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Major League Soccer moves into Week 5

 

This Week in MLS – March 26, 2018
  • Mexican National Team mainstays, international flair provide star power in LA Derby
  • Legendary Bradley, Schmid pull strings in Galaxy-LAFC clash
  • Ibrahimović, Ciman amplify value of Targeted Allocation Money
  • Steffen, Bono take goalkeeping reins for USA on Tuesday against Paraguay
  • Six of 12 youngest signings in league history shining at Generation adidas Cup
  • Wondo Watch hits ESPN as San Jose hosts streaking NYCFC
  • MLS Week 5: Match Notes

Mexican National Team mainstays, international flair provide star power in LA Derby
For a brewing rivalry that’s already competing for bragging rights and the hearts of all of Los Angeles, the much-anticipated first meeting between the LA Galaxy and newcomer Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) will be a high-profile affair with as much star power as shines in Hollywood. With just 10 miles separating the clubs, tensions are already high for this budding rivalry where fans have already begun the sparring off the field ahead of Saturday afternoon’s contest at StubHub Center on national television (3 p.m. ET, FOX, FOX Deportes).

Trio from Mexican National Team taking opposing sides
Three staples of the Mexican National Team will put their country’s allegiance to the side, when LAFC’s Carlos Vela challenges his countrymen Giovani and Jonathan dos Santosof the LA Galaxy. With Vela in pristine form and both dos Santos brothers potentially returning from injury, these friends becoming fast foes will make for a spectacular head-to-head spectacle.

  • All have been mainstays for El Tri since 2009, with Gio dos Santos’ and Vela’s first caps dating back to 2007.
  • Vela has a goal and two assists in LAFC’s first two outings – both wins – this MLS season.
  • Jona dos Santos has a goal and an assist, contributing to two of the Galaxy’s three total goals in 2018.

LA Derby’s internationals are dominating national team production
Players from both sides of the LA Derby are making huge waves on the international scene, with MLS players from the two LA teams combining for four goals and an assist during the current FIFA window looking to make contributions upon their return from national team duty.

  • The LA Galaxy’s Ola Kamara netted a hat trick in Norway’s 4-1 win over Australia on Friday, and Emrah Klimenta of Montenegro will take on Turkey this Tuesday.
  • LAFC has four players contributing to international sides, including:
    • Defender Dejan Jaković, who assisted the game-winner in Canada 1-0 defeat of New Zealand.
    • Forward Marcos Ureña scored the lone goal in Costa Rica’s 1-0 win over Scotland.
    • Forward Carlos Vela and Mexico defeated Iceland 3-0 ahead of Tuesday’s match against Croatia.
    • Defender Omar Gaber and Egypt fell 2-1 to Portugal.

Star-studded attackers scoring goals at historic pace
Fireworks will be imminent with a surging LAFC offense against a revamped and well-balanced Galaxy attack that could see the debut of a high-profile, world-class finisher.

  • LAFC has outscored opponents 6-1 in its first two MLS games to become the first team in MLS history to win its first two games with both on the road.
  • LAFC’s 20-year-old super stud Diego Rossi has three goals and three assists in first two games of MLS career.
  • The LA Galaxy are 1-1-1 with their three goals scored accounting for finishes from Jona dos Santos, Ola Kamara, and Romain Alessandrini.

The new-look Galaxy could also see the debut of Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimović, the most talked-about signing of the season.

Legendary Bradley, Schmid pull strings in Galaxy-LAFC clash
Two of the top five winningest coaches in MLS take front and center when the LA Galaxy host the Los Angeles Football Club on Saturday. Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid and LAFC’s Bob Bradley will be pulling the strings for this clash, and they have enjoyed similar MLS success while in charge of their respective clubs.

Bradley is well known for orchestrating the 1998 Chicago Fire’s robust season, guiding the expansion club to an MLS Cup victory and a title win during that year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Bradley would later achieve another U.S. Open Cup crown in 2000. Now, he has expansion LAFC off to a hot start in 2018 with a 2-0-0 mark on the road thus far. Bradley currently has 126 career MLS victories (fifth-most all-time), and at the time in 2006, his 124 career wins was the most in league history.

Schmid currently holds the all-time wins mark (231), thanks to several successful stretches that included Seattle Sounders FC (2009-16), Columbus Crew SC (2006-08) and now his second stint with the LA Galaxy (1999-2004; 2017-present). Schmid is a two-time MLS Cup winner with the Galaxy in 2002 and Columbus in 2008, and he garnered an impressive five U.S. Open Cup titles, including four with Seattle.

Including matches at both the professional and collegiate levels, Schmid holds an 11-8 advantage in victories. Both coaches have demonstrated the panache to succeed among a variety of platforms, and with a combined 355 regular-season wins to their names, Schmid and Bradley will attempt to add to their legacies in this anticipated LA derby.

ALL-TIME MLS VICTORIES

COACH TEAM(S) REGULAR SEASON WINS
Sigi Schmid* LA Galaxy/Columbus/Seattle 231
Bruce Arena D.C./NYRB/LA Galaxy 202
Dominic Kinnear San Jose/Houston 166
Frank Yallop San Jose/LA Galaxy/Chicago 130
Bob Bradley* Chicago/NY/Chivas USA/LAFC 126
Peter Vermes* Kansas City 117
Jason Kreis* Salt Lake/NYCFC/Orlando 115
Steve Nicol New England 112
Oscar Pareja* Colorado/Dallas 87
Bob Gansler Kansas City 86

*Current MLS head coach

Ibrahimović, Ciman amplify value of Targeted Allocation Money
The LA Galaxy’s recent acquisition of flamboyant Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovićexemplifies the continued growth in roster quality thanks to Major League Soccer’s increased Targeted Allocation Money investment. During the offseason, the MLS Board of Governors approved the increase of TAM available to each club, and in 2018 the league already has 105 TAM players among clubs’ rosters, compared to 58 players in 2017.

Clubs utilize the TAM mechanism in multiple fashions to strengthen their respective rosters. TAM has directly brought in world-renowned talent heading into this weekend’s Los Angeles derby, from Ibrahimović and French defender Michaël Ciani on the Galaxy to LAFC’s internationals such as Egypt’s Omar Gaber and Belgium’s Laurent Ciman, the latter two whose sides are bound for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Teams such as Sporting Kansas City have converted former Designated Players to free up space to acquire outside talent. TAM players Graham Zusi and Gerso Fernandes were converted to non-DPs, which allowed Sporting the opportunity to sign Chilean international Felipe Gutiérrez. The new Designated Player is tied for the MLS lead with four goals, and SKC is off to a 2-1-1 start to lead the Western Conference.

Outside of the 105-player list, TAM has been utilized to sign or retain Homegrown Players, including 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup teammates Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers) and JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes).

Steffen, Bono take goalkeeping reins for USA on Tuesday against Paraguay
The U.S. Men’s National Team’s youth are prevalent throughout the roster for this Tuesday’s test against Paraguay at WakeMed Soccer Park (7:30 p.m. ET / FS1, UniMás, UDN). Two players who should have a heightened presence shone brightly during the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – 22-year-old Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen and 23-year-old MLS Cup champion Alex Bono of Toronto FC. The duo joins former D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid among head coach Dave Sarachan’s options on Tuesday, and both players are hoping to extend their 2017 form to the international realm.

Steffen is looking to earn his second cap with the USA to follow up an impressive youth resume that included back-to-back inclusions during FIFA U-20 World Cups in 2013 and 2015. The Downington, Pa., native was a member of the Philadelphia Union’s Academy system, competing in the 2012 Generation adidas Cup. Steffen quickly rose up the ranks, and in 2017 guided Crew SC to a postseason run highlighted by a penalty kick shootout victory at Atlanta United in the knockout round and a spot in the Eastern Conference Final against eventual champions Toronto FC.

Bono, who is shooting for his first senior team cap with the U.S. MNT, was an integral piece of Toronto’s 2017 treble – Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup and Canadian Championship. He posted 10 clean sheets and 19 regular-season victories and capped off 2017 with a clean sheet during a 2-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC in MLS Cup.

The U.S. roster features seven MLS players, including Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who could potentially square off against his Atlanta teammate Miguel Almirón. Nagbe won 2015 MLS Cup with the Portland Timbers, spending seven seasons altogether in Portland before joining Atlanta in the offseason. Nagbe and the U.S. will attempt to shut down the talented Almirón, a Paraguayan midfielder who made heavy waves last year as an MLS All-Star, earned No. 1 in the MLS 24 Under 24 series and was named the 2017 MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Six of 12 youngest signings in league history shining at Generation adidas Cup
The millions of dollars and resources MLS is pouring into youth development are on full display at the 2018 Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, Texas, as clubs from across the league have put forth strong showings against top international competition. Some of the best Homegrown Player talent in MLS has starred in pivotal victories throughout the tournament.

In total, three of the five youngest signings in league history, and six of the 12 youngest, are suiting up for their respective U-17 clubs at Generation adidas Cup. NYCFC’s 15-year-old defender Joe Scally, who last week became the second-youngest signing in MLS history, helped his club to a 1-0 victory over international power Real Madrid on Sunday. Similarly, 15-year-old forward Efrain Alvarez , the eighth-youngest singing in league history, provided the game-winning assist in the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over heralded Liga MX side Pachuca on Friday. Other strong results for MLS sides over top international talent include FC Dallas’ victory over AS Monaco, and wins by both the Philadelphia Union and Colorado Rapids over Club Tijuana.

Click here for more information on Generation adidas Cup, including standings, schedule and live streams.

Wondo Watch hits ESPN as San Jose hosts streaking NYCFC
After overtaking Jeff Cunningham for the second spot in MLS scoring ranks earlier this month, Chris Wondolowski’s quest to become the league’s all-time leading goalscorer returns to Avaya Stadium on Saturday when the San Jose Earthquakes host New York City FC (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / TSN2).

Wondolowski’s 135 regular season goals trail only Landon Donovan’s mark of 145 for the league record, with the forward scoring double-digit goals in a league-record eight consecutive seasons. “Wondo Watch” will take center stage against a NYCFC team off to its best start in franchise history, highlighted by 20-year-old Paraguay National Team midfielderJesús Medina, who is tied for the league lead with three assists this season.

MLS Week 5: Match Notes
Friday, March 30, 2018
Toronto FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 8 p.m. (TSN)

  • The teams opened the season against each other last year, reaching a goalless draw March 4 at Rio Tinto Stadium. TFC have come away with a win and a draw in the last two meetings between the teams, including a 1-0 win in the last encounter at BMO Field on Aug. 3, 2016; RSL had won four consecutive meetings between the teams prior.
  • RSL has never lost to TFC at Rio Tinto Stadium, and have lost at home to TFC just once in nine meetings – a 2-1 Toronto FC victory July 4, 2007 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the first meeting ever between the clubs. Real had won six consecutive meetings in Sandy before last year’s draw.
  • Real return to action after their first win of the season, a 1-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls on March 17. Albert Rusnák scored the game’s lone goal from a fourth-minute penalty kick, his first goal of the season.
  • Toronto FC have lost both of their league matches to start the season, still without a goal. TFC are just the second defending MLS Cup champion in league history to open defense of their title with two consecutive losses (also: D.C. United, 2000).

Saturday, March 31, 2018
Orlando City SC vs. New York Red Bulls, 1 p.m. (UniMás / UDN)

  • Orlando City have lost back-to-back matches following a 2-0 defeat at New York City FC in their last match on March 17, still winless on the year in three starts.
  • The Red Bulls won a second match in three outings on their league campaign in dominant fashion, rolling to a 3-0 win against Minnesota United FC on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a pair of goals, now with 89 for his MLS league career, tied for 11th-most all-time (with Carlos Ruiz). Wright-Phillips has 88 goals and counting since the start of the 2014 season, the most of any player in MLS history over a five-year span.
  • The teams split their season series a year ago, each winning at home. Orlando City took a 1-0 win April 9 at Orlando City Stadium; the Red Bulls returned the favor in a 3-1 victory Aug. 12 at Red Bull Arena.
  • The visiting team won each of the first two meetings between the teams, both in 2015, the Red Bulls winning 2-0 at the Citrus Bowl, and OCSC with a 5-2 triumph at Red Bull Arena. Those were the last away wins in the series.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 3 p.m. (CTV / TSN)

  • Crew SC remained undefeated on the season with a third win in four matches, cruising to a 3-1 win against D.C. United on Saturday evening.
  • Federico Higuaín became the 19th player in MLS history to reach 50 goals and 50 assists in league play, collecting a pair of assists. Now with 50 goals and 51 assists in his MLS regular season career, Higuaín has been involved in four of Crew SC’s eight goals this year (2 goals, 2 assists).
  • Whitecaps FC returned home and gained a third result from four matches this season, reaching a goalless draw with the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at BC Place. The ‘Caps are undefeated in their last nine home league matches, one shy of the club’s record in MLS play.
  • Crew SC have not defeated Whitecaps FC since the 2011 season – Vancouver’s first year in MLS. The teams reached a 2-2 draw last Aug. 16 in Vancouver, Columbus now having gone six games in the series without a victory, Whitecaps FC winning four.
  • The ‘Caps have won the last three meetings in Columbus, including a 3-1 win Sept. 10, 2016 in the last meeting there. Crew SC have come away with points on three of their four visits to Vancouver, with draws in the last two.

LA Galaxy vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 3 p.m. (FOX)

  • The Galaxy return home following a goalless draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at BC Place, now with a win, a draw and a loss on the season.
  • LAFC return to action for the first time in two weeks, after making history with their 5-1 win against Real Salt Lake on March 10. The expansion side became the first team in MLS history to win its first two games ever with both on the road, while the five goals were the third-most scored by an expansion team. The four-goal margin of victory matched the second-highest ever by an expansion team in an away win. LAFC is now the third expansion team to win its opening two matches.
  • Diego Rossi played a part in all five goals for LAFC (two goals, three assists), the seventh player in MLS history to be involved in five goals in a single game, which matched the all-time league record. Rossi has been involved in all six goals scored by LAFC (three goals, three assists).
  • The Galaxy have not lost an intra-city rivalry match in LA since 2012. The Galaxy were undefeated over their final eight meetings with Chivas USA, winning seven, ending their all-time series with a 20-4-7 record from 2005-14.

Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers, 6 p.m.

  • The Timbers have never lost to the Fire in their history. The Timbers have won four of the eight meetings all-time, one of those at Toyota Park (in 2011, the first meeting in Bridgeview).
  • The teams have reached draws each of the last two seasons, including a 2-2 result last July 5 at Providence Park in the only meeting between the teams. They reached a 1-1 draw on May 28, 2016 in the last encounter at Toyota Park.
  • The Fire return to action after suffering a second loss in two league starts this season last time out, falling 2-1 to Minnesota United FC on March 17 at TCF Bank Stadium. Rookie Elliot Collier scored his first professional goal for the Fire.
  • The Timbers gained their first result of the season following two defeats to start the year, reaching a 1-1 result at FC Dallas on Saturday. Sebastian Blanco scored his second goal of the year – both of Portland’s goals this season – and both have been assisted on by Fanendo Adi.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York City FC, 8 p.m. (ESPN2 / TSN)

  • The Quakes return to action following a 3-2 loss at Sporting Kansas City in their last league match on March 17. Vako Qazaishvili scored his second goal of the season; he has played a part in four of the Quakes’ five goals this year (two goals, two assists).
  • Chris Wondolowski scored his first goal of the season, now in sole possession of second place all-time on the MLS league goalscoring chart. Wondolowski has scored 135 league goals, 10 behind all-time record holder Landon Donovan.
  • NYCFC saw their perfect start to the season put to an end but still remain undefeated, pegged back for a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday afternoon.
  • Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored his third goal of the season – the three goals coming on all three shots he has taken this season.
  • NYCFC are undefeated in the all-time series between the clubs, over three meetings. NYCFC have won both meetings at Yankee Stadium, including a 2-1 victory last April 1 in the only match between the teams. The teams reached a goalless draw Aug. 5, 2016 in the only match in the series played in San Jose.

Minnesota United FC vs. Atlanta United, 8 p.m.

  • MNUFC saw their two-game winning streak put to an end in a 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Saturday evening. Minnesota United have not won three consecutive games in their MLS history.
  • Atlanta United return to action after winning a second consecutive match in impressive fashion last time out, a 4-1 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on March 17 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • Josef Martínez scored a hat trick, already his fourth hat trick in MLS, in just 23 league appearances. The four hat tricks are one off the all-time league career record, held jointly by Stern John (1998-99) and Diego Serna (1998-2005).
  • The expansion class of 2017 split their two meetings in their inaugural season, each winning at the other’s home ground. In the first meeting, Josef Martínez scored a hat trick and Miguel Almíron hit for a brace as Atlanta United claimed a 6-1 win in an historic match March 12 at TCF Bank Stadium. Atlanta United became the first expansion team to score six goals in a game in their first campaign; The gametime temperature of 19 degrees was the coldest ever at kickoff for an MLS game in the league’s records.
  • MNUFC then returned the favor with a 3-2 win Oct. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, putting an end to Atlanta United’s expansion team record four-game shutout streak and eight-game overall undefeated run.

Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution, 8:30 p.m.

  • The Dynamo are back in action after reaching a 2-2 draw with D.C. United in their last match, March 17 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Alberth Elis scored his second goal of the season and assisted on his third; he has played a part in five of the Dynamo’s seven goals this season.
  • The Revolution have a win, a draw and a loss from the campaign following their 2-2 result with New York City FC on Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Diego Fagundez scored his second goal of the season; Wilfried Zahibo collected his first two career MLS assists.
  • The Revolution have a five-game undefeated streak alive in the all-time series, extending it with a 2-0 win last April 8 at Gillette Stadium in the only meeting between the teams a year ago.
  • The Revs had won three meetings in a row before the teams ended in a wild 3-3 draw in the last meeting in Houston, March 6, 2016 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The teams have split their five meetings all-time at BBVA Compass Stadium; all-time, the Revolution hold a 6-3-2 record vs. the Dynamo in Houston. The Revs have won the last three matches between the clubs in Foxborough

Sporting Kansas City vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m.

  • Sporting had their two-game winning streak ended put still extended their undefeated run, getting a late equalizer from Diego Rubio for a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening.
  • Felipe Gutíerrez scored for third consecutive match, now tied for the MLS Golden Boot lead with four goals for the season.
  • D.C. United are still winless on the season in four matches, suffering a second loss in a 3-1 defeat by Columbus Crew SC at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening. Yamil Asad scored his second goal of the year.
  • D.C. United have a six-game undefeated streak alive in the series between the teams. United have won three of those six games, dating back to May 31, 2014; the teams reached a scoreless draw at RFK Stadium in the only meeting between the teams to open the season a year ago. Sporting have scored one goal over the six-game streak.
  • United have won the last two meetings at Children’s Mercy Park, including a 1-0 win May 27, 2016 in the last match in the series in Kansas City. Sporting end their history at RFK Stadium not having won there since 2012. United have won one of the five home games vs. KC since, with four draws.

Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 p.m.

  • The Rapids gained their first point of the season, ending in a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening in their home opener. Dominique Badji and Joe Mason gave the Rapids a two-goal lead after just eight minutes, with their first goals of the season.
  • The Union return to action after a week off, reaching a scoreless draw with Columbus Crew SC on March 17 at Talen Energy Stadium in their last league match. The Union are the only team remaining in MLS not to have conceded a goal this year, with Andre Blake recording both shutouts.
  • The Union won the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 2-1 win May 20 at Talen Energy Stadium – their first win in the series in six matches in Chester. It was the first win by either team in the series since 2013 (also a Union victory); the teams had reached draws in three consecutive meetings.
  • The home team has won just twice in 10 meetings all-time in the series, the last Rapids win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park coming Aug. 29, 2010, a 4-1 victory. The road team has won three times, including a 2-1 Union win in 2013 in Commerce City; the teams have reached draws in each of the last two encounters there.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Montreal Impact, 10 p.m. (TVAS)

  • Sounders FC return to action after a weekend off, suffering a second consecutive loss to open the season last time out in a 3-0 defeat at FC Dallas on March 17. Both MLS Cup finalists from a year ago have opened the following season with back-to-back losses and without scoring a goal for the first time in league history.
  • The Impact are coming off their first win of the season following a pair of losses to open the year, defeating Toronto FC 1-0 on March 17 at Olympic Stadium. The game’s lone goal came Jeisson Vargas, his first career MLS goal; Ignacio Piatti collected his second assist of the year.
  • The teams played to a 2-2 draw in their only meeting a year ago, March 11 at Olympic Stadium. Sounders FC have come away with a win and a draw in the two meetings at Olympic Stadium; the Impact have won both meetings all-time at Stade Saputo.
  • The teams have split their two meetings all-time at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC won their April 2, 2016 in the last matchup in Seattle; the Impact took a 1-0 win there March 2, 2013 in the season opener.

 

 

GAME PREVIEWS WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF MLS COMMUNICATIONS