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  • Canadian Content MLS Round 33 – How did our Canadians do in MLS this week?

    James Grossi

    Issey Nakajima-Farran

    Nakajima-Farran returned to the Montreal starting lineup in their 1-1 draw against DC on Saturday – it was his fifth start and thirteenth appearance for the Impact and his first start since picking up a red card back on July 24 against Salt Lake.

    From the left-side of the midfield attacking three, Issey was incredibly active, getting up and down that side, swapping flanks with Andres Romero, and generally forcing the match forward. But first a painting he crafted for retiring teammate Marco Di Vaio, entitled ‘Taking Off the Tape’ was presented to the Italian veteran prior to kickoff.

    It took barely more than a minute for Nakajima-Farran’s first foray forward, getting on the end of a Calum Mallace ball to the near-post, sending his header over the bar. In the thirteenth minute, Issey would size up a right-footed shot from the left-corner of the box, only for his effort to skim the top of the bar at the far-side – the second of his three attempts at goal (the third would be blocked, squirreling out for a corner kick).

    Come the 26th minute, it was an interception by the Calgary, Alberta-native that helped bring about the opening goal,

    , directing his header forward for Di Vaio. Bobby Boswell would cut it out, but Dilly Duka recovered and played the striker down the left for a clinical finish.

    He completed over two-thirds of his passes, pretty good considering how he was trying to spring attacks against a solid DC defense. One such example was this neat little ball to find Duka, who in turn sprung Di Vaio, drawing a save out of Bill Hamid.

    Another measure of how active he was in searching out the ball was his nine recoveries; Issey also collected two interceptions, an indication of his willingness to get back and defend.

    Nakajima-Farran was

    , trying to cover both Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola on a short corner kick, losing out on a last-ditch lunge, allowing Espindola to walk in a hit a low drive that beat Evan Bush.

    Adding his totals for both Montreal and Toronto, Issey made seven starts and eighteen appearances in his first season in MLS, racking up two goals – both for TFC – a yellow card and a red one to match.

    Doneil Henry

    Henry made a second-straight start for Toronto FC in their 1-0 loss in New England on Saturday – it was his nineteenth start and 21st appearance of the season.

    Alongside Steven Caldwell in the centre of the defense, playing as the left-sided of the duo, Henry was again impressive, if caught out on one or two occasions.

    But he made headlines midweek when it was revealed that he had been sold to a Cypriot club in a deal involving Kia Joorabchian and played the 2014 season on loan in Toronto – a rather bizarre turn of fate. There is apparently a possibility that he will still be with TFC, on loan, next season, though developments – and their timely revelation – could potentially happen at any moment.

    Back to the match – Henry was on the ball a lot in Toronto’s more controlled 4-3-3 system, completing a majority of his mass of passes, though his ability to play long balls out of the back was again lacking – they accounted for a majority of his incompletes – though he did pick out Gilberto on one occasion, the ball eventually being put out for an attacking throw-in.

    The Brampton, Ontario-native was again a force at the back, collecting six clearances, five interceptions, five recoveries, and tackle on the night, while making one big stepping-block to cut out a troublesome run by Charlie Davies, whom he and Caldwell kept under tight wraps all match, but Henry was caught out by a ball over the top from Lee Nguyen for Kelyn Rowe, who mercifully chipped his attempt over the bar.

    Henry was also guilty of not playing to the whistle,

    rather than closing down Nguyen, who scored the game’s only goal.

    He would end his fifth season in Toronto with one goal and eight yellow cards. Undoubted the most successful academy product the club has produced thus far, if Henry leaves, he will do so with seventy league appearances for the club, 55 of which came as starts, having scored two goals and collected three assists.

    Patrice Bernier

    Bernier maintained his starting position for a second-consecutive match in Montreal’s draw on Saturday – it was his twentieth start and 26th appearance of the season.

    Stationed at the base of the midfield, alongside Calum Mallace, Bernier was again impressive on the ball and solid in preventing DC from operating in those troublesome areas in from of the back-line. The Brossard, Quebec-native misplaced ten of his forty-odd passes and proved particularly adept at swinging the ball into those wide positions, regularly picking out Krzysztof Krol on the left to spur attacks up that side, including one play when he made a neat back-heel to the full-back before getting leveled by Lewis Neal.

    Bernier was involved in the wars, making a good interception on one play, only to get flattened by Eddie Johnson in pursuit; a foul call was not forthcoming – though on four other occasions he did win fouls. The Montreal captain, who passed the armband to Marco Di Vaio on his special day, added thirteen recoveries, three tackles, two interceptions, and a pair of clearances to his tally.

    He was one of several Impact players to give Di Vaio a solid hug as he left the pitch for the final time in his storied career.

    Post-match, he spoke of the legendary Italian’s time with the club, commenting: “Marco brought us to another level in this league and was always a leader amongst us. It was an honor to play with him and to have my name side by side with his in the Montreal Impact`s history.”

    Remarking, “Even though he played at a higher level before, he never came here with a bad attitude. He was always happy and professional with everyone he met. He has a passion that he transcends on to everyone. We want him to stay, but all we can do now is appreciate his time spent with us and salute his successful passage here in Montreal.”

    Bernier is one of several Montreal players whose contract will be up at the end of the season, but there is little doubt he will re-sign, despite his production dropping off this season with no goals and just three assists, having averaged six and four over his first two seasons in the league.

    Russell Teibert

    Teibert started a twelfth-consecutive match for Vancouver as they saw their push to the playoffs come to fruition with a late 1-0 win over Colorado on Saturday – it was the 22nd start and 29th appearance of the season for the player.

    Stationed at the base of the Whitecaps midfield alongside Matias Laba, Teibert was heavily involved in the build out of the back, while helping to keep Colorado from putting any serious dents in those post-season aspirations.

    His passing was again solid, if unspectacular, completing all but seven attempts, but again he was unable to force the play forward – not really his role, anyways – four of those incomplete passes came in the attacking half.

    But with Vancouver in need of a goal, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native was replaced by Kekuta Manneh in the 56th minute.

    Like Bernier, his offensive production stagnated this season, failing to score a single goal and collecting just two assists after his breakout 2013, where he scored twice and racked up nine assists, likely in part to his newfound defensive role with the club under the tutelage of Carl Robinson, himself a tenacious defensive-minded midfielder.

    Kyle Bekker

    Bekker returned to the TFC starting lineup in their loss at New England on Saturday – it was his thirteenth start and twentieth appearance of the season.

    Greg Vanney opted to try something a little different in Toronto’s final match, taking to the field in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, depending on how one looks at it, with Bekker playing that central attacking midfield role. In recent weeks, Bekker has been playing more advanced than he has in previous outings, granted the attacking license to get forward and press high, rather than tracking deep into his own third – to mixed results.

    The most obvious measure of his advanced position was that he had three shots – two on goal and one blocked – considering he only had fifteen all season that is a marked increase, though none of his efforts caused Bobby Shuttleworth much trouble.

    His first, spreading a quick ball wide out to Dominic Oduro on the right before making a surging run into the box to receive a return pass, was nice, but he sent his tight-angled effort straight at the keeper rather than spotting the back-side run of Gilberto, who may have been in a better position.

    The Oakville, Ontario-native’s passing was clinical, missing just nine of over forty attempts, but he was not able to either get on the ball or do much with it in the final third – New England is not the sort of opponent to give opposition a lot of time on the ball, especially with Scott Caldwell and Jermaine Jones both on the pitch.

    Bekker was able to contribute defensively, making four recoveries and two interceptions – not bad considering how ball-hungry the Revolution are – and he made one key clearance, blocking a sneaky Lee Nguyen ball into the goalmouth. His clearance caught Michael Bradley in the face before trickling out for a corner.

    He ends his sophomore season in MLS with new marks for starts and appearances, but has yet to register a single point; though he did pick up his first booking. No doubt a disappointment, but there is plenty of room for growth and there has been some progression from season one to two, albeit less than many had hoped for.

    Karl Ouimette

    Ouimette made his first appearance in six weeks, coming in for Montreal season-ending draw with DC on Saturday – it was his ninth start and eleventh appearance of the season.

    A part of a young four-man back-line that featured three Canadians, Ouimette, paired with Wandrille Lefevre in the centre, took up the right-sided slot and helped to keep a potent DC attack under wraps for the majority of the match.

    Defensively the Terrebonne, Quebec-native accumulated some impressive numbers, collecting eight clearances, seven recoveries, four tackles, and three interceptions, once vitally arriving to clear a dangerous DC passage with a thumping clearance.

    Both he and Lefevre were caught out on one occasion, both stepping up to pressure Eddie Johnson, allowing him to slip Fabian Espindola in behind, but the attack fizzled out.

    Wandrille Lefèvre

    Lefevre returned to the starting lineup after a four-match absence in Montreal draw against DC United on Saturday – it was the thirteenth start and fifteenth appearance of the season.

    Taking up his usual left-centre-back position, alongside Karl Ouimette, Lefevre was incredibly busy, contributing twelve recoveries, eleven clearances, five interceptions, five tackles, and a block, but his usually superb passing was a little off, completing less than half of his attempts – though to be fair the French-born defender often attempted to spring attacks with long, low-percentage balls.

    Like Ouimette, he bit a little too hard on one play, rushing towards Eddie Johnson, opening up space for a DC attack. He was also spared a potential handball penalty concession by an offside flag late in the match.

    Sam Adekugbe

    Adekugbe was forced into the crucial season-decider for Vancouver in the 33rd minute when Steven Beitashour went down injured – it was just his fourth appearance of the season, the first in nearly two months, and his third as a substitute.

    Despite being thrown in the deep-end, the London-born left-back did very well, getting up and down his side with ease, combining to build up that flank, and putting in a defensive shift with two tackles, a recovery, a clearance, and an interception.

    But perhaps his most important play was an intelligent passage of defending, inserting himself in-between Charles Eloundou and the ball on one Colorado odd-man break, drawing a foul by cutting in front of the attack to quell the threat.

    Maxim Tissot

    Tissot returned to the starting lineup, making a third-straight appearance after a pair of solid substitute outings – it was his seventh start and twentieth appearance of the season.

    Returned to his original left-back spot – he has spent a lot of time playing as more a left-winger – Tissot was lively, but a little less-so than normal – apparently he was dealing with a stomach bug that would eventually force him off, to be replaced by Krzysztof Krol in the 59th minute.

    The Gatineau, Quebec-native was not able to get forward as much as he normally would, perhaps the effect the aforementioned illness, but he did hit one nice corner kick – a skill set he has been allowed to display more often of late.

    Having doubled his starts and trebled his appearances, Tissot will end the season with two goals to his name – similarly double his output from last season.

    Post-match, club manager Frank Klopas commented on Tissot and the performance from the younger players: “Max had a solid game. He had something in his stomach that was bothering him so he gave it his all and it came to the point where he couldn’t continue. The younger generation, are guys that we can rely on but they have to understand that it takes hard work to continue to develop and grow and one of the positive things that we can look at from a club standpoint, is the future USL PRO team that will be created. These games are crucial for the reserve player`s that don’t get to play on a regular basis with the MLS team so that they can stay fit and sharp. I think that will be a big plus for the organization and there was no better guy for them to learn from than Marco Di Vaio.”

    Tesho Akindele

    Akindele was again left out of Dallas’ starting lineup on Saturday as they fell 0-2 to Portland - it was the fourth time in the last five matches that he has come on as a substitute and his 26th appearance of the season, eighteen of which were starts.

    Coming on the 73rd minute to replace David Texeira with Dallas trailing by a goal, Akindele was energetic, but could not help his side find a way back into the game and Portland doubled their lead shortly after he entered.

    Blas Perez nearly found him with a little ball to the near-post on one occasion, but Portland full-back Jorge Villafana was able to cut out the pass; the Calgary, Alberta-native did find a late chance, meeting a corner kick in the 95th minute, but his header was just over the bar.

    Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé

    Gagnon-Lapare was a late substitute for Montreal on Saturday, coming on in the 92nd minute to make his fifth appearance of the season, but just a second from the bench.

    In doing so, the Sherbrooke, Quebec-native made himself a place in football trivia lore, becoming the final player to replace Marco Di Vaio as a substitute.

    The Rest

    Kyle Porter, Maxime Crépeau, Louis Beland-Goyette, Ashtone Morgan, and Chris Mannella were on the benches for their respective sides.

    Vancouver will be the sole Canadian representative in this season’s rendition of the MLS Cup Playoffs. By finishing highest amongst the three Canadian clubs, they will also represent the nation in the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League, as the Voyageurs Cup reconfigures its timing for next season.

    All quotes and videos courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

    Each week James takes a look at the contributions of Canadians in the league and the league as a whole.

    You can follow James on twitter @grawsee or read more of his writing at Partially Obstructed View

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