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This Week in MLS – September 12, 2016

 
This Week in MLS – September 12, 2016
  • Golden Boot Race takes center stage as two MLS matches air live adjacent to NFL on FOX this Sunday
  • FC Dallas begins treble hunt with U.S. Open Cup final against New England on Tuesday
  • Four MLS teams return to CONCACAF Champions League action this week
  • Two Games; Six Points; One Familiar Opponent
  • MLS clubs make final adjustments ahead of the 2016 Roster Freeze Deadline
  • Week 27 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 28 Game Previews
 
The Golden Boot Race takes center stage as two MLS matches air live adjacent to NFL on FOX this Sunday
Three of the top MLS strikers take center stage this weekend as FOX broadcast network airs a pair of MLS matches adjacent to regional NFL broadcasts this Sunday.
 
The LA Galaxy travel to face Sporting Kansas City with recent signing, MLS and U.S. Soccer all-time leading goal-scorer Landon Donovan. After a 4-2 victory of Orlando City SC last week, the LA Galaxy are on a five-game unbeaten streak (West #2, 47 pts.). Following forward Giovani dos Santos’ two goal, two assist performance on Sunday, the Mexican international is one of two players league-wide with double digit goals (14) and assists (11) this season. SKC counters with forward Dom Dwyer, who has helped the team stay above the red line (West #5, 39 pts.) with 13 goals, good for top 10 league-wide. The game will be Dwyer’s first as a father as he and U.S. Women’s National Team player Sydney Leroux, welcomed their first child Cassius Cruz Dwyer over the weekend.
 
FOX will air the match in both competing team’s home market as well as in select cities across the United States. Those areas not receiving the match broadcast on television will receive a regional NFL broadcast at that time and will have the opportunity to watch full coverage of the MLS match on FOX Sports GO. This match also will air nationally on ESPN Deportes.
 
At 5 p.m. ET, the top two teams in the East, Toronto FC (46 pts.) and New York Red Bulls (44 pts.) will battle for three important points at BMO Field with playoffs on the line.
 
For Toronto, it’s Win and You’re In. 
 
The Red Bulls will look to gain an important three points as crosstown rivals NYCFC (44 pts.) are nipping at their heels in the standings.  The Red Bulls are riding an 11-match unbeaten streak powered by Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips (18 goals, 29 games played). Wright-Phillips has a tallied 62 goals in the past three seasons, the most goals scored over three consecutive seasons in MLS history. Leading Toronto is U.S. Men’s National Team forward Jozy Altidore, in tremendous form with six goals and two assists over his past eight matches, with his team compiling a 6-1-1 record over that period. Toronto star Sebastian Giovinco, meanwhile, could make a return from injury and make waves in the Golden Boot race.  The Italian occupies third place in the Golden Boot standings with 16 goals scored in 26 games played.
 
FOX will air in the New York area as well as in select cities across the United States. Those areas not receiving the Toronto vs. New York broadcast on television will receive a regional NFL broadcast at that time and will have the opportunity to watch full coverage of the MLS match on FOX Sports GO. This match also will air nationally on FOX Deportes and in Canada on TSN2.
 
Similar to FOX’s process with regional NFL broadcasts, market assignments for the network’s coverage of the September 18 MLS matches will be made public at a later date. When market assignments are announced, MLSsoccer.com will provide a complete overview of the coverage for both the Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy and Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls matches.
 
FC Dallas begins treble hunt with U.S. Open Cup final against New England on Tuesday
A tremendous opportunity awaits FC Dallas as the club has the chance to become the first MLS team to pull off the treble – winning an MLS Cup, a Supporters’ Shield, and a U.S. Open Cup titles in the same year. Dallas can capture the first of the three trophies on Tuesday, Sept. 13 when it hosts the New England Revolution at Toyota Stadium in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship match (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2/UDN). Dallas and New England have met once this year, with the Texas club grabbing a 4-2 win on the road at Gillette Stadium on May 21. Despite having a club record 19-game unbeaten run at home snapped last weekend, Dallas is still set to make the most of its home field advantage but will be facing an energized Revs side that is coming off a cathartic 3-1 win over New York City FC. Both New England and FC Dallas are each aiming for their respective club’s second U.S. Open Cup title, with Dallas winning in 1997 and New England defeating Dallas in the final in 2007.  
 
If Dallas can capture the Open Cup title on Tuesday, the club faces the next task of winning the Supporters’ Shield. FCD currently leads the race with 51 points (15-8-6 record), ahead of LA Galaxy (47 points), Colorado Rapids (46 points) and Toronto FC (46 points), with just five regular season games remaining. If the results hold, the team could conceivably pull off a historic treble if it survives the postseason and books a trip to MLS Cup; remarkable considering the 2003 Chicago Fire and 2014 Seattle Sounders FC teams are the only clubs to win both the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup in the same season.
 
Four MLS teams return to CONCACAF Champions League action this week
Four MLS clubs continue their quest to be crowned the best in the region when they resume CONCACAF Champions League play this week. On Tuesday night, Vancouver Whitecaps FC looks to increase its sizable lead atop Group C as the team hits the road to face Sporting Kansas City in the only intra-league matchup (8 p.m. ET, UDN). This will be their second meeting after Vancouver defeated SKC 3-0 at home in their first encounter on Aug. 23. CCL action continues on Wednesday night when Portland Timbers – second in Group B with three points – travel to Costa Rica to face Deportivo Saprissa for their first encounter (10 p.m. ET, UDN), and concludes on Thursday evening when New York Red Bulls host Alianza FC at Red Bull Arena (8 p.m. ET, UDN). The Red Bulls enter the matchup with a critical away goal as the club tied Alianza FC 1-1 in El Salvador in the first leg, and sit first in Group F with four points. 
 
Two Games; Six Points; One Familiar Opponent
Entering the final weeks of the season, playoff scenarios are beginning to take shape with teams fighting to finish above the red line. Among the scenarios is the six-point swing, which features two matches against the same opponent down the stretch. The victors of these games will gain three points in each match, making a potential sweep of a single opponent worth six total points.
 
Six Point Swing Games
Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia (Oct. 1 at Red Bull Arena; Oct. 23 Talen Energy Stadium)
D.C. United vs. Orlando City (Sept. 24 at RFK; Oct. 23 at Camping World Stadium)
New England Revolution vs Montreal Impact (Sept. 17 at Stade Saputo; Oct. 23 at Gillette Stadium)
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy (Oct. 1 at Toyota Stadium; Oct. 23 at Stub Hub Center)
Colorado Rapids v San Jose Earthquakes (Sept. 17 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Oct. 13 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo (Oct. 8 at BBVA Compass Stadium; Oct. 23 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers (Oct. 1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Oct. 16 at Providence Park)
Sporting KC vs. San Jose (Sept. 24 at Avaya Stadium; Oct. 23 at Children’s Mercy Park)
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Sept. 17 at CenturyLink Field; Oct.2 at BC Place)
 
PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
 
FC Dallas will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs IF
  • FC Dallas win vs. New York City FC on Saturday
OR
  • FC Dallas tie vs. New York City FC on Saturday AND TWO OF THE FOLLOWING:
    • Portland Timbers tie or lose vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday OR
    • Seattle Sounders FC tie or lose vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday OR
    • San Jose Earthquakes tie or lose vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday OR
    • Sporting Kansas City lose vs. LA Galaxy on Sunday
OR
  • FC Dallas lose vs. New York City FC on Saturday AND TWO OF THE FOLLOWING:
    • Portland Timbers tie or lose vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday OR
    • Seattle Sounders FC tie or lose vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday OR
    • San Jose Earthquakes lose vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday
 
Toronto FC will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs IF
  • Toronto FC win vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday
OR
  • Toronto FC tie vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday AND TWO OF THE FOLLOWING:
    • D.C. United win or tie vs. Chicago Fire on Friday OR
    • Orlando City SC tie or lose vs. Columbus Crew SC on Saturday OR
    • New England Revolution tie or lose vs. Montréal Impact on Saturday
 
New York City FC will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs IF
  • New York City FC win vs. FC Dallas on Saturday AND
  • D.C. United win or tie vs. Chicago Fire on Friday AND
  • Orlando City SC tie or lose vs. Columbus Crew SC on Saturday AND
  • New England Revolution tie or lose vs. Montréal Impact on Saturday
 
New York Red Bulls will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs IF
  • New York Red Bulls win vs. Toronto FC on Sunday AND
  • D.C. United win or tie vs. Chicago Fire on Friday AND
  • Orlando City SC tie or lose vs. Columbus Crew SC on Saturday AND
  • New England Revolution tie or lose vs. Montréal Impact on Saturday
 
MLS clubs make final adjustments ahead of the 2016 Roster Freeze Deadline
The 2016 MLS Roster Freeze Deadline is Thursday, September 15, at 5 p.m. ET, at which time teams must submit their final 28-man roster that will close out the season’s final seven weeks and be eligible to participate in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. In other words, no changes may be made to a team’s roster from the Roster Freeze Deadline through the day after 2016 MLS Cup, other than in cases of Extreme Hardship. CLICK HERE for the 2016 Roster Rules and Regulations and more information on Extreme Hardship.
 
MLS clubs may still be able to sign players from their USL affiliate to Short Term Agreements (up to four-day contracts) for CONCACAF Champions League, AMWAY Canadian Championship, U.S. Open Cup, and exhibition matches.
 
AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open (Week 27) – CLICK HERE to vote
  • Roger Espinoza (SKC) Hits left-footed rocket from outside the box upper 90 to give Sporting a two-goal lead
  • Tranquillo Barnetta (PHI) Makes a run outside the box before unleashing a left-footed strike to the bottom right corner
  • Dominique Badji (COL) Outruns defender and hits a right-footed shot from outside the box for the game-winner
  • Ola Kamara (CLB) Scores off a corner with a right-footed flying kick towards far post
  • Joao Plata (RSL) Sends a powerful right-footed half volley to the upper right corner past goalkeeper Brian Rowe
  • Jozy Altidore (TFC) Streaks into the box and sends a right-footed shot into the back of the net off a Justin Morrow cross
  • Juan Agudelo (NE) Scores into the side of the net off a right-footed shot from a difficult angle
  • Giovani dos Santos (LA) Scores equalizer with easy chip in off a tremendous run from teammate Emma Boateng
 
Check It Out
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: The new life of Matias Laba
Columbus Crew SC: Fishing with Crew SC
 
Quotables
“Being on the field again, being able to help an organization that has meant so much to me and having my son in my arms after a game will undoubtedly make me and all my loved ones happy. That’s all that matters.”
LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan on his motivations in returning from retirement
 
“For most of the night, it was pretty discouraging. They were better in a lot of facets. But what I don’t doubt with my group is courage and belief to be able to salvage something when we weren’t great.”
D.C. United coach Ben Olsen on his team’s comeback from a two-goal deficit 
 
"Our form at home has been better than ever and that's the reason that we are where we are. If we take care of business in our home games, we're going to be in good shape."
Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter on his team’s continued success gaining points at Providence Park
 
“Jozy’s form right now is spectacular. He’s feeling good. He’s working on both sides of the ball. I can’t say enough about where he’s at.”
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney on Jozy Altidore’s recent stretch of play
 
“I think it was the most tired I’ve been in any first half in my life, the way we were pressing. It was tough, but we were up for the task and we knew what was at stake, and I’m not trying to go home early in November.”
New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo on his team’s attacking presence and push to the postseason
 
Sweet Tweets
Landon Donovan (‏@landondonovan10): It's so good to be back 
 
Dom Dwyer (@ddwyer14): 09/10/16. Cassius Cruz Dwyer. Welcome to the world my perfect little boy. I love you so much! https://www.instagram.com/p/BKNuliMhOyB/
 
Chris Seitz (@Seitzy1): Can't wait to see and hear you all tomorrow night.
 
Giovani dos Santos (@OficialGio): Respect @KAKA
 
Kelyn Rowe (@Krowe210): Backstreet's back
 
Week 28 Game Previews
Friday, September 16
Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET (UNI)
  • Michael de Leeuw scored for a third consecutive game, but the Fire had their home undefeated streak put to an end after nine matches in their 2-1 loss to Toronto FC at Toyota Park on Saturday evening.
  • For the second time in less than a month, D.C. United overcame a late two-goal deficit to the New York Red Bulls, as Steve Birnbaum scored in the 89th minute and Lamar Neagle hit for the equalizer in stoppage time to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The teams also reached a 2-2 draw Aug. 21 at RFK Stadium when United scored twice in the final 20 minutes.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Patrick Mullins scored a hat trick and Luciano Acosta scored a goal and added three assists as United equaled their club record in a 6-2 win Aug. 27 at RFK Stadium. The teams played to a 1-1 draw April 30 at Toyota Park.
  • United have not lost in the last six meetings in the meetings, scoring 17 goals over that span, winning four consecutive games before the draw in the first meeting this year. United have won the last four matches at RFK Stadium, undefeated in their last five home meetings with the Fire, dating back to 2015.
 
Saturday, September 17
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4 p.m. ET
  • Nicolas Lodeiro scored his third goal in the last five matches, but Sounders FC completed their three-game road swing with a loss and two draws, reaching a 1-1 result with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Avaya Stadium. Lodeiro has three goals and six assists in his seven MLS appearances since joining Sounders FC, playing a part in nine of Seattle’s 13 goals in that span.
  • Whitecaps FC put an end to their eight-game winless streak, winning for the first time since July 13 with their 3-1 victory against Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening. Erik Hurtado scored his first MLS goal for Whitecaps FC in nearly two years, since
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Pedro Morales scored a goal in each half as Whitecaps FC took a 2-1 win March 19 at BC Place.
  • The Whitecaps FC win in the first meeting was the first by the home team in four league matches in the series, since a Vancouver win at BC Place on July 5, 2014. The visiting team had won all four games in between – each winning twice on the other’s home ground.
 
Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union, 6 p.m. ET
  • Fanendo Adi scored his third goal in the last four games as the Timbers won their third game in a row at their Providence Park home, defeating Real Salt Lake by the game’s only goal on Saturday evening. Adi sits in a tie for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 14 goals.
  • Tranquillo Barnetta scored his third goal in the last seven matches, but Union saw the Montréal Impact hit for a late equalizer as the teams played to a 1-1 draw Saturday evening at Talen Energy Stadium. Barnetta also has two assists in that span.
  • Union won the lone meeting between the teams, a 3-0 victory July 11 in Chester – their first victory ever against the Timbers. In the first five meetings all-time, Portland won three, with two draws.
  • The Timbers won the first two meetings between the teams in Portland before they reached a 1-1 draw in their last encounter at Providence Park, in 2014.
 
New York City FC vs. FC Dallas, 7 p.m. ET
  • NYCFC lost their second consecutive road game, their winless run away from Yankee Stadium now at five matches following their 3-1 loss at the New England Revolution on Saturday evening. Frank Lampard netted his 12th goal of the season, all coming over the last 14 matches, dating back to June 18. Lampard has 12 goals and one assist over the span.
  • FC Dallas suffered a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium, putting an end to their club-record home undefeated streak after 19 games, dating back to last Aug. 29, the sixth-longest such streak in MLS history.
  • The teams met once last year in NYCFC’s inaugural season, FC Dallas claiming a 2-1 win Sept. 12 at Toyota Stadium.
 
Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Orlando City SC finished their two-game road swing by seeing their two-game winning run come to an end, falling 4-2 to the LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon at StubHub Center. Brek Shea scored for a second consecutive game, his third goal of the season.
  • Crew SC suffered their second consecutive defeat, falling 3-1 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Mapfre Stadium. Ola Kamara scored his 11th goal of the season, his first since July 23.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Tony Tchani and Ola Kamara gave Crew SC a first-half lead, but Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin scored five minutes apart in the second half for Orlando City to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw July 23 at Mapfre Stadium.
  • The teams met three times in Orlando City’s inaugural MLS season, each winning once at home. OCSC won 5-2 in Orlando on Aug. 1 in the final meeting between the teams; they also reached a 2-2 draw there on May 30. Crew SC won the lone match at Mapfre Stadium, a 3-0 win April 18.
 
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Matteo Mancosu netted his third MLS goal two minutes from the end for the equalizer as the Impact salvaged a late draw, reaching a 1-1 result at Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening.
  • The Revolution have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season, Juan Agudelo scoring for a second consecutive match in their 3-1 win against New York City FC on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Kei Kamara gave the Revolution a two-goal lead in the opening half-hour, but Michael Salazar scored twice and Ignacio Piatti added the third in a three-goal Impact blitz over 14 minutes as Montréal took a 3-2 win July 2 at Stade Saputo.
  • The Impact have a five-game undefeated streak alive in the all-time series, having won each of the last three meetings between the clubs. The last Revolution win in the series came Sept. 13, 2014.
  • 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. The Impact have won three of the last four meetings in Montréal, with one draw.
 
Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9 p.m. ET
  • The Rapids put an end to their four-game winless run and their two-game losing streak – their first back-to-back losses this season – defeating FC Dallas 1-0 on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. Dominique Badji scored the game’s lone goal; it was the sixth time in 12 wins this season the Rapids won by a 1-0 scoreline.
  • Chris Wondolowski scored his 10th goal of the season, but the Earthquakes were pulled back into a late 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at Avaya Stadium. Wondolowski is the only player in MLS history to have netted double-digits in goals in seven consecutive seasons, extending his streak which began in 2010.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Chris Wondolowski scored the game’s lone goal as the Earthquakes took the victory in the season opener for both clubs, March 6 at Avaya Stadium.
  • The Quakes have a 13-game undefeated streak alive vs. the Rapids. The Rapids last defeated San Jose in the first meeting in the 2011 season; the Quakes have won seven of the 13 meetings since, with six draws.
  • The Earthquakes have won the last two meetings between the teams, both by 1-0 scorelines. The wins ended a string of four consecutive draws between the teams, including each of the last three meetings at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. San Jose has not conceded a home goal to Colorado since a 1-1 draw on May 18, 2013, a span of 424 scoreless minutes for the Rapids in the Bay Area.
 
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • RSL had their three-game undefeated streak put to an end, dropping a 1-0 decision at the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening, their third consecutive defeat away from Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • The Dynamo saw their winless run extended to three games but came back for a dramatic point, Raúl Rodriguez claiming the equalizer deep into stoppage time in their 3-3 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Friday evening.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, splitting the first two. Jordan Allen netted a second-half equalizer, then set up Yura Movsisyan for the game-winner for a 2-1 RSL victory April 30 at Rio Tinto Stadium; on May 15, Giles Barnes scored the game’s lone goal for a Dynamo victory in a match delayed a day by weather at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The Dynamo win in the last meeting snapped a five-game RSL winning streak in the series, dating back to 2013. It also ended a two-game RSL winning streak in Houston – their first wins ever there. They suffered eight defeats and one draw in their first nine road games against the Dynamo. RSL has taken points from their last eight home games vs. Houston, with five victories in that time.
 
Sunday, September 18
Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy, 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
  • The night before welcoming son Cassius Cruz Dwyer into the world, Dom Dwyer netted his 13th goal of the season, though Sporting Kansas City was forced to settle for a 3-3 draw with the Houston Dynamo at Children’s Mercy Park.
  • On the day when Landon Donovan made his return to active MLS duty, Giovani dos Santos scored a pair of goals and added a pair of assists as the Galaxy extended their undefeated streak to five games with a 4-2 win against Orlando City SC. Dos Santos has a goal and/or an assist in eight of his last 10 games, dating back to July 23, with seven goals and six assists in that span. Dos Santos has played a part in each of the Galaxy’s last eight goals.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, having played to draws in the first two. SKC’s Brad Davis and the Galaxy’s Giovani dos Santos traded first-half goals as the clubs finished in a 1-1 draw May 1 at Children’s Mercy Park; they reached a scoreless draw June 2 at StubHub Center.
  • The Galaxy have not won in Kansas City since 2007; Sporting have won four of their eight home games since, with four draws. Sporting’s last win against the Galaxy in Carson came in 2010 – the last victory by the visiting team in the series; the Galaxy had won three home meetings in a row with KC before this year’s draw.
 
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 5 p.m. ET (FOX)
  • Jozy Altidore netted his sixth MLS goal of the season – all coming over the last eight matches – as Toronto FC moved back atop the Eastern Conference following their 2-1 at the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips moved back atop the MLS Golden Boot standings with his 18th goal of the season, but the Red Bulls were hauled back into a late draw with D.C. United for the second time in four weeks, reaching a 2-2 result Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. Wright-Phillips has scored 62 goals over the last three seasons, the most in a three-year span in MLS history.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, having split the first two at Red Bull Arena. On May 28, Bradley Wright-Phillips netted a hat trick – all within the opening 27 minutes – as the Red Bulls took a 3-0 win. Sebastian Giovinco netted a first-half penalty kick then set up a late insurance goal from Marky Delgado in a 2-0 Toronto FC win in the season opener for both clubs on March 6.
  • TFC is undefeated in their last three home matches vs. the Red Bulls, with victories in the last two meetings there. The Red Bulls last won in Toronto in 2013, a 2-1 victory at BMO Field.
  • The win in the first meeting this year was the first ever for Toronto FC at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls were 5-0-1 all-time in Harrison before the TFC win; the triumph also snapped an eight-game home undefeated streak for the Red Bulls vs. TFC (7-0-1), which began Oct. 25, 2009. The Red Bulls are now 10-2-1 all-time in home matches vs. Toronto FC.