MLS weekend previews: New York City FC on the verge of history
NYC FC can make history on Star Wars night in the Bronx
In 2002, the New York Yankees outbid the Boston Red Sox for star Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras, forcing Red Sox president Larry Lucchino (who retired last year) to vent his frustration. “The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America,” he told the New York Times, and from that precise moment the Yankees had a new nickname. How can you wash a canada goose jacket in the washer fitting then, that 14 years later the evil empire could see their soccer club clinch their first ever playoff spot on Star Wars night in the Bronx tonight.
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Patrick Vieira’s men face last-placed Chicago Fire and a victory, though satisfactory, is not enough in order to secure a place in the postseason. NYC FC will clinch a berth with a win and either a New England tie or loss against Columbus or an Orlando City draw with DC United. The last choice, for obvious reasons, would be a Red Bulls victory over Montreal Impact, as I’m sure the last thing NYC FC want to hear is a playoff spot was awarded partly in thanks to their bitter rivals.
“We put ourselves in a good position so far this year. We’ve got four games left and we need to treat each game separately, on its own, as a final,” said midfielder Tommy McNamara. “We need to finish out the year strong and make sure that we do get into the playoffs in the highest position as possible. We need to be ready, we need to be prepared, we need to be willing to fight for all the points that are available.”
They’ll have to do it without Frank Lampard, who is out for three to four weeks with another calf injury. There’s plenty to work with, however, and Vieira has hinted at the fact that Stiven Mendoza, McNamara or Jack Harrison could fill Lampard’s central role. ““I feel comfortable anywhere in any attacking position,” said McNamara earlier this week. “If [Vieira] and the coaching staff decide it’s best for me to play in that spot, then I’m prepared and willing to do so and would be excited about it. But we have a couple of different options, and it’s up to him and the coaching staff to do what they feel is best for the team.”
As for Chicago? Mathematically speaking, they are still in the running as they are only six points away from sixth place (with two games in hand), but given the fact that they only have one away win all season – 3-0 against Montreal last month – and their next three matches are on the road, I’m not too optimistic for the Fire faithful. LME
Orlando City vs DC United could be the match of the season
When it comes to sports, the importance of success partly relies with momentum and the ability to heat up at the right moment. Take for instance, last year’s champions, the Portland Timbers. It was this week, two days ago, when they lost 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls and were clinging to the last playoff spot on a single point in the west by the skin of their teeth. Suddenly, they woke up and Caleb Porter’s men went on to win four from the last five matches – including a 5-2 demolition of LA Galaxy – propelling them to third place in the table. The rest, as they say, is history and the Timbers rewarded Portland their first sports championship since the Trail Blazers won the 1977 NBA championship.
DC United and Orlando City – teams with an identical record (7-13-9) and only separated by goal difference – are using this storyline for inspiration. Currently sitting in seventh and eighth spot, these eastern conference rivals cannot afford to lose any points, so this match will probably have the feel of a playoff match. This is actually the first time they are meeting this season so the fact that we are not really sure what to expect adds another level of tension as they look to catch up to New England, who currently occupies sixth place.
“One positive result and confidence will give us momentum,” said Orlando’s Servando Carrasco. “You look at our game against [Sporting] KC last year, when we won 3-1, and then it was 1-0 at Chicago, which was massive, and then we went to New York [Red Bulls] and had possibly our best game [winning 5-2], so it’s just a matter of getting that confidence.”
Carrasco believes that this confidence is the last piece of the puzzle that will help his team climb up the table. “Once you get it, you have to try to sustain it. One thing I have noticed in the past six seasons is that it’s not necessarily the best team [that wins MLS Cup] but the team that peaks at the ideal time.”
DC United agrees, wholeheartedly – they’re just hoping that it goes in their favor. LME
Sporting and San Jose look canada goose coat 1000 bulbs free to oust the other from postseason play
It’s going to go to the wire, isn’t it? The top four in the West look well set for the postseason, but five teams – Portland, Sporting, Seattle, Vancouver and San Jose –are still in the hunt for the final two spots, and three will have to go home early. Only Houston look likely to miss out – but even that’s not mathematically certain.
So how will things shake down? San Jose v Sporting on Saturday, the first of two huge clashes between the pair, could go some way to determining who makes it, and who goes on vacation early. Sporting could have made their life much easier last week had they held on to the lead against LA, but of course, Landon Donovan had to spoil everything by getting a (re)debut goal and allowing his team to escape with a point they barely deserved.
Peter Vermes’ post-match comments betrayed a coach who knew his side had let one slip: “It’s disappointing, for sure. Especially with the way we controlled the game. We owned it. We go up 2-1 and it hurts to give up those points when there was not that much time left. You have to be able to close the game out at home. To climb back like we did is great, but to allow them to come back was sad.”
Two wins and a draw from their final four games might be enough for Sporting to hold off Seattle and San Jose, but it’s imperative for them not to lose at Avaya Stadium on Saturday. Much rests on Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber, as always, but Jake Peterson has found some form, and has six goals on the season.
The Quakes haven’t lost at home to Sporting since 2000, and they’ve enjoyed the best of recent meetings, but they’ve picked a bad time to get in a funk: they’re 0-3-3 since beating Vancouver on 12 August, and, despite their games in hand, the gap looks like it might be too much to breach.
“We’re still in it,” said Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear after his side’s useful 0-0 draw with Colorado last week. “If we would’ve walked away with nothing, it’s a bit damning. When we look at the standings, we have some games in hand on some people, but games in hand are only good if you win those games.” He’s right. They have to start winning, and quickly. TH
Seattle travel to LA – and defeat might send them packing
And what about Seattle? The team with the big ground and big reputation had a lousy 2016, and Sigi Schmid paid for his side’s underachievement with his job. Brian Schmetzer has overseen an improvement since taking over at the end of July, but the Sounders still find themselves on the wrong side of the red line. It would represent a big blow for the club, and the league, if Seattle couldn’t make the playoffs.
Here’s the deal: with six games to go, Seattle have 35 points, five points back of Sporting and six behind Portland, who occupy the remaining two spots in the playoffs. Four wins from those six might be enough to catch Sporting and sneak into buy canada goose jacket uk sixth, but two of those games are away at LA and Dallas, whose home form is excellent. Defeat at the StubHub Center on Sunday could spell the end, especially if Sporting win at San Jose on Saturday night.
So they’ll have to do what no other team has done this season, and win a match in Carson. Galaxy are unbeaten in 15 games, and Schmetzer knows his team will be tested. “LA is a good team and buy canada goose jacket usa I respect [Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena],” he said. “How do we play defense? Is Keane going to play? Is Dos Santos going to play? How does Bruce set up his team? We’ll work on that during the week.”
He also emphasised the need to be clinical. “We’re going to create 10-20 chances every game, when your chance comes you need to be able to put that in the back of the net. It might be one chance a game.”
Steven Gerrard has missed the previous five games with a hamstring injury, and Arena was coy on whether he’ll be included. “We will see. The game is on Sunday,” Arena said in the week. “We have to take it one day at a time, we can’t rush ourselves.”
Giovani dos Santos, Galaxy’s leading goalscorer, missed the 2-2 draw against Sporting with a sore hip, but he should be back for Sunday’s big game, televised live on ESPN. LA are seeking a top-two spot that will give them a first-round bye in the playoffs. Seattle have it all to do. TH
The new MLS logos are out and Minnesota United wins
The league recently released the official badge logos for every team that will take part in 2017, and there’s no doubt – despite what Fox Sports may think – Minnesota United wins it.
The crest’s main focus is the common loon, the official state bird of Minnesota, of which there are approximately 12,000 who call this state their summer home. Consequently, the team’s nickname is also known as the loons by their fans. Since Minnesota state’s nickname is the North Star State, the badge also features “L’Étoile du Nord,” which is the state motto. The blue stripe represents the Mississippi river and the gray background is an ode to the state’s Iron Range.
Minnesota will join MLS next season after six years in the North American Soccer League (NASL) and they’ll be joined by Atlanta United, brand new to the American soccer market.
These new badges rival some of the most popular ones in the league such as Montreal Impact (who altered its design in 2011) and the New York Red Bulls, who also rebranded the logo by revamping the two bulls on the crest. Both teams face each other this weekend as the playoff race heats up. All New York need to do to make it to the postseason is win, and history is in their favor: the red side of New York have won every game against Montreal at Red Bull Arena. It’s a little trickier for the Canadians, who sit just two points above the red line. A loss, coupled with a victory from DC United (and anyone below them, really) and the comfort zone would fade away. Should be a great match. LME