Dave Romney

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Leagues Cup: Lampson leads LA; Fire out

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There’s no shame in Liga MX being a superior league to Major League Soccer, but it would be nice to get more showings of strength from the rapidly improving top flight for Canada and the United States.

The Leagues Cup provided that chance for four teams of MLS, who could make a statement with three quick victories over the next two months. In at least one of Tuesday’s cases, a side’s backups and reserves gave its club the chance to take it more seriously in the semifinals.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]

The Mexican sides, by and large, spend more money deeper into their squad, and most of the clubs were established well before still relatively young MLS.

Throw in both MLS sides clearly ignoring the tournament in favor of weekend league outings, and what could’ve been a really cool tournament could’ve also wasted a lot of peoples’ time on Wednesday despite MLS having the distinct advantage of being hosts for all four quarterfinals.

Godspeed, LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul

Chicago opted to keep many of its first-choice players on the bench or out of the 18, and it showed in an easy win for away side.

Cruz Azul out-attempted the Fire by a 14-5 margin, and held 69 percent of possession. Fire backstop Richard Sanchez was forced to make six saves, but Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez scored late in each half to plug a couple of away goals onto the board.

Alvarado’s goal was simply magical.

LA Galaxy 2-2 (3-1 pens) Club Tijuana

The resilient hosts took the favored visitors to penalties, where

Servando Carrasco gave LA a lead, and Matt Lampson stopped Erick “Cubo” Torres only to see Efrain Alvarez clanked the next effort off the post. Ariel Nahuelpán then leveled the score before Gibran Lajud made a save for Tijuana

But Lampson answered the bell, and it was 1-1 after three rounds each. He made another save on Angel Sepulveda’s poor penalty, and Giancarlo Gonzalez sent the Galaxy into the semifinals.

Tijuana had most of the ball, nearly doubled LA’s passes, and out-attempted the Galaxy 20-7.

Emmanuel Boateng turned a Kai Koreniuk shot past Gibran Lajud for a 27th minute lead, but TJ tied the score within six minutes and took the lead just before halftime.

Dave Romney had an answer after halftime with a thundering header off an Efrain Alvarez corner kick, and LA was back in business with 37 minutes to play.

Tijuana’s Miller Bolanos hit the post in the 70th, but the danger was largely non-existent the rest of the way aside from wasted free kicks.

LA’s Julian Araujo was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

Green, Brooks headline US U-23 roster to face Brazil

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United States under-23 national team head coach Andi Herzog unveiled on Monday a 19-man roster for a pair of friendlies this week against the Brazilian U-23 national team, which are to serve as the Americans’ last tune-up ahead of a 2016 Olympic qualifying home-and-away showdown with Colombia.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Headlining the roster are John Brooks and Julian Green, both of whom were once a significant piece of Jurgen Klinsmann’s senior team puzzle for both the present and future, but have since seen their stock drop considerably. Brooks has seen just 192 minutes of first-team action this season for Hertha Berlin after a nightmarish summer at the 2015 Gold Cup, while Green has been made to train and play with the Bayern Munich II fourth-division side following a disappointing loan spell at Hamburg last season.

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Elsewhere on the roster, you’ll find a lot of the same names — Gedion Zelalem, Jerome Kiesewetter, Matt Polster, Fatai Alashe and Cameron Carter-Vickers, to name a few —  from last month’s Olympic qualifying tournament, while the story of 22-year-old Dave Romney, who made his way into the professional ranks on the back of a successful spell with LA Galaxy II, the club’s USL outfit, before being signed to the MLS roster, is perhaps a sign of things to come for the USMNT.

Herzog’s side will face the Brazilians on Wednesday in Recife and Sunday in Belem.

FULL U.S. U-23 ROSTER

Goalkeepers (3): Cody Cropper (MK Dons), Charlie Horton (Leeds United), Jon Kempin (Sporting Kansas City)

Defenders (7): John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Shane O’Neill (Royal Mouscron), Boyd Okwuonu (Real Salt Lake), Dave Romney (LA Galaxy), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy)

Midfielders (6): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers)

Forwards (3): Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Maki Tall (FC Sion)

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 28

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Week 28 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is in the books, which means it’s time, once again, to sort out our MLS Team of the Week performers.

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

First things first, answer me this: how is one to pick and MLS Team of the Week when neither Sebastian Giovinco nor Robbie Keane score a goal in the same week? Do we still do a TOTW in that event? I suppose we will. Thankfully, Kei Kamara stepped up and picked up the other leading MVP candidates’s goalscoring slack with two on Saturday night, bringing his total to 20 on the season.

[ WEEK 28: FCD 2-1 NYC | SJ 1-1 SEA | TFC 1-3 NE | ORL 3-1 SKC | PHI 1-2 CLB ]

Neither of Kamara’s goals would have been scored without the expert crossing of Columbus Crew SC right back Harrison Afful, so he gets the nod, as well. Elsewhere on the backline, the weekend’s only 0-0 draw — LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact — provided three standout defensive performances to make up the back four. If you scored an Olimpico goal this weekend, you’re in the TOTW. Come on down, Michel. As for Tesho Akindele, a strike of this quality also does the trick.

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 28

Goalkeeper: Steve Clark (Columbus Crew SC)

MLS Goalkeeper

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Victor Cabrera (Montreal Impact), Dave Romney (LA Galaxy)

MLS Defenders

Midfielders: Adrian Winter (Orlando City SC), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Michel (FC Dallas)

MLS Midfielders

Forwards: Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC), Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)

MLS Forwards