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Colorado Rapids sign free agent Feilhaber to 1-year deal

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Former Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber has completed a one-year deal with the Colorado Rapids, with an unspecified option for a second year, the club announced Friday.

Feilhaber spent two seasons with the New England Revolution before joining Sporting KC prior to the 2013 season, and became one of the more well-known members of the KC roster over a five-year spell, winning an MLS Cup in 2013. The 33-year-old joined LAFC before last season and made 34 league appearances for them, scoring three goals and adding six assists. He also started and played 73 minutes in the playoff loss to Real Salt Lake.

“Benny is a creative and experienced MLS veteran,” Rapids Executive VP & GM Padraig Smith told the official team release. “He is a player that will help balance our midfield and contribute to the scoresheet.”

According to reports, Feilhaber will make just under the maximum salary of $530,000, meaning he will not need to be bought down by GAM or be a Designated Player. He joins other new Colorado arrivals such as Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio, and Keegan Rosenberry.

Feilhaber owns 44 appearances for the USMNT, but was infamously shut out of the squad by former manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and while he returned to the fold after Klinsmann was fired, his age prevented him from being a major contributor to the team.

Three-team trade in MLS sees USMNT’s Rowe move

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Three players with international caps changed homes on Wednesday when Sporting KC, Colorado Rapids, and New England Revolution flipped assets.

It started with New England sending Kelyn Rowe to Colorado for Edgar Castillo. The Rapids then sent Rowe and $300,000 in allocation money to Sporting KC for Diego Rubio.

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Rowe, 27, mainly operates on the right side of the pitch, but is very versatile. He scored in one of his four USMNT caps, and was a fairly consistent threat in MLS before falling out of favor with Friedel. Rowe has 35 goals and 41 assists in 225 matches for the Revs.

Thirty-two year-old left back Castillo had a fine season with the Rapids, and brings 18 USMNT caps to the Revs. He went the entire 90 minutes in his last two U.S. appearances, both against Guatemala in 2016.

Rubio, 25, joins Kei Kamara atop the Colorado attack, which now can threaten in a few more ways to go with Kellyn Acosta.

Four-times capped by Chile, Rubio scored 11 times with six assists in 28 appearances for SKC this season. He finishes his Kansas City tenure with 20 goals in 65 total appearances for the club.

The moves make sense for all three teams, though KC has to feel the best on the day.

Sporting KC dispatches Real Salt Lake to advance in MLS playoffs

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Sporting KC did the necessary business early as they stormed Real Salt Lake 4-2 for a 5-3 aggregate victory, advancing Sporting KC to the Western Conference finals against Portland.

With a 1-1 aggregate scoreline from the first leg in Salt Lake City, Sporting KC came back home and scored twice in the opening 20 minutes to leave no doubt. Daniel Salloi picked up a double to lead the way, with Diego Rubio and Ilie Sanchez also on the scoresheet.

Rubio was the first to the back of the net, scoring 14 minutes in on an unselfish feed right in front of net by Felipe Gutierrez who probably could have scored himself. Next was Salloi five minutes later as Gutierrez sprung him free on net with a pinpoint through-ball.

After the break, Sebastian Saucedo and Damir Kreilach helped keep the game interesting as they pulled RSL back to within a goal each time, but Sanchez dispatched a Penenka penalty on 67 minutes and Salloi added the icing on the cake seven minutes deep into added time with a great goal after stealing a Brooks Lennon back-pass and touching expertly past Nick Rimando to give him an open net.

The game featured 35 combined shots between both teams, with 14 of those on target. Sporting KC will now take on Portland in the Western Conference finals after the Timbers advanced past Cascadia rivals Seattle on penalties back on Friday.

An infuriating attempt at the 2018 MLS Best XI

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It occurs to me that projecting an MLS Best XI for this year is tougher than its been in some time.

In truth, it’s probably been growing in that manner on an annual basis. Shoot, look at last year’s post on the topic.

It’s especially difficult to narrow down your attackers if you want an XI to be representative of anything close to a unit you’d place on field.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

Consider that the league has three 20-goal scorers, none who could be considered anything close to a midfielder, and six players with double digits goals and assists.

Let’s start with the necessities.

Forwards: The XI could not look remotely rational without Josef Martinez’s 30-goal record season, and there’s on debate that Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s 22 goals in 26 matches rates.

So there’s two forwards, which means you need to exclude all but one of the following players:

  • Wayne Rooney — 12 goals, six assists, 19 matches
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips — 20 goals, 7 assists, 31 matches
  • Carlos Vela — 13 goals, 10 assists, 27 matches

And, by the way, Adama Diomande has 12 goals in 17 matches and David Villa 13 in 22. Not bad.

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron, Ignacio Piatti, and Nicolas Lodeiro have had out of this world campaigns, as has Alphonso Davies. Both Davies and Piatti are unlikely to make the playoffs, and should that matter? Orlando’s Yoshi Yotun and Mohamed El-Munir (a defender) have been amongst the best at their spots, but their team was terrible.

Borek Dockal, Luciano Acosta, Lodeiro, and NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez have 15 assists or more. Sebastian Giovinco and Darwin Quintero are just off the pace despite playing 27 and 26 games on bad teams.

Dockal is averaging an assist in two of three matches this season, and Piatti.

Piatti!

Defenders: This one’s difficult because you need at least three and this league is like the Dutch Eredivisie on steroids (Even that league only had one 20-goal scorer last season).

There’s a bit of cheating in including Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi, the influential right back who also plays advanced at times and also guarantees us an SKC man on the roster. And Matt Besler is a better positional fit, but Zusi feels more necessary.

It feels like either Aaron Long or Tim Parker should represent the Red Bulls, and Walker Zimmerman has reclaimed his elite form with LAFC.

Goalkeepers: Tim Melia and Luis Robles both pace the league in clean sheets with 13, while Andre Blake of Philadelphia and Evan Bush have thrived on… less impressive units. Bush has faced 181 shots, more than all but one goalkeeper, and has made a league-high 130 saves in keeping Montreal alive.

Conclusion: Look, we’re going to have to try and outscore the other team now, aren’t we? And we’re going to lose. But it’s going to be fun.

I’ve got it down to 10 players, only repeating two teams (Red Bulls and Atlanta).

There’s no one from Dallas, who deserves a man, nor NYCFC. Plus  we’ve got two players who could miss the playoffs in Zlatan and Piatti, but it’s crazy not to include them. It just is.

So who gets our 11th slot? A stable center mid? Vela to make it a 3-4-3 and a third team with two slots?

Robles (RBNY)

Zusi (SKC) — Zimmerman (LAFC) — Long (RBNY)

Almiron (ATL) — Piatti (MTL) — Dockal (PHI) — Lodeiro (SEA)

Vela (LAFC) —  Ibrahimovic (LAG) — Martinez (ATL)

Ramos announces U.S. U-20 World Cup qualifying roster

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Tab Ramos announced the 20 men tasked with leading the United States to another U-20 World Cup through qualifying next month in Florida.

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Goalkeeper Brady Scott is the lone returning member of the team which won the 2017 CONCACAF Championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017 World Cup in South Korea.

The U-20 World Cup is this summer in Poland.

Several players have MLS minutes under their belts, including promising Jaylin Lindsey of Sporting KC and Mark McKenzie of Philadelphia. McKenzie, 19, could miss some of the Union’s playoff run, having started the side’s last four matches at center back, but reportedly will not join the U-20s yet.

Ayo Akinola, 18, is also one of the headliners, having scored five goals in the USL and nabbing a goal and an assist in six matches for Toronto FC.

There are four college players and six youngsters based overseas.

U.S. U-20 roster for CONCACAF Championship

Goalkeepers: 1-Brady Scott (FC Koln), 12-CJ Dos Santos (S.L Benfica).

Defenders: 2-Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting KC), 3-Chris Gloster (Hannover 96), 4-Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), 5-Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union), 14-Manny Perez (NC State), 16-Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), 19-Sam Rogers (Seattle Sounders).

Midfielders: 6-Brandon Servania (FC Dallas), 7-Juan Pablo Torres (K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen), 8-Alex Mendez (SC Freiburg), 10-Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), 15-Anthony Fontana (Philadelphia Union), 18-Isaac Angking (New England Revolution).

Forwards: 9-Justin Rennicks (Indiana University), 11-Ulysses Llanez (Unattached), 13-Griffin Dorsey (Indiana University), 17-Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC), 20-Frankie Amaya (UCLA)