Frank De Boer

Associated Press

MLS roundup: Red Bulls, Orlando, Atlanta all win big

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A full slate of Major League Soccer games came our way on Champions League final day, so if you missed any of the action while Liverpool secured the European crown. There was plenty of movement made, with the Eastern Conference getting a new leader for a short time and the West seeing a number of playoff teams go down.

Atlanta United 2-0 Chicago Fire

Josef Martinez is back to scoring in bunches and the defending champions was back on top of the Eastern Conference – for a short time – as they beat Chicago 2-0. Martinez scored his second brace in a row, giving the Venezuelan six goals in his last five games and into double digits on the full league season with 10.

The clean sheet is also the second straight for the club and eighth on the year, helping to bounce back from a two-game losing streak to temporarily claim the top spot in the conference (D.C. United since jumped back on top, but Atlanta closed the gap to just one point). Frank De Boer‘s back line looks to be gaining traction, conceding just three goals over the last nine matches.

NY Red Bulls 4-0 Real Salt Lake

RSL’s road woes continue as they were trounced at Red Bull Arena. The game was 0-0 at the break, but a 58th minute own-goal broke the deadlock and it got out of hand as Daniel Royer doubled the lead a minute later, Michael Murillo made it three on a deflection, and Omir Fernandez capped it off with seven minutes to go.

The win leaves New York unbeaten in five and pushed them to fourth in the Eastern Conference, three points off the leaders.

Montreal Impact 0-3 Orlando City

Orlando City went on the road and got a massive win over a playoff team as they got all three in the first half and held on from there. Nani opened the scoring from the spot for his 100th career goal, while Tesho Akindele tapped in at the back post past the half-hour mark for the second and Will Johnson’s diving header capped off a beautiful flowing move for the third minutes before the break.

The win broke a 4-game duck against the Impact for Orlando City and avenged a 3-1 loss at home earlier in the season. Montreal managed just a single shot on target out of its nine total efforts, without Ignacio Piatti for the first time in what will be a long injury layoff.

D.C. United 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes

D.C. United maintained its spot atop the Eastern Conference, but the gap is now just a single point as the home side was forced to come from behind to secure a draw against San Jose. Chris Wondolowski can’t stop scoring after setting the career MLS goalscoring record, bagging a goal for the third straight match with his 37th minute header, assisted by USMNT call-up Nick Lima.

That forced D.C. to play from behind, and they earned a draw on Luciano Acosta’s 67th minute equalizer, with the 25-year-old pouncing on a save spilled by Daniel Vega. There were 36 total shots ripped off by the two teams combined and 12 of them on target, but the two goalkeepers combined for 10 saves.

Columbus Crew 2-2 NYCFC

The home side blew a pair of leads in a 2-2 draw with NYCFC. Gyasi Zardes struck from the spot in the 28th minute, and again Columbus took the lead in the 61st minute when Pedro Santos was left all alone at the far post. It wasn’t enough though, as Valentin Castellanos blasted a long-distance rip to equalize with 14 minutes to go.

The draw spoiled Zack Steffan’s sendoff with Columbus with the goalkeeper headed to U.S. national team duty before departing on a transfer to Manchester City. It also kept Columbus from moving into a playoff position, potentially jumping three teams with a win.

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Sporting KC

Two goals six minutes apart shared the spoils in Houston as the Dynamo fail to keep pace with the Western Conference leaders. Sporting KC jumped in front in the 63rd minute as Yohan Croizet chipped a charging Joe Willis on the break to open the scoring. Houston pulled back level in the 69th minute with a fabulous volley that found the top corner, but they were unable to finish the full comeback.

That left Houston in fourth in the West, three back of third-placed Seattle and four behind the second-placed LA Galaxy. Sporting KC also missed a big opportunity to pull closer to the playoff positions, currently in 10th with 15 points. Kansas City has just one league win since late March, leaving them four points back of a playoff spot.

Colorado Rapids 3-1 FC Cincinnati

The Rapids shook off a 72nd minute visiting equalizer to claim a critical victory and pull two points from dragging themselves off the bottom of the East, beating fellow basement-dwellers FC Cincinnati 3-1.

With the hosts holding a 1-0 lead, Kekuta Manneh came off the bench to level the score in the 72nd minute, but that lasted just a single minute as Colorado went back in front via Nicolas Mezquida. The winning goal came from a tight angle to the right, with the shot clattering off the hands of goalkeeper Spencer Richey. Diego Rubio put the game away with eight minutes remaining with a header off a corner. Cincinnati would have pulled off the bottom of the East with a win, but instead it’s Colorado who earns the spoils to pull within two points of Portland.

FC Dallas 2-0 Seattle Sounders

A pair of own-goals five minutes apart has FC Dallas up 2-0 at the break. The first came off Xavier Arreaga as Ryan Hollingshead delivered a header in the 33rd minute, and soon after Brad Smith deposited one into his own net on a Michael Barrios cross.

Portland Timbers 0-0 LAFC

The late Saturday night start is just under way at Providence Park.

Berhalter releases 28-man USMNT roster for pre-Gold Cup camp

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Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams are not yet aboard with the U.S. National Team, but Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are in the fold as Gregg Berhalter named a 28-man roster for a pre-Gold Cup camp that culminates with a friendly against Jamaica on June 5.

Altidore’s appearance is significant given the 29-year-old has not appeared for the United States since the fateful loss to Trinidad & Tobago to eliminate the U.S. from 2018 World Cup contention. Also notably in the fold is midfielder Weston McKennie who has struggled with injuries down the stretch of the season but finished the Bundesliga campaign strong with three straight 90-minute appearances. The 20-year-old could have been rested for the camp ahead of what is expected to be a significant Gold Cup contribution, but instead he has been called in by the head man.

Without Pulisic and Adams, who are both expected to have a significant role in the upcoming Gold Cup, the current 28-man roster will need at least seven cuts to reach the 23-man limit required by the tournament.

Also not on the roster is goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who struggled early this season with Atlanta United, although the team’s defense has since locked things down. Instead, three other domestic shot-stoppers were named to the list in NYCFC’s Sean Johnson, LAFC’s Tyler Miller, and Columbus Crew’s Zack Steffen who has already said goodbye to the MLS club before a summer switch to Manchester City.

Those who could be on the edge with cuts coming could be midfielders Duane Holmes, Djordje Mihailovic, and Jackson Yueill; forwards Jonathan Amon, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Gyau. The full-back depth is a mixed bag, with no clear frontrunner yet between Antonee Robinson, Nick Lima, and Daniel Lovitz. Meanwhile, in central defense, it’s likely that at least one of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Walker Zimmerman, Omar Gonzalez, or Aaron Long will be dropped to give the final roster four. Tim Ream is a versatile defender who could fit into either category, potentially an advantage for the Fulham defender coming off a tough club campaign.

DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks will miss the Gold Cup entirely, left off the preliminary roster due to injury. Yedlin had groin surgery after a late-season injury with Newcastle, while Brooks injured his knee and missed Wolfsburg’s final two games of the season.

United States Men’s National Team roster

GK: Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Tyler Miller (LAFC); Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew/Manchester City)

DEF: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes) Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Everton), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC).

MID: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes).

FWD: Jonathan Amon (Nordsjaelland), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitoria Guimares), Joe Gyau, (Duisburg), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew).

RSL’s Savarino downs Atlanta United in 94th minute

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Atlanta United dropped its second straight match, this time in gut-wrenching fashion, as Jefferson Savarino scored a 94th minute winner to hand Real Salt Lake a 2-1 win over Frank De Boer‘s bunch.

Josef Martinez appeared to have rescued Atlanta with his 78th minute equalizer, cancelling out Sebastian Saucedo’s first-half opener, but Savarino struck a blistering stunner from outside the box with the minimum three minutes of added time already passed. Savarino used straight muscle to shield a charging Leandro Gonzalez Pires off the ball, and the strike punished Brad Guzan for creeping just inches too far towards his near post.

The late winner redeemed a Real Salt Lake defense that fell asleep just a fraction too early on Martinez’s goal, as a low cross from Franco Escobar should have been easily dealt with, but the Venezuelan waited for the right moment and pounced in front of a snoozing Justin Glad to poke home the delivery.

While the two sides split the possession, RSL out-shot Atlanta and held the lead most of the way after Bofo put them in front just past the half-hour mark. The 22-year-old was given way too much space just outside the top of the box and placed a curler past Guzan for the opener for his second goal in two weeks.

The win gave RSL its third straight victory in what has become a streaky season. The campaign so far features two winning streaks and two losing streaks through 13 matches, with just one draw among the group. For Atlanta, the second straight loss leaves them stuck in fourth, squandering the chance to pass third-placed Montreal who sits a just point ahead.

Coach tabs de Ligt as ‘further’ developed than Ajax teammate de Jong

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Ajax is making a dream run through the Champions League, having already taken down Real Madrid and Juventus to reach the semifinals where they are matched up with Tottenham Hotspur. While this run ultimately may cost them a load of youth talent this summer with rich clubs coming in to pick off the biggest names, it will likely net the Dutch club a fortune.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong, hailed as one of the top young talents in the entire world at 21 years old, has already secured a switch to Barcelona for a reported $84 million, but he is likely the first of many out the door.

19-year-old teammate Matthijs de Ligt, a central defender who has already secured captaincy of this dream squad despite his young age, is another top talent on the team who has been linked to big clubs all over Europe in recent weeks. He made his national team debut as a 17-year-old, and has proven himself imposing in the air and lockdown in man coverage.

While de Jong made headlines with his move to Barcelona, one Ajax coach believes de Ligt could be an even bigger catch for whoever snatches him up this summer. “He [de Ligt] can easily come to the Premier League and play for every team in the world,” said youth team assistant manager Ronald de Boer, brother of Dutch legend and current Atlanta United boss Frank De Boer, in an interview with TalkSport. “Frenkie De Jong went for €75m and that can go up to €85m with Barcelona but in my opinion De Ligt is further in his qualities and more ready to make that step than Frenkie De Jong.”

De Boer says that not only is de Ligt’s play on the pitch beyond his years, he also shows a maturity off the field, critical to handle the pressure of playing at one of Europe’s biggest clubs. “You see him in front of the cameras and his interviews, for me, a 19-year-old boy, I have never seen this before,” de Boer said. “I mean he is so strong. So determined to be a winner. Unbelievable.”

Moving to Liverpool is something de Boer mentioned as a potential positive for the Dutch national team because he could play full-time with a fellow Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk, as the two currently form the preferred center-back partnership on the international level.

Nevertheless, de Boer is just happy to see a player excel at the top level, and he has some advice. “For de Ligt it is up to him. He has to look at a team for him and find out what he wants. Does he want a team that has fun and most of the time on the ball, that’s nice, or he goes to a team that gives it away. For me, Barcelona, Man City, Liverpool…Liverpool wants the ball, [so does] Paris Saint-Germain. Those are teams I would give him advice to go there. All the other teams, including Tottenham, are great teams to play for.”

2019 MLS Power Rankings, Vol. I

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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We are bringing a bit of science to our Major League Soccer power rankings this year, but only a bit.

While dubious items like momentum and look will still play a role in where the MLS sides arrive in our rankings, we’re going to consider some items rather unique to the league:

  1. Away record – The league is infamous for difficulty to win across the country
  2. Defense – MLS’ goals-per-game rate of 3+ makes it one of the most offense-forward leagues in the world.
  3. Schedule congestion – Are you playing twice when others around you are barely breaking a sweat?

So with all teams providing us six-matches or more for sample size, it’s time we mix it up with our first MLSPRs of 2019.

24. Colorado Rapids — Twenty-three goals allowed in eight matches. 0-2-2 at home, 0-4 away. The clear No. 24.

23. New York Red Bulls — Big changes coming to Red Bull Arena?

22. New England Revolution — There isn’t an impressive enough win to overshadow losses to Cincinnati and Atlanta.

21. Atlanta United — It’s messy, real messy, in the post-Almiron and Tata era.

Frank De Boer (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)

20. Vancouver Whitecaps — Struggles were expected under a new coach with a big roster flip, so patience should be in long supply especially considering the recent defeat of LAFC (which included a blanking of Carlos Vela). Also worth noting the ‘Caps drew Seattle.

19. Portland Timbers — Still yet to play at home, so getting the benefit of the doubt from us despite a 1-5-1 start.

18. San Jose Earthquakes — Two wins in three could signify an early turned corner.

17. NYCFC — With five draws, are you the pessimist who says, “Only one win,” or the optimist who counters, “Only one loss?”

16. FC Cincinnati — Not quite the tire fire expected by those doubting the acumen of FCC’s lineup. The hope has to be that consistency will come with familiarity.

15. Chicago Fire — Unbeaten in four with NYCFC/Montreal litmus tests next.

14. Minnesota United — Three away wins already and have played just once at home.

13. Orlando City SC — Nani putting together some big performances, but no signature win yet.

12. Real Salt Lake — Streaky side ends four-match losing run by beating Orlando and Cincinnati.

11. Columbus Crew — The defensive record is very impressive under new coach Caleb Porter with just eight goals conceded in eight games. They’ve also only scored eight in a firepower-driven league.

Even on the doorstep, goals have been scarce for Columbus (Eric Albrecht/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

10. Montreal Impact — The 3-0 loss to Philly stings.

9. Philadelphia Union — The only loss in six is courtesy a cross-country trip to face Zlatan and The Galaxy, which is also a good name for a new band. They could tour with Jem.

8. Sporting KC — We’re here to proffer this long, CONCACAF Champions League-congestion considered leash to Peter Vermes. He’s earned it.

7. DC United — Even in MLS, we didn’t think we’d see an early 1W-2L-1T stretch, albeit with Rooney taking a red and sitting one out.

6. FC Dallas — Excited for the first Texas Derby in two weeks time.

5. Houston Dynamo — First loss of the season comes courtesy a trip to the Galaxy. Forgivable.

4. Toronto FC — Pozuelo is the truth.

3. Seattle Sounders — Carlos Vela at home is understandably where their undefeated season went for death.

2. LA Galaxy — Have allowed two goals in their last four matches, and that’s with new signing Giancarlo Gonzalez only making a token appearance.

1. LAFC — Bob Bradley doesn’t relent, having ridden Carlos Vela to wins of 4-1, 5-0, 4-0, and 4-1 (again) already this season.