US midfielder Eric Lichaj fights for the

Run, run as fast as you can: A few words from the man who made the U.S. fit

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A brief distraction from the impending Champions League matches and Steve’s excellent Breakfast with Jurgen posts to bring you some news from a former United States national team coach that’s still relevant.

Mike Woitalla does a fascinating back and forth with Pierre Barrieu, the fitness coach under Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley. The U.S. has long been considered one of the most fit teams in the world, and Barrieu — who is currently serving as the fitness coach at UAE — played a large role in making that happen.

The Americans under Klinsmann are taking a bit of a different tact, with the German head coach upping the level of fitness even higher. One of the things they do is run every morning for 20 minutes before breakfast. Woitalla asked Barrieu for his reaction to the news of the increased work levels.

My first reaction is no reaction. I totally didn’t take it personally. This is down to the coach’s decision. I’m not going talk on behalf of Jurgen. I don’t know why it’s the case. I don’t know if that automatically means he thinks the fitness wasn’t good before.

If you wake up and go for a morning jog, some coaches think there is some positive in doing this, but I don’t think it’s the case. It comes down to making choices and why they’re doing more fitness work than before. That’s a question for him. For me, it doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I’m supporting the U.S. If they think it’s the best thing to do for the team, then great.

So… different strokes for different folks. But you’d have to think the current U.S. team probably doesn’t exactly love the early morning runs.

Check out the whole interview over at SoccerAmerica. There’s more good stuff, including an intense discussion of making players faster and an nice anecdote about the U.S.-Algeria match in 2010.

(And a nod to’s John Bolster for pointing out the Q&A.)

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.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

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.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

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