MLS News
Frank Lampard to NYCFC Makes Sense for All Parties
MLS News
Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:07

New York City FC unveiled former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard on Thursday as the newest addition to the Big Apple.

The England international signed a two-year designated player contract with NYCFC, per MLSSoccer.com. Lampard is the second big-name acquisition for the club after David Villa joined in June, per the team's official website.

Lampard is 36 years old, and the ageing player is no longer at the top of his game. However, this signing is still beneficial for everyone involved. For the England international, he remains a star as part of one of the fastest growing leagues in the world. 

He is also set to make around $150,000 a week, per Sports Illustrated, which would make him the highest-paid player in MLS. Lampard will also reside in one of the most vibrant cities on the planet, which probably enticed him to move across the pond.

NYCFC benefits in many ways as well. The profile of the club is raised significantly with the addition of Lampard. Even with a two-year contract, this will still grab the attention of the casual fan and could hook them on both the team and MLS.

If Lampard leaves at the end of his contract, other players might be drawn to NYCFC if the team is successful and is well managed. The two years that the midfielder spends in New York could pay dividends for many seasons to come.

MLS is also a beneficiary. The new TV deal with FOX, ESPN and Univision through 2022 will produce wider exposure and better ratings for the league. Lampard is a well-known name and the average fan could be inclined to watch more MLS because of his reputation.

Matchday revenue would also increase in any city that Lampard visits. Fans used to clamber for seats in order to watch David Beckham when he was playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, and that is sure to happen again with Lampard.

The quality of play on the pitch has improved since Beckham arrived. It's been pointed out that the "Beckham Experiment" failed, but a lot has changed in seven years. This might be another step towards building a stronger MLS.

Players from Europe talk positively about their careers in MLS, and this is why they're interested in playing in the U.S. and Canada. Word of mouth is powerful and it's been a major catalyst for the league. The salaries are good and the standard of living high. The level of soccer is also challenging.

The only factor that can stop this move from succeeding is Lampard getting an injury. Even if he starts to dip in form, his critics will keep watching him to see if his slump continues. The neutrals will still pay attention because of the name of the player.

It doesn't matter if Lampard is 36, if he's slowed down or will only be around for a couple of seasons. This is a terrific addition for NYCFC and MLS, which should pay off down the road.

As for the player, he remains in the spotlight, lives in a spirited city and continues his career. This day could be notable as another leap ahead for soccer in North America.

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Seattle Sounders' Cheeky Response to New York City FC Signing Frank Lampard
MLS News
Thursday, 24 July 2014 10:08

Frank Lampard joining New York City FC—which the club announced today—is a pretty big deal to the MLS.

But over on the West Coast the Seattle Sounders were doing their best to play it down, talking up the superhuman powers of U.S. men's national team star Clint Dempsey instead:

But can Frank Lampard conjure fire? pic.twitter.com/wViAooMFli

— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) July 24, 2014

Can he? Can he conjure fire? Your move, Frank.

[Twitter]

 

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Frank Lampard and the Imported Premier League Stars of Major League Soccer
MLS News
Thursday, 24 July 2014 08:57

Frank Lampard has swapped the bright lights of London for the Big Apple in a summer transfer.

The England international has joined New York City FC after 13 years of success at Chelsea, the Major League Soccer club confirmed via Twitter. He will now take his place in the burgeoning MLS in the United States.

The 36-year-old will be joined at the Manchester City-owned franchise by former Atletico Madrid and Barcelona forward David Villa.

Lampard will find some familiar faces waiting for him in North America.

Here we take a look at some former Premier League players now plying their trade in the MLS. 

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5 Key Battles for MLS Week 21
MLS News
Thursday, 24 July 2014 04:52

Major League Soccer's Week 21 should be an exciting one for fans with eight games spread over six days of action. On Wednesday night, the San Jose Earthquakes drew first blood, beating up on the Chicago Fire 5-1.

The rest of MLS Week 21 action will be spread over a game on Thursday night, a game on Friday night, two matches each on Saturday and Sunday and culminating in a great Western Conference battle on Monday night.

Here are five of the key games and the battles to watch in each match.

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Toronto vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 6 Things We Learned from Spurs' Friendly Win
MLS News
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 19:30

Tottenham won the second match of their pre-season tour of North America 3-2, with Andros Townsend scoring the winning goal in the 85th minute. 

Erik Lamela was the star for Spurs, scoring twice in the opening period.

Spurs lined up with a fluid line of three (Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Aaron Lennon) behind Roberto Soldado and were entertaining and efficient as they cruised to a 2-0 half-time lead.  

Mauricio Pochettino's system looks to be taking shape as Ben Davies slipped comfortably into the starting line-up. 

Spurs were a little ragged after 10 half-time changes, and Toronto drew level at 2-2 before Townsend's late winner. 

 

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Meet Bradley Wright-Phillips: The Quiet, Rarely Flashy Forward Taking over MLS
MLS News
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 23:13

When you picture a forward who scores goals at will, you usually see a flashy, electric player in your mind who on occasion delivers the over-the-top goal celebration.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is the complete opposite of that image, but he does not lack the killer instinct in front of goal, even at 5'8".

The New York Red Bulls forward has been on fire in 2014 with 17 goals in 19 games, 16 of those having been starts, which puts him 10 goals behind the current Major League Soccer single-season scoring record held by Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter.

"I say this every time I get interviewed, I just try to get my shots on target. If they go in, they go in," Wright-Phillips told Bleacher Report after his team's July 16 game against the Philadelphia Union.

The 29-year-old Englishman has done just that with 17 of his 35 shots on target beating opposing keepers so far this season.

Wright-Phillips, who arrived at the club in July 2013, credits a certain mindset that all English forwards have, no matter how flashy their style may be in front of goal, for his success.

"I think growing up in England strikers are hungry to just get goals. We have a mean streak in us. We like to get goals. Every striker from England I know is the same; they're greedy and they want to get goals. It must be something to do with that."

That mentality would explain why Wright-Phillips is currently one of three English forwards in the top five of the scoring chart. Dom Dwyer, who is now famous for his selfie goal celebration, has bagged 14 goals for Sporting Kansas City, while Jermain Defoe has scored on 11 occasions this season for Toronto FC.

Another player whom fans of the English Premier League are familiar with, Robbie Keane of the LA Galaxy, is fifth on the chart with 10 goals.

Although he may be taking the Golden Boot race by its reins and running with it, Wright-Phillips is far from the most recognizable goalscorer on the Red Bulls thanks to a guy you may have heard of before, Thierry Henry.

It just so happens that Henry is the league leader in assists with 10, while Wright-Phillips is busy chasing down the league record for goals.

The play of the French legend, as well the efforts of players such as Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam and Eric Alexander, have helped the 29-year-old settle in to his first full season in MLS with plenty of confidence.

"Every striker wants his midfielders to do well. If they play well, more than likely, I'll play well."

Currently, Wright-Phillips is on a run that has seen him score 16 goals in a 13-game span that includes two hat tricks.

During that run of games, Wright-Phillips has failed to score in just two games, as he has consistently put up a single goal in most of New York's matches.

The most enthralling match of that stretch saw him score his second hat trick of the season in a 5-4 loss at home to Chicago.

The game, which was end-to-end for most of the 90 minutes, saw the scoring start in the fourth minute and not end until the third goal from Wright-Phillips in the 78th minute from the spot.

Since that game at Red Bull Arena, Wright-Phillips has been more casual with his scoring, which is why some fans have kept him off the radar, especially with the flashy trio of Dwyer, Defoe and Erick Torres scoring week after week as well.

In the nine games following his second hat trick, Wright-Phillips has scored more than one goal just once. His brace against Houston on July 4 extended his season total against the Dynamo to five after his first hat trick of the season on April 23 that ignited his scorching form.

Thanks to his 17 tallies, Wright-Phillips will join Henry, Defoe, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and others in the MLS All-Star Game August 6 at Portland's Providence Park against Bayern Munich, a game that could also feature bright American prospect Julian Green.

While the Bayern back four may present a bigger challenge to Wright-Phillips than MLS defenses, there is no doubt that it will be alerted about the quiet forward, who is doing his job quite well up front at the moment.

 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All statistics obtained from MLSsoccer.com.

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MLS Player Power Rankings: Keane, Feilhaber Make Big Jumps After Week 19
MLS News
Monday, 21 July 2014 21:02

For most of the season, the focus of the Major League Soccer Player Power Rankings has been on the players at the top, but it was two players in the middle of the pack from last week that made an impact on the list after Week 19. 

Robbie Keane and Benny Feilhaber were the two standout performers from the week's set of games, which led to major jumps for both players on a list that is becoming more difficult to break into by the week. 

Continue reading on to see which players were good enough to join Keane and Feilhaber in the MLS Player Power Rankings. 

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10 Things We Learned from MLS Week 20
MLS News
Monday, 21 July 2014 05:25

Major League Soccer had a full slate of action-packed games this weekend in MLS Week 20, but the biggest news of the week came off the field with the league re-signing stars Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

On the field, MLS Week 20 had plenty of highlights, including three separate goals that could end up as Goal of the Year candidates.

Here are 10 things we learned.

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DeAndre Yedlin Talks World Cup Success, MLS All-Star Game and More
MLS News
Sunday, 20 July 2014 22:38

It has been three weeks since DeAndre Yedlin's first experience at the FIFA World Cup ended, but the entire process still hasn't sunk in with the burgeoning superstar of American soccer. 

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind. There’s not been a lot of time to sit down and pinch myself to make sure it’s real. It’s definitely been pretty wild, but it’s been fun. I’m having a great time with it," Yedlin told Bleacher Report. 

Yedlin, 21, catapulted himself onto the American sporting radar with three strong performances as a substitute against Portugal, Germany and Belgium.

In his first World Cup game, Yedlin started a move on the right wing that led to Clint Dempsey's 81st-minute goal. 

“Honestly, I just went out there and said, 'Relax and do your thing.' Jurgen [Klinsmann] definitely helped to calm me down a lot. If I make a mistake, I just try to recover on the ball as soon as possible, work hard, create and from that I felt really comfortable and relaxed.”

The Seattle Sounders right-back also made his defensive prowess known, especially on one play against Belgium when he sprinted back down the pitch to defend Eden Hazard. 

"[World-class players like Hazard] have their strengths, but they also have their weaknesses, and you just figure out how to exploit those weaknesses and that’s what I try to do. There are things you have to look at with those world-class players, but at the end of the day, they’re not superheroes. They’re still human.”

Since returning from Brazil, Yedlin has joined back up with the Sounders in their quest for the Major League Soccer Supporters' Shield and, eventually, a run in the MLS Cup playoffs. 

Thanks to his performances, and the ones turned in by his club teammate Dempsey, he has noticed more support from outside Seattle for his side. 

“I definitely see some tweets saying that I’m going to watch the Sounders game tonight because Clint and DeAndre are playing. Those are people that aren’t even Sounders fans. Those are people that happened to watch the World Cup, see us and become fans of us. I’m glad anything we did at the World Cup is helping grow soccer in America and helping get more people on the Sounders bandwagon and the MLS bandwagon.”

One thing about Seattle that stands out from the rest of the cities that contain MLS franchises is the club's attendance. The Sounders broke a league record in 2013 for an average crowd of 44,038 at CenturyLink Field, per Mike Prindiville of Pro Soccer Talk. 

At the club's friendly on Saturday against the English Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur, 55,349 people were in attendance to see the sides play to an exciting 3-3 draw. With a team like the Spurs coming to the Pacific Northwest, Yedlin believes it is a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

“As a player, you love to play in front of a big crowd. Obviously, it helps build [Tottenham's] brand. They’re a team that a lot of people know, but anytime you can get out and play in front of a group that you really never played against, it’s huge. It helps build their brand, it helps build our brand, it helps build the brand of MLS and the Premier League. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Another game that will further build the MLS brand this summer occurs on Aug. 6, when Yedlin and the MLS All-Stars will take on Bayern Munich at Portland's Providence Park.

With Bayern Munich comes a heavy amount of German players who took on Yedlin and the United States in the final game of Group G play before going on to win the World Cup. 

“We obviously learned a lot because we played against those players before. You know a little bit about how they’re going to play. The playing style is a little bit different, but in terms of individually, we know a lot about the players now. We’re just going to play them like any other team, and that’s what I’m expecting.”

As for how he, Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and the other Sounders will be received in the stadium of their biggest rival, that remains to be seen. 

“I’m interested to see what the reaction will be like for me, Clint and Oba, but whatever it is, I’m just gonna go out there and play and do my best.”

There is no doubt that Portland rivals Seattle in its passion for the beautiful game, but the Timbers do not put up the same attendance numbers as their foes because of the limited number of seats in their stadium.

“The thing about Portland is, if they had a stadium like ours, they would probably fill it up, too. I hate to say it because I don’t like Portland, but they have a very passionate fan group. Seattle’s the best [fan group in MLS], but I’ll give them No. 2.

“They have a great fan group, and it’s a place you don’t like to go to play because you always get heckled by the fans. They give the team so much momentum, confidence and support.”

On top of all that going on, Yedlin and his Sounders teammates are drawing more attention because of Dempsey's appearance on the cover of FIFA 15.

“Clint is a great representative for the cover. He’s such a good guy, and he’s the face of U.S. Soccer. Everybody knows him; everybody knows his face. I’m super excited for him.

“[The game] not only helps the growth of American soccer, but it helps people learn about it. If you understand the game, you’re more interested in it.”

With the flurry after Brazil showing no signs of dying down, Yedlin may not get to pinch himself for a while, but when he does, he can certainly hold his head high knowing what the United States' showing at the World Cup did for the following of the game back home. 

 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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Winners and Losers from MLS Week 19: Everyone at Sporting KC, Borchers and More
MLS News
Sunday, 20 July 2014 20:55

With a full slate of nine games being played this weekend in Major League Soccer, there were plenty of things to talk about regarding the play on the pitch.

However, the biggest story of Week 19 came off the pitch thanks to Sporting Kansas City handing out a few big contracts to Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

On the field, there were a few controversial calls and players who experienced good and bad moments in their respective time on the pitch.

Continue reading on to see who were the biggest winners and losers from Week 19 in MLS.

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