Kei Kamara

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FC Cincinnati acquires Garza, selects five in Expansion Draft

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FC Cincinnati added plenty of MLS experience on Tuesday in their Expansion Draft, also making two trades involving internationally-capped players.

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FCC picked up forwards Darren Mattocks and Kei Kamara, then trading the latter to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for an international roster spot.

The club also drafted winger Roland Lamah from FC Dallas, midfielder Eric Alexander of Houston, and young center back Hassan Ndam from the New York Red Bulls.

FCC also acquired USMNT left back Greg Garza from Atlanta United in exchange for $250,000 in Target Allocation Money and $200,000 in General Allocation Money.

Kamara has 112 MLS goals including 14 with five assists last season in Vancouver and will give Colorado a big target man while allowing FCC a valuable extra international slot as most of theirs were taken with players retained from the USL.

Mattocks scored 10 goals for DC last season, while FCC has the rights to Lamah, who is out-of-contract after scoring eight goals with five assists last season.

Waston, Kamara upset by Vancouver coaching change

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The Vancouver Whitecaps parted ways with one of the longer tenured managers in Major League Soccer, and two of its stars are not happy with the move.

Carl Robinson was fired Tuesday after nearly five years in charge of the Caps, when Vancouver elected to hire him over Bob Bradley and other candidates.

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But things turned sour this season, and Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi is hoping a late coaching change can propel the Caps back into the playoffs. Vancouver is four points back of the final spot with five matches to play.

Kendall Waston joined Vancouver at the end of Robinson’s first season, and was twice named to the MLS Best XI in addition to making the All Star Team in 2016. From MLSSoccer.com:

“It’s a difficult moment. I’m not happy at all. But as a player, you have bosses, and even if you don’t like the things that happen, you have to respect what those bosses say. … I was thinking, with five games to go, was this the right moment? Personally, I don’t think it was the right moment, but I’m not in charge of the club.”

The Costa Rican captains Vancouver, so his feelings certainly matter when it comes to how they rebound from the decision.

And star striker Kei Kamara admits he feels the firing in his bones.

“He believed in me, he believed in how I could play, he believed that I can fit the system, and I respect him so much as a coach and for everything he’s done here,” Kamara said. “So when I heard the news, I took it personally too because I feel that we did that to him as players. … I feel responsible for part of it.”

The Caps have a rough run into the end of the season, with a visit to the desperate LA Galaxy before heading across the continent to meet Toronto FC at BMO Field. They finish home to Sporting KC, away to LAFC, and home to Portland.

Tim Howard earns 10-save clean sheet as Colorado tops Vancouver

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On the four-year anniversary of Tim Howard‘s masterclass against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, the USMNT veteran once again stood on his head, but this time around he got the win as well.

Howard made 10 saves as the Colorado Rapids profited from a Marcel de Jong own-goal just before halftime to pick up a 1-0 win. The United States international was fantastic as he baffled the Whitecaps attackers in front of net. He no doubt benefitted from poor finishing as numerous point-blank chances were ripped directly at the netminder, but Howard also produced a few acrobatic efforts as well, including one that kept out a fabulous long-range effort by Jordan Mutch in the 83rd minute.

Altogether, Vancouver put 25 shots on net, but struggled to put them in dangerous positions. Kei Kamara had an especially dismal day in front of net, putting eight shots on goal but saw four of those saved and another off the crossbar.

Four years ago today, Howard produced 15 saves against Belgium, the most in a World Cup match in history since saves became an official stat in 1966. He faced 39 shots on that day and kept all but two of them out as the United States lost a heartbreaker in extra-time on goals by Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.l

The victory this evening pushed Colorado up to 15 points on the season out of 16 matches, still eight points off the 23 points to grab a current playoff spot where Vancouver hangs on in 6th.

What we learned from LAFC, Vancouver’s season-opening wins

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Los Angeles FC are off and running with a win in their MLS debut, and the Vancouver Whitecaps were up to their old tricks on opening weekend.

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PST’s Joe Prince-Wright talked us through the first three lessons of the newborn season yesterday, followed by three more later in the evening…

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Bob Bradley‘s team is well-drilled and extremely organized

This will come as a shock to absolutely no one who watched Bradley’s U.S. national team, Egypt, Stabaek or Le Havre — the less said about Swansea City, the better — but LAFC looked like a team that had been playing together for years: prepared, organized, well-drilled and cohesive.

The knock on Bradley, going back to his USMNT days at the start of the decade, has always been that his teams are boring and unimaginative. He so rarely got credit for how defensively solid the Yanks were at a time when the American player pool sorely lacked creativity.

No such problem for LAFC, who spent big on Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, with above-average MLS recyclables in Marco Ureña, Latif Blessing and Benny Feilhaber filling out the midfield and wings. There’s just enough flair and creativity in that bunch, without sacrificing the defensive work rate and discipline required to remain plenty balanced and safe at the back.

If Vela and Rossi can continue combining for a bit of brilliance like that, creating something out of nothing, this team might just rise above expectations and make some noise in year one.


Playing direct isn’t pretty, but it’s still effective

The Vancouver Whitecaps were arguably the most direct team in the league last year, and then went out and traded for Kei Kamara this offseason. Kamara is, at his best, an unplayable aerial target and constant source of free kicks won.

Take a player like Kamara, give him speed on either wing like Cristian Techera and Alphonso Davies, and play to the man’s strengths: get the ball forward quickly, either to him or diagonally to the wingers and play fast. That’s exactly what Carl Robinson did on Sunday, as Vancouver blitzed the visiting Montreal Impact for a pair of goals shortly after the hour mark, then hung on for the 2-1 win after conceding a tragically soft goal in the 81st minute.

The obvious foil for a team that plays quick and direct is to sit a bit deeper, especially in their house, and get numbers in the areas of the field where second balls will fall off Kamara’s head. Remi Garde deserves a bit of credit for setting his team up to play the progressive possession game on the road, but on this occasion it played right into Vancouver’s hands.

Kamara, Zimmerman move in half-day MLS trade window

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One of the quirks of Major League Soccer is on full display Sunday.

Hours after Toronto FC won its first MLS Cup, the league saw its half-day trade window unleash a variety of deals on the league.

Kei Kamara leaving New England is going to steal the headlines, but LAFC may have made the top move of the day.

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The first-year club reportedly sent $500,000 in combined GAM and TAM plus the top spot in the allocation order to FC Dallas for center back Walker Zimmerman. The 24-year-old big back will be a horse for Bob Bradley in California.

Kamara has been sent to Vancouver as a Designated Player in exchange for the ‘Caps’ “2019 natural first round SuperDraft pick and a conditional 2020 second round SuperDraft selection.”

Sporting KC shook things up as well, collecting Kenwyne Jones — who’s announced his retirement — Alexander Tambakis, and a fourth round pick from Atlanta United for Tyler Pasher, Kevin Oliveira, and a second round pick.

Oh, and this:

New York City FC has acquired $75,000 of General Allocation Money and a 2018 international slot in exchange for French back Frederic Brillant, who has signed a two-year deal with DC United. DC also acquired an attacking piece in the negotiating rights to Jamaican winger Darren Mattocks from Portland for an international roster spot.

Minnesota coach Adrian Heath has acquired his son, Harrison Heath, from Orlando City for a fourth-round draft pick. Heath will count as a Homegrown Player for the Loons.