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    Canadian Content MLS Round 12 – How did the Canadians in MLS do this week?


    James Grossi

    Kofi Opare

    Opare made his ninth-straight start for DC in their 1-1 draw against New England on Saturday – it was his ninth start and tenth appearance of the season.

    Lining up alongside Bobby Boswell once more, featuring as the left centre-back, Opare was instrumental at helping limit the chances that fell the way of attack-minded Revolution. He did well to cut out a Juan Agudelo pull-back in the early going, preventing it from finding its desired target – the streaking Lee Nguyen – and then came up with a huge block to deny Nguyen later in the match.

    Both examples of his general alertness at spotting building trouble and snuffing it out – a feat he would achieve again, bailing out Boswell after he was by-passed by Teal Bunbury, drifting out wide to block the attacker's effort.

    The Niagara Falls-raised defender was also a factor at the other end, nearly getting on the end of a Davy Arnaud cross – a shove in the back from Bunbury prevented him from making good contact – and then committing forward with regularity late in the match as DC looked to turn a two-man advantage to their favour through the last half hour.

    Completing all but eleven of some forty passes, Opare was ended the match with impressive numbers, accounting for eight recoveries, five clearances, two tackles, two blocks, and an interception.

    Since coming into the lineup for the injured Steve Birnbaum, Opare has not missed a step, keeping his now-fit teammate out of action having locked down a position on the pitch.

    Jonathan Osorio

    Osorio made a second-consecutive start for Toronto FC in their 1-0 win over Portland on Saturday – it was his seventh start and ninth appearance of the season.

    From the left-side of the midfield, Osorio inserted himself into TFC's buildup play, contributing a small role in Sebastian Giovinco's opening rip in the fifth minute. Having aided in that play, Osorio would cost his teammate a second when Giovinco's strike beat Portland keeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey, only to strike Osorio squarely in the back.

    While that particular passage was unfortunate, it is his budding understanding of how to play with Giovinco that has seen Osorio shirk the slump that carried him through the opening months of the season. It was always going to be difficult to subsume his natural inclination to get on the ball to the Italian maestro, but the past two rounds have seen Osorio grow accustomed to adapting his game to the needs of Giovinco. On several occasions, the young Canadian alertly made runs to provide options and his willingness to get into the box – such as on the play above, or a later run that saw Nat Borchers scoop a low Giovinco cross over the bar – both provides a target for combination and occupies defenders, thus granting space to be exploited.

    Osorio would find one shot of his own, settling a ball in the area to get off an attempt, only for Borchers to get in a necessary block. He would make a later charging run on the counter up the left, leading to another Giovinco chance, this time saved.

    The Toronto, Ontario-native completed all but six of his 35-odd pass attempts, making seven recoveries and a tackle throughout, conceding and winning a foul each way, before coming off for Nick Hagglund in the 83rd minute as Toronto sought to see out the one-goal victory.

    It will be interesting to see if Osorio can carry this strong run of form into further production – he has just a single assist this season. Both Toronto, considering the absence of Jozy Altidore and an over-reliance on Giovinco, and Canada, with upcoming World Cup Qualifiers and a Gold Cup this summer, could use some contributions on the score-sheet from Osorio.

    Karl Ouimette

    Ouimette made a second-straight start for New York in their 0-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday – it was his fourth-straight appearance, encompassing his entire output for the Red Bulls this season.

    As the right-sided centre-back, Ouimette was put in an awkward position as the lone true defender on the back-line. He would take to the pitch alongside Roy Miller, a left-back, in the middle for New York, with injuries to Ronald Zubar and Damien Perrinelle and Matt Miazga's international absences leaving the defensive-cabinet threadbare.

    Through the first half, Ouimette and company were able to fend off Philadelphia attacks, the Canadian showing good hustle and alertness to track and cut out the run of Cristian Maidana in the box. But with the second-half introduction of CJ Sapong, New York began to struggle.

    Vincent Nogueira scored the first in the 57th minute, redirecting a Maidana shot after Andrew Wenger moved in from the left. Ouimette was faced with attempting to mark two attackers, occupied by Sapong as Nogueira found the space to get the final touch.

    Five minutes later, Ouimette would suffered the recriminations for his loose pass that was picked off by Fabinho, leading to a Union counter and their second goal, but it was neither a terrible pass, nor was what came after entirely his fault.

    Yes his ball did lead to the turnover, but in response he tracked the run of the Philadelphia left-back, pressuring him every step of the way; others were responsible for tracking the run of Sapong, who eventually turned in the cross after jogging unmarked to the edge of the six-yard box.

    The Terrebonne, Quebec-native would continue to have his hands full with Sapong, suffering a knee knock in one challenge and then caught a bloody nose in an aerial challenge with the rough attacker, which saw the Philadelphia forward receive a yellow card for launching himself into an unwinnable ball. Ouimette would engage in the mischief himself, seeing a yellow in the 84th minute for hauling down Sapong on the turn in the centre-circle – his second booking of the season.

    The defender completed all but ten of his near-forty pass attempts, accumulating some impressive numbers: eight interceptions, five clearances, four recoveries, and four tackles, committing just a single foul, while winning two.

    Hopefully that giveaway will not overshadow some strong performances; Jesse Marsch, who brought him in after getting to know Ouimette in Montreal no doubt has faith, but do the New York fans?

    Cyle Larin

    Larin started up top for Orlando City in their 1-1 draw at San Jose on Sunday for a seventh match running – it was his ninth appearance of the season.

    Again tasked as the lone striker leading the line, Larin faced the unenviable task of engaging both San Jose centre-backs, Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson. His aerial battles with Bernardez were especially intriguing, the rookie not shying away from one of the league's dominant presences, and Larin nearly crafted a chance, pressuring a turnover out of the usually-impeccable Goodson, staying strong on his feet, but unable to find the space required.

    Not shying away from the physicality, Larin was hacked down by Marvell Wynne in midfield on one occasion, and then took a knock in a collision with a teammate, getting clipped by Eric Avila, spending a moment down on the pitch thereafter.

    But his major contribution to the match was winning the penalty kick that put Orlando into the lead, albeit briefly. Racing onto a ball in the area, Larin was flattened by San Jose keeper, David Bingham, who caught the forward with an errant arm across the chest, bringing him down in the process. Kaka would step up to the spot and convert the chance – taking over the team goal-scoring lead in the process – only for a San Jose penalty minutes later to quash the advantage.

    The Brampton, Ontario-native would come off in the 84th minute for Martin Paterson, seeing his goal-scoring run end at three matches.

    Larin completed eleven of thirteen passes, made two recoveries and a tackle, conceding four fouls and winning three, including the crucial penalty kick.

    Tesho Akindele

    Akindele began Dallas' 2-1 loss at Montreal on the bench, coming on in the 53rd minute for Michel with the visitors in need of goals having fallen behind by two.

    Taking up the right-side of midfield, Akindele played a role in Dallas' 77th minute goal, making a nice turn in the box to get off a right-footed shot after Je-Vaughan Watson corralled a loose ball at the top of the area. Evan Bush would make the save, but the rebound fell to Matt Hedges, who thumped it into the gaping goal.

    The shot was the only one for the Calgary, Alberta-native, who completed just three of his ten passes, but added an interception and a tackle to his stat-line, winning and conceding a foul in the process.

    Despite having made just one start in Dallas' last six matches, Akindele is still very much in the plans of Oscar Pareja, who has plenty of attacking options at his disposal. Akindele has appeared in each of those games, bringing his season total up to twelve appearances, seven of which have been starts.

    Kyle Bekker

    Bekker made a brief cameo for Dallas in Montreal on Saturday, coming on in the 73rd minute for Ryan Hollinghead – it was his fifth appearance of the season, all from the bench.

    Taking up a deep central role alongside the more defensive-minded Victor Ulloa, Bekker was very good in his seventeen minutes of play, completing nine of ten passes – three of which were 'key', and getting off a shot.

    The only incomplete attempt was a ball over the top down the right-channel for Watson, but the full-back had slowed his run prematurely and it ran out of play.

    The Oakville, Ontario-native played a role in Dallas mounting pressure as the clock ticked down. His corner kick was met by Walker Zimmerman, but caught by Bush in the Montreal goal, and it was Bekker's lovely ball into the area from deep that picked out Blas Perez on the left, drawing a game-saving stop out of Bush to rescue to result.

    Not done there, Bekker would alertly pick a ball off the boot of Eric Alexander inside the area before driving a shot towards goal – it was blocked by Callum Mallace, leading to an almighty scramble, but Dallas could not find the equalizer.

    Though hardly the best of testing grounds – Montreal were bunkering with the score already in their favour – it was perhaps Bekker's best outing of the season, which can only be encouraging.

    Kianz Froese

    Froese made his first-ever MLS start for Vancouver in their 1-0 loss at Colorado on Saturday – it was his fifth appearance of the season and second straight.

    On the right-side of the Whitecaps midfield, the Cuban-Born Froese was active, but unable to make much of an impression on the match.

    He would pick up a strange booking in the 24th minute, recorded as a 'dive', when he challenge Clint Irwin on a ball near the end-line. Colorado were not pleased with his effort, drawing a crowd; replays showed it was Irwin who caught the attacker and not vice versa, and Froese had every right to go for the loose ball anyways. Shouts for a penalty were non-existent, while the booking, his first of the season (and his career), was evidence of some over-zealous refereeing. The penalty-dive debate is not an either-or proposition.

    Froese would find one good look at goal when the ball fell to him on the right-side of the area, but under pressure from the hulking frame of Axel Sjoberg, his right-footer would drift wide of the post. And his energetic young legs would allowing him to break free of the tracking of Marc Burch on a curling run, busting into the middle of the field, but it came to naught.

    He would be replaced by Cristian Techera in the 62nd minute; the longest output of his nascent career.

    Ashtone Morgan

    Morgan started an eight-straight match for Toronto in their win over Portland – all nine of his appearances have come in the past nine matches, retaining his left-back position with Justin Morrow swapping over to the right-side.

    It was a bit of a mixed performance from Morgan.

    The Toronto, Ontario-native was a touch over-aggressive on one play, getting sucked into Alvas Powell out wide, allowing Diego Chara to burst into the space behind him and send it a cross, but Fanendo Adi could not settle the service, the chance dissolving in the process. He then made a vital intervention in the area, getting a needed flick on a cross, nicking the ball away from the waiting Borchers at the back-post.

    Morgan would then strip the ball away from his opposite, Powell, to spur a Toronto counter, before taking a poor touch as he cut out a low Jorge Villafana ball into the TFC box. The ball would fall precipitously to Rodney Wallace, who could not do anything fruitful with the chance.

    Undaunted, the left-back thundered into a late challenge on Dairon Asprilla in the final minutes, desperate to prevent a Portland counter, catching the attacker with a sliding tackle – he would be booked for his troubles, collecting his first yellow card of the season.

    With Mark Bloom now fit, it will be interesting to see if Morgan can maintain his spot in the starting lineup. Regardless, it has been very encouraging to see him take this chance and run with it, while addressing the frailty of his game that was highlighted by his struggles: a difficulty in striking the balance between when to burst forward and when to play the more conservative, defensive-role.

    Patrice Bernier

    Bernier made his fourth appearance of the season on Saturday against Dallas, coming on in the 83rd minute for Andres Romero as Montreal sought to see out their 2-1 lead and kickoff a winning streak.

    Completing four of six passes and contributing a single clearance, the Brossard, Quebec-native would show some of that calmness on the ball in the midfield for which he is known, evading the attentions of Kyle Bekker to prevent Dallas from completely dominating possession through the final moments of play.

    As a senior statesman of Canadian players, especially with Dwayne De Rosario set to officially announce his retirement, it was encouraging to see Bernier and Bekker share a lengthy chat after the final whistle.

    The Rest

    Jordan Hamilton, Jay Chapman, and Quillan Roberts were unused substitutes for Toronto against Portland, while Will Johnson was in the matchday eighteen for the Timbers: his return to MLS play would have to wait until the following week.

    Maxim Tissot, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, and Wandrille Lefevre were unsused subs for Montreal against FC Dallas.

    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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