MLS News
MLS Team of the Week: BWP, Villa, Kaka Headline Week 23's Best
MLS News
Monday, 15 August 2016 10:16

Week 23 in Major League Soccer belonged to some of the top scorers in the league.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, David Villa and Dom Dwyer were among the players who found the back of the net on two occasions over the weekend. 

In addition to a few big performances at the forward position, a good amount of midfielders also put their names on the scoreboard more than once. 

Due to the plethora of solid attacking in Week 23, we set up our Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week in a 3-4-3 formation.

Continue reading to see who else was named to our best XI from the weekend. 

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Relentless Real Salt Lake Surging Up MLS Western Conference Table
MLS News
Friday, 12 August 2016 02:00

Real Salt Lake manager Jeff Cassar admits he uses the word "relentless" a lot when he speaks with his team. 

Although the results have only started to show the relentless nature of the club, the Claret and Cobalt have stuck to their aggressive mindset for the entire Major League Soccer regular season. 

Cassar uses the term because of how many different players in the RSL starting lineup can hurt opponents on a weekly basis. 

“I use the word relentless a lot when speaking with the team, and you can only be relentless when you have depth and when you can start one way and bring players on to keep exactly what we’re trying to do at the beginning of the game and doing it at the end," Cassar told Bleacher Report.  

That approach has been apparent over the last three matches as RSL beat Philadelphia on the road and produced a fine performance against Chicago at home in Week 22. Between those two victories, the club lost to Toronto FC at BMO Field in a midweek match, but despite the defeat, Cassar believes his side played well. 

“I think for the most part of this year, we’ve been playing very good soccer," Cassar said. "We had some very good performances. We paid the price for some errors earlier in the year, but the Philadelphia win was really able to give us belief in what we’re doing and really spur us on."

"If you rewatch the Toronto game, we had another good performance and on another night, we get three points there," Cassar added. "To be able to regroup with a two-day rest and to be able to put in a good performance against Chicago at home, the group is feeling really good about where we’re at and what we’re doing and how we’re operating and it’s a good feeling to have." 

The reason for the uptick in form is the resurgence of the club's attack led by Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia and 36-year-old midfielder Javier Morales. 

During their rut that started on June 25, the Claret and Cobalt scored just three goals while playing to four draws and two losses. The breakout win in Philadelphia featured fabulous strikes from Plata and Morales as well as Garcia's best performance of the season.

"I think the teams in our league have to respect our ability in the attack," Cassar said. "When you talk about Yura Movsisyan, Olmes (Garcia), Joao (Plata), Juan Martinez, Javier (Morales), Jordan Allen and then young talents like Omar Holness.

"And then on top of that, how we’re bringing in our outside backs, Tony Beltran and Demar Phillips, into the attack, and then adding a midfielder into attack. I think they have to respect what we’re capable of, and what I really like with this group is if teams try to take one thing away from us, then we’re going to beat you a different way and we have the talent to do that." 

Along with Morales, fellow veteran Nick Rimando, 37, has brought the necessary leadership to the squad as they not only surge up the table, but try to erase the memories of a poor 2015 season in which they finished ninth in the Western Conference with 41 points. 

RSL already have 37 points through 24 matches in 2016. Cassar attributes the turnaround to a challenge he received from the front office and himself after the tumultuous 2015. 

“It definitely motivated myself, the staff and our team," he said. "Obviously there had to be a lot of looking in the mirror to start and obviously that starts with me. It needed to be where I could improve and help the team more where I could be a better communicator, better leader, better tactician with our group, with our staff.

"Our general manager, president and owner challenged myself and the staff a lot and I think that was very helpful to myself and the staff getting better in areas we needed to, which then in turn helps the players more.

"I think this year everyone is more familiar, more confident in the formation and with their responsibilities in the formation. On top of that, let’s be fair, we’ve added some very, very good players to our team. And we’ve managed to stay healthy, which is essential in MLS." 

RSL added Movsisyan in the offseason and Martinez during the 2015 summer window. One of the biggest additions to the squad has come in defense as academy product Justen Glad, 19, has thrived at center-back alongside Aaron Maund. Glad is playing himself onto the United States men's national team radar. 

“I think he’s improving each and every day," Cassar said. "I’m never one to say what his ceiling is. That is completely up to Justen, but in every situation and every team he’s played for, he’s come through.

"Whether it’s when he was with our academy team when they were winning national championships or when he’d come up for reserve games years ago. He always stepped up to the challenge and now that he’s with the first team and the under-20 national team, and every time he gets opportunities, he performs at an extremely high level." 

The next challenge ahead for RSL comes on Sunday as they make a rare appearance in the national spotlight against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Although more eyes will be on the club than usual, RSL are just focusing on bettering themselves game by game. 

“To be fair, we really just try to go about our business and do it in the way Real Salt Lake does," Cassar said. "We want to come out and be aggressive whether we’re home or away. We want to stick hard to our game plan and belief in how we want to play against teams.  We want to do that whether we’re home or away.

"I think you can look back on this year and I think we have the second most away wins in the entire league and we’re undefeated at home right now. We have an aggressive mindset in our style of play and we believe we can go anywhere and get the result we want." 

That aggressive mindset will be key for RSL heading into the closing stages of the regular season as the Western Conference presents a new challenge every week. 

“We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves," Cassar said. "We have to make sure we’re concentrating on ourselves. How we can improve each week and also focusing on the opponent ahead of us.

"If we start watching the tables too much, then our focus isn't where it should be. We need to just concentrate on ourselves and the rest will take care of itself." 

 

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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MLS Player Rankings: Magnificent Giovinco Claims Top Spot
MLS News
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 07:36

All everyone wanted to talk about after Week 22 in Major League Soccer was the masterful display put on by Sebastian Giovinco at BMO Field on Saturday. 

The same feeling has been echoed after countless other weekends since the Atomic Ant joined Toronto FC at the start of the 2015 regular season. 

Outside of Giovinco, there were plenty of other star performances in our Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. 

Our player rankings take into account the last four showings from individuals, with the most recent performance carrying most importance. 

Continue reading to see who fell where behind Giovinco in the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings after Week 22.

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MLS Team of the Week: Hat-Trick Heroes Giovinco, Dempsey Headline Week 22's Best
MLS News
Monday, 08 August 2016 03:19

The two hat-tricks scored in Major League Soccer in Week 22 carried different meanings for the clubs of Sebastian Giovinco and Clint Dempsey. 

Giovinco's three-goal performance at BMO Field moved Toronto FC even closer to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while Dempsey's breakout showing handed the Sounders hope that a late run at the postseason is possible. 

Two of Dempsey's teammates also join him on the list of Week 22's best players because of their work moving forward. 

To accommodate the two stellar forwards and one of Dempsey's teammates, we aligned our MLS Team of the Week in a 4-3-3 formation.

Continue reading to see who else joined the hat-trick heroes in the latest Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week. 

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Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco Nets Brilliant Hat-Trick in 4-1 Win vs. New England
MLS News
Sunday, 07 August 2016 04:11

Take a bow, Sebastian Giovinco.

The reigning MLS MVP was at it again on Saturday night, scoring a hat-trick as his Toronto FC strolled to a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution at BMO Field.

The ex-Juventus man was almost unplayable throughout the evening, as Toronto moved to within a point of Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC.

Giovinco's first goal was a beauty, struck with the outside of his boot:

And his second wasn't too bad, either:

Teal Bunbury and Jozy Altidore rounded out the scoring after the Italian forward had added a third from the penalty spot:

Back-to-back MVP titles, anyone?

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Does the Philadelphia Union's Transfer Spending Make Them MLS Cup Contenders?
MLS News
Friday, 05 August 2016 11:33

One of the biggest winners of the Major League Soccer transfer window was an unexpected club that doesn't have a strong history in the transfer market. 

Instead of refusing to make a splash like they have in the past, the Philadelphia Union made a pair of moves to strengthen their squad at the end of the transfer period. 

The move that earned the most attention was the acquisition of United States men's national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya from Nantes. In order to bring in Bedoya, the Union swapped spots with the Chicago Fire in the allocation order and gave up their first-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft as well as an undisclosed amount of general and targeted allocation money. 

Philadelphia wasn't done on Wednesday, as it locked up a trade with the New England Revolution for forward Charlie Davies in exchange for its first-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money. 

In addition to bringing in a pair of big names, the Union shipped fan favorite Sebastien Le Toux to the Colorado Rapids for general allocation money. 

The trio of moves should set the Union up for a charge at the top seed in the Eastern Conference as long as Bedoya and Davies fit into the roles they're supposed to in Jim Curtin's lineup. 

Bedoya will likely fill the hole in midfield left by the departed Vincent Nogueira. Although he's played on the wing at the international level, the 29-year-old can also be employed in the center of the park in the right setup. The experienced midfielder should bring stability to Union's defensive setup because of his relentless work rate on both sides of the ball. 

The arrival of Bedoya should move Tranquillo Barnetta back up to his natural No. 10 position. In the weeks since Nogueira left the club, Barnetta dropped back to the No. 8 as the Union attempted to find an internal solution to the problem. 

However, the Union were left exposed on plenty of occasions and have let in 18 goals since Nogueira's departure right after the Copa America Centenario break ended.

On Sunday against Real Salt Lake, the Union went too conservative with their formation, as Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle played in the double pivot with no true attacking linkup between the back four and the quartet in attack. 

With Bedoya in the fold, the Union should fix that issue, since he works well as a box-to-box midfielder. If Bedoya can be the link between the defense and attack, the Union should get back to their old ways when Nogueira was in the lineup. Bedoya also contains more talent in certain departments than Nogueira, so the swap should be seen as an overall upgrade.

The one problem the Union were faced with when the Bedoya deal was announced was an overcrowded midfield. That took care of itself when they sent Le Toux to Colorado on Wednesday night. Despite being a crowd favorite and club original, Le Toux's playing time diminished this season due to the arrivals of Roland Alberg and Ilsinho and now Bedoya. 

Philadelphia also upgraded its depth at forward with the addition of Davies, who recently announced he is in remission after being diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year. The 30-year-old forward won't take the starting job away from C.J. Sapong up top, but he'll be a vital part of the squad off the bench. 

With Davies in the fold alongside rookie Fabian Herbers, the Union have two striker options to use off the bench if they are in a bind. Before making their moves this week, the Union were starting to get a little predictable with their strategy, as Herbers seemed to be the only player to come off the bench and earn significant minutes. 

While all the shiny transactions are nice, the Union still have to get results on the pitch, which has been a difficult thing to do of late, even in their home fortress Talen Energy Stadium. Both of the losses suffered by the Union at home have come after the Copa break to Vancouver and Real Salt Lake. The Union also earned just a point against the Red Bulls on July 17.

The only comprehensive performance Philadelphia has put in since the Copa break came on July 9 against D.C. United at home. Since then, the Union have been knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup and have dropped eight points in the Eastern Conference playoff race. 

The good news for the Union is they are not completely out of the postseason discussion because of their fast start, but their hold on a spot in the top six of the East is slipping a bit.

Entering Week 22, the Union sit in fourth place on 30 points and are closer to the red line than the No. 1 spot. A win over D.C. at RFK Stadium on Saturday would change that in a heartbeat, but winning won't be as easy as the Union want it to be over the next three months. 

Seven of the club's next 10 matches come on the road, where the Union have a 1-6-3 mark after July. In order to remain in the fight for the postseason, the Union and their new acquisitions must find a way to pull out results on their travels.

Although their schedule seems daunting, the Union have a good chance to snag points against D.C., New England and Columbus, all of whom have been shaky at best this season. If the Union are able to get four or five points out of those matches and beat Toronto and Sporting Kansas City at home at the end of August, they should be in fine shape to qualify for the postseason. 

The impact of Bedoya and Davies may not be felt immediately as they begin to form a chemistry with their new teammates and Bedoya works to full fitness, since he was in preseason training with Nantes. But once Bedoya is thrown into the starting lineup, the quality on the pitch and on the bench should grow, since one of Alberg or Ilsinho will shift to the bench to make room for Bedoya and Barnetta at the No. 10 position. 

When that occurs, the Union will be able to bring more quality off the bench instead of throwing on Leo Fernandes or Walter Restrepo, both of whom are reserves at best in MLS, to try to secure some type of result.

The creativity Alberg and Ilsinho have shown in starting roles should work well in 30-minute stints as well. A move off the bench for one of the midfielders and the addition of Davies or Herbers to the pitch should provide enough of an extra kick off the bench to motivate the Union if they struggle early in a match. 

Philadelphia did the right thing by finally breaking its transfer frugality to improve its squad, but now it's time for the new signings and current players to finish off what has already been a tremendous season at the club. 

As long as the proper chemistry is built between the additions and they earn results on the road, the Union should build up enough momentum to be considered true players in the race for MLS Cup.

            

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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MLS Player Rankings: Lampard, Giovinco Dominate Headlines After Week 21
MLS News
Tuesday, 02 August 2016 09:14

The two players dominating the headlines in Major League Soccer at the moment are names we're used to seeing on the marquee. 

Frank Lampard and Sebastian Giovinco have taken the league by storm in recent weeks due to their performances in front of the net. 

One week after Giovinco busted out of his slump with a hat-trick, Lampard extended his terrific form with a three-goal performance. 

Joining the dynamic pair near the top the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings are a record-setting goalscorer and one of the best defenders in the league.

Our player rankings take into account the last four performances from a certain player, with the most recent one holding more weight.

Continue reading to see which players landed where in the Week 21 edition of the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. 

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MLS Team of the Week: Lampard, Giovinco Star in Week 21
MLS News
Monday, 01 August 2016 08:59

Just like it was a week ago, Week 21 in Major League Soccer belonged to a few of the world's best players.

Frank Lampard, who is in scorching-hot form for New York City FC, produced a hat-trick in the opening match of the weekend, while Sebastian Giovinco contributed to all three of Toronto FC's tallies against Columbus Crew on Sunday.

In addition to the stellar performances put in by two of MLS' megastars, a few young players shone up top for their respective sides and a debutant handed a struggling side some hope for the future.

Continue reading to see who was named to the Week 21 edition of the Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week.

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Breaking Down the MLS Playoff Races After the All-Star Break
MLS News
Friday, 29 July 2016 01:13

Now that the excitement of the Major League Soccer All-Star Game is behind us, it's time to get down to business.

Over the next three months, we'll find out who is worthy of earning the six playoff positions in the Eastern and Western Conferences. 

Per the usual trend, the West is the more difficult of the two conferences once again in 2016. The West contains a few clear-cut MLS Cup favorites, while the East is still sorting itself out. 

Below, we'll take a look at the playoff picture in each conference, starting in the East, and predict which six teams we think will qualify for the postseason. 

   

Eastern Conference

New York City FC are the surprise leaders heading into the final weekend of July. Patrick Vieira's men have climbed into the top spot on 33 points thanks to a tremendous road record of 6-4-1. 

In order to continue their pace at the top, City must extend their road form into August, September and October, and they must also improve on their 3-3-5 home mark. 

Unlike a few other clubs in the East, NYCFC don't have a long stretch of matches at, or away from, Yankee Stadium for the rest of the regular season, which may suit City based on their home and away records. The biggest concern for Vieira and company will be the play of their unsteady defense. 

Second-placed New York Red Bulls face the most difficult balancing act of any of the teams in the tight East playoff race. Jesse Marsch's men have a quartet of CONCACAF Champions League games to maneuver around league play. 

In addition to the midweek challenges of continental play, the Red Bulls still have road trips to LA and Vancouver left on the docket. But the good news for them is they play three of their final four games at home, two of which come against fellow contenders. 

The Philadelphia Union have been the surprise team of the season, in the East as the new organization in the front office, led by sporting director Earnie Stewart, has got the club out of a long rut. 

But in order to continue their terrific first-half start into the final three months, the Union will have to earn multiple results on the road. All but one of those road trips are to Eastern Conference stadiums, which should help the team fight against fatigue. They should also receive a boost at some point with the return of midfielder Maurice Edu. 

If Jim Curtin's men can navigate their treacherous road fixture list and pick up all 18 points left at home, they should secure safe passage into the playoff field. 

The Montreal Impact re-announced their presence in the postseason fight in Week 20 with a 5-1 demolition of Philadelphia at Stade Saputo that was powered by Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba. 

The Impact should be able to secure their home fortress throughout the rest of the regular season since only two of their remaining seven matches at home are against teams currently above the red line. 

As long as the Impact pick up points at home like we suggested for the Union, they should also cruise into the playoffs. 

Toronto FC may be the most interesting team to watch in the East as the season dwindles down. Due to the construction at BMO Field, the Reds spent the majority of the early season on the road.

With nine home matches remaining, Greg Vanney's men have no excuses to fall back on if they fail to finish in the top six. In all honesty, TFC should finish in the top three at worst. 

Beneath the top five sides in the East, there are three clubs vying for the sixth spot at the moment. New England Revolution, Orlando City and D.C. United all have realistic chances to make the postseason, while Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire seem like lost causes. 

Sunday's match between the Revolution and Orlando could go a long way in determining the futures of each club. If the Lions take three points at home under new boss Jason Kreis, they should be able to create plenty of momentum entering August. 

However, D.C. is worth keeping an eye on as well due to its run of four games in a row at home starting on Sunday against Montreal. The Black and Red also have three of their final five contests at RFK Stadium.

If Ben Olsen's men can finally turn the curve and produce a string of quality results, they will be a player as well. 

If form holds, NYCFC, Philadelphia, New York, Montreal and Toronto seem like locks to make the postseason. However, each side faces its own consistency issues that have been evident at some point in the first five months of the season. If any of the five slip up, the three clubs below them will be waiting to make their move up the table. 

Despite D.C.'s long spell at home in August, we have little confidence in United's ability to get results out of those matches. With Kreis now at the helm and a revival needed in Orlando, the Lions are our pick to be the sixth playoff team in the East.

   

Prediction

1. New York Red Bulls

2. Toronto FC

3. Philadelphia Union

4. New York City FC

5. Montreal Impact

6. Orlando City 

 

Western Conference

The West playoff picture may seem more complicated than the East, but it could come down to a simple elimination process since the clubs in contention for the postseason face each other often from now until October 23. 

FC Dallas may sit atop the West at the All-Star break, but they've played three more matches than the Colorado Rapids and LA in second and third. 

Those extra three matches may help Oscar Pareja's side since it has to play four Champions League games during the run to the postseason. With games fairly spread out and a solid road record of 4-6-2 in hand, FC Dallas stand a shot at keeping the top spot in the West, which will most likely hand them the Supporters' Shield. 

Colorado has been impressive at home, as it has picked up 27 of its 38 points at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. With no outside distractions to deal with and a favorable home schedule that features the San Jose Earthquakes twice and the Houston Dynamo to conclude the season, the Rapids are in good shape to make a run at the No. 1 position in the West. 

The biggest test for the Rapids will come on September 10, as they visit FC Dallas at the end of a three-game road stretch that also includes trips to Real Salt Lake and New England. If Pablo Mastroeni's side can take more than five points out of that run—including one in Frisco, Texas—Colorado could move into the role of favorite. 

The LA Galaxy have a chance to make a further imprint on the postseason competition in the next few weeks if they continue their surge up the table.

Bruce Arena and company have a big home match ahead on August 13 against Colorado. A win over the Rapids could catapult the Galaxy into second place and straight into a chase for the top position in the West and the Supporters' Shield. 

A home and away match with FC Dallas in October could end up determining the playoff positioning in the West and home-field advantage. If LA and FC Dallas share the points in those contests and Colorado hangs around until October, the Rapids could swoop in for the regular-season honors. 

FC Dallas, Colorado and LA appear to be locks to make the postseason based off their quality and form over the last month. Adding to that security are the pieces of doubt surrounding each of the remaining contenders in the West, starting with Sporting Kansas City. 

Sporting KC are at the disadvantage of playing 23 matches, and like FC Dallas, they will have the Champions League to deal with in the home stretch of the regular season. 

Peter Vermes' side has a chance to gain instant separation from a fellow contender in the next two games as it takes on Portland at home and at Providence Park. If Sporting can pull four points from the pair of clashes, they should set themselves up for a run toward at least fourth in the West.

A 7-4-1 home mark also makes us believe that Sporting KC will take care of business at Children's Mercy Park.

Real Salt Lake and Vancouver, who sit in fifth and sixth, respectively, have had trouble earning the full three points at home.

RSL sit at 5-0-5 at Rio Tinto Stadium, while Vancouver is 5-2-5 at BC Place. Both teams also have questions to answer in attack due to some lackluster play in the final third during a few spans in 2016. 

If either or both of the two clubs flirting with the red line at the All-Star break finally turn things around at home, it will be difficult for Portland or San Jose to leap into the top six. 

Portland is on the outside looking in because of a porous 0-4-6 record on the road. The Timbers haven't had a ton of issues at home, as they are 7-3-2 at Providence Park, but winning on the road is imperative if your eyes are on the postseason.

The Timbers know how to come out on top on their travels. They were able to do just that on their way to winning the 2015 MLS Cup. 

San Jose only has one loss at home, but no wins on the road may hurt the Earthquakes when it comes down to figuring out the best six clubs in the West. The lack of production from its designated players should also harm San Jose's postseason chances. 

   

Prediction

1. FC Dallas

2. LA Galaxy

3. Colorado Rapids

4. Sporting Kansas City

5. Portland Timbers

6. Vancouver Whitecaps. 

 

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal: Score and Reaction from MLS All-Star Game 2016
MLS News
Thursday, 28 July 2016 22:14

It took a dramatic late goal from Chuba Akpom, but the Premier League's Arsenal outlasted the MLS All-Stars, 2-1, in Thursday's MLS All-Star Game in San Jose, California.

The Gunners also received a first-half goal off Joel Campbell's penalty kick, while Didier Drogba scored the lone goal for MLS. Arsenal snapped a two-game MLS winning streak in the event, as the All-Stars beat Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur in their previous two matches.

Paul Carr of ESPN Stats & Info noted Arsenal's triumph was the first win by a London team over the MLS All-Stars:

Arsenal weren't in midseason form as they build toward the upcoming Premier League campaign, but they managed 52 percent possession and seven shots on goal, compared to four for MLS, per ESPN FC.

Pace was not an issue in the initial few minutes. Arsenal's Theo Walcott nearly found the net on an early set piece bu goalkeeper Andre Blake turned it away, and the MLS All-Stars failed to convert a golden scoring opportunity when Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech blocked Giovani dos Santos from close range.

The quick back-and-forth action led to an early goal, after Arsenal found Campbell with a long ball and Laurent Ciman fouled him in the box as he was moving toward an open shot on goal. Campbell buried the subsequent penalty kick, as MLS shared:

The MLS representatives struggled to keep up with what Maximiliano Bretos of ESPN called a "Premier League pace" in the first half. While Blake kept the score at 1-0 with formidable play in front of the goal, Patrick Murphy of SB Nation's Massive Report noted his defense wasn't doing him any favors:

However, Drogba scored the first-half equalizer on the other end during stoppage time. It took him three tries to hit the net on the attack, but his persistence paid off as he buried a goal on his own rebound. He beat his former Chelsea teammate, Cech, which meant the Arsenal goalkeeper may be in for a long year, as Alicia Rose DelGallo of the Orlando Sentinel pointed out:

Carr noted Drogba scored 13 times in 15 contests against Arsenal when he was with Chelsea, which prompted this response from the club on Twitter:

Both teams made a number of substitutions at the start of the second half, including Arsenal's newly signed midfielder Granit Xhaka, in the hope they could inspire a late surge. However, neither team generated many legitimate scoring chances outside of a handful of forward pushes as the pace slowed in the opening stages of the second half.

Arsenal started to knock on the door when Xhaka ripped a long-range shot at 69 minutes and then curved a set-piece attempt in the 72nd minute, but goalkeeper David Bingham had the answer.

From there, the MLS All-Stars subbed in some familiar names for United States soccer fans. Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski both entered the game for the stretch run, and Wondolowski drew plenty of support in front of the local San Jose Earthquakes supporters.

Wondolowski had a chance to write the ideal ending, but he sailed an open look over the crossbar in the 82nd minute, as ESPN FC passed along:

That missed opportunity proved to be crucial, as Arsenal responded with the game-winning goal in the 87th minute. Akpom connected from close range off a perfectly placed assist from Nacho Monreal, as the MLS defense lost its concentration in a critical moment.

The MLS All-Stars challenged a couple of times in the final minutes, but they couldn't overcome the Arsenal defense and lost the exhibition in front of the San Jose fans.

    

Postgame Reaction

Cyle Larin discussed the contest from the MLS’ perspective, via ESPN FC:

As for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger praised his opponents, per DelGallo: “The MLS team was exceptional. When I looked at the players on the team sheet I thought, 'That will be a very difficult game for us.'”

Wenger also singled out Drogba, per reporter Patrick Friolet: “At halftime I thought, Drogba haunts us again, even in the USA!”

Campbell reflected on his effort that included scoring the opening goal:

While Arsenal won’t have to worry about Drogba in the Premier League, the level of competition will only increase moving forward. They will look to parlay some of the things that stood out during Thursday’s victory into their play in the upcoming season.

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