Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP

The Vancouver Whitecaps had a very lively postseason media day

Leave a comment

You know what sounds terrible? Being a part of the 2018 Vancouver Whitecaps.

Aside from Alphonso Davies’ sale to Bayern Munich, the ‘Caps struggled to keep any semblance of momentum all season and saw their poor campaign cost longtime coach Carl Robinson his job.

[ MORE: MLS Playoff Preview ]

“Robbo” must’ve been smirking a little today, as the Whitecaps had a post-season press conference for the ages. It included tears, a captain asking out (again), and some pretty damning complaints.

Take this one, from 24-times capped New Zealand international and starting goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

Cue the “This is fine” meme.

Vancouver fired Robinson with five matches left in the season and playoff hopes still alive. They promptly took four points out of the next 12 and were eliminated before winning on the Decision Day and finishing two points back of sixth.

Captain Kendall Waston wasn’t happy with the move then, and spoke out more forcefully on Tuesday. Waston said he “doesn’t like two-faced people” and expects a transfer. Vancouver says he won’t be sold for less than market value.

Felipe Martins was in tears as he recapped a rough personal season that included his father-in-law dying, a loss of a family dog, and further unnamed family issues.

And Efrain Juarez was not pleased with his teammates speaking out in public.

MLS State of Play: The final playoff spots

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer’s playoff races still carry intrigue heading into the final two weekends of the season, but the midweek matches which threatened to either amp up the excitement or take it down a few notches fell decidedly in the latter category.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Manchester United ]

DC, Seattle, and Real Salt Lake all won their matches, as only eliminated New England and Real have played more than 32 matches.

Here’s what still at play at the bottom of the East and West playoff pictures, with the latter going first:

Real Salt Lake puts its on Rio Tinto, then has to wait

Mike Petke’s men play their final match of the regular season on Sunday, nursing a four-point lead over the LA Galaxy. RSL’s opponents are equally desperate Portland, which has fallen behind Seattle in the race for one of two first round home matches.

Should Real win, it can not be caught by the Galaxy regardless of what Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have up his sleeve. It would put Portland in danger of missing the playoffs by losing out and seeing the Galaxy win both of their matches, as the second tiebreaker would decide it and LA would make amends on its current three goal disadvantage in differential on the virtue of simple math.

Oh, and Vancouver! The ‘Caps need to win out, have the Galaxy gain no more than two points, and have Real lose in Portland on Sunday.

Sunday
LA Galaxy at Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers
Vancouver Whitecaps at LAFC

Oct. 28
Houston Dynamo at LA Galaxy
Portland Timbers at Vancouver Whitecaps

Western
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – FC Dallas 32 16 9 7 51 39 12 10-5-1 6-4-6 57
x – Sporting KC 32 16 8 8 60 39 21 9-5-2 7-3-6 56
x – Los Angeles FC 32 16 8 8 65 48 17 9-6-1 7-2-7 56
x – Seattle 32 16 5 11 47 34 13 9-2-5 7-3-6 53
Portland 32 14 9 9 50 46 4 10-4-2 4-5-7 51
Real Salt Lake 33 14 7 12 55 55 0 11-4-2 3-3-10 49
Los Angeles 32 12 9 11 61 60 1 8-4-4 4-5-7 45
Vancouver 32 12 7 13 50 64 -14 6-5-5 6-2-8 43
Minnesota 32 11 3 18 46 65 -19 10-1-5 1-2-13 36
Houston 32 9 8 15 53 53 0 8-3-5 1-5-10 35
Colorado 32 7 6 19 34 62 -28 5-3-8 2-3-11 27
San Jose 32 4 8 20 48 69 -21 2-5-9 2-3-11 20

Let’s be honest: For seventh place Montreal to make the playoffs, the Impact need either DC United or Columbus to get a really bad team-wide flu.

The Impact are four points back of DC and five behind Columbus with two matches to go.

Columbus plays at Orlando City and home to Minnesota United. Orlando has a single win since May 16, while Minnesota has a win and two draws in 16 away matches this year.

DC is home to New York City and away to Chicago, so this is clearly the club Montreal will be seeing as its target. For as bad as the Fire have been, they’ve beat some decent teams at home (This is MLS, after all, where home teams run free).

So the Impact will want to win out, but at least get four points and hope DC loses out. The Impact is home to struggling Toronto in a derby match and away to New England. It’s not improbable it gets the points it needs, but will it get help.

Eastern
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Atlanta 32 20 6 6 67 39 28 10-4-2 10-2-4 66
x – New York 32 20 5 7 60 33 27 13-1-2 7-4-5 65
x – New York City FC 32 15 8 9 55 41 14 11-4-1 4-4-8 53
x – Philadelphia 32 15 5 12 48 46 2 9-2-5 6-3-7 50
Columbus 32 13 9 10 39 41 -2 10-4-2 3-5-8 48
D.C. 32 13 8 11 57 49 8 12-2-2 1-6-9 47
Montreal 32 13 4 15 45 52 -7 10-2-4 3-2-11 43
New England 33 9 11 13 48 55 -7 7-5-4 2-6-9 38
Toronto FC 32 9 6 17 55 61 -6 7-2-7 2-4-10 33
Chicago 32 8 7 17 47 59 -12 6-3-7 2-4-10 31
Orlando City SC 32 7 4 21 41 72 -31 5-4-7 2-0-14 25

MLS Weekend Preview: Red Bulls-Atlanta, DC-Montreal amongst pivotal matches

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Supporters’ Shield may be all but decided this weekend in Major League Soccer, and clarity at the bottom of both conference’s playoff races could also arrive by the time Sunday comes to a close.

The highlight comes early Sunday afternoon, as New York Red Bulls get a last chance to stake a claim to the Shield with a visit from Atlanta United (1 p.m. ET).

[ MORE: Top PL storylines, Wk7 ]

RBNY does not have Bradley Wright-Phillips available for the match after the star striker was suspended for yellow card accumulation following a profanity aimed at a linesman last week.

Both Atlanta and RBNY have played 30 matches, and Red Bulls enter the match four points behind the Five Stripes. Anything but an RBNY win would take defied logic for Atlanta not to lift the Shield.

The battle for playoff positioning in the East isn’t limited to the top. DC United has played fewer matches than any other team in MLS, and hosts the team its chasing in Montreal Impact. The Quebec side has a five-point lead with two more matches played, and can take control away from Wayne Rooney‘s men with a win.

Columbus and Philadelphia are jockeying for a first-round home date, likely combatants for the 4-5 match. The Crew has a one-point lead, and will be hoping that the Union’s disappointing Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final loss on Wednesday in Texas follows them North.

With sixth seed Seattle expected to beat Colorado on Saturday, the stakes are huge for Vancouver’s visit to California for a meeting with LA Galaxy. Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s men can pour misery on a Caps team which isn’t too pleased at the firing of longtime boss Carl Robinson in the midst of a playoff scrap. LA made a coaching change of its own earlier this month, and holds a one-point advantage on the eighth-place Caps with one more match in the books. The Galaxy are 1W-1L since the departure Sigi Schmid.

Elsewhere
Chicago vs. LAFC
Seattle vs. Colorado
Toronto vs. New England
Minnesota vs. NYCFC
Houston vs. San Jose
Portland vs. Dallas
Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake

Waston, Kamara upset by Vancouver coaching change

Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: Pulisic shines in BVB blowout ]

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.

MLS roundup: SKC, VAN get huge road wins; RBNY trim the gap

Photo credit: Sporting Kansas City / @SportingKC
Leave a comment

Between now and the end of the regular season, with every game comes a bit of added pressure of consequence as the MLS playoff race is officially underway…

[ MORE: Austin MLS stadium vote delayed until next week ]

Los Angeles FC 0-2 Sporting Kansas CityFULL HIGHLIGHTS

“Six-pointers” don’t get much more obvious than Saturday’s matchup between LAFC and Sporting KC, two sides who entered the weekend in fourth and third place, respectively, with the same points total (36) and numbers of wins (10). Thanks to results elsewhere, the winner would climb into second place — just three points back of Western Conference leaders FC Dallas — and the loser would tumble to fifth place, suddenly just three points clear of the wrong side of the playoff cut line.

Sporting got goals from Gerso Fernandes and Ilie Sanchez (penalty kick) either side of halftime to hand the expansion side its first-ever loss at Banc of California Stadium. After fighting through an injury crisis for the better part of the last two months, Peter Vermes’ side is nearly 100 percent healthy at the right time of the season — Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russell returned from injuries; Roger Espinoza returned from suspension; and Krisztian Nemeth returned to KC in a trade this week. The West is far from over.

Portland Timbers 1-2 Vancouver WhitecapsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Speaking of the West being a jumbled mess, Portland’s home loss to Vancouver means the Timbers dropped from second to third, and just four points now separate third and sixth place. Most notably, their unbeaten run of 15 games is no more, and at the hands of a Cascadia rival. The Whitecaps, meanwhile, moved to within two points of sixth-place Real Salt Lake after extending their current run to three games without defeat (two wins).

Kei Kamara (14th minute) and Cristian Techera (43rd) gave the visitors a 2-0 halftime lead, and though Diego Valeri converted a penalty kick in the 71st minute, Carl Robinson’s side left Providence Park with all three points.

Chicago Fire 0-1 New York Red BullsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the only goal (the 101st of his MLS career) in a drab affair (13 total shots, 4 on target) at Toyota Park. A win is a win, though, and this particular win moves Chris Armas’s side to within one point of Atlanta United (48), leaders in the Supporters’ Shield race. The Red Bulls have a game in hand on the Five Stripes.

Elsewhere in MLS action

LA Galaxy 2-2 Minnesota United — HIGHLIGHTS
Columbus Crew SC 1-0 Houston Dynamo — HIGHLIGHTS
New England Revolution 2-3 Philadelphia Union — HIGHLIGHTS
Real Salt Lake 1-1 Montreal Impact — HIGHLIGHTS
Colorado Rapids 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes — HIGHLIGHTS