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This Week in MLS – October 3, 2016

This Week in MLS – October 3, 2016
  • New York Derby, one of MLS’s most thrilling rivalries, to play out in Golden Boot race
  • On-fire MLS stars to lead U.S. Men’s National Team in historic friendly
  • 40 MLS players called to represent national teams during October FIFA Break 
  • Week 30 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 31 Game Previews
 
New York Derby, one of MLS’s most thrilling rivalries, to play out in Golden Boot race
For just the sixth time in MLS history and second year in a row, multiple players have scored 20-plus goals in the same season. And this time around, they share the same backyard as one of the league’s most thrilling rivalries is set to play out in the Golden Boot race. New York City FC forward David Villa and New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips are currently tied atop the Golden Boot standings with 21 goals each. The New York Derby rivals are officially the most dangerous scorers in MLS over the past two seasons, with Villa’s combined 39 goals pacing the league, just ahead of Wright-Phillips’ 38 goals.
 
All the more compelling, the Red Bulls and NYCFC are currently tied atop the Eastern Conference standings with identical 14-9-9 records (51 points) and are currently battling for home field advantage in the playoffs with an outside shot at the Supporters’ Shield. NYCFC is currently undefeated in its last three matches, powered by a Villa brace in each of the previous two contests – both NYCFC victories. Wright-Phillips, meanwhile, has scored or assisted in all but two matches during the Red Bulls’ current 14-game MLS unbeaten streak. Whatever magic Villa and Wright-Phillips continue to produce over their final two matches of the season on Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, will hold large implications for both the Golden Boot race and 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoff positioning. 
 
On-fire MLS stars to lead U.S. Men’s National Team in historic friendly
Before resuming World Cup qualifying play in November, seven MLS players will have the opportunity to impress U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann in a pair of friendlies. The U.S. first faces Cuba on Friday in a historic match, marking the first time the two sides have met on Cuban soil since 1947 (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ UniMás), before taking on New Zealand at RFK Stadium on Oct. 11 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, UniMás).
 
After a tremendous run of form in MLS with a league-leading 16 assists, New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan caught Klinsmann’s eye, earning his first call-up to the national team in two years in September for two World Cup qualifying matches. After a triumphant display with two goals and two assists, Kljestan takes center stage in hopes of solidifying his spot on Klinsmann’s roster. Kljestan has proven among the most dangerous No. 10’s in the league with five goals and seven assists registered during the Red Bulls’ current franchise record 14-game unbeaten streak in MLS play.
 
Seattle Sounders FC forward and Homegrown product Jordan Morris was called upon once again amidst a phenomenal 12-goal season, the second best in MLS rookie history. The highest scoring U.S. rookie has shown a knack for late game heroics, breaking the league rookie mark with six game-winning goals this season. Once thought to be all but dead in the postseason race, Morris has willed Sounders FC into the playoff picture with three goals during Seattle’s current four-game win streak.
 
Joining Morris up top is Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, who has nine goals over his previous 12 matches and ranks third all-time in U.S. Men’s National Team history with 37 goals scored. Altidore has kept a playoff bound Toronto squad near the top of the Eastern Conference with the team registering a 6-1-2 record in matches where he has either scored or assisted on a goal.
 
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7): Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)
 
45 MLS players called to represent national teams during October FIFA Break 
A total of 45 players from 18 MLS clubs, representing 14 nations, received the call to represent their national teams during the October FIFA window. For the full list of international call-ups, please click here.
 
Dos Santos returns to Mexican National Team after stellar late season performance with LA Galaxy
LA Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos returns to the Mexican National Team after an impressive late season performance that helped the Galaxy secure its 18th career postseason berth. The 27-year-old has been on fire for the five-time MLS Cup champions, notching seven goals and seven assists in his last 12 appearances, making him just one of two MLS players to have registered double-digits in goals (14) and assists (12). Dos Santos joins the national team for the first time since representing Mexico at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and will face New Zealand on Oct. 8 (6 p.m. ET) and Panama at Toyota Park on Oct. 11 (9:30 p.m. ET, UniMás, UDN) in a pair of friendlies that will serve as important dress rehearsals ahead of World Cup qualifying.
 
MLS up-and-comers and Homegrown talent highlight Canadian national team call-ups
With an eye towards the future, MLS up-and-comers and Homegrown Players Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal Impact) and Marcos Bustos (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) bring an injection of youth into the latest Canadian national team roster as selected by new interim head coach Michael Findlay. All three players under the age of 24 will be joined by fellow Homegrown Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC), who ranks second in assists for Toronto FC with five this season. Filling out the Canadian roster are Vancouver’s Fraser Aird, Marcel de Jong and David Edgar, and Toronto’s Tosaint Ricketts, who will face Mauritania on Oct. 7 and Morocco on Oct. 11 in Marrakech.
 
NYCFC forward Tony Taylor earns first international call-up with Panama
Powered by his growing role with New York City FC this year under coach Patrick Vieira, forward Tony Taylor has earned his first international call-up with the Panamanian national team. The 2014 MLS Expansion Draft pick has matured in his second season with NYCFC after sitting out much of 2015 with a knee injury. Taylor has registered two goals and one assist in 2016, both the first of his MLS career. With both parents Panamanian born, the former U.S. U-20 player and California native will get a second chance to prove himself on the international stage when Panama takes on Mexico in a friendly on Oct. 11 at Toyota Park (9:30 p.m. ET, UniMás, UDN).
 
MLS call-ups during the 2016 October FIFA window
Total of 45 players as of Oct. 3, 2016
 
By Country (14)
 
Belgium (1)                                                                              New Zealand (2)
Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact)                                    Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes)
                                                                                                Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers)
Cameroon (1)                                                                          
Ambroise Oyongo (Montreal Impact)                                          Panama (2)
Armando Cooper (Toronto FC)
Tony Taylor (New York City FC)
Canada (8)                                                                               
Fraser Aird (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)                                       Puerto Rico (1)
Marco Bustos (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)                                   Jason Hernandez (New York City FC)
Marcel De Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
David Edgar (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)                                     Trinidad and Tobago (5)
Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC)                                                    Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes)
Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal Impact)                                 Aubrey David (FC Dallas)
Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto FC)                                                     Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders FC)
Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC)                                                    Kevin Molino (Orlando City SC)
                                                                                                Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids)
Costa Rica (4)                                      
Christian Bolaños (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)                              United States (7)
Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC)                                           Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact)                                              David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes)
Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)                                Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
                                                                                                Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Ecuador (1)                                                                              Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls)
Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas)                                                          Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
                                                                                                Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Ghana (2)
David Accam (Chicago Fire)                                                      By Club (18)
Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC)                                            Toronto FC (6)
                                                                                                Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6)
Jamaica (9)                                                                               San Jose Earthquakes (5)
Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)                                                Montreal Impact (4)
Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders FC)                                             Seattle Sounders FC (4)
Shaun Francis (San Jose Earthquakes)                                       Portland Timbers (4)
Omar Holness (Real Salt Lake)                                                   New York City FC (3)
Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls)                                       FC Dallas (2)
Damian Lowe (Seattle Sounders FC) *on loan w/ Minnesota United FC    New York Red Bulls (2)
Darren Mattocks (Portland Timbers)                                           Chicago Fire (1)
Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers)                                                 Colorado Rapids (1)
Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution)                             Columbus Crew SC (1)
                                                                                                D.C. United (1)
Lithuania (1)                                                                             LA Galaxy (1)
Vytautas Andriuškevičius (Portland Timbers)                               New England Revolution (1)      
                                                                                                Orlando City SC (1)
Mexico (1)                                                                                Philadelphia Union (1)   
Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)                                                Real Salt Lake (1)                                 
                                                                                               
AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open (Week 30) – CLICK HERE to vote
  • Harrison Afful (CLB) Fires shot from well outside the box just under the crossbar and into net
  • David Villa (NYC) Scores opening goal with right-footed strike from difficult angle
  • Lloyd Sam (D.C.) Holds off defender in the box before finishing with a left-footed strike upper 90
  • Simon Dawkins (SJ) Sends a blazing shot from outside the box just inside the right post to take the lead
  • Jozy Altidore (TFC) Outmaneuvers defender and fools the goalkeeper with a cutback for open net goal
  • Justin Meram (CLB) Jukes a defender with a cutback and beats the keeper with a shot near post
  • David Villa (NYC) Rockets home right-footed shot from top of the box to extend the NYCFC lead
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB) Collects a perfect pass from Dax McCarty and finishes with clinical right-footed strike
 
Check It Out
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Marcel de Jong goes paddle boarding
 
Quotables
“I must say that we must have patience because the academy has just taken off. I come from a city, a team, Newell’s, where the priority was youth development. It will be the same here at Atlanta United.”
Newly named head coach Gerardo ”Tata” Martino on Atlanta United’s planned emphasis on the academy
 
“I stepped away at that moment and I thought about a couple of things. One, we hadn’t really had a moment this year that really transcended the season and put us into that upward climb. So I was hoping that was coming. I think about a few people before every game and one of them is my grandmother (Eileen Bush) who passed away at the start of last season. I just shot up a quick message to her. Whether she heard it or not … maybe she pushed the ball into me.”
Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush on his game-winning penalty kick save
 
“I told them before the game, it didn’t matter to me that Lodeiro was gone, that Dempsey was gone. Guys have to step up. Guys have to come in and do their jobs. Those guys know how to play. Yes, we miss Clint. Yes, we miss Nico. But we’re strong enough as a group that we found a way to win.”
Seattle Sounders FC interim coach Brian Schmetzer on winning without Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro
                           
"We have two games. We can't control anything the other things we have. Colorado has four games, we have two. We're going to prepare for Seattle now at home, and then we need to get to LA [to close the regular season]. We do have the opportunity to win the shield, but as I've said from the beginning, you cannot have too many objectives at the same time and try to sort them out."
FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja on the team’s chances to win the Supporters’ Shield
 
Sweet Tweets
Sacha Kljestan (‏@SachaKljestan): Excited to be back in camp with #USMNT and looking forward to going back to Cuba again!
 
Charlie Davies  (@CharlieDavies9): After my 4 month follow up with Dr. Raut, I'm still cancer free!!! #blessed
 
David Edgar (@davidedgar4): Off to meet up with the national team. @canadasoccer #morocco
 
Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13): Hey @DancingABC when are your auditions for next season? I think you're gonna like what you see
 
David Bingham (@binghamdavid): Can't wait to get back with the guys this week! #usmnt
 
Week 31 Game Previews
Saturday, October 8
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • The Dynamo had their two-game winning streak put to an end, falling 2-0 to New York City FC on Friday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium, their first defeat since Aug. 27.
  • The Rapids secured their place in the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Sebastien Le Toux scoring the game’s only goal for the win against the Portland Timbers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening. The Rapids remain the only undefeated team at home for the 2016 MLS season with the victory.
  • The Dynamo took the last meeting between the teams, a 3-2 victory Sept. 26, 2015 at BBVA Compass Stadium, their win in league play in the series since 2009. The Rapids won six of the 10 meetings in between, with four draws.
  • The Dynamo haven’t won at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since 2008, with the Rapids winning the last three meetings in Commerce City.