a human being has been transformational for the group.”
Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni on Tim Howard’s big performance
 
Sweet Tweets
Evan Bush (@ebushel1): 401 Derby Conference Final. Wow wow wow! Gonna be a long 16 days to wait! Congrats to the team, city, and all fans! Huge day for Montreal!
 
Shkelzen Gashi (@s_gashi11): Thanks to @Broncos, @nuggets, @Avalanche, @Rockies, the city of Denver & all Rapids fans for your outstanding playoff support! #1city #SG11
 
Bobby Burling (@bobbyburling): Complete team performance today to eliminate a squad like LA!! Fans and atmosphere were Lit!  Can't wait til our next home game #fortress  
 
Patrice Bernier (‏@pbernier10): Big victory. Grit, passion and belief. Lets keep going. ON way to eastern conference final. #IMFC #montrealstrong  
 
Tosaint Ricketts (@TosaintRicketts): Amazing performance by the boys!!!! Thanks to all the supporters that made the trip, we could hear you all match! #AllForOne