MLS News
Steven Gerrard Takes in a Taylor Swift Concert with His Daughters in Los Angeles
MLS News
Friday, 28 August 2015 12:21

Steven Gerrard is quickly taking to his new Hollywood lifestyle. 

The Liverpool legend, who in the past has revealed that he's a big fan of bands like Coldplay, Kings of Leon and Phil Collins, showed his affinity for Taylor Swift on the most public of forums: Instagram. 

He posted a short video of Swift performing in Los Angeles while escorting his three daughters to the concert. He wrote that the show was "incredible," with cameos from Selena Gomez and Justin Timberlake. 

Welcome to Los Angeles, Stevie. 

Next up on your Taylor Swift checklist: get invited on stage to be celebrated alongside the pop megastar. 

Then you know you've really made it in America. 

[Instagram, Steven Gerrard, h/t Mirror Row Zed]

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Ultimate Guide to the MLS Weekend: Seattle Desperate for Win in Rivalry Week
MLS News
Friday, 28 August 2015 09:03

Rivalry Week always brings out the best and worst in some of Major League Soccer's top franchises, and as the play-off race heats up, every one of the matches in Week 26 means something different to each club. 

For the Seattle Sounders, a win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday would not only help their cause in the battle for the Cascadia Cup, it would give the fans in the Emerald City something positive to talk about. 

The Sounders have experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout the 2015 campaign with injuries being one of the top reasons why they sit just over the red line in the Western Conference standings in sixth place.

No one expected the Sounders to struggle as much as they have with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins out for an extended period of time. Things looked to be returning to normal on August 16, when a Martins-led attack destroyed Orlando City 4-0 at CenturyLink Field. But given Orlando's recent form, the final result was more of a statement about how awful the Lions back line has been recently instead of a celebration of the Seattle attack returning to what it should be. 

Sigi Schmid's side was handed a wake-up call last weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium as Real Salt Lake thoroughly dominated the Sounders on the way to a 2-0 victory, which made the play-off race in the Western Conference even tighter than it already was. 

Seattle's week got worse on Wednesday, when it fell 1-0 to Olimpia in the CONCACAF Champions League. For the trip to Honduras, the Sounders only fielded six players on the bench and the starting lineup was littered with squad players. 

Even though the season has not gone the way they wanted it to, the Sounders still have time to remedy the situation starting with a win on Sunday in front of over 63,000 fans at one of the best venues in the league. 

Beating Portland would be a sign of improvement in a few different ways for the Sounders. The obvious momentum builder would be a win over a hated rival, but with Portland five points above Seattle in fourth place, a victory would also help the Sounders catch up with the top sides in the West. 

As any play-off contender needs at this point in the season, the Sounders will also be relying on results elsewhere to boost their stock. A win over Portland combined with a LA Galaxy win over San Jose and a draw between FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake would put Seattle three points ahead of its most immediate rival for sixth and it would bring it within two points of fourth. If the Sounders do get past Portland, they have a chance to seal up the top six in the West in two weeks' time at San Jose. 

As many would expect, the Sounders aren't the only club entering Week 26 in need of three points. With all 20 teams technically still in the play-off race, every single point matters from here on out. 

 

Games to Watch

LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes, Friday 11 p.m. ET (UniMas) 

The California Clasico rarely disappoints and Friday's clash between the Galaxy and Earthquakes should live up to the entertaining reputation the showdown has. With both sides in terrific form at the moment, we should witness plenty of fireworks at Avaya Stadium.

The red-hot Galaxy enter the match with wins in six of their last seven league matches and 22 goals during that span, including a 5-1 walloping of New York City FC on Sunday. Robbie Keane is in ridiculous form up top and his cerebral pairing with Giovani Dos Santos is fun for neutrals to watch, but scary for fans of any club going up against Bruce Arena's team for the rest of the year. 

Steven Gerrard has assimilated into the squad just fine and unlike the other England international who joined MLS this summer, he is actually turning into a solid weekly contributor. Next to the unsung hero of the Galaxy squad Juninho, Gerrard is easing into the league at a good rate during the quest for the Supporters' Shield. Coming into Week 26, LA leads Vancouver by one point in the race for the shield. 

San Jose marked the beginning of the annual Dominic Kinnear late-summer surge with wins on the road over Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United in Week 25. Kinnear, who is famous for his late-season runs to the play-offs with Houston, has finally found a nice balance up top with Quincy Amarikwa doing a massive amount of work next to Chris Wondolowski.

How the Galaxy defense deals with Amarikwa could decide the final result, but San Jose will need other role players to step up and neutralize the attacking threat of the Galaxy as well. With revenge on their mind after a 5-2 defeat in Gerrard's league debut on July 18, the Earthquakes will have plenty of motivation to win. But turning that motivation into three points will be a difficult task. 

 

D.C. United at New York Red Bulls, Sunday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Much has been made about the New York Red Bulls' rivalry with NYCFC this season, but they still see D.C. United as their primary rival for the time being. The two clubs with a storied past enter Red Bull Arena on Sunday with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference up for grabs. 

Ben Olsen's D.C. side has flown mostly under the radar this season while picking up 44 points. The group of veterans and young stars will finally get a chance to prove themselves in a big match on the national stage on Sunday, just like the Red Bulls have time and time again this year. 

The Black and Red have a favorable schedule leading up to the postseason with matches against Colorado, Chicago and NYCFC accompanying two contests versus Columbus and a game with Montreal. If D.C. can go into Red Bull Arena and take three points from the Red Bulls, it would be hard for them to relinquish the top spot in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the regular season. 

After suffering a midweek letdown at their historical place of horrors, the Red Bulls will try to use the form they had before the loss to Chicago on Wednesday to pull within two points of D.C. in the race for the top spot in the East. A draw wouldn't be too hurtful with three games in hand on United, but a loss would leave the Red Bulls in a battle with Columbus for the No. 2 spot instead of making a charge for the top. 

The battle in the middle of the park should decide this match. The Red Bulls trio of Dax McCarty, Felipe and Sacha Kljestan will use Jesse Marsch's press to put Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud under duress. If the young and old duo in the D.C. central midfield can deal with the pressure and distribute the ball fine over 90 minutes, the Black and Red will pose a serious challenge to the Red Bulls back four. 

 

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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Seattle Sounders Are Still a Major Contender for MLS Cup
MLS News
Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:24

The Seattle Sounders' 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake was the team's ninth defeat in its last 11 games in Major League Soccer. Despite this poor form, Seattle should still be considered as a favorite for the MLS Cup.

WestGate Las Vegas SuperBook (via ESPN's Paul Carr) released its latest MLS Cup odds. The Sounders are listed as 12-1 favorites. Only five teams have lower figures and two are in the Western Conference:

However, Seattle only has a 34 percent chance of qualifying for the playoffs, per Carr. Only three teams are below the Sounders:

Those numbers appear to contradict one another, but upon closer scrutiny, they make sense. The Sounders are tied for the sixth and final playoff spot in the West with the San Jose Earthquakes. Seattle has also played 26 games compared to San Jose's 25.

Seattle has a tough ending to the season. It faces the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake at home. The Sounders will play the Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps, Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo on the road.

The main issue with the Sounders during the summer has been injuries and international call-ups. General manager Garth Lagerwey noticed this and bolstered the squad with several solid additions.

Panamanian defender Roman Torres will shore up the back line. He was called for a handball against RSL in his last outing, but Torres should be a valuable commodity for the Sounders.

Midfielders Erik Friberg and Andreas Ivanschitz give head coach Sigi Schmid extra options in midfield. Now he can tactically adjust with more central midfielders depending on the opposition.

Paraguayan striker Nelson Valdez was also acquired during the summer transfer window. He scored on his MLS debut against Orlando City SC but struggled versus RSL in the previous match.

Then there's Clint Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso. Both players are still unavailable, and Schmid admitted that he "doesn't know" if they'll be ready to face Portland on Sunday, per the Seattle Times' Matt Pentz:

Now that Torres and Chad Marshall are the primary center backs, Alonso will be even more important to the Sounders.

MLS' armchair analyst Matthew Doyle noted that with Brad Evans moving from center back to midfield, distribution from defenders will likely decrease:

This is where Alonso solves the issue. He can help the defense by collecting the ball from deep and moving the play forward.

Dempsey is equally important due to his chemistry with Obafemi Martins up front. The American has seven goals and six assists in 13 appearances. However, suspension, injuries and international duty have limited his playing time.

Once these two return, the Sounders will be a difficult team to overcome with their depth in quality.

The home matches will be especially advantageous. Seattle has eight wins, one draw and four losses at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders have just three wins on the road this year.

There will be chances to earn points at home. TFC has conceded 30 goals on the road, and RSL's 26 isn't much better. The Timbers have scored just nine times outside of Providence Park, and the Galaxy have won just two away games.

On the surface, Seattle is in danger of missing the playoffs. In reality, the Sounders have bulked up and should have a full squad in the final months of the campaign.

The New England Revolution struggled last summer. They signed Jermaine Jones and ended up playing in the MLS Cup final. These turnarounds have occurred before.

If any side can recover after a rough patch, it's the Sounders.

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Robinho Transfer News: Latest Rumours, Speculation on Potential Miami FC Move
MLS News
Thursday, 27 August 2015 12:43

Miami FC are reportedly hoping to add Brazilian star Robinho to their squad, aiming to bring the journeyman to the USA at some point in the future.

Continue for updates.

Miami FC Looking at Robinho Thursday, August 27

According to David Amoyal, a translator for Gianluca Di Marzio, Miami FC owners Paolo Maldini and Riccardo Silva are eyeing the 31-year-old, who could join the club from Guangzhou Evergrande.

Should he move to the USA, Robinho will have played professional football on four different continents, having started his career in his native Brazil before moving to Europe. He currently plays in the Chinese league.

The Brazil international was once regarded as one of the biggest talents in all of football, sealing a move to Real Madrid in 2005 after several successful seasons with Santos. At the time, fans and pundits were in awe of his dribbling skills, and he showed incredible promise making his debut for Los Blancos, via Photos of Football:

After a solid first season, injury and inconsistency saw Robinho's status fall at the Bernabeu, and he was forced to come off the bench more often than not. While he was productive when he did see the pitch most of the time, it was clear his Real career was coming to an end, and he secured a move to Manchester City in 2008.

Again, he showed promise during his first season before things came crashing down, and after a brief loan move to Santos and a stint with Italian giants AC Milan, he returned to Brazil, where he rediscovered his form and did enough to make Brazil's squad for the 2015 Copa America.

As reported by the Press Association (via the Guardian), his deal with Guangzhou Evergrande includes a clause that would allow the club to extend the contract, which was just six months long. He's faced some criticism from the fans, however, as noted by Chinese football expert Christopher Atkins, and there's no guarantee that clause will be activated.

One has to assume a deal could be made between Guangzhou and Miami FC, should the player be keen on moving across the Atlantic again. Robinho may not be the player he once was, but he's still an excellent dribbler and solid finisher who would add another dimension to Miami's attack.

He's also still one of the most recognisable names in all of football, and adding a star like that can do wonders for the popularity of a new team. New York City FC And Orlando City SC used a similar approach, adding David Villa and Kaka, respectively, so do't be shocked if Miami FC try to do the same. 

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New York Red Bulls Score Cheeky Illegal Corner
MLS News
Thursday, 27 August 2015 06:49

The New York Red Bulls took the Chicago Fire by surprise Wednesday night to score a cheeky short corner, though the goal shouldn't have counted.

The match was level at 2-2 in the 49th minute when Lloyd Sam jogged over to take the corner. After touching the ball with his boot a couple of times, he then ran off to allow Sacha Kljestan to take over and run the ball directly toward the box, before setting up Ronald Zubar to score.

Though the linesman had recognised Sam's touch, his extra touches should have resulted in the corner being disallowed.

It didn't matter much in the end, as Chicago ran out 3-2 winners.

[101 Great Goals]

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MLS Player Rankings: 4 LA Galaxy Players Feature, Pair of Earthquakes Debut
MLS News
Tuesday, 25 August 2015 01:13

The one team in Major League Soccer that everyone is watching right now is the LA Galaxy. With Robbie Keane and Giovani Dos Santos firing on all cylinders up top, the Galaxy seem like they are set to win their sixth MLS Cup in December. 

However, Keane and Dos Santos aren't the only stars putting in impressive work on the pitch of late, as two of their teammates also join them in the MLS Player Rankings after Week 25. 

The other red-hot team in California, the San Jose Earthquakes, also made a splash on the list of the league's top 20 players this week, as both of their forwards entered the list. 

Our player rankings take into account form over the last four matches, with the player's most recent performance holding more stock than the other three. 

Continue reading to see who joined the six stars from the California clubs in the latest MLS Player Rankings.

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MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps Rise After Week 25
MLS News
Monday, 24 August 2015 15:39

When MLS fans check the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference standings, they'll see a familiar sight for the next few days.

The LA Galaxy crushed New York City FC on Sunday to claim the West's top seed. It also passed D.C. United as the top team in MLS.

Week 25 also produced some surprising results that sees three teams tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference. The San Jose Earthquakes are also level with the Seattle Sounders for the West's final playoff spot.

With several matches altering the standings, here are the latest MLS power rankings.

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MLS Team of the Week: Trio of Earthquakes, Galaxy's Keane, Dos Santos Feature
MLS News
Monday, 24 August 2015 01:52

As playoff desperation began to sink in across Major League Soccer in Week 25, a few clubs decided to make things interesting in the push for the postseason.

Riding the annual wave of Dominic Kinnear late-summer momentum, the San Jose Earthquakes shocked us all by winning two matches on the road against Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United by a combined 7-0.

However, San Jose wasn't the only side in the Western Conference to marvel us with a ridiculous result, as the LA Galaxy plowed past New York City FC 5-1 on Sunday in front of an international audience. 

Due to the magnificent individual performances from both California sides, who meet in the final regular-season California Clasico on Friday night, five players from the two teams earned spots in the latest MLS Team of the Week.

Joining the California-based quintet in our 4-3-3 formation are two superstars of the league and a few defenders who popped out of relative obscurity and delivered strong matches in times of need. 

Continue reading to see who was named to our MLS Team of the Week from Week 25. 

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LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC: Score and Reaction from 2015 MLS Match
MLS News
Sunday, 23 August 2015 17:47

The LA Galaxy beat New York City FC 5-1 in a star-studded affair to top the standings in the Major League Soccer Supporters' Shield.

A brace from Robbie Keane and goals from Giovani dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget and Gyasi Zardes completed the rout for LA, while David Villa's penalty served only as a consolation for New York.

As ESPN's James Tyler reports, the match was an extremely one-sided affair:

Frank Lampard was the notable absentee from the match, with both sides otherwise fielding strong teams.

Football writer Nick Chavez believed Lampard's absence was a blessing in disguise:

However, New York clearly missed the Englishman's presence, as they were overwhelmingly outplayed by LA, although the midfielder would not likely have saved his side here.

The Eastern side did have the better of the opening exchanges, though, with Andrea Pirlo and Villa linking up well, as the Spaniard registered some early efforts on goal.

LA soon grew into the game and replied with a number of dangerous chances of their own.

Keane's goal-bound strike was deflected out by Jason Hernandez, before Lletget's lob forced a smart save from Josh Saunders. The Irishman threatened again from the resulting corner, rattling the crossbar with a powerful close-range effort.

Lletget had the ball in the net for his side soon after, as he pounced on a rebound following Dos Santos' header, but the goal was correctly deemed offside.

It didn't take long for LA to take a deserved lead, though, with Omar Gonzalez taking advantage of a quick free-kick to feed Keane, whose cross was met by Zardes' head and flew past Saunders.

Galaxy continued to dominate throughout the first half and came close to doubling their tally on several occasions, with OptaJack noting their phenomenal number of shots on goal:

Things went from bad to worse after the restart, however, when Keane grabbed a well-earned goal himself, deftly lifting the ball over the onrushing Saunders after latching onto Dos Santos' inch-perfect pass.

Chavez was full of praise for both players:

The Mexican had one of his own shortly after, as he and Keane linked up yet again, this time in almost a reverse of the previous goal, with Keane the provider and Dos Santos applying the cool finish.

LA ran riot over their helpless opponents again and again throughout the half, carving them open with consummate ease. Tyler took pity on Saunders, whose defence and midfield offered virtually no protection in front of him:

Lletget made it four as he pounced on Steven Gerrard's rebounded shot.

Dan Gargan felled Patrick Mullins to earn New York a penalty on a rare foray up the field for David Villa to duly convert, but no sooner had the goal been celebrated when LA scored once again, Keane grabbing his brace by tapping home Robbie Rogers' low cross.

LA are now top of the Western Conference and face the San Jose Earthquakes in their next match. If they perform anything like they did on Sunday, they will almost certainly come away with three points.

That said, they will hardly play an easier game all season than they did against New York, so expect a somewhat tighter affair.

As for NYC, Columbus Crew will be eagerly anticipating their clash after such an abject display.

 

Post-Match Reaction

Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, Gerrard reiterated his desire to win silverware with his new team. Per BBC Sport, he said: 

"I've come here to win the league. It's all about finishing strong and taking maximum points. It's nice to come out on top and we controlled the majority of the game."

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LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
MLS News
Sunday, 23 August 2015 02:00

Los Angeles Galaxy and New York City FC are set to meet for the first time ever at the StubHub Center, but you suspect this will be the first of many classic encounters these two franchises share in Major League Soccer.

Bruce Arena’s Galaxy side are major powerhouses in American soccer, boasting an array of star names, super organisation and a winning mentality. The New York new boys certainly have the former after some exceptional recent acquisitions, but in the embryonic stage of their existence as a football club, are still striving for the latter two.

Nonetheless, it’s a game that could have major connotations on the fortunes of both sides as the playoffs creep closer into view. Here’s all the key viewing details for this enticing contest and a closer examination of both teams before the action gets underway.

 

Date: Sunday, August 23

Time: Noon (Local), 3 p.m. (ET), 8 p.m. (BST)

Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), WatchESPN (US)

TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), ESPN (US)

 

Big Names Set to Clash in Los Angeles

There aren’t many games in MLS that will command quite as much attention worldwide as this one. The two cities involved are notorious for their sporting pedigree, the supporters of each will provide a stellar backdrop and the stakes are extremely high.

Galaxy go into the match as favourites. They lead the Western Conference ahead of the round of fixtures and have won their previous three games in succession. A 2-1 victory over FC Dallas was hard earned last time out, but they showcased the gnarly qualities that helped them to glory last season.

In Robbie Keane, LA have a striker who is well in form too. As we can see here courtesy of OptaJack, the veteran forward seems to be adding new traits to his game, even in the twilight of his career:

Indeed, six goals in his last four matches is a testament to Keane’s evergreen goalscoring instincts. With the likes of Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard supplying the bullets, expect the Irishman to cause plenty of problems for a New York defence that has looked a little ropey.

The visitors will fancy their chances of causing their own attacking problems, though. David Villa has been superb throughout the campaign with 14 goals to this point, but there have been some indications that he’s beginning to strike up an understanding with new signing Andrea Pirlo—this pass and finish being the most notable, per 101 Great Goals:

But for all their illustrious names, which include Villa, Pirlo, Andoni Iraola and Frank Lampard—who is a doubt for this match with an injury problem—it’s young midfielder Kwadwo Poku who has been grabbing the headlines for the debut franchise in recent outings.

The Ghanaian bagged a wonderful brace in the 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew, making it three goals and four assists in his last five matches. Here’s a snapshot of his superb performance last time out, in which there were some sumptuous link-ups with Villa and Pirlo, per MLS expert Ben Jata:

There skeleton is there for New York to become a very capable team. Younger players seem galvanised by the presence of some icons of the game and going forward, they are as good as any side in MLS. But they still lack a little bit of balance that’d see them cause major problems for the top teams.

Galaxy are certainly the real deal and, ominously for the rest of the league, seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. Don’t expect any compromise from the hosts when it comes to their attacking intentions in this one, and while that may mean they'll leak a couple of goals at the back, they’ll have enough to emerge victorious in a thriller.

Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 4-2 New York City FC

 

All statistics via WhoScored.com.

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