Columbus Crew

Getty Images

MLS Saturday Wrap: What we learned

Leave a comment

MLS is entering the dog days of summer, and some teams are separating themselves from the pack, while others continue to struggle, even at home.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s a look back at some of Saturday’s MLS action.


Savarino makes a statement for RSL

There’s a lot of talk about Designated Players like Carlos Vela, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney, and for good reason. But one Designated Player people may need to pay more attention to now is Jefferson Savarino.

In just his second game back at Real Salt Lake from the 2019 Copa America with Venezuela, Savarino scored two outstanding goals and set up another as RSL trounced the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union, 4-0. The Union didn’t do itself any favors defensively, with a ton of communication errors, but Savarino has that clinical finishing touch that teams spend huge money for. Finally in his third season in MLS, he appears to have taken the next step in his development – he’s still only 22-years old – and could lead RSL into a playoff run.

Mike Petke’s squad, with still plenty of season to go, sits in sixth place, tied with FC Dallas on 29 points. Watch out for Savarino to be a difference maker down the stretch this season.


Pozuelo, Altidore come up big for Toronto FC

There’s no doubt that Toronto FC fans are happy to see Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley back with their club.

With goals from Altidore and other Designated Player, Alejandro Pozuelo, TFC knocked off rival Montreal Impact, 2-0 at Stade Saputo, boosting itself back into playoff contention. Toronto FC is currently just above the red line for the playoffs, with 26 points, one ahead of Orlando City SC, which also won on Saturday to stay in the playoff hunt.

It has been a tough couple of months for TFC. Prior to Saturday, TFC had won just one in its last 11 games in all competitions, including six defeats. Even the win, a 3-2 triumph over Atlanta United, could have been a draw if Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez had scored a penalty kick deep into second half stoppage time.

And yet, Altidore’s free kick and Pozuelo’s natural finish could be a sign that this team is looking like a title contender again, ready to shed off the poor form and like a gazelle, race up the standings.


Columbus, Chicago continue to drop points

It’s a rough summer to be a soccer fan in the east-to-central Midwest. Specifically, if you’re a fan of the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati.

FC Cincinnati won its second-straight game, this time at the expense of the Chicago Fire, though it’s still dead-last in the Eastern Conference standings, tied with Ohio rivals Columbus Crew on 17 points. The Fire themselves aren’t much better, with just 22 points this season, good for 10th place in the conference.

For FC Cincinnati, a rough season may have been expected, especially how the team operated in the offseason. But there was so much hope for the Crew and Fire, which has made 2019 even more deflating. After the fan-led mission to #SaveTheCrew was successful and Caleb Porter – a former MLS Cup winning coach – was hired, it looked like the Crew could really take a step forward this season after all the off-the-field drama from a year ago.

And yet, thanks to a season-ending injury for Federico Higuain and poor performances from Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, Justin Meram (who has since been traded), Pedro Santos and many others, the Crew have been in the doldrums all season. It certainly didn’t help to lose Trapp, Zack Steffan – who was signed by Man City but loaned back for the first half of this season – and Zardes for the month of June, just to see them mostly come off the bench, if at all for the national team.

Chicago, meanwhile, signed coach Veljko Paunovic and Designated Player Bastian Schweinsteiger to new contracts this offseason, and acquired CJ Sapong, David Ousted, Francisco Calvo and the gem, Nicolas Gaitan.

Yet all these individual talents have yet to merge into a cohesive unit under Paunovic, and the Fire are looking once again at missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons. With Schweinsteiger likely gone after the season, will Paunovic walk as well, unable to turn around this once-proud club for the last 2 seasons?


Top Goals from Saturday

Jefferson Savarino

Jozy Altidore

Fanendo Adi (first league goal with FC Cincinnati)

Toronto FC trades Hamilton for Mullins, Revs sign Bou as DP

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pair of moves took place on Wednesday in Major League Soccer, with immediate impact likely on both ends.

First, the New England Revolution officially announced the signing of Argentinian striker Gustavo Bou on a Designated Player contract, occupying New England’s second DP slot next to Carles Gil. According to Goal.com reporter Ives Galarcep, Bou cost somewhere around $6-7 million, while the Boston Globe’s Frank Dell’Apa reports that number rises to $12 million guaranteed cost when factoring in his salary, with the potential to rise as high as $16 million.

Bou, a 29-year-old attacker who has played for Argentinian clubs River Plate and Racing Club before most recently arriving from Liga MX side Club Tijuana, comes to New England in good form. He blitzed the most recent Liga MX Clausura, scoring eight goals in 14 matches, finishing with five goals in his last four regular-season matches before grabbing two in his two playoff appearances.

“Gustavo is a versatile, creative forward with a proven history of success who will bring a high level of experience and leadership to the roster,” Revolution head coach Bruce Arena said in the official club release. “We have followed him for a number of years and have confidence he will be an integral part of our success this year and moving forward. We look forward to welcoming him to New England.”

Aside from the big-money Revs signing, there was a significant trade that took place Wednesday, although not yet official. According to The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal, Toronto FC sent 23-year-old academy product Jordan Hamilton to the Columbus Crew in exchange for journeyman striker Patrick Mullins. The deal is significant as Hamilton, a Canadian international, had spent his entire career with Toronto, never truly gaining a consistent foothold in the starting lineup. He is acquired by former Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko who now serves as Columbus Crew president.

With Hamilton leaving his boyhood club with four goals in 14 appearances – including seven starts – this season, the 27-year-old Mullins heads in the opposite direction to join his fifth MLS club. He has yet to score in nine appearances this season – seven of those off the bench – but comes in as an experienced bench option to back up injury-prone Jozy Altidore.

USMNT’s Steffen loaned by Man City to Fortuna

Getty Images
Leave a comment

U.S men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen has been loaned out by Manchester City to Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Steffen, 24, was bought by Man City in December and immediately loaned back to his former club the Columbus Crew until this summer.

Fortuna announced on Tuesday that following Steffen being the USMNT’s number one goalkeeper for the 2019 Gold Cup he will spend the 2019-20 campaign on loan with them in the Bundesliga.

“I am really looking forward to returning to Germany and becoming part of such a traditional club,” Steffen said about the move.

Fortuna’s sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel, who was a legendary goalkeeper himself, is delighted that Steffen has arrived.

“Zack Steffen is a modern goalkeeper who brings everything. He is technically very well educated, strong in one-on-one situations and footballing outstanding. Not without reason has Manchester City decided to sign Zack Steffen on a long-term basis,” Pfannenstiel said.

This return to Germany makes sense for Steffen. Ederson is the first-choice goalkeeper at Man City and Claudio Bravo is still around too with Daniel Grimshaw highly thought of. Ari Muric, another promising young goalkeeper, has signed a new deal at City and has been loaned out to Nottingham Forest, so there is plenty of competition for Steffen to get anywhere near the Man City first team.

Steffen came up through the youth ranks at SC Freiburg before heading to Columbus in 2016 where the former University of Maryland goalkeeper became a regular in MLS in 2017.

He will challenge Fortuna’s Michael Rensing and Raphael Wolf for the starting spot in goal for the team who finished in 10th place in the Bundesliga last season. That was a very good campaign for a newly-promoted side, as fellow USMNT man Alfredo Morales will help Steffen settle in.

MLS wrap: Vela drives six-star LAFC, Quakes win late (video)

Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Carlos Vela is too good for MLS, FC Cincinnati can win in the league, and the Caleb Porter experience in Columbus needs a major shakeup as the embattled coach can’t push the same buttons mashed by his predecessor. (video)

[ MORE: Messi gets 2nd ever red card ]

It’s all in the MLS wrap.

FC Cincinnati 3-2 Houston Dynamo

For the first time since May 11 and just the fourth time this season, FC Cincinnati won a league match. It wasn’t easy despite a 3-0 lead built by Kekuta Manneh, Rashawn Dally, and Victor Ulloa, as a PK and an own goal two minutes apart allowed the visitors within one with nine minutes to play in Ohio.

Los Angeles FC 6-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Yordy Reyna’s fifth minute goal was… misleading for the hosts, who conceded four times between the 35th and 54th minutes as Bob Bradley‘s men piled up the goals in California. Carlos Vela had two goals and an assist, while Adama Diomande, Diego Rossi, and Mark-Anthony Kaye joined a ‘Caps own goal on the score sheet.

Vela now has 19 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, which is pretty good. Both lead the league, and the goals total is six more than second-place Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Columbus Crew 1-2 Seattle Sounders

Offsetting penalty kick conversions had it 1-1 after 56 minutes, but Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro completed his brace in the sixth minute of stoppage time to pour more misery on Caleb Porter’s Crew. Turns out Gregg Berhalter did some pretty good work in Ohio. Columbus is six points back of seventh place Toronto FC and a miserable 4W-6L-2T at Crew Stadium in a league which favors the home side in a big way.

Montreal Impact 2-3 Minnesota United

Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored 27 seconds after the opening kick and the Impact had a 2-1 lead after just 13 minutes after Rudy Camacho added a marker. Sandwiched in between was a Mason Toye goal, and the youngster would follow-up an Ethan Finlay equalizer at the end of the first half to win it for the Loons just after halftime.

Sporting KC 1-0 Chicago Fire

Yohan Croizet scored for the second time this week as SKC picked up the pieces from a midweek loss to win for just the third time since May 26.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Real Salt Lake

Danny Hoesen’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time helped the Quakes rebound from a midweek hiccup and extend an impressive run to 5W-1L-2T under coach Matías Almeyda. San Jose moves into a playoff spot and sits six points back of second in the West.

Philadelphia Union (PPD) Orlando City

Lightning strikes caused a postponement until 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

U.S. Open Cup: Goals a-plenty as Atlanta, Minnesota advance

Frank de Boer justin Meram Atlanta United
@ATLUTD
Leave a comment

The first two quarterfinal berths in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were earned Tuesday with 3-2 away wins.

Columbus Crew 2-3 Atlanta United

A pair of goals from Brandon Vazquez helped Atlanta United overcome both the Columbus Crew and a 48-minute weather delay.

Miles Robinson also scored for Atlanta, while David Accam bagged a goal for the hosts.

A 71st minute Brad Guzan own goal set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the Five Stripes, but they navigated the obstacles and emerged into the quarterfinals

Atlanta will play the winner of FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC.

Houston Dynamo 2-3 Minnesota United

The Houston Dynamo thought they were cruising to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and instead just waltzed right out of the tournament.

Up 2-0 at home and at halftime, the Dynamo conceded three times in the final 24 minutes to bow out of the USOC.

The victor, who deserves full marks, is Minnesota United. Darwin Quintero struck twice and Mason Toye scored in the 89th minute as the Loons advanced to play the winner of New Mexico United and FC Dallas. No Texas Derby in the cup this year.