A bright future awaits the Dangerous Dom Dwyer

Dom Dwyer is currently the top scorer in Major League Soccer this season, but how much do we really know about the Sporting Kansas City striker?

At 23 years-old he has plenty of years left in front of him, and the English-born forward is showing all the signs of a great finisher.

Growing up in England, Dwyer was a member of Norwich City’s academy until 2006, until he decided to make the move across the pond to pursue his career in MLS.

With his finishing qualities and blistering pace, Dwyer is a very appealing target and don’t rule out a move to the Premier League as he could easily play in England.

With ten goals in twelve appearances this season, Dwyer is leading the line for Sporting Kansas City to great effect.

With SKC using a 4-3-3 formation, Dwyer is normally supported by Graham Zusi from the left along with Sal Zizzo or Jacob Peterson and he thrives as the central striker.

However, with Zusi’s absence with the USMNT in preparation for the World Cup, there is a huge weight of expectation on young Dwyer’s shoulders, and he seems to be coping pretty well.

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(Photo: Dom Dwyer went to the top of the MLS scoring charts with another brace on friday night)

Kansas City played a strong Toronto side on Friday night and Dwyer popped up with another brace, his third of the season.

Recent form dictates that Dwyer won’t stop anytime soon, as he now has six goals in his last four games.

Dwyer has always had a love affair with the score sheet, while on-loan at Orlando City last season he notched up fifteen goals in thirteen appearances.

Many will say he is the best striker in the league right now and the stats prove this hard to argue against, a fantastic statement in a league that can boast the talents of Jermaine Defoe, Robbie Keane and Clint Dempsey.

One thing for sure is SKC will get goals with Dwyer up top, and we can expect them to be in the playoffs defending their title at the end of the regular season.

Time will tell if he can sustain this form but at the rate he’s scoring, an international call is surely not out of reach in the future?

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Englishmen steal the show in Sporting Kansas City’s Draw with Toronto FC

Sporting Kansas City drew 2-2 with Toronto FC after a late goal ensured that the 10-man visitors would leave with at least a point. All the goals were scored by English players, here are our key takeaways from the game:

1. English presence in MLS takes over.

All four goals were scored by Englishmen, with the red card also being awarded to a British man in the form of Scottish defender Steven Caldwell. The Toronto captain was issued a straight-red after a dangerous tackle, in which he left his studs in on the thigh of Toni Dovale.

Dom Dwyer scored twice for Sporting, taking his tally for the season to ten, making him the top-scorer in MLS and the striker is in sensational form. Luke Moore scored in his second consecutive appearance from the bench for the Reds, with on-loan Blackburn man Bradley Orr netting a late equaliser to ensure that both teams went home with a point.

2. Defoe doesn’t have to score for Toronto to get something.

It’s surprising to see four goals from Englishmen without Jermain Defoe netting one, but he still proved dangerous on the break for Toronto all night. The former-Spurs man did still manage to get an assist, after he prodded the ball through to Luke Moore, who swept the ball in to the bottom corner. Defoe will want to be back on the scoresheet when the Reds host Columbus Crew next week.

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(Photo: Defoe will be disappointed not to have got on the scoresheet but he is still crucial for the Reds)

3. Kansas City have run out of centre-backs.

Sporting were down to their ninth and tenth choice centre-backs for the game, as the entire back four consisted of full-backs. Kevin Ellis and Chance Myers started in the heart of the defence, but their lack of aerial dominance showed as Bradley Orr powered in a free header in the dying minutes. Kansas City are struggling in the position with players suspended, injured or out on International duty.

4. Luke Moore is pushing Gilberto out the door.

Moore scored from the bench for the second game in a row, coming on for designated player Gilberto once again to make an impact. Gilberto is still yet to score for Toronto and is lacking confidence now. With Moore coming in and making an instant impact, Ryan Nelsen will surely drop the Brazilian forward for next week’s game against the Crew.

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(Photo: Luke Moore deserves to start after two goals in two MLS games for Toronto FC)

 

5. Dom Dwyer is keeping Kansas alive.

The in-form striker is now leading the MLS with ten goals, after his brace last night and he is looking better and better with each game. The same can’t be said about his team, who are without a win in three now, but Dwyer is keeping them ticking during this bad run. His first goal last night was an excellent first time strike from the edge of the box after Sal Zizzo teed him up, with his second coming from the penalty spot, after Doneil Henry had fouled Juliao in the box. Dwyer became just the third player in the club’s history to score in four straight games with his goals last night, a sign of just how well he is playing, and will want to keep it going when Sporting host New York Red Bulls next.

 

The result leaves Sporting in second place in the Eastern Conference, but their chances of finishing top of the pile took a blow with that late strike. They could be five points behind New England Revolution by the end of the weekend. Toronto are just five points behind Sporting and sit in sixth place, but they have played three games less and are in a good position.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Kansas City look to return to winning ways against Toronto tonight

Toronto FC travel to Sporting Park to take on a Sporting Kansas City side who have lost their last two MLS games in what should be an exciting contest.

Toronto ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win against the New York Red Bulls last Saturday and will want to build on that with another strong showing.

Jermain Defoe grabbed his fourth goal for the Reds in the victory and he will be crucial once more as Toronto will look to climb up the Eastern Conference from seventh spot.

Kansas City have lost their last two games 2-1 to Philadelphia and Chicago, but will hope their recent form against Toronto will continue.

They have won five of their last six against the Reds and have not lost to Toronto in Kansas City since 2009.

Dom Dwyer will be vital again, as he is now on eight goals for the season, and is proving to be a constant threat for SKC.

It will be interesting to watch Dwyer and Defoe at either end, two English goalscorers carrying their teams at the moment.

Jermain Defoe will start up front, but it will also be interesting to see who Ryan Nelsen partners him with, as Luke Moore came off the bench to score on his MLS debut for the Reds last week, and Gilberto is still yet to score.

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(Photo: Defoe will want to continue his impressive goalscoring record since joining Toronto)

A Toronto win would move them two points behind third-placed Sporting, with three games in hand and would be a major blow to Kansas City who need to get the wheels turning once more.

Expect goals in this one, as both sides will look to attack, though Kansas City will dominate possession throughout with Toronto looking to counter as they did last week against the Red Bulls.

Key player: Jermain Defoe – The former-Spurs striker is lethal in front of goal, and will look to punish a Sporting side that’s missing their defensive leader in Matt Besler.

Key stat: Kansas City have won their last five home matches against Toronto FC in all competitions.

Prediction: 2-2 – Should be an entertaining contest but both sides are missing key players, with the likes of Graham Zusi and Michael Bradley both with the USMNT, and a draw looks to be on the cards as neither will want to lose this one.

 

MLS: 5 key takeaways from week 11

It was another dramatic weekend of Major League Soccer action, and despite key players from several teams absent at World Cup training camps, the quality of the league still shone through. There were 28 goals in the nine matches this weekend, here are our key takeaways from the action:

 

1. World Cup snubs inspire strikers.

Jermain Defoe, Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins all scored this weekend, the perfect response to their World Cup snubs with their National teams. They would have all be extremely disappointed not to have made their 23-man squads for Brazil, but reacted in the best way possible by netting goals immediately. All three of them will need to continue to score the goals and boost their clubs chances, while showing their National managers exactly what they’re missing out on.

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2. New England are unstoppable in attack.

The Revs scored five goals for the second consecutive week, as they beat the Philadelphia Union 5-3 to record their first ever win at PPL Park. Their attacking force is playing some excellent stuff, and they counter-attack teams perfectly now. Patrick Mullins got his third in as many weeks, and he is spearheading the devastating offence, with Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez constant threats behind. Check out our full review here.

 

3. Argentinian’s and Portland is a good match.

Four Argentinian players starred in the dramatic 3-3 draw between the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew in Portland on Saturday night, with three of them getting on the scoresheet. Federico Higuain was the standout performer as he scored twice and got one assist for Columbus, including a sensational lobbed effort that looped into the back of the net.

Portland saw Maximiliano Urruti open the scoring, with Gaston Fernandez netting a late goal to secure the draw. Diego Valeri was also instrumental throughout for the Timbers, and his cross ended up finding Fernandez late on as Argentine’s stole the show.

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4. LA Galaxy are not looking good.

The Galaxy are not in the best shape at the moment, as they sit second bottom of the Western Conference and have not won in four games now. Their 1-0 loss in Houston was their third loss in eight games, and they have only won twice this season. They are typically better in the second half of the season and will be relying on that if they are to make the playoffs as expected. Landon Donovan is now absent with the USMNT and the Galaxy have only scored one in their past three. Things can only improve, stating with their home game against FC Dallas this Wednesday.

 

5. Real Salt Lake can’t lose.

Salt Lake are still the only remaining unbeaten side in Major League Soccer this season following their 2-1 victory against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup game on Saturday night. They are the best team in MLS right now, and are winning games despite not looking at their best, the key ingredient for potential champions. They have won three on the spin now, and will hope to add to that when they welcome FC Dallas on Sunday.

 

 

5 Takeaways from Toronto FC’s important victory against New York Red Bulls

Toronto FC got a crucial 2-0 win against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night, as the Red Bulls fall to their second consecutive loss. It is the first time Toronto have beaten New York in 11 attempts. Here are our takeaways from a key game in Major League Soccer.

 

1. Jermain Defoe is still as deadly as ever!

The England international showed yet again why he is still a world-class finisher with his goal at BMO field, as he let the ball run across his body before smashing it into the top corner.

The ex-Spurs striker will be pleased with his performance, and many will once again question his exclusion from England’s World Cup squad.

One thing that’s for sure is that Toronto will benefit from England’s loss.

 

2. Gilberto is a waste of a designated player.

The Brazilian currently fills one of the three designated player slots the Reds are allowed, and it is bewildering as to why, as he hasn’t scored a goal this season.

In his seven appearances this season he has only one assist to his name, and with Luke Moore opening his account on his MLS debut for Toronto last night, time is ticking for Gilberto.

More pressing matters for Toronto are the rumoured returns to MLS for Brek Shea and DaMarcus Beasley. Surely, they would want to challenge other franchises for those signatures, with the ambition they have shown over the past six months?

 

3. Toronto has more depth than it seems.

With Michael Bradley absent with the USMNT, the Reds went with on-loan Blackburn right-back, Bradley Orr, in the middle of the park.

What was more surprising than his position on the pitch was that he played a perfect pass to set-up Defoe’s goal, quickly calming any Toronto supporters nerves about how they would cope without Bradley.

And of course they have recently acquired Collen Warner from Montreal Impact, who also plays in the centre of midfield.

Deputising for the flu-ridden Julio Cesar, Joe Bendik started in goal once again, and kept a clean sheet against a strike force, which has produced twelve goals this season.

 

4. Bradley Wright-Phillips is human.

Coming off his second hat trick of the season against Chicago Fire, BWP couldn’t carry his form into last night.

The Red Bulls failed time after time to break down Toronto, and it was an hour before BWP had a decent chance.

And It was a sitter! But the former Charlton forward put it straight over the bar from six-yards.

Just a minor blip in his season? We shall see as the weeks progress.

 

5. New York doesn’t like the road.

The Red Bulls have only won one game away from home this season. Just let that sink in!

A team that boasts talents such as Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Lloyd Sam has won only one game away all season.

On paper they are arguably the best team in the league, but struggle to use their dominance in possession to its full advantage.

Last night marked the second time they have failed to score away from home this campaign, and although they usually seem to have no problem scoring, they are desperate for a solid center-half. Rio Ferdinand anybody?

The philosophy is perfect: dominate possession and use your width in attack to stretch the opposition in order to create holes centrally. However, with Cahill missing through the World Cup, they have lost their playmaker, and catalyst in the final third.

Tough times appear to be ahead for New York if they don’t bring in a decent defender.

MLS in UK given boost with BT Sport showing live coverage tonight

BT Sport will show live coverage of tonight’s game between Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls as Major League Soccer continues to grow on both sides of the Atlantic.

MLS announced a new TV deal just a week ago, which will give a huge boost to MLS coverage in the United States, and now UK coverage is improving too.

BT Sport have been showing 60-minute highlights of MLS games a day or so after the game has finished, but this is not the sort of coverage that will boost its popularity.

Now that European domestic leagues are all but over, BT have turned their attention to MLS and have four live games scheduled over the next month, starting tonight.

Toronto host New York in the first MLS game of the weekend, and UK viewers can watch it all live on BT Sport 2 from 21:30.

Jermain Defoe is a doubt for the game with a slight hamstring problem, but if he plays he will face Thierry Henry for the first time since the two played against each other in the North London Derby, for Tottenham and Arsenal respectively.

You can read our preview on the site, but how do you think the game will go tonight?

 

New York can take advantage of Toronto’s World Cup losses

The New York Red bulls travel to Toronto FC on Saturday night, in the first meeting between the two this season, and will be hoping to take advantage of Toronto’s losses.

Michael Bradley has left the squad to join up with the USMNT World Cup squad in Stanford, while Jermain Defoe is listed as doubtful with a minor hamstring injury.

This will be of great advantage to New York who still have key players available, and the form of strike duo Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips will be key once again in this encounter.

The Red Bulls will be looking to sure up their defence who conceded 5 last time out against the Chicago Fire. But with Toronto losing their last three games in MLS, and with many players missing, it’s difficult to see the Red Bulls failing to win this game.

With the World Cup providing a distraction, the Red Bulls must take advantage while they can. They are however missing midfield general Tim Cahill, who has flown to Australia for World Cup preparations.

As for Toronto, a host of players are doubtful  including Jonathan Osorio and Doneil Henry.

The loss of Henry would be huge, as he would leave a hole in the defence that could be exploited by the Red Bull’s strike force.

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(Photo: Doneil Henry will be needed to cope with the attacking threat of the Red Bulls)

Another question is that of who partners Defoe up front (if he is fit). Do they go with recent recruit, and ex-Aston Villa forward Luke Moore, or do they start designated player Gilberto once more in the hope he will finally get his first goal for the Reds.

The English pairing seems most likely, seeing as both Moore and Defoe have played in the Premier League, and it will be a fascinating battle against the duo of Wright-Phillips and Henry for New York, as they have a collective 12 goals between them already this season.

Whatever happens, expects goals, with both teams having no problems creating chances but they both have a problem with defending.

Key Man: Doneil Henry: If Toronto stand any chance of shutting out the Red Bull’s, Doneil Henry has to play in this game. Toronto will be desperately hoping he will be passed fit.

Prediction: Toronto FC 1 – 3 New York Red Bulls

I expect Wright-Phillips and Henry to both score and for the Red Bull’s to be comfortable throughout, despite playing away from home, as they look to bounce back from last week’s 5-4 defeat.

Key Stat: New York have won the last 6 meetings between the two sides.

Defoe “devastated” at England snub but it’s a boost for Toronto FC

By Louis East

Jermain Defoe says he is “devastated” not to have made England’s 23-man squad for the World Cup, but his absence strengthens Toronto FC’s chances this season.

England manager, Roy Hodgson, named his squad for the World Cup on Monday, but Defoe only made the standby list, and he will not travel to Brazil, barring an injury to a striker in the squad.

The 31-year-old striker played for England at the 2010 World Cup and scored one goal for the Three Lions at the tournament, but he has been overlooked this time by Hodgson.

Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert have been named as the England striker’s, with Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll having to settle for a place on the standby list.

Defoe made the move away from English football earlier this year to join Toronto, and has been in fine form, scoring four goals in five appearances for The Reds, but the move to MLS may be the reason behind his absence.

“You can’t expect anything but I did feel like I had a good chance of going because I’ve been in most of the squads, if not all the squads, so to miss out, I don’t know, I just feel devastated to be honest,” Defoe said speaking to BBC Radio.

He added that he did not think joining Toronto was a mistake, and wished the England team the best of luck for the tournament.

Toronto will keep hold of Defoe, unless he is called up in place of an injured striker, and Ryan Nelsen’s team will be boosted by news.

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(Photo: Jermain Defoe will remain with Toronto, a boost for The Reds)

Speaking ahead of their Amway Canadian Championship second-leg match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday, Nelsen said he was surprised that the former Tottenham striker was overlooked.

“I was a bit surprised and disappointed for Jermain because he arguably deserves it. It’s a shame for him, but he’s on the standby (squad) and you never know.”

Defoe will likely feature for The Reds on Wednesday night, as will Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar, before the duo depart for World Cup camps with the USMNT and Brazil respectively.

Toronto can score the goals, but they need to shore up their defence to achieve success

By Simon Pyne

The second-leg of the Amway Canadian Championship takes place this Wednesday between Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC, and gives the Reds a great opportunity to reach the final and up their current form.

Toronto head into Wednesday’s game with a slender one-goal advantage from the first leg of the tie, after a 2-1 win, and will be looking to improve on their recent performances to give a boost to their loyal supporters.

It will also give new signing Jermain Defoe another chance to show why Toronto made such a bold acquisition.

The Reds fans will be hoping the star duo of Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley continues to shine, to enable their progression to a place in the final.

Defoe has continued playing in the vein he is remembered for in Britain. He is the 14th highest all time goalscorer in the EPL with 124 goals and has also scored 19 goals for the English National side.

He is known for forming successful partnerships with attacking teammates and it appears him and Bradley are already starting to gel.

His current form will keep him in the limelight though, and Reds fans should be hoping Defoe doesn’t get the call from the England Manager, Roy Hodgson, to join the World Cup squad, as Toronto will need his goals in the coming weeks.

Coach Ryan Nelsen of course knew all about Defoe, from his own time as a player at Tottenham Hotspur where he watched the prolific striker hit the back of the net regularly.

Toronto showed their interest in October 2013 and following negotiations, and a couple of phone calls from Canadian rapper Drake, the deal was completed in January this year.

This was a shrewd buy for Toronto and providing JD stays injury free it will pay dividends in the coming seasons.

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(Photo: Jermain Defoe can score goals, but Toronto need to improve defensively)

The new signing of Luke Moore shows further intent of their attacking intentions but scoring one more goal than your opponent is a dangerous tactic and the Reds need to shut up shop in defence and make those goals count.

It’s worth noting that the deal to acquire Luke Moore involved Toronto trading a central defender, in Gale Agbossoumonde to the Colorado Rapids, so the emphasis is clearly on attack.

In their first three games they only let one goal in, but then followed this up by letting five hit the back of the net in their last three games.

The late goal by the Whitecaps at BMO Field in the first leg may yet come back to haunt them in this competition.

Although a place in the final is going to be a confidence boost for The Reds, it is their MLS form they need to turn around.

After a flying start to the season they have now suffered three losses in a row, so the talent within the team must endeavour to turn this form on its head.

They have three to four games in hand over the teams above them and must ensure they make those count, even with the loss of key players to the World Cup.

If they can achieve that turnaround there should be no reason why they can’t then kick on and get into a solid playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Whitecaps may just be the first fly in the ointment however. They are unbeaten in their last four MLS games and will relish the chance of beating Toronto to the final, and gain bragging rights over their rivals.

The winner of the tie will have a chance of silverware and the entry into the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Reds then have league games against NY Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City, two teams who have been scoring for fun and both will attack the Reds defence at every opportunity.

Ryan Nelsen’s side need to be strong and show they are up for the challenge ahead and prove they can achieve success and honours.

One honour they have already acquired is unfortunately the ubiquitous one of having the most expensive tickets in the Eastern Conference.

There is no doubt Toronto have the talent on the pitch, they now just need to prove to their loyal fans they are worth that extra money.

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.