Ambroise Oyongo

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Montreal Impact defender Oyongo suffers serious knee injury

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Montreal Impact left-back Ambroise Oyongo has suffered a serious knee injury on international duty with Cameroon, and will likely be out for a significant spell.

Cameroon defeated Morocco 1-0 in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, but in the 21st minute, Oyongo suffered what African publication CulturEbene is calling “rupture of ligaments and dislocation of the patella.” An ambulance was brought onto the track outside the edge of the pitch, and the 25-year-old was transported to the local hospital in Yaounde.

[ MORE: MLS Week 15 recap ]

According to Montreal-based journalist Patrick Leduc, Montreal Impact manager Mauro Biello was quoted as saying Oyongo’s injury is “not good.”

Oyongo has played the full 90 minutes for all but one Major League Soccer match for Montreal so far this season, recording a goal and assist. The Impact sit in 10th position in the Eastern Conference, but are four points back of a playoff position.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Montreal Impact 3-2 Toronto FC

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact were in total control of the Eastern Conference final, just 90 straightforward minutes away from MLS Cup 2016, after delivering a series of haymakers to their 401 derby rivals, Toronto FC, over the first hour of the first leg inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday. Montreal were irresistible and deadly on the counter, TFC’s midfield and defense disorganized and shredded time after time. Dominic Oduro bagged the opener inside 10 minutes, and Matteo Mancosu made it 2-0 before the eerie echoes of the North Star bell had finished reverberating around the cavernous arena jam-packed with more than 61,000 north of the border. With the deficit just 2-0, TFC had every opportunity to regroup at halftime and grab a vital away goal to make next Wednesday’s second leg more most interesting at 2-1, but the second half started worse for TFC than the first: Ambroise Oyongo made it 3-0 after eight minutes. Then, things got very MLS-y. Jozy Altidore pulled one back for TFC in the 68th minute, and Michael Bradley grabbed a second away goal five minutes later. From dead rubber, to must-see TV, the second leg can’t possibly kick off soon enough. Fun fact: kickoff was delayed nearly 30 minutes, because the penalty areas on each end of the field were painted roughly three feet too narrow on either side. Major League Soccer, indeed!

[ MORE: Klinsmann out | Arena back in as USMNT boss ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

10′ — Oduro slots past Irwin for 1-0 — Nick Hagglund stepped into no man’s land, Patrice Bernier applied the perfect touch on the through ball, and Oduro did what he does best — run really fast — and not quite the best — finish — to give the Impact an early 1-0 lead.

12′ — Mancosu hammers home a cross for 2-0 — Still reeling from the opener, Steven Beitashour and the rest of the TFC defense reacted just as poorly to Oduro’s through ball and Ignacio Piatti’s cross, as Mancosu made it 2-0 with ease.

53′ — Oyongo gallops through midfield, makes it 3-0 — Oyongo took eight touches, covering 40 yards, straight up the center of the field, without a single challenge made against him. Clint Irwin also failed to challenge the slow-rolling shot.

68′ — Altidore heads home Giovinco’s delicate chip — Sebastian Giovinco, worth his weight (plus some) in gold.

73′ — Bradley sweeps home to make things really interesting — So much of what TFC did well against New York City FC was to get the ball in the box, and to simply allow their opponents to capitulate on the clearance. If it ain’t broke…

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Man of the match: Dominic Oduro

Goalscorers: Oduro (10′), Mancosu (12′), Oyongo (53′), Altidore (68′), Bradley (73′)

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 3-1 Montreal Impact

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The game in 100 words (or less): I can do this in far fewer than 100 words: Just how they drew it up. Toronto FC signed Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, and the trio was deadly at home against an in-form Montreal side. A goal for each. A win for Toronto.

[ MORE: Wild start between Columbus, New England ]

Three moments that mattered

19′ — Oyongo opens his account — The little Cameroonian took his first MLS goal with class, coming from the right to drill a low shot home for a 1-0 lead.

32′ — DP to DP to equalize — Look: Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley are going to team up to score plenty in MLS, but Montreal simply can’t make it this easy. Giovinco cut back Laurent Ciman in an abusive way before laying a curling low pass into the path of Bradley, who smashed it past Evan Bush. Simple and splendid.

56′ — Bradley to Altidore– Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Michael Bradley teeing up a gorgeous long ball for Jozy Altidore, who takes a touch before hammering a ball home.

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

Man of the match: It’s a bit of a tough call, but we’ll go with Giovinco. He’s an absolute wizard, and if he isn’t the Most Valuable Player — sorry Kei Kamara and Kaka — I’m not sure what this world is coming to…

Analyzing the Impact/Red Bulls deal: Is Kljestan worth losing Alexander?

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Analyzing Tuesday’s deal that sent a number of valuable assets from the New York Red Bulls to Montreal for Felipe Martins and the top spot in the allocation order is difficult to evaluate on the surface, even with the knowledge that it puts New York in the driver’s seat in pursuit of Sacha Kljestan.

That’s because on the surface, Montreal won the trade handily. But that’s not the focus here, as Ali Curtis and Jesse Marsch continue to revamp the Red Bulls after the sudden firing of Mike Petke earlier this month.

[ MORE: NYRB wanted to hire Marsch, not fire Petke ]

Marsch, in theory, lands his former Chivas USA teammate in Kljestan and, in certainty, nabs Martins, who played for him during his one-year stint as Montreal boss in 2012.

But in furthering his imprint on the Red Bulls, has Curtis lost a bit of the plot? Kljestan, 29, has struggled for playing time at Anderlecht. Yes, he’s been a solid contributor for the Belgian power until recently, but is he a major upgrade over Alexander, three years Kljestan’s junior?

Belgium’s top flight, the Jupiler League, is the 11th ranked league in Europe, 10 coefficient points behind even the Eredivisie. For comparison’s sake, the Jupiler League is 10 points ahead of nations like Romania, Czech Republic and Israel. So, yes, there’s a gulf.

Meanwhile, Martins is a one-dimensional player who, while capable of the sublime, has a horrific possession score in Squawka and a below-average defensive acumen. Granted the Impact weren’t very good, but the advanced stats say Martins was the 11th most valuable player on Montreal.

Compare that with Alexander, the sixth best Red Bull in 2014/15. A big part of New York’s engine under Petke, Alexander is a complete midfielder whose nine assists were second only to Thierry Henry on New York’s stat list. His 34 games played tied Luis Robles for most on the team, and his 30 starts were third to Robles and Lloyd Sam.

And Oyongo, at just 23, has made an impact — no pun intended — for the Cameroon national team, scoring his first international goal this month at the Africa Cup of Nations. Montreal had a major need in defense, and Oyongo landed in New York despite interest from Lille.

It already feels like Montreal has a major chance to be the winner in this deal, and that’s before they do anything with the allocation money.

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Ivory Coast, Cameroon rescue points with late goals

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The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is quietly one of the world’s most exciting, entertaining and underrated competitions in all of world soccer, and if you’ve not been paying attention to this year’s gem of a tournament, you’re truly missing out. (Monday’s AFCON action vehemently agrees, too.)

[ MORE: All of PST’s 2015 AFCON coverage ]

Ivory Coast 1-1 Guinea

While upsets — and near-upsets thwarted by late comebacks — were the story of the day on Monday, Tuesday offered much of the same as Guinea, who have never in their history reached an AFCON semifinal, pushed 1992 winners and two-time runners-up Ivory Coast dangerously close to a nightmare start to their 2015 campaign.

Guinea went a goal ahead after 36 minutes when Lyon forward Mohamed Yattara scored a powerful half-volley from seven yards. Ivory Coast and Roma midfielder Gervinho was shown a straight red card for a half-punch-half-slap to the face of Naby Keita in the 58th minute.

Despite the man disadvantage for the game’s final half-hour, Ivory Coast finished the game with slim advantages in the possession (53 percent) and shots (10-7, 3-2 on target) departments, and got the equalizer they so desperately needed in the 72nd minute. CSKA Moscow forward Seydou Doumbia and Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony worked a completed a tidy move that put the forward one-one-one with the goalkeeper 12 yards from goal. Doumbia finished neatly and Les Elephants were back on level terms after 72 minutes.

Mali 1-1 Cameroon

Much like their fellow Group D favorites had done hours earlier, Cameroon found themselves a goal down with minutes to be played in regular time. Sambou Yatabare put Mali scored from a near-impossible angle in the 71st minute to give Mali, third-place finishers in the 2012 and 2013 AFCONs, the inside track to three points in the group stage opener. Yatabare found himself unmarked following a free kick flicked on to the back post, where the Guingamp (France) midfielder drove the ball into the ground and between the legs of goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa.

Cameroon equalized, though, with six minutes of regular time to be played. New York Red Bulls (soon to be Montreal Impact?) defender Ambroise Oyongo made a diagonal run into Mali penalty area where Raoul Loe found Oyongo eight yards from goal. Oyongo’s three touches went, in quick succession while bearing down on goal, 1) right foot, 2) left thigh, 3) inside of left foot, and back of net.

[ FULL PREVIEW: PST’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations preview ]

As things currently stand, given a pair of 1-1 results on Tuesday, no team in Group D holds any advantage over anyone else. Group D action resumes on Saturday as Ivory Coast and Mali face one another (11 am ET), followed by Cameroon vs. Mali (2 pm ET).

Wednesday’s AFCON schedule

Equatorial Guinea vs. Burkino Faso (11 am ET)
Gabon vs. Congo (2 pm ET)