Seattle leave it late again as they overcome FC Dallas

By Zack Walford

Seattle Sounders open up a five point lead at the top of the Western Conference, coming from behind to beat FC Dallas 2-1 at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night.

Kenny Cooper scored the winning goal in the 87th minute, netting against his former club to seal all three points for the Sounders, taking their tally to seven wins from ten.

Dallas took the lead in the 13th minute from the penalty spot, after Brad Evans brought down Blas Perez, following a tangle of legs.

Brazilian born Michel stepped up for Dallas and slotted home his penalty, leaving Stefan Frei marooned in the middle of the Seattle goal.

The Sounders responded well though as they tested Dallas goalkeeper, Raul Fernandez, on several occasions.

Clint Dempsey’s free kick looked to be heading in, but his effort was spectacularly saved by the Peruvian keeper.

Despite holding on and taking their 1-0 lead into halftime, FC Dallas stepped off the gas and allowed Seattle too much space in the second-half.

Former Birmingham City striker, Obafemi Martins, found space in behind the Dallas defence and was able to pick out Lamar Neagle at the near post, as he tapped home the equaliser for his fourth of the season on his 27th birthday.

The goal inspired Seattle, as the crowd became louder and sensed that there were more goals on offer as Dallas looked deflated.

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(Seattle fans are enjoying their teams performances this season)

The Sounders went close with a effort through Mexican midfielder Gonzalo Pineda in the 65th minute, again bringing a save from Fernandez.

Seattle continued to knock on the door of FC Dallas but Fernandez wasn’t letting anybody in, as he performed a superb reflex save to deny Dempsey from close range after Osvaldo Alonso’s long range effort was parried onto the post.

FC Dallas’ resistance was finally broken in the 87th minute with another dangerous, low cross from Martins finding former Dallas striker Kenny Cooper who slotted the ball home with his first touch of the game.

The goal sent Seattle fans into raptures, but there were just muted celebrations from the man who spent three years at the Toyota Stadium between 2006-2009.

There was a late chance for Dallas In the 94th minute, as captain Matt Hedgers sent his header over the bar following a cross from Dallas goalscorer Michel.

The win leaves FC Dallas in third place on 16 points, six points behind Western Conference leaders Seattle on 22.

FC Dallas will aim to bounce back away to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, whilst the Seattle Sounders travel to the Gillette Stadium to play New England Revolution on Sunday.

 

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America waits as Klinsmann prepares to name his World Cup squad

By Jamie Ives

Jurgen Klinsmann is set to announce his preliminary 30-man squad for this summer’s World Cup on Monday and we will take a look at who we think will make this and the eventual 23-man squad that will fly out to Brazil next month.

There are obvious inclusions who we should assume are already on the plane, with Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey likely to have already packed a suitcase.

Though the less obvious, “wildcard” selections will prove to be a major talking point and there are several players that fall into this category.

Goalkeepers:

Predicted: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).

Outsiders: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire).

Expect Klinsmann to pick his experienced goalkeepers, especially with such dangerous opposition in the group. Howard is first choice and it would be surprising if Guzan or Rimando were to see a minute of action in Brazil. Howard has kept 14 clean sheets this year for Everton and has been consistent in the Premier League for over seven years now. These ‘keepers pick themselves.

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(Tim Howard will be kept busy in a very tough group for the US)

Defenders:

Predicted: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).

Outsiders: John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Tim Ream (Bolton).

Besides the usual names of Gonzalez and Besler the defenders will be tricky to whittle down. DaMarcus Beasley is experienced but question marks lie over his fitness. Geoff Cameron has to go for me as he can also play in midfield. Don’t be surprised if Brad Evans sneaks onto the plane as he’s been in fine form for Seattle this season.

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(Geoff Cameron’s versatility will be vital in the hot Brazilian climate)

Midfielders:

Predicted: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Fabian Johnson (1899 Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).

Outsiders: Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mikkel Diskerud (Rosenborg), Daniel Williams (Reading).

Expect Donovan and Bradley to play almost every minute as they will be needed if the USMNT are to have any chance of getting out of the group. Klinsmann will want his stars on the field at all times. The likes of Zusi and Johnson will become important if they manage to make it out of the group.

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(Landon Donovan will need to be at his best to inspire the side going forward)

Forwards:

Predicted: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United).

Outsiders: Aron Johannsson, (AZ), Juan Agudelo (Utrecht), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).

The nation’s hopes hang on the form of Clint Dempsey, he has been on fire for the Sounders this season, but the World Cup is the biggest stage on the planet. He will need to find a way of troubling the likes of Mertesacker and Pepe to enjoy any success. Eddie Johnson has struggled so far this campaign, but his physical presence should see him make the squad. Chris Wondolowski, or ‘Wondo’ will be hoping to make the squad but San Jose’s poor form could affect his chances.

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(Will Dempsey be able to take his remarkable MLS form into the World Cup?)

 

Who do you think will make the squad?

Del Piero set for move to Major League Soccer

By Louis East

Alessandro Del Piero is set to continue his playing career by moving to Major League Soccer, with LA Galaxy or DC United his likely destination.

The Italian striker is a free-agent after he left Australian club Sydney FC last week and is thought to favour a move to MLS before he ends his career.

According to reports in Italy, LA Galaxy are keen to secure the services of the former Juventus captain, and he has emerged as their number one transfer target.

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(The Juventus legend looks set to be the next big name joining MLS)

Del Piero is currently in Los Angeles on holiday with his family, and is not interested in retiring or coaching yet.

DC United will rival LA Galaxy for his signature, with owner Erick Thohir keen to bring Del Piero to the Washington-based club.

The Indonesian businessman became the majority shareholder with Serie A side Inter Milan just six months ago, and he has reportedly made a move for the former Serie A star.

A move to DC would appear to be more realistic, as Del Piero would likely need to be a designated player.

DC currently over have one designated player in Eddie Johnson, and could have a dangerous attack if Del Piero were to join.

The Galaxy have all three designated player spots filled by Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez, and would either have to free up a spot on their designated player list, or keep Del Piero’s earnings within the salary cap.

Major League Soccer looks set to welcome another global star in Alessandro Del Piero and the 39-year-old will help the league continue to grow wherever he ends up.

Dynamo defiant in victory

By Jamie Ives

Houston Dynamo kept on course for the playoffs with a solid defensive display on Wednesday night as they recorded a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Their defiance was typified by goalkeeper Tally Hall, who was the man of the match as he kept his fourth clean sheet of the season with another stellar performance.

Houston struggled early on to gain a foothold and were somewhat overcome by the Crew’s dominance.

But the 6’4’ goalkeeper stood strong and produced save after save, keeping the Dynamo in the game.

Columbus went in at the break much the better side, controlling possession and creating numerous chances, and will feel disappointed that they couldn’t get the goal they desperately searched for.

The second half began very differently with the Dynamo coming out firing, and they were soon rewarded.

They broke the deadlock on the fifty-minute mark when Bradley Davis’s free kick was met by Dynamo striker Will Bruin, for his sixth goal of the season.

Columbus Crew will feel hard done by not to score but their strike force are struggling, with just three goals in their last six and they were no match for the in-form Hall.

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(Tally Hall put in an inspired performance to help Houston to victory against Columbus on Wednesday)

The game seemed to lack energy for much of the second half, until a breakaway in the eighty-third-minute resulted in Justin Meram hitting the post for Columbus.

With the clock winding down and the Dynamo looking comfortable, the ball fell to Englishman Andrew Driver, who had a great chance to add another goal, but he could only find the hands Steve Clark in the Columbus goal.

Two wins on the bounce for Houston, who now sit third in the Eastern Conference but the performance of Hall stood out last night and calls will surely be made for a possible world cup place.

Though it would appear a longshot, with Premier League duo, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan both likely to feature before Hall.

Jurgen Klinsmann will name his 30-man USA squad for the World Cup on Monday.

Toronto FC take the advantage against a spirited Vancouver side

By Louis East

Toronto FC relied on the quality of their designated players to secure a first-leg win against a young Vancouver Whitecaps side in the Amway Canadian Championship semi-final.

Goals from Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley helped Toronto to a 2-1 victory against a young, and spirited Whitecaps side, with manager Carl Robinson fielding a team with an average age of just 21.6 at BMO Field on Wednesday night.

With no game this weekend, Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen fielded a strong side in the first-leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final as he looked to build a convincing lead in the tie.

But that was not the case, as Vancouver battled throughout and have a real chance of progressing to the final in next week’s second-leg.

Toronto looked dangerous in the first-half as Vancouver struggled to contain the attacking threats of Defoe and Issey Nakajima-Farran, who were giving the young Whitecaps defence plenty to deal with.

They opened the scoring in the 27th minute, as Gilberto sent Defoe through on goal with the Englishman making no mistake with his finish, sliding under the young Marco Carducci in the Vancouver goal.

At just 17, Carducci is the second-youngest goalkeeper to have played for Vancouver in their 40-year history but he couldn’t prevent Defoe from scoring his fourth goal for Toronto in just five appearances.

Gilberto will be boosted by the assist, but the Brazilian is still looking for his first goal since joining Toronto and needs to start taking his chances.

The Whitecaps improved in the second-half and grew increasingly confident as the game went on, but Joe Bendik was in fine form in the Toronto goal, stopping shots from Omar Salgado and the impressive Russell Teibert.

Toronto eventually got the second goal they had been looking for in the 89th minute, as Michael Bradley ran from his own box to slot the ball past Carducci, after playing a neat one-two with Jermain Defoe.

The tie looked to be edging away from Vancouver, who had worked so hard, but substitute Kekuta Manneh made sure the Whitecaps are still in the tie.

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(All to play for in next Wednesday’s second-leg match at BC Place)

The exciting 19-year-old volleyed in from inside the box in stoppage time, to make it 2-1 on the night, giving Vancouver real hope of making the final in next Wednesday’s second-leg at BC Place.

The winner will play in a two-legged final for the Voyageurs Cup against FC Edmonton or Montreal Impact.

FC Edmonton came from behind and scored a late winner to stun holders, Montreal, in the first-leg last night, winning 2-1 but Montreal will be confident of progressing when they host Edmonton in the second-leg next week.

Toronto rue missed chances as New England continue unbeaten run

New England Revolution visited Toronto FC on Saturday and were happy to leave with the three points, but this game could have gone either way.

New England eventually won 2-1, with goals from Patrick Mullins and Lee Nguyen extending the Revs unbeaten run to four.

Toronto’s Jackson Goncalves opened the scoring, with a deflected shot in the sixth minute, and it seemed like Toronto were going to stroll to victory.

However, key chances fell to designated player Gilberto and he failed time and time again to convert, rarely hitting the target, whilst struggling to make decent connection with the ball.

Cue Mullins, who was ever-present in the New England offense, and his goal, lived up to the recent hype; a well-struck effort which left Julio Cesar rooted to the centre of his goal.

Controversy struck in the eighty-second minute as a Mullins shot cannoned off the arm of Doneil Henry and the referee had no choice but to give a penalty.

Up stepped Nguyen who converted with ease, to give New England the lead.

Toronto manager Ryan Nelson brought on a third striker, Dwayne De Rosario, with three minutes left on the clock but was unable to prevent the loss.

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The former Tottenham striker, Jermain Defoe, returned from injury to start for Toronto, and looked promising in the first half, but fell off the pace as the game went on.

In a game where Gilberto and Mullins could both have left with hat tricks, fans were left mystified as to how they only saw three goals.

Toronto will be ruing errors in front of goal and will feel unfortunate they fell to the out of sorts Gilberto, and not star-signing Defoe.

Fans from both sides had some positives to take from the game, as two youngsters looked very promising.

New England’s Mullins looked very comfortable in front of goal and looks set for a good season.

Toronto’s homegrown talent, Jonathan Osorio, also looks like he could trouble a lot of defences this season. His direct and all-out style could prove to be the catalyst to get Defoe firing.

The match was evenly balanced but Toronto fans will feel disappointed that with 60% of the possession they failed to secure at least a point.

Questions will also be asked of Gilberto who once again failed to impress.