Bakary Soumare

Klopas hails “great moment for City of Montreal” and MLS after Impact reach CCL final (with highlights)

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Desperation lead to tension and thrills in an entertaining CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg between Montreal and Alajuelense, and the Impact are ecstatic to have made club and national history on Wednesday night.

Frank Klopas’ side is the first Canadian side to make the CCL final, and will look to become the first Major League Soccer team to win the title in CCL era (DC United and the L.A. Galaxy won the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1998 and 2000, respectively).

[ MATCH RECAP: Alajuelense 4-2 (0-2) Montreal ]

And despite an unfortunate racial undercurrent to the post game thanks to Alajuelense fans making monkey noises at Dominic Oduro, the Impact can be happy with their on-field triumph in a game filled with good-looking goals.

From impactmontreal.com:

“We knew we were coming to a difficult place to play with a tough team,” said Impact head coach Frank Klopas. “They have a tremendous push with the quality of players they have and their fans. We scored an away goal, which was very important. The quick goal in the second half brought them back into the game. It was a great semifinal and a great moment for our club, the city of Montreal and Major League Soccer.”

“The score line isn’t important for me,” explained Bakary Soumare. “It’s the result that counts. We were here to get to the next round and we did what we needed to do that. Their last goal came as they pushed everyone forward, trying desperately to score in the final moments. We are very happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish and now our goal is to win the cup.”

The final appearance is a solid statement for MLS, whose schedule puts its league in a poor position entering the knockout rounds. Consider that Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio was among the tournament’s leading scorers, but left the club when last season’s MLS campaign was over. Now with a different squad still finding match fitness — at least compared to its traditional calendar-following opponents — the Impact are 180 minutes or so from history.

Montreal will next face either Herediano or Club America, with the Costa Rican side leading 3-0 after one leg. That second leg is Wednesday in Mexico at 10 p.m. ET.

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.

Chicago strikes against run and sinks broken DC United

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The recent U.S. Open champions began dangerously against Chicago, but their defense failed them when tested.

Chicago scored twice in the first half against the run of play, and they put themselves above the playoff line with a 3-0 win on the road at RFK Stadium on Friday.

Jeff Larentowicz took advantage of some shoddy defending, scoring Chicago’s opener in the 24th minute. Just two minutes later Bakary Soumare picked up his first career MLS goal when a free-kick rebound fell at his feet.

The third came from substitute Quincy Amarikwa, finishing on a cross late in the game to put it away.

Sean Johnson was brilliant in goal for Chicago, denying the home side on numerous occasions and giving his team opportunities to break on the counter.

Johnson was equally as sharp in the second half, repeatedly preserving the lead as DC United finished with 67% of the possession, and they had twice as many shots as Chicago until late pressure from the visitors closed the gap in the count.  The American shotstopper ended up with a whopping 9 saves, almost all causing him to end up stretched out on the ground.

The result for Chicago puts them into the playoff picture, with a soft one-point lead over the Philadelphia Union and two above both New England and Columbus.  It may not hold after tomorrow’s results, but three points at any time can improve a team’s shot at the postseason.

In addition, the 3-0 victory can only do great things for their goal differential, something that could possibly come into play with such a tight finish.  It moves them to -4, still the lowest of those around them, but improvement nonetheless.

Stalemate sees Chicago drop needed points in Toronto (Video)

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMyeo1dYMXE]

When is a point on the road in MLS not enough? When we’re past the three-quarter mark of the campaign, you’re on the road in Toronto, and you’re trying to track down two teams to claim a playoff spot.

That’s exactly the situation Chicago found themselves in prior to kickoff at BMO tonight, and at the onset, thinks looked good. A looking cross from Dilly Duka found its way into the back of the net after Mike Magee threw off Joe Bednik, giving the Fire a 1-0 lead. Hold on to the result, and Chicago would sit fifth in the East at night’s end, vaulting New England and Houston to temporarily occupy the conference’s last playoff spot.

Against a team with only four wins this season, you’d think their odds were good, especially with the expectations of a playoff race sure to be on Chicago’s minds. But Toronto’s also managed to get 10 draws out of the season, and before halftime, thanks to some help from the Fire defense, they equalized. Robert Earnshaw saw a ball played through Bakary Soumaré to him in the right of Sean Johnson’s area. Cutting back across goal as Gonzalo Segares’s block slide aside, Earnshaw left Johnson little chance to prevent the equalizer.

It was also the last goal of the match. Though Chicago slowly brought on more attack-minded players and Ryan Nelsen, while making up for Earnshaw’s early exist, looked to counter Frank Klopas’s moves, neither side could distinguished itself from the other. The match ended 1-1.

For Toronto, it was their 11th draw of the year, one that saw newly acquired Bright Dike make his Reds debut. But it was also nothing different from what we’ve seen all year from Toronto. The team just can’t score enough goals to find the win column.

For Chicago, the result has to be a disappointment, particularly given they were up after 20 minutes. Unfortunately, they can’t really claim they deserved much better. Against one of the league’s struggling teams, they failed to show themselves better. As a result, they remain in seventh in the East.

You can see Duka’s 20th minute opener, above. Earnshaw’s 23rd minute response is here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7hHzU4czE0]

Houston and Chicago battle to 1-1 draw in crucial mid-table tie

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Cameron Weaver scored Houston’s first goal from a forward since early May and Mike Magee grabbed yet another score as the Dynamo and Chicago Fire played to a 1-1 draw.

In a match with major implications for later in the season, two teams fighting for a spot in the playoff sector both battled hard but could do no more than share the points.  With so much up for grabs, both teams will be relatively disappointed not to snatch all the spoils.

The game began possession-centric as neither team sat back but neither team wanted to risk conceding first either.

Bobby Boswell thought he had the opener in the 18th minute with a far-post header off a Corey Ashe cross, but the assistant referee’s flag went up.  Replays showed Boswell was on, although Ricardo Clark may have been barely off next to Boswell.

Both teams were forced to make first-half injury substitutes.  Houston’s Alex Driver suffered a right Achilles injury with Brad Davis coming on for his 300th MLS appearance earlier than Dominic Kinnear had hoped.  Chicago were forced to sub defensive midfielder Alex after a yellow-card challenge from Giles Davis.

The Dynamo had another near-miss in first half stoppage time when a horribly lazy back-pass from Bakary Soumare almost gave Cameron Weaver an open net but Paolo Tornaghi came out well to smother the chance.

The first half ended scoreless, with little action on goal otherwise.  Both teams had chances to build but not much otherwise.

In the second half, Houston came out with more determination and a more attacking sense, and developed many more chances early.

Chicago’s best chance of the match fell in the 58th minute when Jalil Anibaba sliced in a low cross to Joel Lindpere who skied it way over.

Weaver won the ball on the right wing at the mid line, and sent it across for Corey Ashe.  Ashe sent the ball through for a streaking Brad Davis, who cut it back across the face of goal for Weaver who sidestepped it in.

The goal blasted the game wide open.

Houston’s lead didn’t last long as two minutes later Patrick Nyarko navigated traffic in the box to send it across the face from right to left and Magee was there for the tap-in.  The goal from Magee is his seventh score in nine matches since joining Chicago in late May.

Chicago almost got a cheap goal when the ball deflected to Chris Rolfe on a breakaway but Tally Hall’s fantastic diving save kept the low shot out.

The Dynamo continued to pepper Chicago’s goal, but the Fire held well. In the 77th minute Boenik Garcia found Barnes who was smothered again by Tornaghi before being cleared. Then the 83rd minute saw a cutting bit of passing find substitute Jason Johnson but his open shot was saved by a diving Tornaghi.

Houston dominated possession the rest of the way but could not unlock the Chicago defense for a late winner.

The draw slots Houston back into the top-5 in the East after a quick dip down following New England’s win earlier in the day.  For Chicago, they remain five points back of Houston for that final playoff spot, although there’s still plenty of time to make something happen.