Arizona Exports: Gordon, Bayona keep scoring, Weber impressive in starts, Hansen helps Islanders to CONCACAF Champions League spot
Arizona Exports is a feature in which we track the progress of those from the state who are playing professional soccer. It is an evolving feature, as we continue to find more players who once kicked it in Arizona and are now kicking it on some of the largest stages in the game. If we’ve left anyone out (and we expect we have), please feel free to leave their name in the comments.
A brief note, all decisions as to who will be featured as an Arizonan will be made by AZKI and can be subject to debate. Normally I make some kind of joke here about how we’ll decide if we’re going to include them or not, but it’s too hot to think of anything clever.
We dispute Chad Barrett‘s AZ credentials, but by popular demand we keep an eye on the guy. He got in for the final two minutes of LA’s 3-2 win against Real Salt Lake. Then, he played the final minute of the Galaxy’s 3-0 romp over Vancouver this weekend.
Alan Gordon might not be the most popular guy at the next Arizona Exports reunion. This week, Gordon captured some more of the magic he showed earlier this season when it seemed he scored as a sub in every match, and he did it against two teams with fellow Arizonans.
He came off the bench to score the opener for the Earthquakes in a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake on Saturday that takes the Earthquakes to the top of the table.
This after he came in to the Quakes’ Wednesday match against the Colorado Rapids. Gordon came in 25 minutes from the whistle and provided some enthusiasm for San Jose, basically forcing Hunter Freeman into an own goal in the in the 83rd minute. We’ll see if Gordon can continue his conquest of other Arizona natives when San Jose plays Seattle (who we’ll get to later) in Open Cup play at 7:30 tonight.
The weekend performance put a frown on the face of Nat Borchers. The RSL center back hasn’t had the best week with losses to the Quakes and the Galaxy souring the mood in Utah. Borchers went the full 90 in both defeats.
Tony Cascio actually wasn’t in the side for the Rapids loss to Gordon and the Quakes, getting some long rest from coach Oscar Pareja with the weekend off for the team. Cascio did score during an intrasquad scrimmage.
Andrew Weber finally got his chance to start in goal for the Seattle Sounders. His first start of the season came Wednesday and he drew strong reviews for his performance in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City. He couldn’t do much about the goal and made four saves. It was a good enough performance to earn him another start. He wasn’t as strong in the 2-1 loss to the rival Portland Timbers but still had a decent performance.
Brad Evans had two shots in the first half of that contest before he was subbed out of the match. He went 72 minutes in the draw with SKC. Sounder at Heart has an interesting rumor that would have the Sounders bringing in an international to essentially take Evans’ starting spot. All conjecture now, of course, but interesting thought to entertain.
Weber and Evans could both be in the side for the aforementioned USOC match with the Earthquakes.
No action this week for Chivas USA man Blair Gavin. He was an unused substitute in both a 2-1 win against Montreal in the midweek and a scoreless draw Saturday with Dallas.
We’ll see if he plays with the Goats in USOC action against the Charlotte Eagles tonight. With AZ natives on both sides of Seattle-San Jose, the success or failure of Chivas USA determines whether or not we’ll have guys on two teams in the semifinals.
The trio of D.C. United players who hail from Arizona contributed in their spanking of the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium earlier in the season. All three started the return leg, which turned in to the Red Bulls exacting some revenge on their Eastern Conference rivals.
Danny Cruz made his return from a hamstring injury and didn’t waste any time contributing. He provided an assist in the very first minute of the game. He actually played well in his 59 minutes of action, but the enduring picture of Cruz from this match will be him getting victimized by Heath Pearce.
I know, I know, but I had to include it. Sick move.
Brandon McDonald went the full 90 as is the norm, but didn’t get much help stopping New York’s attack. United’s midfield was uncharacteristically porous in the 3-2 loss. That includes Nick DeLeon who did well when he was able to break out, but found himself stuck in his own half too often. He made way for Andy Najar with 20 minutes left in the match.
Still sidelined from headaches symptoms likely resulting from a concussion, Pablo Mastroeni hasn’t appeared for the Colorado Rapids since March 18.
Esteban Bayona might be in the best form of all our exports. He scored last week after several tremendous appearances for the NASL leaders, the San Antonio Scorpions. Well, at least they were the leaders before this week, but a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies was no fault of Bayona’s. The Tempe native scored a strange goal in the 52nd minute to give the Scorpions a 2-1 lead. Bayona headed a cross down, but it hit the post. He followed up and that shot was blocked, then the ball somehow ended up across the line. I thought it was an own goal, but his name goes on the scoresheet because they don’t ask me these things. Decide for yourself here at the 1:00 mark.
He also got credit for an assist on the match’s first goal when he played a ball back through the box from the goal line to Jonathan Greenfield, who beat his defender and then the keeper. Bayona came out in the 76th minute with the goal, assist and four shots to his name in the defeat.
Meanwhile, Josh Hansen simply keeps delivering for the Puerto Rico Islanders. This week, the Islanders were part of a four-team CFU Championship to determine which three teams would qualify for the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League. I had half-joked that the Islanders would be best served losing the first game and winning the third place match to get in the easiest remaining group. Not sure if that’s how they drew it up, but that’s exactly what happened.
Hansen came on as a sub and added the lone goal of the match for the Islanders when their with W Connection of Trinidad and Tobago was well out of hand. The final result was a 4-1 loss, forcing a must-win game against Antigua Barracuda FC.
Hansen got his first start of the season in this match (something that one vociferous fan of the team’s Facebook page had been demanding virtually every update the team gave), and, according to several reports, was one of its most dangerous players. He had an early volley over the bar and followed that up with an early goal, hitting in a ball that had been played to him at the back post. He came out midway through the second half once the Islanders CCL qualification was secured by a successful Jonathan Faña penalty, which Hansen set up with a pass through the Antigua back line.
Though he was named to the bench, he was rested in the Islanders’ weekend victory against Atlanta – one that puts them back at the top of the table as we approach the halfway mark on the season.
I don’t have an official update on Islander teammate Jamie Cunningham‘s surgery. As we mentioned last week, the defender is back in Arizona to get treatment and will miss several months.
After a gaffe last week, Justin Davis got back on track, as did his Minnesota Stars team in a 2-1 win against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Davis returned to his swashbuckling ways at left back, firing a shot just over the bar only moments after the Stars had gone up 2-1.
Abe Thompson was again an unused substitute for the Strikers.
Rob Valentino was back in training for Orlando City last week, but he wasn’t in the squad for their 3-0 victory against Harrisburg – a victory that seems to reflect enough quality, but the Lions coach, Adrian Heath, didn’t seem too happy with his team’s effort.
The Los Angeles Blues haven’t played since last time we updated you. Irving Garcia and crew are back in action Thursday evening in Charlotte when they play the Eagles.
Michael Zaher again missed out on a Rochester Rhinos win. They beat the Richmond Kickers, 3-2. He hasn’t played since a June 2 match in which he sustained an injury, but I’ve yet to see any sort of report on what actually happened. If you have any information, please leave it below the line.
Robbie Findley joined our very own podcast this week. Check it out.
Signs and rumblings continue to point toward Mix Diskerud staying at Gent on a permanent move. This week, Marko Suler signed with Legia Warsaw rather than return to Gent after a loan spell in Israel last season. Additionally, I have no idea what kind of source this is, but this Norwegian article indicates things aren’t getting any better financially for Diskerud’s current club Stabaek. That also affects American defensive midfielder Ricardo Clark, who had been with Stabaek on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt.
Still nothing on Luis Robles who could move from the 2.Bundesliga to MLS this summer.