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FC Dallas blocks USMNT call-ups amid CCL prep

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According to a number of US Soccer writers, including Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep and Steven Goff of the Washington Post, Major League Soccer club FC Dallas has blocked any of its players from attending the USMNT January Camp despite US Soccer initially calling in a number of the club’s players.

The players called in were not named, but midfielder Kellyn Acosta is likely one of them, a player who despite seemingly cementing his position as a repeat call-in, has struggled in his recent international appearances and at just 22 years old, could use all the time he can get in the national setup.

Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez is another young player who would find time in the January camp invaluable. The 22-year-old won the starting job at FC Dallas and is considered to be a significant challenger to take over long-term for Tim Howard, having committed to the United States over Mexico. 27-year-old defender Matt Hedges is a player on the fringes of the national setup and someone who would find the time in January camp particularly useful.

FC Dallas released a statement alluding to the reports, backing up the claims and providing reasoning for their decision. “Our sole focus right now is preparing for the 2018 MLS season and our CONACAF Champions League matches in February,” said FC Dallas VP of Media and Communications Gina Miller via email to members of the media.  “We will have a number of new players to integrate into the club. It’s important for our coaches and technical staff to have the full roster of players available to do that.”

MLS clubs are not allowed to begin official training until January 22nd per the collective bargaining agreement, but reports say Hedges is leading unofficial team workouts. FC Dallas begins its CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage journey  January 20th on the road at Panamanian club Tauro FC, with the second leg at home seven days later. They begin the MLS season on March 3rd at home against Real Salt Lake.

Galarcep pointed out that all four other Major League Soccer teams in the CONCACAF Champions League – Colorado, Toronto, Seattle Sounders, and the New York Red Bulls – have players taking part in the January camp, including Tyler Adams (RBNY), Cristian Roldan (Seattle), Jordan Morris (Seattle), and Marlon Hairston (Colorado).

Kamara, Zimmerman move in half-day MLS trade window

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One of the quirks of Major League Soccer is on full display Sunday.

Hours after Toronto FC won its first MLS Cup, the league saw its half-day trade window unleash a variety of deals on the league.

Kei Kamara leaving New England is going to steal the headlines, but LAFC may have made the top move of the day.

[ MORE: Liverpool 1-1 Everton ]

The first-year club reportedly sent $500,000 in combined GAM and TAM plus the top spot in the allocation order to FC Dallas for center back Walker Zimmerman. The 24-year-old big back will be a horse for Bob Bradley in California.

Kamara has been sent to Vancouver as a Designated Player in exchange for the ‘Caps’ “2019 natural first round SuperDraft pick and a conditional 2020 second round SuperDraft selection.”

Sporting KC shook things up as well, collecting Kenwyne Jones — who’s announced his retirement — Alexander Tambakis, and a fourth round pick from Atlanta United for Tyler Pasher, Kevin Oliveira, and a second round pick.

Oh, and this:

New York City FC has acquired $75,000 of General Allocation Money and a 2018 international slot in exchange for French back Frederic Brillant, who has signed a two-year deal with DC United. DC also acquired an attacking piece in the negotiating rights to Jamaican winger Darren Mattocks from Portland for an international roster spot.

Minnesota coach Adrian Heath has acquired his son, Harrison Heath, from Orlando City for a fourth-round draft pick. Heath will count as a Homegrown Player for the Loons.

FC Dallas owner: Pay-to-play not an issue within U.S. Soccer

Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News
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The upcoming U.S. Soccer presidential election has brought up plenty of flaws within the American soccer community following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Which cities are the favorite in the latest MLS expansion rankings? ]

However, one Major League Soccer owner has made his feelings clear on one particular issue, which many seem to disagree upon.

FC Dallas owner and president Dan Hunt has suggested that pay-to-play isn’t a problem within the U.S. soccer youth community, a stance he says he’s maintained throughout the years.

During a Facebook Live session on Friday, seen on FC Dallas’ Facebook page, Hunt relayed his thoughts on pay-to-play and other topics.

“I’ve said it before in multiple interviews, we’ve got to cast our net wider to continue to make sure we get quality players,” Hunt said. “I’ve heard allegations [that] pay-to-play limits – it does not. That is, I think, farcical at best. And the reason I say that is because these kids that are the top talent, they’re identified and they have different opportunities than other players…. I think that’s just wrong. But I do think we have to cast broader nets.”

“We’re losing a huge demographic,” Martino told GotSoccer. “An enormous portion of the soccer landscape is priced out of the game, or through lack of access, is not getting into the system.”

MLS: FCD really missed the playoffs; LA finish dead last

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo
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FC Dallas 5-1 LA Galaxy

The standings: FC Dallas finish 7th in the West; LA Galaxy finish bottom of the West, and all of MLS

The game: It was too little, too late for FC Dallas, who on Sunday managed just their second win during the months of August, September and October. That’s a stretch of 15 games which saw last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners tumble out of the West’s playoff places and ultimately finish seventh, behind the San Jose Earthquakes on the wins tiebreaker. Roland Lamah scored twice on the day, to go with single tallies from Mauro Diaz, Matt Hedges and Michael Barrios. Oscar Pareja’s side began the season with treble aspirations for a second straight season (the Hoops also won the U.S. Open Cup in 2016), but will be watching this year’s playoffs from the comfort of their own couches. On the other hand, 2017 could have been worse — say, FCD could have been LA, who finished last in MLS for the first time ever. Sigi Schmid, should he remain in the job next season, has quite the rebuilding task on his hands. Let us not forget: LAFC arrive in March.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 34 — it all comes down to this ]

The goals

2′ — Cian heads home an early opener Things started brightly for LA.

37′ — Lamah gets a lucky bounce, pulls FCD level — Right place, right time for Lamah, who’s endured quite the rough first season in MLS.

41′ — Hedges cleans up the mess, and it’s 2-1 — Clement Diop couldn’t hold on after making the initial save, and Matt Hedges was more than ready for the rebound.

49′ — Lamah makes it 3-1 — The rout has officially begun.

68′ — Barrios adds to LA’s misery with a fourth — LA’s 2017 season was over in May (maybe June, if we’re being kind). Every one of these defenders is on a beach right now.

73′ — Diaz makes it 5-1 from the spot — The season just will not end for LA.

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

Man of the match: Roland Lamah

Goalscorers: Cian (2′), Lamah (37′, 49′), Hedges (41′), Barrios (68′) Diaz (73′ – PK)


Houston Dynamo 3-0 Chicago Fire

The standings: Dynamo clinch the West’s 4-seed; Fire clinch the East’s 3-seed

The game: No one wanted to win the West, just like no one ever really wanted to claim a home game in the knockout round. In the end, the Houston Dynamo beat Sporting Kansas City to the 4-seed and the right to host the two sides’ opening-round game this week. Leonardo, Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas bagged the goals for Wilmer Cabrera’s side which finishes the regular season unbeaten in its last six game (three wins). Chicago, recently resurgent, lose for just the second time in eight games, but in doing so fail to take advantage of New York City FC’s Decision Day draw with Columbus Crew SC. A win would have sent Chicago second in the East, allowing them a week’s rest and preparation before the start of the conference semifinals. Instead, they’ll host the New York Red Bulls this week.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 34 — it all comes down to this ]

The goals

2′ — Leonardo heads home from a long throw — They don’t have to be pretty (especially on Decision Day), which is good, because this one was anything but.

68′ — Quioto goes it alone to make it 2-0 — At some point, someone should probably drag Quioto to the ground rather than let him carry the ball 40 yards into the penalty area. It never happened, and Richard Sanchez couldn’t make the save.

75′ — Manotas adds the insurance a few minutes later — Andrew Wenger’s cross found Manotas at the back post, and the finish was easy for the Colombian.

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

Man of the match: Leonardo

Goalscorers: Leonardo (2′), Quioto (68′), Manotas (75′)

MLS Decision Day preview: Much at stake

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
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Four teams can claim a Western Conference second round berth, while four more can earn a valuable first-round bye in the East.

Yep, there’s plenty to play for beyond the West’s final playoff spot Sunday during Major League Soccer’s Decision Day, when every team will take the pitch for 4 p.m. ET kickoffs.

[ MORE: Conte feels pressure ]

Here’s what we do know regarding the playoffs:

  1. Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto FC gets a first round bye, while No. 6 seed New York Red Bulls are headed to the road for a first round playoff
  2. New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando, DC, Minnesota, Colorado, and LA will not make the playoffs
  3. Full stop.

So, yes, this will be fun.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings ahead of Sunday’s extravaganza:

Eastern Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Toronto FC 33 20 8 5 72 35 37 13-3-1 7-5-4 68
x – New York City FC 33 16 8 9 54 41 13 10-4-2 6-4-7 56
x – Chicago 33 16 7 10 61 44 17 12-3-2 4-4-8 55
x – Atlanta 33 15 9 9 68 38 30 11-2-3 4-7-6 54
x – Columbus 33 16 5 12 51 47 4 12-2-3 4-3-9 53
x – New York 33 13 8 12 51 46 5 9-6-2 4-2-10 47

— New York City FC controls its bye destiny, though Columbus could join them on 56 points and would pass them on tiebreakers (wins).

— If that happens, Chicago could claim the second bye with a win or draw in Houston (The Fire owns the goal differential tiebreaker).

— If New York City and Chicago lose or draw, Atlanta could finish second with a home win over TFC.

— Columbus can finish second with a win and non-wins for Chicago and Atlanta.

Western Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Vancouver 33 15 7 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 6-2-8 52
x – Portland 33 14 8 11 58 49 9 10-4-2 4-4-9 50
x – Seattle 33 13 11 9 49 39 10 10-5-1 3-6-8 50
x – Sporting KC 33 12 13 8 39 27 12 10-6-1 2-7-7 49
x – Houston 33 12 11 10 54 45 9 11-4-1 1-7-9 47
San Jose 33 12 7 14 36 58 -22 9-5-2 3-2-12 43
FC Dallas 33 10 13 10 43 47 -4 7-7-2 3-6-8 43
Real Salt Lake 33 12 6 15 47 54 -7 8-4-4 4-2-11 42

Byes

— Vancouver finishes first with a win or draw at Portland. The ‘Caps could finish as low as third with a loss to Portland and a Seattle win versus Colorado.

— Portland finishes first — and wins the Cascadia Cup — with a win over visiting Vancouver.

— Seattle can claim a first round bye with a win over visiting Colorado and a Vancouver win over Portland.

— Sporting KC can finish second with a win at Real Salt Lake and non-wins for Portland and Seattle.

Final playoff spot

— San Jose claims the sixth seed with a home win over Minnesota. They can also finish sixth with a draw joined by non-wins for FC Dallas at home to LA and Real Salt Lake at home versus SKC.

— FC Dallas claims the sixth seed with a win over LA and a San Jose draw or loss versus Minnesota. FCD gets sixth with a draw, and a San Jose loss coupled with a RSL loss or draw versus SKC.

—  Real Salt Lake gets sixth with a win over SKC, and non-wins from San Jose and Dallas. RSL could also get sixth with a draw and losses for San Jose and Dallas.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Schedule
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
San Jose vs. Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Colorado
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City
Portland vs. Vancouver
Montreal vs. New England
New York City vs. Columbus
Atlanta vs. Toronto

Predictions

— NYCFC hangs on for a draw against Columbus, earning a bye, leaving Chicago to host New York Red Bulls and Atlanta off to Columbus for the first round of the playoffs (We have Toronto beating Atlanta on Sunday).

— Vancouver and Portland draw, while Seattle beats Colorado. The ‘Caps and Sounders get byes, while Seattle takes back the Cascadia Cup.

— San Jose beats Minnesota, gaining the West’s sixth seed. The Quakes head to Portland for the first round, while SKC hosts Houston.