Cody Cropper

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

MLS early roundup: DC’s Rooney smashes free kick; NYCFC, Montreal win

Leave a comment

Three of five Wednesday matches in Major League Soccer are in the books, headlined by another fine goal from the Black-and-Red’s former Manchester United star.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 0-2 Man City ]


Columbus Crew 0-1 DC United

Wayne Rooney‘s zipped free kick was enough to give DC United a win in Columbus, which loses its third-straight match and fails to move ahead of its Wednesday visitors.

First place DC has a four-point edge on Toronto in the Eastern Conference, though the Black-and-Red have played three more matches.

The English forward hammered a waist-high shot past the outside of the wall despite Federico Higuain’s best efforts to get in the way, and it beat Zack Steffen inside the post.

Rooney now has five goals and two assists in eight matches this season.

New England Revolution 0-3 Montreal Impact

New England manager Brad Friedel would’ve been very happy with his goalkeeper and not much else, and then he would’ve changed his thoughts on Cody Cropper as well. Cropper was very busy against the Quebecois side well before 2017 Generation Adidas draft pick Shamit Shome scored his first MLS goal off a Cropper error.

Anthony Jackson-Hamel added an 85th minute goal to put the result to bed, and stroked a second in stoppage time to complete the score line.

New York City FC 1-0 Chicago Fire

A game with eight yellow cards saw just one goal, including a caution for goal scorer Valentin Castellanos. The Argentine midfielder slid onto a doorstep pass to complete a NYCFC counter attack in the win.

Dwyer withdraws from USMNT camp due to injury

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) Orlando City SC forward Don Dwyer has withdrawn from the U.S. soccer team’s training camp because of a strained right hamstring.

[ MORE: MLS comings & goings — LA, RSL, Colorado make big moves ]

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday that Dwyer will not be replaced on the roster ahead of the exhibition on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Carson, California.

Juan Agudelo, Jordan Morris, Christian Ramirez, Rubio Rubin and C.J. Sapong are the remaining forwards on the 29-man roster.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Full roster

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)

Defenders: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles FC)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids), Ian Harkes (D.C. United), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City SC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC), Rubio Rubin (Unattached), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union)

MLS: ATL leave it late in PHI; NE’s playoff hopes die in DC

Atlanta United / Twitter: @ATLUTD
Leave a comment

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Atlanta United

The game in 100 words (or less): Atlanta United’s defense, the expansion side’s achilles heel all season long, lapsed for no more than five minutes against the Philadelphia Union, and Tata Martino’s side struggled to a 2-2 draw which might ultimately cost them dearly in the playoffs race. With a chance to distance themselves from the Montreal Impact for sixth in the Eastern Conference, and set themselves up beautifully as the home-heavy portion of their schedule approaches, those five minutes cost Atlanta a pair of points against a 10-man Union side (Josh Yaro, 52nd minute) which held just 31 percent of possession on their home field. Roland Alberg and Alejandro Bedoya scored the Union’s goals, pulling Jim Curtin’s side to within three points of sixth place, while Atlanta remain a point back of Montreal (now level on games played, with 10 to go). Yamil Asad and Tyrone Mears blazed the comeback path for Atlanta.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s MLS roundup — TFC dominant; wild Texas derby ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Alberg gets behind, slots it past Guzan for 1-0 — Someone along the Atlanta backline lost track of… well, just about every attacker in the box. The lofted through ball fell to the chest of Alberg, and the Dutchman showed great composure at close range to collect and finish the chance.

23′ — Bedoya reacts quickest, makes it 2-0 — Alberg whipped the corner kick into the box, Jack Elliott headed it on at the near post, and Bedoya contorted his body to put his foot on the ball and double the lead.

26′ — Asad roofs it from a tough angle, and it’s 2-1 — It’s unclear whether or not Josef Martinez meant to head this ball an entire 90 degrees away from goal. In the end, it simply looks like a brilliant assist.

90+1′ — Mears heads home from distance — It’s an unlucky goal to give up, but one the whole of their 40-minute man advantage, Atlanta were deserving of their point.

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

Man of the match: Roland Alberg

Goalscorers: Alberg (18′), Bedoya (23′), Asad (26′), Mears (90+1′)


D.C. United 1-0 New England Revolution

The game in 100 words (or less): Already seven points out of the playoff places in the East, losing to last-place D.C. United, 1-0 on Saturday, was almost surely the final nail in the Revolution’s coffin for the 2017 season. After winning three of four from mid-July to early August, the Revs have now lost back-to-back games to New York City FC and United. Luciano Acosta scored the game’s only goal, pulling Ben Olsen’s side to within a single point of the Revs in their bid to leave the East’s cellar..

[ MORE: Wednesday’s MLS roundup — TFC dominant; wild Texas derby ]

Three One moments that mattered

71′ — Acosta pokes home from close range — Lloyd Sam floated the ball into the box, Kofi Opare headed back across the face of goal, and Acosta was the only player make the far-post run, which made it oh so easy to beat Cody Cropper.

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

Man of the match: Russell Canouse

Goalscorers: Acosta (71′)

MLS Snapshots: Fire break losing skid; Sounders extend unbeaten run

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chicago Fire 4-1 New England Revolution

The game in 100 words (or less): The Chicago Fire have risen from from a very brief slump (back-to-back losses for just the second time all year, coming right on the heels of an 11-game unbeaten run), thanks to a comfortable 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday. Unlike Chicago, most MLS sides would struggle mightily when their top striker is not only kept off the scoresheets, but limited to just one shot on the night. That’s the extent to which the Revs managed to shut down Nemanja Nikolic, the league’s leading scorer (16 goals), but it wasn’t nearly enough, as Matt Polster, Juninho, Michael de Leeuw and Luis Solignac stepped up as less likely scorers (left back Patrick Doody assisted on three of the four) to run the Fire’s sterling home record to 10W-1D-0L on the season. The victory moves Veljko Paunovic’s side to within three points of Toronto FC, who drew last-place D.C. United on Saturday, in the Supporters’ Shield (and home-field advantage) race.

[ MORE: Sunday’s MLS schedule is chock-full of important matchups ]

Three moments that mattered

8′ — Polster puts a bit of bend on it for 1-0 — Who needs a left foot when you can do this with the outside of your right?

24′ — Alley-oop to Kamara, and it’s 1-1 — There’s (still) no one in MLS that can compete with Kei Kamara in the air, so Chicago decided they wouldn’t even try.

39′ — Juninho hits it low, through traffic for 2-1 — Bastian Schweinsteiger draws everyone’s attention, only to fool them with a clever dummy. Juninho keeps the strike low, but with power, and Cody Cropper couldn’t do anything about it.

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

Man of the match: Patrick Doody

Goalscorers: Polster (8′), Kamara (24′), Juninho (39′), De Leeuw (49′), Solignac (90+2′)


Minnesota United 0-4 Seattle Sounders

The game in 100 words (or less): Don’t look now, but the Seattle Sounders are unbeaten in seven games (four wins) following Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of expansion Minnesota United, and Brian Schmetzer’s side have climbed all the way up to third place in the Western Conference (even if only for the time being) as a result. Clint Dempsey had himself a night in this one, bagging a brace and an assist in 90 minutes of work. That’s five goals and two assists for Dempsey in his last four games, bringing his season tallies to nine and three. Perhaps more importantly, Jordan Morris scored his third goal of the season, and his first since April 23. More importantly of all, though, is the clean sheet, Seattle’s third straight game without giving up a goal (while scoring seven themselves).

[ MORE: Sunday’s MLS schedule is chock-full of important matchups ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Bruin leads, finishes the counter for 1-0 — Bruin and Demspey played the two-man game to perfection, and the latter fed the former through for an easy opener.

18′ — Dempsey heads it from a yard out for 2-0 — Gustav Svensson served it up, Chad Marshall sent it back across the face of goal, and Dempsey could have headed this one home with his eyes closed the entire way.

71′ — Morris gets in behind, makes it 3-0 — Nicolas Lodeiro timed his pass perfectly, just as Morris did his run. When the pass and the run sync up like this, you’re bound to hit pay dirt.

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

Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Bruin (9′), Dempsey (18′, 72′), Morris (71′)

Gonzalez follows heart in switch from Mexico to USMNT

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
1 Comment

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jesse Gonzalez started in the 2015 Under-20 World Cup for Mexico, his parents’ homeland. Then last month, the 22-year-old FC Dallas goalkeeper switched his affiliation to join the United States, his home country.

Gonzalez just felt more comfortable in the red, white and blue.

“The U.S. has given me a lot. I’m grateful for what they have given me and the opportunity they have given me,” he said after joining the U.S. roster for the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Tim Howard, now 38, remains the top U.S. goalkeeper as the Americans try to qualify for next year’s World Cup. Brad Guzan, who will be 33 in September, is entrenched as the No. 2.

After that, no keepers have emerged at the top level in the next generation. Gonzalez, and fellow 20-somethings Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Cody Cropper and Ethan Horvath all figure to compete with Guzan for the starting job in the 2019-22 World Cup cycle.

“I don’t have any doubt that he will be one of the best keepers in America,” Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said of Gonzalez after discovering the teen prospect when he was playing in a youth tournament.

Gonzalez’s parents emigrated from Mexico, and he was born in Edenton, North Carolina.

“My parents didn’t really find anything around North Carolina,” Gonzalez said. “They thought it was a lonely state, so they got out of there.”

His family moved to Houston and then on to Dallas when Gonzalez was a child. After spotting Gonzalez on a recreational team, Pareja persuaded the family to switch the keeper to the FC Dallas youth academy. He played there alongside midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who has broken into the U.S. starting lineup this year.

“They taught me how to be more responsible,” Gonzalez said. “It was almost like a job at the time, just waking up early and being on time to training.”

[ USA 2-0 CRC: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

Pareja, a Colombian national team midfielder in the early 1990s, said the 6-foot-4 Gonzalez’s long arms and quick reflexes immediately reminded him of late Colombian keeper Miguel Calero. Gonzalez debuted for Dallas’ under-16 team in September 2010 and was signed to a professional homegrown player contract in March 2013. Just more than two years later, he became the youngest keeper to start in team history: at 20 years, 89 days.

By then, Mexican team scouts had noticed Gonzalez at a showcase in Sarasota, Florida, and asked whether he had interest in playing for El Tri.

“Richard Sanchez, one of my old teammates, he was there. He talked very well about them,” Gonzalez recalled.

Gonzalez started Mexico’s first four matches at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, then had a pair of saves during penalty kicks to lift Mexico over Panama in the final. At the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, he played in Mexico’s second and third games,

The following January, Gonzalez turned down an invitation from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann to attend a national team training camp in Carson, California. Instead, Gonzalez went to a Mexican Under-23 team camp ahead of the Olympics, but he was not picked for El Tri’s Rio de Janeiro roster.

Gonzalez spent a long time before deciding this spring to apply to FIFA for a change of affiliation. Because he had not played a competitive match for Mexico’s senior national team, he was allowed a one-time switch.

“Whatever you decide, you’re going to be right, because that’s going to be your heart,” Pareja recalled telling him.

“Any time a soccer player is making a choice, whether it’s club or country, it’s important that they analyze the options carefully, they seek input from people they trust, and that they come to a decision that they’re happy with,” said Gonzalez’s agent, Richard Motzkin. “That’s the process Jesse took in making his decision and, rest assured, it wasn’t done lightly or without a lot of forethought. Ultimately, Jesse was fortunate in that he had two very good choices.”

After the switch was announced, Gonzalez received text messages from surprised friends.

“They were funny,” he said without going into detail.

[ MORE: Mexico blocking out drama during deep run at Gold Cup ]

Howard is the U.S. starter as the Americans head into Wednesday’s Gold Cup championship against Mexico or Jamaica, and Hamid is the backup while Guzan settles in with Atlanta. For now, Gonzalez’s role is limited to training and pushing others on the practice field.

“We just want to see what he’s about,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.

Gonzalez is with the national team to learn. A full international debut might take a while.

“He’s not much of talker, which is good. I think young guys talk too much nowadays,” Howard said. “You’re naive in a good way and you think you know it all, and really it’s the opposite. You have it all to learn. At this age they’re using their athletic ability and their raw talent to keep their head above water, and through that process you learn. It is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. It’s got to be everything to you. You’ve got to make a lot of sacrifices to get there.”

Gonzalez is willing to wait. He just hopes his absence from Dallas doesn’t cost him playing time in Major League Soccer.

“My backup could come in and have great games. He could stay there,” he said. “It’s difficult for me. I want to be over there, but I want to be here because this is an amazing opportunity for me.”