Andrew Wenger

AP Photo/Bob Levey

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 2-0 Sporting KC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Sporting Kansas City are now winless in six games after a 2-0 defeat away to the Houston Dynamo on Satuday. More troubling than the run of results is Sporting KC’s continued inability to create dangerous goal-scoring chances. Peter Vermes’ side enjoyed a whopping 67 percent of the game’s possession, but managed to put just three of 17 total shots on target. They never, ever looked like scoring or threatening Tyler Deric in goal. Brad Davis probably hoped his return to Houston, after spending 10 seasons wearing Dynamo orange, would have gone better. Alas, Houston (8 points) are still bottom of the Western Conference, but managed to crawl a point ahead of bottom-of-the-East side Chicago Fire in the race to avoid the Wooden Spoon (yes, that’s a real thing now). As for Sporting, they’ll remain sixth in the West for another week, but every side below the red cut-off line is creeping up on them.

[ MORE: Previewing the weekend in MLS ]

Three Two moments that mattered

29′ — Barnes smashes off the volley for 1-0 — A pair of failed clearances led to Barnes having a go with his left foot from the edge of the penalty area. That’s rarely a good thing for you.

45+1′ — Wenger roofs it from an unlikely angle — The inquest into how in the world Tim Melia didn’t make this save is underway in Kansas City. Wenger struck it well, but hit it right at Melia’s eyes.

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Man of the match: Giles Barnes

Goalscorers: Barnes (30′), Wenger (45+1′)

MLS offseason kicks off with flurry of trades 24 hours after MLS Cup

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The 2015 Major League Soccer season came to a thrilling conclusion not even 24 hours ago, and the MLS offseason is already in full-swing after a number of teams began trading well-established, noteworthy players all over the place on Monday.

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A running, constantly-updated tracker and analysis of all trades and transactions made on Monday…

(All salary numbers taken from MLS Players Union salary release, found here.)

In return for Chris Pontius, D.C. United received allocation money and targeted allocation money (TAM) from the Philadelphia Union. Pontius, who is 28 and has started just 39 games the last three seasons (6 goals, 4 assists combined), counted $365,000 against the $3.49 million salary cap in 2015. Pontius turned in a 12-goal, four-assist season in 2012 to earn league MVP consideration, but a string of long-term injuries follower shortly thereafter and he has struggled to regain his form of four years ago.

[ MORE: Timbers top Crew SC to lift first MLS Cup trophy ]

Mr. Versatility, a title and trait which surely hurt Lamar Neagle’s long-term future with his hometown Seattle Sounders, has been shipped across the country to D.C. United, where he’ll likely become a full-time starter for the first time in his career. The only question that remains: where exactly is he going to play? During his time with the Sounders, Neagle featured as a winger on both sides of the field, as well as a center forward. Neagle is 28 years old and counted just $165,000 against the $3.49 million salary cap in 2015. In his last three seasons with the Sounders, Neagle racked up 21 goals and 15 assists.

[ MORE: MLS Cup Playoffs Best XI — Stars of the 2015 postseason ]

Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger are headed to the Houston Dynamo, where they’ll play for Owen Coyle. In exchange for the no. 10 attacking midfielder and winger/forward, the Philadelphia Union received allocation money, TAM and the Dynamo’s first-round draft pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft (6th overall). In his two seasons with the Union, the 28-year-old Maidana, who counted $203,500 against the $3.49 million salary cap in 2015, scored three goals and notched 26 assists. Wenger, the no. 1 overall SuperDraft pick of the Montreal Impact in 2012, scored just seven goals two seasons with the Union. His 2015 salary cap hit was $180,000.

An end-of-season (mostly) uncapped MLS XI for Jurgen Klinsmann’s approval

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Last week both MLS and the USMNT were in the news for less than savory reasons, as Don Garber responded to Jurgen Klinsmann’s criticism of Michael Bradley’s MLS form with a bevy of strong words.

Here at PST, we like to turn negatives into positives.

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So we thought we’d prop up Garber, who probably would’ve been better suited to express his concerns privately, while sending out notice to Jurgen Klinsmann that he could do well by giving a look to some of these new (or relatively new) faces in his side at some point soon.

Some qualifications: Recently-capped but barely-used USMNT players like Eric Alexander (called up last January but having only two caps) were not included due to them clearly being on Klinsmann’s radar. Pre-Klinsmann capped players like Lee Nguyen make the cut.

Goalkeeper
Steve Clark, Columbus

Honorable mention: Bobby Shuttleworth, New England

Analysis: Clark proved his mettle in Norway and is now looking to be the real deal on American soil. We slight Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson due to actual call-ups, and Shuttleworth has to find that next level to challenge Clark… though his statistics dictate that a playoff run could help his star rise even higher (especially playing behind Jermaine Jones).

Defenders

source: Getty Images

Andrew Farrell, New England
Matt Hedges, FC Dallas
Steve Birnbaum, DC United
Sean Franklin, DC United

Honorable mention: David Horst, Houston; Chris Schuler, Real Salt Lake

Analysis: Farrell is probably a center back down the line, but works for our purposes outside. Hedges is an absolute beast and both Horst and Schuler fall victim to our numbers game.

Midfielders
Amobi Okugo, Philadelphia
Dillon Powers, Colorado
Lee Nguyen, New England
Ethan Finlay, Columbus

Honorable mention: Tony Tchani, Columbus; Kelyn Rowe, New England

Analysis: A Cameroonian by birth, Tchani will sit on the backburner despite buzz that he could be in demand by the States. Powers’ call-up feels inevitable. Nguyen has been dynamite and really seems to be the best example Garber could use of a US player using MLS to prop up his game after being abroad in Vietnam, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Forwards
source: Getty Images
Gyasi Zardes, Los Angeles
Andrew Wenger, Philadelphia

Honorable mention: Jack McInerney, Montreal

Tricky area here. McInerney is the big engine that hasn’t quite shown consistency, while the player he was traded for (Wenger) continues to impress. Zardes has to get a look soon. It would be criminal if he remains overlooked by Klinsmann comes January.

MLS Snapshot: History! Fire set ties record, Union playoff hopes fade

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Amobi Okugo’s 88th minute goal looked to boost the Union’s playoff hopes, but the fabulous tying Fire provided home heartbreak for Philadelphia at PPL Park on Thursday night.

Draws are pretty much losses for the Union right now, and they ran into a Chicago team that has now tied more games in a single season than any team in MLS history after Thursday’s 1-1 tie.

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Four minutes after Okugo’s heroics had the stadium rocking, Robert Earnshaw brough the boobirds out when he took advantage of a poor clearance from Union keeper Rais M’Bohli in the second minute of stoppage time to see the game out at 1-1.

The tie leaves the Union in seventh place and will make it highly-improbable they rise back into the top five. Meanwhile, Chicago remains in ninth place.

[ MORE: MLS weekend previewRed Bull exec says Henry done in NY ]

Andrew Wenger provided the game’s best chance in the early stages of the second half when he streaked down the right flank, but his pass to the middle of the field was hammered wide, point-blank, by Cristian Maidana.

The Union were forced to deal with a few tricky chances, but Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu made them look fairly easy in defense. Jim Curtin’s decision to ask Edu to man the middle of the back line is a clear victory for Philadelphia (and sports bravery).

Sixty-first minute sub Brian Brown took a touch too many when Wenger set him up just outside the 18, curling a low shot well wide of Sean Johnson’s goal.

And then Okugo took advantage of a deflected cross off Brown, sending a ball into the center of the goal past Johnson.

But it wasn’t over, Philly goalkeeper M’Bohli clearance was picked off by Earnshaw. He raced in to chip the keeper with class, providing a bit of history to MLS.

Jack McInerney vs. Andrew Wenger: Comparing production after April’s swap

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It was a baseball-style challenge trade, though there were some contract considerations. Jack McInerney may still be in Philadelphia if he wasn’t approaching the end of the deal, but in striking a trade with Montréal, the Union found another team willing to shake things up. Give us your underperforming attacker, we’ll give you ours, and let’s see if we can solve each other’s problems.

On the team level, the deal has worked for Philadelphia, who’ve seen Andrew Wenger become a valuable part of their last summer resurgence. After today’s win at BMO Field, the Union are in the East’s top five, with the former number one pick earning consistent time amid an increasingly settled squad.

With his first half goal in Toronto, Wenger has now scored five times with the Union – one short of the total he amassed in two-plus seasons in Montréal. Add in four assists and the team’s surge up the standings, and Wenger’s half of the challenge looks like a winning one.

Not that McInerney’s been quiet in Montréal. Here are the two players’ numbers since the early April swap:

Player GP GS MP G A SHT SOT
McInerney, Jack 18 16 1340 6 0 28 11
Wenger, Andrew 21 12 1241 5 4 36 15

 
Wenger’s been the more productive player since the trade, but comparing the two directly isn’t the point. Montréal was looking for improvement on the Wenger they had, not the Wenger he’d be in Philadelphia. Before the trade, the 23-year-old had only one goal in 286 minutes (or 4.6 per 1340).

For Philadelphia, McInerney had only one goal in 312 minutes this season. Perhaps as important: He had no place to play. Even before Conor Casey was fully healthy, McInerney had one start in four appearances.

In that light, the trade has worked out for both teams, who’ve both seen their roster spot’s production increase since the high-profile swap. As for how each has impacted the bottom line, consider the teams’ records with and without their new players:

Team GP W L D PPG, w/ GP W L D PPG, w/o
Montréal, with McInerney 18 3 12 3 0.67 7 2 3 2 1.14
Philadelphia, with Wenger 21 7 8 6 1.29 6 2 1 3 1.33

 
Both teams have preformed worse with their new attackers, but with only seven and six games played without the players, respectively, consider this measure meaningless … even if it is interesting to see how both sides have fared since this spring’s challenge.