2017 MLS Cup Playoffs

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Altidore red card appeal rejected by MLS DisCo

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Turns out it’s hard to make a case out of video from a dark tunnel fracas.

Jozy Altidore‘s red card appeal has been rejected, and the Toronto FC star will join Sebastian Giovinco on the sidelines for the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final.

[ MORE: Rochester Rhinos in jeopardy ]

Altidore picked up a yellow card after an altercation with Sacha Kljestan which saw the big striker hit the deck like Kljestan wielded Thor’s hammer.

Both players would grab a second yellow as Kljestan and several New York Red Bulls wound up in a restricted area for a halftime fight with Toronto. Altidore’s hopes lied in a video and RBNY’s entry into an area in which they were not allowed by league rules. From TorontoFC.ca:

“Jozy’s suspension has been upheld,” Vanney said. “The referees had given him a red card, so the burden of proof was on us to prove that it wasn’t. We weren’t able to do that with video we provided because there were still some gaps in the video.”

Dempsey wins Comeback award; Set for Seattle stay

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Clint Dempsey edged Federico Higuain and Erick Torres for the 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award.

The voting was surprisingly close considering Dempsey’s status as an American soccer icon returning from a scary heart problem.

[ MORE: Rochester Rhinos in jeopardy ]

The 34-year-old has 14 goals between the MLS regular season and playoffs, adding four assists in 30 total matches. Seattle plays Houston in the Western Conference final of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Dempsey is the second Sounder to win the award, joining Eddie Johnson who won the honor in 2012. Coincidentally, Johnson retired from soccer due to a heart ailment.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Dempsey is set to sign a one-year deal to stay with Seattle as a Designated Player through the 2018 season.

With Dempsey set to break the all-time USMNT record with his next goal, it’s no surprise he’s not hanging up his boots yet. And why would he? “Deuce” remains an effective player for club and country.

Men in Blazers POD: Chelsea, Man City, MLS Cup Playoffs + Martino

@MenInBlazers
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Rog and Davo talk Mourinho’s homecoming loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Buzzsaw that is Man City and Pep’s bald head, and Everton’s big win over Watford. Plus, MLS Playoffs and Kyle Martino’s USSF Presidential candidacy.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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MLS Conference Finalists cheat sheet

Photo credit: @MLS/Twitter
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Four teams remain in the chase for the 2017 MLS Cup, from Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto down to the team with the 10th most points in the regular season, the Houston Dynamo.

For those who haven’t been watching too closely this season, here’s what you need to know about the semifinalists.

[ VOTE: PST’s Big American soccer survey]


Toronto FC

Regular season: 1st in East (20W-5L-9T)
Overall: 1st
Playoffs so far: Advanced past Red Bulls 2-2 on away goals
Last season: Lost MLS Cup Final to Seattle

Leading scorer: Sebastian Giovinco (17), Jozy Altidore (15)
In-form player: Goalkeeper Alex Bono
Secret weapon: Victor Vazquez — The Spaniard and ex-Barcelona prospect was the Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year in 2015, and has nine goals and 10 assists in his first MLS season,

Record vs. Seattle: Won 1-0 in Washington
Record vs. Houston: Won 2-0 at home
Record vs. Columbus: Won home and away; Lost away

The big question: Will MLS find enough evidence against the Red Bulls to reverse Jozy Altidore’s suspension for the weekend’s tunnel fracas? If not, TFC will not have its top two scorers for leg one.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Houston Dynamo

Regular season: 5th in West
Overall: 10th
Playoffs so far: Defeatied Sporting KC, then Portland
Last season: Missed playoffs

Leading scorer: Erick Torres (14), Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis (10)
In-form player: Elis — four goals in last seven matches
Secret weapon: Juan Cabezas — The Colombia defensive midfielder averages 3.7 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game.

Record vs. Toronto: Lost 2-0 in Canada
Record vs. Seattle: Lost 1-0 at Seattle, Won 2-1 at home
Record vs. Columbus: Won 3-1 at home

The big question: Can backup backstop Joe Willis do the job with Tyler Deric suspended after a domestic arrest?

(Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / @HoustonDynamo)

Columbus Crew

Regular season: 5th in East (16W-12L-6T)
Overall: 5th
Playoffs so far: Defeated Atlanta, then New York City FC
Last season: Missed playoffs

Leading scorer: Ola Kamara (19), Justin Meram (14)
In-form player: Artur — The 21-year-old center mid does the little things well, humming on a consistent motor.
Secret weapon: Pedro Santos — Gets into dangerous places, and knows how to draw a foul.

Record vs. Toronto: Won at home, Lost home and away
Record vs. Houston: Lost 3-1 in Texas
Record vs. Seattle: Won 3-0 at home

The big question: Can the Crew continue to rise above the furor and buzz of owner Anthony Precourt’s horribly-timed relocation discussion? (EDIT: Twitter user CG Hudson pointed out that there is rarely a good time for a relocation discussion, and that’s spot on).

(AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Seattle Sounders

Regular season: 2nd in West (14W-9L-11T)
Overall: 7th
Playoffs so far: Beat Vancouver 2-0 in quarterfinals
Last season: MLS Cup champion

Leading scorers: Clint Dempsey (14), Will Bruin (11)
In-form player: Dempsey
Secret weapon: Cristian Roldan — The University of Washington product has always good defensively, but has seen his goals rise from zero to four to six in his first three seasons.

Record vs. Toronto: Lost 1-0 at home
Record vs. Houston: Won 1-0 at home, Lost 2-1 in Texas
Record vs. Columbus: Lost 3-0 in Columbus

The big question: Can Seattle become the first back-to-back MLS Cup winners since the Galaxy in 2011-12?

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

USMNT call-ups versus Portugal, revisited

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP
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So now that we have a final list of MLS semifinalists, we can make one final prediction for Dave Sarachan’s USMNT roster versus Portugal before Tuesday’s expected announcement.

The interim boss will lead the U.S. into Leiria on Nov. 14, and members of quarterfinal losing New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and New York City FC are in play for the roster.

[ MORE: Martino running for USSF presidency ]

Portugal has announced its squad here. We projected the U.S. 23-man roster last week, but will have a few changes following the MLS quarterfinals.

Our guess? Three new players into our projections, a mainstay from Portland and two uncapped Red Bull products.

Goalkeepers (3) : Bill Hamid, Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath

Changes: None.

Defenders (8): John Brooks, Matt MiazgaDeAndre YedlinCameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Besler, Brandon Vincent, Matt Polster, Aaron Long.

Changes: RBNY’s Aaron Long has a bit of LB versatility to go with his CB skill set, and he’ll take the place of Geoff Cameron, who is suffering from a head injury.

Midfielders (8): Weston McKennie, Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Lynden Gooch, Alejandro Bedoya, Tyler Adams, Darlington Nagbe, Jonathan Gonzalez.

Changes: Pulisic is reportedly out, and that’s fine because the Yanks would love to get a look at the Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams. Room will also be made for Darlington Nagbe and we’ll guess he takes Kelyn Rowe’s spot instead of Alejandro Bedoya. We’re also moving Jonathan Gonzalez of Monterrey ahead of Danny Williams, as Bedoya and Nagbe will have the experience/leadership angle covered.

Forwards (4): Bobby Wood, Josh Sargent, Aron Johannsson, CJ Sapong

Changes: We suppose Jonathan Lewis (NYCFC) or Haji Wright (Sandhausen) could fit here over Sapong, but we’ll stick with our gut instinct.