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Found 15 results

  1. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  2. The Whitecaps are getting a pretty fresh Teibert back in the squad. The 22-year-old didn't start any of Canada's Gold Cup games, coming on as a sub in all three matches for a combined total of just 49 minutes. Benito Floro's decision not to start Teibert raised ire in some quarters. It shouldn't have been a surprise though, as Floro has only started the Whitecap twice in the past two years. After some friction between the pair at the start of last year, it looked like the Spaniard had buried the hatchet after starting Teibert in the World Cup qualifier in Dominica at the start of June. He even scored, albeit just from a penalty, but they all count and it was his first international goal. But then the Gold Cup came around and Teibert found himself back out of favour. Frustrating? I'm sure it was, but he wasn't showing it back in Vancouver, instead focusing on the positives from his experience at the tournament. "It's a learning experience for me again," Teibert said. "I walk out of that tournament with my head held high. Walking out confident because I did everything I could for my country. "Whether it was in a starting position or whether it was coming off the bench, I wanted to play whatever role the coach asked me to play and I did, to the best of my ability." Canada's loss is the Whitecaps gain and head coach Carl Robinson will now have Teibert available for this weekend's crucial Cascadia Cup clash in Portland. The young Canadian is unlikely to see the start. He admits he still needs to get back up to full match sharpness after having not played a full 90 minutes for a while, but expect him to feature at some stage during the game. Robinson is delighted to have a relatively fresh Teibert back in his squad, although he wouldn't be drawn on Floro's decision not to use his player more. Well not too drawn! "Rusty came on in three games, so I'm delighted he managed to get three more international caps under his belt," was Robinson's take. "I thought the game against Costa Rica, he came on and was lively. "Each manager has his own decisions and dilemmas. Benito's decision to not start Rusty was his decision. Rightfully or wrongly, that's his decision. You'll have to ask him about that." And despite the lack of gametime, Robinson feels that Teibert still has a very bright future ahead of him on the international stage. But for now, his prime concern is Teibert as a Whitecap. "Do I think Rusty's got a big future for Canada?," Robinson asked. "Without a doubt. He's got a big part to play for me here right now. He'll be involved at the weekend. "It's great to have him back because he brings an energy about him and about the place. I'm delighted that he's playing international football again because this time last year he wasn't. He wasn't even in the mix. Step by step. You can't run before you can walk." Teibert has primarily played as a defensive midfielder under Robinson in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Under Canada, with their one man DM role, Teibert has been playing a more attacking role and on the wing. Confusing for the player or a chance for the Whitecaps to see one of their guys in a different position without having to do the experimenting themselves? "I actually don't mind it," Robinson told us. "I want my players to learn to play in different positions. When Martin [Rennie] was manager here, Rusty played on the right side of midfield, even though he's left footed, and he played some very, very good games. "I wanted to try and play Rusty in a more central role because I think his attributes bring a lot to the table. The way he gets on the ball, the way he covers ground, the way he connects passes and he's done fantastic for me in that role. "Benito plays him on the right, like he's played before, it's great. Part of players development is being able to play in a number of positions and fortunately Rusty can. I even played him at left back today [in training], which is good!" Some of Floro's team selections and tactics may have been frustrating, but the entire Gold Cup campaign was a downright disappointment, as Canada once again crashed out of the Group Stage, winless and goalless for the second straight tournament. Although Teibert feels that there were positives that could be taken from Canada's performance, he acknowledged that work still needs to be done in certain areas and particularly in the scoring department. "I'm proud of the team because we created chances and kept a couple of clean sheets," Teibert began. "But again it felt like the same old story of not being able to finish off our chances. Not being able to score a goal. I think we just got to keep plugging away and if we can finish off our chances, we put ourselves in a good position." But can they actually find the ability to do that? After the failure at the 2013 Gold Cup, surely no-one thought that another tournament with no goals was on the cards? "It's happened in the past," Teibert said. "You go into a tournament with every expectation, with every possibility. Obviously you don't want that to happen. You try and make a difference, do as much as you can. But at the end of the day, things happen the way they do and things happen for a reason." I'm sure we're all eager to eventually find out just what that reason is and whether a truckload of broken mirrors was involved. But for now, Teibert turns his full focus back on to the Whitecaps and he's fired up to return for a Cascadian derby down in Portland. And he'll be facing a familiar face, and a good friend of his, in Will Johnson down there. Johnson turned down the opportunity to join Canada's Gold Cup squad as he continues his return from injury. Whether that will put him in Floro's doghouse will remain to be seen, but all Teibert knows is that he can't wait to get back to battling him on the pitch again this weekend. "He made a decision not to go to the Gold Cup for personal reasons," Teibert said of Johnson. "I can't really speak too much about that because I don't know the full story. It's always nice to play against him and it'll be a battle, not only between us but between both sides." After all the disappointments of the past few weeks, Teibert just can't wait to get back into action with the 'Caps again and they don't come much bigger to return for than an away Cascadian derby. "It's a big game," Teibert said. "A big game in a lot of different ways. Cascadia match. Playoff hunt already. Rivalry. Personally, playing against Will. Him coming back from injury. Our fans travelling down to Portland. It's going to be an exciting match and I can't wait to just be there."
  3. Cyle Larin Larin made his fifth and sixth-straight starts for Orlando City as they experienced a mixed week, undone by a pair of late goals against DC United on Wednesday and only to hand a 4-0 thrashing to the defending champions, the LA Galaxy, on Sunday. Larin now has eight appearances this season, having come on twice from the bench prior to the current six-game run. On Wednesday, Orlando took the lead in the eleventh minute, Larin scoring in a second-consecutive match – the first scoring streak of his young MLS career – only to concede twice in nine minutes in the closing third of the match. The goal, his third of the season, was a cracker, beating Bill Hamid with a blazing right-footer from just inside the eighteen-yard box. A partially cleared corner kick fell to Harrison Heath, who tried to play up to Larin in a crowd at the top of the area. That pass was touched away from the striker, falling to Darwin Ceren, who attempted a shot on goal. His effort was blocked, but Larin was on hand to find an inch of space and blast his finish high to the left-side of goal – it was his only shot of the match. Aside from the goal, Larin had a quiet night, though his running battles with centre-back and fellow Canadian (at least for the purposes of this review; for now), Kofi Opare. The two went toe-to-toe on several occasions, Larin giving as good as he got, committing a foul on one occasion where he ended a touch-line run from the DC defender with a desperate tug. For his troubles, the Brampton, Ontario-native would spend a moment on the touch-line and sourcing out a new shirt, after a cut on his arm drew blood. He would make way for Bryan Rochez in the 77th minute having scored from his only shot, completed five of eight passes, while making two clearances, two recoveries, a tackle, and an interception; winning and conceding a foul each way. Back in the starting lineup on Sunday, Larin, again leading the line by himself, would play a crucial role in guiding his side to an impressive win over LA – ending a hex that had been a thorn in the expansion side's paw. The win was their first at home; it only took six matches. His first looks at goal were mere half-chances, doing well to get on the end of a Brek Shea cross, but unable to bring it down cleanly under pressure from LA defender Leonardo, and breaking into space on the right from a long, searching ball, only for his pull-back to not find a teammate. LA were struggling with a makeshift lineup, that much was clear. Eric Avila gave the hosts the lead after just twelve minutes and Larin sought to add to that margin with a cheeky attempt from distance after a poor back-pass from Leonardo that caught Jaime Penedo off his line, but sailed high. It was a chance that strikers will risk, but Larin would be advised by Kaka that given he had a runner, a pass may have been a better option. Larin would make amends for that waste in the 34th minute, Kaka showing how setting up a teammate can be just as rewarding. The play began when Larin held up a Shea ball momentarily in the centre-circle, before playing down the left for the charging Kaka. The Brazilian maestro would back off the defenders, gliding past a half-hearted slipping-challenge from Tommy Meyer before squaring a ball to the right for Larin, who tucked his right-footer past Penedo at the short-side. It was his fourth-goal of the season, stretching his scoring-streak to three-straight matches in the process. Not done there, Larin would continue his tireless running. As noted by commentator Taylor Twellman, the most influential evolution witnessed so far in the rookie's game has been the increasing intelligence in the runs he chooses to make. There was another Shea cross from the left, taking advantage of just such a back-shoulder run from Larin, that he was again unable to stretch enough to touch. If those two ever get in sync, that could be a combination that is oft-repeated. Making way for Carlos Rivas in the 78th minute, Larin would exit the match having taken four shots – only one of which was on target, completing eight of sixteen passes, while making three recoveries. He was offside once and won three fouls, conceding one. Larin spoke post-match about his form and the first home win and earned the praise of his teammate, Martin Paterson: “I’ve been really pleased with the way that Cyle has played. I mean, for a forward we look for young players, and you look for attributes that they have, and he works a lot for his attributes and he is getting his rewards. If he continues to work hard, he is going to be some player, and now that everyone is fit, people can push him and try to get him space, and that will bring him on again. At the end of the day, he has four goals and he should be pleased with that, and he should have in his mind that he can go and get more.” If he can continue his scoring form, he should retain his starting position and will be a candidate for rookie of the year honours. Kofi Opare Opare also made two starts this week, for DC, his seventh and eight-straight, as DC beat Larin's Orlando City 2-1 on Wednesday, only to fall to Philadelphia 1-0 on Sunday. Against Orlando, Opare was largely tasked with keeping track of the machinations of Larin, engaging in an entertaining battle, once matching the forward stride for stride in a touch-line run. It was the Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised defender who kick-started DC's comeback in the 70th minute, rising up at the back-post over Sean St Ledger to head down and across to the right-side of goal on a deep Taylor Kemp free-kick from the right. It was Opare's first goal for DC and his second in MLS, having registered one as a rookie back in 2013 for Los Angeles. Opare would complete all but three of some-thirty passes, racking up four recoveries, three interceptions, one clearance and a tackle; winning two fouls and conceding one on the night. He earned the regard of manager Ben Olsen afterward: “Set pieces have been big … it’s certainly got us to where we are right now. And Kofi is a handful on set pieces because he gets his head on a lot of things. It’s good to see him get on the score-sheet and get rewarded for such a good six weeks that he’s been in. He’s been fantastic. The way he’s stepped in to this center back role with such few games has been impressive.” Come Sunday, Opare was again in the starting lineup, bringing his season total to eight starts and nine appearances, now keeping the fit-again Steve Birnbaum out of the lineup with his fine form. Alongside Bobby Boswell once more, Opare was again a consistent obstacle to a desperate Philadelphia side, facing down the hulking frame of Conor Casey – quick to track the forward on the ball, blocking an attempt pull-back on one play, while keeping a lid on the ever-dangerous Cristian Maidana - giving no space to the attacking midfielder, tracking him out wide and constantly pestering. With the match scoreless deep into the second half, Opare would step up to block a Zach Pfeffer shot, a feat he was unable to reprise in stoppage-time as Pfeffer found space above the left-post to score the late 1-0 winner for the hosts – it was not Opare's flank that provided that space, however. He would end the match having compiled eight clearances, four interceptions, two blocks, two recoveries, and a tackle, conceding just a single foul, while misplacing just 6 of some 25 passes. Jonathan Osorio Following a lively appearance from the bench last weekend and a dangerous midweek performance in the Voyageurs Cup, Osorio returned to the Toronto starting lineup for the first time in four matches in Saturday's 1-1 draw at New England – it was his sixth start and eighth appearance of the season. Taking up the left-sided midfield position, Osorio showed some real moments of quality, though was perhaps a little too unselfish on one occasion, attempting to set-up Michael Bradley rather than take a shot himself after receiving a ball from Sebastian Giovinco on the left-side of the area. He then similarly helped craft a shooting chance for Giovinco, finding his teammate in space on the left with a neat back-roller of a pass, helping on a ball for the back-side run of Giovinco – his effort was saved by Bobby Shuttleworth. Given the threat New England's attack width posed, the Toronto, Ontario-native was required to put in a defensive shift as well, tracking all the way back to his own-goal line on several plays, though he could be found guilty of not closing down London Woodberry's cross quickly enough, as the Revolution full-back picked out Juan Agudelo's run to open the scoring in the 32nd minute. He was in a difficult position on that play, Osorio and Ashtone Morgan were at a numerical disadvantage, as a trio of New England attackers played around the TFC duo patiently before sending in the cross. Osorio would make way for Warren Creavalle in the 83rd minute as Greg Vanney sought to inject fresh legs to see out the draw. He completed all but five of some forty passes, adding five recoveries, two clearances, and an interception, conceding two fouls in the process. After a difficult opening few months, a reinvigourated Osorio will provide Toronto with a much-needed additional threat, especially given the news of Jozy Altidore's injury. Karl Ouimette Ouimette made a third-straight appearance for the New York Red Bulls on Friday night, helping quell the variety of Dallas threats in a score-less draw. Following his solid contributions, including the emergency role after Matt Miazga's red card in the New York derby, Ouimette earned some recognition from head coach, Jesse Marsch: “Karl did come off the bench and in a game like that and being a man down, not be afraid and compete and make almost no mistakes for a young center back that was a very good performance... We've seen that a lot of our center backs have stepped into tough moments and done well.” Taking up the right-sided centre-back position, paired with Damien Perrinelle, the Terrebonne, Quebec-native did not miss a step in a stalemate of a match. That is not to say it was a game without challenge; Ouimette was primarily threatened down the attacking left by the speedy trickster Fabian Castillo, who has made more experienced defenders than Ouimette quake at the knees. The Canadian did very well to limit the Colombian's chances, keeping him wide on several plays, including this one, and preventing any half-chances from coming to fruition. Though it was a relatively uneventful match, Ouimette contributed six clearances, four recoveries, and an interception, completely roughly half of some forty passes – again mostly long balls. With Miazga away on international duty, Ouimette may see some more playing time, at least until Ronald Zubar gets up to full fitness. Tesho Akindele Akindele returned to the Dallas starting lineup for the first time in five matches, lining up on the right-side of the Dallas midfield in their 0-0 draw against New York on Friday night – it was his seventh start and eleventh appearance of the season. It was a relatively quiet match from the wide-forward/midfielder, his only real chance of the game came minutes into the second half, sent in by a Blas Perez ball only to shoot wide – the play was wiped out by an offside flag anyways. The Calgary, Alberta-born forward would complete fifteen of twenty passes, adding four recoveries, two tackles, and a clearance to his stat-line before making way for Michael Barrios in the 59th minute. Russell Teibert Teibert made a fifth-straight start for Vancouver in their disappointing 0-2 loss to Chad Barrett, er, Seattle, on Saturday night – it was his ninth start and tenth appearance of the season. Lining up alongside Matias Laba once more at the base of the midfield, Teibert was his effervescent self, but was unable to prevent a pair of first-half Barrett strikes from determining the outcome. With Vancouver stung by two quick moves, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native was allowed a more attacking role, by-passing the attentions of Gonzalo Pineda with a bursting run to slip a ball for Kekuta Manneh – his shot from distance was easily saved and held by Stefan Frei. And a later cross from the right appeared bound for the head of Kendall Waston, only for the towering form of Chad Marshall to nod it away for a corner kick. Teibert would make way for Gershon Koffie in the 64th minute having completed all but three of roughly forty passes, adding five interceptions, three recoveries, and a tackle, while registering a single foul. Ashtone Morgan Morgan made a seventh-consecutive start for Toronto in their 1-1 draw at New England – it was his seventh start and eighth appearance of the season. Taking up the familiar left-back slot, Morgan was faced with a difficult challenge, stifling the combined attacking talents of Teal Bunbury, London Woodberry, and Lee Nguyen, when he drifted wide into that part of the field. The Toronto, Ontario-native did rather well considering, aside from that slight hesitation that allowed Woodberry to get in the cross that led to Agudelo's goal. Early in the match, Morgan was alert at the back-post to head a cross away from the lurking Bunbury, and he was on the receiving end of an aggressive challenge from Jermaine Jones that perhaps warranted a booking. He completed 17 of his 26 passing attempts, making three clearances, two recoveries, one interception, and one tackle, conceding a single foul and winning two on the night. With the return to fitness of right-back Mark Bloom and Justin Morrow the recognized starting left-back, Morgan's run of matches may be coming to an end; at least he has taken this chance to regain his footing and prove himself a valuable member of the squad. Patrice Bernier Bernier made his third appearance of the season in Montreal's 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Coming on in the 76th minute for Marco Donadel, the Brossard, Quebec-native completed each of his seven passes and committed one foul. Kianz Froese Froese similarly came on in the 76th minute, replacing Kekuta Manneh with Vancouver chasing Seattle's 0-2 lead on Saturday – it was his fourth appearance of the season. The Cuban-born midfielder was lively, completing seven of eight passes and winning one tackle, but was unable to spur his side to a comeback against Cascadia rivals. The Rest Wandrille Lefevre and Jeremie Gagnon-Lapare were unused substitutes for Montreal on Saturday against Salt Lake, as too were Toronto FC's Quillan Roberts and Jay Chapman in New England. Will Johnson continued his convalescence, picking up an assist, his first, with Portland's USL side as they drew 1-1 against Salt Lake's Monarchs. Two semi-regular review participants were out with injury, as Vancouver's Sam Adekugbe is dealing with a right ankle injury, while Philadelphia's Steven Vitoria is apparently dealing with a left knee sprain – his has not featured in the Union's last three matches. 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. Cyle Larin Larin made his fifth-straight start for Orlando City in their come-from-behind 2-2 draw against New England on Friday night – adding in his two substitute appearances, Larin now has seven on the season. Leading the line for the Lions by his lonesome, Larin was constantly on the move, but not particularly involved in the build-up – attempting just eleven passes and completing only seven. The same could be said of the entire Orlando side, who fell behind 0-2 through seventy minutes, and could easily have trailed by more. But something clicked as Charlie Davies doubled the Revolution lead in the 71st minute and four minutes later, the Brampton, Ontario-native would draw one back for the home side. Moments before scoring, Larin nearly got on the end of a left-sided Brek Shea cross, getting in front of his marker at the near-post, but unable to stretch and get the required touch. When Rafael Ramos collected a ball on the right and shaped a wonderful cross to the edge of the six-yard box, Larin made no mistake, guiding his header to the left of Bobby Shuttleworth, having gotten goal-side on Jermaine Jones in the 75th minute – it was Larin's second goal of the season. He would make way shortly thereafter, in the 81st minute, for Bryan Rochez, just as the Lions were coming to life. It would fall to Aurelien Collin to grab the equalizer in the final minute of regulation with a header of his own. Aside from kick-starting the comeback, Larin had a numerically sparse night: his goal came from his only shot; passing was virtually non-existent; he was off-side on one occasion, and he suffered a single foul, one that saw Jones booked for his lunging challenge in the centre-circle. It can be tempting to desire a forward who gets himself more involved in the passage of play – which is not to say that Larin does not contribute on the opposite side of the ball – but pure strikers, those who constantly probe the opponent's back-line for weakness, seldom rack up the passing or defensive statistics. With Kaka playing behind him, Larin's role is not to get on the ball, but to do the running and make himself an option, something he has increasingly excellent at in his short time in MLS. Post-match, Larin reflected on his goal and the first few months of professional soccer: “I think I have learned a lot in recent weeks. I just waited for my chance and Rafa put in the right ball at the right time. I have been working hard in training to be ready for that moment, and I was very pleased to convert it tonight.” Kofi Opare Opare started his sixth-consecutive match for DC United as they drew 1-1 against Sporting KC on Saturday night – it was his seventh appearance of the season since coming on in the fifth minute against LA for the injured Steve Birnbaum. Birnbaum is now fit enough for the bench, but Opare's form is keeping him out of the starting lineup. Paired with Bobby Boswell as the left-sided centre-back, Opare again made his presence know, spending the entire match in a running-wrestling contest against the pesky Dom Dwyer, who is a constant menace. In an excellent physical battle throughout the match, Opare got the better of Dwyer, out-muscling him for position on one play in particular. But Dwyer would find his revenge in the 45th minute, catching Opare a touch flat-footed seconds away from half-time, peeling off the defender to meet a low Roger Espinoza ball at the near-post to level the match at ones three minutes after Jairo Arrieta had put the hosts in front. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised defender exhibited his excellent reading of the game, stepping up to easily intercept a defense-splitting ball bound for Jacob Peterson that would have carved open DC – one of two interceptions on the night - going on to pad his stat-line with seven recoveries, five clearances, and a pair of tackles, conceding just a single foul, despite the physical encounter. And his passing has definitely improved in recent weeks, completing all but six of some forty attempts. Opare would shake off a slight knock after an aerial collision with Erik Palmer-Brown to nearly get on the end of a potential game-winner, only for KC keeper, Tim Melia, to pluck the cross off his head before the needed contact could be made. Opare will score some goals this season – foreshadowing next week's review. Earlier in the month, Opare was interviewed by CSN's own Daniel Squizzato, on a range of topics, but most crucially on his efforts to represent Canada at the international level. Tesho Akindele Still riding the pine, Akindele would have to wait until half-time to enter the fray against Los Angeles on Saturday night – making his fourth-straight appearance from the bench. Dallas would fall behind on the hour, only to mount a rousing comeback in the final fifteen minutes of the match to win 1-2. Taking up the left-sided attacking midfield role from Ryan Hollingshead, Akindele showed his usual willingness, rampaging forward and tracking back, covering lots of ground, eager to demonstrate what he is capable of contributing. With LA's stamina fading, Dallas would begin their push with a glorious chance, or possibly two, to respond coming Akindele's way in the 73rd minute. The first look came when Fabian Castillo whistled a low cross through the area from the right, but it was just beyond the reach of the forward. Blas Perez would collect on the left, squaring a set-up Akindele's way, but he was unable to turn on the attempt, sending his snatched left-footer rocketing high and wide into the night sky. Perez would equalize four minutes later in the 77th minute and the Calgary-born Akindele would make amends for his earlier miss(es) when next an opportunity presented itself. In the 86th minute, Akindele, on the left, collected a raking cross-field ball from Mauro Diaz. Finding himself one-on-one against Dan Gargan, who kindly backed off, Akindele settled the ball and made a slight inside-move onto his right-foot before looping a dipping shot to the far, side-netting, beating Jaime Penedo to put his side in the driver's seat with the lead – it was his third goal of the season; the first in five matches, stretching back to the beginning of April (the fourth, to be exact). With two shots – one on (the goal) and one off (the miss), four recoveries, an interception, and two offside flags, while completing 18 of his 24 passes, the second-year forward made the most of his 45-plus minutes in the pitch. Whether he did enough to fight back into a competitive Dallas starting lineup remains to be seen. Post-match, Akindele was asked about 'coming out of the sophomore slump': “I guess… It’s the media’s job to write about the things that are happening and I had not scored in a while but it’s my job to stay focused and score goals. Everybody is doing their job.” Before moving on to discuss his goal: “ It was a fast break for us. They were playing a bit cautious – probably trying to delay until help could arrive. We work on that in training every day. People only see the one in the game, but I did that 200 times this week. That is what comes of it. It was an amazing feeling. Mauro [Diaz] had the ball on the opposite side of the field. Everyone was concentrating on him. I just tried to stay open. I know he can pick people out on a pass. When I received the pass, I had a one-on-one in the box, which is always a good situation to be in for a forward.” Akindele also discussed those perceived 'struggles' prior to the match with MLSsoccer.com. Jonathan Osorio Osorio was on the bench for Toronto FC in their 1-2 loss to Houston on Sunday, coming on in the 58th minute for Robbie Findley with the Dynamo already leading 0-2 – it was his seventh appearance of the season; his second from the bench. Taking up the left-sided midfield position, Osorio was lively, more so than he had been in any of his previous appearances, linking up well with Sebastian Giovinco immediately. The Toronto, Ontario-native would nearly set up Michael Bradley, picking out his teammate with a chipped ball from the left – Bradley would hammer the volley over the target. But it was his cross in the 77th minute that proved most substantial. Advancing towards Raul Rodriguez on the left, Osorio backed off the defender before cutting in-field to send in a cross that picked out Jozy Altidore at the back-post, sneaking in-between DaMarcus Beasley and Jermaine Taylor to head in a consolation goal – it was Osorio's first assist and first point of the season. Having completed sixteen of his twenty passes, Osorio added four recoveries, and won a single foul, signaling in his 32 minutes that perhaps he was ready to be reinserted into the starting lineup. His post-match interview can be seen here. Russell Teibert Teibert started a fourth-straight match for Vancouver as they strolled to a 3-0 win over the struggling Philadelphia Union on Saturday night – it was his eighth start and ninth appearance of the season. Continuing he deep-lying defensive role, alongside Matias Laba in front of the back-four, Teibert was largely responsible for keeping track of the Union's most troublesome attacker, Cristian Maidana, which he did with aplomb. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native has been very good this season, there is no denying his value to the club, but it has been difficult to pick out specific moments that exhibit his worth. With Vancouver largely playing on the counter, utilizing their intense speed, Teibert rarely ventures over the midway line; his most influential passages involve collecting loose balls, picking off passes, and providing much-needed defensive cover, whenever potential trouble looms. Teibert is often the first line of defense, confronting the ball-carrier as soon as he crosses into the Vancouver half, and it is his knack for spotting impending doom that is most useful – though hardly highlight-reel stuff. Consider this one play from Saturday. Ray Gaddis, Philadelphia's left-back, beats Kekuta Manneh to get into a good crossing position, but Teibert, having recognized the frailty of the situation, had already made his way into the area, and was thus on hand to block the cross at the source, preventing Gaddis from sending the ball into the area. That is valuable play, and should be recognized as such, but is not the sort of contribution that grabs the headlines. That said, his passing was again excellent, completing all but five of some 45-plus attempts, while racking up five recoveries, three clearances, and an interception, conceding a pair of fouls in the process. Karl Ouimette Ouimette made his second appearance of the season for the New York Red Bulls, coming on in the 38th minute for Mike Grella, sacrificed after Matt Miazga picked up a pair of bookings inside the first 36 minutes to be dismissed from the inaugural New York derby between the Red Bulls and City on Sunday evening. Eight days after making his season debut, Ouimette was thrust into an electric encounter, though with City's lack of attacking success, he was rarely tested. The Terrebonne, Quebec-native did very well positionally, not giving the opponent a foot of space, and was on the receiving end of a talking-to after wrestling with Andrew Jacobson prior to an attacking free-kick. His most notable play of the match was a timely intervention on Kwadwo Poku, blocking off the forward's run and clearing any potential danger with a strong boot. A measure of how feeble the expansion side's attack was can be seen in Ouimette's numbers, required to make just five clearances, two interceptions, a pair of tackles, and a recovery. Of some concern, he completed just one of his four pass attempts; all long, hopeful punts up-field. After a somewhat shaky outing against New England last weekend, Ouimette showed, as he helped see out a 2-1 win over in-town rivals with a calm performance, that with Miazga set to join the US U20 side in this summer's World Cup, which begins at the end of this month, he is ready to step into that starting position if called upon. Ashtone Morgan Morgan was in the starting eleven for a sixth-straight match on Sunday as TFC fell to Houston – all seven of Morgan's appearances have come in the last seven matches, starting the last six after coming on against Columbus following Justin Morrow's red card. From his left-back position, Morgan did well to track a bursting Ricardo Clark run down the right-side of the box – Clark would wrongly be awarded a corner kick after his attempted cross found the side-netting. The Toronto, Ontario-native was more than willing to get forward, racing onto a slipped Altidore ball down the left to pop in a cross that came to nothing. Morgan would end the match having completed 27 of 43 passes, adding four recoveries, three clearances, two tackles, and an interception. That pass completion ratio is not great, but Morgan was constantly looking to spring Giovinco into space, so they are perhaps understandable. His post-match interview can be seen here. Kyle Bekker Bekker made his fourth appearance of the season for FC Dallas in their come-from-behind victory over Los Angeles on Saturday night – it was his first game-time in over a month. Coming on for Kelyn Acosta in the 60th minute, Bekker took up the deep-lying central midfield position, pairing up with Victor Ulloa in front of the Dallas back-line. The Oakville, Ontario-native would complete all but two of his 21 passes, while making two recoveries and an interception, but failed to really get involved in the Dallas comeback to a significant degree. There was one cringe-worthy play, as Bekker was easily by-passed by Gyazi Zardes in midfield, his pace, or more correctly lack thereof, proving a liability against an explosive attacker. Bekker has been in tough to find minutes in a competitive Dallas midfield, should he hope to win more playing time, he will have to do better to impress and earn that spot. The Rest Patrice Bernier, Wandrille Lefevre, and Maxim Tissot were all unused substitutes for Montreal in their 1-2 loss to Portland on Saturday night. Sam Adekugbe was on the bench for Vancouver on Saturday against Philadelphia. And Quillan Roberts backed-up Chris Konopka for Toronto FC on Sunday. 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. Kofi Opare Opare made his fourth and fifth-consecutive starts over the two rounds as DC United surged into a tie atop the Eastern Conference with a pair of wins – they are part of a four-way tie for first-overall in the league. Opare has appeared in every match since Steve Birnbaum went down with an ankle injury, admirably deputizing as the left-sided centre-back, alongside Bobby Boswell. In Vancouver, as DC won 1-2, Opare was instrumental in helping to shut down the high-scoring Octavio Rivero. Constantly hassling the Whitecaps forward, Opare shielded him away from a through-ball to allow his goalkeeper to collect on one occasion. then ranged out wide right to cut out a later move from the forward, and finally pressured him relentlessly to prevent Rivero from turning to face goal after collecting a ball in the area. Opare would continue to mark Rivero out of the match to the bitter end, doing just enough to put off the striker after Boswell had slipped on the turf, helping to see out the solid result on the road. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised defender would end the match with five clearances, five tackles, three recoveries, and an interception; conceding a pair of fouls throughout. He was too easily by-passed by a Mauro Rosales cut move on one play, only for the Argentine's effort to strike to post, sparing any blushes from the defender. And he was called for a back-pass late in the match, saving a corner kick, but conceding a potentially dangerous indirect free-kick. Opare would make amends, heading out the ensuing Pedro Morales chip at the back-post, conceding the corner kick he had originally sought to prevent. On the attacking end, Opare was a presence, getting himself into a good position on the play that led to DC's opening goal. Boswell would get the final headed touch, but Opare was close to getting on the end of the service himself. He also got involved in DC's passing, completing all but one of his some 24 attempts. The following weekend back home against Columbus, Opare would play an even more vibrant role in the 2-0 win. Once more as the left-sided centre-back, he was an active defender, roaming all over the pitch to mop up any potential trouble before it came to fruition. There is some concern when a defender gets pulled out of position too often, but Opare handled that well, for the most part, though he was nearly taken advantage of, sliding over from left to right, when Kei Kamara broke into the attacking left-side of the area to send a ball to the back-post, only for Ethan Finlay to be unable to get the needed touch on the stretch. Opare would put in one crucial intervention, getting a huge block on a Kamara effort in the box with a sliding clearance, as the forward wiggled in the box, trying to get free for a shot – the ball sailed out for a throw-in. It was his only block of the night, though he made eight clearances, five recoveries, and four interceptions, while conceding just a single foul. Completing all but three of his twenty pass attempts. He was also able and willing to get forward when the chance presented itself, galloping forward on occasion, but it was from a set-piece that he perhaps made his most important contribution, occupying both Kamara and Columbus' goalkeeper, Steve Clark, on a Fabian Espindola corner kick from the right, preventing the keeper from getting the touch he wanted. The ball would fall to Sean Franklin at the back-side for a simple right-footed touch; DC's second goal of the evening. Opare has impressed in his run of matches; one wonders whether Birnbaum will walk back into the starting eleven when fit, or if the young centre-back has done enough to make the spot his own, for the time being at least. Sam Adekugbe Adekugbe made a second-straight start on April 25th as Vancouver fell 1-2 to visiting DC United - it was his seventh start of the season. Continuing his strong play from the left-back position, Adekugbe got himself involved in the fracas after just minutes, lunging into an open legged challenge on Perry Kitchen in the ninth minute. Kitchen did not appreciate the tenacity at all, giving Adekugbe a little kick, but Kendall Waston was over quick to back up his young teammate, diffusing the situation as only an imposing presence such as his can. Adekugbe would see a yellow card for his enthusiasm – it was his fourth booking of the season, one away from a suspension. That aggressive play would not serve him well on DC's equalizing goal in the ninth minute, when Bobby Boswell was able to free himself from Agekugbe's marking to get on the end of a Michael Farfan cross. His passing was solid, completing 22 of 29, while defensively he racked up four clearances, three recoveries, and three interceptions; winning a pair of fouls and conceding only the one that led to his yellow card. Vancouver would fall behind when Chris Rolfe added a second in the 64th minute, but in search of a goal, the London-born defender would continue to press forward, finding a glorious chance to level the match deep in stoppage-time when a Pedro Morales free-kick fell to him in the left-side of the area. His weak right-footed effort was off-target, Adekugbe kicking his own leg in the attempt – it was his only shot of the night. He was not in the gameday eighteen in Portland the following week. Karl Ouimette Ouimette, after spending the season stapled to the bench, finally made his season debut as the New York Red Bulls fell 2-1 in New England this past Saturday – it was their first defeat of the season. Taking to the pitch as the left-sided centre-back, alongside Matt Miazga, Ouimette was solid, but showed moments of rust; only natural given it had been seven months since his last MLS appearance. He lost his mark on Charlie Davies in the ninth minute, allowing the forward to get on the end of a London Woodberry cross from the right for New England's opening goal. And was pulled over all the pitch by the Revolution's use of width. Teal Bunbury in particular caused him all sorts of troubling, dragging him wide to the right on far too many occasions for comfort. Ouimette would receive a yellow card in the 52nd minute on just such a play, cutting out a run from Bunbury way out near the touch-line – it was his only foul of the match. And later, Ouimette, along with the rest of the Red Bulls back-line, would be exposed again on the hour-mark, falling to keep track of a sweeping Revolution move across the top of the area, leading to Bunbury's eventual game-winner. Those shortcomings aside, the Terrebonne, Quebec-native was solid, especially in the air, where he was more than a match for Davies on any aerial threats. And he did very well to recover to the attacking right to get a much-needed block on a Lee Nguyen attempt, after the midfielder had squirmed away from the attentions of teammates Dax McCarty and Kemar Lawrence on the edge of the box with some sneaky footwork. Ouimette would take his chances to get forward, bursting up-field on one play, eating up some territory before being betrayed by a poor pass selection, getting his wires crossed with Dane Richard – his passing all told left a little to be desired, completing just 21 of 37. And with the clock counting down, he would nearly get on the end of a long throw, his headed effort drifting wide of the target. The former Montreal homegrown defender would collect some decent defensive numbers, including five clearances, four interceptions, two recoveries, and a tackle. Whether he did enough to warrant more playing time under Jesse Marsch remains to be seen. New York were playing their third match in less than a week, prompting Ouimette's inclusion in the starting lineup. He was an unused substitute in 1-1 draws against Los Angeles and Colorado, on the previous Sunday and Wednesday, respecively. Russell Teibert Teibert started both of Vancouver's matches over the past two weeks, as they fell 1-2 to DC at home and drew 0-0 in Portland most recently – he has now started the last three matches, bringing his season totals to seven starts and eight appearances. In both matches, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native would reprise his left-sided, defensively-oriented role, alongside first Matias Laba, then Gershon Koffie. Against DC, Teibert was guilty of being a touch slow to get out wide and challenge Michael Farfan, whose cross into the middle was met by Bobby Boswell, canceling out Pedro Morales' second minute goal in the ninth minute. Despite staying deep and providing a lot of defensive cover, arriving wherever trouble began to flare to double up pressure on the ball, Teibert was found wanting on DC's second goal in the 64th minute, unable to track the scything run of Chris Rolfe, who skipped past a last-ditch Teibert tackle to stab a finish past David Ousted. His passing on the night was excellent, completing all but four of some fifty attempts, and with eight recoveries, three tackles, two interceptions, and a clearance, he was definitely involved in the match, but still he would make way for Kekuta Manneh in the 70th minute, as Carl Robinson sought to inject some more attacking impetus into his side after going down a goal. The following week in Portland, Teibert was against tasked with a defensive-minded approach, specifically almost man-marking the ever-dangerous Darlington Nagbe out of the match. The derby between the Cascadian rivals would end scoreless, as neither was willing, nor able, to risk or find a way through the opponent. The Canadian would finish the match having completed 18 of 27 passes, while making four clearances, four recoveries, and one each of an interception, a block, and a tackle; conceding a single foul in the process. Ashtone Morgan Morgan continued his run of fine form in a pair of outings for Toronto FC, who embarked on a two-game winning streak with a 0-2 result in Orlando followed by a 0-1 victory against struggling Philadelphia. Morgan has started the last five TFC matches, appearing in the last six since subbing in when Justin Morrow was sent off in Columbus. Against Orlando, the Toronto, Ontario-native was conservative in attack, picking his spots to get forward – he completed thirteen of nineteen passes on the left-side. His confidence soaring after a year and a half in the wilderness, Morgan resumed his nasty left-back ways, suffering for his efforts. He would take a heavy knock in the back from Tyler Turner as he rose up to clear a cross, getting flattened from behind by the opponent, leaving him prone for a moment. It was a vital intervention despite the consequences, cutting out a Kaka ball that searched for space on the back side. Later he would catch a hard shoulder in the face from Kevin Molino, who saw a yellow card for his overly-strong challenge. Accumulating four clearances, three recoveries, and an interception through ninety minutes, Morgan would concede a pair of fouls, while winning one. His only mistake of the night came when he was very isolated against Kaka, who was able to get behind him on the inside as a leading pass was sent around the outside. Fortunately, nothing came from the chance. The following round in Philadelphia, Morgan was tasked with keeping a lid on the lively and tricky Erik Ayuk, which he managed well. Though he was a little slow to get out and pressure a crossing opportunity from Ray Gaddis, who whipped in the service unencumbered. He would also deal with threats from Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux, getting tangled with the imposing target man on a play that saw the Union hope to claim a penalty – it was not awarded, nor should it have been – and then did very well to block off the Frenchman's route to goal, stripping him of possession, before playing his way out of a dangerous part of the pitch with ease. Morgan would close the match with eight clearances, four recoveries, four tackles, and two interceptions. In attack he was once more a subtle presence, setting up a Jackson chance early with a ball in from the left, then picking his moment to press forward, collecting a loose ball before sending in a good cross that was cut out by Ethan White. He would complete just eleven of a mere nineteen passes though, as TFC focused on defending after Sebastian Giovinco's devastating free-kick gave them a lead in the 34th minute. Cyle Larin Larin started a third-straight match for Orlando City as they fell 0-2 to Toronto two weeks ago – it was his fifth appearance of the season. Taking to the pitch as the lone centre-forward, Larin was again on a bit of an island by himself, doing his best to factor in the match for a side that has struggled to find the needed goals. Focusing his efforts on exposing Nick Hagglund, the Brampton, Ontario-native showed his assets, using his strength to hold off the defender as he sought to get on the end of a Molino through-ball, resulting in a collision with Joe Bendik, who rushed off his line to collect. With Toronto largely focused on shutting down Kaka through the middle, Orlando sought to utilize the width allowed. Brek Shea in particular would repeatedly try and pick out Larin. The first attempt was met by the forward as he was sandwiched by a pair of defenders, forcing his header wide, while a later attempt arrived with a little too much energy; Larin was unable to bring down the quickly incoming service. He would make way for Bryan Rochez in the 67th minute, having had two attempts at goal, both off, and completing five of his seven passes. Larin strayed offside four times. Tesho Akindele Akindele was back on the bench for Dallas as they played a pair of road matches, drawing 1-1 in Colorado and then winning 1-4 in the Texas derby away to Houston. Akindele has been held out of the starting eleven in Dallas' last three matches, entering from the bench in the second half in each. In Colorado, Akindele would come on in the 64th minute, replacing goal-scorer Mauro Diaz, who had given the visitors the lead in the 31st minute. A 59th minute red card to Blas Perez meant that Dallas were down to ten men, so Akindele was largely tasked with seeing out the result. As it happened, Nick LaBrocca would equalize with an amazing strike in the 79th minute – nothing to be done about that – but the Calgary-born forward would nearly respond in kind, though his effort could only find the outside-netting following a long, rangy run up the right. It was his only attempt of the match. Akindele would complete six of eight passes, adding three recoveries, two clearances, and an interception to his stat-line that night. The following week on Friday night, Akindele would again replaced Diaz, this time in the 74th minute, with the match all but decided. Dallas had taken a two-goal lead in the first 21 minutes through Ryan Hollingshead and David Texeira. Houston would respond through Giles Barnes in the 32nd minute, but goals three minutes apart from Diaz and Fabian Castillo starting in the 52nd minute, gave the visitors an insurmountable 1-4 advantage. In his sixteen minutes, Akindele would help ensure Houston could find no way back, completing ten of thirteen passes, making two clearances, one interception, and a recovering, winning a single foul, as the match wound down. Prior to the matches, there was an interesting interview with Teal Bunbury that tangentially involved Akindele, as Bunbury spoke about his own decision-making process when faced with the option of representing either Canada or the US, as he indeed decided. In a manner, it even contained an apology for any 'mistruths' he represented to the Canadian media, perhaps a reference to an infamous interview with It's Called Football. It is worth a read for Canadian footy fans. Steven Vitoria Vitoria had a bit of a nightmare in his ninth-consecutive start for Philadelphia as they fell 4-1 to Columbus on April 25th, possibly guilty of not doing enough on any of the four Crew goals. The match would herald the end of his ironman run, as he was not included in the squad that lost to Toronto FC the following week. Once more as the left-sided centre-back, alongside the out of position Maurice Edu, Vitoria was under severe pressure, as the struggling Union failed to quell a rampant Crew attack at every turn. The Toronto-born defender was slow to get out and pressure Ethan Finlay wide on the first goal in the 21st minute, caught in two minds with Federico Higuain making a run off his shoulder, allowing a free cross to the back-side, which Kei Kamara easily brought down before finishing calmly. He was then unable to get up to mount a challenge or clear out Waylon Francis' left-sided cross in the 32nd minute, a cross which fell to Finlay, who touched in for a simple finish of his own. Then, before Philadelphia could regroup at half-time, Justin Meram would add a third, Vitoria again partially at fault as he was slow to step up to the ball-carrier, who burst away from Edu and Ray Gaddis to get off a shot that handcuffed keeper John McCarthy, who got a touch, only to watch as the ball dribbled over the line. And then the big defender was helpless to cut out the Kamara through-ball in the 73rd minute that led to Finlay's second and Columbus' fourth of the afternoon. It was a rough night for the Union. Despite that, it could have been worse were it not for Vitoria's contributions, making an impressive nine recoveries, nine clearances, two interceptions, a block and a tackle, all without conceding a single foul. He even completed 23 of his 27 passing attempts in Columbus. Whether he was simply rested against Toronto after a busy few months, or actually benched, is a matter for debate. Philadelphia's struggles have hardly been his fault, and would likely have been worse without his calming influence through the first two months of the season. Marcel de Jong de Jong started a fourth-straight match for Kansas City on April 25th in a wild 4-4 draw in Houston against the Dynamo – it was his sixth appearance of the season, all as a starter. From his left-back position, de Jong had disjointed outing. He collected an assist inside of two minutes – his first in MLS – pressuring a turnover out of Kofi Sarkodie high on the left-touch-line, before bumping the loose ball towards Krisztian Nemeth, who did the rest – running forty-yards towards goal before beating Tyler Deric with a dipping shot to the far-side. He would nearly add a second later when his overhit cross fell to Jalil Anibaba, who pulled back to Servando Carrasco at the top of the area, only for his effort to sail over the bar. de Jong showed excellent awareness and hustle on a later play, recovering deep to block a Sarkodie cross after he was exposed by a slipped ball down that side for the full-back to chase. The Newmarket, Ontario-native would complete 16 of 21 passes, make three interceptions, two recoveries, two clearances, and a tackle, before making way for Amadou Dia in the 63rd minute with Sporting trailing 3-1 at the time. It was a largely ineffective outing for de Jong, as KC struggled to string together passes for large swathes of the match. After he left however, they would score three more goals in the final sixteen minutes (plus five minutes of stoppage-time), as well as conceding another, resulting in the high-scoring draw. de Jong would find himself out of the squad the following round when KC return home to beat Chicago 1-0, losing his place to Seth Sinovic. A potentially worrying sign for Canadian fans with the Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifying on the horizon. Jonathan Osorio Osorio saw his run of five-straight starts end in Orlando, as he was replaced by Jackson in the lineup – he would come on in the 66th minute to replace the ineffectual Robbie Findley, to make his first substitute appearance of the season. Taking up the left-side of midfield, Osorio was anonymous, as he has been for much of the season. His only real intervention in the match was a shove in the back of Kevin Molino that drew a yellow card – his first booking of the season and one of two fouls he committed in his 24 minutes on the pitch. The Toronto, Ontario-native did however complete all eight of his pass attempts, while making a single recovery. He would be an unused substitute in TFC's match in Philadelphia the following week. The Rest The big news outside of league play was that Will Johnson returned to the pitch for the first time since that horrible double-leg break suffered last September in Toronto. The Timbers Captain played 63 minutes for Portland's USL T2 side against Arizona United on April 25th, leading the side to a 0-2 win. And then went the full ninety the following week in a 0-2 loss at home to the Orange County Blues. Reports indicate Johnson took a total of six shots through the two matches, an encouraging sign of his impeding return to MLS play. Just in time to get up to match fitness before the international commitments start to come around this summer. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Russell Teibert Teibert returned to Vancouver's starting eleven after a two-match absence, helping to guide his side to an impressive 2-0 win over defending champion LA Galaxy on Saturday night – it was his third start of the young season, having missed one match on international duty and been held out against Portland last week. Taking up his deep midfield position, alongside Matias Laba, Teibert was a force on the night, stifling LA attacks at every turn and helping to push Vancouver forward in the other direction. Robbie Keane, with whom Teibert has had several run-ins in the past, was not best pleased to see the Canadian, suffering the occasional extra bit of contact, as Teibert sought to get under the Irishman's skin – to great effect. And Gyasi Zardes regularly saw his advances quelled by Teibert's aggressive running, suffering a great tackle on one occasion that stripped possession, forcing a turnover and then seeing his cross into the box cut out by Teibert's tracking later. He would end the night with some impressive figures: ten recoveries, six interceptions, three tackles, and a clearance, committing two fouls throughout. But it was the interceptions, along with his excellent passing – misplacing just six of some sixty attempts – that proved crucial, , who sprung Kekuta Manneh down the left-channel, leading to Vancouver's opening goal.The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native earned plenty of plaudits, including shouts as Man of the Match – the official honour went to teammate Nicolas Mezquida – and a spot on MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week. Tesho Akindele Akindele started his fifth-straight game for Dallas on Saturday night in their 3-1 loss at Portland – he has been in Oscar Pareja's first-choice eleven for every match so far this season. Beginning as the underneath striker, playing off the shoulder of David Texeira who led the line, Akindele was free to roam the pitch as he pleased – the freedom he is given under Pareja is rather astonishing for a second-year professional, exhibiting the level of faith that the coach has in his charge. He would drop into a right-sided midfield position once Blas Perez joined the fray shortly after the hour-mark. By then, the Calgary, Alberta-born forward had already left his impression on the match. As with last round against Seattle, one of Dallas' recurring attack patterns was for Fabian Castillo to rush at defenders, drawing attention to himself before poking a through-ball for Akindele to attempt to latch onto; as with last week, a quick-footed keeper was off his line fast to prevent the chance. His next look was perhaps even sweeter, again latching onto a pass from Castillo, as he made a diagonal sprint into space on the left, breaking in alone on goal, only to guide a left-footed effort harmlessly over the bar. Portland would not be so lucky in the 29th minute, when Akindele , spinning away from Rodney Wallace to get the crucial touch on Michel's left-sided corner kick. The delivery was helped on at the near-side by Atiba Harris, whose deflection allowed Akindele to get the decisive touch with he knee at the back, equalizing the match at ones – it was his second goal of the season.The goal came on one of his three shots on the night, one off and the other easily saved by the Portland keeper, Adam Larsen Kwarasey. The Dallas forward would complete 22 of his 29 passes, adding seven recoveries, an interception, and a clearance. Post-match he noted, ”I thought it was a decent first half. Obviously they came out with a lot of energy. I think we matched it, even after we got scored on we bounced back well. Just the second half didn’t go our way so it was kind of disappointing.” He continued, “We felt like we were going to score another goal. We really believed in it and it was just one of those days it just wasn’t going for us. The last ball wasn’t there.” Ashtone Morgan Morgan, despite the return of the suspended Justin Morrow, maintained his place in the starting lineup as Toronto lost 3-2 to Chicago on Saturday, making a second-straight appearance at left-back – it was his third appearance overall this season. The Toronto, Ontario-native exuded a confidence that he had not shown in years, contributing defensively – finding himself in position to clear a potentially dangerous ball from the goal-mouth early and showing some good speed to stay close to Chicago's fleet-footed David Accam in a chase. He was not able to fully catch the Ghanaian, but applied enough pressure to limit the options, allowing Joe Bendik to make the timely save. But it was going forward that Morgan truly excelled, getting up-field with ease – hitting in two crosses inside the first seven minutes, one of which nearly fell to the foot of Sebastian Giovinco, who was surprised by the fortune. At times in the past guilty of not lifting his head and flinging mindless balls in, Morgan showed a bit of nous in the 20th minute, by pulling back to Giovinco above the near-post, where his attempt kicked off the heels of Jeff Larentowicz to handcuff Jon Busch in the Chicago goal, leveling the match six minutes after Joevin Jones had given the hosts the lead.It was Morgan's first assist of the season and the first he had registered since April 13, 2013 – about a week shy of two years to the day between helpers for the resurgent left-back. With the Fire conceding a lot of space on his side, Morgan's passing was very good – completing 24 of 33 - as was his decision making on the ball, losing possession just once. Defensively he compiled six recoveries and three clearances, conceding a single foul on the night. He would make way for Daniel Lovitz in the 88th minute, as Greg Vanney piled on the attacking substitutes in search of an equalizer, TFC having conceded the advantage with a pair of second half goal through Shaun Maloney and Jeff Larentowicz after taking the lead when Benoit Cheyrou placed a Giovinco pull-back into the Fire goal. After a forgettable season in 2014, Morgan has shown that getting a few matches under the belt and a bit of confidence is the best medicine for a slump, and can do wonders for a player. For Toronto and Canada's sake, it will hopefully continue. Cyle Larin Larin made his second appearance of the season in Orlando on Friday night, coming on in the 22nd minute for the injured Pedro Ribeiro, as his Orlando City fell 0-1 to DC United – the 68 minutes he spent on the pitch quadrupled the amount of action he has seen thus far. Leading the line, chances fell fast and heavy for the rookie. Mere seconds after coming on he found a good chance for a look at goal, collecting a Kevin Molino drop-pass as he curled to the right, only for his effort to be blocked by Taylor Kemp. An offside flag would cancel out a left-footed attempt sent over the bar in the 24th minute, but the Brampton, Ontario-native could only blame himself in the 42nd minute, collecting a lovely scooped ball from Kaka on his chest, bringing it down calmly, but dragging his right-footer wide of the left-post. He would force a save out of DC keeper, Bill Hamid, in the 74th minute; the final of his four shots on the night – two on, one off, and one blocked – and was more than willing to get involved in the build-up as well, sliding a nice pass out wide left for Molino to find a chance. But, Larin may have been his face and into the Orlando net, a late winner in the 91st minute.A rookie mistake no doubt, and one Adrian Heath will likely address. Larin was solid on the ball, completing six of his ten passes, winning four fouls with his physical presence, and adding an interception and a recovery to his achievements. He was caught off-side of three occasions however, and, still adjusting to the pace and pressure of the professional game, he appeared to snatch at his chances, rushing his attempts rather than coolly dispatching them. That said, his movement, probing the opposition back-line, and positioning, finding those little gaps to craft half-chances, have been very encouraging. Surely his first goal is not far off and if Ribeiro is forced to stay on the sidelines for an extended absence – it appeared to be a hamstring strain at the time – Larin will get the time he needs to score that first MLS goal sooner rather than later. Kofi Opare Like it may for Larin, injury has provided Opare with the chance to force his way into the starting eleven, making his first start of the season for DC in Orlando, having debuted last weekend when Steve Birnbaum went down with an early ankle injury. Paired with Bobby Boswell as the left-sided centre-back, Opare was faced with another difficult opponent. Last round it was LA, this week he was confronted primarily with Kaka and Ribeiro, at least until fellow-Canadian Larin came on as an early replacement. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised Opare handled those threats well. Kaka barely got the chance to slice through the box, as he did so devastatingly against Montreal last time out, while Larin was in tough against a potential national teammate, closed down on the right by Opare on one occasion, blocking an attempted cross, and then welcomed to the league with a bit of physicality, as Opare ranged all the way to the touchline to put in a heavy sliding challenge, winning the ball and snuffing out the attack at the cost of a thrown-in. He would finish the match with seven clearances, three recoveries, a tackle and an interception, while completing 15 of his 21 passes. And became the second Canadian to suffer a heavy collision with Orlando keeper, Donovan Ricketts, getting flattened as he went up for an aerial ball in the box – he came off better than Sam Adekugbe did in his challenge however. Last summer when Opare joined DC from LA, he came at the expense of position in the allocation order and a second-round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft – that pick, 42nd overall, would become Dan Metzger, for those interested. Such moves are the kind that a good club makes, filling a possible need at a relatively low-cost so that quality is available when needed. Opare has been nothing but solid in his two outings, not putting a foot-wrong – the opponent has not scored a goal while he has been on the pitch. And DC is all the better for having him in the squad. Sam Adekugbe Adekugbe made a fourth-consecutive start for Vancouver in their dominant win over LA on Saturday, maintaining the starting left-back position ahead of the veteran Jordan Harvey. Tasked with keeping a lid on Stefan Ishizaki, thrusting down LA's right-flank, Adekugbe was forced to tangle with one of the few Galaxy players to not be thoroughly outplayed on the night, troubling Adekugbe in one instance, before the Vancouver defender eventually snatched away possession. The English-born defender would see a yellow card, his second of the season, in the 59th minute for blocking off Ishizaki's run in midfield, ending a potentially troublesome LA transition – it was his only foul of the match. Adekugbe showed all the assets that have helped him keep Harvey out of the lineup: quickness, an ability to get forward, and a defensive tenacity, contributing seven recoveries, five clearances, and a tackle. But also seems to have grown in confidence on the ball, misplacing just seven of over fifty passes on the night; doing his part in an outstanding outing from the Whitecaps. Continuing his education in MLS, Adekugbe once more suffered physically, taking an awkward bit of contact from Alan Gordon and Kendall Waston as he went up for an aerial challenge. It was unclear exactly what happened, possibly an inadvertent head-butt from teammate Waston, but regardless, both Waston and Gordon are fearsome opponents in the air and Adekugbe's fearlessness, at the cost of a few moments prone on the pitch, is admirable. That said, he may want to avoid picking on the biggest people on the pitch in the future. Steven Vitoria Vitoria continued his iron-man run for Philadelphia as they dropped a heart-breaker in Kansas City on Sunday night, falling 3-2 on a pair of stoppage-time goals from Sporting that overturned what would have been the Union's first win of the season – Vitoria has played every minute for his club, the only Canadian to do so, as both Jonathan Osorio and Tesho Akindele have not completed all their starts. Once more the left-sided centre-back, paired this time with new partner, Maurice Edu, Vitoria was a calming presence for Philadelphia, but even he could not prevent the late crumbling. Though he could not be held directly responsible for any of the three goals against, he would liked to have done a better job of marshaling his teammates on set-pieces, from which all three were conceded. The Toronto-born defender did his part in the run of play, ending the match with five clearances, five recoveries, and four interceptions, conceding two fouls and winning one. His passing – completing just 10 of 23 – showed just how much pressure the Union were under, preferring to launch long passes rather than play out of the back on the road, hence the poor completion rate. He showed his ability to aid in attack, pointing for left-back Fabinho to make a run before playing a leading ball down the flank, a play that eventually led to Andrew Wenger forcing a good save out of Luis Marin. And was on the end of a nasty challenge from Krisztian Nemeth, but came off no worse for wear. Marcel De Jong De Jong returned to Kansas City's starting lineup after a one match absence for the win over Philadelphia on Sunday – it was his third appearance of the season, all as a starter. The Newmarket, Ontario-native's night would be all but cut short in the 18th minute when he was called for a foul on Erik Ayuk Mbu. It was no doubt a hard challenge, but both De Jong and Peter Vermes doubted it was even a foul – De Jong would receive a yellow card for it, his only foul of the match. As if that was not enough punishment, the ensuing free-kick would lead to Philadelphia's second goal, reinstating their lead in the 19th minute, the two sides having exchanged goals earlier. De Jong would seek to make amends, sending a long, hopeful free-kick into the Union box, seeking out the head of Jalil Anibaba, who had strayed offside. Getting into advanced positions, De Jong had two attempts at goal, both off-target, including one weak shot from distance when the ball fell to him in the middle of the pitch. He would go to ground again for another challenge on Ayuk, this time getting beat, and when he was replaced by Seth Sinovic for the second half, Vermes relayed to the broadcast team that the decision was based on the risk of another booking, already having seen one, in the midst of a physical game, and with concerns over 'soft' calls. De Jong completed 20 of his 24 passes, made three tackles, and two interceptions. Jonathan Osorio Osorio made his fourth-straight start for Toronto in their loss to Chicago on Saturday. Once more on the right-side of the midfield, sitting a little deeper as part of a three-man quasi-shield in front of the back-line, Osorio again struggled to make an impact on the match. His passing was excellent, as usual – completing all but 5 of some roughly 45 passes – but with Sebastian Giovinco again the focal point, Osorio has been forced into a supporting role out wide, which does not make best use of his talents. The Toronto, Ontario-native did have one good look at goal, when a Warren Creavalle ball from the left fell to him at the back-post, but Osorio dragged his right-footer wide – his only shot of the match, off-target. He would make way for Bright Dike in the 80th minute having amassed three recoveries and an interception, winning two fouls in the process. The Rest Only one additional Canadian was in the gameday eighteen this round: Kyle Bekker on the bench for FC Dallas in Portland. Though he did not see the pitch, he was involved, slightly, in the post-match confrontation that began with the offering of a tissue. Bekker was mostly trying to play peacekeeper, like a good Canadian should. 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
  9. 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
  10. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  11. Russell Teibert Teibert made his first start of the MLS season in Vancouver's 1-3 loss to Toronto on Saturday. Having started 22 matches in 2014 – a career high, Teibert was back in the first eleven, beating out Gershon Koffe and lining up alongside Matias Laba at the base of the Vancouver midfield. From his left-sided position, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native was influential in a dominant first half performance from the Whitecaps, helping to maintain possession – he completed some 30 of his 31 passes on the night – and marauding up the left-channel, repeatedly troubling the TFC defenses. After just eight minutes, he, by all rights, should have registered up his first assist of the season, picking out striker Octavio Rivero running in behind the Toronto back-line, but the designated player could not corral the ball on the turf, registering what could be the miss of the season in the first round of play. The fifth-year midfielder would have two good looks of his own, testing Joe Bendik with a fierce strike in the 28th minute, having found a pocket of space for a left-footed effort from the top left-corner of the box – Bendik would parry the blast, and sending his other attempt off target. Full of running, as usual, Teibert would contribute on the defensive side of the ball as well, racking up seven recoveries, two interceptions – including a vital headed intervention that prevented Michael Bradley from picking out Sebastian Giovinco in the Whitecaps area, one block, and a tackle; conceding one foul and losing possesion just once, a marked improvement over what has been a weakness in his game in seasons past. He was however given the runaround by Jonathan Osorio en route to Toronto's opening goal in the 32nd minute of play – clip below. The 22-year old Canadian would be replaced in the 64th minute by Koffie with Vancouver having fallen behind and attempting to regain control of the middle of the park with the more imposing Ghananian. Jonathan Osorio Osorio too made his season debut in Saturday's match between Toronto and Vancouver, helping his side on to a 1-3 victory in their first of seven roads matches to open the 2015 campaign. Coming off a career year, in terms of starts, minutes, and assist, if not goals, Osorio won a position in a congested and star-studded TFC midfield, taking up the right-sided midfield slot. Overrun on that flank through the opening twenty minutes, with Kekuta Manneh menacing, Osorio was crucial to the few chances that fell Toronto's way through the opening half. It was his intelligent layoff to Bradley that led to a deflected attempt, which fell into the path of Giovinco, who dragged his shot wide of the left-post and it was his vital running that led to Jozy Altidore's goal in the 32nd minute, collecting a ball from the defenders high on the right, rushing to the outside to gain some ground before peeling away from Teibert to find Giovino, who made a neat curl of his own to evade Laba and find the big American with a poked through-ball. His passing all night was integral to TFC's second half domination, misplacing just five of some 45-odd passes, while collecting seven recoveries, two interceptions, and a tackle, winning a foul as well. The Toronto, Ontario-native had a solid look of his own in the 91st minute when the ball fell to him on the left-side of the area, but his attempt on goal was blocked – it was his only shot of the match. In his third season in MLS, the 22-year old midfielder is expected to carry the flag for a Toronto side that lost the likes of Doneil Henry and Dwayne De Rosario in the off-season. Steven Vitoria Toronto-born, but Portuguese-bred – in the footballing sense – Vitoria made his introduction to MLS on Saturday as Philadelphia played out a scoreless draw against Colorado at PPL Park in Chester, PA. Signed on a one-season loan from SL Benfica on February 9, the centre-back lined up alongside Ethan White in the heart of the Union back-line, helping them register their first clean-sheet of the season. Playing as the left-sided of the duo, Vitoria was solid, if unspectacular – not that one wants spectacular defenders – contributing a clean match, while showing a certain amount of skill on the ball, seeing just five of his fifty-plus passes go astray. That said, he did have a penchant for the long ball, which plays well into the Union's pace in wide positions. Without being overly tested by a still-evolving Rapids attack, the 28-year old Vitoria compiled five clearances, three tackles, and two each of interceptions and recoveries. He also picked up his first booking of the season in the 25th minute, chopping down the speedy Dominique Badji when drawn out wide and beaten for pace – it was one of three fouls he conceded on the night, winning two for his side in the process. The big centre-back showed some of his experience in a second half play, first preventing Badji from going to the outside, then wisely getting out of the way of his hurried shot, thereby eliminating any risk of a costly deflection. All told, an impressive debut for the Canadian-born defender in first first MLS appearance. Tesho Akindele Akindele, who was awarded last season's Rookie of the Year trophy, resumed his starting role for Dallas in their 1-0 win over San Jose on Saturday. Having made eighteen starts in his first campaign, the Calgary-born forward, took up a position on the left-side of a rampant and fluid Dallas attack, who struggled to beat San Jose keeper David Bingham. As usual, Akindele roamed all over the pitch, popping up deep in defense – amassing seven recoveries, three interceptions, and three clearances throughout - and ranging forward in attack; he once nearly beat the equally-active Bingham to a long ball, only for the keeper to get the vital touch at the last second. He had two solid attempts at goal, scuffing a clean, left-footed look wide of the right-post on the turn in the 61st minute when a bouncing ball fell to him in space on the left – and then seeing his point-blank redirection of a Michael Barrios cross from the right denied and smothered by Bingham in the 84th. His passing was typically erratic, completing 21 of thirty attempts – a feature of his constant low-percentage prodding of the Earthquake defenses (not necessarily a bad thing) – and lost possession twice through ninety minutes, while straying offside on one occasion. Well known by now – and roundly commentated upon, Akindele's international future is still up in the air, as he took part in the US National Team's January camp. The Rest Kofi Opare, Maxim Tissot, and Patrice Bernier were on the benches for DC and Montreal, respectively, as United rolled out 1-0 winners over the Impact. Sam Adekugbe, Ashtone Morgan, and new homegrown-signing Jay Chapman were in the squads for Vancouver and Toronto on Saturday. Kyle Bekker, who was traded from Toronto to Dallas in January, was an unused substitute in Dallas' late 1-0 win over San Jose on Saturday night. News & Notes Though the opening round featured little Canadian content, there was one addition during the off-season that should prove interesting, as Sporting KC signed oft-national team left-back/midfielder Marcel de Jong, who saw his contract with German side FC Augsburg terminated in January (by mutual consent). Similarly, Karl Ouimette, who was stunningly released by the Montreal Impact back in February, has impressed in a trial with former manager, Jesse Marsch, now in charge of the New York Red Bulls, earning a spot with the New Jersey-based club. On final new face made his first appearance of the season, as former Canadian international Marc Bircham joined Frank Yallop on the Chicago Fire bench as they lost in the opening match of the round on Friday, 2-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy in LA. Bircham left QPR, where he had spent the last five season, at the start of February to join the Chicago coaching staff As the season continues, more of the news from the off-season will be sprinkled in to augment the coverage. 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
  12. Patrice Bernier Bernier returned to the Montreal starting lineup in their 1-1 draw at Toronto on Saturday for the first time in a month and a half, having just returned from a bout of plantar fasciitis last week – it was his nineteenth start and 21st appearance of the season. Lining up alongside Calum Mallace at the base of the midfield, Bernier was a dominant force in the middle, even if his usually accurate passing was a little off – completing roughly half of his attempts, though in fairness many incomplete ones were of the longer variety, trying to spring attackers behind the Toronto defenses from deep. Raw numbers rarely tell the whole story, but by way of evidence they can be indicative, as such Bernier racked up a jaw-dropping sixteen recoveries, six interceptions, four clearances, and three tackles – a stunning 27 defensive interventions. He had one attempt at goal, sending a long-range effort wide in the 75th minute, but his real impact came in his quelling of Toronto attacks and spring of Montreal ones. He intercepted a weak ball in the centre of the pitch, playing up to Dilly Duka that led to a Jack McInerney chance in the first half and it was his lovely, long cross-field ball that found Andres Romero streaking down the left that led to Felipe’s equalizer in 39th minute. The Brossard, Quebec-native was not done there, hitting a curling free-kick to the back-post for Hassoun Camara in the second half that led to a handball shout and devising a quick restart from a later dead-ball that found Issey Nakajima-Farran leading to a Marco Di Vaio chance as the match wound down. Bernier’s leadership was also evident, trying, without success, to talk Baldomero Toledo out of an early booking for Camara – the defender would be sent off for his second yellow later – and mixing it up with National Team compatriot Dwayne De Rosario as the two sides debated the merits of Jackson’s yellow card – each shoving the other. Post-match he commented: “It was a good performance. Against Toronto, it’s always special for a Montrealer. It’d been a month since I played. The last game was [with Canada] against Jamaica, here in Toronto, and we won 3-1. It went well, and I'm glad, all the more so given that I’d only returned to training last week.” Adding: “Emotions are let loose sometimes, and you try to control the game, you try to help the referee as well, but you can see it goes overboard sometimes, especially in those games. There were a few red cards, but in the end, it didn’t go overboard so much. For me, it was one of the more exciting and emotional games we had against Toronto.” Doneil Henry Henry too returned to the starting lineup for Toronto on Saturday against Montreal for the first time after a six-match hiatus – it was his eighteenth start and twentieth appearance of the season, though more importantly (if rumours are to be believed) it may well have been his final home match for the club. Paired with Steven Caldwell in the centre of defense, taking up the left-sided role, he was tasked with keeping the tireless running of Jack McInerney under wraps. With Toronto taking the initiative and Montreal looking to spring quick breaks, Henry was required to mop up a lot of half chances, making nine recoveries, five interceptions, three clearances, and two blocked throughout the ninety mintues. The Brampton, Ontario-native was a little late to spot Felipe’s trailing run on Montreal’s goal, both he and Caldwell dropping back with the runner rather than protecting the vulnerable top of the box, but he made amends with that error with a good recovery-intervention when Felipe chipped McInerney in early in the second half, doing just enough to rush the striker into clipping his finish off the face of the bar. With TFC in desperate need of the points late and some time with the National Team at full-back, Henry pressed high up the right later in the match, getting involved in the oft-impotent attack. His first pass into the box showed all the finesse one would expect of a centre-back in attack – easily cut out by Patrice Bernier – but his second was rather nice, scooping the ball over the tackle of Felipe before bypassing Bernier to play in Dwayne De Rosario down the right-side of the box; unfortunately De Rosario blazed his effort over the bar. Perhaps indicative of change in the future, Henry was one of the few Toronto players who ventured to the South End to applaud the fans after another disappointing season. Henry has been the success story of the nascent TFC academy and has a lot of room for further growth in his game. Jonathan Osorio Osorio started a sixth-consecutive match for Toronto in their draw on Saturday – it was his 24th start and 27th appearance of the season. Allowed to take up his preferred central-role, playing ahead of Collen Warner with Michael Bradley suspended, Osorio was good, but was unable to make use of the full pitch, opting instead to stay deep, often taking up the Bradley-role of dropping very deep to pick up the initial pass out of the back. The consequence of which was that he did not have a single pass in the final third of the pitch, which is a criminal misuse of his skills with Toronto desperate for goals. The Toronto, Ontario-native was indeed key in TFC’s ball movement, completing all but eight of his approximately forty passes, but it would have been nice if some had been in more dangerous areas of the pitch. Despite that reserved nature, he did help spring two notable attacks – laying a skipping ball down the right for Mark Bloom that led to Luke Moore’s fade-away header at the back-post that was cut out by Matteo Ferrari and playing a scoop pass in midfield to Moore that led to the counterattack that drew a fine foot save out of Evan Bush at the back-post on Dominic Oduro – likely TFC’s best scoring chance of the match. His night would come to a premature end in the 93rd minute when he was dismissed with a very harsh red card from the referee, who had obviously tired managing the game midway through the second half and chose to instead start sending everybody off – it was the first red card of his MLS career and just his third bookings. No doubt Osorio caught Felipe with a foul, but did it warrant a red card? Video evidence is inconclusive, but it is worth pointing out no Montreal players were particularly angered by the challenge, as they were by Jackson’s on Eric Miller some minutes earlier. Unless it is rescinded, which is unlikely given the Independent Review Panel’s silence on Nick Hagglund’s bizarre red the previous week (there is little reason to stir the pot and overturn cards when the matches are meaningless), Osorio will have played his final match of 2014, ending the season with three goals and five assists after scoring five and garnering a single assist in his rookie campaign, making six further starts, but one less appearance than he did in 2013. Post-match he discussed a plethora of subjects, sharing his thoughts on the match: “It was a difficult game. Obviously they came out with a lot of energy. You could kind of feel that. They definitely wanted to end our playoff hopes. To be fair they played pretty well. We played pretty good too. I thought we had many chances, especially in the first half. Unfortunately we gave up that goal and we couldn’t get the next one in the 2nd half.” On the red card: “As Felipe was passing the ball I just kind of reached in with my foot and I kind of got him a little bit. I don’t know if it deserved red card but I did get him. It was a foul.” On Felipe’s goal-celebration: “I was waiting to get a goal myself because I had something up my sleeve but it’s okay it happens.” And finally on the fan’s impatience, speaking truth in the face of much pressure: “We understand the fans are impatient now because it’s been a long time since the club started and we’ve never been in the playoffs. We have to look at the reality and the reality is we’re still a club making changes. We went up a step from last year and if we can continue building that, pretty soon we will be a team fighting for a championship. “We definitely do have the players, maybe we’re missing some pieces but I think more it’s about the team being together longer. The more we get to practice with each other, the more fluidity we’ll get in our team and the better we will be.” Russell Teibert Teibert retained his starting position for Vancouver in the 0-0 draw in San Jose on Saturday night for the eleventh-consecutive match – it was his 21st start and 28th appearance of the season. Once more alongside Matias Laba at the base of the midfield, Teibert had a solid outing, covering tons of ground and was nearly perfect in his passing, competing all but four of some fifty attempts. It was a rather quiet match on the whole, but the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native had one crack from long range that strayed wide and hit a spectator, who dropped like a stone and he played numerous balls into the wide areas, hoping to spur attacks, finding Erik Hurtado one on occasion, who could not see out the chance. He was guilty of over-committing on one occasion, biting hard and blazing past Khari Stephenson’s touch allowing a blistering shot from the top of the box that was well-saved by David Ousted. Teibert looked forward to Vancouver’s final match – the one which would determine if they will make this year’s playoffs - in his post-match comments: “We said that we had five cup finals to play in, and we’ve won three and tied one. This is the last cup final that we’re going to have to play in before the playoffs, and we’re going to approach it like we have the past four games. I think if we stick to our game plan and everybody focuses on their tasks, individually and collectively, I know we can get a result.” Issey Nakajima-Farran Nakajima-Farran began his return to Toronto on the bench, coming on for Dilly Duka in the 73rd minute to make his fifth-substitute appearance in Montreal’s last six matches after an impressive outing for Canada against Colombia on Tuesday – it was his twelfth appearance of the season for the Impact, all but four coming as a sub. Lively and full of confidence, the Calgary, Alberta-native took every opportunity to close down TFC players on the ball, helping to prevent the home side from finding the game-winner they needed. He nearly got a winner himself when Patrice Bernier played a quick free-kick to him, running at Steven Caldwell before playing to Marco Di Vaio down the right. Joe Bendik would deny the striker’s attempt and the rebound trickled beyond the reach of Nakajima-Farran at the back-post with the net gaping – it would have been sweet justice for how his midseason transfer between the clubs was handled. He spoke post-match about returning to Toronto: “I’ve got close friends on the other team so I always wish them the best but at the same time it’s bittersweet because of how the situation went down. As much as I want to prove myself to them against them for what they did, but this is MLS, but I have mixed feelings because I have close friends on the other side.” And on how everything has played out for him this season: “Well, they didn’t really play out too well for me. As soon as I settled down in Montreal, I haven’t been playing as much ever since the red card. I’ve been playing here and there but no more than an hour in the past 10 or 15 games I guess. It’s been frustrating and very unexciting time for myself, but, everything has been going great with the national team. I’m very thankful for Benito (Floro) and especially all the guys that surround the national team so it’s been a great season for that.” Dwayne De Rosario De Rosario entered Toronto’s draw from the bench in the 57th minute, replacing the goal-scorer Warren Creavalle with TFC in search of an equalizer – it was the eighth-straight appearance for the veteran, all but the first coming from as a substitute; he has made nineteen appearances this season, four of them starts. Given a free role, De Rosario ranged all over the pitch in an effort to find a way through the Montreal defenses, though he was nominally stationed on the right of the midfield. Shortly after entering, he nearly picked out the run of Gilberto with a long ball down the left-channel, but his delivery was slightly over-hit, skidding to Evan Bush who cleared away the threat. The Scarborough, Ontario-native had a glorious chance to get the winner himself, after Doneil Henry silky-skills played him in down the right-side of the area, but his right-footer sailed woefully over. His run into the area even later was overlooked by a Gilberto headed pass, opting instead to try and find Luke Moore to little effect. De Rosario had several run-ins with his Canadian associates, marking Issey Nakajima-Farran on a free-kick, tangling and bundling him over in the process and exchanging shoves with Patrice Bernier after Jackson’s booking. The veteran exhibited he still has plenty of fire, responding to getting hacked down by Hassoun Camara with a back-heel, leg-hook, can-opener, earning a yellow card for his troubles – it was his first booking of the season. Kyle Bekker Bekker’s run of three-straight starts came to an end on Saturday, returning to the bench from which he made his introduction in the 68th minute, replacing Collen Warner with TFC chases a victory – it was his nineteenth appearance of the season and seventh as a substitute. Taking up the deep-lying central role, Bekker was good, but wasted his chance to play the hero, sending his last-second free-kick sailing high onto the roof of the net. The Oakville, Ontario-native did have his moments, making the interception that led to Dominic Oduro’s chance on the counterattack and hitting a lovely corner kick that Gilberto should have done better with, but it was not to be; his frustration when his free-kick floated away was obvious. Tesho Akindele Akindele was back on the bench for the start of Dallas’ eventual 0-1 win in Colorado on Saturday – it was his 25th appearance of the season, eighteen of which have been starts. It was the third match in the last four in which he was used as a substitute, perhaps Oscar Pareja is trying to get the rookie some rest before the playoffs begin, plus Dallas’ other offseason acquisitions – David Texeira and Andres Escobar - have found their form, making inclusion in the starting lineup a more uncertain prospect. Entering the fray at half-time, replacing Texeira, the Calgary, Alberta-native was full of his usual running, unfortunately it was a pretty uneventful match. Dallas took the lead in the 56th minute from the penalty spot and then Colorado were reduced to ten men in the 79th minute, all but ending the contest. Despite that awesome ‘Vote for Tesho’ campaign video, his Rookie of the Year bid will have suffered some in that his production has dropped off of late – his last goal came in that hat-trick nine matches ago; since then he has picked up a pair of assists. The transition from the short college season to the lengthy professional one always weighs heavy on young players, perhaps a further reason for his lack of starts recently. Maxim Tissot Tissot entered Montreal’s draw in Toronto in the 82nd minute, replacing Andres Romero with fresh legs as the Impact looked to end TFC’s season – it was his nineteenth appearance of the season; all but six of which have come from the bench. Taking up the left-side of the Montreal midfield, the Gatineau, Quebec-native was tasked largely with matching the speed threat of Dominic Oduro down that flank, making at least one crucial intervention on the tricky Ghanaian to see out the result. The Rest Ashtone Morgan, Maxime Crepeau, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Sam Adekugbe, and Kofi Opare were unused substitutes on the bench for their respective sides. Mark Watson and Nick Dasovic were relieved on their managerial duties in San Jose last Wednesday when it was announced that the rumoured return of Dominic Kinnear to his former stomping grounds would be coming to fruition next season. Despite the shockingly public nature of the back-room machinations, Watson ‘took the high road’ in his comments to the San Jose Mercury. Hopefully the duo will land on their feet; who knows, Toronto could be looking for a new management team in the near future. All quotes and video courtesy of MLSsoccer.com Each week James takes a look at the contributions of Canadians in the league and the league as a whole. You can follow James on twitter @grawsee or read more of his writing at Partially Obstructed View
  13. Jonathan Osorio Osorio started both of Toronto’s losses this week, on Wednesday 0-1 against Houston in Toronto and on Saturday 3-1 in New York – they were his 22nd and 23rd starts of the season, bringing his total appearance tally to 26. On Wednesday, attacking from the left-side of the midfield, Osorio tucked in-field in order to get on the ball and insert himself into the play, but also made good use of the wide spaces. He would pick out Jermain Defoe with a nice long ball, but the striker was called off-side in the first half. The second half saw him put in some solid work out on the touch-line, combining with Justin Morrow to work towards goal, only to be blocked off by Ricardo Clark – a foul whistle was not forthcoming. It was a ball from just such an area, though a little higher, that led to TFC’s penalty kick, Osorio finding Defoe in the middle, who helped it on to Luke Moore who was pulled down leading to a red card and spot kick, which Defoe would miss after a long delay. Overall his passing on the night was superb, with just six of some sixty-plus going astray. He took a rather vicious ball to the face on one passage that left him slight shaken for a moment, but the Toronto, Ontario-native composed himself to help his side go in search of a goal (or two) that would not come. On Saturday, Osorio was equally impressive in New York; going forward at least. Nominally on the left again, he would move further and further in-field as the game wore on, his passing again was nearly-perfect, completing all but three of roughly forty attempts. Osorio would get involved straight from the off, trying to race onto a through-ball down the left-channel, only for Luis Robles to beat him and make the clearance. The Canadian was further involved minutes later, on the receiving end of a crunching challenge from Richard Eckersley, who saw a yellow card for his efforts. His attacking instincts – or more succinctly, the lack of defensive ones - proved costly, as he , which was touched in by Dax McCarty – the back-breaker before half-time.His disappointment during the half-time interview was palpable – and a little depressing to be honest. Osorio would respond to the tough first half, offering his side a life-line by scoring ten minutes after the restart, after Michael Bradley had played the full-back down that side – it was his third goal of the season, his last having come ten matches ago in Columbus; happier times for TFC, no doubt.Russell Teibert Teibert started a tenth-straight match in Vancouver’s crucial 0-1 win in Seattle on Friday night – it was his twentieth start and 27th appearance of the season. Paired with Matias Laba at the base of the midfield, Teibert covered plenty of ground in a largely defensive outing, racking up seven recoveries, two clearances, and an interception. Early in the match he tracked well back to close down an Obafemi Martins run, preventing his path to goal, but allowing the Seattle attacker to spray a wide ball to the opposite flank. He was unable to stop an Osvaldo Alonso run later on, but was aided by Steven Beitashour, who cleared away the trouble. Despite focusing on the defensive aspects of the game – providing coverage, mopping up loose balls, and assisting in double-teams – the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native moved the ball relatively well, though many of his more adventurous passes went awry, sending a seriously over-hit ball down the right on one occasion. It was especially nice to see Teibert yapping at Martins when he protested a late foul call and then proceeded to get in the face of Clint Dempsey. Teibert is being groomed for a leadership role in Vancouver, something he is growing into with each match. The Whitecaps would seal up a second-straight Cascadia Cup, put themselves in control of the final playoff spot in the West, and all but ensure they will represent Canada in next year’s rendition of the CONCACAF Champions League. They released this nifty graphic heralding their Cascadia triumph. Kyle Bekker Bekker made his eleventh and twelfth starts of the season in Toronto’s double-game week – he has made eighteen appearances this season. Paired with Michael Bradley in the centre of the pitch in both matches, Bekker played, somewhat bizarrely, as the more advanced of the duo, from where he pressed very high. His passing was very crisp that night, with just six of thirty-odd passes incomplete, setting up looks for Bradley – a weak shot – and Jermain Defoe – with a deft touch to Luke Moore that set up Defoe’s run. The Oakville, Ontario-native had two shots himself, testing Houston keeper Tyler Deric with a low drive from range early in the second half; his later attempt was blocked before making way for Dominic Oduro in the 65th minute when Greg Vanney looked to inject more pace to help spread the match. On Saturday in New York, Bekker was one of the more involved players through a strong opening twenty-plus minutes until New York took the lead, somewhat against the run of play. His movement was good, covering a lot of ground, and misplacing just three of 25 or so passes. He would be sacrificed for Gilberto at half-time with Toronto desperate for goals. Tesho Akindele Akindele returned to the Dallas starting eleven in their win over Los Angeles on Sunday night – it was his eighteenth start and 24th appearance of the season. Playing up top with David Texeira, Akindele ranged all over the pitch, as is his wont, popping up to cause problems for the Galaxy defenses. His first real involvement came in the first half when he ran at left-back James Riley, beating the full-back around the outside to pull-back a feed for Texeira – the striker made of mess of the play, tripping up over his own feet and the ball to waste the chance. He later played an inviting layoff to Victor Ulloa, who shot wide. The Calgary, Alberta-native had one look at goal himself, collecting the ball from a Fabian Castillo touch deep in the midfield before hitting a right-footer from distance – it sailed off target. His willingness to assist his side defensively was admirable, collecting four interceptions and four recoveries on the night. That unending work would force a late turnover after battling to gain control, setting up a weak Adam Moffat shot. Kianz Froese Froese, who signed his homegrown contract with Vancouver in the middle of September, made his debut on Friday night in Seattle, coming on at half-time to replace the injured Kekuta Manneh. The 18-year old took up the left-side of the attacking midfield three and immediately put himself about. Coming on, at half-time, on the road, in front of more than sixty-thousand fans can be a daunting task, but the Cuban-born teenage did well, if was a little rambunctious, picking up a pair of fouls – both on Seattle’s Jalil Anibaba and losing out on three dribbles. The first came just ten minutes after his entrance, moving inside to run at the Sounders defense. Unfortunately a heavy touch – nerves and turf – saw the ball run away from him, leading to a heavy tackle that sent Anibaba flying. He would catch his target with a late challenge in the 78th minute – clearly not afraid to get involved in the physical side of the game. Froese showed some good speed tearing up the left to get on the end of a Pedro Morales ball, but it was hit too far and Chad Marshall was able to come over to collect. He was featured in a piece on MLSsoccer.com (by CSN’s own Michael McColl), where he spoke of making his debut and Carl Robinson made note of his strong outing. Maxim Tissot Tissot began Montreal’s 2-2 draw against New England on Saturday on the bench, coming on in the 65th minute for Justin Mapp – it was his eighteenth appearance of the season, all but six have come as a substitute. Andres Romero would swap over to Mapp’s right-side allowing Tissot to take up his preferred left, from which he got involved with little success. Montreal would relinquish their lead four minutes after his introduction and the Gatineau, Quebec-native would spend the remaining twenty-plus minutes trying to correct that setback. His passing suffered in an attempt to force the issue, completing just five of his fifteen attempts, but he did win a foul after a nice move up the left to combine with Marco Di Vaio, for getting shoved over by Jermaine Jones. Tissot even took up a bit of the set-piece responsibilities, sending in a corner kick from the right. His best passage saw him cut into the left-side of the area from a nice Patrice Bernier ball, working to the end-line only to see his cross cut out by a swarm of Montreal attackers. Patrice Bernier Bernier returned to the pitch after a six-match injury lay-off due to a foot problem – it was his 24th appearance of the six, but only his sixth from the bench. Coming on for Felipe in the 77th minute, the Brossard, Quebec-native was his usual imperious self on the ball, completing all but one of his passes – including laying that ball in for Tissot after a bursting, slashing run up the pitch. Dwayne De Rosario De Rosario was a substitute in both of Toronto’s losses this round, coming on for Jackson in the 80th minute on Wednesday and Warren Creavalle in the 83rd on Saturday – De Rosario has made appearance from the bench in TFC’s last six matches, bring his season total up to eighteen, only four of which have been starts. Against his former club on Wednesday, the Scarborough, Ontario-native was very lively with his running, making on darting run to the right that dragged a pair of defenders with him, allowing Luke Moore to find Jermain Defoe in acres of space on the left – his effort sailed harmlessly over the bar. Three minutes after coming on in New York, Toronto would be reduced to ten men, limiting his ability to make an impact. The Rest Kofi Opare, Sam Adekugbe, Maxime Crepeau, and Wandrille Lefevre were unused substitutes on the bench for their respective sides. 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
  14. Russell Teibert Teibert started his ninth-straight match for Vancouver in their 2-0 win over Dallas on Saturday night – it was his nineteenth start and 26th appearance of the season. With another start next weekend, Teibert will surpass the career-high he set last year; he has already established a new mark for appearances, having made just 24 in 2013. From the left-side of the midfield, Teibert was very active in the early Vancouver attacks, playing an initial ball to Mauro Rosales that led to Sebastian Fernandez’ first look at goal and inserting himself in the build-up that led to Fernandez opening the scoring in the fourteenth minute, , who played wide to Rosales to hit the decisive cross.With Vancouver padding their lead four minutes later, Teibert shifted into a deeper holding position, sacrificing forward movement to line up alongside Matias Laba in a two-man shield in front of the back-four. The Niagara Falls, Ontario-native left a little to be desired in his passing, completing roughly half of his attempts; playing long, looking to spring Vancouver’s speed from deep, while a valid strategy, is not a kind one for passing completion. He would rack up seven recoveries, and two each of interceptions, clearances, and tackles, helping to ensure Vancouver remained in possession of that fifth and final playoff spot in the West. Tesho Akindele Akindele began Dallas’ match in Vancouver on the bench, coming on for Ryan Hollingshead at half-time with his side trailing by two goals – it was his 23rd appearance of the season; only his sixth as a substitute. Taking up the right-side of midfield for the most part, he would swap with Andres Escobar regularly and range all over the pitch, popping up wherever he could find space. With the Whitecaps securely in the lead, chances were few and far between; his best look came on a passage where he stepped around the challenge of Russell Teibert in the arc, only to lose his balance, failing to get off a shot. His one effort directed towards goal was blocked. Despite a quiet match, the Calgary, Alberta-native made waves this week when Dallas released the promotional video, espousing Akindele’s campaign for Rookie of the Year. It is a little odd that MLS clubs have taken to raising awareness themselves in this way, but Dallas’ is simply superb.Jonathan Osorio Osorio started his third-straight match for Toronto in their 3-0 loss at Los Angeles late on Saturday night – it was his 21st start and 24th appearance of the season. Stationed on the right-side of the midfield, Osorio had a difficult task of getting forward and tucking in-field to get involved in the attack, while helping out Warren Creavalle with the left-side of the Galaxy attack of Landon Donovan and Robbie Rogers. Despite that burden, the Toronto, Ontario-native did manage to get forward regularly and ranged all over the pitch – perhaps one of the reasons Creavalle was so isolated on several attacks. He had one shot, a decent look at goal in the twelfth minute, collecting a pass from Creavalle, but it was blocked, and made a good pass for Dominic Oduro that led to a TFC break, but Oduro shot straight at the LA defenders. Osorio wasn’t afraid to mix it up either, getting in Marcelo Sarvas’ face, shoving him to the ground, after the Galaxy midfield lunged in roughly on Jermain Defoe – he would see a yellow card for his troubles; it was his first of the season and just the second of his young career. He had another good attacking run, but could not get on the end of an inviting Justin Morrow ball. Kyle Bekker Bekker returned to the Toronto starting lineup in Los Angeles for the first time in three matches – it was his tenth start and sixteenth appearance of the season. Paired in the central midfield, taking up the more advanced position ahead of Michael Bradley, Bekker, at times, almost looked as though he was tasked with an attacking midfielder’s role, pressing very high up the pitch. His passing was superb, completing all but five of some thirty-plus attempts, playing one lovely ball down the left for Justin Morrow, who was unfortunately offside, getting a neat touch to win a bouncing ball at the top of the Galaxy box – setting up an early shot on goal for Luke Moore, and drifting into wide positions himself, playing in a good ball for Moore, who could not turn his shot on goal, winning a corner kick instead. The Oakville, Ontario-native would take some criticism for his lax marking, on the left-side of the area as AJ DeLaGarza’s right-sided cross found the Irishman for his second goal of the match.The fault on that goal lay more with a pair of TFC defenders collapsing on the run of Gyasi Zardes, but Bekker could have done more. He was replaced by Collen Warner in the 80th minute. Issey Nakajima-Farran Nakajima-Farran made a fourth-consecutive appearance for Montreal in their scoreless draw at Chicago on Sunday – it was his eleventh appearance of the season for the Impact and seventh from the bench. Replacing Dilly Duka in the 91st minute, Issey had very little time to get involved, but the Calgary, Alberta-native did manage to play one excellent leading ball for Marco Di Vaio having run up the right, before curling the service into the striker’s path, drawing Chicago keeper Sean Johnson way out of his area to quell the threat. Dwayne De Rosario De Rosario made a fourth-straight appearance from the bench for TFC, entering their loss in LA in the 75th minute, replacing Luke Moore – it was his sixteenth appearance of the season, all but four have come from the bench. With the match all but decided, the Scarborough, Ontario-legend put in a solid bit of running, but could not find any purchase to get his side back in the match. The Rest Kofi Opare, Sam Adekugbe, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Maxim Crépeau and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé were on the bench for their respective sides. 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
  15. Or are they right? Have the Whitecaps not been getting some decisions of late? Are the football gods still angry at games being played on fake grass under a closed roof? (Or is that just me?) Is all it is going to take is getting in the groove and then just watch these uncoiled springs go? I’m a firm believer that you make your own luck in football, and life. Every team can look back at the decisions that didn’t go their way, the calls they didn’t get, and of course some of them can cost matches and vital points. Are the Caps just getting a spell of these calls of late or are they simply not good enough to be fighting for the postseason this year and that makes for a good deflector? It is understandable why the Caps might be feeling this way. One thing has looked certain and that is that Sebastian Fernandez can’t seem to get a penalty call go in his favour to save his life. He was taken down in the box during the second half in Portland on Saturday when the score was still 1-0. That could certainly have been not just a game changer, but a playoff one. Simon Borg and the boys at MLS’ Instant Replay have certainly felt that the Whitecaps had been hard done by of late and although Caps coach Carl Robinson wouldn’t be drawn too much on the issue, he did point to their analysis. "I watch the Instant Replays and listen to their opinions and they're brilliant," Robinson told reporters at training on Tuesday. "Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't know and I watch it, and it's two weeks now that the guys think that we should have had a penalty. We haven't and that's not masking over a disappointing performance for us. So we've got to move on and we will move on. "I think we're not getting that many breaks at the moment as I would like but that's no excuse." So is Seba paying the price for simulation earlier in the season, including that infamous face holding one in Portland in June that saw him land a one match ban? "Maybe. I'm not sure. I hope not," Robinson said. "I know referees have been told that if there's some simulation they must book players. In the last two games I think we've seen it against us as well, a little bit of simulation and refs usually do clamp down on it. I don't think that if anyone thinks anyone is diving or cheating or trying to gain an unfair advantage they should book them and if they don't it's a free kick. It's a very fine line." But bad breaks and bounces seemed to genuinely be how some of the Whitecaps players are seeing things right now and that the luck will change soon and the goals will start to go in and the points will go on the board. Never mind the horrible defending, uncreative midfield and impotent attack. When Russell Teibert was asked how the team viewed some of the goals that the Caps had been conceding of late, he didn't agree that there was a trend of poor marking and poor tracking back. "A fluke goal like the one in Dallas. How can you talk about that?," Teibert responded. "It's one of those things that sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. Then we're in Portland, we're dominating the game and Valeri gets free and he hits a cracker that ends up in the back of the net. "Sometimes the ball bounces for the other team, sometimes the ball bounces your way and unfortunately for the past couple of games, the ball hasn't bounced in our favour. That's how sport is sometimes, that's how professional soccer is and you have to battle through it. "Maybe teams that don't have the locker room that we have, that don't have the belief that we have, would give up. But this locker room has a lot of belief, has a lot of character and we'll push through the tough times. We know we're going to make our way out of it." When your team’s in a rut, you like to think that it’s all going to turn around. Everything’s going to be just fine in the end if you have a little faith and believe. Unless you’ve had 30 years of watching and supporting East Fife. Then you know it’s all ******. I imagine TFC fans must feel the same. Believing you're going to get out it and actually doing what you need to do to get out of it are two different things altogether. Can the Whitecaps do that? Do they have the personnel to do that right now? "I think fans, us, the coaching staff all expect that at some point it's going to go in, right?" Steven Beitashour responded when asked if fans were just to grab onto the hope that things will change for the better soon and the necessary goals will come if they just keep the faith. Getting some of those calls to go the Whitecaps way would undoubtedly have helped in some games, but so would goals, and plenty of them. They can't rely on getting favourable calls to save their season, and nor should they according to goalkeeper David Ousted, who took a more realistic view on the recent bad beat stories. "I'm looking forward to the last five games, we've got a lot of decisions coming our way," Ousted joked at training when he was asked it the Whitecaps were due some luck. "It always evens out at the end of the season and I think it will. "We can't look at decisions not given or referees. We need to look at ourselves and if we're at it. If we can see after the game that we didn't get a decision or whatever it is, then we'll take it from there. But we have to put in a performance. We can't let the referee do it for us. "I still think everybody believes in this. We can make it in. I think Portland will drop points and we will be there to pick up those two points that we're behind." But the only way to do that is to get goals, goals and more goals. Maybe just five will do. One goal a week to secure three points a week. It is possible, but even managing one a game from the team right now is looking a little far fetched to many. Not Russell Teibert though, who felt that Vancouver played really well for the first 30 minutes down in Portland before fading. "I know you guys might be tired of hearing that and the end product is what we've been lacking recently, but we've scored goals all year long and it's inevitable that we're going to score goals until the end of the season. It's going to happen. It's bound to happen. "I can't tell you when. It could be this weekend. We could score four or five, we could score one or two. We know it's going to happen at some point. These are the times that are the most exciting. It's a big game for us this weekend against Salt Lake. No matter what happens in the week before we're putting it past us and we're looking forward." It's good not to have negativity in the dressing room and if the players don't believe in themselves, then no-one else is going to, but there also needs to be a dose of reality mixed in there as well. It may not make your life as happy, but it has to be done. No-one is expecting the players to come out and say "we're pretty crap up front" and yes, that wouldn't help anyone, but there has to be more offered than just blind faith. The fans are alright with having faith and hope, they just need to see Whitecaps players taking advantage of some charitable defences to help them keep it. Vancouver players and management are all saying the right things, now they need to back their words up with actions.
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