There’s a lot of buzz around Toronto FC ahead of a big MLS opener out in Seattle this weekend, and head coach Ryan Nelsen has plenty to be concerned about when it comes to players like Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Gilberto, Julio Cesar and Alvaro Rey
It’s not just about whether his players are fully fit and healthy, it’s both of those factors travel to and conditions at the venue for Saturday’s opener. Here’s what Nelsen told reporters on Monday.
“You’ve gotta travel and it’s not just an artificial field, it’s a bad artificial field. It’s like playing 1 1/2, 1 3/4 games in terms of damage to your body. So again we’ve got guys who are healthy but don’t have the hardness of fitness under them, which is a concern.”
A foot issue kept Bradley out of USMNT camp, but Nelsen mused that the midfielder has been “overactive” in preparation for his club’s MLS opener, while Defoe’s transition from England and knocks to Gilberto, Cesar and Rey could be magnified by the artificial playing surface.
For his part, Defoe is ready to go, though he admits the artificial surface TFC trained on today was an unusual experience for the former Tottenham man.
“It’s not something I’m used to, to be honest. Even training today, it’s the first time in years where I’ve actually trained on this kind of surface. It’s something you’re going to have to get used to and you can’t really make excuses because it’s the same for both teams, same for all the players.
“I suppose it’s just part and parcel of traveling away and playing on these kinds of pitches.”
Monday was Defoe’s first training session with his teammates, so there’ll be plenty of adjustment this week, weekend and onward, but he said he’s 100 percent healthy and was before he arrived in Canada. Toronto FC visits Seattle at 4:30p.m. ET Saturday.
The game in 100 words (or less): It would appear, based on the optics of the Seattle Sounders’ 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City, a result that sees Sigi Schmid’s side fall 10 points adrift of the Western Conference playoff places, that the legendary coach’s time in the Emerald City has run out. It wasn’t the final score, or the fact that the Sounders were out-shot 18-1 on the afternoon, but the manner in which they arrived at those embarrassing figures — essentially giving up and waving the white flag over the game’s final 30 minutes — that sends a message loudly and clearly to Sounders’ front office: we aren’t playing for this guy anymore. Here’s the problem for Seattle, though: Jason Kreis, the presumptive Sigi replacement with an eye toward reuniting with Garth Lagerwey, was announced as Orlando City SC’s new head coach on Tuesday. Nothing would make the Sounders look more unprepared than firing Schmid five days after the best available MLS coach was plucked off the market.
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Three moments that mattered
21′ — Dwyer heads home from Espinoza’s cross for 1-0 — Defending optional for Seattle, as everyone in and around the penalty area did very little to close down or mark anyone in white.
45+3′ — Peterson goes upper-90 for 2-0 — First-time hit, upper-90. Jacob Peterson makes it 2-0.
79′ — Dwyer makes it 3-0 after Sounders all but quit — Questionable “effort” from the Sounders, to be sure.
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Man of the match: Dom Dwyer
Goalscorers: Dwyer (21′, 79′), Peterson (45+3′)
Patrick Vieira is very mad, and with good reason, but he might want to reconsider where he directs his displeasure following the New York City FC’s latest embarrassment at the hands of the New York Red Bulls, 4-1 on Sunday .
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In Vieira’s estimation, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch and referee Mark Geiger were co-men of the match; Marsch for his pre-game comments — “crying,” in Vieira’s words — and Geiger for playing into Marsch’s devious, revolutionary plan.
Adults … they’re just like us!
In the two sides’ three meetings this season, the Red Bulls won twice and lost once, by a combined score of 11-3.
New York Red Bulls rode a wave of first half goals to a heated and entertaining 4-1 win over New York City FC on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Sacha Kljestan had two assists and converted a penalty, while Bradley Wright-Phillips netted a brace and Ronald Zubar (!!) also scored for RBNY. If you’re keeping score at home that’s a combined 11-1 score line for RBNY in home Derby games this season.
Tommy McNamara scored a gorgeous goal before halftime to give City life. Aside from McNamara cranking a second-half effort off the crossbar, the rest of the life came in the form of pushing, shoving and fouling. Frank Lampard mixed it up with Kljestan, while Ethan White took two yellows for a late red card.
[ MORE: A Pogba Primer ]
The win gives the Red Bulls bragging rights for at least the regular season, as RBNY won 2 of 3 season matches against its area rivals.
NYC remains atop the East, while the Red Bulls are five points back in fourth.
Here’s the goal that got us started, as Kljestan slipped through BWP for a finish he’ll rarely miss (even when ice-cold).
Zubar then headed in a Kljestan pass to make it 2-0 before a handball allowed Kljestan to collect a goal for himself.
BWP restored the three-goal lead with 20 minutes to play, as he won a 50-50 ball played over the top and had all day to toy with Josh Saunders en route to his 11th of the season.
The New York Red Bulls were cruising at home, leading 3-0 in what looked like it could be another blowout New York Derby.
Enter Tommy Mac.
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The Clemson man and NYC fan favorite unleashed an absolute laser past Luis Robles to make it 3-1 and give City a look at a comeback.
The goal gives McNamara four to go with eight assists this season. Now can NYC keep the comeback working in the second half?