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    Canadian Content MLS Round 07 – How did the Canadians do in MLS this week?


    James Grossi

    Russell Teibert

    Teibert, sporting the Captain's armband with Pedro Morales suspended, returned to Vancouver's starting eleven for their 0-1 win in Salt Lake on Saturday night – it was his fifth start and sixth appearance of the season.

    Fielded in a more-advanced midfield position, atop a central triangle based by Matias Laba and Gershon Koffie, Teibert was a force on the night, giving an early indication of his intent with a thunderous challenge on Olmes Garcia inside the five five minutes of play. He would receive a booking for his trouble – his first of the season – and have to be careful for the remaining 85 minutes, lest he see another card from the official. He would go on to commit two further fouls, for three total by the final whistle.

    Playing as that first line of defense, a high-pressure destroyer, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native was clearly told to clog up that part of the pitch, disrupting Salt Lake's ability to build out of the midfield, long been a strength of theirs.

    Faced with his presence, the hosts attempted to escape it, operating in wider and wider positions, to which Teibert easily adapted, roaming out wide to snuff out any threat from such wide attacks.

    Misplacing just five of some fifty-plus passes on the night, Teibert's other numbers were modest: three recoveries, two clearances, an interception, and a tackle. His role was to apply pressure, not necessarily apply the stop himself.

    But, as it turned out, his most vital contribution to the night was a bursting run up the left as Vancouver took a short free-kick, dishing off to Sam Adekugbe and then hustling up the touchline to latch onto the banked 'pass' and fling a cross into the middle in the 80th minute.

    His delivery would be met sweetly by Darren Mattocks in the middle, rising up, virtually unchallenged, to direct his header on to the far-side of the net for the first goal of the night; it would turn out to be the winner.

    Vancouver stumbled last week, losing to San Jose, but with the help of Captain Teibert, they ended a two-match winless run, retained their spot atop the league, and nabbed their first-ever win away to Salt Lake.

    Post-match, he commented: “Great result for us. We talk about making history and we had the opportunity to do so tonight. We took a chance playing a different formation and we adapted well and showed how intelligent our squad is and how we are willing to work in whatever formation our manager puts us in. We have never won here before so not only is it a big win tonight but it is also a big win for our club."

    His full-interview can be viewed here – while some hi-jinx with his road-roommate, Adekugbe, can be seen

    .

    Marcel de Jong

    De Jong started his third-straight match for Sporting KC in their 2-1 loss to Los Angeles on Saturday night – it was his fifth appearance of the season, all of which have been starts.

    From his left-back position, de Jong was under pressure early, tasked with keeping a lid on the problematic Stefan Ishizaki, who twisted him up on occasion to get in crosses. He then had his MLS education continued, with Dan Gargan this time the guilty party, welcoming de Jong to the league with a heavy challenge that earned him a yellow card – and sent the Canadian airborne. It was one of two fouls he won that night.

    Despite a necessary defensive role, de Jong was able to get forward, twice getting off shots at goal – the first required an excellent save from Jamie Penedo; the second dribbled wide of the far-post. It is nice to see that kind of confidence and aim from a full-back; he will score a few goals this season.

    Solid on the ball – the Newmarket, Ontario-native completed 21 of his 28 attempts – de Jong put in a defensive shift, racking up six recoveries, two interceptions, two clearances, and a tackle, but it was going forward that he really impressed, once nicking the ball off of Gargan, only for Tommy Meyer to interrupt his route to goal.

    He would make way for Amadou Dia in the 75th minute with the game tied at ones – KC would concede the latest of winners in the 94th minute.

    Prior to the match, de Jong's progression was applauded by Peter Vermes. “He's getting there. He's slowly getting there. I thought last game was a really good game for him. That was his best game so far for us. I think one of his things is getting fitter, to play the way we play. He's also understanding some of the responsibilities that go along with playing that position in the way that we play. Every day, he gets a little closer to what we want to be.”

    Vermes continued, “He's a very good server of the ball. He also has a cannon from distance, which you haven't seen yet. He really does. I'm sure at some point, that'll come out in one of the games, because he can hit the ball.”

    And de Jong is enjoying his new abode: “It's amazing. The first time I stepped on the pitch, I got goosebumps all over my skin, because there was such a nice feeling when I stepped on the field – all the fireworks and everything. Not what I'm used to in Europe. But it's amazing.”

    Good to see he is settling in, hopefully he can carry his form into World Cup Qualification and the Gold Cup; with a little less travel to concern him, it can only be good for Canada.

    Sam Adekugbe

    Adekugbe too returned to Vancouver's starting lineup on Saturday night, having sat out the second match of a double-game week last weekend, to make his sixth start of the season.

    In his familiar left-back position, a spot he has all but made his own of late, the London, England-born defender experienced some struggles, making a few rash clearances that allowed Salt Lake to build some pressure early. Most notable was a terrible sliced clearance that fell into a dangerous spot above the box, leading to an attempt at goal from Jordan Allen; fortunately David Ousted was alert to the threat, getting down well to spare any further embarrassment.

    Having survived that scare, Adekugbe would compose himself for the remainder of the match, showing his usual qualities on the left. His passing, 11 of some 35 incomplete, left a little to be desired, but he more than made up for any losses of possession with five interceptions, five clearances, four tackles, three recoveries, and a block; winning a pair of fouls, conceding only one.

    He showed that same willingness to get forward that has earned him praise, rampaging up that side. And though he probably did not mean to bank a pass off a Salt Lake defender to set-up Teibert's cross on the game-winning goal, it was a pretty solid bit of attacking intent – even if the execution was found wanting.

    Adekugbe showed a touch of veteran savvy – or youthful impetuousness, taking a yellow card for delay of game, for picking up the ball and walking away in the final ten minutes, eating up a precious bit of time with the lead in tow.

    And he kept his focus to help see out the narrow win. Salt Lake may have been down to nine men, but Demar Phillips refused to relent with Adekugbe his match, cutting out a pair of late crosses – though that same clearing problem, of putting live balls into potentially troublesome places, resurfaced.

    Steven Vitoria

    Vitoria, the CanCon Review's resident iron-man, continued his ever-presence with a pair of starts for Philadelphia this week, as they closed out a home-and-home series against New York City with a 1-1 draw on Thursday before falling 1-2 at home to New England on Sunday – he has now started each of the Union's eight league matches in 2015.

    Maintaining his left-sided centre-back position in each, Vitoria was paired with Maurice Edu in both matches.

    Against New York, he did a solid job of keeping a tight lid on both City strikers – David Villa barely managed a look and Adam Nemec threatened just once, from a corner kick, that saw Vitoria do just enough in his marking to put off the attacker, who guided his header off-target.

    Completing 21 of his 31 passes, Vitoria compiled some impressive figures – in both matches – making ten clearances, four interceptions, three recoveries, three blocks, and a tackle in New York. And was again a calming presence at the back, though Edu was displeased at times by the lack of support the back-line got from the midfield.

    And though he will not record an assist, he had a role in CJ Sapong's late equalizer, occupying Andrew Jacobson just enough to give the striker the space for the 86th minute goal.

    Three days later, the Toronto-born defender was back on Philadelphia's home pitch for another match, against an altogether more threatening foe.

    The short-rest showed a little, as Vitoria backed off a little too much early, allowing Andy Dorman a shot from the top of the box, but was a strong presence in the air – far more than either Charlie Davies or Juan Agudelo could handle.

    He was lucky to escape a booking for bundling over Lee Nguyen in the midfield as the defender rushed to recover with New England in transition – that lack of pace would be an issue later in the match.

    Vitoria exhibited his strength and awareness, shielding Davies away from one ball and making the executive decision to clear rather than await further help, before putting in a wonderful slide tackle in the box to nick the ball off the foot of Scott Caldwell, whose eyes had grown big with the path to goal and loose ball presenting itself before him.

    But he would be caught up-field in the 76th minute, stepping into the midfield only to expose gaps at the back that, in part, led to Teal Bunbury's game winner.

    There has been little word as to whether Benito Floro has whispered any sweet-nothings into the ear of the big defender of Portuguese extraction, but with a busy summer ahead and the lack of depth along Canada's back-line, it may not be a bad idea.

    Kofi Opare

    Opare started his third-straight match for DC as they tied Houston 1-1 on Saturday night – it was his fourth-consecutive appearance of the season since coming on for the injured Steve Birnbaum at the end of March.

    Paired with Bobby Boswell as the left-sided centre-back, Opare had a quiet match – it was a largely uneventful first half, aside from the Chris Rolfe goal that put DC ahead.

    The second half would see a little more action. The Niagara Falls-raised defender would miss his lunging challenge on Ricardo Clark, allowing Giles Barnes to get off a shot on the hour-mark that struck the base of the post. Opare would see his strong run forward ended by a shove in the back from Will Bruin. And he would suffered a pretty heavy tackle from Rob Lovejoy, crashing in late, after Opare had already released his pass.

    He was confident on the ball, completing 28 of his 37 attempts – an equal mix of forward and sideways – ending the match with one each of interceptions, recoveries, clearances, and tackles.

    Ashtone Morgan

    Morgan made a third-straight start for Toronto in their lightning-infringed 3-2 loss to FC Dallas on Saturday night – it was his fourth appearance of the season.

    Starting in his familiar left-back spot, with Justin Morrow against drafted into the middle, Morgan could only watch in horror as Fabian Castillo shredded the opposite flank to pieces, blowing up any game plans with a goal after 29 seconds and adding a second inside of ten minutes. Morgan, recognizing the danger (it was rather obvious) would even find himself tracking all the way over to the far-side of the pitch to cut out a potential Castillo counter after the ball was cleared following a TFC attack.

    The Toronto, Ontario-native was not without blame in the three first-half goals: the third was in part the result of his back-header off a Je-Vaughan Watson throw. Damien Perquis had plenty of time to deal with the ball, only to have Collen Warner get in his way, turning over the ball to Blas Perez, who made no mistake with his fortune.

    Despite the weather and the unfriendly start, Morgan got forward regularly, was solid in his passing – completing some 24 of roughly 30 attempts – and accumulated an impressive six interceptions, four recoveries, three clearances, and a pair of tackles, before making way for Robbie Findley in the 86th minute with TFC chasing the game by two goals.

    Tesho Akindele

    Akindele, who has made some waves since it was reported by Benito Floro that the Canadian head coach expected an answer on his availability shortly, was on the bench for Dallas against Toronto on Saturday, coming on, after the long delay, in the 66th minute for Michael Barrios.

    With the match all-but decided – or so it seemed at the time – the Calgary-born forward was only marginally involved, the game had slowed to a virtual crawl, but completed eleven of his fourteen passes, making one clearance; winning and conceding a foul.

    But the real news is that after Floro made his pronouncement, Akindele responded, stating: I’ve been in contact with [Canada] lately, so that’s about it. There’s a lot of big stuff coming up for everybody with the Gold Cup, so I think by then it will be finalized.”

    Adding, “I’ve talked to people that I value their opinion, people in my family, people who have coached me in the past, also people on this team that have been international players and got their opinion on what they think would be best for me.”

    Mysterious.

    Cyle Larin

    Larin, fresh off his first professional goal, remained in the starting lineup for Orlando City on Saturday, making a second-consecutive start and fourth appearance of the season.

    But, given the circumstances of Raphael Ramos' silly 34th minute red card, the Brampton, Ontario-native would be forced to make way two minutes later for Tyler Turner as Adrian Heath shuffled his formation, bringing on an extra defender.

    It was a brief outing, but Larin still showed his quality, leading the line himself away from home. His best chance of the match came from a Brek Shea goalmouth ball from the left that was just a little too far out of his reach. Larin's only true attempt at goal was blocked.

    He completed all six of his passes, which is cool.

    Jonathan Osorio

    Osorio started a fifth-straight match for Toronto on Saturday in Dallas, maintaining a minor iron-man streak of his own – has has been substituted in three of those matches, so is no threat to Vitoria's every-minute title.

    Swapping over to the left-side of midfield, with Jackson taking up the right, Osorio again looked out of sorts.

    His passing was excellent – completing all but three of some fifty-plus attempts – and he was active, making four recoveries, two tackles, winning a foul and conceding two. But something remains off for the Toronto, Ontario-native.

    He had one attempt at goal – it was blocked – and had a glorious chance to make something when Sebastian Giovinco's ball fell to him at the left-post, only for a horrendous first touch to almost ruin the opportunity. Osorio would recover possession and send a lot ball through the goalmouth, but it was handily cleared.

    Osorio would make way in the 68th minute, just as Toronto started to show signs of life, replaced by Luke Moore.

    It is difficult to be overly critical of Osorio, while he adjusts to an outside role; TFC has been a gong-show, a mishmash of styles and ideas, though their first five matches. But more is required of him if the club is to escape their funk and he is to retain his place in the starting position.

    The Rest

    Kyle Ouimette was again an unused substitute for Jesse Marsch as the New York Red Bulls rolled out 2-0 winners over San Jose on Saturday.

    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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