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  1. Cyle Larin Larin made his second-straight start for Orlando City as they beat Colorado 2-0 midweek in Round 17, adding another goal to his impressive rookie campaign – it was his tenth start and thirteenth appearance of the season. Following a quiet first half, Larin came to life in the second, making a good near-post run towards a cross from Carlos Rivas on the left. Similar movement allowed him to direct a right-sided Rafael Ramos cross on goal, but it was easily saved. Having gotten his aim set, Larin would score in the 62nd minute, getting on the end of another Rivas ball as the speedy wide attacker beat Joseph Greenspan down the left to hit a curling ball behind the Colorado back-line. Larin arrived perfectly to guide a right-footed touch past Clint Irwin to give the hosts the lead - it was his sixth goal for Orlando this year. The Brampton, Ontario-native contributed defensively as well, covering the dangerous Drew Moor on a Rapids free-kick, marking him all the way back to the Lions six-yard box. Larin had three shots – two on and one off, completed seven of eight passes, and added a clearance to his name before making way for Pedro Ribeiro in the 69th minute. Prior to departing for the Canada camp, Larin discussed the result post-match. Jonathan Osorio Osorio started both of TFC's Round 17 matches, beating Montreal 3-1 on Wednesday and drawing 0-0 against a steadfast DC United on Saturday – they were his eleventh and twelfth starts of the season. Against Montreal in a thrilling Toronto night, Osorio was excellent in the build-up, completing all but four of his some-35 passes, making seven recoveries, two tackles, and an interception; getting a little dirty with a pair of fouls. As he has in recent weeks, the Toronto, Ontario-native looked more and more comfortable with his role in a midfield dominated by Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco's need to get on the ball. Drifting wide, Osorio would receive a ball from deep and look to feed either of his higher profile teammates, alternative wide and central movements in search of the ball and space. He showed some excellent footwork out wide, skipping over a tackle to set up Giovinco, who saw his attempt blocked. And nearly stole in on goal himself, making an overlapping run down the left to get on the end of a Jozy Altidore pass. The ball was a tad underhit, allowing Bakary Soumare to get in the required blocking tackle – Osorio's only attempt at goal, blocked. Come Saturday, he reprised his left-sided midfield role with another sublime passing display, completing all but four of his 37 attempts. His aim was still a little off, that first goal of the season still proving elusive, dragging a low shot from the top of the box after Giovinco found him atop the arc. Osorio stepped around the sliding Nick DeLeon, but his effort was wide of the right-post. Osorio showed further good vision to lay a ball down the left-side of the area, picking out the run of Giovinco with a through-ball, but Bill Hamid was equal to the threat. He added four recoveries and a foul to his afternoon. Jay Chapman Chapman featured in both of TFC's Round 17 matches, coming on as a sub in each, before getting his first MLS start the following week in LA – bring his season appearance total up to five. Against Montreal, he came on in the 78th minute for Marky Delgado with Toronto already in a 2-1 lead – a third would seal up the result shortly. Chapman contributed some strong work down the right side, both offensively and defensively, sending in a good cross that won a corner kick and helping to see out the victory. He completed seven of his ten passes, adding two recoveries and a tackle, committing one foul. In DC on Saturday, the Brampton, Ontario-native again came on in the 78th minute, this time for Osorio, once more putting in a solid, if brief, shift. He completed eight of ten passes, made two tackles and a recovery, committing another single foul. There was one play in particular that showed a glimpse of what Chapman can be: a tenacious and versatile central midfielder with good range. He drifted out wide to confront Chris Korb on the ball, muscling him off it, then deftly plucking away the now-loosened ball to initiate a Toronto move – very well done. The rookie would get his first start in LA a week later, manning the left-side of the midfield. Despite the tough outing for Toronto – they lost 4-0 – Chapman showed well, intercepting a Baggio Husidic ball and laying a pass down the left for Giovinco that was a little too far ahead of the Italian phenom. A Justin Morrow ball was played a touch beyond his reach and a cross into the area from Chapman was cut out by Leonardo. Defensively he was solid, intercepting a Robbie Keane ball played across the top of the box and clearing the danger, tracking back to hurry Keane on a later chance, preventing the hat-trick scorer from getting a clean shot off from the top of the arc, and hacking down Robbie Rogers in the middle, escaping a booking for his zealotry. He would make way for Dan Lovitz in the 70th minute – his longest outing of the season – having completed 27 of 35 passes, making four recoveries and a clearance, conceding just a single foul. He was back on the bench in Round 19 when Toronto played in New York. Kofi Opare Opare returned to the starting lineup following a two-match absence for DC's Round 17 midweek match in Chicago, taking up his left-sided centre-back role alongside Bobby Boswell. Opare barely missed a beat, rising up with the Chicago keeper to guide a header wide from a left-sided Luis Silva corner kick and showing a stellar burst of pace to get back and pressure Kennedy Igboananike on a break, forced a rushed shot that hit the outside of the post. That same recovery ability was on display again when Mike Magee was able to ghost in behind the DC back-line, receiving a long pass from Guly do Prado. Opare made up the ground quickly, preventing Magee from making the most of his fortune. Having completed 24 of 30 passes, while racking up seven clearances, five recoveries, four interceptions, and two tackles on the night, Opare was a massive presence in the air as Chicago flung ball in late, looking for an equalizer, helping his side see out the 0-1 win away from home. Despite that impressive contribution, the Niagara Falls-raised Opare was an unused substitute on the weekend in Toronto and again the following round when DC travelled to Seattle. Ashtone Morgan Having missed the midweek round, Morgan returned to the Toronto starting eleven on Saturday to make one final appearance before joining Canada – it was his twelfth start of the season. From his familiar left-back role, Morgan was able to find acres of space up that flank with DC laying off and staying compact. His best play of the match was a sneaky throw-in combination with Giovinco that nearly allowed the Italian maestro to steal in down the left-side of the area. The Toronto, Ontario-native would be scythed down by Facundo Coria in the 89th minute, the DC sub seeing a yellow card for his action, and Morgan would have a go at goal himself from distance following a half-cleared corner kick, but it was blocked. He completed just seventeen of his 32 passes, but made five recoveries, four tackles, three clearances, and an interception, winning a trio of fouls in the process. Maxim Tissot Tissot got the nod when Montreal visited Toronto for a midweek Round 17 encounter, making his fourth start of the season. On the left-side of the midfield, the Gatineau, Quebec-native had a rather quiet match. He had one good passage, making a strong inside run that led to a chance for Jack McInerney. That attempt was blocked and Andres Romero's follow-up went wide. Tissot contributed at the back on occasion, tracking deep to help contain and pester Giovinco. He completed fifteen of 23 passes, made two recoveries, one clearance, and one tackle, before being replaced by Duka in the 57th minute. He was on the bench come the weekend when Montreal travelled to Philadelphia. Tesho Akindele Akindele began Dallas' Texas derby against Houston on the bench, coming on in the 60th minute for David Texeira, to make his final appearance before the Gold Cup – it was his fifteenth appearance of the season and sixth from the bench. With his side already ahead by two goals, Akindele injected some energy into seeing out the result, beating DaMarcus Beasley to whip a low ball through the box and getting past the full-back once more to pick out Mauro Diaz with a pull-back – it was cut out before reaching it's target. Akindele too chipped in defensively, winning a corner kick in his own area. The Calgary, Alberta-native completed 19 of his 22 passes, made three recoveries and a clearance in his half-hour, winning a pair of foul and conceding one. One day earlier, it was announced that he had extended his tenure with Dallas, signing a new, multi-year deal that will see him with the club through 2018. Patrice Bernier Bernier featured in both of Montreal's Round 17 matches, coming on as a sub in Toronto before starting way to Philadelphia on the weekend. Against Toronto, the Brossard, Quebec-native entered the fray in the 77th minute for Ignacio Piatti, completing ten of his twelve passing, adding three recoveries, an interception, and a clearance in his brief cameo. Inserted into the starting eleven in Philly, sitting deep in the midfield alongside Callum Mallace, Bernier had a difficult evening against a rampant Union attack, hitting their stride, though Montreal scrapped to a 2-2 draw. He would see a yellow card in the 22nd minute – his first of the season – for blocking off a Cristian Maidana run, ending a potential counterattack. Bernier would come up with a key block in the area against Maidana who attempted an end-line run. Having cut back on Laurent Ciman, Maidana looked to play into the area, but Bernier stayed with him, ending the threat. With Philadelphia on the front foot, Bernier was forced to do a lot of deep tracking. He would pick up a second yellow card in the 67th minute for a rash sliding challenge on Vincent Nogueira, who attempted to initiate another counter. The ensuing red card was Bernier's first in MLS in his 95th appearance for the Impact. It was very uncharacteristic of the veteran midfielder, who has seen just thirteen bookings in his four seasons with Montreal, though it was his fourth foul of the match. Bernier's passing was again supreme, missing just one of some thirty attempts, adding five recoveries, two clearances, two tackles, and an interception prior to departing. He owned up to his error post-match. Having served his one-match suspension, Bernier was on the bench against Columbus in Round 19. Marcel de Jong de Jong made his eighth start of the season for Kansas City as they beat Colorado 2-0 on the Saturday night of Round 17 – it was his ninth and final appearance before a Gold Cup enforced hiatus. Ostensibly manning the left-back position, de Jong was an attacking force, winning a corner kick with an early cross that greatly troubled Clint Irwin and ballooning a later effort well over the bar. His flair in attack is admirable – he made a dashing inside run in the 41st minute to collect a knockdown from Krisztian Nemeth and laying a ball down the side of the area for Dom Dwyer, it skipped just beyond the striker's reach – but when committed forward, it leaves him capable of being exposed at the back – his positioning was found faulty when Luis Solignac was sent in down the attacking-right, but Tim Melia bailed out his teammate, making the save and holding the rebound. The Newmarket, Ontario-native would complete twelve of his 23 passes, compiling five clearances, four interceptions, three recoveries, and three tackles before making way for Saad Abdul-Salaam in the 78th minute. Will Johnson Johnson started his fourth and fifth matches of the season for Portland over Rounds 17 and 18, helping to guide his side to a pair of wins over Western Conference opponents, Seattle and San Jose. In the 4-1 win over Seattle, Johnson was strong, but still looked like a man still finding his feet after the long injury lay-off. Sitting deep for most of the match, the Toronto-born midfielder was not involved in much of the attack, though he did make his impact felt. Fanendo Adi was able to collect the rebound from a weak Johnson shot from distance, testing Stefan Frei with an effort, and Johnson played a secondary role in forcing the turnover that led to Adi's second goal, playing an early pass in the build-up as well. His only shot was blocked, but Johnson completed 37 of his 42 passes, ending the match with two recoveries and two clearances, committing and winning a pair of fouls each way. The following weekend against San Jose, Johnson was again conservatively influential, once more sitting deep, orchestrating and supporting from there. This time however, he had four shots, some good, some not so much. He horribly screwed a right-footer wide from the top of the box after Darlington Nagbe pulled back to him, but he nearly made amends for that minutes before half-time with another attempt from distance – some thirty yards – that bent agonizingly wide of the top right-corner of the goal. Another attempt in the second half, this time from an Adi layoff, was blocked, and his final attempt at goal was a supreme example of his iron will (get it?), fighting off a pair of defenders to get on the end of an Alvas Powell cross from the right at the back-post, directing his header towards goal, requiring a block and winning a corner. There was one comical moment when Gaston Fernandez thought he had scored a late-winner, only to be denied by the off-side flag. Johnson recovered his discarded shirt and pointed out the assistant referee, somehow helping to avoid a booking for his frustrated teammate. Portland would find the eventual winner. Johnson completed 35 of 42 passes, adding seven recoveries and four tackles, committing a single foul. Anthony Jackson-Hamel Jackson-Hamel came on in the 83rd minute for Dilly Duka in Montreal's 1-2 home loss to New York City in Round 18 – it was his fourth such appearance of the season. With the Impact having fallen behind to a second David Villa strike, Jackson-Hamel joined Jack McInerney up top in search of a late equalizer. The Quebec City, Quebec-native nearly proved the hero, but just could not stretch enough to get on the end of a Marco Donadel free-kick. His stat-line for the brief cameo was all zeros. He was an unused substitute in Round 19 when Montreal hosted Columbus. Jordan Hamilton Hamilton entered Toronto's heavy loss in Los Angeles in the 86th minute, replacing Robbie Findley with the score already three goals in the Galaxy's favour – it was his first run-out of the season. The Scarborough, Ontario-native was energetic, but could not make headway against a tough LA defense, though he did complete all three of his passes. He was an unused substitute the following round in New York. The Rest Kianz Froese was on the bench for all three of Vancouver's matches over this spell, but failed to see any playing time following the opening of his account last round. He was however the subject of a feature at MLSsoccer.com, expressing his thoughts on scoring his first MLS goal. Wandrille Lefevre was an unused substitute for Montreal in Rounds 17 and 18. There was some huge news for the French-born defender on July 2nd, as he became a Canadian citizen in a ceremony held at Stade Saputo – mmm, Maple crème cookies. Russell Teibert was on the bench for Vancouver in New England in Round 17, but was not used, departing for Canada and the Gold Cup shortly thereafter. Chris Mannella was an unused substitute for Toronto in LA. Each week (ideally) 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. 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
  3. 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
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