This week’s Big 5 begins on a sad note with news, so let’s get to it.
1) Clint Dempsey Out for Season
The Seattle Sounders have announced that Clint Dempsey will sit out the remainder of the MLS season as he continues to deal with an irregular heartbeat, an issue that has kept the U.S. international out since it was discovered late last month.
Seattle GM and President Garth Lagerwey indicated that the club is hopeful that Deuce will be back in 2017. The Seattle boss did not mention Dempsey’s involvement for the U.S. MNT in the November World Cup Qualifiers against top CONCACAF rivals Mexico and Costa Rica or the October friendlies versus Cuba and New Zealand but it seems likely that Jurgen Klinsmann will have to make due without the second leading goal scorer in team history for the time being.
Dempsey has not discussed his condition at all since it was announced and with so little information available it would be fruitless to speculate on the attackers future in the game, leaving us with no choice but to respect Dempsey’s privacy while wishing him a complete recovery.
2) 4 Teams Book Playoff Passage
Over the weekend Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls, and New York City FC joined FC Dallas as early playoff qualifiers. The only problem with this is that eight more clubs will join them in a postseason that simply has too many teams.
That quibble aside, congratulations to the quartet, in particular, second year club New York City FC who surprised many onlookers with this achievement under first-year coach Patrick Vieira.
3) Vieira and Villa Talk Playoffs
NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira and star player David Villa spoke to a quartet of media types after training at SUNY Purchase in suburban New York Tuesday afternoon and GotSoccer was there.
Vieira admitted of making the playoffs “yes, it felt good.” The former Arsenal legend, who had never coached a senior team before this season said, “I’m really pleased for the players, really pleased for the club, really pleased for the fans.” But as pleased as the coach is, he wants more. “We are satisfied, of course, but that’s not enough for us,” Vieira said.
Star striker David Villa admitted after training that making the postseason relieves some pressure going into the final weeks. “It’s good,” the Spanish striker said of qualifying early. “It’s good for the team. I told (the team) after the game it’s not easy, it’s so difficult.” “But,” like his coach, the 2010 World Cup winner wants more. “It’s not the the stop, it’s not done.” “The best thing we can do,” the NYCFC captain said, “is we have three games, win three games.”
4) CCL News: Red Bulls Advance – Timbers Slay Dragon
Sorry, couldn’t resist that second one. The Portland Timbers are struggling to hold off Seattle in the MLS playoff chase but the defending MLS Cup champs lived to fight another day in CONCACAF Champions League thanks to a Darlington Nagbe free kick in the 90th minute Tuesday night in El Salvador.
Fanendo Adi had equalized for the Timbers in the 70th minute after the home team took the lead in the 54th minute. Next up Portland face a win or go home showdown with Deportivo Saprissa on October 14 at Providence Park.
A Timbers win would see Portland join the New York Red Bulls in the CCL Quarterfinals, which the Bulls qualified for with a 0-0 draw versus Antigua GFC on a rain-soaked pitch in Guatemala City on Tuesday night.
The win is a big one for the New York Originals, sending the club to the CCL Quarters for the first time in team history. The achievement caps a very nice few days for NYRB following Saturday’s 1-0 playoff-clinching win over Montreal.
5) Atlanta Make a Splash – Land Tata Martinez to Coach
On Wednesday morning expansion side Atlanta United FC introduced its first ever coach former FC Barcelona and Argentina head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. United president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra were both thrilled to introduce the undoubtedly accomplished Martinez to the Atlanta media.
So will Tata’s vast experience translate to MLS? Why not ask someone who might know, Patrick Vieira.
Speaking at training on Tuesday Vieira was asked if he had any advice for the new Atlanta supremo. “I don’t have any advice,” the NYCFC coach said modestly, “he has so much experience I should be the one that asks him for advice.” Vieira didn’t credit his year in the league as reason enough to advise Martino. “I’m sure he knows the MLS better than I do,” Vieira said.
In fact, even as an opponent Vieira is hoping to learn from the 53-year-old. The rookie coach has never met Martino but says, “I am really looking forward to meeting him because I believe he is one of the most different and talented managers around.”
Friends who have met with Martino have told Vieira that the new Atlanta boss is “somebody that young coaches like myself can learn from.” Vieira believes that “him coming to MLS is a massive boost for the MLS.”