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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

July 6, 2016
MLS INFORMER
Winning the battle, losing the war – or vice versa

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

Missed it by that much
It's one of those moments when victory not only feels like a loss, it is a loss – a big, painful one. Vancouver seemed set to win a second straight Canadian Championship title last week, yet seized defeat from the steel jaws of victory.

After a 1-0 win in the first leg of the finals by Toronto on June 21, Vancouver trailed by the slimmest of margins heading home on June 29.

Vancouver led 2-0 – enough to claim a second straight crown – on second-half goals by Nicholas Mezquida and Tim Parker, and appeared to be seconds away from the title. But goalkeeper David Ousted crashed over the back of teammate Kendall Waston as he came off his line to grab a high ball, dropped it and Will Johnson pounced, volleying the bounding ball from the middle of the penalty area into an open goal.

It tied the game on aggregate goals (2-2), but Johnson's away goal seconds into in the fifth minute of injury time – that was only to last four minutes – was enough to give Toronto its fifth Canadian title. The result made Toronto the first qualifier for the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League, a day after Vancouver learned its group stage schedule for the upcoming CCL.

Mid-season attendance check
After three straight years of attendance growth, MLS appears headed for a fourth – albeit at a slower rate. From a final average crowd of 18,594 in 2013 to 19,147 in 2014, and to 21,558 last year, the numbers are not as encouraging midway through this season.

MLS is averaging 21,456 through 171 games as of Monday, down from last year's final number but up 2 percent from the 21,023 through 181 games in 2015 (just after the Independence Day games).

Twelve teams are ahead of last year's pace, most notably Montreal (15,630 to 21,639) and Los Angeles (21,424 to 24,442).

Among those that are down are New York City, dropping 7 percent from 28,924 to 26,978.

Seattle still leads the way with an average crowd of 40,809, 573 more than last year at mid-season.

Western Conference leader Dallas brings up the rear with an average crowd of 13,932, off nearly 9 percent from a year earlier.

Evertonian For Life – until now
Former LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Landon Donovan appears to have had a change of heart.

Despite having declared himself an “Evertonian for life” after his two brief stints at the English club, he's now investing in Swansea City.

The 34-year-old Donovan announced via Twitter that he has joined a consortium led by Memphis Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan and D.C. United managing partner Jason Levien that has purchased the 104-year-old English Premier League club.

Donovan, who retired from MLS after 14 seasons in 2014 and served as a television match analyst for Fox during last month's Copa America, tweeted that he was “looking forward to meeting The Jack Army."

No word as to which scarf he will wear at Everton-Swansea games.

Rookie rising
This year's No. 1 SuperDraft pick, Jack Harrison, who didn't play in New York City's first 12 games of the season, has scored two goals since breaking into the starting lineup four matches ago and now has a Player of the Week honor as well.

The 19-year-old Englishman, who played last fall as a freshman for Wake Forest before opting for the draft, had the first goal and assisted on the second to lead NYC to its first victory over the New York Red Bulls in five tries on Sunday.

Despite the high-profile nature of NYC's roster, Harrison is only the second player from the club to win POTW, and first since David Villa who won it in the second week of last season.



   
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