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  • Canadian Content MLS Round 05 – How did the Canadians do in MLS this week?


    Russell Teibert

    Teibert returned to Vancouver's starting eleven after a two-match absence, helping to guide his side to an impressive 2-0 win over defending champion LA Galaxy on Saturday night – it was his third start of the young season, having missed one match on international duty and been held out against Portland last week.

    Taking up his deep midfield position, alongside Matias Laba, Teibert was a force on the night, stifling LA attacks at every turn and helping to push Vancouver forward in the other direction.

    Robbie Keane, with whom Teibert has had several run-ins in the past, was not best pleased to see the Canadian, suffering the occasional extra bit of contact, as Teibert sought to get under the Irishman's skin – to great effect. And Gyasi Zardes regularly saw his advances quelled by Teibert's aggressive running, suffering a great tackle on one occasion that stripped possession, forcing a turnover and then seeing his cross into the box cut out by Teibert's tracking later.

    He would end the night with some impressive figures: ten recoveries, six interceptions, three tackles, and a clearance, committing two fouls throughout.

    But it was the interceptions, along with his excellent passing – misplacing just six of some sixty attempts – that proved crucial,

    , who sprung Kekuta Manneh down the left-channel, leading to Vancouver's opening goal.

    The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native earned plenty of plaudits, including shouts as Man of the Match – the official honour went to teammate Nicolas Mezquida – and a spot on MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week.

    Tesho Akindele

    Akindele started his fifth-straight game for Dallas on Saturday night in their 3-1 loss at Portland – he has been in Oscar Pareja's first-choice eleven for every match so far this season.

    Beginning as the underneath striker, playing off the shoulder of David Texeira who led the line, Akindele was free to roam the pitch as he pleased – the freedom he is given under Pareja is rather astonishing for a second-year professional, exhibiting the level of faith that the coach has in his charge. He would drop into a right-sided midfield position once Blas Perez joined the fray shortly after the hour-mark.

    By then, the Calgary, Alberta-born forward had already left his impression on the match.

    As with last round against Seattle, one of Dallas' recurring attack patterns was for Fabian Castillo to rush at defenders, drawing attention to himself before poking a through-ball for Akindele to attempt to latch onto; as with last week, a quick-footed keeper was off his line fast to prevent the chance.

    His next look was perhaps even sweeter, again latching onto a pass from Castillo, as he made a diagonal sprint into space on the left, breaking in alone on goal, only to guide a left-footed effort harmlessly over the bar.

    Portland would not be so lucky in the 29th minute, when Akindele

    , spinning away from Rodney Wallace to get the crucial touch on Michel's left-sided corner kick. The delivery was helped on at the near-side by Atiba Harris, whose deflection allowed Akindele to get the decisive touch with he knee at the back, equalizing the match at ones – it was his second goal of the season.

    The goal came on one of his three shots on the night, one off and the other easily saved by the Portland keeper, Adam Larsen Kwarasey.

    The Dallas forward would complete 22 of his 29 passes, adding seven recoveries, an interception, and a clearance.

    Post-match he noted, ”I thought it was a decent first half. Obviously they came out with a lot of energy. I think we matched it, even after we got scored on we bounced back well. Just the second half didn’t go our way so it was kind of disappointing.” He continued, “We felt like we were going to score another goal. We really believed in it and it was just one of those days it just wasn’t going for us. The last ball wasn’t there.”

    Ashtone Morgan

    Morgan, despite the return of the suspended Justin Morrow, maintained his place in the starting lineup as Toronto lost 3-2 to Chicago on Saturday, making a second-straight appearance at left-back – it was his third appearance overall this season.

    The Toronto, Ontario-native exuded a confidence that he had not shown in years, contributing defensively – finding himself in position to clear a potentially dangerous ball from the goal-mouth early and showing some good speed to stay close to Chicago's fleet-footed David Accam in a chase. He was not able to fully catch the Ghanaian, but applied enough pressure to limit the options, allowing Joe Bendik to make the timely save.

    But it was going forward that Morgan truly excelled, getting up-field with ease – hitting in two crosses inside the first seven minutes, one of which nearly fell to the foot of Sebastian Giovinco, who was surprised by the fortune.

    At times in the past guilty of not lifting his head and flinging mindless balls in, Morgan showed a bit of nous in the 20th minute,

    by pulling back to Giovinco above the near-post, where his attempt kicked off the heels of Jeff Larentowicz to handcuff Jon Busch in the Chicago goal, leveling the match six minutes after Joevin Jones had given the hosts the lead.

    It was Morgan's first assist of the season and the first he had registered since April 13, 2013 – about a week shy of two years to the day between helpers for the resurgent left-back.

    With the Fire conceding a lot of space on his side, Morgan's passing was very good – completing 24 of 33 - as was his decision making on the ball, losing possession just once. Defensively he compiled six recoveries and three clearances, conceding a single foul on the night.

    He would make way for Daniel Lovitz in the 88th minute, as Greg Vanney piled on the attacking substitutes in search of an equalizer, TFC having conceded the advantage with a pair of second half goal through Shaun Maloney and Jeff Larentowicz after taking the lead when Benoit Cheyrou placed a Giovinco pull-back into the Fire goal.

    After a forgettable season in 2014, Morgan has shown that getting a few matches under the belt and a bit of confidence is the best medicine for a slump, and can do wonders for a player. For Toronto and Canada's sake, it will hopefully continue.

    Cyle Larin

    Larin made his second appearance of the season in Orlando on Friday night, coming on in the 22nd minute for the injured Pedro Ribeiro, as his Orlando City fell 0-1 to DC United – the 68 minutes he spent on the pitch quadrupled the amount of action he has seen thus far.

    Leading the line, chances fell fast and heavy for the rookie. Mere seconds after coming on he found a good chance for a look at goal, collecting a Kevin Molino drop-pass as he curled to the right, only for his effort to be blocked by Taylor Kemp.

    An offside flag would cancel out a left-footed attempt sent over the bar in the 24th minute, but the Brampton, Ontario-native could only blame himself in the 42nd minute, collecting a lovely scooped ball from Kaka on his chest, bringing it down calmly, but dragging his right-footer wide of the left-post.

    He would force a save out of DC keeper, Bill Hamid, in the 74th minute; the final of his four shots on the night – two on, one off, and one blocked – and was more than willing to get involved in the build-up as well, sliding a nice pass out wide left for Molino to find a chance.

    But, Larin may have been

    his face and into the Orlando net, a late winner in the 91st minute.

    A rookie mistake no doubt, and one Adrian Heath will likely address.

    Larin was solid on the ball, completing six of his ten passes, winning four fouls with his physical presence, and adding an interception and a recovery to his achievements. He was caught off-side of three occasions however, and, still adjusting to the pace and pressure of the professional game, he appeared to snatch at his chances, rushing his attempts rather than coolly dispatching them.

    That said, his movement, probing the opposition back-line, and positioning, finding those little gaps to craft half-chances, have been very encouraging. Surely his first goal is not far off and if Ribeiro is forced to stay on the sidelines for an extended absence – it appeared to be a hamstring strain at the time – Larin will get the time he needs to score that first MLS goal sooner rather than later.

    Kofi Opare

    Like it may for Larin, injury has provided Opare with the chance to force his way into the starting eleven, making his first start of the season for DC in Orlando, having debuted last weekend when Steve Birnbaum went down with an early ankle injury.

    Paired with Bobby Boswell as the left-sided centre-back, Opare was faced with another difficult opponent. Last round it was LA, this week he was confronted primarily with Kaka and Ribeiro, at least until fellow-Canadian Larin came on as an early replacement.

    The Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised Opare handled those threats well.

    Kaka barely got the chance to slice through the box, as he did so devastatingly against Montreal last time out, while Larin was in tough against a potential national teammate, closed down on the right by Opare on one occasion, blocking an attempted cross, and then welcomed to the league with a bit of physicality, as Opare ranged all the way to the touchline to put in a heavy sliding challenge, winning the ball and snuffing out the attack at the cost of a thrown-in.

    He would finish the match with seven clearances, three recoveries, a tackle and an interception, while completing 15 of his 21 passes. And became the second Canadian to suffer a heavy collision with Orlando keeper, Donovan Ricketts, getting flattened as he went up for an aerial ball in the box – he came off better than Sam Adekugbe did in his challenge however.

    Last summer when Opare joined DC from LA, he came at the expense of position in the allocation order and a second-round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft – that pick, 42nd overall, would become Dan Metzger, for those interested. Such moves are the kind that a good club makes, filling a possible need at a relatively low-cost so that quality is available when needed.

    Opare has been nothing but solid in his two outings, not putting a foot-wrong – the opponent has not scored a goal while he has been on the pitch. And DC is all the better for having him in the squad.

    Sam Adekugbe

    Adekugbe made a fourth-consecutive start for Vancouver in their dominant win over LA on Saturday, maintaining the starting left-back position ahead of the veteran Jordan Harvey.

    Tasked with keeping a lid on Stefan Ishizaki, thrusting down LA's right-flank, Adekugbe was forced to tangle with one of the few Galaxy players to not be thoroughly outplayed on the night, troubling Adekugbe in one instance, before the Vancouver defender eventually snatched away possession.

    The English-born defender would see a yellow card, his second of the season, in the 59th minute for blocking off Ishizaki's run in midfield, ending a potentially troublesome LA transition – it was his only foul of the match.

    Adekugbe showed all the assets that have helped him keep Harvey out of the lineup: quickness, an ability to get forward, and a defensive tenacity, contributing seven recoveries, five clearances, and a tackle. But also seems to have grown in confidence on the ball, misplacing just seven of over fifty passes on the night; doing his part in an outstanding outing from the Whitecaps.

    Continuing his education in MLS, Adekugbe once more suffered physically, taking an awkward bit of contact from Alan Gordon and Kendall Waston as he went up for an aerial challenge. It was unclear exactly what happened, possibly an inadvertent head-butt from teammate Waston, but regardless, both Waston and Gordon are fearsome opponents in the air and Adekugbe's fearlessness, at the cost of a few moments prone on the pitch, is admirable.

    That said, he may want to avoid picking on the biggest people on the pitch in the future.

    Steven Vitoria

    Vitoria continued his iron-man run for Philadelphia as they dropped a heart-breaker in Kansas City on Sunday night, falling 3-2 on a pair of stoppage-time goals from Sporting that overturned what would have been the Union's first win of the season – Vitoria has played every minute for his club, the only Canadian to do so, as both Jonathan Osorio and Tesho Akindele have not completed all their starts.

    Once more the left-sided centre-back, paired this time with new partner, Maurice Edu, Vitoria was a calming presence for Philadelphia, but even he could not prevent the late crumbling.

    Though he could not be held directly responsible for any of the three goals against, he would liked to have done a better job of marshaling his teammates on set-pieces, from which all three were conceded.

    The Toronto-born defender did his part in the run of play, ending the match with five clearances, five recoveries, and four interceptions, conceding two fouls and winning one. His passing – completing just 10 of 23 – showed just how much pressure the Union were under, preferring to launch long passes rather than play out of the back on the road, hence the poor completion rate.

    He showed his ability to aid in attack, pointing for left-back Fabinho to make a run before playing a leading ball down the flank, a play that eventually led to Andrew Wenger forcing a good save out of Luis Marin.

    And was on the end of a nasty challenge from Krisztian Nemeth, but came off no worse for wear.

    Marcel De Jong

    De Jong returned to Kansas City's starting lineup after a one match absence for the win over Philadelphia on Sunday – it was his third appearance of the season, all as a starter.

    The Newmarket, Ontario-native's night would be all but cut short in the 18th minute when he was called for a foul on Erik Ayuk Mbu. It was no doubt a hard challenge, but both De Jong and Peter Vermes doubted it was even a foul – De Jong would receive a yellow card for it, his only foul of the match.

    As if that was not enough punishment, the ensuing free-kick would lead to Philadelphia's second goal, reinstating their lead in the 19th minute, the two sides having exchanged goals earlier.

    De Jong would seek to make amends, sending a long, hopeful free-kick into the Union box, seeking out the head of Jalil Anibaba, who had strayed offside. Getting into advanced positions, De Jong had two attempts at goal, both off-target, including one weak shot from distance when the ball fell to him in the middle of the pitch.

    He would go to ground again for another challenge on Ayuk, this time getting beat, and when he was replaced by Seth Sinovic for the second half, Vermes relayed to the broadcast team that the decision was based on the risk of another booking, already having seen one, in the midst of a physical game, and with concerns over 'soft' calls.

    De Jong completed 20 of his 24 passes, made three tackles, and two interceptions.

    Jonathan Osorio

    Osorio made his fourth-straight start for Toronto in their loss to Chicago on Saturday.

    Once more on the right-side of the midfield, sitting a little deeper as part of a three-man quasi-shield in front of the back-line, Osorio again struggled to make an impact on the match.

    His passing was excellent, as usual – completing all but 5 of some roughly 45 passes – but with Sebastian Giovinco again the focal point, Osorio has been forced into a supporting role out wide, which does not make best use of his talents.

    The Toronto, Ontario-native did have one good look at goal, when a Warren Creavalle ball from the left fell to him at the back-post, but Osorio dragged his right-footer wide – his only shot of the match, off-target.

    He would make way for Bright Dike in the 80th minute having amassed three recoveries and an interception, winning two fouls in the process.

    The Rest

    Only one additional Canadian was in the gameday eighteen this round: Kyle Bekker on the bench for FC Dallas in Portland. Though he did not see the pitch, he was involved, slightly, in the post-match confrontation that began with the offering of a tissue. Bekker was mostly trying to play peacekeeper, like a good Canadian should.

    Each week James takes a look at the contributions of Canadians in the league. He can be followed on twitter @grawsee and more of his writing is available at Partially Obstructed View



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