Looking at Major League Soccer’s longest defensive streaks

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At 519 minutes, Sporting Kansas City has constructed the 7th longest defensive scoreless streak in MLS history.

They’ll need just three scoreless minutes Saturday against the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy to climb into the sixth spot. And then Peter Vermes’ side needs just 10 more minutes past that to become a Top Five member on this list of big defensive doings.

Here are six scoreless streaks still in front of SKC:

6. LA Galaxy, 521 minutes in 2006:

A tough pair of central defenders (Ugo Ihemelu and Tyrone Marshall) were given a lot of protection by Paulo Nagamura on this team of worker bees – where defense was clearly valued, but which didn’t make the playoffs because it couldn’t score.

5. FC Dallas, 531 minutes in 2011:

Ihemelu was front and center on this defense, as well. Protection in this case was provided from Daniel Hernandez, who patrolled with a certain menace just in front of the back line. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was also exceptional that year for FCD.

4. Real Salt Lake, 567 minutes in 2010:

The streak actually stretched over three difference months, beginning in late May and extending into mid-July. This one was all about center backs Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave (pictured above), backstopped more than capably by Nick Rimando and protected by U.S. international Kyle Beckerman.

3. Real Salt Lake, 568 minutes in 2010:

A second record-making streak is exactly why RSL absolutely hated last fall to trade away Olave, whose speed and anticipation covered for most defensive miscues from the team’s younger outside backs. Jason Kreis’ team allowed an all-time league low 20 goals that season.

2. Kansas City Wizards, 681 minutes in 2000:

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All you need to know about this streak is that goalkeeper Tony Meola (pictured at right)  is the only non-attacker to ever win an MLS Most Valuable Player award. He was that good in 2000 in guiding the franchise (now called Sporting Kansas City, of course) to its only MLS Cup championship. Players of that team were also acutely aware of their roles, expectations and limitations.

1. Houston Dynamo, 727 minutes in 2007:

Like the Wizards of 2000, Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo went on to win MLS Cup in this season. That bunch of defensive bruisers was tough as Kevlar … but look at the attackers and midfielders on the roster: It included Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching, Brad Davis, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Moreno, Chris Wondolowski, Ricardo Clark, Brian Mullan and Corey Ashe (then a midfielder). Teams were too busy on defense to attack! The Dynamo allowed just 23 goals that year, second lowest MLS total yet.

Toronto FC beats Crew 5-0 to extend unbeaten streak to 8

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TORONTO (AP) Victor Vazquez scored twice and Toronto FC routed the Columbus Crew 5-0 on Friday night to extend its unbeaten streak to a franchise record-matching eight games.

[ MORE: Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape ]

Toronto (8-1-5) is 7-0-1 since its lone league loss of the season, a 2-1 decision in Columbus on April 15. Columbus (6-7-1) has lost five of seven since topping Toronto.

Justin Morrow and substitutes Jonathan Osorio and Jordan Hamilton also scored for MLS-leading Toronto. The Canadian team also was unbeaten in eight games (4-0-4) from May 8 to July 10, 2010.

Toronto was reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when midfielder Marky Delgado was red-carded for a studs-up tackle on Columbus captain Wil Trapp. Osorio and Hamilton then scored to pad the lead for Toronto in its sixth shutout of the season.

Toronto played without the starting forward tandem of Sebastian Giovinco (injured) and Jozy Altidore (suspended for yellow card accumulation). Defender Nick Hagglund also is injured.

Agent: Barcelona offered more than Real for Vinicius Junior

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If Vinicius Junior can become half the player at Real Madrid that Neymar has lived up to be at Barcelona, Los Blancos will be pretty pleased.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on Monaco’s Silva ]

Real closed the deal for the 16-year-old Brazilian this week, but there were several other lucrative offers on the table, according to the player’s agent, Frederico Pena.

[ MORE: Totti leaves future uncertain heading into final Roma match ]

That includes bitter Spanish rivals Barcelona.

The agent stated that the Blaugrana did in fact offer a higher deal to acquire the Brazilian, however, he felt it would have complicated matters further to seek a greater offer from Real.

“There is practically unanimous view of the deal as a success,” Pena said. “If anybody gets criticised it is Real Madrid, for the risk they have taken, but they are sure that it will work. There were other clubs interested, and one offered to pay more money … Barca’s remuneration package offer for the player was higher than Real Madrid.

“But as we had reached an agreement with Real, we did not want to make this last push for them to match it. That could have embittered the relationship. Many people think it is crazy what Madrid are doing, but they were not alone in this craziness. They were not the only ones willing to pay this much for Vinicius.”

Pena also clarified as to why Vinicius chose Real over Barcelona, citing the player’s excitement about the development of Los Blancos during recent seasons under manager Zinedine Zidane and prior.

“Because Vinicius liked Madrid’s project better. There is always the feeling that players choose based on financial reasons, but that is not true. I assure you of that. Real Madrid’s negotiating posture was better.”

Real is on the verge of winning its third UEFA Champions League trophy in the last four seasons as the club prepares to face Juventus in the upcoming final.

Zidane’s men also won La Liga during the 2016/17 campaign.

Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape

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U.S. Soccer has come a long way over the years, and one of the nation’s most promising young players recognizes the progress the United States has made.

[ MORE: Man City acquire Monaco’s Silva after passing medical ]

Christian Pulisic, who plays for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, is one of several young talents that U.S. hopes to finally bring the American men a moment of glory on the biggest of stages — the World Cup.

The 18-year-old has done just about everything a player of his age could do. He’s played in one of the top leagues in the world, appeared in various UEFA Champions League matches and now he’s likely on pace to appear in the 2018 World Cup, assuming the USMNT advances out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The U.S., who have reached the World Cup during seven straight cycles, have come a long way in a short period of time, and Pulisic is happy with the improving U.S. Soccer landscape.

“It’s been big flaw of ours in the soccer department that a lot of our best athletes go and play other sports,” Pulisic told The Guardian. “But I think young players have seen me, and others, go over to Europe and play in some of the best leagues — and MLS is improving so much too.

“There’s so much potential and I think it’s changing: we’ve had some bigger athletes in the past but I don’t think that defines us anymore.

“We’re going to keep moving forward, developing young players and we’re going to have a really good shot in the next few years.”

During this past Bundesliga season, Pulisic recorded three goals and added six assists for a club that has become well known for its high-powered offensive attack.

Report: Kyle Walker a top target for Manchester City

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Manchester City could be looking to bolster its backline further this summer, and the Citizens could turn to Tottenham for help.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on acquiring Monaco’s Silva ]

According to ESPN FC, Pep Guardiola‘s side is growing more and more enamored with Spurs defender Kyle Walker and believes City can acquire the experienced outside back prior to the 2017/18 Premier League season.

With City already losing Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna since the end of the PL season, Guardiola will have to address the club’s lack of depth at outside back.

Several other big clubs have been considered in the running for Walker’s services, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

The 26-year-old has been at White Hart Lane since joining Spurs in 2009 from Sheffield United and has made 222 appearances for the club in that span.