Preview & Prediction: Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact

Toronto take on Montreal Impact at BMO Field in the penultimate game of the 2014 season in an Eastern Conference clash on Saturday night.

Both sides are most likely to be fairly low on morale coming in to this game for slightly different reasons.

Toronto will probably still be feeling the effects of a 3-1 defeat against New York Red Bulls which has all but ended their hopes of finishing in a playoff place.

There is still faint hope for the Canadians, but they are relying on a minor miracle as they need to win both of their last two games and hope that Columbus Crew lose both of their last two.

It’s not out of the question as anything can happen in football, so they will still need to stick to their side of the deal here.

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Inconsistency has been a problem for Toronto and they are on a run of 3 consecutive defeats, so they need to turn the tide to get a result against their Canadian rivals.

Toronto’s home form: Played 16 – Won 7 – Drawn 2 – Lost 7

Montreal have had a season to forget as they’ve found themselves rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the entire campaign.

Moments to remember have been few and far between for them with just 6 wins all season, although they did pick up an impressive 2-2 draw with New England last weekend and are in one of their best spells of the season.

They haven’t won a single game away from home this season and this is their last chance to do so.

Putting it simply, the odds are heavily stacked against them getting a victory, but they’ve got nothing to lose and will look to pile misery on the Reds.

Montreal Impact’s away form: Played 16 – Won 0 – Drawn 4 – Lost 12

Key Player: Jermain Defoe – he’s Toronto’s top goalscorer but hasn’t scored since returning to action on 5th October against LA Galaxy so you would think he is due a goal, especially in what could be his final home game for the club.

If he has a good game, there is little Montreal will be able to do to stop him.

Key Stat: Montreal have scored just 13 goals away from home this MLS season – only Houston have scored fewer (11 goals).

Toronto’s last five: W/W/L/L/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: L/W/L/D/D

Prediction: Toronto 2 – 0 Montreal Impact

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Preview: FC Dallas vs. L.A Galaxy

Toyota Stadium will play host to LA Galaxy on Sunday night as FC Dallas will look to end the Galaxy’s 10-game unbeaten run.

They will be glad to hear that the Galaxy will be without three of their stars as Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan have all been away on international duty this weekend.

Though Dallas will be without Blas Perez, who is away with Panama, Je-Vaughn Watson, who is with the Jamaican team and Raul Fernandez, who is with Peru.

Both teams come into this clash in a rich vein of form, with Dallas having won their last seven at home. They have also scored at least twice in those seven games.

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However, they have lost their last four away games and will be hoping that home advantage can help them to avoid their third loss to the Galaxy this season, as both previous matches have ended 2-1.

In contrast, the Galaxy have won eight of their last ten both home and away. The only thing that’s almost certain of this tie is goals, as both side’s are still in with a shout for the MLS Cup.

LA have the chance to get one hand on the Supporters Shield following Seattle’s loss to Vancouver, while Dallas will be able to rest easy knowing that a playoff place is all but secured if they can seal all three points in what should be an entertaining encounter.

Key Player: Gyasi Zardes: The flyer has netted 16 times in MLS this season and he will need to deliver on Monday night as the Galaxy will be without their usual stars.

Key stat: LA Galaxy has scored in each of their last 23 games in Major League Soccer. Impressive stuff.

Prediction: FC Dallas 1- 2 L.A Galaxy – The Galaxy to get their third 2-1 win against Dallas this season at Toyota Stadium.

Donovan says goodbye as USMNT share spoils with Ecuador

Friday marked the last time that Landon Donovan will wear the USMNT jersey, and he did not disappoint as he waved farewell to the US Soccer supporters in Connecticut.

Donovan only played the first 41 minutes but he was involved throughout his short spell on the pitch. He has always been a huge attacking threat and last night was no different.

And after 158 caps and 57 goals, few can say he didn’t deserve this great send off, after what has been a glittering career for club and country that could see him win the MLS Cup with LA Galaxy for the fourth time next month.

“It was beyond my wildest dreams for sure,” Donovan said. “As a human being, to feel that kind of love and support is incredible. I’ve put a lot into this game over many years and tonight feels like it was all worth it. I’m very grateful.”

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However, the USMNT will need to now look forward, and with an array of young talent on show last night they looked expansive and aggressive.

A special mention goes out to DeAndre Yedlin, whose pace is always a great asset to any attack, and he looked dangerous on the right side of midfield. Jozy Altidore was also good, and he looked like a man keen to impress having been frozen out by Sunderland in the English Premier League in recent times.

It was very much a weakened USMNT side, missing world cup stars such as Matt Besler, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard to name just a few. We think this only shows the depth Jurgen Klinsmann has in the squad.

A draw doesn’t feel like a fair result, as Enner Valencia’s late strike ensured that Donovan wouldn’t have a win to celebrate in his final game, but having said that, the USA never really looked clinical and are missing a true goal scorer.

We are now in the next World Cup cycle and replacing Donovan must be the priority, despite the fact that he missed the last tournament. He has been a great servant to the American game, and has had a great club career to match his international achievements.

His focus will now be on LA Galaxy’s game against FC Dallas on Sunday night, as they have the chance to go in pole position for the Supporters Shield after Seattle dropped three points against Vancouver.

A closer look at MLS – the fastest growing league in the world

As the season is now in full flow, a closer look at statistics only compounds the consensus that Major League Soccer is not only becoming more popular, but it’s also highly entertaining.

Judging popularity is often based on opinions from person to person, but what do we actually learn from the facts?

The inaugural MLS season in 1996 saw a fairly high average attendance of 17,406.

Following that, attendances dropped to around the 15,000 mark for the next ten years or so.

But now it is back up to well above 18,000, demonstrating the continuous rise of the league.

Although it’s a very slow increase over time, it does show that MLS is becoming more sought after.

As well as the rise in attendances, the league has gone from 10 teams to 19 – a strong reflection of the fact that more areas are keen to be involved.

And two more will join next season, in New York City Football Club and Orlando City.

When all is said and done, soccer is essentially about entertainment for supporters watching the beautiful game.

And if entertainment is what you are after then MLS does not disappoint, as the MLS Cup has already seen a total of 12 clubs competing in the final.

It has given us 9 different winners in just 18 seasons – that’s four more winners than the Premier League has had in 21 seasons.

Considering that the Premier League is widely regarded as the most entertaining league in world football, that isn’t a bad number of different champions.

It means that every team has something to play for and can be confident that they stand a good chance of achieving a successful season, because no one is invincible and as the saying goes, anyone can beat anyone.

The unpredictability of MLS makes it so invigorating for fans, and supporters from all over the world are now switching attentions to watch the league, helped by the arrival of footballing icons each season.

MLS Cup Titles                                                 

  • Los Angeles Galaxy – 4  
  • D. C. United –
  • Houston Dynamo – 2      
  • Sporting Kansas City – 2
  • San Jose Earthquakes – 2            
  • Chicago Fire –
  • Colorado Rapids – 1
  • Real Salt Lake – 1              
  • Columbus Crew – 1
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(Photo: Sporting Kansas City won their second MLS Cup last season)

If it’s goals that gets you going then look no further than MLS, as the comparisons to the Premier League show that you’re just as likely to see a goal fest in the USA as you are in the UK.

The highest average goals per match record in the Premier League stands at 2.81 which came in the 2011/12 season. Compare that to 3.57 goals per match in the 1998 MLS season.

Both leagues give you around 2.6 goals per match each season.

Average goals per match

  • Premier League 2013/2014 – 2.77 goals per match
  • MLS 2014 (so far) – 2.66 goals per match

Although the quality of football in the Premier League may still be far higher than that of the MLS, the entertainment value is certainly no different.

We also can’t forget how the quality of football is quickly on the rise in MLS as each season sees an influx of more extremely talented professionals from around the world.

It’s an exciting prospect for the future of the game and the revolution is only just getting started.