MLS Update: In memory of Kirk Urso
Before I start today, I’d like to honor the memory of 22-year old Kirk Urso. Urso was a midfielder for the Columbus Crew, and collapsed early Sunday morning. He wasn’t a first-teamer on the squad, but by all accounts was a promising talent and just a great guy all around. He will be missed.
Columbus Crew (W8-L8-D4) 28 pts.
Squad report: On Sunday the Crew lost a winnable game to D.C. United, but the disappointment of letting one get away became insignificant when the news of Urso’s death reached the team on Sunday. If Columbus would have had a game on Wednesday, odds are it would have been canceled. There are some things more important than soccer. Saturday’s game against Toronto will go on as scheduled, and the Crew will wear black armbands with Urso’s number, 15. In fact, Columbus will be honoring Urso’s memory all week and for the rest of the year. The most touching aspect for me is the planting of a maple tree outside of the stadium, along with a memorial plaque.
Up next: As stated above, on Saturday Columbus welcomes Toronto to Crew Stadium, but the focus for the Crew will be on Urso. I think there’s a good chance this game will end in either a draw or a win for Columbus.
Seattle Sounders (W10-L5-D7) 37 pts.
Squad report: Despite losing the US Open Cup on Wednesday night on penalties to Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders have to be happy with their performance over the last few weeks. Last weekend Seattle absolutely smashed L.A., 4-0, in a game where the scoreline accurately represented the play on the field. The Sounders also grabbed a 3-1 win in their Champions League tilt with Caledonia (a team from Trinidad and Tobago), and came within penalties of securing their fourth US Open Cup title in a row. The Sounders still have a solid grip on third in the west, and are slowly gaining ground on Real Salt Lake. Don’t feel too bad for Seattle.
Up next: The only thing standing in Seattle’s way right now is San Jose on Saturday. This is a hugely important game for both teams. Let’s hope Seattle didn’t burn itself out in the USOC final.
Vancouver Whitecaps (W9-L7-D7) 34 pts.
Squad report: Vancouver’s last game was on July 27, and was a disappointing 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. However, the Whitecaps were coming off a 2-1 win over San Jose, and beating either of the top two teams in the West is a tall order. During their week off, Vancouver signed two new players: Andy O’Brien, a center-back from Leeds in England, and Tiago Ulisses, a midfielder from Botafogo in Brazil. The 33-year-old O’Brien brings experience to the back line and Ulisses will hopefully bring creativity and depth to the midfield. a few weeks before the Whitecaps brought in striker and designated player Kenny Miller from Cardiff City in England. It’s been a heck of a summer for the management in Vancouver. Since the middle of June, the Whitecaps have completed 11 different deals.
Up next: On Saturday Vancouver plays Real again, and although it’s doubtful all three new acquisitions will play, this still might be a very different team than the one that lost to Salt Lake two weeks ago. We’ll see.
Portland Timbers (W5-L12-D5) 20 pts.
Squad update: The past two weekend the Timbers have had a pair of home games and the chance to climb out of the Western Conference cellar. Instead, Portland lost to Chivas and then tied FC Dallas. However, at least the draw with Dallas broke a five-game losing streak, and a 1-1 scoreline is definitely better than the 5-0 thrashing the Timbers received from Dallas a few weeks ago. The big news this week was the unexpected trade of goalkeeper Troy Perkins for Montreal’s Donovan Ricketts. The word from the management is that this is a good move for Portland, but the team’s problems run deeper than the man between the posts. Perkins was a fan favorite and a veteran presence in the locker room, so there’s even the potential this move could backfire.The Timbers also shored up the back line with a move for New Zealand international Ian Hogg, while trading defender Mike Chabala to D.C. United for a pick in the 2014 MLS Supplemental Draft. I’m honestly not sure how this move will work out, having only seen Hogg in action a few times (He previously played in New Zealand’s first division.)
Up next: A matchup of the two worst teams in the league awaits MLS fans on Wednesday, when Portland heads to Toronto. I’m not sure I want to predict this game, so I just won’t.
Toronto FC (W5-L13-D4) 19 pts.
Squad report: The loss of Danny Koevermans to injury is already being felt by Toronto. After a brief resurgence, the Reds have lost their last two MLS games (against Houston and Chicago) and only managed one goal (against Chicago). Toronto fared better in the Champions League, winning 5-1 against CD Aguila on Aug. 1. The Reds have also made a move during the transfer window, picking up Leeds defender and Irish international Darren O’Dea. At this point Toronto is in the rebuilding stage, but O’Dea does lend experience to a relatively young back line. Hopefully it helps.
Up next: Toronto has a pair of games on the horizon, first and emotionally charged matchup against the Crew in Columbus (see above) and then a home game against Portland. I predict a draw and a loss.