June 29, 2016
By Brian Trusdell
No good deed goes unpunished
Soccer News Net contributor
|MLS Player of the Week Roland Alberg scored four goals for Philadelphia in two games last week, including a hat trick against the Chicago Fire.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Tim Howard's long-anticipated arrival in Colorado, more than three months after his transfer from Everton was announced, has been feted with everything but a brass band. The Rapids are happy to have him. Colorado welcomes him.
But what about Zac MacMath?
The 24-year-old MacMath is in his second season with Colorado, after being discarded by Philadelphia after the 2014 season. As much as he wasn't valued by the Union, the Rapids likewise apparently didn't think much of him at the start of this season, prompting the acquisition of Howard on March 20.
However, all the St. Petersburg, Fla., native has done is become the top goalkeeper in MLS this season. He's played every minute of Colorado's MLS season, leads the league in victories (nine), goals against average (0.69), shares the lead in shutouts (six) and has the sixth-longest shutout streak of the season (247 minutes).
No doubt, at least part of MacMath's numbers has to do with the worst-to-first emergence of Colorado, which has lost only twice and has the best record in the league.
Howard clearly shows up with the lengthier and more impressive curriculum vitae. But he's lost his U.S. national team starting job to Brad Guzan, played only four games since January and his MLS debut could come as soon as Monday at home against Portland. If so, Wednesday's US Open Cup [XXXXX] FC Dallas could be MacMath's last moment in the sun, er...floodlights.
ESPN is hoping the California Clasico has some coattails for the George Washington Bridge Battle.
Last Saturday's 1-1 draw between the Earthquakes and LA Galaxy in Stanford Stadium not only drew a crowd of 50,816, but a national television audience of another 1 million on Univision. It was the first live MLS game on Univision since 1999 and the first regular season game that drew a TV audience of 1 million or more since David Beckham and the LA Galaxy played D.C. United in 2008.
This Sunday, the second installment of this season's New York derby will be played in Yankee Stadium. In the two previous meetings between the Red Bulls and NYC in the Bronx, the game drew 48,047 last year and 37,358 earlier this year.
Considering the 7-0 rout by the Red Bulls on May 21, there certainly is a taste for revenge by NYC (which has lost all four games versus NYRB). ESPN has the match but a high noon kickoff may dampen TV audiences, rather than make it the latest incarnation of the Earps and Clantons.
Shared philosophy or mark made
Tab Ramos' U.S. U-20 national team roster selections certainly reflect the public pronouncements of his boss, senior U.S. national team manager and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann – specifically a disdain for MLS.
Ramos' 21-player roster for the USSF-hosted NTC Invitational in Carson, Calif., includes nine college players – including a goalkeeper named Jonathan Klinsmann at California, five from foreign clubs, with the academy clubs, one from a USL team and only four from MLS clubs.
The mixture is very similar to the squad that competed in the Dallas Cup earlier this year.
Forwards Coy Craft of FC Dallas and Victor Mansaray of Seattle and defenders Tommy Redding of Orlando and Hugh Arellano of Los Angeles are the only players on MLS rosters. Redding and Mansaray are returnees from the Dallas Cup.
Auston Trusty, who on the Dallas Cup roster was listed as with the Philadelphia Union, is on the more recent roster as being with Philly's USL side Bethlehem Steel.
The U.S. U-20s were to begin play Wednesday against Costa Rica before facing Panama on Friday and Japan on Sunday.
The 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, qualifying for the U-20 World Cup, is set for Feb. 17-March 5 in Costa Rica.
The Uruguay-born Ramos, the first player signed by MLS, played college soccer for North Carolina State.
More than a fill-in
Having found more playing time in Philadelphia's midfield following the departure of Victor Nogueira for “personal health reasons," Roland Alberg has certainly capitalized.
He's scored in four consecutive games – seven goals total, including four in two games last Wednesday and Saturday that earned him MLS Player of the Week honors.
The goals were only worth one win to the Union, but in the four matches the 25-year-old Dutchman has accounted for a quarter of Philly's scoring this season. Of course, Philadelphia also has allowed 14 goals in that span – which includes a U.S. Open Cup win and accounts for more than half of the 25 goals it has permitted in 17 matches.
Alberg, acquired in February, started four straight games early this season until he was ejected from an April 17 match with two yellow cards in the 53rd minute against Seattle. He didn't get back into the starting lineup until the Open Cup match against Harrisburg on May 16. He probably will stay for a while.