Tag Archives: MLS

Chicago Fire Drops Opening Day Match To NYC FC

Chicago was unable overcome a 3-1 halftime deficit as they lost opening day to New York City FC (Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire's Twitter account.)
Chicago was unable overcome a 3-1 halftime deficit as they lost opening day to New York City FC (Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire’s Twitter account.)

An exciting opening day MLS match between the Chicago Fire and New York City FC saw City hold on for a 4-3 victory. All seven goals in the game were scored by different players and there was no shortage of opportunities for even more goals.

The Fire had an early chance in the second minute as Kennedy Igboananike put a nice pass through to Gilberto, but his shot was blocked after a cut back and the attack petered out. It was not long before City had their first good chance about a minute later as a blocked shot in the box fell to David Villa, but his shot was right at Matt Lampson.

David Accam used his speed in the sixth minute to beat his man, but his shot was saved by City’s Josh Saunders and Arturo Alvarez’s follow up was well over the bar. City opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Thomas McNamara picked up the ball outside the box and hit a wonderful goal to the top right corner off the post as there was no chance for Lampson to make the save.

Gilberto had another chance to score just a few minutes later after getting behind the defense. There was contact in the box and Gilberto went to ground, but no penalty was given by referee Armando Villarreal. The 17th minute saw Khiry Shelton get a shot off, but Lampson was there to prevent the deficit from doubling with a relatively easy save.

Razvan Cocis leveled the game in the 19th minute with a beautiful run from midfield while Alvarez delivered wonderful ball over the defense and it was easy for him to bury the goal in the bottom right. Cosis tired to make it a 2-1 lead for the Fire in the 23rd minute after a City turnover in their final third, but his attempted chip was not nigh enough and easily caught by Saunders.

City made it 2-1 in the 29th minute thanks to a blunder in the box by two Fire defenders. Joao Meira and Michael Harrington both went to clear the ball, but collided and it fell for Taylor to slot it home. Meira hit Harrington in the forehead with his boot and caused a laceration, but Harrington came back on the field after getting patched up.

City made it 3-1 in the 36th minute after Shelton was able to burst past his defender and also dribbled past a caught out Lampson while he maintained his balance to but the ball in the back of the net. Gilberto had another chance in the 41st minute, but his shot was blocked by Saunders again while Saunders came up big again in the 42nd minute getting his boot to Accam’s chance. Accam had one final chance before halftime, but once again the ball was saved by Saunders.

The Fire started the second half with Jonathan Campbell coming on for an injured Gilberto, who had a very good first half performance. Gilberto’s absence led to David Accam being moved up top.

The Fire were able to get right back in the game thanks to Accam’s pressure on City defender Ethan White. Accam got the ball away from him, forced Saunders to commit to him, and set up an easy goal for Igboananike in the 49th minute.

Accam had a chance to level the score a short time later after getting behind the City defense, but could not keep his feet as he was unable to even got a shot away. In the 60th minute, Alvarez put in a nice cross to Accam, but his shot was not strong enough and the post was covered well by Saunders. City were able to restore their two goal lead with McNamara hitting a cross in the box that found Mix Diskerud and he blasted his volley to the lower right corner.

Accam nearly made it a one goal deficit again with a free run in the 67th minute, but Saunders came up with yet another big stop and the ensuing corner led to nothing for the Fire. The Fire were awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute thanks to a hand ball by Shelton in the box off a corner kick. Accam took the penalty kick and sent Saunders the wrong way to make it 4-3.

City nearly put the game beyond doubt in the fifth minute of stoppage time. David Villa was one on one with goalkeeper, but Lampson stopped his shot and the game remained 4-3 to City. That is how the game would finish as the Fire could not mount one final attack.

Notes and Analysis

  • Both managers were coaching their first MLS game with Patrick Vieira coming out on top ahead of Veljko Paunovic.
  • Frank Lampard was not in the lineup for City as he missed the match due to injury.
  • The Fire had 12 corners to just one for City.
  • City played a high line with their back four and it led to 7 offsides for the Fire. It also caused problems for City as the David Accam was able to use his speed to get past the back four defenders.
  • Full game stats can be found here via MLS’ website.
  • Jonathan Campbell made his MLS debut to start the second half when he subbed in for Gilberto.
  • Joey Calistri also made his MLS debut when he came on in the 81st minute for Razvan Cocis.

Chicago faces Orlando City on the road Friday night while City faces Toronto FC in their home opener on Sunday afternoon.

U.S. Soccer Federation And MLS Do Not Get It

Clint Dempsey gets a red card for his actions on Tuesday against Portland in the U.S. Open Cup (Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports)
Clint Dempsey gets a red card for his actions on Tuesday against Portland in the U.S. Open Cup (Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports)

U.S. Soccer Federation And MLS Do Not Get It

Seattle Sounder’s Clint Dempsey has been suspended three games for his obnoxious and reprehensible actions against Portland in Tuesday’s game in the U.S. Open Cup. Dempsey was also fined.

Dempsey was facing up to three months suspension from all competitions had the United States Soccer Federation found him guilty of assault. Instead, the USSF let the disciplinary actions fall to Major League Soccer on Friday. Below is a statement from MLS.

“We do not tolerate conduct of this nature from any of our players,” MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. “No matter how passionate our players are or what happens in the ‘heat of the moment,’ they must always respect all aspects of the game, especially the referees. In light of Clint’s actions and our past precedents, we felt that a significant suspension was appropriate.”

Dempsey will now face only a ban in MLS games instead of missing time in the Gold Cup. This leads to only one conclusion: both the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS do not get it. What is it? It is integrity.

The USSF’s handling of the Hope Solo investigation (was it even a real investigation?) was the first yellow card. ESPN documented some of the rather serious inconsistencies by the USSF. Solo was ultimately suspended for 30 days earlier this year, missing only 2 international friendlies. The USSF had a chance to make a stand on a serious issue and given what happened with Ray Rice and the NFL, it seemed like a great opportunity to show their teeth.

Instead, we saw nothing.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday when Dempsey decided he had enough of the referee and ripped up his booking card. There is ZERO defense for actions like that and he was properly sent off immediately. For the second time, U.S. Soccer had a chance to show their teeth.

Instead, they kicked the can down the road to Major League Soccer and MLS showed they have as much teeth as U.S. Soccer. Another yellow card. For those counting that is a second yellow card, which results in a red card.

It is clear that the stars are bigger than the sport of soccer. Both Solo and Dempsey are stars for club and country. More importantly, they are also role models to young people. What is the message being sent by USSF and MLS?

Your transgressions, both on and off the field, are of little concern to us. As long as we can continue to bring in revenue, we will be more than willing to look past these “minor” infractions.

Quite frankly, this kind of “discipline” is pathetic. In Solo’s case, it came on the heels of the Ray Rice incident in which the NFL and Roger Goodell botched his discipline.

For Dempsey, there is not a recent comparable case, but the rules are pretty clear about touching the referee and his property. None of that matters because stars are given their own set of rules.

Shame on Major League Soccer for letting Dempsey off with a putrid 3 game ban. Soccer still has not learned from the failures of the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, which will only impede its progress to become one of the top 4.

Thoughts on MLS Addition of Orlando SC

On Tuesday, November 19, Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that Orlando SC will become the 21st Franchise beginning with the 2015 Season. Orlando SC currently competes in the USL Pro Division, which is on the third tier of the United States Soccer Pyramid. This will be the first team in the state of Florida since 2001, when both the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion.

It is worth noting that both the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion folded after the 2001 season due to financial issues. At the time for MLS, financial woes were rampant throughout the league. This Forbes article by Chris Smith does an excellent job illustrating the early problems for MLS. Also in the article, he talks about the current value of each MLS team as well as providing a chart to show the profitability of each team.

In my opinion, the main concern for any new franchise in the Southeastern United States is the competition it will face. The Southeast is football crazy and is treated like a religion down there. That does not mean Orlando SC will fail, but it will take time for them to get near the backing of some recent MLS Expansion teams (e.g.: Portland, Seattle, Vancouver).

Another concern is the complete lack of any other regional teams. Orlando SC’s nearest competitor will be the Houston Dynamo to the west and DC United to the North. Orlando to Houston is approximately 963 miles according to Google, while Orlando to Washington D.C. is approximately 847 miles per Google. The lack of regional competition may hamper the ability for Orlando SC to flourish. This could be less of an issue if the rumored Miami Franchise comes to fruition.

One further thought on the lack of regional competition is noted by the fierce rivalries that have developed between Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland. These three franchises have thrived due in part to the Cascadia Cup that they contest each year. Do not discount the lack of a regional rival as an obstacle.

One final note, with Orlando SC becoming the 21st team it will almost certainly mean another unbalanced schedule in 2015. Adding another team will alleviate this problem, but at this time, it appears that will not happen until 2016 at the earliest.

Overall I think the addition of Orlando SC will help MLS in the long run, but there are some issues they will have to contend with early on. If Orlando SC can build a passionate and devoted fan base as well as be competitive within the football crazy South, they will be just fine.