Through international friendlies, European qualifiers, World Cup preliminaries and U20 World Cups, MLS never sleeps. So here then in our weekly MLS – Big 5.
• Orlando Magic!
There is nothing illusory about it, with Sunday’s victory over first place DC United expansion club Orlando SC has climbed to third in the Eastern Conference.
With 15 games played Orlando is almost half way through its inaugural MLS campaign and is sporting a 5-5-5 record. Sunday’s 1-0 home win came on an Orlando rarity, a non-penalty kick goal from Kaka.
Orlando’s Brazilian DP headed home a rebound after Bill Hamid had stopped his peno, but it still goes down as a goal from play and the newcomers are still firmly in the playoff picture.
2) NYC – In the Mix
New York City FC continued its recovery from a troubling 11 game unbeaten streak by winning consecutive games for the first time.
Fresh off of scoring a goal for the U.S. MNT in Wednesday’s stunning 2-1 win over Germany, Mix Diskerud sprang from the NYC bench to score the 76th minute game winner as City went on to beat Montreal 3-1 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
But the U.S. international was only part of the story for the Bronx boys who played the best game in their short history.
David Villa scored his team leading fourth goal, Kwadwo Poku scored one goal and set up another in 15 minutes of action, and Tommy McNamara played another fine match in his second straight start as New York City FC look to climb out of the MLS East cellar.
3) MLS Represent
If we look at MLS as a strivers league, in other words a league that is anxious to enhance its reputation on the world stage, we can understand why league boosters often look outward for validation.
An obvious way MLS likes to signify its prominence is by making note of successful international players that sign with the league. Big names like Thierry Henry and David Beckham for example. Both have moved on, but the likes of David Villa, and soon Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have taken their place.
Another, and perhaps better indicator of the how the league is viewed around the world is to see how many MLS players are called upon to represent their country in international competition.
Therefore it was disappointing that Sebastian Giovinco was not called into Antonio Conte’s recent squad despite his excellent season with Toronto FC.
There was, however plenty for MLS to crow about during the recent spate of international soccer that has taken place around the world this past week or so. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, quite a few national team managers looked to North America’s league to supply talent.
In European qualifiers the Fire’s Shaun Maloney and the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane faced off as Scotland drew with Ireland in Dublin. And NYCFC striker Adam Nemec went the full 90 as Slovakia beat Macedonia to remain perfect through six games at the top of Group C, three points ahead of Spain.
Those are just a few of the the players that represented MLS around the world as international managers voted with their roster selections, a vote of confidence for MLS.
4) Seattle Back on Track and Back on Top of League
After missing the Sounders 1-0 defeat last week at Sporting KC, Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans were all back in action as Seattle handled FC Dallas 3-0 Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Martins was wearing a protective mask to protect the broken nose that kept him out versus SKC. Dempsey missed out as he waited for baby number four, a boy- congratulations, and Evans was part of the U.S.MNT’s wildly successful European tour.
The trio were missed. Dempsey didn’t get on the scoresheet against Dallas, but Martin registered a goal and an assist and Evans added a helper.
5) Bradley Undiminished by MLS Return
Pretty much everything U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has touched has turned to gold of late, so much so that even when Klinsmann is wrong these days it all works out for him.
I’m talking about Michael Bradley, the best player on the field as the U.S. defeated the Netherlands and Germany over five days in Europe.
Klinsmann, of course criticized Bradley’s move from Roma to Toronto, fearing that it would be hard for Bradley to, “keep the same level,” while playing in MLS.
The way Bradley and the U.S. played in Europe, coach Midas, er Klinsmann, probably won’t be too upset to be proven wrong this this one time.