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Found 5 results

  1. Cyle Larin Larin may have began Orlando City's match in Chicago on the bench, but with his side trailing 2-1, he made his way on in the 66th minute, replacing Pedro Ribeiro - his third-appearance from the bench and his eleventh-overall this season. He immediately set about pestering the Fire defenses, getting into a wrestling match for position with centre-back Adailton, but his most important contribution came in the 82nd minute when he scored the fifth goal of his rookie campaign. Larin was dispossessed by Adailton, but stuck with the play, winning it back and finding a pocket of space to unleash a right-footed blast from some 25 yards, beating Jon Busch low to the left-post, his shot banking in off the woodwork. Having leveled the match at twos, the Brampton, Ontario-native would not rest on his laurels, continuing his hard work in the 86th minute when Orlando took the lead courtesy an Adailton own-goal. Carlos Rivas was sprung down the left-channel by a Kaka ball, attempting to pick out the run of Larin in the middle, only for his delivery to bank in off the Chicago centre-back. Initially, Larin had motored into position to be an option, but upon realizing the situation, he wisely used his stature to prevent the recovering Joevin Jones from getting to the trickling ball, not allowing him to make the required goal-line clearance. That goal would prove the winner, as Orlando City picked up a solid 2-3 road victory, Though his stat-line was unimpressive – he scored on his only shot, did not complete his only pass, while adding a pair of clearances and a tackle, as well as straying offside twice – Larin was the crucial factor in both of Orlando's late goals, steering the side to victory. Post-match he spoke of the importance of winning on the road: "I think it's important that we move up in the table. I think we fought back and were on them the whole game, we needed to get the ball then, then you saw it when we came back, we started playing, and we started scoring." And of turning around the match from a losing position: "I think when we really believe in each other, we'll come back. We're a really good team, and I think once we believe in each other, and play with a sense of urgency, we'll be fine." A very modest and team-based attitude from the young Canadian. He also spoke about getting ready for the Canadian National Team with World Cup Qualifying and the Gold Cup ahead. Maxim Tissot Tissot featured in two of Montreal's three fixtures over this time period, coming on against Vancouver, and starting at Columbus – he was rested in New York against City in Round Fifteen. In Wednesday's 2-1 win over Vancouver, Tissot came on for Andres Romero in the 63rd minute, taking up the right-side midfield position. He was not particularly involved in the Impact's attack down that flank, spending more of his time tracking the movement of Cristian Techera down his side. He did manage one shot – it was off-target, while completing nine of his ten passes, adding an interception and a recovery. Come Saturday and a trip to Columbus, Tissot was in the starting eleven, returning to his more familiar left-sided midfield role. Aside from playing an early ball into the box that was just a little too far ahead of Jack McInerney – Crew keeper, Steve Clark, collected it easily – the Gatineau, Quebec-native would have to wait until the 55th minute to make his mark on the match. Romero scooped a ball into the area for McInerney, who saw his sliding chance denied by Clark, but Tissot was on hand to tap in a right-footer from close range, scoring his first goal of the season. Minutes later, Tissot nearly added a second from very similar circumstances, on hand once more to pounce on the rebound from a McInerney header, only for Clark to pull-off an epic double-save – Tissot may have been offside anyways. The third-year player was at his most dangerous with his late, unmarked runs into attacking positions – he received a ball from Romero on one such occasion when the Argentine worked in from the left, only to horribly miss-hit his attempt, skewing it well wide. He would make way for Victor Cabrera in the 82nd minute with Montreal protecting a 0-2 lead, en route to a 1-2 win – Federico Higuain would score in stoppage-time. Tissot ended the match with two shots – one on (his goal) and one off, completing 14 of 23 passes, making two recoveries and an interception, committing a single foul. Post-match he noted, “It’s been a lot of time talking about getting that first win on the road, so we are really pleased. We stayed focused the entire game and stuck to the game plan tonight.” Wandrille Lefevre Lefevre started all three of Montreal's matches, bringing his season total up to four. Against Vancouver as the right-sided centre-back, he was immense defensively, racking up eight clearances, six recoveries, five blocks, two interceptions, and two tackles, all while conceding just a single foul. He showed his mobility, tracking Darren Mattocks all the way to end-line to cut out a cross, conceding a corner kick, and then moved out wide quickly to pressure Kekuta Manneh, later he did the same to Octavio Rivero, snuffing out an attack with good horizontal defending. And he was fearless in the wall, getting his head on a Pedro Morales free-kick, again directing it out for a corner. The French-born defender completed all but eight of his 35-odd passes in a winning effort. In Columbus on the weekend, he was similarly active in the face of the threat posed by Kei Kamara, one of the hottest goal-scorers in MLS. Lefevre tracked Kamara to the near-post on one chance, limiting the result to a corner kick, and then making up for a poor clearing header of his own, which fell to Kristinn Steindorsson, following up to get in a needed clearance. He did have one miscommunication with his keeper, Evan Bush, touching out for a corner when the keeper wanted to collect, but that did not prevent Montreal from seeing out the road victory. Lefever was again influential, contributing eleven clearances, two tackles, two recoveries, and an interception; again, committing just a single foul. The following weekend, a match in New York against City, was an eventful one for Lefevre, culpable on two of New York's goals, but scoring one himself in the 3-1 loss. He was dragged out wide in his pursuit of Ned Grabavoy, leading to David Villa's 31st minute strike, failing to cut out the pass that picked out Villa and was horribly isolated on New York's second, pressured into a slip and a turnover by the hard-charging of Kwadko Poku and the cunning positioning of Villa, who prevented Lefevre from playing by to his keeper by lurking, ready to intercept. Poku capitalized on the slip, stealing possession and finding Mix Diskerud, who beat Bush with a low shot. He needed his teammates to come back and provide options to play out of that dead-end. Despite those two setbacks, Lefevre would still compile seven recoveries, six clearances, two tackles, and an interception, though his passing was a bit off, completing less than half of his some 25 attempts – Montreal looked a little tired, diminishing the options. But come the 88th minute, he wiped away the frustration, scoring his first MLS goal when he arrived completely unmarked at the back-post to power a header from a deep Laurent Ciman free-kick on the left past Josh Saunders in the New York goal – it was his only 'shot' of the night. Post-match he commented on playing on a narrow pitch: “It was hard at the beginning to find our marks on this pitch. We were trying to play long balls in the first half, but we played much better in the second half. And scoring his first: “It was a great delivery by Laurent to score my first goal, but I can’t be happy because we were losing 2-0 and we still lost that game.” Lefevre was featured in an MLSsoccer.com piece around that period as well. Will Johnson Having been rested for the trip to Colorado, Johnson returned to the Portland midfield for their 2-0 win over New England, lining up alongside Diego Chara at the base of the formation – it was his second start of the season. The Toronto-born Johnson showed glimpses of his former self – putting in a strong tackle on Scott Caldwell that spurred a Timbers counter, Max Urruti would sent the chance wide, and then ripping a low right-footed shot from distance wide of the left-post having collected a lay-off from Sebastian Fernandez. His passing was succinct as ever, completing all but four of his 45-plus attempts, including one nice ball down the right for Dairon Asprilla – he would drags his shot wide of the far-post. But a woeful free-kick in the 64th minute from long-range that drifted horribly wide showed that he still has a few things to work on before it can be said he is the same ol' Will Johnson. Blushes aside, Johnson did play a role in the build-up that led to Fanendo Adi's second of the night, making one of the early passes in midfield that led to the goal, securing the 2-0 win for the Timbers. Johnson took two shots – both off-target, adding two interceptions and a recovery to his credit, conceding a single foul. He spoke about a possible return to the Canadian National Team in a feature, noting of the upcoming summer: “It’s an interesting situation. It’s a big summer for us. Obviously this is the last competitive camp before the Gold Cup, so I think it kind of makes sense to see where I’m at and see if I fit into Benito’s plans for the Gold Cup. So I’m thankful they’re giving me the opportunity to at least showcase myself.” He continued: “Obviously the timing is not great coming off a long injury, but I’m starting to feel good about where I am and think I can compete even on the international level.” As readers will know, Johnson will not be participating in the Gold Cup. Kofi Opare Opare started both of DC United's matches in Round Fourteen before spending Fifteen's match in Orlando on the bench – bringing his season start total up to twelve; it will be interesting to see how the battle for a starting position between him and Steve Birnbaum for a spot in the DC eleven. Midweek against Chicago, Opare was solid at both ends of the pitch, though he could not prevent David Accam from getting on the end of a Quincy Amarikwa ball leading to the game's opening goal in the 28th minute. He would make up for that short-coming later in the match, when despite getting beat in a battle with Amarikwa, Opare flung himself at the ground, doing just enough to put off the attack – last-ditch defending indeed. At the attacking end, he was a presence in the box, getting on the end of successive corner kicks, both directed off-target under heavy pressure – he would end the night with three attempts at goal – two off and one blocked. Opare completed all but five of some 35-passes, making six recoveries, three clearances, two interceptions, a block, and a tackle throughout. Post-match he disgusted the game of two halves – DC fell behind in the first before responding with three in the second for the 3-1 home win: “Obviously the first half started a little slow. It looked a little lethargic I thought. The second half we, at half time, had time to regroup and adjust some things tactically and I think we made some minor changes that in the second half we implemented. Obviously with the addition of Fabi definitely helped us. Him, Davy, they definitely made a difference when they came on. Also, Facundo as well.” On Saturday against Toronto FC, the Ghana-born, Niagara Falls-raised defender had his hands full with the machinations of Sebastian Giovinco. Giovinco got the better of him from a Luke Moore through-ball - Andrew Dykstra rushed out to force the attacker wide – but Opare made amends in their next meeting, getting out wide left to close down Giovinco, forcing a rushed-shot that was off-target. Giovinco would win the next one, Opare unable to keep pace with his dash across the top of the box, but nothing came of the move. And Opare nearly scored himself, robbed of his second goal of the season by an off-side flag after he swept in a free-kick that TFC keeper Chris Konopka failed to collect. Replays showed the decision may have been a harsh one. Back to his running battle with Giovinco, Opare would lose once more, allowing the attacker to spin away, but Opare recovered, rushing back to prevent Giovinco slicing towards goal. However, come the 83rd minute Giovinco would have the last laugh, scoring his second of the night when Opare held off applying pressure, allowing Giovinco to beat Dykstra with aplomb from distance. Opare would pick up a yellow card in the 88th minute for bundling over Jackson on the edge of the area after conceding possession – it was his first booking of the season; another measure of how solid he has been since stepping into the lineup. He completed all but eight of his 25-odd passes, make four recoveries, one interception, and one clearance; his booking was his only foul of the match, against Giovinco, rather impressive, though the Italian did score two goals. Marcel de Jong Having returned from a lengthy injury lay-off last round, de Jong was in the starting lineup for Kansas City as they dispatched with Seattle 1-0 on Saturday – it was his seventh start and eighth appearance of the season. Taking up a left-sided midfield role, de Jong was full of energy early, at times, nearly leading the line, swapping positions with Graham Zusi, for Sporting as they took the match to the Sounders. He had one left-footer from range whisk just over the crossbar and another in short order that was deflected wide for a corner kick. And third attempt at goal was straight at Stefan Frei, who handled the effort easily. The attacking wide player also showed his ability to link up with teammates, exhibiting some neat interplay with full-back Amadou Dia down the left and pulling back to the top of the area twice – the first was met by Connor Hallisey, sending his effort over, and the other was into a crowd of defenders. The Newmarket, Ontario-native added a bit of defensive work, tracking all the way to his own corner to win a throw-in, and a bit of physicality, catching Chad Marshall in the midsection with a stray boot, before making way for Dom Dwyer in the 58th minute having run his socks off. de Jong had five shots – three off and one blocked, completing eight of his sixteen pass attempts, and adding two clearances and a recovery in his hour on the pitch. Jonathan Osorio With Michael Bradley away with the US National Team in Europe, Osorio was handed the keys to the attacking midfield in Toronto's 1-2 win in DC – it was Osorio's fourth-straight start bringing his season tally up to nine at the time. From that central role, Osorio looked very good, showing that after a slow start to the season he has grown accustomed to his new surroundings. He looked strong, holding off the attentions of Davy Arnaud to turn and initiate an attack, and made the run into the box to get on the end of the rebound from a saved Giovinco shot, but was unable to get the needed touch. The Toronto, Ontario-native showed a measure of coolness in attack, calmly waiting for the window to open before sliding a ball inside to Luke Moore, who in turn set-up Giovinco's first goal of the match. Like the earlier rebound, Osorio was unable to get on the end of a one-two flick from Giovinco, but the idea was there, which is half the battle. He would get in position for a popped cross from the Italian at the back-post, only for a covering Sean Franklin to deflect the chance wide – nearly banking it into his own net. Osorio's passing was impressive, misplacing just six of over 35 attempts, while adding two interceptions, two recoveries, and a clearance to his performance, winning a pair of fouls in the process. Post-match he commented on taking up the central reins: “I think I did pretty well. I think I helped the team a lot in possession, keeping the ball and trying to maintain it while they were pressing a lot. I thought I did a good job at holding it up and creating chances for the team.” His interview can be viewed here. Patrice Bernier Bernier appeared in all three of Montreal's matches – starting midweek against Vancouver before coming on as a sub in both weekend matches. Captaining the side against fellow Canadian club, Vancouver, Bernier was involved in an all-Canadian handshake, as both he and Russell Teibert took part in the prematch sportsmanship. It was just his second start of the year. The Brossard, Quebec-native would make a near-immediate impact, heading a Nicolas Mezquida flick at the near-post off the goal-line, behind for another corner kick, sparing an early deficit. And he showed glimpses of the old Bernier, giving Teibert a lesson in defensive-midfieldery with a textbook tackle that halted his younger counterpart's run and winning the ball, spurring a counter in the other direction. Bernier would come off in the 81st minute with the scores tied at one, to be replaced by Anthony Jackson-Hamel. He had one shot – a free-kick into the wall – completed all but eight of his forty-odd passes, while making ten recoveries, four clearances, three tackles, two blocks, and two interceptions in a classic performance. With that exertion and having helped beat a domestic rival, Bernier would be on the bench come the weekend, entering for Marco Donadel in the 80th minute to help see out the result. And again the following weekend, waiting until the 70th minute to replace Callum Mallace against New York City. He was lucky to escape a booking when he hauled Grabavoy to the ground and was partially responsible for Poku's late goal, City's third, when a cross squeezed under his foot, falling to the attacker on the right-side of the box. Russell Teibert Teibert appeared in both of Vancouver's matches, captaining and starting against Montreal before coming on as a late sub on the weekend in Los Angeles. In Montreal as a central midfielder, he was tasked largely with tracking the movements of Piatti, providing cover to his defenders and matching the runs from the Impact midfield. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native would contribute to the attack, sending a long ball into the box for Mattocks, who would hit the post, and playing in a cross after a short corner kick that picked out the head of Kendall Waston for a weak header. Like Bernier, he was lucky to escape a booking when he bundled over Piatti on a run at the edge of the area, though the foul was conceded – one of two he committed. Teibert completed all but six of his some thirty attempts, making four recoveries, three interceptions, two clearances, and a tackle. Come the weekend, Teibert was on the bench as Vancouver won their first-ever match at LA by a 0-1 scoreline with Manneh scoring in the 32nd minute. Teibert came on in the 75th minute for Matias Laba, helping to see out the result, completing three of five passes and three recoveries. Kyle Bekker Bekker went unused on the bench in San Jose in Round Fourteen, but was in the starting eleven for a Round Fifteen match in Seattle – just his second start of the season. From his central midfield position, Bekker was allowed to press forward; his partner, Victor Ulloa, playing more the holding role, and the Oakville, Ontario-native did surprisingly well given his intermittent playing time this season. He won a ball in midfield, leaving it to Blas Perez, who set up Fabian Castillo to blast over the bar early. And then made a run into the area himself, drawing a Save of the Week-calibre stop from Frei. Mauro Diaz played out wide to Perez on the left, who fed the streaking Bekker. The Canadian had to dig the pass out of his feet, it was a little behind him, but got off a left-footer that nearly beat the Seattle keeper. He then played a good ball in from the right for Perez, who touched to Castillo, only for a Zach Scott tackle to end the play. Events turned against Bekker at the other end of the pitch, when he was stripped of possession by Thomas in the 55th minute, leading to Lamar Neagle's goal. And was then helpless to defend against the might of Obafemi Martins at the low-post, where the Nigerian effortlessly turned Bekker and scored from a tight-angle in the 73rd minute. Bekker would be replaced in the 74th minute by Rolando Escobar having taken two shots – one on, one off, completed more than two-thirds of his thirty-plus passes, while making seven recoveries, three interceptions, and a tackle. Karl Ouimette Ouimette made his fourth-straight start for New York in their Friday night encounter in Houston – it was his fifth start and sixth appearance of the season. Lining up alongside Roy Miller as the right centre-back, Ouimette had a tough night as his side fell 4-2. The Terrebonne, Quebec-native managed to keep both Will Bruin and Giles Barnes quiet for the first half, but come the 59th minute his attempted block on an Oscar Boniek Garcia shot caused the effort to loop up, over Luis Robles, and into the New York goal, equalizing the score at one. Somehow that was not considered an own-goal – MLS is very generous in such situations. He would nearly be involved in a second own-goal, when Kemar Lawrence's clearance went straight into Ouimette, the rebound dribbling just wide of the post in the 72nd minute. Ricardo Clark would score Houston's second from the ensuing corner kick. A threat in the opponent's box, Ouimette would try to get up on a Felipe free-kick, only to be dumped to the ground by David Horst, while his attempt to reach a long ball from Chris Duvall when New York were trailing and in search of an equalizer would go wanting. He completed twelve of his eighteen passes, contributing eight clearances, three interceptions, and two recoveries; his only foul of the match came when colliding with Tyler Deric on that long ball from Duvall. Ashtone Morgan Morgan started a tenth-straight match for Toronto in a winning effort, away to DC United. From his left-back position, Morgan was solid defensively, getting out quick to shutdown an early Conor Doyle chance, conceding a corner in the process. And he showed the awareness that has seen him take his game to a higher level, his head on swivel with Nick DeLeon lurking wide, constantly refreshing his knowledge of where the attacker was off his back-shoulder on a DC attack down the opposite flank. His signature tenacity was on display as well, absolutely crunching Fabian Espindola with a clean sliding challenge. In attack, the Toronto, Ontario-native was a factor too, sending in a good cross from the left that went untouched through a dangerous area, and then setting up Jackson with a pass that resulted in a horrendous shot. His passing was a bit off, completing just fifteen of his 25 attempts, but with four recoveries, three clearances, two tackles, an interception, and a block, he more than made up for that short-coming. Tesho Akindele Akindele made a second-straight start for Dallas in their 0-0 draw in San Jose – it was his ninth of the season. Nominally the wide right-sided attacker, Akindele was free to roam as usual, popping up all over the pitch, once dropping deep to collect a loose-ball in the midfield, dishing off to Diaz, who sent his effort over the bar. The Calgary-born forward could not get enough power on a header from a corner kick and had a right-footed crack from distance that went straight into Earthquake centre-back, Clarence Goodson. It was a frustrating game for Dallas and Tesho, he did a lot of good running to get into positions, but his teammates were a touch too individualistic to made the most of his movement. His only shot of the match was blocked, though he completed twenty of his 25 passes, a good rate for him, adding three recoveries, a tackle, and a clearance to his mark. Anthony Jackson-Hamel Jackson-Hamel featured in two of Montreal's three matches, coming on as a substitute against Vancouver and New York; he was unused on the bench against Columbus. Coming on in the 81st minute for Bernier against Vancouver, Jackson-Hamel played a minor role in the game-winner, rolling a ball to Romero, who in turn set up Piatti for the strike. After playing the pass, his strong run was enough to distract the defense, opening up space centrally for Piatti to run into. A few minutes later he nearly added one of his own, touching a Romero pull-back at the near-post just wide with his left-foot after a neat paused-run to get onto the service at the last minute. His only shot was off-target, but he completed nine of ten passes, adding an interception and a recovery. In New York a week and a half later, the Quebec City, Quebec-native would come on at half-time for Victor Cabrera, moving up top alongside McInerney to give Montreal more of an attacking presence for the second half. He struggled to gain a foothold with Montreal disjointed and too widely-spaced. He did manage to corral a bouncing long ball away from Jason Hernandez, only for Saunders to come rushing out to collect the half-chance. Jackson-Hamel completed half his ten passes, making one tackle and a recovery in his half of play – his longest run-out of the season. Jay Chapman Chapman entered TFC's match in DC in the 73rd minute, replacing Warren Creavalle – it was his second appearance of the season. Taking up the right-sided midfield role, the Brampton, Ontario-native nearly got on the end of a Jackson cross and was on hand to clear a DC corner kick away from Toronto's near-post as the clock ticked down. He completed four of his six passes, adding a recovery and a clearance in the process. Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare Gagnon-Lapare made his second appearance of the season against New York City, coming on in the 78th minute for Piatti with New York holding a two-goal lead. Sitting deep, alongside Bernier, Gagnon-Lapare was tasked with preventing any further damage. He had one rather enjoyable moment, getting into a tangle with Villa, who did not appreciate the attention, kicking out a little at the Sherbrooke, Quebec-native after a bit of contact. He completed six of his ten passes, making two recoveries, and an interception. The Rest Chris Mannella was on the bench for Toronto FC away to DC United. Note: As far as catching up with the reviews goes, the plan is to compile Round 16 this week, and then get to Round 17 for early next week. Rounds 18 & 19 will be combined – most of the Canadians will be away at the Gold Cup anyways – and so by the time they rejoin their clubs, everything will be back in sync. Apologies again for the absence and thanks for reading. 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. 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
  3. Cyle Larin Larin started his first MLS match in Orlando City's 0-2 win at Portland on Sunday – it was his third appearance of the season and his longest spell on the pitch, with Orlando suffering an injury crunch at the top of their formation. Drafted into the first eleven after Pedro Ribeiro's injury last round, Larin did not look out of place, though he was tasked with a rather difficult path to goal, the only true forward, staring down a pair of grizzled (and rather hairy) veteran centre-backs in Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell, who minimized his looks at goal. The Brampton, Ontario-native would have two chances inside the first twenty minutes, both hurried shots that trailed wide under the watchful eyes of his experienced opponents. But he was finding positions, a skill that would come in handy on the half-hour mark, helping him get a modicum of space in front of Borchers and behind Ridgewell to attack the near-post. A weak headed touch from Borchers was collected by Kevin Molino, who scythed down the right-side of the area, picking out Larin at the near-side with a bullet cross into the middle. With no time or space to bring down the fast-moving pass, Larin adjusted his body to direct the service in with his chest. Not the prettiest of goals, it did exhibit an awareness and calmness that is worth noting. The best forwards care not how they go in, simply that they go. Through his previous two appearances Larin had looked eager, but perhaps overly so, snatching at half-chances, rushing his looks. This was a coolly dispatched opportunity, one that was easier to send off-target than on. No doubt it will be the first of many. He would not get the chance to add to his tally this night however, coming off for Carlos Rivas in the 82nd minute as Adrian Heath sought to inject some addition pace and fresh legs with Portland pressing forward leaving holes at the back. Larin would complete twelve of his eighteen passes, take three shots – the goal and two off-target, while contributing defensively as well, with three clearances, two recoveries, and, peculiarly-for-a-forward, two tackles, committing three fouls and winning one. Heath praised his rookie post-match: “As a young player starting to make a career in MLS, you always want to get that first one. We had chances last week, when I thought Cyle played really well, and he kept getting in the right place today. This time he got his reward and it was a really great finish, to have the foresight to direct it towards goal the way he did. He didn’t have time to try to try to pull the ball down from Kevin’s cross and it showed great presence of mind. He also matched up well against two very big, physical defenders. He can be very pleased with his day’s work.” Elaborating, 党The finish was fantastic because there was no way he was going to be able to control the ball and shoot in that tight of an area. It was a really good improvisation on his part and I think that will be the first of many for him in MLS.媒 Larin himself reacted in this post-match interview. Russell Teibert Teibert featured twice for Vancouver this round, starting Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Columbus at home and coming on from the bench in Saturday's 1-0 loss at San Jose ・his fourth start and fifth appearance, respectively. On Wednesday, from his usual deep-lying defensive midfield position, Teibert was everywhere, ending the match with two shots ・one off, one blocked, both from distance ・seven recoveries, four tackles, two clearances, one block, one interception, and a foul; completing all but six of his roughly seventy passes on the night. The evening got off to a concerning start, as there was a slight scare when he pulled up, appearing to tweak his hamstring in a footrace to pressure the ball carrier Ethan Finlay as Columbus countered. The Crew would open the scoring on the play, Kei Kamara netting in the 24th minute, and Teibert would require some treatment, but would soldier on. Unhampered, Teibert would resume his running, tracking another Finlay run to strip the dangerous opponent on one play and making repeated timely interventions to pin back Columbus as Vancouver tied the match shortly after the hour and looked for a winner as the match built to crescendo. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native was precise on the ball, as usual, playing one especially pretty long pass to spring Darren Mattocks. His post-match interview can be seen here. On Saturday, Teibert would come on in the 68th minute, replacing Derby Flores. Taking up that central midfield role, Teibert would provide some fresh legs in the middle, pressuring the ball at every turn ・in his 22 minutes he racked up three fouls, indicative of his aggressive play (and of the referee's penchant for blowing his whistle). Completing thirteen of his fourteen passes, Teibert was again excellent on the ball, and suffered further injury troubles when a teammate stepped on his hand as he got tangled up in a challenge with Matias Perez Garcia; once more he ignored the concern. He also exhibited his growing leadership, holding back Pedro Morales who was infuriated at receiving a kick and a red card in the 88th minute, perhaps sparing his teammate any additional sanction from the disciplinary committee for voicing his frustrations. Teibert was very-much involved in the action on that play, making the initial challenge that brought Adam Jahn to the ground, spurring the fractious encounter. Teibert added an interception and a recovery to his defensive tallies on the night. Patrice Bernier Bernier started his first league match of the 2015 season in Montreal's 3-0 loss at Houston on Saturday ・it was his second-appearance, having come on as a substitute against Orlando in their last MLS match at the end of April. Stationed deep in the Montreal midfield, Bernier was a calming presence, regularly dropping very deep to get on the ball and moving it well, as per usual ・completing all but seven of his 45-odd passes. Sporting the captain's armband, he may have a few miles (sorry, kilometres) on the legs, but he can still pick his moments, playing a lovely ball over the top to spring Donny Toia down the left; were it not for a vital touch from Houston centre-back David Horst, the full-back may have been in clear on goal with a chance. And in the 58th minute, with the Impact trailing 1-0, Bernier stepped to a free-kick after Andres Romero was fouled, neatly bending his right-footer around wall, but skimming the top of the bar, too high by the slightest of margins ・it was his only shot of the night. With eight recoveries, one clearance, a tackle, and a foul each way, the Brossard, Quebec-native was instrumental ・it should be noted that once he made way for Nigel Reo-Coker in the 67th minute Houston sealed the night with two further goals, one within five minutes of his departure ・though he did concede possession sloppily on one occasion, allowing Giles Barnes a shot from distance. While Bernier may not feature regularly, he will undoubtedly play a role in any success Montreal finds this season. Kofi Opare Opare started a second-straight match for DC United in their 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday ・it was his third appearance of the season, all since Steve Birnbaum went down with an ankle injury. As the left-sided centre-back, Opare was forced into action early, exhibiting good speed to get back and pressure Bradley Wright-Phillips as he strode towards goal in the 9th minute, only to redirect the eventual cross, which struck off the base of the post, narrowly avoiding an own goal. It was the first of many plays in which Opare would play a critical role. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised defender would drag opposing centre-back Matt Miazga out of a central position in the 26th minute on a Taylor Kemp right-sided corner kick, , in off the underside of the bar.Opare would then get taken advantage of himself in the 68th minute, not even able to get up to challenge as .In between those specific plays, Opare continued his admirable play for DC, completing 17 of 26 passes, racking up six clearances, three interceptions, two recoveries, and a block. With Birnbaum out for four-to-six weeks, Opare will get further chances to prove his worth for United. Marcel De Jong De Jong started a second-consecutive match for Kansas City as they drew 0-0 at home against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night ・it was his fourth start of the season. Resuming his left-back position De Jong was active as usual, completing 20 of 32 passes ・including a lot of searching long passes or crosses from deep positions, an indication of his conservative positioning given the threat of Salt Lake in those wide spaces ・and collecting four tackles, one interception, a recovery, and a clearance by the end of the match. The Newmarket, Ontario-native played at least two balls of note, the first a lovely cross that picked out Servando Carrasco at the back-post early, only for Salt Lake centre-back Elias Vasquez to get the important headed touch out for a corner. And then dragging a low ball through the box, only for no Sporting attacker to be able to get the required touch on the back-end. And his education in the physicality of MLS continued, getting caught late by a Jordan Allen challenge, flipping De Jong up in the air ・more spectacular than dangerous. It was initially surprising that De Jong landed in Kansas City ・and that no Canadian side sought out his services ・but that he has managed to force long-time left-back Seth Sinovic into a secondary role is truly evidence that De Jong's style fits well with what Peter Vermes desired from his full-backs. Steven Vitoria Vitoria continued his iron-man streak for Philadelphia in their 2-1 win over New York City on Saturday ・it was his sixth start of the season, going the distance in each of the Union's matches this year. Once more as the left-sided centre-back, paired again with Maurice Edu, Vitoria was a solid defensive presence, keeping the potentially explosive City attack at bay for large stretches of the match ・he was, however, .The Toronto-born defender was caught stepping up to David Villa in midfield late, leading to an Edu foul and a dangerous free-kick in the 89th minute ・luckily Villa would launch his attempt well over the target. He even got his first attempt at goal, rising up to meet an early corner kick, only to send his effort wide under pressure from Jason Hernandez. His six recoveries, six clearances, interception, and tackle, while conceding three fouls were impressive figures, but it was his overall calming influence that was most helpful for Philadelphia. Vitoria regularly helped talk debutant keeper John McCarthy through the match and reminded Vincent Nogueira that, despite his winner, the match was not over, as the Union saw out the final few minutes to seal their first win of the season. Vitoria's passing, completing just 13 of 31, was of concern, but given the sheer number of long launches that were counted as 'passes' it should be considered more a measure of the pressure applied by City than of Vitoria's decision-making. Sam Adekugbe Adekugbe started his fifth match of season for Vancouver on Wednesday against Columbus ・he has featured in all but two of the Whitecaps' matches this year. In his customary left-back position, Adekugbe continued to show exciting glimpses of the player he will become, making darting runs forward ・once drifting off-side, but still testing Steve Clark for the heck of it, and then having a touchline sprint ended by a necessary defensive touch ・and hitting a lovely curling ball from the left that sought out Octavio Rivero in the area ・his weak header was easily saved by Clark. Defensively he did well to get out wide and block a Hector Jimenez cross, but was beat twice on a play in the 84th minute with the game tied, first pinching high on Ethan Finlay only to be by-passed by a neat flick, and then lunging into a recovering challenge on Finlay at the edge of the box, missing the Kei Kamara pass entirely and allowing Finlay clear in on goal ・luckily David Ousted was off his line quick to deny the chance. Despite that one mistake, the English-born full-back tallied some solid numbers: five interceptions, two recoveries, two clearances, and a single foul ・misplacing just 8 of some 45-plus passes. Adekugbe was an unused substitute on Saturday in San Jose. Kyle Bekker Bekker made his third-appearance of the season for FC Dallas in their surprising 0-4 loss to Colorado on Friday night, coming on for Michel at half-time with his side already down a pair of goals. With Dallas chasing the game, Bekker took up a slightly more advanced position, getting himself involved in the build-up, in search of a much-needed goal. He played one particularly nice ball over the top for Tesho Akindele, and then collected the ensuing rebound at the top of the box, opting for the unselfish pass rather than take the shot himself ・a shot he should perhaps have taken. But Colorado were flying, unleashing all the pent up frustrations of long winless and goal-less spells, and that energy forced some poor passes out of Bekker, who completed just 15 of 26 in his 45 minutes of play. The Oakville, Ontario-native had one final chance to make an impact in the 83rd minute, standing over a free-kick. This time he opted to go at goal rather than curl a ball into the crowd at the back-post, hoping to catch Clint Irwin shading to the far-side, only for the keeper to be alert to the threat ・it was his only shot of the match. He would accumulate three recoveries and a pair of tackles throughout. It has been interesting to watch how Bekker has fit into his new side; some positive signs, but a lot of the same problems ・namely, easy turnovers ・that plagued his time in Toronto. Will he feature when his new side faces his old one next weekend? He is still awaiting his first MLS goal and there would be no sweeter time to score it. Tesho Akindele Akindele started a sixth-straight match for Dallas in their loss to Colorado ・factoring in the starting eleven for each of his side's games. Nominally playing as the withdrawn forward, off the shoulder of Blas Perez in the middle, Akindele would regularly swap with Ryan Hollingshead to take up the attacking right-sided position. But Dallas struggled to find the connections that saw them surge to the top of the standings, and the Calgary-born forward consequently suffered. His best look of the match came from the aforementioned Bekker pass, forcing a strong parry from Irwin in the 53rd minute, after getting the ball out of his feet ・one of his two shots on the night, both were on target. Akindele would exhibit that same ranging play he has all season, racing up the right to find space and get on the ball, but his low cross was easily cleared. His passing was very succinct, completing 27 of 32, while contributing defensively with a pair of tackles and a recovery. With the rest of his side, he was caught napping on a quickly-taken Rapids free-kick, turning his back on the ball to coordinate his teammates, as Marcelo Sarvas picked out Dillon Powers who sent a low drive into the far-corner of the goal in the 43rd minute to double the visitors advantage ・one needs to stay alert and focused at all times, a lesson he will have learned from this mishap. Post-match Akindele noted, 的t wasn稚 a good game for us・It just wasn稚 our day. We will figure it out this week・Figure out what we did wrong・We will do better next week.媒 Kianz Froese Froese made his third-appearance of the season from the bench for Vancouver in the waning minutes of their loss at San Jose, coming on for Matias Laba in the 80th minute. In need of an equalizer, Froese made one nice run, cutting into a good position to get off a right-footer from the top of the area, but the weak attempt was handled easily by David Bingham ・it was his only attempt at goal. The Cuban-born midfielder completed six of his eight passes and added a clearance in his ten-minute cameo. The Rest Karl Ouimette was an unused substitute on the bench for New York in DC. His former teammates, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Maxim Tissot were similarly unused by Montreal in Houston. 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
  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. Sam Adekugbe Adekugbe made his first start of the season, having spent the opener on the bench, taking over Jordan Harvey's left-back position for Vancouver in their 0-1 win over Chicago on Saturday. It was a glittering performance from the 20-year old English-born defender, combining his prowess in both the offensive and defensive roles. He was first called into action to block a hopeful Quincy Amarikwa drive, forcing the attacker wide, before conceding a foul, then prevented Chicago from taking the lead with a crucial defensive header that forced a Shaun Maloney effort over the bar. In whole, it was a balanced performance that showed he had both the speed and the physicality necessary to compete at this level, as well as the willingness to get stuck in, as shown by a fierce sliding tackle on Eric Gehrig along the touchline. By the end of the afternoon, Adekugbe had racked up five recoveries, three clearances, three blocks, an interception, and a tackle, conceding three fouls throughout and winning one. Gehrig had his hands full with the young Canadian, who showed excellent speed down the flank, tiptoeing the line past the Chicago right-back on out occasion. On another, he cut in-field to attack, causing some trouble before running into a dead end. His inexperience was taken advantage of one occasion, where Michael Stephens threaded a neat pass through his legs to pick out Harrison Shipp on a near-post run, but goalkeeper David Ousted was on hand sharply to prevent any additional blushes. At times, his passing – having completed roughly 24 of 35 – left a little to be desired, but a strong performance from the third-year player, who made just five previous appearances in MLS, has no doubt earned him more time in the future and given Carl Robinson another option at left-back. Tesho Akindele Akindele reprized his right-sided midfielder's role in Dallas' 3-1 win over Sporting KC on Saturday night – his second start of the season for Oscar Pareja in that position. Having been kept off the score-sheet in game one, it took just seventeen minutes for Akindele to notch his first point of the season, picking up . Fabian Castillo sprung the attack, running down the left-channel before slotting a through-ball to the right for the streaking Akindele, breaking away from the KC defenders.Under pressure from the recovering run of Marcel De Jong, Akindele turned to hold up play before squaring a set-up pass to Perez in space on the right-side of the area, with which the Panamanian made no mistake, beating Sporting keeper, Luis Marin. Nominally on the right, the Calgary, Alberta-native was once more free to roam the pitch as he pleased, using his speed – outracing De Jong on an earlier play to win a corner kick - and size to prod KC. It is that unpredictability that is both a benefit and a curse; good in that it catches opponents off-guard, but bad in that he cannot always get involved in the build up, hence his pass completion – just six of thirteen on the night – suffers, not that that should be a goal in and of itself. Buoyed by the assist, the second-year forward nearly provided another before half-time, whisking a low ball through the goalmouth after once more beating De Jong for pace, but no teammate could get on the end of the skipping service – it was recorded as a shot, off-target. And he had a solid look to score his first of the second twenty minutes into the second half, only to stray offside before the pass came that poked him through on goal. Akindele would be replaced by Michael Barrios in the 76th minute, having added two recoveries and the winning of a foul to his crucial, early assist. Steven Vitoria Vitoria started a second-straight match in the centre of the Union's back-line as they fought Salt Lake to an entertaining, if bizarre, 3-3 draw in Sandy, Utah on Saturday night. Paired once more with Ethan White, as the left-sided of the duo, the Toronto-born defender was a calming presence at the back for the Union, racking up six clearances, six recoveries, a pair of interceptions, and committing two fouls, while winning one. For a second time in two matches, he would see a yellow card, this one in the 23rd minute when he was caught stepping into Javier Morales as the Salt Lake midfielder corralled a ball in the centre-circle, clattering into his opponent to draw the ire of the referee and the opposition coaching staff. Earlier he nearly paid for a hands-off approach in the opening minutes, leaving a Olmes Garcia ball through the area at the near-post, possibly in fear of an own-goal, only to see it nearly put in at the back-side by a late arriving Luis Gil. Listed at six-foot, five, Vitoria required every inch of his stature in defending set-pieces, as he was tasked with keeping a lid on the aggressive Chris Schuler in such situations, managing to match the Salt Lake defender on all accounts, though one of the home team's goals would come from such a play – Vitoria had his mark, but Jamison Olave and Garcia broke free, the latter kneeing the ball into the head of the former to find the back of the net – such a peculiar goal. Calm, poised, physical, Vitoria looks to be an excellent pickup for a Philadelphia side that has struggled to have a consistent presence in place, often drafting midfielders – either Maurice Edu or Amobi Okugo – into that role in the past. He will lock down that position and is an early shout for the only Canadian to feature in each of his side's matches. Marcel De Jong De Jong made his debut for Sporting KC in their loss at FC Dallas on Saturday night, having had to sit out the opening match of the season, awaiting a visa. Stationed at his customary left-back position, De Jong looked a touch off the pace, struggling to contain the fast and physical styling of Akindele down that side – losing out in the aforementioned footrace and getting exposed on Dallas' opener. The Newmarket, Ontario-native made an excellent recovering run to prevent Akindele from bearing down on goal himself, but could do nothing once the pass was played wide to Perez to finish the attack. His introduction was not without actual bumps as well, Dallas' Atiba Harris welcoming him to MLS with a solid clattering, earning a yellow card in the 35th minute for his body check on the Canadian – one of two fouls De Jong won that night. Come the end of the night, De Jong had compiled decent numbers – five clearances, three interceptions, and a pair of recoveries, while completing 20 of 29 passes – enough to give Peter Vermes a decision to make and Seth Sinovic some competition for that left-back position. The night was not without its troubles though, as De Jong was called for a foul throw at one point, caught in two minds as to where to unload, much to the amusement of the announcers. He was the subject of a feature interview on MLSsoccer.com with CSN's own Daniel Squizzato. Russell Teibert Teibert retained his position on the field to make his second-straight start of the season, once more lined up alongside Matias Laba at the base of the Vancouver midfield, as the Whitecaps got their first win of 2015, away to Chicago. From that deep-lying position, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native once more contributed that sort of disciplined positional play that has earned him a place in Robinson's first eleven, mopping up trouble and keeping a close eye on Frank Yallop's two-headed attacking midfield, with Maloney and Shipp both lined up in the centre. Fans who saw the young Canadian's promising attacking output in 2013 – where he scored a pair of goals and added nine assists – may decry that he has abandoned those dashing runs for an altogether more subtle role, but such is what is necessary at the professional level. And his ability to link the play, thrusting forward while being savvy enough to be in place when danger builds in the other direction, is the sign of a maturing, if not quite as exciting, a player. Amassing five recoveries, two interceptions, a pair of clearances, a block, and a tackle, while committing three fouls is hardly the sort of performance that garners headlines, but make no mistake, it is his running that helped Vancouver manage the potential troublesome central duo of Chicago. One final note on Teibert, as he grew into the league, the main setbacks could be summed up in two statistics: his incomplete passes and his giveaways, all too often getting stripped out wide or hitting hopeful/wasteful crosses. Now in his fifth season, Teibert, through 154 minutes of play, has misplaced just seven of nearly sixty passes (he went 20 for 27 in Chicago) and conceded possession just twice, both against Toronto on opening day – a mark of a more confident and purposeful player. But, he was a little more fun and exciting to watch in those heady days. Jonathan Osorio Osorio was the fourth and final Canadian to feature in both of his club's two matches, resuming his right-side of midfield role for Toronto FC in their 2-0 loss to Columbus on Saturday. Sitting slightly deeper than he had against Vancouver – coach Greg Vanney looked to close down those dangerous wide areas with a three-man shield in front of the back-line – the Toronto, Ontario-native combined a defensive effort with some quality ball-movement to keep TFC's attack on the front foot for most of the first half. It was a physical outing for Osorio, putting a nice shoulder barge in on Wil Trapp early, only to be bundled over by Justin Meram in turn later in the half – resulting in Osorio winning a foul. He moved the ball very well, completing 22 of 24 passes, linking up nicely with Toronto's high trio, once slotting a ball for Sebastian Giovinco that the diminutive Italian shot over the bar. But with Toronto down to ten men, he was sacrificed at half-time, replaced by fellow Canadian Ashtone Morgan, putting a premature end to his night having made two recoveries and an interception in 45 minutes of play. Ashtone Morgan Coming on for Osorio at half-time, Morgan made his first appearance of the season, taking over the dismissed Justin Morrow's left-back spot for the second half of play in Columbus. It was not a great night for Morgan. Once a shining light of the TFC Academy and a ray of hope for the future of the Canadian game, Morgan, sadly, has stagnated over the past season, making just three appearances for a total of 168 minutes in 2013. And he looks every bit as rusty as that lack of playing time indicates. Prior to last season he had accumulated more than 5000 minutes of first team action, holding down the starting position for large patches of 2012 and 2013, but since Ryan Nelsen took charge of the club, requiring more defensive acumen from the 24-year old, his confidence has waned. To be fair, he has not had it easy in his limited minutes – coming on down a man against a side as eager as Columbus were, having been swept in the Trillium Cup the previous year and denied in Houston during First Kick; neither fate, nor has luck been his friend. Recall his first appearance last year, having to wait until September to make his debut under new boss Vanney, only to be sent off for a hauling down Sebastian Le Toux who had broken clear on goal after Doneil Henry was caught up field. Already short-handed and with TFC on the back foot, Morgan did not cover himself in glory. Columbus' first goal in the 57th minute, scored by Justin Meram, saw , allowing the lively Crew SC attacker to swing a cross towards the back-post where Meram guided his header into the goal.While on the second goal, just four minutes later, Morgan was helpless to mark two men at the back-post as from the left, Outnumbered, the Toronto, Ontario-native had no chance, but that he provided such little cover to foil either attacker is not good enough.Morgan did however learn the lesson of the first, getting out in a more timely-manner to block the next dangerous cross from his side, before repeating the feat again, recovering well to put a Hernan Grana cross out for a corner kick. The nightmare would continue as he was nearly culpable for a third Columbus goal when he whiffed on a loose-ball challenge with Grana, allowing the defender a clear path to goal, which he courteously whisked over the goal, sparing further embarassment. He did however have one moment that exhibited his quality, whipping a perfect cross of his own to the near-post from out wide that bamboozled the Crew defenders and nearly fell to the feet of Giovinco for a spot of consolation in the 82nd minute – but the match was in truth already gone. In his 45 minutes, Morgan made three clearances, one interception and a recovery, while completing six of his nine passes, but it was all the other stuff that will keep him down the pecking order. Unless, of course, Morrow's controversial red card stands and Morgan is drafted into duty again in two weeks time – he needs the playing time to find his feet. Kyle Bekker Bekker made his first appearance of the season for FC Dallas in their 3-1 win over Sporting KC on Saturday night, coming on in the 89th minute in place of Fabian Castillo. Just seconds into his match, he would get into a tussle with Kevin Ellis, putting a late foot in on the defender that drew the ire, leading to a slight scuffle, Bekker throwing Ellis to the ground, and yellow cards to each – not wasting any time in getting his first booking of the season out of the way. Worth noting is that Bekker took up a very advanced position in the Dallas midfield in this briefest of cameos, perhaps indicative of where Oscar Pareja sees him contributing, though further evidence will be required before that can really be determined. His passing was perfect – a stunning two for two – while he collected a recovery, an interception, and a clearance in his barely four minutes of play; quite a busy four minutes indeed. The Rest Cyle Larin made his first appearance in the gameday eighteen for Orlando City as they won 0-1 in Houston. Continuing the drizzling of off-season news, this review lost one of its potential-stars in the off-season, as LA Galaxy striker, Rob Friend, retired from professional soccer, ending his eleven-year career after just one year in MLS. The 34-year old Friend's season was cut short after ten appearances through the first four months play due a concussion and subsequent lingering-symptoms, registering a single assist. Announcing his retirement on December 10, Friend said, ““I’m extremely grateful to have played the game I love for a living. I have been fortunate enough to work with some outstanding teammates, coaches and clubs who have helped shape me on and off the field over the past 10 years. I will always be thankful for the experiences, relationships and opportunities the game itself has given me and am honored to finish my career as an MLS champion with the Galaxy.” 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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