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Pretty goals lead Toronto FC past Philadelphia (video)

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Toronto FC’s unusually slow start to the season took a step toward the norm on Friday, when the Reds kicked off the MLS weekend with a comfortable win over the Philadelphia Union at BMO Field.

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

Here are three things of note from TFC’s 3-0 win, as Victor Vazquez, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jay Chapman lit the proverbial lamp.

Vazquez absence might’ve been key to TFC’s slow start

Here’s what I love most about this goal, even more than Sebastian Giovinco’s cutting through ball.

Look at TFC’s Jonathan Osorio and most of Philadelphia’s defense, which thinks the Reds’ hometown midfielder is going to connect with Nicolas Hasler’s cross.

Nope, Vazquez darts into the thick of the 18 to turn the ball inside the near post. Osorio’s even in the midst of winding up for a dig.

Beautiful.

The 31-year-old has scored in both of his MLS matches since returning from a back injury, having scored eight goals with 10 assists in last season’s MLS debut voyage.

He went 71 minutes in the CONCACAF Champions League Final’s second leg, having missed all of TFC’s 2-1 first leg in Canada.

All told, TFC went 2W-4L-1T in the seven matches he missed between MLS and the CCL.

Could Michael Bradley serve a long-term purpose as a CB?

Bradley again went 90 minutes as an emergency center back for Toronto FC, and it has us dreaming of, perhaps, the USMNT captain becoming part of a three-man backline for club and country.

Imagine the ball-playing out of the back from Bradley, whose best assets are reading the game and pinging passes. As part of an American unit with John Brooks and Matt Miazga, holding the center of the field for young buck center mids Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams? Could be worse!

Seba’s still Seba

Giovinco had to wait til his fifth MLS match of the season to score, as he salted away TFC’s much-needed win with 35 minutes to play.

His relative league struggles aside, Giovinco is doing fine this season thanks to four goals and four assists in eight CONCACAF Champions League games.

Still, it’s good to see him on the board.

VIDEO: Sacha Kljestan finds Dom Dwyer for impressive Orlando City opener

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The USMNT connection was on point Friday night as Orlando City SC toppled the Philadelphia Union 2-0 on the road.

Dom Dwyer opened the scoring in the 38th minute on a beautiful pass from fellow US international Sacha Kljestan that put the visitors through. 32-year-old Kljestan, with acres of space in midfield, sucked three guys towards him just in time to dink a pass over the back line perfectly for a streaking Dwyer. One-on-one with Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake, the 27-year-old striker slotted the finish inside the far corner for the opening goal.

Perhaps the most fascinating and skillful part of the goal is how Dwyer collects Kljestan’s pass…off his back. A pinpoint turn at the point of contact controls the pass perfectly into his path on goal, and allows Dwyer to seamlessly transition from his run to attack Blake and the net.

Dwyer’s start to the season for Orlando has been prolific. After missing the first three games of the year with a hamstring injury, he’s now scored four goals in three games, proving the difference in each matchup. Kljestan himself has a goal and two assists so far this season.

Orlando City’s win pushed them towards the early-season upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams, moving them to a double-digit point total, six points back of the leaders NYCFC.

USMNT to host Bolivia in Pennsylvania

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The U.S. Men’s National Team is heading back to the east coast for an upcoming friendly match.

U.S. Soccer announced that the Philadelphia Union’s Talen Energy Stadium will host a friendly on May 28 between the USMNT and Bolivia. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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It’s the third time that Talen Energy Stadium has hosted the USMNT as well as being a host for numerous U.S. Women’s National Team matches.

The USMNT will play in one match during the March FIFA international dates, with a friendly agianst Paraguay set to take place on March 27 in Cary N.C. After that, the U.S. faces Bolivia before flying abroad to face the Republic of Ireland in Dublin and France in Lyon in June. Then the U.S. will head home for a rare quiet summer.

“With the addition of the Bolivia game, we have a great set of experiences on the table for our young players this summer,” U.S. head coach Dave Sarachan said in a statement. “Bolivia presents different challenges than Ireland and France. We’re thrilled to be starting the tour in Philadelphia, one of the great soccer communities in the United States and a fan base that has always supported the National Team.”

Five best MLS kits heading into 2018 season

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One of the best pleasures in kicking off a new season in any league is grading the best and worst kits.

[ MORE: PST’s 2018 MLS Eastern Conference preview ]

It’s become a past time that supporters take great pleasure in, and they won’t hesitate to voice their opinions — either positively or negatively — about their club’s newest additions in the apparel market.

Below, PST takes a look at five of the best MLS kits ahead of the 2018 season.

Los Angeles FC

We had to list both of the expansion side’s kits since after all it is their inaugural season. And honestly, they’re both pretty fresh with gold the common color in both jerseys.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo opted for a varying gradient pattern in the center of its new away kit, and it works well. And the reasoning behind the design very cool as well, as the two-time MLS Cup champions look to honor its diverse makeup of supporters.

San Jose Earthquakes

At first glance the Earthquakes new kit might look wrinkled, but the Charlie Brown-esque stripes actually look really sweet on this white and blue jersey. Also, if you look closer, the gradient changes going from left to right and vice versa, which makes this jersey a must-buy.

Philadelphia Union

The Union have changed the game with their new home kit, after having previously gone with vertical stripes for many years past. This time though, the navy blue and gold kit displays is turned on its side to horizontal stripes, but it looks every bit as good (if not better) than the previous jerseys.

Minnesota United

Last year’s expansion side had some difficulties on the field, but as the second-year organization looks to exemplify improvement in 2018 Minnesota will surely look good in doing so. There’s really nothing like vertical stripes on a jersey. Am I right?

Accam’s Common Goal pledge hopes to find more heroes

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Philadelphia Union attacker David Accam — it still feels weird to type those words — became the first African player to join Juan Mata‘s Common Goal project, according to Sky Sports.

Accam, 27, came out of the Right to Dream Academy to become a goal scoring machine for Ostersunds, Helsingborg, and then Chicago Fire.

[ MORE: Wenger, Mkhi on Arsenal win ]

Now with Philadelphia and comfortable with his salary, Accam has joined Mata’s pledge to donate 1 percent of his salary. And since Common Goal allows him to stipulate where the money goes, the Ghanaian is sending it back to his home continent.

Accam says he helped build a pitch in Kumasi, Ghana, this summer, and that he hopes improving his homeland’s football goals with leads to loftier life goals for young talents in Africa. From Sky Sports:

“It is just about helping the kids to become whatever they want to be in the future. If that’s the next David Accam then that’s perfect. But if it is the next George Weah and we can help a kid who wants to become president then even better. Maybe we can help the next Kofi Annan too. It is about giving young people that opportunity.”

Accam joins Chris Wondolowski as MLS players contributing to Common Goal.