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Found 7 results

  1. Kianz Froese Froese made his sixth appearance of the season for Vancouver in their 1-2 win away to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, coming on for Kekuta Manneh in the 71st minute. Taking up a right-sided midfield position, the Cuban-born attacker was very active down that side, making a nuisance of himself with his energy. That ability would prove useful on a quick Vancouver break, racing to give Octavio Rivero an option to the right, receiving a slip pass and beating Luis Robles with a low right-footer across to the left-side of goal. Froese began the play himself, intercepting an under-hit New York ball in the centre-circle before rushing forward to score his first MLS goal. Having celebrated that moment, Froese would retain his composure, tracking all the way back to pressure Manolo Sanchez after Pa Modou Kah whiffed on a header. That effort took a little off the shot, allowing David Ousted to make the needed save and preserve the victory. He scored on his only shot of the night, completing five of his six passes, adding two interceptions and a recovery, while winning a foul. Froese was interviewed post-match. Jonathan Osorio Osorio started his tenth match of the season for Toronto FC's 0-2 loss to New York City this round – it was his fifth-straight start having recovered from an injury and lack of form that saw him miss out on three matches. Stationed on the left-side of the midfield, Osorio was a force all match long, showing some of that excellent footwork in tight spaces to play away from pressure and keep the ball moving. Over the past few weeks, Osorio has been looking more and more comfortable in the renovated TFC midfield. There were times earlier in the year when he looked a little lost for ideas, unsure of how to get involved after ceding dominance to the likes of Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco; that is no longer a concern. Tucking in a little from that left-flank, Osorio was regularly on the ball, misplaying just six of some thirty-plus attempts, and his picking of passes have taken on an interesting shape. Consider the ball that he played to Bradley that led to a Luke Moore chance: Osorio shapes as though he is going to play a cross-field ball, instead he cuts the follow-through, stabbing a ball forward. That sort of disguise on a through-ball helped Toronto work through a dense New York midfield regularly, though it did not result in any goals. The Toronto, Ontario-native may have won a penalty call on another day, taking a hefty shove in the back from defender RJ Allen on one play. He was caught a little flat-footed on an Eriq Zavaleta that led to New York's second goal, the pass was intercepted by Mix Diskerud and worked over to David Villa, who notched his second of the afternoon. Osorio would show some more good footwork at the edge of the area late to find Giovinco, but his effort was blocked. The midfielder added three recoveries, two tackles, and an interception to his stat-line, conceding a foul and winning two in a combative match. Ashtone Morgan Morgan made his eleventh start of the season for Toronto in their loss to New York City, picking up a slight knock in the process that would keep him out of TFC's midweek clash with Montreal the following round. Manning the left-back spot, Morgan was forceful all night, repeatedly sending crosses in and linking up or providing an option in attack. One cross fell to Justin Morrow at the back-post, but he could not settle it for a shot, while another ball in, after Giovinco had played him down the left, was met by Bradley, only for Josh Saunders to come up with a huge save on the TFC skipper. The Toronto, Ontario-native was harshly shown a yellow card in first half stoppage-time for a challenge on Mehdi Ballouchy, when the midfielder recklessly slid into Morgan, who pulled out of the tackle. It was his second booking of the season. He would hang one more ball up to the back-post for Moore, forcing a defensive-header out of Chris Wingert, who nearly beat his own keeper in the process. Like Osorio, Morgan was caught a little slow on New York's second goal, allowing Tommy McNamara to get goal-side in the build-up that eventually found Villa on the attacking-left in space. He would come off in the 83rd minute for Robbie Findley, having completed 26 of his 41 passes, racking up four recoveries and three tackles, committing two fouls and winning another. Cyle Larin Larin made his ninth start of the season for Orlando City as the fell 2-0 away to Montreal on Saturday – it was his twelfth appearance of his rookie season. Through the opening passages, Larin had a flurry of chances, getting on the end of a Rafael Ramos cross with his head, touching it wide as he was clattered by Montreal keeper, Evan Bush. Shortly thereafter, he would make a neat delayed run to get ball-side on the experience Laurent Ciman, deflecting a Brek Shea cross over the bar. The chances would continue in the second half, turning on a ball in the area and sending a left-footer wide – he could not quite wrap his foot around it, before chesting down a long ball from Luke Boden that he was unable to get on the end of under pressure from Ciman. A ball would run away from him in the 84th minute as he tangled with Bakary Soumare, and a chance was nicked off his boot by Ciman sixty-seconds later. The Brampton, Ontario-native would end the night with three shots, all off, having completed ten of his twelve passes, and made one clearance. He was offside twice and won a single foul. Will Johnson Johnson continued to work his way back into the Portland lineup, making a second-straight and third-overall start for the Timbers when they met Houston on Saturday night. Once more alongside Diego Chara at the base of the midfield, the Toronto-born Johnson showed glimpses of his old self, while also the occasional moment that he was still not fully up to pace. With both sides ostensibly playing five-man midfields, the match was a little muddled, the middle of the pitch clogged with bodies. And once Portland took the lead in the 34th minute through Max Urruti, Johnson tended to sit deep, protecting a lead at home. He completed all but eight of some forty-plus passes, adding eight recoveries, five interceptions, and a tackle to his night, winning a single foul as well. Johnson spoke about the team's mentality post-match: “Confidence is high, guys are playing well. The defense is getting shutouts and the attackers are finding enough goals for us to win games. It’s good. When you have that feeling, that confidence, it’s a nice thing but we’ve all got to understand it takes grinding and hard work. We are not just going to walk on the field because we have won a few games in a row and get a result. For me the biggest part mentally is we’ve stayed focused and we’ve taken it one game at a time to just get those three points.” Kyle Bekker Bekker made his eighth appearance of the season for FC Dallas in their Friday night 1-1 draw at Colorado. Coming on at half-time for Michel, Bekker took up a central position, picking up the first assist of his career with the most simple of passes, playing a short pass to Fabian Castillo on the left-corner of the box for the Colombian to do the rest. The Oakville, Ontario-native had one shot at goal himself a week after being denied his first goal by Stefan Frei, but his attempt was straight at the keeper after Michael Barrios had pulled back to him following a goal-kick that was flicked on by Blas Perez. He completed 17 of 23 passes, while making eight recoveries, a clearance, and a tackle. Patrice Bernier Bernier made his ninth appearance of the season for Montreal in their win over Orlando City, coming on in the 72nd minute for Marco Donadel. The Brossard, Quebec-native completed all but one of his twelve passes, sending a cross to the left-post for Maxim Tissot, who sent his header agonizingly wide, and then played one of his signature long balls to spring Dominic Oduro, leading to his goal in the 93rd minute. Bernier was denied an assist by Oduro's initial cross being cutout, before he beat the Orlando keeper. The veteran added a recovery and a tackle to his cameo performance. Maxim Tissot Tissot made his third start of the season for Montreal against Orlando. On the left-side of the midfield, Tissot was hammered in a challenge from Cristian Higuita through the early goings, and played a nice leading ball for Ignacio Piatti down the middle that just skittered away from him. The Gatineau, Quebec-native found himself wide open on another attack, but was overlooked by Piatti, who opted for a weak shot instead. He then failed to direct a header on target after Bernier found him attacking the back-post – his only attempt of the match. He completed 28 of his 37 passes, making six recoveries and a pair of tackles; winning and conceding a foul each way. Russell Teibert Teibert came on for Vancouver in the 88th minute for Nicolas Mezquida to make his fourth substitute's appearance of the season, bringing his season appearance total to fourteen ahead of the Gold Cup. With the Whitecaps having relinquished half of their two-goal lead, Teibert was tasked with closing out the few remaining minutes. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native completed both his passes, suceeding in keeping New York from equalizing. The Rest Tesho Akindele, Jay Chapman, Kofi Opare, and Marcel de Jong were all available this round, unused substitutes on the bench for their respective sides. Each week (normally) 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
  2. 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
  3. Froese looks like he's been playing MLS for years, but ask him how he feels about that and he just shrugs it off in an equally composed, non-fazed manner, although he does feel he has adjusted well to the noticeable step up in quality from Residency to first team level. "I just feel that every game is another focus," Froese told AFTN at training this week. "Just refocus on the task in hand. It's just like playing, training here, playing a game right. It's what I do every day and I try to do that on the field. "It's definitely faster and there's more pressure to play. When you go on the field, results matter a lot more." Froese's latest appearance came in the final ten minutes of the dismal display down in San Jose. He was one of the few bright spots for Vancouver in the game and Robinson said immediately after the game that he felt the young midfielder's performance had given him something to think about in terms of his future squad selection. And it was something he expanded on further in his first press scrum of the week. "He's been great coming off the bench and he was again on Saturday," Robinson mused. "In a dull match, he was the spark. Subs are there to make impacts and differences. The challenge is then when they get their opportunity in the starting line-up, can they have the same impact? "Sometimes that doesn't happen, so it's easier for a sub to come on sometimes and change the game. But he's doing himself a lot of favours at the moment with his performances coming off the bench." Robinson doesn't want to rush Froese and is happy using him in the sub role just now, loaning him to the USL side for additional valuable minutes. This past weekend saw Froese turn out for ten minutes for the MLS team on Saturday before heading down to start and play 77 minutes in Sunday's 2-0 loss to Orange County Blues in USL action. And you can expect more of that double dipping as the season goes on. "I sent Tim Parker and Kianz after our game on Saturday to go and play in the game," Robinson said. "It's important for them. It wasn't ideal with regards travelling on Sunday morning to play in a game Sunday afternoon, but it's important that they get match minutes as well." Playing two games in a weekend is nothing new to Froese. He's been doing it with the Residency in the USSDA for the past few years. This is obviously at a much higher level, coupled with a long drive between San Jose and Irvine inbetween, but as you'd expect, the midfielder takes it all in his stride. "I knew I needed to go down to USL for minutes," Froese told us. "It's good for me and I tried to give it my all in terms of how I performed and how I played because those games are important for me in how I continue to improve myself." What is slightly more difficult from him and all of the MLS guys heading down to WFC2 is the establishment of team chemistry. The starting line-up of WFC2 has chopped and changed considerably for each game and that will have contributed somewhat to the three losses in their four matches so far. Froese, and the others, primarily train with the MLS squad. He's had little time to train and bond with his WFC2 teammates. Arriving shortly before kick off doesn't help either, but Froese feels that the chemistry will start to come soon between the two squads. "I think you just take it as it comes," Froese feels. "You try and develop a chemistry as you play and go on and try and get things going when they're not going. Everyone can play soccer. It's kind of a one language type of thing." But with 111 MLS minutes already under his belt, it can't be long now until Froese does get his first start. He's itching for it but patient at the same time. But whatever Robinson's plans are for MLS playing time for Froese this season, it's not been something the pair have discussed. "As a young player, you get chances," Froese added. "I don't expect anything or to play a bunch of minutes. I just come here day to day and hopefully get a chance to play. He hasn't spoken with me about that kind of stuff. All I can do is hope and when it comes it comes."
  4. Tesho Akindele Akindele started a third-straight match for FC Dallas in their 0-2 win in Philadelphia on Saturday, opening the scoring in the second half as Dallas maintained their perfect record, the only club in MLS to do so, sitting atop the league with nine points from three matches. Once more nominally stationed on the right-side of the midfield, Akindele was a constant pain to Philadelphia, popping up all over the pitch and willing his side forward in droves. His first chance to get on the score-sheet came after just thirteen minutes when Fabian Castillo blew past Sheanon Williams on the attacking-left before sending a low ball through the goal-mouth, Despite his best efforts at a stretch, Akindele could not get the vital touch at the back-post. A little under a half hour later, the Calgary-born attacker would instead attempt to play provider, offering a tidy layoff for Mauro Diaz, who couldn't keep his shot on target. Akindele would have to wait until the second half, with the Union reduced to ten-men after Zach Pfeffer's ridiculous elbow on Diaz, to find the breakthrough. It would come in the 49th minute. Akindele began the play himself, pressuring a half-hearted, hurried ball out of Fabinho, blocking the attempt, then racing towards goal to collect the liberated ball. Shading slightly to the right, . M'Bolhi would get a touch, but was helpless as the Canadian bore down on goal – it was his only shot of the afternoon.Having collected his first assist last weekend, Akindele added his first goal of 2015, getting off on the right foot as he attempts to better the marks he set in his rookie season – he finished 2014 with seven goals and three assists through 26 appearances. Goal aside, Akindele had a nice physical battle running with Philadelphia's Steven Vitoria, each taking turns winning and conceding fouls – Akindele would have two of each come the match's end. Seven recoveries, three interceptions, and a clearance rounded out his raw defensive numbers. Last week this very review questioned Akindele's poor passing mark. Well, he more than responded to that concern, completing an impressive 28 of 33 attempts on Saturday, including this clever inside ball that sprung Diaz late in the match. Though, it should be noted, he still conceded possession five times. And his quote post-match - “When a team goes down, you’re always looking to capitalize on that situation” - left a little to be desired. Marcel De Jong De Jong refrained his left-back role for Sporting KC in their score-less draw against Portland on Saturday, marking his second outing in the league with a cracking performance that earned him MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week honours. Having impressed in his debut last week in Dallas, De Jong was back in the starting eleven for coach Peter Vermes against the Timbers, exemplifying that same aggressive desire to overlap that undoubtedly helped him earn his place with a club that requires such output from its full-backs. But what first caught the eye from this outing was his quality service on set-pieces. Canadian's will long remember his recent free-kick against Jamaica in a friendly, but it was his delivery on corner kicks, whipping a fierce in-swinging ball from the right that led to two solid chances mere seconds apart in the first half, as first Jalil Anibaba and then Ike Opara got on the end of the offerings, each sending the chances wide at the back-post, Opara's attempt closer than Anibaba's. Not content to solely craft chances for others, De Jong unabashedly had a crack of his own from distance when offered, sending a good effort just over the target – it was his only shot of the match, off-target. And as the match wore down, the Newmarket, Ontario-native would shape yet another lovely ball, this time a cross, from the left, picking out Opara once more at the back-post, only for his header to sail high this time, rather than wide. While it may not have provided the solution this round, De Jong's capabilities provide yet another tool to an already formidable KC arsenal, and his precision on the ball, completing 18 of his 23 passes on the night, will make him a valued member of Sporting's possession game. It was not all attacking for the Canadian however, who continued his education in the physicality of MLS by first clashing heads in a fearless challenge with Dairon Asprilla in the centre-circle that left him with a bloodied nose, before taking a flailing arm from that same opponent in the face later in the match, earning one of his two fouls suffered on the night. Added to all that forward emphasis, De Jong contributed defensively as well, racking up six recoveries, four tackles, and three clearances on the night, showing a certain calmness under pressure on one specific play, effortlessly stripping a ball off the boot of Darlington Nagbe as the Timbers' danger-man strode towards goal – a feat easier said than done. Two matches into his MLS career, De Jong already looks like a wise pickup from Vermes, who regularly unearths talent that others may have overlooked, posing the question, why did no Canadian teams seek out the defender's services? Maxim Tissot Tissot made his first appearance of the season on Saturday in Montreal's 0-0 draw at New England, marking the 22-year old's third season in the league. Signed to a homegrown contract prior to the start of 2013, Tissot had accumulated slightly more than one thousand minutes in MLS through his first two campaigns, making a total of eleven starts and a further sixteen appearances from the bench, in the process coming into his own with a move from left-back to left-midfield, where his attacking instincts have flourished, as witnessed by the pair of goals he scored in 2014. With Justin Mapp suffering that horrendous injury on opening day and Dilly Duka picking up a hamstring strain midweek in the CONCACAF Champions League victory over Costa Rican-side LD Alajuelense (the Impact would take a 2-0 advantage in the two-legged series), Tissot was drafted into the starting lineup, resuming that left-sided attacker's role against New England. He was ready. Early indications that he would be heavily involved came when the Gatineau, Quebec-native raced to get in a cross from the end-line, only to be hacked down by Diego Fagundez with a late challenge, drawing a talking-to from the referee and the first of three fouls Tissot would win throughout. Tissot himself would take the ensuing free-kick, his service met by Laurent Ciman in the middle, only for a tame header to be gobbled up by Bobby Shuttleworth. He next tried a chance of his own, sending a good hit from distance towards goal when a half-cleared corner kick fell to him atop the Revolution box – the attempt dipped, but still carried over the bar. The physical play would continue as Tissot drove the Impact forward, drawing successive interventions from Andrew Farrell, Scott Caldwell, and Jeremy Hall before half-time, an indication of the amount of time Tissot spent on the ball. And he would perhaps have Montreal's best chance of the match, stinging the palms of Shuttleworth with a low drive in the 60th minute – the only of his three shot to be on target. Even come the final minute of regulation, Tissot was still full of running, winning a ball deep and embarking on a slicing forray towards goal before running out of space in the 89th minute. Not too shabby for a first league run out of the year, after going 45 minutes just days earlier. Tissot completed 17 of his 29 passes, adding four recoveries, two clearances, and a pair of tackles to his tally. Post-match he heralded the road point, despite playing down a man for thirty-plus minutes: “In this league, playing on the road especially down to 10 men,” – Hassoun Camara was sent off two a pair of bookable offenses - “getting a point is fantastic, we’ll take it any day. For sure, we would have liked three but we’ll be satisfied with one.” Sam Adekugbe Adekugbe started a second-consecutive match for Vancouver as they nabbed the full points with a last-minute winner in Orlando, but the end would come early for the young defender. Continuing from his blazing left-back performance last weekend, Adekugbe picked up where he left off, beginning the match with a crunching shoulder challenge on Kevin Molino in the third minute, earning a foul for his troubles – the first of four he collected before exiting early. The fleet-footed Molino is a handful and the young English-born Canadian would collect a yellow card – his first of the season – in the 36th minute for a late tackle on the Lions' attacker. He would also be called for a handball, leading to a potentially troublesome free-kick, when a cross deflected off his foot and caught his trailing arm; Orlando would fail to take advantage of that refereeing decision. Defensive foibles aside, Adekugbe showed glimpses of that same attacking verve that earned him rave reviews in Chicago, making a strong run up the left to interplay with fellow Canadian Kianz Froese, only for the final pass to elude the duo. But his outing would come to a premature end with he bravely went into a challenge with Orlando keeper Donovan Ricketts, stretching to get a touch on a ball as the big Jamaican slid out to collect. Adekugbe would take the brunt of Ricketts' large knee in the chest, forcing him out of the match with what was surmised to be a rib injury. It was an unpleasant sight to see him stretchered off the pitch in need of oxygen, replaced by Jordan Harvey in the 75th minute. He was however credited with a shot in the process. Whitecaps' coach Carl Robinson quipped afterwards, "Well it's not a good idea to slide into a 6-foot-4 goalkeeper, I can tell you that," before continuing, "It doesn't look good if I'm honest. He's gone to hospital now. He was on the oxygen as they took him off. I'm worried that it might be a fracture. We're just going to check that his lung is ok. But it doesn't look good." There has been no official update on the extent of his injuries as of yet, though the club did provide further insights post-match, noting “severely bruised ribs” on twitter and stating he “will receive further evaluation” over the coming days. Prior to leaving the match, Adekugbe had completed 22 of 28 passes, racking up three recoveries, a clearance, and an interception in his 70-odd minutes on the pitch, putting his side in the position to collect the late 0-1 win. Adekugbe and the next Canadian in the review, Cyle Larin, were featured in a recent edition of the AFTN Podcast prior to Saturday's match. Cyle Larin Larin made his much-anticipated MLS debut on Saturday as Orlando fell 0-1 to a late Vancouver strike. Entering the fray in the 72nd minute, replacing Pedro Ribeiro atop the City formation, the first-overall draft pick was energetic, but looked a little off the pace of the game; comfort will come with further experience. That said, he was still a force to be reckoned with, hauled down by Kendall Waston on the edge of the area almost immediately, he repeatedly popped up in great positions, finding a pocket of space to collect a Kaka pass at the top of the area, only to send his right-footer wide as he could not quite wrap his foot around the ball to guide the effort inside the right-post in the 89th minute. Three minutes later, deep into stoppage-time, a glorious chance for a winner fell to the Brampton, Ontario-native after muscling in behind centre-back Diego Rodriguez with a diagonal run to get on the end of a Kaka through-ball, only for David Ousted to rush out and swat the potential-goal off his foot. One shot, off-target, one clearance, one foul committed, and two of four in pass completion, not bad for a debut performance, but with that out of the way, more is expected of the rookie who promises much. It will be very interesting to watch how he makes his way in the professional game. Steven Vitoria Vitoria continued the ironman start to his MLS career, lining up for a third-straight start as Philadelphia fell 0-2 to Dallas on Saturday. Once more as the left-sided of the centre-back duo, paired again with Ethan White, Vitoria was solid, providing that measure of stability exuded through his first two outings. And the Toronto-born defender would come close, sort of, to collecting his first goal of the season, lunging in with an early challenge to a loose ball after Chris Seitz parried a shot off a corner kick in the opening minutes. He had a good physical battle brewing with Akindele, conceding an early foul for one wrestling session, but it was his wise positioning that really stood out, showing some good recovery speed to at least force Akindele wide on his goal after that dreadful turnover and later doing well to usher the ever-dangerous Castillo wide. Vitoria was involved in an ugly collision in midfield, smashing into teammate Mo Edu, leaving each prone for a spell – both would stay in the game. And, with the Union trailing, Vitoria bit hard on an Akindele ball to Diaz, sucked high up-field and bypassed by a deft touch from the Argentine in a desperate attempt to cut out a pass and spur a much-needed counter, leading to a Dallas break in the other direction. Thankfully, Castillo would send his effort sailing high over the bar (the play in question can be seen above in Akindele's section). He would collect five recoveries, three clearances, and three fouls, completing 14 of 22 passes in a losing effort. Kianz Froese Froese made his first appearance of the season for Vancouver in Orlando, coming on in the 67th minute in place of Nicolas Mezquida. Taking up the left-sided midfielder's role, Froese was lively, making a good run up that flank, only to play the crucial pass behind Octavio Rivero. He combined well with Adekugbe on that side and put in some defensive graft as well, tracking back to, momentarily, delay Kaka's route to goal, and putting a hearty shove into the back of Raphael Ramos out wide, showing he was equal to the physical demands of the professional game in MLS. The Cuban-born midfielder completed five of his eight pass attempts, adding one recovery to his second ever appearance in the league, having signed last September and featured in just one match last season. Kyle Bekker Bekker made a second substitute's appearance on Saturday afternoon for FC Dallas as they rolled out to a 0-2 win. Coming on in the 79th minute for Blas Perez, Bekker manned a deeper central-midfield position, lining up alongside Victor Ulloa in front of the centre-backs to see out the result. The Oakville, Ontario-native twice helped his side preserve the result, killing a few seconds by cheekily kicking the ball away from a restart and then being in a good position to intercept an errant Philadelphia pass across the top of the box, thus relieving pressure. He completed all four of his passes – extending his season-long passing perfection to a total of six passes – and provided a pair of recoveries. Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare Gagnon-Lapare made his debut for Montreal in New England, coming on in the 84th minute to replace Eric Alexander as Frank Klopas sought fresh legs to see out the score-less draw with the Impact defending with ten-men. The 20-year old, who signed with the club midway through 2014, made a total of five appearances that year, three as starter. Taking up Alexander's central role, Gagnon-Lapare helped preserve the road point, completing both his passes and recording one recovery in the process. The Rest Patrice Bernier and Wandrille Lefevre were unused substitutes as Montreal drew in New England, though Bernier, still recognized as the club captain, did see some limited action midweek in the Champions League. Russell Teibert's run of starts came to a halt at two with Gershon Koffie taking his place in Orlando, where Teibert remained unused on the sidelines. Karl Ouimette was seconds away from getting onto the field for his new side, the New York Red Bulls, standing on the sidelines ready to be introduced, only for the final whistle to come too soon for his liking, while Kofi Opare was on the bench for DC United. TFC announced several first team players – including Canadians Quillan Roberts, Ashtone Morgan, Manuel Aparicio, Jay Chapman, Chris Mannella, and Jordan Hamilton - were loaned to their USL side ahead of their opening day loss in Charleston, 3-2 to the Battery. 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
  5. "Yeah, everything that's been happening just feels dreamy," Froese said at training on Monday. "Honestly, the night after the game, and right after the game, I just kept replaying it. The crowd, the people, the support. It's just unbelievable. "I wasn't sure I was going to [play] when I went. I just went on the field and tried to enjoy every moment of it, watching everybody and everything. It was great." A whirlwind for sure, but how much of those 45 minutes on the pitch (52 I guess with all the stoppage time!) did Kianz get to enjoy and savour, or did it all just fly by? "No, it flew by, like a lot of the stuff that happened in it. I remember some of it and some I don't. It's tough. It feels blurry now. I don't remember much." He might not recall much of the action, but all he needs to know is that he didn't look one inch out of place out there. He was involved, he showed some nice footwork out wide and caused Seattle's defence some problems. Carl Robinson described him after the game as having "no fear" and Froese wasn't afraid to put himself about a bit, with a couple of crunching tackles soon settling him down, including a nice one that sent Jalil Anibaba flying through the air. "I felt comfortable," Froese admitted. "I'm happy that Robbo believed in me to put me in, in such a big game that we needed to win. The guys were great. They talked to me and they were on me all the time, 'hey come, tuck here, tuck there' so I had extra help to go for it." Another aspect that helped was that this wasn't Froese's pro debut as such. The 18-year-old played 77 minutes for the Caps in their 2-1 loss in Toronto in their Canadian Championship semi-final first leg match-up. That experience, along with playing for Canada at last year's U17 World Cup in the UAE, certainly gave Froese a good grounding and appetite for more. "It gave me a taste of where I wanted to be," Froese told us. "Now that I see it, I know where I want to be playing week in, week out. But I need to continue to work hard on tons of stuff so that I can progress into playing more often." There's been talk that the Caps might send Froese, Marco Bustos and some of their other young talent over to Europe at the start of the offseason to have training stints at some top clubs and get more experience. Bryce Alderson spent time at QPR last year and it's believed that the Whitecaps have a number of options available to them. For now though, Froese still has some Residency matches coming up. The U18s have six remaining matches in the USSDA this year and Kianz will have an important part to play. The Whitecaps will also want to see how he reacts with going back to the Residency environment after first team action. It's all part of the development plan and seeing the right attitude is very important to them. It's certainly not something they have to worry about with Froese, who knows the benefit of still growing within his own age group as well as against pros. It also gives him the chance to share his experience with the rest of the Residency squad, all of whom will be eager to follow in his and Bustos' footsteps, and have already been in touch. "I've spoken to my teammates and a lot of the guys. A lot of conversations," Froese said. "It's going to be the same [going back to Residency]. Obviously that's where it all started and that's where you go to continue to get game fit and game sharpness." The Residency games also give Froese the chance to develop different aspects of his game and the U18s have seen him play as an out and out striker, a 'false nine', on the wing and as both an attacking and defensive midfielder. For Kianz, the more experience he can get in different positions, the better a player it will make him. "I think it helps me understand the game better because you have to understand everyone else's roles too," Froese told us. "It gives me more positions that I can play in too. I think it's helped me. Everything the Residency has done has just helped me in general." Which of course bodes well for all the other players coming through from the Residency in the next couple of years. It's certainly exciting times in Whitecapsland.
  6. "They're fantastic signings for the club," Robinson told reporters. "I'm absolutely delighted to get those two on board, especially now with a couple of months to go till the end of the season because it's important. It's important for them to get to grips with what it's like being a MLS professional, getting used to the environment for January when they come because it's the progression I want as the manager of the club as well as what the club want. "I think it's important for the growth of this club that we see players coming through regularly. Not just one year, every three or four years, but every year. They're added to our already talented young pool of players that we've got. I'm delighted to have them both on board." It's a delight matched by both players, as they grinned from ear to ear throughout their first media scrums as pros. So now that they've had a small amount of time for it to all sunk in, how does it feel to have signed their first pro contracts? "[Monday] was an amazing day really," Froese told us. "It's surreal to say the least. It's a dream come true but the work starts now." That was a view echoed by Bustos, although it's their hard work already in the Residency program that has seen them earn their pro deals at 18-years-old. But now that the pair have that MLS contract, neither is going to be resting on his laurels. "It's a good feeling because I've pretty much put the weight off my shoulders for how hard I've worked for the past 10, 12 months," Bustos told us. "To know that I've got myself in the team for next season is a good step for me because that then pushes me to fight for a spot on the squad. That realistically, at the end of the day, I want to be in the 18 man squad and sooner, rather than later, be in the 11 man squad." Both players have impressed at training this year and they got an initial reward back in May when they started the first leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final in Toronto. Although a spot in the second leg was deprived of them due to a Canadian national team training camp, the experience that both got in that game against TFC gave them a taste of playing for the Whitecaps first team and left them knowing they could perform at that level and wanting more. "The experience leaves me with the thought that I can be here and I could play with the squad," Bustos said. "It makes me believe that I can get in the 11 man squad and it shows me that the coaches believe in me. Whenever the coaches give me the chance to get out on the field again, then I'll hopefully take that chance and give them everything." Froese agrees and the match helped them realise that they've arrived in football and are playing with and against world class players now. "When I saw [Michael] Bradley playing in the World Cup, I was like, 'yeah, I've played against him'!," Froese joked. "Obviously it just shows that we can do it and we can hopefully play, so it just gives us confidence to go and do it when the chance comes." And Froese may be getting that chance in the very near future. With six games remaining, Robinson has no qualms about pitching the young star into the mix, whether the Whitecaps are in the heat of a playoff battle or not, and the 'Caps coach has no doubts that he's already capable of playing at MLS level. "Kianz is very much in contention," Robinson replied when asked if Froese would only play if the Caps were out of the playoffs. "We don't need to be eliminated or out of it for him to get the opportunity. I think you see today in training what he brings. "We know there's areas of his game that need a little bit more focus. I just spoke to him at length about what we're going to do in the offseason, but he's very much in the picture between now and the end of the season. And rightly so, because his performances and his training have fully deserved that. So don't be surprised if you see him soon." Signing a MLS contract is already a dream come to true for Froese, but to then play right away and have the chance to shape the club's playoff hopes is taking it to another level altogether, but one he's excited at the prospect of and ready for. "That would be unreal," Froese said. "That's my goal for right now. To hopefully get to go on a trip with the team and just be a part of the team and help in any way I can. Obviously that's earned on the field, so right now I'm just focussing on staying consistent and hopefully I get a chance." Unfortunately, Marco Bustos won't get his chance to shine this season, having only signed a pre-contract for MLS that won't kick in until January next year. It's disappointing, especially with the top form that he is in right now with the Residency, but taking the long term view, this may see him signing a Generation Adidas deal with Russell Teibert moving off his. And in light of Major League Soccer's weird roster rules at the best of times, the Whitecaps didn't want to take any chances. "As you know, with the expansion draft coming up, it's a tricky time for all MLS clubs," Robinson told us. "With the protection rule of only ten players, maybe bumping two of them up at a certain time will give the possibility of me maybe losing one or two players and I don't want to do that at this time because I'm building here. "I can get one of them on the roster, which is why I think Kianz is slightly more ready than Marco, even though Marco scored five goals on the weekend and beat six men to get his goal of the season contender." And what a goal that was. If anyone needed convincing of the talent Bustos has and what he offers the Whitecaps, they should have seen his second goal against San Juan on Sunday. It may have been at youth level but he picked the ball up 40 yards from goal and weaved his way past six players before coolly putting it away past the keeper. Has he scored a better goal than that? "I can't remember all the goals I've scored, but I think that's probably one of the best ones I've scored for the Whitecaps Residency," Bustos said. "Going through those bunch of guys and finishing was pretty cool." Bustos hit a hat-trick in Saturday's 3-2 win for the Whitecaps U18s over Seattle and followed that up with a brace against San Juan. With the minutes ticking down he had the chance to hit back to back hat-tricks, but could only look on as his shot cannoned off the left hand post. "It would have been nice to get the two hat-tricks but at the end of the day we won the game, so that's all that matters to me," Bustos told us when we ask him if he was disappointed at missing out on an impressive feat. Bustos has been given the captain's armband for the U18s this season and the attitude and knowledge sharing he has shown since training with the first team, played an important part in the decision to reward him with a MLS contract. The Whitecaps are always keen to see how the young players react when they go back into the Residency environment and Bustos' attitude has been exemplary. So how did the captaincy come about? "The two Residency coaches, Steve Meadley and Niall Thompson, had pulled me aside at the end of last season and asked me if I would take the honour of being the skipper," Bustos told us. "They talked to me a little bit about trying to build my leadership to make myself a better pro and I wanted to take the challenge. "Just to have that extra leadership skill in me and to lead by example and lead vocally, I think will make me a better player, so I wanted to take that opportunity to make myself better." He has already been leading by example, and not just with his five goals on the opening weekend, but Bustos hopes that he and his good friend, and fellow Manitoba boy, Froese can be good role models for other Canadian kids looking to make it in the pro ranks. "Knowing that me and Kianz have made it here will hopefully inspire other young kids to follow their dreams and to go forward and hopefully one day they could follow our footsteps," Bustos added. With more Residency homegrown talent on the horizon and pushing hard, I don't think he'll have to wait too long for that.
  7. Whitecaps fans have been crying out for some new striking talent and although this might not be what they had in mind, and despite their young years, both players have already shown that they have what it takes to play at a higher level. The pair started Vancouver's Canadian Championship semi-final first leg in Toronto in May and acquitted themselves well. Both also saw PDL action for the Caps' this summer, contributing six goals between them (4 for Bustos and 2 for Froese). Last year saw both players represent Canada at the FIFA U17 World Cup in the UAE, playing in all three matches. Hailing from Winnipeg in Manitoba, Bustos made the move to the Whitecaps Residency program in September 2011 from his hometown side FC Northwest, after having a trial with Liverpool as a 14-year-old. He played the 2011/12 season for the Caps U16s and started the following season with them as well before current Whitecaps assistant coach Gordon Forrest took over the reigns of the U18s and immediately moved him up a level. It paid rich dividends for the Caps, with Bustos grabbing 14 goals in the regular season before going on a tear in the playoffs with 5 goals to send them back to Finals Week. Last season Bustos led the U18s in scoring with 19 goals and is captain of the U18 side in this, his final year in the program. And as we mentioned above, he kicked off the team's new season leading by example and scoring five goals in their first two matches (two of them penalties), where he has been playing as a striker. Froese is another prairie boy. Born in Havana, Cuba but growing up in Brunkild, Manitoba, Froese joined the Whitecaps Residency program in 2012, having previously trained with FC Edmonton. He scored four goals for the U18s in the 2012/13 season and followed that up with 12 regular season goals that saw him second on the team behind Bustos. Internationally, Froese has already earned a senior call-up to the Canadian national team, playing and scoring against Fort Lauderdale Strikers in a friendly in January. Most recently he was part of Canada's U20 squad at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland. Both players have been training regularly, and impressed, with the Whitecaps MLS team since preseason and the hope was always to have them signed at some stage this year. When we asked Carl Robinson a couple of weeks ago about the prospect of adding them before the roster freeze, he wouldn't confirm but made his preference clear. "Maybe. Maybe, yes," Robinson told AFTN. "It would be good. Another two youngsters into the fray would be nice." Now he has them, although sadly it's only Froese that is available down the stretch. Too young and inexperienced to be thrown into a MLS playoff battle? Perhaps. But one thing I know about Bustos and Froese from watching them these past couple of years is that not only do they play with a confident swagger and without fear, but they can both score goals and haven't looked out of place playing against older opposition. Remember, "if you're good enough, you're old enough", and maybe, just maybe, the Whitecaps have added two players who are actually both.
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