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This Week in MLS – September 6, 2016

This Week in MLS – September 6, 2016
  • Sacha Kljestan makes his mark on U.S. Men’s National Team
  • Atlantic Cup Rivals New York Red Bulls and D.C. United face off on MLS Soccer Sunday
  • FC Dallas can become first club to clinch a berth in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs with win on Saturday
  • MLS launches Kick Childhood Cancer initiative for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • Week 26 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Week 27 Game Previews
 
Sacha Kljestan makes his mark on U.S. Men’s National Team
"I don't know if it was a high comfort level or just the huge boost of energy and a lot of drive and determination. If this was going to be my one chance I wanted for it to be the best it possibly could be.”
-New York Red Bulls midfielder and USMNT member Sacha Kljestan (Goal.com)
 
Sacha Kljestan knew he had one chance to prove he belonged on the international stage and the New York Red Bulls midfielder didn’t miss a beat. In his first appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team in over two years, the American No. 10 notched one goal and two assists to lead the U.S. in a resounding 6-0 victory over St. Vincent and the Grenadines in World Cup qualifying. The MLS leader in assists (15), will have another opportunity to make his mark and help the USMNT clinch the top spot in its group tonight vs. Trinidad and Tobago in Jacksonville, FL (8 p.m. ET, FS1, UniMás).
 
Joining Kljestan as difference makers for the U.S. are a pair of MLS Homegrown Players in Kellyn Acosta and Jordan Morris. Acosta started at left back against St. Vincent and the Grenadines amid a tremendous season for Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas, while Morris, who entered the match as a substitute, leads Seattle Sounders FC with nine goals, making him one of the favorites for MLS Rookie of the Year. The duo join a strong list of Homegrown Players to star for the U.S. Men’s National Team, which include LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes and former MLSers Matt Miazga and DeAndre Yedlin. With a growing number of young MLS talent being relied on in qualification, the next World Cup roster could have a strong Homegrown feel should the U.S. qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
 
MLS Homegrown Players to appear for the U.S. Men’s National Team
 
Goalkeepers (1): Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
 
Defenders (2): Matt Miazga (Chelsea, on loan at Vitesse, formerly of NY Red Bulls), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle, formerly of Seattle Sounders FC)
 
Midfielders (2): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
 
Forwards (3): Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution)
 
Atlantic Cup Rivals New York Red Bulls and D.C. United face off on MLS Soccer Sunday
MLS Soccer Sunday returns with a bang as Atlantic Cup rivals New York Red Bulls and D.C. United face off at Red Bull Arena in a critical Eastern Conference showdown (1 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN Deportes).  
 
On the pitch, D.C. has the advantage heading into the third and decisive rivalry matchup this season, taking a 2-0 victory over the Red Bulls in May before finishing in a scoreless draw in August. If United can manage a positive result in what has been an even rivalry in past years, it will be the club’s third Atlantic Cup victory in the last six seasons, with the two teams alternating the title every year since 2011.
 
The Red Bulls enter the matchup on an MLS-best 10-game undefeated streak and currently sit second in the Eastern Conference, just one point off of leaders NYCFC. Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, who is tied with crosstown rival David Villa for the Golden Boot lead with 17 goals, is on a historic run, tying the league record for most goals scored over three seasons with 61 tallies since 2014 – his first full season with NYRB.
 
D.C. midfielder Lloyd Sam, meanwhile, makes his second return to Red Bull Arena after a mid-season trade saw the fan favorite head south down I-95 to D.C. United. Sam has one goal and three assists in seven matches with D.C., including a wonderful goal in last week’s match against NYCFC which is nominated for AT&T MLS Goal of the Week.
 
FC Dallas can become first club to clinch a berth in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs with win on Saturday
Major League Soccer today released the 2016 postseason schedule which can be found here.
 
All clubs are keeping an eye on the Red Line but only one club has a chance to clinch a spot in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs in Week 27.
 
Current Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas can punch their ticket to the postseason with a win over the Colorado Rapids this Saturday (9 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). Dallas currently leads the Western Conference with a 15-7-6 record and 51 points. Next in the West are Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy all tied for second with 43 points.
 
The past three meetings between Dallas and Colorado have resulted in 1-1 draws, but the Rapids will have a tall task at hand at Toyota Stadium as Dallas currently claims a 19-game unbeaten streak at home.
 
Click Here to view the league standings.
 
MLS launches Kick Childhood Cancer Initiative for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Major League Soccer has launched its month-long Kick Childhood Cancer initiative, the annual League-wide campaign to raise awareness and funds in conjunction with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Fans will be able to directly contribute to the initiative through the League’s second annual ‘Scarftember,’ with each MLS club having its own Kick Childhood Cancer scarf designed by illustrator Sophia Chang, and with sales proceeds benefitting Children’s Oncology Group. During the campaign, each fan who posts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the #ScarvesUp hashtag will generate a $1 donation to Children’s Oncology Group. MLS clubs will also recognize and honor children fighting cancer throughout the month, and each match in September will feature players and referees wearing campaign t-shirts for pre-game activities, and gold soccer nets and corner flags to promote the campaign. For more information on Kick Childhood Cancer, visit www.MLSsoccer.com/MLSWORKS.
 
AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open (Week 26) – CLICK HERE to vote
  • Baggio Husidic (LA) Hits right-footed rocket from outside the box upper 90 to give LA the lead
  • Walker Zimmerman (DAL) Skies above defenders to head home powerful goal off free kick
  • Arturo Alvarez (CHI) Fools defender with beautiful step over before sending left-footed shot far post
  • Lloyd Sam (D.C.) Opens match with clinical finish between defender and goalkeeper Josh Saunders
  • Diego Valeri (POR) Scores on tremendous right-footed half volley to break up a FC Dallas clean sheet
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB) Overpowers defenders with a persistent run in the box and finishes with a right-footed strike into back of net
  • Giovani dos Santos (LA) Chips goalkeeper Steve Clark with dazzling game winner from just inside the box
  • Chris Tierney (NE) Finishes tremendous transition sequence with left-footed strike far post over goalkeeper Zac MacMath
 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
"It's a day that I'm always going to remember, and there's a couple different things that made it special. I'm glad I get to take this [ball] home, because this doesn't happen very often for me, and I'm going to make sure Parker's name goes on this ball, and we put in the nursery."
Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler on scoring his first international goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team on the same day his first child was born
 
“Even when I first came back I was scoring a few but I felt I needed more fitness. And I’m getting to that level now where I’m getting stronger and fitter. And I’m fresh. And I never felt like I had a point to prove to people on the outside, I always had a point to prove to myself. I don’t want this to be a place where I come here at this point in my career and it doesn’t work. I want to make it work. I have that desire.”
New York City FC midfielder Frank Lampard on his improved play following a game-winning goal against D.C. United on Thursday
 
“I never really get all hung up on those things. I know one day it will be important, probably for my grandchildren to read about it. I’m honored to have just coached some great players in this league and that’s the reason why I’ve been able to pile up a few wins along the way.”
LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena on winning his 200th career match as a MLS coach
 
"The thing that I like the most is that they are taking the journey one step at a time. I don't want them to overthink too many things, I want them just to come and perform every day the way they are, and that makes me feel honored to coach them."
FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja on his team’s victory and position atop the Supporters’ Shield standings
 
Sweet Tweets
Sacha Kljestan (‏@SachaKljestan): Game day. Let's get these 3 points and win the group!
 
Kendall Waston (@kwaston88): Today in my country, is national team's day. What about Canadians and us Costa Ricans send each other the best of luck? #CA #CR
 
Tesho Akindele (@tesho13): For my country  Huge game tomorrow in Vancouver! #CanadaRed
 
Justin Meram (@JustinMeram): Will always fight for the flag. Match tonight vs Saudi Arabia. Together for Iraq  #WorldCupQualifer #Lions
 
Sean Johnson (@sjohn25): Glad to see my boy @MauriceEdu back on the pitch and healthy!
 
Week 27 Game Previews
Wednesday, September 7
Montreal Impact vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Cyle Larin scored a goal late in each half as Orlando City overcame an early Ignacio Piatti strike for a 2-1 win May 21 at Camping World Stadium.
  • The teams met three times in Orlando City SC’s inaugural season, evenly splitting the season series. Each team won once at home, the Impact taking a 2-0 victory June 20 at Stade Saputo, and Orlando City responding with a 2-1 win in Orlando. The teams reached a 2-2 draw in their first meeting, March 14 at Olympic Stadium.
  • Ignacio Piatti scored his 14th goal of the season as the Impact defeated arch-rivals Toronto FC 1-0 in their last match. Piatti is now tied for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot standings, exceeding his goals total from his first two MLS seasons combined (4 in 2014; 9 in 2015); it was his second goal in the last four matches.
  • Kaká scored a pair of goals, the first two-goal game of his MLS career, now with six goals on the season, leading Orlando City to a 2-1 win against New York City FC in their last match. It was his third goal in the last four matches; Kaká has three goals and three assists over the last six MLS games.
 
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Five different Galaxy players hit the back of the net as they rolled to a 5-2 win April 23 at StubHub Center.
  • Real have a four-game undefeated streak at Rio Tinto Stadium alive in the series, winning 3-0 in the last meeting there last Sept. 19.
  • The Galaxy’s win in the first meeting ended a string of three consecutive meetings at StubHub Center which all ended in a 1-0 scoreline, the Galaxy winning two of those. The Galaxy have won the last two encounters at StubHub Center.
  • The Galaxy snapped a six-game winless run, making Bruce Arena the second coach in MLS history to reach the 200-win plateau in regular season matches, in their 2-1 win against Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. Giovani dos Santos netted his 10th goal of the season.
  • Real won their second game on the trot with the 2-1 victory against the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 26, the first time they’ve won consecutive games in league play since their three-game winning run April 2-16, the only other time this year they’ve been victorious in back-to-back MLS matches. Real remain undefeated at home for the season, now 8-0-5 in league play at Rio Tinto Stadium, one of four teams still without a home loss in MLS contests this season (also: FC Dallas, Colorado, LA Galaxy).
 
Friday, September 9
Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET (UNI)
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Giles Barnes and Andrew Wenger scored first-half goals as the Dynamo took a 2-0 win May 7 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The Dynamo have won the last two meetings, both in Houston, the first victories for the home team in the series in the last 10 matches, following a Dynamo home win in 2012.
  • The teams reached a 1-1 draw Aug. 1, 2015 in the last meeting in Kansas City. Sporting’s last win at home in the series came in 2011, winless in their first meetings at Children’s Mercy Park (0-1-4).
  • Sporting were shut out at the attacking end for a ninth time this season – eight of those occurring away from Children’s Mercy Park – in their 2-0 loss at Philadelphia Union in their last match Aug. 27. Sporting have scored nine goals in their 14 away games, an average of 0.64 goals per game on the road, the lowest mark in the league.
  • The Dynamo saw an eight-game home undefeated streak come to an end with the defeat by FC Dallas – though they have still gone five games since their last victory at home, a 1-0 victory vs. Philadelphia on July 2, with the loss to FCD preceded by four consecutive draws.
 
Saturday, September 10
Columbus Crew SC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Crew SC alternated wins and losses for a fourth consecutive match, dropping a late 2-1 decision to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. Adam Jahn scored his second goal in the last three games, his first goals for Crew SC since his arrival via trade from San Jose.
  • Whitecaps FC had their league winless streak extended to eight matches with a fifth defeat in that time, suffering a third consecutive shutout in a 1-0 home loss to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at BC Place.
  • Crew SC have not defeated Whitecaps FC since the 2011 season – Vancouver’s first year in MLS. The teams reached a 2-2 draw April 8, 2015 in the last meeting between the teams, ending a three-game winning streak over three seasons for Whitecaps FC.
  • The ‘Caps have won the last two meetings in Columbus, both by 1-0 scorelines, the last coming in 2014.
 
New England Revolution vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The Revolution put an end to a six-game winless streak and a four-game shutout streak, defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. Juan Agudelo and Chris Tierney netted goals as the Revs put an end to their goalless drought after 374 minutes, the second-longest streak in the club’s history and the second-longest in MLS this season.
  • Frank Lampard scored a pair of goals – the first multiple-goal game of his MLS career – as NYCFC took a 3-2 win against D.C. United on Sept. 1. It was the 10th goal of the season, all coming over the last 13 matches, dating back to June 18. Lampard has 10 goals and one assist over the span, where NYCFC have posted an 8-3-2 record.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Frank Lampard netted the game’s only goal as NYCFC took a victory July 6 at Gillette Stadium; NYCFC’s Thomas McNamara and New England’s Chris Tierney each scored in the first half to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw March 26 at Yankee Stadium.
  • The teams met three times a season ago in NYCFC’s first year in MLS, and the Revolution won two, once at each ground. New England claimed a 1-0 victory July 18 at Gillette Stadium, then took a 3-1 victory on Decision Day at Yankee Stadium. New York City FC won the first ever meeting between the teams, a 2-0 win March 15 at Yankee Stadium, the club’s first-ever victory in Major League Soccer.
 
Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • The Fire extended their home undefeated streak to nine games at Toyota Park, Michael de Leeuw scoring a goal and adding an assist for a second consecutive game in his club’s 3-0 win against Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening.
  • Toronto FC had their seven-game undefeated streak – with six victories in that time – put to an end in the 1-0 home loss to the Montréal Impact in their last match. TFC were shut out at the attacking end for the first time since May 28, a span of 13 league games.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Justin Morrow scored the game’s only goal after nine minutes and TFC held out the rest of the way for the victory July 9 at BMO Field.
  • The Fire have never lost to TFC at Toyota Park, with five wins and five draws in 10 meetings all-time in Bridgeview, including the 3-2 win there last April 4.
  • TFC have won the last two meetings at BMO Field. When Toronto FC won at home last Sept. 26, it was their win against the Fire since the 2010 season. The Fire had won six of the 12 meetings in between, with six draws.
 
FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. ET
  • FC Dallas won their second consecutive game, extended their home undefeated streak to 19 games in league play and moved to the verge of clinching the first berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs, defeating the Portland Timbers 3-1 on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. Mauro Diaz scored for a second consecutive game, also assisting on a goal.
  • The Rapids have lost consecutive games for the first time this season, their overall winless streak now at four matches, starting their road swing with a 2-0 defeat by the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Marlon Hairston gave the Rapids the lead late in the first half, but Victor Ulloa hit for the equalizer eight minutes from the end to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw July 23 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • The Rapids claimed the only win in the season series last year, a 4-0 win April 10 at Toyota Stadium. It was Colorado’s first win in Frisco since 2012, and ended a three-game FCD winning streak in the series.
  • The teams have played to three consecutive 1-1 draws at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have won just one of their last seven home matches against FCD, with three draws, dating back to the 2012 season.
 
Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET
  • The Timbers suffered their fourth consecutive defeat on their travels, the only team in MLS still without a win on the road this season, after their 3-1 loss at FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. Diego Valeri scored his 11th goal of the season, now sitting in a tie for eighth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • Yura Movsisyan scored both Real goals in their 2-1 home win vs. Colorado on Aug. 26, the fourth multiple-goal game of his MLS career, the first since July 24, 2009 when he hit for a brace vs. FC Dallas. The goals gave Movsisyan nine goals for the year, his single-season career-high in five MLS campaigns (previous high: 8, in 2009).
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season, the first two both ending in 2-2 draws. On June 18, Fanendo Adi and Lucas Melano each scored to give the Timbers a 2-1 lead, but Yura Movsisyan converted a late penalty kick for the result at Rio Tinto Stadium. On March 19 at Providence Park, Joao Plata and Movsisyan staked Real to a two-goal lead, but Adi scored two goals five minutes apart late in the second half to leave the teams in the draw.
  • The only Portland home win vs. Real Salt Lake came in the first meeting ever, in 2011; the last five league meetings in Portland have all been draws, with three in a row all finishing goalless before the first meeting this year. The draw in the last meeting ended a three-game Timbers winning streak at Rio Tinto Stadium, their only wins ever in Utah.
 
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 10:30 p.m. ET
  • The Quakes saw their winless run extended to three games with a second defeat in that time, in their 2-0 loss at Columbus Crew SC in their last match. The Quakes have been shut out at the attacking end in their last two matches, now 206 minutes since their last goal.
  • Sounders FC saw their five-game undefeated run come to a crashing halt, falling 4-2 to the Portland Timbers on Aug. 28 at Providence Park. Rookie Jordan Morris netted his ninth goal of the season, his first in three games, tied for the fifth-most in a single season by a rookie in MLS history.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris hit the back of the net for Sounders FC in a 2-0 victory May 7 at CenturyLink Field.
  • The teams played to a 1-1 draw in their final meeting of the season last year on Sept. 12, in the first meeting ever at Avaya Stadium. The goal was the first scored by Sounders FC on four visits to northern California, since a 2-1 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium in 2012. Seattle last won at San Jose in 2010.
  • The win in the first meeting put an end to a five-game Quakes undefeated streak in the league series. The last Sounders FC victory had come May 17, 2014, a 1-0 win at CenturyLink Field. The Quakes had won on their two previous visits to CenturyLink Field, the first wins for the Earthquakes in Seattle since 2012.
 
Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact, 7 p.m. ET
  • Union saw their two-game winning streak put to an end, shut out at the attacking end for the first time since July 2 in their 3-0 loss at the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Toyota Park.
  • The Impact put an end to an eight-game road winless streak with their 1-0 win at Toronto FC, the club’s last away victory coming April 16 in a 2-1 win at the Chicago Fire. It was the club’s longest road winless streak since going 25 consecutive games without a win from the end of the 2013 season through May 2015.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Didier Drogba netted a hat trick and Ignacio Piatti scored a goal and added two assists as the Impact rolled to a 5-1 win July 23 at Stade Saputo. On May 14 in Montréal, Drogba and Philadelphia’s C.J. Sapong each scored first-half goals to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw.
  • The visiting team has won once in the all-time series – a 1-0 Union victory last Aug. 22 at Stade Saputo. The Impact had won the first four meetings between the teams at Stade Saputo before last year’s Union win.
  • Union have won two of the five matchups in Chester, with three draws, including a 2-2 result last June 27 in the only meeting there.
 
Sunday, September 11
New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • The Red Bulls set a club record over their 21-year history, extending their undefeated streak to 10 games with a 1-0 win at Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Saturday afternoon. Bradley Wright-Phillips moved into a tie in the MLS Golden Boot standings with his 17th goal of the season, scoring the only goal of the game for a second consecutive match, extending his goalscoring streak to four games (with five goals in that time).
  • United had their six-game undefeated put to an end, New York City FC scoring three goals over the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time to snatch a 3-2 victory on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium. It was United’s first loss since July 23.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Felipe Martins gave the Red Bulls a two-goal lead, but Marcelo Sarvas netted goals three minutes apart to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw Aug. 21 at RFK Stadium. On May 13 at RFK Stadium, Alvaro Saborío and Patrick Nyarko each scored a goal and assisted on the other’s goal in a 2-0 United win, snapping a four-game winless streak in the series.
  • The Red Bulls have a six-game undefeated streak going in regular season matches at Red Bull Arena, with four consecutive wins, including 2-0 victories in both meetings in Harrison last year. United have a five-game undefeated streak in the series alive at RFK Stadium, with three wins in that span.
  • The teams play for the Atlantic Cup, awarded to the winner of the season series by supporters groups from both clubs. They’ve met 86 times in all competitions over the years; New York has won 30 and United have won 43, including a 7-4-2 record in the postseason.
 
LA Galaxy vs. Orlando City SC, 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • The Galaxy remained undefeated at StubHub Center with the 2-1 win against Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening in their last home game, still one of four teams without a loss at home for the MLS regular season (also: FC Dallas, Colorado and Real Salt Lake – along with the Galaxy the top four teams in the Western Conference).
  • Orlando City hit the road to the Galaxy riding a streak of four consecutive away draws, two shy of the all-time MLS record. The win against NYCFC on Aug. 28 was their first win at Camping World Stadium following back-to-back home losses, which were OCSC’s first home defeats of the season following a 17-game home undefeated run dating back to last August 1.
  • The teams met once during Orlando City SC’s inaugural season. Eric Avila, Cyle Larin, Kaká and Darwin Ceren all scored as City strolled to a 4-0 win May 17 in Orlando.