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Ryan Telfer lifts Toronto FC past Orlando City, 2-1

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TORONTO (AP) Ryan Telfer scored on a volley in the 87th minute to give Toronto FC a 2-1 victory over Orlando City on Friday night.

{ MORE: Tim Ream talks outstanding Fulham season with PST ]

Auro sent a long cross over the Orlando goal, and Telfer hammered the ball home for his first goal in four MLS starts.

Jay Chapman opened the scoring for Toronto (3-6-1) in the 63rd minute, and appeared to make it 2-0 in 72nd, but substitute Tosaint Ricketts’s goal was ruled offside after a late flag.

Cristian Higuita tied it for Orlando City (6-4-1) in the 73rd minute. He fired a shot past Alex Bono from just outside the penalty box.

Toronto played without star strikers Sebastian Giovinco (suspension) and Jozy Altidore (foot).

U.S. players in the 2017-18 Premier League

Daniel Hambury/PA via AP
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This post used to be more fun.

[ RECAP: Villa 0-0 (1-0 agg.) Boro ]

The United States only had three players hit Premier League pitches for more than a single match this season, and only two Americans are alive for promotion from the Championship (though well-traveled goalkeeper Chris Konopka signed a short-term deal late in Cardiff City’s promotion campaign).

Geoff Cameron
Stoke City

The soon-to-be 33-year-old had to be frustrated when his return from a concussion ended up with a stint on the bench under new coach Paul Lambert that cost him a chance to keep the Potters in the Premier League. Cameron played 20 league matches and one FA Cup match, spending time at center back, center mid, right back, and even a little more advanced as a right mid. Stoke was 3W-6D-8L when Cameron did not play, about the same pace as when he was available, but it notably earned points in four of six matches where he featured at center back (2-2-2). It seems likely he’ll move on this summer.

Cameron Carter-Vickers
Tottenham Hotspur

Went on loan to Sheffield United and then Ipswich Town, where he played regularly at center back. Still doesn’t seem on track to get in Mauricio Pochettino‘s mix, and another loan or permanent transfer feels on the horizon.

Emerson Hyndman
Bournemouth

The 22-year-old center mid played just four times in all comps for the Cherries, but Eddie Howe handed him a start in Bournemouth’s season finale. The Cherries won 2-1, though both goals came after he left the match. A candidate for transfer or loan next season.

Antonee Robinson
Everton

Went on loan to Bolton, where he managed four assists in substantial time at left back and left mid as the Trotters survived in the Championship. One of the great hopes to solve the long-held American need at left back.

Danny Williams
Huddersfield Town

There was a third very impactful American in the Premier League this year, and Huddersfield Town will be thankful that David Wagner brought fellow German-American international Williams to Town.

The 29-year-old played 20 league games and three Cup games with the Terriers, and was noticeably strong in his first season of top flight English football. Granted two of the wins came in substitute appearances, one at right back, but the center mid was good.

Terriers w/ Williams:  7W-5D-10L
Terriers w/o Williams: 2W-5D-9L

DeAndre Yedlin
Newcastle United

Soon to be 25, Yedlin had a strong return to the Premier League. The right back picked up two assists in 34 matches as Rafa Benitez really improved the American’s defensive acumen. Benitez would probably like to bring in better competition for Yedlin at right back, but the former Seattle Sounder should have every opportunity to continue to play a sizable role at St. James’ Park.

Elsewhere in England
Mix Diskerud – Man City (on loan at Goteborg)
Luca de la Torre – Fulham
Lynden Gooch – Sunderland
Duane Holmes – Scunthorpe United
Eric Lichaj – Nottingham Forest
Brendan Moore – Rochdale
Tim Ream – Fulham
Gedion Zelalem – Arsenal

Rivalry Hijinks: Timbers tease the Sounders before match (video)

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The salvos are being launched well before Sunday’s rivalry game between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders.

It will be the 100th meeting between the two Pacific Northwest teams, dating back to a rainy May day in 1975 when both teams were in the North American Soccer League.

The Timbers put out a mock-documentary about the rivalry Tuesday, poking fun at Seattle’s traffic, the departure of the SuperSonics and even Clint Dempsey‘s ill-fated attempt at rap. It points out that Portland won its MLS Cup championship before the Sounders got theirs.

[ MORE: Rooney’s proposed DC move has good precedence ]

Despite the chiding, the Sounders rule the all-time series 50-35-14 across all competitions. There have been many memorable (or notorious) moments, including the U.S. Open Cup match in 2008 when Seattle’s Roger Levesque mimicked chopping down a tree after scoring on Portland’s field, drawing the ire of fans.

The mockumentary came after the Sounders set up a special (and more serious) website to commemorate the 100th meeting, highlighting mostly Seattle’s triumphs, calling it the “most important soccer rivalry in the U.S.”

Sunday’s match features a pair of teams had appeared headed in different directions.

The Timbers, after losing the first five games of the season (all on the road), have won three straight, including last weekend’s 1-0 victory at San Jose.

“We’ve been building exactly for these type of matches,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Once you build the mentality, once you build the group that wants to play together, we go (in the game) with an idea. But the important thing is, throughout the match, the guys have to be mature and be able to achieve a good result.”

The Sounders were struggling with just one victory win this season for last place in the Western Conference, but got a big boost with a 2-1 victory against Toronto on the road Wednesday night. The two teams have met in the MLS Cup finals the past two years.

There’s a twist to this Mother’s Day match: It will NOT be the first of the annual Cascadia Cup competition.

The Cascadia Cup, invented by fans in 2004, goes to the winner of a three-way rivalry with the Vancouver Whitecaps. It is traditionally awarded on points.

But this season the schedule between the three teams is unbalanced. So the Cascadia Cup Council decided in March that this first match between the Sounders and Timbers would not count. Portland is the defending Cascadia Cup champion.

It will be Savarese’s first rivalry match. He joined the Timbers in the offseason after the team parted ways with Caleb Porter.

“For me to have the fortune to be here at this moment, for this game, I’m a lucky person,” Savarese said, “because I understand the importance of the match and I understand the importance for the fans and I understand the importance for our season.”

MATCH OF THE WEEK: In addition to the match between the Sounders and the Timbers, Atlanta United visits Orlando City on Sunday. The Lions have won a club-record six straight games, including last Sunday’s 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake.

Afterward, coach Jason Kreis said Orlando needs to guard against complacency.

“It’s about trying to improve week by week. It’s also about staying hungry, because the truth of the matter is we’ve won six games in a row but we haven’t won anything at all,” Kreis said.

They’ll get a challenge in Atlanta, which was unbeaten in seven straight matches, compiling a 7-1-1 record heading into Wednesday night’s game against Sporting Kansas City.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti has been named the league’s Player of the Week after getting a goal and three assists last weekend in the Impact’s 4-2 victory over the New England Revolution.

The Argentine attacker is tied for the league lead with six total assists this season. He has five goals and is one of just four players this season with a hat trick.

Against the Revolution, he became the third player in team history to reach 100 career MLS games.

ALTIDORE OUT: Toronto forward Jozy Altidore had surgery Tuesday to remove bone fragments from his foot. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. Altidore has five goals in 11 appearances this season. He scored his 50th goal for Toronto in March.

ROONEY RUMOR: The Washington Post reports that D.C. United is in discussions to acquire English striker Wayne Rooney.

Rooney, 32, spent last season with Everton after 13 memorable seasons with Manchester United. He is the top career scorer for England’s national team, with 53 goals in 119 appearances from 2003 to 2016.

He has a year left on his contract with Everton. The transfer window opens July 10.

Track record of Top League vets bodes well for Rooney in MLS

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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Sometimes you start researching a post, only to have just a few clicks on a stats page end any misgivings about the other side of your argument.

[ MORE: JPW on Rooney move ]

Wayne Rooney looks set to make a move to DC United, which is predictably being met by three sets of rallying cries:

  1. MLS is a retirement league (false)
  2. He’s not going to be worth it (relative and debatable)
  3. DC would be better served spend its money on younger Player X “not everyone’s heard of”

There’s little doubt that the fine work of Atlanta United has inspired and invigorated teams to look younger. Better to sign those on the stairway to the elite, not the escalator away from it.

But how often has a top European league starter, let alone a 10-goal Premier League scorer, produced at MLS?

Spoiler alert: Almost always. And the “clear busts” are very hard to find.

Here are two things we’ve learned, when it comes to Rooney or any player coming from an intense season in a top league:

  1. There are usually good signs in the abbreviated first season, but the second year is where the best output occurs (logically due to the stress of going from one season to the next and the ensuing offseason of rest).
  2. These may’ve looked like moves to sell jerseys and spread their club names worldwide, and they surely accomplished that, but class is close to permanent.

First we have to define the sample size, and we’ll stay in recent seasons considering the league — and this is not up for debate — is better than ever.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to finishing 2nd ]

It’s still too soon to judge Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 17 goals for Manchester United in 2016-17 before missing most of this season.

We’ll also steer clear of Americans returning home, in part because that deserves its own post. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, and Brad Guzan have met very different fates, but there are myriad components to their moves home.

Who does qualify? We look through traditional numbers and take a run through advanced stats site WhoScored.com to back us up.

Pre-S: For those who say, “but you listed some of the best names in modern soccer history,” … exactly.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Last team: Manchester United
MLS team: Chicago Fire
Age upon arrival: 32
Status report: Unqualified success; Chicago was on an entirely different level when Schweinsteiger was healthy, as the Fire went from also-ran to threatening a first-round bye in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.

David Villa

Last team: Atletico Madrid
MLS team: New York City FC
Age upon arrival: 33
Status report: One of the best players in MLS history. Don’t really need to write more, do I?

Giovani Dos Santos

Last team: Villarreal
MLS team: LA Galaxy
Age upon arrival: 26
Status report: Amazing start, but jury out; Dos Santos posted three goals and five assists in his first 10 MLS matches, then followed it up with a wonderful 14-goal, 12-assist performance in 2016. Last season was terrible, but the early returns make the deal worthwhile.

Kaka

Last team: AC Milan
MLS team: Orlando City
Age upon arrival: 32
Status report: Unqualified success; Twenty-four goals and 19 assists in three seasons with a brand new MLS club. That is not bad. His second of three seasons here was marvelous.

Sebastian Giovinco

Last team: Juventus
New team: Toronto FC
Age upon arrival: 28
Status report: One of the best players in MLS history. Next.

Andrea Pirlo

Last team: Juventus
MLS team: New York City FC
Age upon arrival: 36
Status report: Disappointment, but not as bad you recall; Pirlo had a bad ending at NYCFC, as his legs and waning passion caught up to him, but his first two seasons were good offensively, including an 11-assist campaign in 2016. He was 10th in key passes that season.

Steven Gerrard

Last team: Liverpool
MLS team: LA Galaxy
Age upon arrival: 35
Status report: Slow start, but a success; Gerrard was fine in his first half-season, but really shone when available as a sophomore. The Liverpool legend scored three goals and added 11 assists in 21 games; Only Sacha Kljestan recorded a better assist-per-90 minute ratio in MLS that season, and he was the 20th rated player in MLS by WhoScored.

Frank Lampard

Last team: Manchester City
New team: New York City FC
Age upon arrival: 37
Status report: Slow start, but a success; “Lamps” came to MLS at 37 after a long PL season, and fought injuries. But despite his age, Lampard scored 12 goals in 19 matches as a midfielder during his second season. Villa, Pirlo, and Lampard ranked 1, 4, and 5 on NYCFC’s performance score in 2016.

Ashley Cole

Last team: Roma
New team: LA Galaxy
Age upon arrival: 35
Status report: Just okay; Considering that his signing seemed a laugh to the majority of fans (everywhere), his consistent appearances with a poor LA defense move this above considerably above “bust” status.

MLS Three Things: TFC falls again, Guzan red ruins marquee match

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Five MLS matches hit midweek to join the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in bringing a busy Wednesday for soccer in the USA (and Canada).

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

We are here to talk about three of them.

Brad Guzan deprived us of cool dual litmus tests

Two of the top teams in Major League Soccer met in Atlanta on soccer, and we can’t really tell you which team proved its mettle (Not that anyone’s doubting the quality of either).

That’s because Yohan Croizet played a delightful ball to Khiry Shelton, and Brad Guzan… didn’t… get it… right. Sent off, Sporting KC was able to break through with a pair of second half goals in a 2-0 win.

Shots were still just 18-17 for KC despite the DOGSO red, but playing in Atlanta is no picnic.

Soccer is a funny game

Toronto FC took 24 shots, 10 of them from Sebastian Giovinco, but Seattle took its chances and spun a 2-1 win out of not much in an MLS Cup Final(s) rematch Canada.

Homegrown Sounders 18-year-old Handwalla Bwana scored the winner after Magnus Wolf Eikrem took advantage of overly enthusiastic center back Michael Bradley on the opener (see video below).

TFC’s seven points are seven back of a playoff spot, and Victor Vazquez left the game with injury (Jozy Altidore is already out). Uh oh.

By the way, TFC’s best player this year after Giovinco has unquestionably been Jonathan Osorio, who bagged another goal tonight. The 25-year-old hometown kid is completing better than 90 percent of his passes.

On the flip side, Auro has been a major defensive liability several times this season. Hey, maybe we’ll see a proper 90 (or more) from these two in December.

Kevin Ellis: Golden Boot candidate

In his first 90 professional games, Kevin Ellis scored six goals.

The 26-year-old defender now has two in his last two, and this one is pretty nice.

Chicago needed this win, which pulls it back within sight of the playoffs. Montreal did not need this loss, its seventh of the young season.