Clint Irwin

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Clint Irwin out a month

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Toronto FC announced on Sunday that goalkeeper Clint Irwin will miss 4-5 weeks with a hamstring strain.

Irwin was injured in the first half of Friday’s 0-0 draw with Sporting KC, when he came off his line to challenge Soony Saad from a tight angle on net. Irwin slid to block Saad’s cross, and his left foot got caught underneath him, buckling under the pressure and causing the goalkeeper’s body to double over his leg. The 28-year-old went down immediately, and could not continue.

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It was an ugly looking injury, and considering that it appeared there was the possibility of significant knee damage, the news has at least a slight silver lining.

22-year-old Syracuse University product Alex Bono replaced Irwin in the match and will get an extended run in the first team. Bono replaced Irwin during the stretch run of the regular season last year when the starter injured his hamstring, missing 11 games. Bono played very well, keeping four clean sheets as the team won eight of his starts. Toronto conceded more than one goal just twice during Bono’s run of games.

Bono proved himself a more than capable backup during that time, so Toronto FC should be fine, but losing a starting goalkeeper so early in the season can always be a reason for at least some minor concerns. Bono and the Toronto defense will have a tall test next up, with the prolific attacking Atlanta United coming to BMO Field next weekend.

Three MLS Expansion Draft selections moved to new teams

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At least 30 percent of Major League Soccer’s 2016 Expansion Draft class won’t play in Atlanta or Minnesota.

Ten picks were made in Tuesday’s draft, as Atlanta United and Minnesota United selected unprotected players off of MLS rosters.

[ MORE: Expansion Draft recap ]

— Montreal left back Donny Toia was picked first by Atlanta, and then shipped to Orlando City for the No. 8 pick in this year’s SuperDraft.

— Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin was also claimed by the Georgian side, then traded back to TFC for Georgia native Mark Bloom and General Allocation Money (GAM).

— Minnesota picked Red Bulls right back Chris Duvall, then sent him and some GAM packing to Montreal in exchange for Johan Venegas.

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Expansion Draft: Irwin goes to Atlanta, but trades coming

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Big names, for the most part, were spared as Atlanta United and Minnesota United were also unified in looking for value during the MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday.

Now the question is how many will stay put after Atlanta United president Darren Eales admitted “pre-arranged trades” that will be announced later Tuesday. Eales could’ve selected players to move them, but also to protect other players on a team’s roster (MLS rules stipulate no team can lose two players in one expansion draft).

[ MORE: BVB to Liverpool – Hands off Pulisic ]

Atlanta claimed Toronto FC goalkeeper Clint Irwin and sent him back to Toronto in exchange for defender Mark Bloom, a Georgia native. They also picked Donny Toia and dealt him to Orlando for the No. 8 pick in January’s SuperDraft.

Atlanta now has, arguably, a Starting XI after Tuesday. The Georgia-based side had addressed attack already with the signings of Kenwyne Jones, Miguel Almiron and Hector Villabla.

In addition to Toya and Irwin, Atlanta selected defenders Zach Loyd (Dallas) and Mikey Ambrose (Orlando). Additionally, Atlanta tabbed 26-year-old Sporting KC backstop — and Georgia native — Alec Kann.

Minnesota made a move on the defensive end as well, tabbing New York Red Bulls back Chris Duvall with their first pick. They later sent Duvall and General Allocation Money to Montreal for Johan Venegas.

The Loons made a deft move in selecting young New England forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who was an advanced stats darling in limited use last season. They also added Collen Warner (Houston), Mohammed Saeid (Columbus), and Jeff Attinella (Real Salt Lake).

Warner bears the distinction of being selected in two Expansion Drafts after being plucked by Montreal in 2011.

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Which players should Minnesota, Atlanta target in Expansion Draft?

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Tuesday afternoon may not fully determine the future of either squad, but the Expansion Draft can certainly help both Atlanta United and Minnesota United as they enter their first MLS season.

[ MORE: Arena hopeful Dempsey will be ready when WCQ resumes ]

On Monday, all 20 current MLS clubs released their lists of protected players (11 players that cannot be selected in the Expansion Draft) so at PST we want to take a look at which options make the most sense for Atlanta and Minnesota.

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In order to assess which players are likely fits for MLS’ two newest additions, we have to first take a quick glance at the players that both Minnesota and Atlanta currently possess. While Atlanta has been extremely active in its lead up to entering the league in 2017, Minnesota currently has three players signed, two of which were on the team’s NASL squad last year.

Gerardo Martino and Atlanta have gone after several high-profile talents thus far, including Designated Players Kenwyne Jones and Miguel Almiron, as well as MLS veteran Michael Parkhurst.

With a plethora big names available in Tuesday’s Expansion Draft, let’s take a look at who Atlanta and Minnesota should target.

Jermaine Jones

While age, cost and injuries certainly play a factor for the 35-year-old midfielder, Jones’ veteran presence would surely lift either side in the event that he is selected on Tuesday. Not only was Jones a key figure in the Colorado Rapids midfield in 2016, but he continues to be involved in the U.S. Men’s National Team setup, proving that he can still play in his mid-30s.

Cristian Maidana

The three-year MLS attacker had a bit of a quiet year in 2016 with the Houston Dynamo, but the Argentine possesses plenty of creativity and skill to make Atlanta or Minnesota an immediate contender. Just two seasons ago, Maidana led MLS in assists (15) and at 29 years old he likely has a lot left in the tank.

Steven Beitashour

While Beitashour and Toronto FC just fell short in the MLS Cup final, either expansion side would be getting a top-end defender to bolster their backline. A seven-year veteran, Beitashour has established himself as one of the league’s best outside backs and can provide a major boost in both the attacking and defensive thirds.

Tranquillo Barnetta

Barnetta hasn’t been earth-shattering since joining MLS, but he has provided the Philadelphia Union in their attack. His ability to handle set piece situations makes him a top commodity, while the 31-year-old’s European experience also gives him strong leadership qualities in the locker room. Despite traditionally playing on the wing before coming to the United States, Barnetta has become a solid central midfielder and can play facilitator in the attack.

Clint Irwin

While reports have surfaced linking Brad Guzan to Atlanta, Minnesota could be a very good destination for the veteran goalkeeper, who nearly helped his TFC side win its first MLS Cup. At 27, Irwin should be on the eyes of Adrian Heath’s side after a strong campaign for the Eastern Conference side.

MLS Cup Final preview: Seattle, Toronto battle subzero temps for first Cup

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  • First MLS Cup Final for both
  • Sounders all-time 7W-2L-2T
  • TFC joined in 2007, Seattle 2009

It’ll be in the high twenties (-1 Celsius) when Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders kick off the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night in Ontario (Kickoff is Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT).

Combine the visible breath and slight chance of snow with a BMO Field which has been relentlessly loud throughut TFC’s playoff run, and we have the makings of an all-timer.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Cup roundtable ]

Toronto and Seattle met up at the same venue on July 2, the 1-1 draw perhaps a bit deflated by the absence of Clint Dempsey for Seattle and TFC’s American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

Seattle superstar Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t there, either, still weeks away from arriving from Boca Juniors.

This is the second MLS Cup Final at BMO Field, after Colorado defeated FC Dallas in 2010. TFC men Drew Moor and Clint Irwin were part of the championship-winning Rapids in that one.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris greets fans who gathered to send off the team after MLS soccer training, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders were scheduled to travel to Toronto later Wednesday to prepare to face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s Jordan Morris (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

[ MORE: PST’s Michael Bradley interview ]

Toronto will bring star power to go with a challenging formation; While accolades rightly go to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco, the Reds’ 3-5-2 under Greg Vanney features versatile wide men in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Seattle is powered through Nicolas Lodeiro, the ex-Boca Juniors playmaker who has been nearly as effective as Giovinco (albeit with a smaller MLS sample size). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the ex-TFC man, has been very good at the back, but can the Sounders’ back line handle Altidore and Giovinco?

The metronomes could be the difference. Bradley’s been good for TFC, but Osvaldo Alonso gave an MLS MVP caliber performance this season.

[ MORE: PST talks with Ozzie Alonso ]

What they’re saying

Toronto FC keeper Irwin on the weather: “It’s probably the most difficult part. As a field player, you can move around. You’re warmer, more active. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up, and I’ll stay moving back there.”

Seattle forward Jordan Morris on Lodeiro“The first thing Lodeiro said to me is, ‘When I get the ball, you just run.’ I think of him like a quarterback.”

Prediction

Look to the engine rooms here. Alonso is a handful and a magnificent passer of the ball. On his day, Bradley is even better. Will it be? Neither player will shirk from pressure. We’re thinking extra time after a 1-1 match. And Toronto’s depth and home field will propel it to a 2-1 win.

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