Category: MLS

Brad Friedel top candidate for coach of New England Revolution – sources

There is mutual interest in Brad Friedel becoming the New England Revolution coach, sources say.

Former United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel is the top candidate for the New England Revolution’s coaching vacancy, multiple sources have told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman.

Friedel, 46, is the coach of the little-seen U.S. under-19 team, and is looking for his first club coaching experience since retiring as a player two and a half years ago.

Sources said Friedel is interested in the Revolution job, which came open when Jay Heaps was fired in September.

New England finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

Friedel only retired as a player at the end 2014-15 Premier League season after four seasons with Tottenham, making 50 Premier League appearances for Spurs, but only one over his past two seasons.

The former goalkeeper’s only MLS experience as a player came in a season and a half with the Columbus Crew in 1996-97. He then moved to England, where he holds the record for consecutive starts in the Premier League at 310 over eight years.

Friedel won 82 caps for the United States, appearing at three World Cups.

He has worked as an analyst for Fox Sports in addition to his recent duties with U.S. Soccer.

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New York City FC's over-reliance on David Villa cost it in the playoffs

Columbus will play Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Final after NYCFC failed to score the third goal they needed.

They might be the last people New York City FC would look to for empathy, but New York Red Bulls know the feeling.

A game plan and a series that hinges on contingencies you can’t plan for; a self-inflicted and avoidable disciplinary wound; a goal-of-a-lifetime against you; a goalkeeping error.

Red Bulls fans will read the above and instantly flash to multiple moments over the years that seemed to undo a season in a second; for that matter, they may well probably end up adding the circumstances around Sebastian Giovinco’s first-leg free kick this year to a long and unedifying list. But as of this year, NYCFC has its own hall of infamy.

This year’s playoff loss felt different to last year’s, in that the 2016 loss to Toronto was self-inflicted before a ball had been kicked — thanks to Patrick Vieira second-guessing his tactics and lineup in Toronto — before the floodgates opened in the return leg at Yankee Stadium.

This year, though, Vieira did a lot right, at least up until the moment when sentiment seemed to get the better of pragmatism and he sent on Andrea Pirlo to see out the last minutes of his career hitting balls over the top into Brooklyn. His midfield in particular competed throughout the 180 minutes of the Columbus Crew SC series. His stuttering attack managed to score three goals, and his defense maintained a shutout at home to prevent the away goal that would have likely killed the tie long before the end. And his team won its first playoff game.

But it lost the war. While it’s tempting to look at Alexander Callens’ red card, Sean Johnson’s goalkeeper error one-on-one with Justin Meram, and Harrison Afful’s unrepeatable moment of genius and say that an aggregate of bad luck did in NYCFC, as it often has for the red half of New York, that’s to miss some important lessons that NYCFC needs to incorporate in its offseason planning.

First, the team needs to start planning how it wants to vary its attack. David Villa scoring 40 percent of his team’s goals this year is a damning stat, especially when considering the age of the striker and the team’s underwhelming form without him. The club has thankfully moved on from the “Villa plus 10” logic of its early days, when the former Spanish international sometimes appeared to be trying to get on the end of his own crosses, but Rodney Wallace and Jack Harrison tailed off alarmingly in 2017 — finishing the regular season with just two goals between them since May.

David Villa
David Villa carried New York City FC’s attack, but it wasn’t enough to defeat Columbus Crew SC.

Both Wallace and Harrison came alive belatedly in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but their ineffectiveness in the first leg had seen both subbed out. They had played their part, along with NYCFC’s midfield, in creating chances for Villa, but Crew SC had mostly looked very comfortable in managing the defensive odds of shutting down the sole goal threat. And even though Villa scored a goal that briefly held the tie in balance, the thought of going into 2018 again leaning so heavily on a 35-year-old attacker, no matter how talented, should at the very least give Vieira and sporting director Claudio Reyna pause about what Plan B is.

On that note, the designated player slot that opens with the departure of Pirlo will be key. There’ll be another moment to seriously assess the Italian maestro’s negligible contribution in an NYCFC jersey, but for now the priority is for City Football Group and Reyna to look at the team and not the marketing strategy when replacing him.

Atlanta United has shown how young payers like Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez can excite a fan base. Pirlo and Frank Lampard before him were throwbacks to a different moment; not only the moment when the two could still be consistently effective as players, but the moment where MLS expansion clubs feared the absence of brand recognition could ruin them.

NYCFC took a step in the right direction with the addition of Maxi Moralez to replace Lampard. Now it must maintain the trend, perhaps by looking to South America again and considering ways to provide more angles of attack. Assuming Harrison stays and continues to improve, that may mean looking at Wallace’s spot or considering the formation that currently exists in support of Villa.

The midfield grit of Alexander Ring and Yangel Herrera was perhaps the success story of this year for NYCFC; the team’s one-time soft center looks to be a thing of the past for now, especially when the guile and playmaking of Moralez is added to that trio. The memories of Andoni Iraola being run ragged trying to compensate for Lampard and Pirlo’s legginess in last year’s New York derbies are long gone.

That midfield base gives the team something tangible to build on, and if we haven’t mentioned a defense that conceded four goals in a playoff game, that’s perhaps because a cooler assessment of a heated series suggests that the circumstances that did them in were an aberration rather than inevitable. Sean Johnson has been an upgrade in goal this season, whatever happened in a moment in the playoffs, and while the cost of Callens’ rush of blood to the head will weigh heavily on the defender, it shouldn’t overshadow a good season.

In other words, “these things happen,” as the Red Bulls say every year.

Graham Parker writes for ESPN FC, FourFourTwo and Howler. He covers MLS and the U.S. national teams. Follow him on Twitter @grahamparkerfc.

Crew's Ola Kamara gets long-awaited recall to Norway squad

Major League Soccer: Ola Kamara (6′) Columbus Crew SC 1-0 New York City FC
Ola Kamara discusses the impact of Columbus’ fans and what Crew SC need to do to finish off New York City FC.

Ola Kamara will prepare for Columbus Crew SC’s next test in the MLS playoffs by playing for Norway over the international break.

Norway called up Kamara for their upcoming friendlies against Macedonia and Slovakia, ending a three-year wait for the striker to be recalled to his national team.

Kamara, 28, had not been called up since moving to MLS, and he had recently spoken of his frustration on being left out of the Norway squad despite his fine form.

“Now I have had two strong seasons that are better than most Norwegian players, except [Bournemouth’s] Joshua King,” Kamara told VG last month. “I have shown good scores over two seasons, with 34 goals.

“I should have been on the national team, but I also know that coaches choose players who fit into their playing style … My achievements are good enough. The league is good enough.”

Kamara scored 18 goals in the regular season for Columbus and added another in the first leg of Crew SC’s Eastern Conference semifinal victory over New York City FC.

He will return to his club in time for the conference final against Toronto FC, which begins Nov. 21.

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WATCH: Top 5 MLS Cup Playoffs goals so far

As focus turns to the conference finals, check out the best goals so far in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.

WATCH: Pirlo's best moments for NYCFC

Revisit the best moments of Andrea Pirlo's time with New York City FC after the Italian maestro's retirement.