Atiba Harris

Tulsa Roughnecks

USL side Tulsa terminates player’s contract after racially abusing opponent

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USL club Tulsa Roughnecks have announced they terminated the contract of midfielder Fabian Bastidas after it was learned he racially abused an opposing player during a match against Oklahoma City Energy on Saturday.

After the 1-1 draw, current Oklahoma City player and former MLS defender Atiba Harris posted on social media that he was racially abused by an unnamed player during the match. When that player was identified as Bastidas, the club terminated his contract effective immediately.

“The Tulsa Roughnecks announced today the termination of Fabian Bastidas’ contract with the club following his use of foul and abusive language during last night’s match with OKC Energy FC,” the club said in a statement announcing the termination. “The player’s actions are a violation of the league’s zero-tolerance policy, and do not represent the beliefs and values of our club — nor the community we represent. As an organization, we sincerely apologize to Atiba Harris and OKC Energy FC, and will do what is necessary to prevent this type of behavior in the future.”

“What [Bastidas] said is a disgrace,” said Oklahoma City manager Steve Cooke. “In any other walk of life it’s wrong. In our walk of live, albeit on a soccer field, I think people at times can hide behind the veil of competition and say, ‘Well, I just lost my emotion.’ But that’s too easy. In our industry, our profession, we have to be better.”

Bastidas, a 25-year-old Brooklyn native who joined Tulsa in January, took to Instagram to defend his actions, attempting to explain that “nothing malicious or racist was or will ever be intended” by his words.

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 27

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It’s been quite some time since we’ve discussed the New England Revolution in this space, and with pretty good reason, to be fair: a five-game losing streak from late-June to mid-July had Jay Heaps’ side looking like a team destined to miss the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. In true MLS fashion, the Revs have followed up their month-long losing skid with a six-game unbeaten run, which includes five wins and four in a row.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Week 27 MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Their latest, a 3-0 hammering of a Kaka-, Larin- and Ceren-less Orlando City SC side Saturday night, was enough to earn four places in this week’s MLS Team of the Week (granted, only half the league’s teams played last week). Four saves and a clean sheet? Bobby Shuttleworth is there. Eight interceptions, three tackles and a clean sheet? Andrew Farrell is there.

[ MORE: Drogba’s first MLS goal, hat trick in his first start for Montreal Impact ]

Three assists on three goals scored? Lee Nguyen is there. One of those three goals and an assist of his own? Diego Fagundez is there as well. It was this time last year that the Revs got hot, finished the regular season strong and made their run all the way to MLS Cup. Given their recent form and the return of Jermaine Jones, would you bet against them to do exactly that again this year? I wouldn’t.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 27

Goalkeeper: Bobby Shuttleworth (New England Revolution)

MLS Goalkeeper

Defenders: Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Atiba Harris (FC Dallas), Nigel Reo-Coker (Montreal Impact)

MLS Defenders

Midfielders: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact)

MLS Midfielders

Forwards: Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact), Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders), Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union)

MLS Forwards

Marvell Wynne, Bakary Soumare headline Stage 2 of MLS Re-Entry Draft results

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Six teams combined to select eight players during Stage 2 of Major League Soccer’s Re-Entry Draft on Thursday. The Re-Entry Draft serves as MLS’s mechanism by which the league re-allocates players whose previous contracts have expired, or who have not had contract options exercised by their previous team.

The San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, two teams who missed the playoffs and finished near the bottom of the league in 2014, were the most active clubs during Stage 2, each picking up a pair of players ahead of the 2015 season.

The full Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 results (exclusion indicates clubs who passed on their selection):

First round

1. Montreal Impact – Bakary Soumare, D (from Chicago Fire)
2. San Jose Earthquakes – Marvell Wynne, D (from Colorado Rapids)

5. Houston Dynamo – Chandler Hoffman, F (from LA Galaxy)

12. FC Dallas – Atiba Harris, M (from Colorado Rapids)

17. New England Revolution – Tristan Bowen, F (from Seattle Sounders)

20. Orlando City SC – Josh Forde, GK (from Seattle Sounders

Second round

22. San Jose Earthquakes – Sanna Nyassi, M (from Montreal Impact)
23. Houston Dynamo – Nathan Sturgis, M (from Chivas USA)

Soumare returned to MLS when he signed with the Philadelphia Union in June 2012 after a three-year stint with the Fire (2007-09) landed him a contract with US Boulogne (France). In May 2013, Soumare was traded back to Chicago, where he made 47 total starts in 2013 and 2014.

Wynne made over 125 starts for the Rapids during his five-year stay with the club. Capable of playing both right back and center back, giving first-year Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear a starter with huge MLS experience (227 starts in his nine-year career).

Hoffman, 24, scored 13 goals in 17 games for LA Galaxy II, the MLS side’s USL PRO (third division) side, in 2014. He has made 15 total MLS appearances (two starts) for the Union and Galaxy, netting zero goals.

Clubs will now be able to negotiate new contract terms with players selected during Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft, unlike Stage 1, which was held last week.

Major League Soccer Week in Review – Round 16

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Another abbreviated schedule: Next week will see the resumption of a full schedule — and who doesn’t like a full schedule? For Round 16 (like the last one) play was restricted to just five matches due to the ongoing FIFA for World Cup qualifiers.

The streaks to talk about: Portland is now unbeaten in 13 matches after staying on top of Dallas in the meeting of Western Conference leaders. FYI, Timbers head coach Caleb Porter is now dead level with Tom Soehn, who once presided over D.C. United, for the longest unbeaten streak by a first-year manager in MLS.

On the other end, D.C. United could not follow up on the mid-week U.S. Open Cup success; Ben Olsen’s team is now winless in 13 league matches. (And Saturday’s loss was a particularly miserable one … which we’ll get to.)

The weekend’s gritty win: The men of Columbus had so much going against them in taking on Montreal. Not only were two highly important men recently felled by ACL tears, they were playing on just one full day of rest, a rare, rare burden in professional soccer. (The Crew’s U.S. Open Cup match had to be pushed back a day, from Wednesday to Thursday, due to weather.)

Meanwhile, Montreal came into Crew Stadium fresh and spring daisies. So lots of credit to Robert Warzycha’s team – perhaps inspired by a season-high crowd of 18,320? – took down the Impact, 2-0. Dominic Oduro (pictured) had a goal and an assist in a truly worthwhile win.

The weekend’s top goal: The thing about Darlington Nagbe’s game-winner for Portland  on Saturday, the defending is pretty much what it needs to be from Dallas center back George John. And it didn’t matter. Nagbe’s ability to spin and hit this  shot in the tightest of spaces is simply stunning.  Heck, his ability to conceive of such a shot is pretty impressive in itself.

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Flowing red … and fuming mad!: First half red cards went a long way to deciding matches in Colorado and Vancouver. The Rapids lost Atiba Harris after just 18 minutes and went on to lose 2-1 at home to San Jose (a team debuting under interim manager Mark Watson). And some of the players and coaches were all hopped up in this one, highlighted by a near donnybrook that involved players and coaches.

In Vancouver, New England rookie Andrew Farrell was tossed in the 23rd minute, and his team went on to lose to Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps. (More on that down below.)

Sad news: FC Dallas has three top-level strikers – and none of them were available for Saturday’s match. Most unfortunate was that Kenny Cooper’s father, also Kenny Cooper, had a heart attack Saturday morning. The younger Cooper flew home to be with his dad, who is in stable condition. Kenny Cooper Sr. was once the face of the old Dallas Tornado back in NASL days.

The latest blow around RFK Stadium: You know, things are so bad around D.C. United, this death spiral borders on the unthinkable. Seriously, how could things possible have gone so horribly pear-shaped? No offense to Toronto FC, but United should not be losing to the rebuilding Reds in Washington. Period!

But lose Ben Olsen’s club did – and it sounds like everyone around RFK is at the end of their 13-game winless rope.

The weekend’s worst 18 minutes: Things unraveled spectaculary in Vancouver, conceding three goals in 18 minutes just before the break. What’s worse, in doing so, Jay Heaps’ team squandered a two-goal lead.

It all happened around a red card to rookie Andrew Farrell, and Heaps was clearly frustrated by the reactions that eventually saw his team fall, 4-3.

“Sometimes game plans get disrupted and really, I’m a little disappointed by – after the red card – our reaction,” Heaps said. “We really wish we had solidified things and played a little better in that time, a little more alert, a little more veteran-like in those few minutes. Unfortunately, we’re a younger team and we got rattled a bit.”

A gallery of amazing saves in Portland v. Dallas: FC Dallas’ visit to Portland was easily the feature game of Round 16. Don’t let that 1-0 score fool you, there were plenty of chances on both sides in a match memorable for world class goalkeeping on both sides. Watch the highlights below, which include three top-class saves from heroic FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, fresh off duty as Peru’s No. 1.

Portland’s Donovan Ricketts didn’t have as many show-stoppers, but his stop on Jackson’s goal-bound drive just before the break was the game’s top stops. It really was a wonder. Enjoy:

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Obafemi Martins hits huge goal for Seattle; Sounders no longer winless

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How is this for turnabout of historical trends: The Seattle Sounders finished one of its few chances and then watched as the other guys blew opportunities for an equalizer.

As a result, the Sounders and have stripped away that awful moniker as Major League Soccer’s last, winless team as a result.

We have talked so many times over the last few years about Seattle as the team that could create sufficient opportunities, but the one that so frustratingly, so frequently struggled to finish them. Saturday outside Denver, the Sounders put together just enough offense and then rode the first MLS goal from Designated Player striker Obafemi Martins to a desperately needed 1-0 win over Colorado.

From the Rapids’ side, the chances to equalize were there. In this case, it was Colorado that created enough coming and going near opposition goal to pull a point, but needed something better once they arrived near goal.

Following an uninspired opening 45 from the Rapids – surprising considering the reports of solid, intense practices from Colorado this week – Oscar Pareja’s team did better at forming the chances after the break. Rookie Dillon Powers came close on another of his shots from outside the 18.

Later, Danny Mwanga came sliding through to miss from close range off Jamie Smith’s feed. Even nearer to the end, Kamani Hill sneaked into the back post and banged one off the piping on a fine feed from Brian Mullan. (A lot of the better stuff from Colorado after the break came on Mullan’s work up the right flank from his defensive spot.)

Defender Drew Moor had a great opportunity on a pinpoint free kick delivery from Smith but headed right at Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspuring. Even Atiba Harris got a look with his right foot from about 18 but couldn’t generate enough on his shot to test Gspurning.

Pareja wants a certain style from his team, which is fine. But there’s no style that can survive middling finishing. Then again, Seattle knows all about that.

The full highlight package, including Martins’ first-half, game-winning goal.

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