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June 22, 2016
Not-so-memorable milestone

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

Forgetting a memorable game
It wasn't a game Sigi Schmid wants to – or will – remember. Despite coaching in his 500th MLS game – the first and only one to reach the milestone, the Seattle Sounders coach admits Sunday's 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls was one he'd rather forget.

“It just means that I've had a lot of good players. I've been blessed that way,” Schmid said after watching his team outshoot New York 16-11, have slightly more possession yet still lose its fourth in five games and continue a season-long slump that has dropped it to ninth in the Western Conference.

“I've had the opportunity to coach a lot of good players and it's allowed me to stay in the league. It's great. I probably won't remember this game very much because of the way it ended.”

The result left Schmid with a 227-161-112 record over 17 league seasons. That's 101 matches ahead of Dominic Kinnear (399) and 108 ahead of Bruce Arena (392). In terms of victories, Schmid leads Arena by 32 and Kinnear by 70. And the wins don't seem to be getting any easier, especially this year. But even in defeat, Schmid can keep a sense of humor.

“Soccer has definitely improved an awful lot. Even in my years in MLS, the quality of play certainly has gotten much stronger, much better,” Schmid said. “Early on in MLS, the defending was porous, to say the least.

“Now teams defend well. The teams also keep possession of the ball. They move the ball around. They make you work, so, just the overall quality of play has improved – and all aspects of the game: coaching, the players, I'll even say the referees.”

Familiar territory?
Toronto FC is within one victory of its fifth Canadian Championship crown and first in four years. Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Vancouver in the first leg of the tournament finals put it within 90 minutes of returning to the CONCACAF Champions League, where it reached the semifinals in 2012.

A complication with that, however, is assuming it prevails with a win or a draw on June 29 in Vancouver, it won't start play in the CCL for about 14 months. That's because Vancouver, which won the Canadian title last year when the tournament was delayed a month from its previous regular schedule, will take this year's spot in the CCL that starts sometime in August.

While the U.S. Open Cup winds toward a Sept. 21 final, the Canadian Championship winner will become the first qualifier for the 2017-18 CCL. The four previous times Toronto won the title, Vancouver finished as runner-up.

Comings and goings – or staying put
Amid Toronto FC's push for the Canadian title, the club is caught in a swirl of transfer rumors.

A blog post confirmed by a Toronto Sun reporter has indicated Sampdoria in the Serie A has approached Michael Bradley about returning to Italy two years after he left Europe and came back to MLS, noting that Toronto FC has rebuffed the move.

Even it were to be true, a widely quoted report in Sport Bild has 31-year-old German forward Lucas Podolski considering leaving Turkey's Galatasaray after one season for Toronto.

The reports are only two of the countless stories now floating about, although involving two prominent players, but that's not unusual during the European transfer season.

Correlation or coincidence
Mike Grella's pair of goals Sunday gave him six for the season, the New York Red Bulls a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders and Grella his first Player of the Week honor.

It was the third time this season a Red Bulls player has won the award and the second time in four weeks.

Grella has scored a goal or assisted on one in each of New York's last four games, all victories, through last weekend, a run which has seen the Red Bulls climb into second place in the Eastern Conference.

In addition to his six goals – in five games -- the 29-year-old midfielder has three assists. In games which Grella has either a goal or an assist, the Red Bulls are 7-0.

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