Orlando City SC

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Report: Everton linked with $4 million swoop for Canada’s Larin

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The Sun only hits on a few of the many transfer rumors it tosses around, but this one bears a second look for fans of Everton, MLS, and Canada.

Everton is already eyeing replacements for Romelu Lukaku, according to the report, and is hunting for a bargain in Canadian national teamer Cyle Larin.

Larin, 21, was the first overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City SC after an electric career at UConn.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

He’s since scored 35 goals in 63 matches for the Lions, picking up three in his first two matches of the 2017 season. The 6-foot-1 Ontario native has five goals for Canada in 19 caps.

The Sun says Larin would cost close to $4 million, a fraction of what the Toffees will get if they sell Lukaku.

MLS (late-night) roundup: Early favorites, FC Dallas & Portland, emerge

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With three MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 31 more to go…

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Portland Timbers 4-2 Houston Dynamo

Isn’t it just wonderful when you look forward to a game all week, and when Saturday finally arrives, it lives up to everything you hoped of it? That’s Portland versus Houston, in a nutshell. Tied for the Western Conference’s top spot after two weeks, only Atlanta United looked to be on par with Saturday’s combatants in terms of attacking intent and ability.

What transpired at Providence Park was a six-goal thriller chock-full of brilliant midfield play, inspired final-ball making in and around the penalty area, and some decent finish on the business end. Diego Valeri scored twice (once from the penalty spot), and David Guzman and Fanendo Adi added goals of their own for Portland, erasing a 2-1 halftime deficit after Erick Torres (penalty kick) and Romell Quioto had the visitors halfway home with three points. Quiot’s goal, mostly for Alberth Elis’s seeing-eye through ball, was particularly stunning.

Valeri started the comeback just before the hour mark, and Houston couldn’t slow the momentum once Portland began rolling downhill.

2017 looks to be the start of a golden attacking age in MLS, and these two (young) sides are leading the charge. Portland and Houston’s next meeting? July 29, in Houston.


Real Salt Lake 1-2 LA Galaxy

It’s a strange new world, where LA find themselves Robbie Keane-, Landon Donovan- and Bruce Arena-less, and without a single point from their first two games of the 2017 season. Through 68 minutes on Saturday, zero points from three games seemed a distinct possibility, trailing away to RSL despite their man advantage since the 44th minute.

As far as headers go, you’ll not find one more impressive than this one from Yura Movsisyan to put RSL up in the 18th minute.

Dave Romney and Emmanuel Boateng got the goals to bring LA back from the depths of the unthinkable, and give Curt Onalfo his first win since replacing Arena this offseason.


FC Dallas 2-1 New England Revolution

FCD just keep doing work, whether it be in league play or CONCACAF Champions League. On Saturday, three days after a dogged CCL semifinals first-leg affair with Pachuca, Oscar Pareja’s men came back from a goal down to New England and move to seven points from three games.

Lee Nguyen put the visitors ahead, from the penalty spot in the 10th minute, one of just four shots from Jay Heaps’ side on the night. The comeback wasn’t quick, but it didn’t have to be. Maximiliano Urruti hit twice six minutes apart, in the 71st and 77th minutes, to not only rob New England of their first win of 2017, but their first points as well.

The 2017 Supporters’ Shield goes through Dallas, though Portland inch closer and closer with each passing week.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — NYCFC dominate, disappoint; ATL roll ]


Sporting Kansas City 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Sporting KC have their first goal, as well as their first win, of 2017 following a mostly dominant performance against San Jose. Benny Feilhaber’s long-range, knuckle-balling bomb opened the scoring in the 37th minute (WATCH HERE), and David Bingham’s epic howler made it 2-0 with a minute of regular time remaining.

Good thing for Sporting, too, as all concentration and focus disappeared once stoppage time began. Florian Jungwirth pulled a goal back in the 91st, and Tim Melia was called into action again a minute later. His Save of the Week candidate preserved a narrow, but thoroughly deserved three points for the home side.


Orlando City SC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

At some point, Cyle Larin will stop scoring every goal for Orlando, and I’ll be forced to formulate a lede other than “Cyle Larin’s going to Europe, and soon,” but that day isn’t today, as the 21-year-old Canadian international bagged his second and third goals of the season, each time putting the Lions in front.

The fluidity in the build-up to the second goal shouldn’t go unnoticed, as clinical as Larin may have been with his chance. Carlos Rivas is 22 and two full years into his MLS adventure. He’s made the jump from deer-in-the-headlights newcomer, to full-time contributor on a good team. That’s him with the simple lay-off to Matias Perez Garcia on the second goal, and he absolutely deserves a secondary assist for it. I’ll be petitioning the league on his behalf first thing Monday morning.


Colorado Rapids 2-2 Minnesota United

Minnesota have their first MLS point, just barely. Adrian Heath’s side came back from a goal down — then blew their first MLS lead in under two minutes, but that’s neither here nor there — to draw away the stingiest defense in all of MLS last season.

Dominique Badji put Colorado ahead in the 17th minute, but that was canceled out by Kevin Molino from the penalty spot five minutes into the second half. Christian Ramirez put Minnesota 2-1 up in the 58th minute, but Marlon Hairston equalized 108 seconds later. Such is life as an expansion team, but it brings the Loons’ goals conceded average down to 4.3 goals per game.


D.C. United 0-2 Columbus Crew SC

Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara converted a penalty kick each — no drama between the Argentine and a striker named Kamara this time — as Crew SC picked up their first win of the season, away to D.C., who look a serious contender for second-worst team (sorry, Minnesota) in MLS through three games. 0 goals scored, 6 goals conceded; 1 point won.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

New York City FC 1-1 Montreal Impact
Atlanta United 4-0 Chicago Fire
Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 Toronto FC

Orlando City loses Kaka for six weeks

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Orlando City’s acquisition of Giles Barnes looks particularly prescient right about now.

Kaka is set to miss six weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in Sunday’s season-opening 1-0 win over New York City FC.

[ MLS: Five takeaways from Week 1 ]

While Barnes isn’t a like-for-like replacement for the former Ballon d’Or winner, he was the focal point of an MLS attack for several years in Houston before a midseason trade to Vancouver last season.

From The Orlando Sentinel:

“He’s a great player and he’s a loss, certainly, but Giles [Barnes] came in and did extremely well,” Lions centerback Jonathan Spector said. “That’s one of the great things about this team, we have so much strength and depth. When someone like Kaká goes down and someone like Giles Barnes comes in. . . . I think we are in a really good position.”

Kaka has 19 goals and 15 assists in 55 MLS appearances, and will certainly be missed, but the England-born Barnes has 19 caps for Jamaica, and brings 33 MLS goals to the lineup.

Orlando City faces a short respite of schedule with New England, Columbus, and Philadelphia before the Red Bulls, Galaxy, and New York City (again).

Five takeaways from MLS Week 1

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Major League Soccer returned with (mostly) glorious wonder this weekend, with several eye-opening surprises and some dead-on certainties.

[ REPORT: Diskerud off to Sweden ]

1) Houston can be electric — Mauro Manotas didn’t start up top for Wilmer Cabrera’s new Dynamo, and he may not get the chance after Erick “Cubo” Torres lined up between Honduran wingers Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis.

The Mexican striker scored, Quioto added a second, and each man could’ve easily had a brace as Houston picked up a 2-1 home win over the reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders. The three-man attack was a CONCACAF nightmare for Seattle, especially without Brad Evans. Barring injury, Houston’s a must-watch.

2) Resilient Red Bulls prove a spoiler — Atlanta United’s raucous debut crowd saw Yamil Asad put the hosts up 1-0 in a match designed for a Georgian win; The Red Bulls had played three nights earlier out in Vancouver, and this would’ve been a forgivable 0-1 start to the season.

But Daniel Royer made it 1-1 in the 76th minute before Spurs loanee Anton Walkes, prodded by Mike Grella and Kemar Lawrence, turned an own goal into the Atlanta net six minutes later. It was a rude welcome to MLS for United, and another reminder that Jesse Marsch is not to be overlooked.

3) Dallas looks the part — There are a lot of folks who expect FC Dallas to take another Supporters’ Shield, and their 2-1 road win at the new-look Galaxy isn’t going to change too many of those minds.

We’d watch this duo tangle on a week-to-week basis. FCD had the answers. New LA captain Jelle Van Damme had a standout night at center back, but it wasn’t enough as Maxi Urruti and Kellyn Acosta sandwiched Dallas goals around a Gio Dos Santos tally to take three points back to Texas.

4) Minnesota “Outshined” — Chris Cornell wasn’t doing any favors to the Northern state when he described a bout of low confidence as ‘Looking California but feeling Minnesota’ in the Soundgarden hit, but United’s first MLS match fit that description a bit too easily.

Aside from Christian Ramirez’s feel-good goal, the Loons were battered by a veteran Portland side. Two goals for Fanendo Adi and two more from Diego Valeri highlighted the 5-1 win, one that could put hopes too high in Oregon. As for whether it will make the outlook unrealistically bleak in Minnesota, that’s another story.

5) Orlando pride — While Atlanta debuted a new team, its new stadium won’t be ready until later in the year. Orlando City SC, meanwhile, rolled out a new home. In a way, it was the perfect projection of where many hope MLS will one day arrive: soccer-savvy supporters packing pristine, cavernous homes. And Orlando City Stadium was rowdy, wonderful, and victorious. Now will it see many more wins with Kaka out for six weeks?

MLS Snapshot: Orlando christen new home with 1-0 win over NYCFC

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The game in 100 words (or less): Shall we call them Orlando City SC 2.0? After spending their first two seasons as an MLS franchise playing their home games at the old Citrus Bowl, the Lions moved into a new venue on Sunday: home, otherwise known as Orlando City Stadium. Situated in downtown Orlando, the new digs were (not quite) completed at a total cost of $155 million, and Sunday’s opener indicated it was worth every penny paid (and then some). The north end of the stadium, dubbed “The Wall” in a nod to Borussia Dortmund’s yellow rendition, boasts the first all-standing section in MLS history. The angle at which the single-level stand sits helped to create an atmosphere not at all unlike that of the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City. Cyle Larin scored the first goal in the brand new, 25,500-seat stadium’s history, a 15th-minute header from three yards out, set up masterfully by Giles Barnes, and that’s all they’d need to secure three points and send the sellout crowd home without wanting.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup | Late-night ]

Three moments that mattered

8′ — Kaka goes down early; day is done — 7 minutes, 13 seconds: that’s the exact period for which Kaka was healthy and fit to begin the 2017 season.

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 05: Kaka #10 of Orlando City SC goes down with a leg injury during a MLS soccer match between New York City FC and Orlando City SC at the Orlando City Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

15′ — Larin heads home from Barnes’ cross — Larin will be in Europe sooner rather than later — this summer, if I’m putting my money on it — and this kind of (improved) back-post run is just one reason why; his size, speed to arrive at the right time, and leaping/heading ability are a few of the others.

53′ — Bendik reaches out to deny Harrison — Jack Harrison probably thought he’d pulled the visitors level as soon as he put his left foot through the ball in the 53rd minute. What he hadn’t foreseen, though, was Joe Bendik going full-stretch to push the ball wide of his right-hand post.

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Men of the match: Joe Bendik

Goalscorers: Larin (15′)