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This Week in MLS - August 8, 2016

This Week in MLS – August 8, 2016
  •          Four MLS clubs prepare for midweek Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal matches on ESPN2
  •          MLS squads ready for action this week with one eye on the red line
  •          Week 22 AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open
  •          Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  •          Week 23 Game Previews
 
Four MLS clubs prepare for midweek Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal matches on ESPN2
 
Tuesday, August 9
New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET)
 
Wednesday, August 10
LA Galaxy vs. FC Dallas (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET)
 
Semifinal action kicks off on Tuesday when Chicago Fire, a club with four Open Cup titles to their name (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) travel to take on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET). In the club’s inaugural season of 1998, the Fire not only hoisted the Open Cup trophy, but pulled off the double by winning the MLS Cup as well.  The Fire are one of only three teams that have achieved that distinction.  The Men in Red are no strangers to Open Cup success, going 41-13-5 in Open Cup play, with a record 12 semifinal and six final appearances. In 2016 U.S. Open Cup play, forward David Accam ranks second with four goals scored, while New England, Open Cup champs in 2007, look to make it three straight home wins over Chicago following two victories in league play earlier this season.
 
Facing off on the other side of the bracket are two Western Conference powers as LA Galaxy host current Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas at StubHub Center on Wednesday (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET). FC Dallas are seeking a second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title following their first trophy in 1997.  The club made two other appearances in the final, 2005 and 2007, but will be looking to take home the hardware for the first time in almost 20 years. LA brings plenty of Open Cup experience as well with titles in 2001 and 2005, the latter of which saw the Galaxy defeat Dallas in the Open Cup final to complete its only double in club history.
 
MLS squads ready for action this week with one eye on the red line 
With the schedule officially reaching the two-thirds mark of the MLS season, teams’ postseason fates are beginning to take shape.
 
Vancouver hosts stingy San Jose Earthquakes in pivotal matchup
Viernes de Futbol kicks off Week 23 action when two teams striving to move above the red line face off as San Jose Earthquakes visit Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Friday, August 12 at BC Place (11 p.m. ET, UniMás/TSN). Each team is within striking distance of the final spot in the competitive Western Conference, with Vancouver currently at seventh in the standings (30 points, 8-10-6 record) and San Jose right below in eighth with two games in hand (28 points, 6-6-10 record). Looking to make his mark for Whitecaps FC is newly acquired forward Giles Barnes, who started his first match for Vancouver last week following a trade from Houston. After missing time to play for Jamaica at Copa America Centenario, Barnes registered four goals and two assists while captaining the Dynamo. San Jose responds with a stingy defense that has allowed the third fewest goals in MLS which will only be bolstered by defensive midfielder Darwin Ceren, acquired via Orlando City SC on a deadline day trade last week.
 
Orlando City SC continues transition under new coach Jason Kreis against young and improving Chicago Fire
Orlando City SC continues to find its identity under newly hired coach Jason Kreis this week as it hits the road for a matchup against Chicago Fire on Sunday, August 14 at Toyota Park (4 p.m. ET, UniMás). Lions forward Cyle Larin ranks fifth in the Golden Boot race with 11 goals this season, while Kevin Molino’s combined goals (nine) and assists (seven) is tied for third in the league. Orlando is currently tied with New England for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (26 points, 5-6-11 record), but will face a tough Chicago unit. Rookie and MLS All-Star Brandon Vincent anchors a young Fire backline that has allowed the third fewest goals (30) in the Eastern Conference this season.
 
Revamped Seattle aims to climb into playoff race against history making Real Salt Lake
MLS Soccer Sunday action wraps up when the Sounders host Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, August 14 (7 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes). Sounders FC look to flex its suddenly dangerous attacking muscle and claw back into the playoff race behind the play of newly-signed midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. In Lodeiro’s first two matches since arriving from Argentine power Boca Juniors, Seattle has featured a potent attack, highlighted by Clint Dempsey’s hat trick against Orlando last week. Rookie of the Year candidate Jordan Morris contributed with two assists in linking with Lodeiro and Dempsey to provide the offensive prowess the team has searched for all season. Nick Rimando will look to slow down Seattle after a historic week in which he became the all-time wins leader among goalkeepers (181 wins) following Real Salt Lake’s victory over Chicago.
 
AT&T Goal of the Week voting now open (Week 22) – CLICK TO VOTE
  •          Tranquillo Barnetta (PHI) Sends stunning free kick from distance near post to beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid
  •          Steve Birnbaum (DC) Heads home stoppage time equalizer past goalkeeper Andre Blake
  •          Sebastian Giovinco (TFC) Rockets a curling right-footed shot around defender into back of the net
  •          Javier Morales (RSL) Bangs left-footed screamer off near post and into back of net
  •          Diego Valeri (POR) Slots home half-volley shot past goalkeeper Tim Melia for first goal of the match
  •          Matteo Mancosu (MTL) Outmaneuvers defenders with pair of touches and sends ball past goalkeeper Joe Willis
  •          Sebastian Giovinco (TFC) Scores with beautiful curler from top left of the penalty box
  •          Taylor Kemp (DC) Dribbles down field then squeaks one past goalkeeper Andre Blake from just inside the box
 
Check It Out
 
Quotables
"It's all to myself now. I share it with a lot of my teammates over the past years and lots of fans and my family, but to put myself on the sheet at No. 1 feels great."
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando on breaking the record for most goalkeeper victories in MLS history
 
“We feel like this is the most exciting venue to come to watch a sporting even in Toronto. We feel like we’re putting on a good show for people. We feel it’s only going to get better and there are bigger things in front of us. You can either become a part of it and join in and enjoy the excitement or you can miss out. For us, we enjoy the fans we have. Those who don’t want to come or aren’t yet sold, that’s their loss at this point.”
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney on his team’s growing fan support and increasing presence in Toronto’s sport landscape
 
"An absolute tremendous finish from him and it breaks the game open for us. That's what you need from big players and that's why those guys are on the roster... He's one of those special players and we're just blessed to have him on our team."
Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury on teammate Diego Valeri’s goal and tremendous performance this season
 
“What you’re seeing is a young man who’s growing into his own game, growing into this league, an impact player on both sides of the ball. He’s definitely a player now that opposing coaches are talking about when they’re talking about the Colorado Rapids.”
Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni on midfielder Marlon Hairston’s impressive recent run of play
 
“We’ve, over the years, been a really good road team. I wanted to instill that confidence back in that group. We can be a good road team, we will be a good road team, and we’re gonna need to be a good road team if we [want to have] a chance at the playoffs.”
Seattle Sounders FC interim coach Brian Schmetzer on his team’s important road victory over Orlando City SC
 
Sweet Tweets
David Villa (‏@Guaje7Villa): Check out my visit to @sesamestreet to show @MeCookieMonster and Rosita that practice makes perfect! #LovetoLearn
 
Matt Lampson (@lampstrong): Congratulations to @NickRimando Officially the best ever in @MLS .
 
Charlie Davies (@CharlieDavies9): Felt great to get my first minutes with @PhilaUnion! Thank you for the warm reception. Looking forward to next week!
 
Sebastien Le Toux (@SebastienLeToux): Very happy to get my 1st win with @ColoradoRapids last night!!
Thanks to my teammates and all the fans for the warm welcome #Rapids96
 
Marlon Hairston (@MARLYG94): DSGP is a fortress. Be ware! #KeepFighting
 
Week 23 Game Previews
Friday, August 12
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 11 p.m. (UniMás)
·         Whitecaps FC had their winless run extended to four games with a second consecutive defeat, having now not scored a goal in their last 317 minutes, completing a three-game goalless road swing with a 2-0 defeat at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening.
·         The Quakes reached their third draw in a row, playing to a scoreless result with New York City FC on Friday evening at Avaya Stadium.
·         The away team has never won in the all-time series. The Quakes have lost on each of their last six visits to Vancouver, including a 3-1 loss at BC Place last July 26 in the only meeting there.
·         The teams have played to five consecutive draws in San Jose. The last time either team won in San Jose was April 7, 2012, a 3-1 Earthquakes victory at Buck Shaw Stadium. Whitecaps FC have come away with draws on five of their seven visits to San Jose.
·         Whitecaps FC have won six of the last 11 meetings between the teams, with four draws. The only Quakes win since 2012 came last year, a 1-0 win April 11 in the first meeting ever at Avaya Stadium.
 
Saturday, August 13
New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact, 7 p.m.
  •          Sacha Kljestan recorded his league-leading 13th assist and Felipe Martins assisted on both goals – one the first MLS goal for Sean Davis – as the Red Bulls extended their undefeated run to six games with a second consecutive draw in a 2-2 result at the LA Galaxy on Sunday evening.
  •          The Impact extended their undefeated run to three games as Matteo Mancosu scored for a second time in that span, in their 1-0 win against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo.
  •          The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Dominic Oduro, Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel all scored in a 3-0 Impact victory, March 12 at Stade Saputo.
  •          The win in the first meeting snapped a six-game undefeated streak for the Red Bulls in the series. The last Montréal win was a 1-0 win at Stade Saputo in the first meeting in 2013.
·         The Red Bulls have won all five league meetings lifetime at Red Bull Arena, including a 2-1 win last Oct. 7 in the only meeting there between the teams. The Red Bulls have come away with points on three of their six trips to Montréal all-time.
 
D.C. United vs. Portland Timbers, 7 p.m.
·         United had their winless run extended to six games with a second consecutive draw, Steven Birnbaum scoring a late, late equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium.
·         The Timbers snapped a two-game losing slide, rebounding from a loss in the front end of their home-and-home series in a 3-0 defeat of Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. Fanendo Adi netted his 11th goal of the season and Diego Valeri his 10th – the Timbers are the only team with two goal scorers in double-digits this season.
·         The Timbers have a three-game winning streak and five-game undefeated streak alive in the series, including a 1-0 victory last May 27 at Providence Park in the only meeting between the teams. Since a 3-2 win in Portland on May 29, 2011 in the first meeting ever between the teams, United have not defeated the Timbers.
·         United have never defeated the Timbers at RFK Stadium. The first meeting there, in 2011, ended in a 1-1 draw; Portland claimed a 2-0 in the nation’s capital on their last visit, May 25, 2013.
 
Columbus Crew SC vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.
  •          Crew SC return to action after a weekend off, their winless run extended to nine matches last time out in a 3-0 defeat at Toronto FC on July 31. It’s Crew SC’s longest winless run since their club-record 13 games without a victory during the 2006 season.
  •          New York City FC continue their two-game road swing with the match in Columbus, starting it off with a goalless draw at the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday evening.
  •          The teams are meeting for the second time this season. David Villa scored twice for NYCFC, but Ethan Finlay, Kei Kamara and Justin Meram hit the back of the net for Crew SC for a 3-2 victory April 16 at Mapfre Stadium.
·         The teams met twice in NYCFC’s first MLS season. They reached a 2-2 draw Aug. 19 at Mapfre Stadium, then Crew SC claimed a 2-1 victory 10 days later at Yankee Stadium.
 
New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.
  •          The Revolution suffered a second consecutive heavy defeat on the road, falling 4-1 to Toronto FC on Saturday evening at BMO Field.
  •          Union had their current winless run extended to four games with a second draw in that span, D.C. United hitting for a late equalizer to leave the teams knotted at 2-2 on Saturday evening.
  •          The teams are meeting for the second time this season in league play. C.J. Sapong scored a pair of goals and Sebastien Le Toux added one late for a 3-0 Union victory, March 20 at Talen Energy Stadium. The teams also met in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal, the Revolution winning in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.
·         The win in the first meeting snapped a three-game Revolution winning streak in Chester. Union have come away with points on their last two visits to Gillette Stadium, over the last two seasons; the last Revolution home win in the series came Aug. 25, 2013, a 5-1 triumph.
 
FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City, 9 p.m.
  •          FC Dallas extended their overall undefeated streak to three matches and their home undefeated run to a club-record 17 games – tied for eighth-longest in MLS history – in their last match, a 2-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 31 at Toyota Stadium.
  •          Sporting saw their two-game winning streak put to an end with a third consecutive defeat on the road, dropping the back end of their home-and-home series with the Portland Timbers 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.
  •          The teams are meeting for the third time this season, each winning at home in the first two. Michael Barrios and Mauro Rosales each scored on either side of halftime to lead FC Dallas to a 2-1 win April 17 at Toyota Stadium; Lawrence Olum and Benny Feilhaber both netted late in the first half to give Sporting a 2-0 victory June 19 at Children’s Mercy Park.
  •          FCD has won the last two meetings in Frisco, their victory there last season their first in the series since 2011. Sporting won the final two meetings between the teams last season, both in Kansas City, a 4-0 win on May 29 and a 3-1 win Sept. 18, the first two victories for SKC in the series since 2012.
 
Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC, 9 p.m.
·         The Dynamo had their winless run stretched to five matches with a fourth shutout in that time, falling 1-0 to the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo.
·         Sebastian Giovinco scored his fourth career MLS hat trick – one shy of the all-time league record – and took over the lead in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 15 goals, as Toronto FC won for the third time in a week in their 4-1 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at BMO Field. TFC’s overall four-game winning streak matches the club record, set last season.
·         The Dynamo have won the last two meetings in the series, both at BMO Field, including a 2-1 win there last May 10 in the only meeting between the clubs. The Dynamo have come away with points on four of their last five visits to BMO Field, TFC’s 4-2 home win July 12, 2014 was their first at BMO vs. the Dynamo since 2011.
·         The teams have played to four consecutive draws in Houston, all at BBVA Compass Stadium. The last win for either team there came in 2011, a 2-0 Dynamo victory at Robertson Stadium.
 
LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m.
  •          The Galaxy extended their undefeated streak to eight games in league play with a second consecutive draw, coming back for a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday evening at StubHub Center. Giovani dos Santos recorded an assist for a third consecutive game, while Steven Gerrard had one for a second in a row, now with nine in MLS play this season.
  •          Marlon Hairston and Dominique Badji scored goals – for Hairston, his third in the last four matches – as the Rapids rebounded from their first loss in 16 MLS games in a 2-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  •          The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Marco Pappa scored the game’s lone goal five minutes into second-half stoppage time to give the Rapids the victory March 12 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; the teams reached a scoreless draw June 22 at StubHub Center.
·         The Rapids win in the first meeting ended a four-game Galaxy undefeated streak alive in the series. It also ended a two-game Galaxy winning streak in Commerce City.
·         The last Rapids win at StubHub Center came in 2013. The Galaxy won 6-0 there in 2014 – the largest-ever victory in the all-time series; the teams have reached draws in the last two Carson meetings.
 
Sunday, August 14
Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC, 4 p.m. (UniMás)
  •          Broadcast Note: The Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC match on Sunday, August 14 (4 p.m. ET) will now air nationally on UniMás.  The game will be simulcast on Univision Deportes Network (UDN) and SAP will be available.
  •          The Fire return home after having their club-record road losing slide and MLS-record road winless streaks extended yet again, following their 3-1 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening.
  •          Kaká recorded an assist for a second consecutive game, setting up the lone Orlando City goal, but his club wasn’t able to build upon a first win in six games, falling 3-1 to Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday afternoon at Camping World Stadium.
  •          The teams are meeting for the second time this season. OCSC’s Cyle Larin and the Fire’s David Accam traded goals in the opening quarter-hour to leave the teams in a 1-1 deadlock March 11 at Camping World Stadium.
·         The teams met three times in league play in Orlando City SC’s inaugural season – and OCSC came away with a result on each occasion. The Lions won both matches at Toyota Park, winning 3-2 on June 6 and 1-0 on Sept. 19; they played to a 1-1 draw Aug. 29 at the Citrus Bowl. The teams also met in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, the Fire advancing with a 3-1 win at Toyota Park.
 
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. (FS1)
  •          Clint Dempsey scored the second hat trick of his MLS career – all three goals set up by new signing Nicolas Lodeiro – as Sounders FC snapped a three-game winless run with a 3-1 win at Orlando City SC on Sunday afternoon. It was the first win for interim head coach Brian Schmetzer.
  •          Nick Rimando became the all-time MLS leader in goalkeeper wins, recording the 181st of his league career, as Javier Morales netted a pair of goals to lead Real Salt Lake to a 3-1 win against the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  •          The teams are meeting for the second time this season in league play. Jamisón Olave netted the late game-winner, giving Real a 2-1 win March 12 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The teams also met in a U.S. Open Cup fifth-round tie, Sounders FC advancing through a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.
·         Sounders FC have won the last four meetings between the teams at CenturyLink Field, following a 3-1 win there in the season finale last year. RSL have scored goals on their last two visits to Seattle; they had gone more than two seasons, dating back to 2012, without scoring at CenturyLink Field.
·         Real have won their last five home games vs. Seattle. Sounders FC last won in league play at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 28, 2011, a span of six games.