Rodney Wallace

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Chanot, Wallace among missing for NYCFC’s clash at Toronto

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Patrick Vieira’s men have been flying high as of late, but New York City FC’s difficult schedule continues over the weekend north of the border.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push towards top of PST MLS Power Rankings ]

NYCFC will take on Toronto FC on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, but the third-place side in the Eastern Conference will have to do so without six first-team players.

[ MORE: MLS Week 22 preview — Sigi makes LA debut against Sounders ]

A number of injuries will keep out regulars like center back Maxime Chanot, winger Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita, while Miguel Camargo, Khiry Shelton and 16-year-old midfielder/defender James Sands are also sidelined ahead of the Toronto clash.

Wallace and Camargo each sustained injuries during the CONCACAF Gold Cup while on duty with Costa Rica and Panama, respectively.

The two sides settled for a 2-2 draw when they last met on July 19 at Yankee Stadium, but an NYCFC victory could mean a strong push for Vieira and Co. towards the top of the East.

As the table stands, NYCFC currently sits just three points Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference through 21 matches, while the Chicago Fire are lumped in between the two clubs on 38 points.

Meanwhile, TFC will continue to deal with a couple injuries of its own as Steven Beitashour and Benoit Cheyrou remain out with abdominal and calf ailments, respectively.

Costa Rica books place in quarters after easing past French Guiana

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Everything was on the line for both sides entering their final group stage match, but it was Costa Rica that emerged victorious on Friday night after wasting no time in the attacking third.

[ MORE: A closer look at the Gold Cup standings ]

Los Ticos defeated French Guiana, 3-0, at Toyota Stadium behind goals from Ariel Rodriguez Araya, Rodney Wallace and David Ramirez.

The latter tallied for the Central American nation in the 83rd minute after Costa Rica began to apply more and more pressure down the stretch.

Wallace, who represents MLS side NYCFC, tacked on a second goal for the Ticos with 11 minutes remaining, after Araya had given Costa Rica the advantage after just four minutes.

With Honduras hot on the heels of both Costa Rica and Group A leader Canada, the Ticos didn’t waste any time in putting away French Guiana — who was still reeling after forfeiting its last match due to fielding an ineligible player (Florent Malouda).

The Caribbean nation went into halftime down 1-0, but things went from bad to worse for Les Yana Dòkòs when Ludovic Baal was shown a straight red card just beyond the hour mark for a rash tackle on David Guzman.

Costa Rica will reach the final eight courtesy of Friday night’s win, and Oscar Ramirez will wait to see which other team or teams advance out of Group A.

Urena, Costa Rica top Honduras in Gold Cup (goal video)

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Marco Urena’s 39th minute goal was all Costa Rica needed to get past Honduras 1-0 in both sides’ 2017 Gold Cup openers at Red Bull Arena on Friday.

The result leaves Costa Rica behind Canada in Group A on goal differential after the Canucks beat French Guiana 4-2.

[ MORE: Gold Cup predictions | 3 USMNT keys ]

Canada and Costa Rica meet Tuesday in Houston in the first game of a doubleheader, followed by French Guiana versus Honduras..

New York City FC’s Rodney Wallace gets the assist on the goal. Honduras found some pressure in the late stages but an equalizer did not materialize in New Jersey.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City 0-3 New York City FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): It’s safe to say the Rodney Wallace signing is paying off for Patrick Vieira and New York City FC. The MLS veteran added his fourth goal of the season on Sunday night, while David Villa recorded a brace for his seventh and eighth goals of 2017 to give NYCFC its first win over Orlando City at the Lions’ new home. Vieira’s group stifled the Orlando attack for much of the night, however, Cyle Larin’s missed penalty kick in the second stanza could have provided a major momentum shift to the home side had it gone in. The loss for Orlando is the club’s first at their new stadium, and allows NYCFC to leap above the Lions in the Eastern Conference table.

[ MORE: Fagundez brace paces Revolution to win over Crew ]

Three moments that mattered

14′ — Villa converts from the spot — Make it seven goals on the season for David Villa.

35′ — Wallace doubles NYCFC lead after sliding finish — Rodney Wallace continues to be one of the top signings of the MLS offseason. Four goals and three assists this season.

64′ — Larin dinks one off the post on PK attempt — Cyle Larin meet the post. Not many times where you’ll see the young striker miss a chance like this. Still 2-0 NYCFC.

82′ — Moralez finds Villa to ice the match — Villa just keeps on scoring for this NYCFC side, but just look at the wonderful through ball from Maxi Moralez.

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

Men of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: David Villa (14′, 82′), Rodney Wallace (35′)

MLS (afternoon) roundup: NYCFC dominate, disappoint; ATL keep rolling

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The third MLS Saturday of 2017 is one-third of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

New York City FC 1-1 Montreal Impact

To reiterate: Rodney Wallace is a heavy for to be named under-the-radar signing of the season. After a year in Brazil, Wallace is back in MLS (he was one of Portland Timbers’ best players during their 2015 MLS Cup run), and looking every bit the perfect complement to David Villa and Maxi Moralez in NYCFC’s trident of attacking terror. On Saturday, Wallace bagged his second goal in as many games (to go with an assist last week as well), in the process putting the home side 1-0 up just before halftime. A lot like Wallace leading up to his loose-ball finish, NYCFC are absolutely relentless along all levels of the field when playing on the tiny Yankee Stadium field.

That relentlessness has revealed an old problem (figuratively and literally) turned new problem: Andrea Pirlo is exposed and left for dead anytime an opponent breaks the high press. They’re also still really suspect at the back, which was best exhibited when Dominic Oduro pulled Montreal back to level terms with just over 20 minutes left to play.

It’s extremely clear, just 37 games into his NYCFC tenure that 1) Patrick Vieira is a very, very good coach; 2) he’s not long for MLS, as a number of forward-thinking European clubs will come calling sooner rather than later.

[ MORE: Five things to watch in MLS — Week 3 ]

Atlanta United 4-0 Chicago Fire

Here’s the thing about Atlanta: you think you know, but you have no idea whether or not they’re #actually good. Just hear me out. Yes, they’ve scored 11 goals in their first three MLS games (conceded just three), and that’s really good. We’ve also seem them capitulate in the final 20 minutes while protecting a 1-0 lead, and lose 2-1. Last week, their 6-1 thrashing of Minnesota United, who look every bit the worst team in MLS history, was played in a literal blizzard. On Saturday, Gerardo Martino’s side walloped the Chicago Fire at Bobby Dodd Stadium, to the tune of 4-0, but did so with a man advantage for 79 minutes. In terms of sheer entertainment value, they’re the best team in MLS.

Anyway, here’s the (awesome) goals, scored by Josef Martinez (two) and Hector Villalba, on Saturday, which is what you’re really here to see.

[ MORE: Arena names 24 to senior roster ahead of WCQs next week ]

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 Toronto FC

A summation Toronto FC’s opening three games of 2017: I have no thoughts. A 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake saw next to nothing happen for 90 minutes; last week’s 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union was back-and-forth with so little time between the sides trading goals that neither side stood out in any way; Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Vancouver was impressive in that winning on the road is always an accomplishment in MLS, though Brek Shea‘s 70th-minute red card was the beginning of the end for the home side. Victor Vazquez and Jozy Altidore bagged goals four minutes apart not long after Shea departed.

TFC were without Sebastian Giovinco, it should be said, so any points won should be largely considered a bonus come the end of the season.