This Week in MLS – April 27, 2010
* MLS Week 5 rewind
* Newcomer watch
* Domestic competition update
* MLS quotables
* Top prospects approach final stage of Sueno MLS
* Previewing Week 6 in MLS
MLS Week 5 rewind
The New York Red Bulls are off to the best start in club history after a win against Philadelphia, yet Coach Hans Backe still wants to improve the team. The Los Angeles Galaxy cooled off and the Kansas City Wizards showed a stout defense in a scoreless draw. In downing San Jose, Chivas USA scored more goals in one game than they had in 18 months, while the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew and Toronto FC all recorded shutout wins against visiting Western foes. The Colorado Rapids nabbed a road victory in New England. For all the highlights of Week 5, click here.
Two of the surprise teams so far this season – the Kansas City Wizards and New York Red Bulls – have benefited early from offseason acquisitions. Each club has four players signed from outside the league who have grabbed starting roles and are making regular contributions.
The Wizards feature Stephane Auvray (Guadeloupe) and Ryan Smith (England) as regulars in the midfield; Smith already has a goal and two assists. Jimmy Nielsen (Denmark) has three shutouts in goal, while Pablo Escobar (Colombia) has taken a starting center back spot.
The Red Bulls attack has been prompted by Joel Lindpere (Estonia), who has a goal and an assist. Roy Miller (Costa Rica) is a stalwart on the back line, while Salou Ibrahim (Ghana) scored his first MLS goal last weekend. Brian Nielsen (Denmark) made a start in midfield just days after joining the club.
Following is a look at newcomers around the league making their mark. These are players not eligible for MLS Rookie of the Year award and eligible for MLS Newcomer of the Year (with the exception of those players who have returned to the league):
Chicago Fire: Krzysztof Krol – four games, three starts; Collins John – five games, three starts, one goal, one assist.
Chivas USA: Dario Delgado – three games, three starts; Michael Umana – five games, five starts.
Colorado Rapids: Danny Earls – four games, four starts; Matt Pickens – five games, five starts, one shutout.
D.C. United: Juan Manuel Pena – two games, two starts; Danny Allsopp – three games, two starts; Christian Castillo – four games, three starts.
Houston Dynamo: Lovel Palmer – four games, two starts, one goal.
Kansas City Wizards: Jimmy Nielsen – four games, four starts, three shutouts; Stephane Auvray – four games, four starts, one assist; Ryan Smith – four games, four starts, one goal, two assists; Pablo Escobar – two games, two starts.
LA Galaxy: Juninho – five games, five starts; Leonardo – three games, three starts.
New England Revolution: Marko Perovic – three games, two starts, one goal; Joseph Niouky – five games, five starts.
New York Red Bulls: Roy Miller – five games, five starts; Joel Lindpere – five games, five starts, one goal, one assist; Salou Ibrahim – three games, two starts, one goal; Brian Nielsen – one game, one start.
Real Salt Lake: Alvaro Saborio – five games, three starts, one goal, one assist.
Philadelphia Union: Danny Califf – three games, three starts; Cristian Arrieta – three games, three starts; Michael Orozco – four games, four starts; Roger Torres – four games, four starts, two assists.
San Jose Earthquakes: Joey Gjertsen – four games, three starts.
Toronto FC: Adrian Cann – three games, three starts; Martin Saric – five games, five starts; Maksim Usanov – three games, three starts; Raivis Hscanovics – three games, three starts.
Domestic competition update
Two more play-in matches in MLS qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup will take place this week: Philadelphia Union take on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET) and D.C. United play host to FC Dallas on Wednesday at RFK Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET).
The winner of the New York-Philadelphia match will take on the New England Revolution on May 12, with the winner of that game facing the Colorado Rapids for one of two berths still available. The winner of the United-FC Dallas game will play Real Salt Lake for the other remaining spot.
Toronto FC begin play in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup on Wednesday, playing host to the Montreal Impact of the USSF Division II Pro League. The winner of the three-team round-robin format (along with D-II Vancouver Whitecaps) earns a place in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“It’s one of those nights.”
— Kansas City Wizards forward Kei Kamara, after slipping on the goal line in front of an empty net and knocking the ball into the goal with his arm.
“They’re walking around as a champion, saying they’re the champion. They were sub-.500 last year. That doesn’t sit well with us. We clearly think we’ve been the class of the league the past two years, and we wanted to prove it.”
— Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer on Real Salt Lake, to the Columbus Dispatch
“Our goal is not to make the playoffs like some of the other clubs. Our goal is to win the Supporters’ Shield.”
— Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha
“I’m not totally pleased yet, because we need to improve in a lot of areas or I’m going to have a nervous breakdown if we keep playing close games like this.”
— New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe
Top prospects approach final stage of Sueno MLS
Some of the top young Hispanic players in the United States are looking to follow in the footsteps of Chivas USA’s Jorge Flores and River Plate’s Gabriel Funes Mori as they attempt to win Sueno MLS, the annual tryout competition covered by Univison’s popular Sunday program Republica Deportiva. This coming Sunday, the show will reveal the five players from Los Angeles that will join five from Chicago and five from Houston in the final stage May 5-9. For names and info on the remaining competitors, click here.
Previewing Week 6: May 1, 2010 (all times ET)
New York Red Bulls at D.C. United, 4 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* D.C. United have not lost at home to New York since their final meeting in the 2005 season. United have won five of the seven meetings at RFK Stadium since.
* The Red Bulls are off to a 4-1-0 start with 12 points – the best start in the club’s 15-year history. They can match their 2009 win total (a 5-19-6 record) with a victory Saturday – just 37 days into the 2010 season.
* United, on the other hand, have matched the worst start in club history. The 1996 team lost its first four games (the final one by shootout) – before eventually winning MLS Cup.
* Midfielder Brian Nielsen, despite being sick and having participated in just one training session, started on the left side of midfield for the Red Bulls and played 67 minutes.
FC Dallas at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
* The Revolution have defeated FC Dallas in 10 of the last 12 meetings in MLS play, as well as in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup Final.
* FC Dallas snapped a six-game league losing streak against the Revolution with a 1-0 victory last Sept. 9 at the Cotton Bowl. The last previous FCD win in the series came May 20, 2006, at Pizza Hut Park.
* The Revolution on Monday announced Shalrie Joseph has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the club to deal with personal matters. A hip injury has limited the Grenadian international to one game.
* Jeff Cunningham raised his season goal haul to three – all from the penalty spot – after converting a pair in FCD’s 2-2 home draw Thursday against Seattle Sounders FC. A season ago, just one of Cunningham’s league-leading 17 goals came on penalties – he missed two of three attempts.
Chivas USA at Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
* The Fire have a three-game winning streak alive against Chivas USA, winning both meetings a year ago, as well as the final meeting in the 2008 season. Chicago also won in SuperLiga group play last year.
* For the second consecutive match, Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos went with a 4-5-1 system – and for the second consecutive match, Chicago won 2-0. Brian McBride returned to the starting lineup, in place of Collins John, and got off five shots in the first half from the lone striker position.
* The Fire have not allowed a goal for 189 minutes, as Krzysztof Krol has staked down the left back spot. But the Polish international will miss the Chivas game as he serves a one-game suspension for a red card.
* Chivas USA scored more than two goals in a match for the first time since a 3-0 win at D.C. United on Oct. 4, 2008, a span of 46 games in all competitions. The three goals scored against San Jose were more than the club had scored in its first four games combined.
Kansas City Wizards at Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m. (FSC / FSE)
* The Wizards won the first meeting between the clubs, April 8. 2006 – and have not defeated Houston since. The Dynamo have won four of the seven league meetings, as well as triumphing in the 2007 Western Conference Championship.
* Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen still has yet to allow a goal in three games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
* Nielsen had yet a different back four in front of him, with Jimmy Conrad out with a hamstring strain. Matt Besler started alongside Pablo Escobar in central defense – though Escobar was forced to leave in the 69th minute with a concussion.
* The Dynamo might have suffered another injury blow, as midfielder Geoff Cameron was forced out of Saturday’s game with a knee injury. Houston had previously seen Brian Ching and Richard Mulrooney substituted with first-half injuries.
Toronto FC at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
* Each of the last two seasons, home form has held in the series between the clubs, with each winning in their home stadiums.
* MLS Player of the Week Dwayne De Rosario moved from forward to an attacking midfield role – but it didn’t affect his production. De Rosario scored for the fourth consecutive game (5 goals this season), then added his first assist on the campaign.
* For Real Salt Lake, the TFC match is the first of three in a row at Rio Tinto Stadium and seven of the next nine. The loss in Columbus was the third in a row on the road for RSL, all against teams that finished in the top four in 2009.
* The RSL attack was helped with the addition of Javier Morales and Robbie Findley just after the hour mark. Both were coming off groin strains, and Real coach Jason Kreis said they would be limited to 30 minutes.
Colorado Rapids at San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
* The Rapids and Earthquakes have played to 1-1 draws in each of their last three meetings, including both a season ago. The last victory by either team was April 19, 2008, San Jose’s first win since returning to MLS.
* Against New England, Rapids coach Gary Smith started his team in a 4-5-1 formation – and both goals came from central midfielders. The opener came from Mehdi Ballouchy, moved into the middle as regular forward Omar Cummings shifted to the right flank.
* Omar Jasseh, 17, became the youngest player in Quakes history when he came on as a 62nd-minute substitute for Joey Gjertsen.
* Scott Sealy played his first game for San Jose in two seasons when he made an 83rd-minute substitute appearance. Sealy moved to Israel last season after playing for the Quakes in the 2008 expansion season.
Columbus Crew at Seattle Sounders FC, 10:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
* Sigi Schmid has yet to lose to his former club while in charge of Sounders FC. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in the first meeting in May in Seattle last year, then Sounders FC came away from Crew Stadium with a 1-0 win on Oct. 3.
* The Crew have won two games this season, both by shutout – and both have come without reigning MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall. Marshall missed the RSL with a hamstring strain, and another centerback, Danny O’Rourke, was suspended.
* After Robbie Rogers was fouled in the box, Guillermo Barros Schelotto offered him the chance to take the penalty. But Schelotto ended up taking it and converted – his first penalty of the season, at FC Dallas, was saved (though he knocked in the rebound).
* With a second road game in four days, Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid made six changes for the game in Toronto. Four players made their first start of the season: Patrick Ianni, Sanna Nyassi, Nathan Sturgis and Tyson Wahl. Brad Evans started up top with Freddie Ljungberg, his first start at forward with Seattle.
Philadelphia Union at LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
* After just four games, Sebastien Le Toux has four goals – and is already moving up the charts of scoring leaders with expansion teams, matching the four total goals scored by Chivas USA’s Hector Cuadros in 2005. Fredy Montero’s 12 goals to lead Seattle Sounders FC last season is the record.
* Union were undone by first-half red cards in their opening two matches, then in the loss to New York over the weekend, the winning goal came from a penalty kick.
* While the Galaxy recorded a fourth shutout in five games against Kansas City, they started a third different back four in as many games. Gregg Berhalter made his season debut in central defense.
* Donovan Ricketts was forced to make six saves in the LA goal; in the Galaxy’s first four games, he made a total of five saves combined.
* Edson Buddle saw his four-game goalscoring streak snapped at Kansas City. Still, his seven goals after five games is the second-most in MLS history – only Landon Donovan’s eight goals after five games in 2008 is more.