Podcast: MLS opening weekend, NYCFC’s defensive woes & West Ham discussed

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford sits down with Louis East and Jamie Ives to look back at an incredible opening weekend of MLS action as the 2016 campaign got off to a flyer.

The team will discuss whether New York City FC should be deeply worried about their defensive struggles, despite winning on Sunday, and will finish with a look at in-form Premier League side West Ham United, who are chasing a top four spot.

Be sure to comment below, or get in touch on Twitter with your views on the topics discussed.

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Podcast: DC United, Real Salt Lake and Tottenham discussed

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford talks to Louis East and Jamie Ives about DC United and Real Salt Lake’s chances in MLS this year as the new season is just four days away.

The team then move on to look at Tottenham’s Premier League title bid and whether or not they have what it takes to go all the way.

As always, comment below with your thoughts, or get in touch on Twitter.

New York Red Bulls boss heaps praise on Shaun Wright-Phillips

New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch has praised midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips for his attitude towards the game and the way he conducts himself around the club.

“Shaun Wright-Phillips is the kind of guy that I think leads by example for our young guys. It’s about how he carries himself every day, how he trains, the quality he has and the humility,” Marsch told the New York Red Bulls’ YouTube channel.

“He’s really an impressive guy, and to come here and contribute in the ways that he does, he shows every day what being a big time pro is about. He’s a guy that I think everyone looks up to.”

Wright Phillips joined his brother Bradley at the Red Bulls in July 2015 and has so far made 12 appearances, contributing one goal and an assist.

WATCH: Preseason – checking in with Shaun Wright-Phillips

Jesse Marsch plans on giving the Englishman a run-out in New York Red Bulls’ final preseason game on Saturday, February 27 away at Jacksonville Armada FC.

“He’s looked sharper and sharper, fitter and fitter every day, so the goal is to get him ready by the opening weekend and I’m hopeful that Saturday, he’s still feeling well and that we can maybe look to give him 10-15 minutes.”

Shaun Wright-Phillips says he’s looking forward to the game and hopes he can come through unscathed, so he’s “ready for the start of the season”.

“First and foremost, I just want to get through the game with no injuries, or nothing reoccurring and get as many touches on the ball as I can, and create a few chances for myself and my teammates,” he said on the Red Bulls’ YouTube channel.

Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips – Photo by Jason Schott via nysportsday.com

Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips – Photo by Jason Schott via nysportsday.com

The 34 year old is also relishing the competition in the squad and is ready to stake his claim for a regular spot in the side once the MLS season starts next weekend.

“We’re all in this together and we’re all going to fight for a place, and we have to understand there’s four wingers in there and at times there will be rotation,” said Wright-Phillips.

“But at the same time we have to support the player that’s challenging against us and hope he does just as well as I would, and it’s only going to benefit us in the long run.”

The New York Red Bulls begin their MLS campaign at home to Toronto on Sunday, March 6.

How important will Shaun Wright-Phillips be for the New York Red Bulls this season?

2016 MLS Season Preview: Real Salt Lake

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the Real Salt Lake could achieve this season.

Real Salt Lake head into the new season with plenty of room for improvement after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Western Conference last campaign. Head coach Jeff Cassar has added some new faces to his side in an attempt to freshen things up but this is going to be a tough season ahead and they are going to have to work extremely hard to improve. The fans will not want another season of struggles, so with sides around them becoming stronger, they must remain competitive in what is a fiercely competitive conference. The aim will be to make the playoffs, after missing out for the first time in eight years in 2015.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 9th – P34 – W11 – D8 – L15

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Real Salt Lake must tighten up at the back. They conceded 48 goals last season, while netting just 38. They need to ensure they pick up points from sides around them in the Western Conference as clashes with fellow promotion chasers are fiercely competitive. Cassar’s side need to score more goals as their tally of 38 was the second-lowest across both conferences. Signings have been brought in to try and add to the goal tally, while the return of Joao Plata will hep. They lost 15 games last term – the most in one campaign since 2007 – and ensuring they don’t repeat that mistake will put them in a better position.

Key Changes:

InsChris Wingert – Defender, Danilo Acosta – Midfielder, Omar Holness – Midfielder, Sunny Obayen – Midfielder, Emery Welshman – Forward & Yura Movsisyan – Forward

Outs: Elias Vasquez – Defender, Chris Schular – Defender, Abdoulie Mansally – Defender, Pecka – Midfielder, Luis Silva – Midfielder, Sebastian Saucedo – Midfielder & Sebastian Jaime – Forward

Key Player: 

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Nick Rimando – Goalkeeper – As mentioned, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper saw his side’s goal breached 48 times last season, so he can expect yet another busy campaign between the sticks. He is a top performer for his side, despite the fact that RSL struggled in the 2015 season. The veteran will turn 37 in the 2016 campaign but as we know, age is less relevant with goalkeepers and his experience could be key as RSL look to pick up more points and cause a few upsets.

One to Watch:

Yura Movsisyan – Forward – The Armenian forward returns to Real Salt Lake for a second spell – his previous stint coming between 2007-2009 where he helped RSL to lift the 2009 MLS Cup, scoring once in the playoffs. The 28-year-old striker joins RSL on loan from Russian side Spartak Moscow and is a player that the Claret and Cobalt fans will be looking forward to watching again. His MLS record stands at 20 goals in 81 outings for Real Salt Lake and Kansas City, so he has already shown he is capable in front of goal. The league has changed since he was last involved and he will need to adapt quickly. There is pressure on him to help RSL improve on last season and if he gets off to a good start he could have quite an impact.

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Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 9th – It may be a downer for Real Salt Lake fans but their current squad doesn’t seem to be one which can improve on last season. They have lost more players than they have signed and squad depth is important – so they could struggle from the off. RSL lost four of their last five of the 2015 campaign and face a tough start to 2016, with three of their first five games away from home. They must ensure they pick up points wherever possible early on to avoid confidence being shattered. There are reasons for optimism, with Joao Plata’s return from injury and the signing of Movsisyan likely to help the team improve but it is difficult at this point to see them climbing the conference.

What are you expecting from Real Salt Lake in 2016?