Mexico midfielder Mier and U.S. forward Agudelo watch the ball during the first half of their U-23 international friendly soccer match in Frisco

Keeping the plot on Juan Agudelo’s training spell at Celtic

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Looking at the comments on the Soccer By Ives story that first broke news of Juan Agudelo’s training spell with Scottish giant Celtic, the important points here may have gotten lost.

The whole thing devolved quickly into a silly debate about the quality of Celtic and Scottish soccer in general. Which is a fine (if somewhat tired) debate to have, I suppose, but poorly placed here.

Why? Because this is good news for Agudelo, the young U.S. international whose smart, skillful assist led to Michael Bradley’s goal Wednesday against Russia. Here’s what it means for Agudelo:

  • No matter what you think about the massive disparity in the top and bottom of Scottish Premier League Soccer, Celtic is a big club with quality players. No way a couple of weeks around Celtic Park will do any harm (assuming no injury misfortune, as we saw with Omar Gonzalez last year.)
  • These “training spells” have the double effect of being de facto tryouts. It presents a chance for up-close inspection of a young man’s training habits and day-to-day approach. It doesn’t mean he will ever be signed by Celtic, or any other name brand club that might contact the Glasgow club about him, but it certainly enhances the chances (assuming Agudelo passes muster, that is).
  • Finally, this is precisely what U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann wants to see, so this is a positive development for Agudelo’s national team endeavors. It’s not just the two weeks per se, it’s the added demonstration of commitment that Klinsmann wants to see. Rather than extra time off during Major League Soccer’s off-season, Agudelo, 19, is taking aggressive steps to keep training, to stay fit and keep adding to his soccer bag of tricks.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)