Which striker can strike gold and claim the MLS Golden Boot?

3 Comments

In predicting who will lead MLS in scoring this year, let’s approach things in reverse order. I’ll start by listing who might get close, only to perhaps get nicked in the end:

Why Vancouver’s Sebastien Le Toux might not win: Le Toux had 25 goals over two seasons in Philly, quite an impressive sum. But he could find himself struggling to turn up all the minutes he’d like at BC Place.

Not only does Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie have plenty of other options, as we’ve discussed, but Le Toux tends to freelance, which is probably among the reasons Union boss Peter Nowak felt OK about parting with the high-scoring Frenchman. I see the bulk of the Whitecap goals falling Eric Hassli’s way.

Why Sporting Kansas City’s Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong might not: They accounted for 23 goals last year, 9 apiece for Bunbury and Kamara. And that trio promises to be mighty dangerous again at Livestrong Sporting Park. But the goals will continue to be distributed throughout the side, with new winger Bobby Convey and perhaps rookie Dom Dwyer collecting their share, too. With that kind of looming dispersion, I doubt any one SKC man can elbow his way into the Golden Boot chase.

Why Colorado’s Conor Casey might not: He’ll get goals at DSG Park this year – when he’s on the field, that is. And there’s the rub.  Casey will always be a handful for defenders, but he’s still not back from last year’s devastating Achilles tear. And he’s always been injury-prone.  Honestly, if you promised Rapids manager Oscar Pareja right now that he could get 22-24 games of complete health from Casey, Pareja might just take that and run with it.

Why Toronto’s Danny Koevermans might not: Any cat who can hit for 8 goals in 10 games, as the Dutchman did last year upon mid-summer arrival, has proven he can hit prolifically. But I still look at the team around him and scratch me noggin a bit, wondering about the quality of balls Koevermans might get. Ryan Johnson on one wing always seems slightly out of place; he looks more like a battering ram target guy; of course, they already have one of those in Koevermans.

The TFC midfield looks OK, but remains devoid of a true creative presence.  Eric Avila is the closest Aron Winter has to a true playmaker, but he’s young and his game still has too many holes. The Dutch striker might be my choice to claim Golden Boot if the service at BMO Field looked less spotty.

Why FC Dallas’ Brek Shea might not: Two words: Blas. Perez. FCD’s new Panamanian striker is in place now, and I expect the attack around FC Dallas stadium to adjust accordingly. Shea struck impressively last year 11 times. More impressive still: each goal came in a different match. There were no stat-padding afternoons. But this year Shea can aim for Perez with service rather than barreling toward goal quite as often. (As such, expect his assist total to tick up this year after a modest four in 2011.)

Why United’s Dwayne De Rosario might not: He’s 33 and, like the rest of us, not getting any younger. Remember, Landon Donovan has already practically stamped “old man” on himself, saying that he’s no longer a “goal scorer” in this league, that at his advanced age he’s really more a set-up man. (I do believe in golf they refer to this as “sandbagging.” But never mind that …) All that, and Donovan is just 30!  So where does that leave De Rosario?

The thing with “De Ro” is this: he relies heavily on explosive bursts, on those signature slashing drives out of recessed areas. That gets harder as the legs lose some jump. Don’t forget, he’ll get extra wear and tear in Canadian World Cup qualifiers this summer. De Rosario will have a great season, I predict, just maybe not a Golden Boot season.

Why the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane might not: Keane will be a force at the Home Depot Center, for sure. But I see the goals being will be well-dispersed around Galaxy valley. Mike Magee’s good instincts aren’t getting any worse as he gains additional experience.  Donovan and Edson Buddle will get theirs, of course. Keane won’t need to carry the offense, even though he’s sure to latch onto his share of David Beckham’s snappy services.

Why Vancouver’s Eric Hassli might not: Actually, he just might. I like him a lot to challenge for the crown, and not just because he struck me as such a nice fellow when I chatted with him Arizona. (He’s oddly soft spoken, considering that sledgehammer style that only Conor Casey could love.) Taylor Twellman told me Hassli was his choice for the scoring crown. (Taylor’s interview is at the 42:30 mark of our radio show/podcast). So, I do favor Hassli to be a major factor in the race … I just like one fellow a little more. Keep reading.

Why San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski might not: Same deal as Hassli.  He could surely press my pick to win it. “Wonder Wondo” has absolutely carried the Earthquakes offense over the last two seasons. His 34 goals is tops in MLS over that time, and I don’t see any significant drop in production.

So my pick is …

Seattle’s Fredy Montero: Seattle’s talisman has been in sensational form in preseason and in the Sounders’ Champions League win over Mexico’s Santos. The young Colombian’s game continues to mature. But he is 24 now, no longer a pup, edging ever closer to the finished product.  Montero has everything he needs right there in his rave green striker’s tool belt: shooting ability from distance, proficiency in the air despite his size, impeccable timing near goal, etc.  Considering that he hit 22 over the last two seasons combined, considering the service and the creation that’s sure to come from Mauro Rosales along the right side and elsewhere at CenturyLink Field this could well be Montero’s year.

(Update: Looks like I got a few people in a twist over this one. Who woulda thought? Ahem. So look for a subsequent post with potential additions, clarifications, explanations, meaculpas, sorry excuses … you know, the whole shebang. I’ll let this one stew for a bit, then drop the follow-up post in about an hour.)

West Ham counter, cross their way to 4-0 win over Wolves

Leave a comment

West Ham – Wolves saw the Hammers explode for four goals, spearheaded by Jarrod Bowen’s brace, and a clean sheet as they secured a thoroughly surprising result at the London Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

The Hammers picked up their first points of the season and climbed outside the relegation zone after suffering defeats in their first two games of the 2020-21 Premier League season.


2 things we learned: West Ham – Wolves

1. It pays to attack: Look, at the age of 57, David Moyes simply is who he is, and who he is is who he’s always been. He’s a pragmatic manager who prefers to defend with numbers behind the ball and counter-attack with the fewest number of players necessary to create half-chances in the hopes of fortuitously putting one or two away. It’s pretty bleak stuff for fans of Moyes’ various employers, let alone the neutrals among us. But, every now and then — typically when his back is up against the wall and he’s feeling desperate — he’ll tell a midfielder — perhaps even two — they’re allowed to move higher and join the attack. The fingerprints of Pablo Fornals and Tomas Soucek were all over Sunday’s shocking destruction of Wolves, when they wouldn’t otherwise have been. Enjoy it today, West Ham fans, because you know what it’ll look like again next weekend.

2. Wolves defense exposed in open space: As the modern game trends more and more toward teams favoring prolonged periods of possession as a means not only for attacking, but also defending, clubs are opting more and more for technically gifted defenders and less and less for the old-school, straightforward ball-winners of yesteryear center backs. Wolves have a squad full of the former, and they were badly exposed when asked to defend quicker wide players in acres of space on Sunday. Fortunately for Nuno Espirito Santo, he won’t face many more sides like West Ham this season.


West Ham started brightest and on the front foot for a change, and the Hammers were duly rewarded for their attacking endeavors in the 17th minute.

Fornals took a quick restart from inside the center circle and played Bowen in behind the Wolves defense with a brilliant through ball as two defenders paused ever so briefly. Bowen went one-on-one with Romain Saiss before cutting inside and placing a perfect left-footed strike past Rui Patricio and just inside the far post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Perhaps turning over a new leaf under manager David Moyes, West Ham refused to relent an ounce of pressure as they steadily threatened Wolves with counter-attack after counter-attack. That strategy paid off in the 58th minute, when Bowen bagged his second goal of the game.

Michail Antonio did yeoman’s work to Conor Coady down the left wing and pick out Fornals atop the penalty area. His shot smashed off the front side of the far post and spilled out to the six-yard box, where Bowen was to smash it home.

Just as Wolves were finding their footing and applying a bit more pressure, West Ham made it 3-0 in the 66th minute. The goal was initially given on Soucek’s header of Aaron Cresswell’s corner kick, but Raul Jimenez was eventually saddled as the scorer of an own goal at the near post.

Sebastien Haller completed the scoring with a header back across the face of goal from Arthur Masuaku’s cross in the 93rd minute.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Suarez plays just 20 minutes, scores two goals in Atleti debut (video)

Luis Suarez - Atletico Madrid
Photo credit: @atletienglish
Leave a comment

Luis Suarez enjoyed a hugely productive, if rather brief, debut for Atletico Madrid on Sunday as the Uruguayan superstar came on as a second-half substitute and scored two goals and assisted another in his new club’s 6-1 victory over Granada.

[ MORE: Newcastle’s Bruce: Handball rule “nonsense” hurting the game ]

Atleti had the game well in hand, 4-0 ahead, when Suarez replaced fellow lightning rod and new teammate Diego Costa, and yet he managed to take four shots, score two goals and tally one assist in only 20 minutes of action.

Suarez’s first goal for Atleti came in the 85th minute. It was a brilliantly placed header back across the face of goal after Marcos Llorente dropped a lofted cross onto his forehead on one post.

[ MORE: Benfica boss: Man City’s Otamendi “could be involved in Dias transfer” ]

The second was far more a product of world-class reflex and the instinctual improvisation which has made Luis Suarez one of the world’s best goal-scorers for the last decade. He had precious little time to think as the ball was deflected back to him on atop the penalty area, but got the initial shot away anyway. It hit the post and bounced back out toward the penalty spot, where he followed up and slotted it home.

Suarez’s departure from Barcelona feels like it’s headed for the classic “what were you thinking?” ending, as a player who still has lots of goals left to score strengthens one of two La Liga title rivals from the capital.

[ MORE: La Liga: Real Madrid steal late win against 10-man Betis ]

Barca are in complete disarray as Lionel Messi continues to publicly denounce the club which still employs him against his wishes, and Real Madrid are forever stuck halfway between rebuilding and making another run with the same group of players. All of that points to a massive opportunity for Atleti to slide into this season’s title race and make it a true three-horse race.

And Suarez, with all of his experience as a four-time La Liga champion, looks set to play an important part in that quest for Diego Simeone’s side.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Leicester City smashes Man City through Vardy hat trick

Leave a comment

Manchester City – Leicester City: Jamie Vardy’s hat trick included two of three Leicester City penalties as the Foxes punished Man City 5-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

James Maddison scored a spectacular goal in a substitute performance and Youri Tielemans converted a Maddison-won penalty to salt away the points.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Riyad Mahrez had given Man City a lead over his former team but Leicester had a 2-1 lead by halftime. Nathan Ake scored late off a Mahrez corner kick for City’s second goal.

It’s the first time Pep Guardiola has seen his team concede five goals at home, and also the first time a team has scored three penalties in a game.

Leicester City goes atop the table in joining Everton as 3-0 teams, while Man City falls to 1-1.


Three things we learned: Manchester City – Leicester City

1. Rodgers gets a signature win: Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has been seeking a win over a notable rivals since getting hammered by Liverpool and Man City in consecutive affairs during last season’s festive fixtures. This absolutely qualifies, and to do it in the first of 12 weeks without Wilfred Ndidi makes the win all the more impressive.

2. Pep’s point made: Guardiola had been grousing about his injuries all week and it might’ve all seemed a bit silly given the riches of Man City, but when Ferran Torres and Liam Delap entered the game as subs and you looked to the bench to see they were merely chosen over a bunch of defenders and youth, well, yup. Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo, Gabriel Jesus, and Sergio Aguero all missed out.

3. Vardy loves the spot: Vardy knows how to make the most of any contact in the box and he’s even better once he sorts the ball on the spot. He has five goals on the young season and is not showing any signs that he’s 33 years old (aside from, perhaps, his limping gait).

Man of the Match

Tielemans is the club’s the most important player to the team now that Ndidi is out, but Nampalys Mendy filled in admirably against the top attack in the league.


Manchester City – Leicester City recap

Ex-Leicester City striker Riyad Mahrez has torn the cover off a goal to give Man City an early lead over his former club.

A loose ball fell to the Algerian near the back of the 18 and Mahrez absolutely smashed the ball into the upper reaches of the goal.

Schmeichel made a solid save on Raheem Sterling in the 18th minute as City bid for a second, and the goalkeeper also caught a Fernandinho header off a free kick.

Leicester had a chance on the break but James Justin passed instead of shooting with Ederson way off his line and it was broken up by Man City.

Rodri had the ball in the goal off a De Bruyne free kick but was offside and the score stayed 1-0.

Kyle Walker then wrestled Vardy to the box in the 37th minute. He doesn’t miss many penalties, that Vardy.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

He’d provide the go-ahead goal on a combination play often seen from Man City, as Youri Tielemans sent Timothy Castagne racing to the end line. The Belgian’s cutback was cheekily turned past Ederson by the back leg of Vardy.

Vardy drew his second penalty off a push from Eric Garcia and City was in real trouble.

Schmeichel saved a De Bruyne effort in the 62nd minute and Liam Delap headed over the goal minutes later.

De Bruyne picked out Raheem Sterling at the back post with 23 minutes to play only for the Englishman to head over the goal.

There wasn’t much for Man City to like aside from Ake’s goal, 71 percent possession and a 15-7 shot edge doing little.

West Ham – Wolves: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Leave a comment

West Ham – Wolves: David Moyes will be watching from home after testing positive for COVID-19, though he reportedly remains asymptomatic, when his West Ham United side welcomes Wolverhampton Wanderers to the London Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2 pm ET, online via Peacock).

WEST HAM – WOLVES STREAM LIVE

In recent history, West Ham have had an absolutely torrid time against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side since they won promotion from the EFL Championship. The Hammers have found the back of the net zero times, and collected zero points, in four meetings since Wolves returned to the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Ham – Wolves this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Ham – Wolves (INJURY REPORT)

West Ham’s Issa Diop and Josh Cullen join Moyes on the sideline after positive COVID-19 tests.

Nelson Semedo makes his Wolves debut behind Adama Traore on what’s a frightening right side. Ex-Liverpool man Ki-Jana Hoever is on the bench for Wolves.


What they’re saying: West Ham – Wolves

Stand-in manager Alan Irvine, on Moyes’ absence: “I’ve spoken to him several times this morning. He is not feeling any symptoms and hasn’t felt them any way through, so obviously it’s a bit frustrating for him, but he’s fine and he’s getting on with other things. Of course, David will be the manager and everything we do will be run through him. He will make the decisions on everything.”

Nuno Espirito Santo, on facing a team with COVID-19 cases: “We are not concerned, I wish David and the players the fastest recovery. What happened to West Ham can happen to any one of us. It’s tough when you are preparing for a game and you cannot be on the touchline. Now we’re not concerned, we’re confident and we trust the authorities to keep things safe for us.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Everything points to a win for Wolves (+105) with West Ham (+270) made slight home underdogs, which should spell out everything you need to know about the Hammers. Best-case scenario for Moyes and Irvine would be to snatch a draw (+240).

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Ham – Wolves

West Ham might get out of the starting block at some point this season, but Wolves are hardly the ideal opponent you want to see when you have zero points and very few positives to start the season. Misery begets misery, and West Ham are in for a bit more. West Ham 0-2 Wolves.


How to watch West Ham – Wolves stream and start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock