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September 10, 2016
City of roses, not of soccer

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Writer

Geographically challenged

Someone at the Portland Oregonian can't read a map. At least that's one way to explain how the newspaper rated arch-rival city Seattle as the No. 1 soccer town in the United States.

In a story last week, the Oregonian said it ranked all 16 U.S. MLS markets on 10 categories, weighting certain categories on “relative significance in creating a 'soccer city.' ” (The Canadian cities don't count in a survey of U.S. towns.)

Those included 2015 local TV ratings, average MLS attendance, MLS championships and homegrown signings. “The presence of women's soccer and NWSL attendance was given moderate emphasis,” it wrote.

Seattle scored 598 on the Oregonian's scale, mainly for the Sounders' league-leading (by a wide margin) average attendance of 44,247 last year and TV ratings. Portland was best in NWSL attendance.

Portland at least was second, with a score of 433, or about 28 percent behind Seattle.

The rest of the MLS cities had scores of 383 or lower. New York, with two teams, was fifth behind Kansas City and Orlando. Los Angeles was just behind New York.

Smaller markets like Columbus, Salt Lake and San Jose occupied three of the bottom six spots. Philadelphia didn't register. The Oregonian listed Chester, Pa., dead last. Chester, where the Philadelphia Union play at Talen Energy Stadium, about 20 miles from Center City in Philly.

It did list the Revolution as Boston (Foxborough, Mass.). The Revs were in the middle of the list at No. 8, behind Houston and ahead of Chicago (not Bridgeview, Ill.).

More lies than statistics?

Despite Juergen Klinsmann's publicly stated preference for European-based players over those in (cough) MLS, the U.S. league guys were more than cannon fodder in the past weekend's World Cup qualifiers.

MLS roster players (including the recently arrived Alejandro Bedoya) made up half of the 28 that got onto the field against St. Vincent (6-0 win) and Trinidad (4-0 win) and accounted for six of the 10 goals.

Besides 17-year-old Christian Pulisic (who plays in Germany), one player who probably turned the most heads was Sacha Kljestan, who hadn't played for the United States in nearly 2˝ years.

Kljestan, who hinted that when he signed with the Red Bulls in January 2015 one of the reasons was to get himself more in front of Klinsmann, scored two goals, including the important opener against Trinidad, and assisted on three others. Even Klinsmann acknowledged him during a halftime television interview during the game against Trinidad.

Is there a possible change in the air for the U.S. national team? Don't get crazy. Expect to see Jermaine Jones back in his usual spot when he's recovered from his knee injury.

Another of those MLS guys

Despite being seemingly written off by many U.S. national team observers for his recurring injuries, Jozy Altidore has climbed past Eric Wynalda for the third most goals in team history and even Clint Dempsey for most in World Cup qualifying history.

His penalty against St. Vincent on Friday and pair against Trinidad on Tuesday hiked his World Cup qualifying total to 16 (two more than Dempsey, who missed the weekend games with his irregular heartbeat issue) and 37 overall (three more than Eric Wynalda, whose been retired from the national team for 16 years).

Altidore's goals have come in 32 World Cup qualifiers and 95 games overall. He shouldn't get bask too long though. Pulisic has two goals in three World Cup qualifiers and three goals in eight matches overall. And Paul Ariola has two goals in two games, one in his only qualifier (actually only 24 minutes of one qualifier.)

Worst to first?

Four months after Britain's Telegraph called Frank Lampard the “worst signing in MLS history”, he's at least enjoying a respite of laughter.

With two goals in the final five minutes, Lampard rallied NYC to a 3-2 victory over D.C. United last week and earned himself a second Player of the Week award in a month. Lampard last won the honor on Aug. 2 for a three-goal game that paced a 5-1 win over Colorado.

Lampard has scored 11 goals since mid-June, led NYC to an 8-3-2 record and pushed it from fourth to first in MLS' Eastern Conference.

He's not as universally acknowledged a success as David Beckham yet, but he's at least on track to shed the disaster tag.

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