MLS- Toronto FC

Eastern Conference Notes: Mwanga breaks slump, Attakora frozen out & more


 Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com


Through the early stages of this 2011 season, Philadelphia Union striker Danny Mwanga has seemingly epitomized the phrase "sophomore slump."

After notching seven goals last season en route to being a Rookie of the Year finalist, Mwanga has started just four of his eight games played this year. Prior to Wednesday's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, he hadn't found net once.

That changed in the 84th minute Wednesday when he notched the goal that salvaged a 1-1 draw for the Union.

"It's great motivation for me," Mwanga said after the match. "Hopefully I'll work hard and just get another one for the next game and build from there for the rest of the season."

Here is some more news from around the Eastern Conference:


Young aspiring soccer players in the Chicago area will soon have 10 new artificial turf fields on which to hone their skills.

In what officials at the Chicago Park District say is the biggest donation in its history, the "Take the Field" initiative has pledged to contribute up to $10 million for fields in the city, as reported in the Chicago Tribune. The Fire and a Chicago Bears charity are among the contributors.


Coach Robert Warzycha has seen the play of striker Emilio Renteria mature since the Venezuelan arrived in 2009, noting he now "reads the game much better." The evolution has paid off on the field, as Renteria has notched four goals in his last three outings.

"He's allowing his teammates to help him," Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com "He's not trying to turn and go through four defenders. He's actually dropping the ball – not as often as I would like to yet, but he's doing much better than when he came."


One notably absent part of United's attack this season has been set-piece success. Aside from penalty kicks, United has just one goal against the run of play — a Marc Burch free kick April 29 at Houston. Free kick service from captain Dax McCarty has been particularly inconsistent thus far, and playmaker Branko Boskovic, one of United's alternative set piece options, will miss four to six months with a torn ACL.

"As far as the corners, [they're] not good enough. We're not getting enough joy out of those," coach Ben Olsen said. "Right now, we don't have a David Beckham. We don't have a real free kick artist, so to speak. But we've got some guys that can sting some balls and that can get better, absolutely."


Houston and FC Dallas may no longer be in the same conference, but that doesn't mean the rivalry between the Texas sides is any less fierce. Ahead of the teams' May 28 meeting, the Dynamo purchased a billboard near Pizza Hut Park that showcases the Dynamo's two MLS Cup trophies and reads, "Houston: Two times better than Dallas."

"We consider them our rivals because [of] the in-state portion, and I think Houston in general has a hatred for everything Dallas," Dynamo Senior Vice President Rocky Harris told MLSsoccer.com. "This year, we wanted to get the passion out on both sides. On Facebook, we saw fans were talking up the rivalry. We thought we should tap into what the fans were saying."


Coach Steve Nicol acknowledged plans to sign a designated player during the summer transfer after the Revolution's scoreless tie with New England last weekend. According to the Boston Globe, the Revolution has targeted a European player among the top scorers in his national team’s history.

New England has already significantly bolstered its attacking corps since the start of the season, adding Danish striker Rajko Lekic and U.S. midfielder Benny Feilhaber.


Goalkeeper Greg Sutton saw first-team minutes for the first time since suffering a concussion in March during New York's 1-0 friendly loss at the Montreal Impact on Wednesday. The Canadian international won the starting job in preseason but only played one match before the injury and has since given way to Bouna Coundoul.

"It's always a difficult match, for both sides really, in the middle of the week when you've got league matches on the weekend, so you're playing a lot of different players," Sutton said of friendly.


Coach Peter Vermes seems set to stick with Julio Cesar and Aurelien Collin in central defense Saturday against Los Angeles after removing Matt Besler from the lineup for the first time this season during the team's 1-0 loss to New York. Vermes, though, said the change "was not an indication of bad play" from Besler.

"I like the way he's progressing," Vermes told MLSsoccer.com "I feel good that we now have a good contingency of central defenders so if someone does go down, we've got guys that can go in and play just as well."


According to reports out of Toronto, defender Nana Attakora is being frozen out by TFC for not agreeing to a new contract with the club. Attakora's agent told CBC Sports the club is purposefully benching him until he agrees to a new deal, which the player doesn't want to do because of the coaching carousel he's seen revolve in his time with TFC. Attakora's contract expires at the end of the year.

Attakora did not travel with the team for its match in Dallas on Wednesday night and has not featured in a game since coming on as a late substitute in the club's loss to D.C. United on April 16. He joins Dwayne De Rosario and Adrian Cann as Canadian TFCers to be involved in a contract dispute with the club's management. As opposed to those two instances, though, this one appears to be spearheaded by the club.


Is Mwanga back on track after scoring against the Galaxy? Should United assign its set pieces to a new player? Think Toronto's treatment of Attakora is unfair?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Brad

    Attakora refuses to sign or negotiate a contract until his contract expires -if he decides not to sign with TFC when his contract expires they get nothing for him if he leaves – frankly if i was TFC i would trade him now and get what i can and play the players who are longer-term focused.


  • Richard

    Compare Mwanga to Najar, who still doesn’t have a goal, and stole the ROY last year.


  • jonk

    Based on the clues in the linked article (euro player based in Turkey, among top goalscorers for his country), here are a few possibilities:
    Milan Baros (Czech), Stanislav Sestak (Slovakia)


  • Pompey Canuck

    I am surprised that TFC is freezing out a player they would want to keep. I understand the fear of losing a player for nothing, but there is something to be said for treating a player in a just manner. It is also foolish to not be putting your best XI out for matches, especially when you are trying to get into the playoffs.


  • Brad

    they were playing him but he was playing poorly – there is no one, Nana included, who denied that.

    he doesn’t want to sign until his contract expires and if he doesn’t then TFC get nothing for him. i don’t see it as odd they are trying to move him and potentially get something in return.


  • RT

    It should be noted that the statement about Attakora being “frozen out” came from his agent, who one can assume is not the least biased source…


  • alex

    except there are a ton of guys on the roster who are playing poorly right now … not an exclusive club by any means.


  • Josh D

    You could always put in Ruud… Unlikely as his knees would hate playing day in and out on turf, but he fits the bill as well…


  • jts

    As long as they don’t follow Dallas and extend some middling current player


  • Josh D

    Compare a striker to a winger… A winger on a crap team whose team totaled one of the worst goal averages in the history of the league.

    Coming from a DC fan. At times Najar lifted the whole team and always looked a threat. Not justifying the win, but you’re missing some major points.


  • fischy

    I really do hate to seem like a real stickler — but I think you are confused about what “against the run of play” means.

    “United has just one goal against the run of play…”

    That would be one goal off set plays, or one goal DURING the run of play. Having watched United, I’d say they’ve scored more than one goal against the run of play.


  • jonk

    Yeah, it would be horrible if they offered a contract extension to a 3rd or 4th year player that has made MLS best XIs and garnered some interest from Bradley. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that as the only player on the Revs roster that fits that criteria is Kevin Alston.


  • jonk

    Come on, you can be a stickler but it’s clear he meant only one goal (aside from pks) not in the run of play. Your sentence “That would be one goal off set plays or one goal DURING the run of play” doesn’t make sense though.
    Anyway, if I was being a stickler I would normally interpret “against the run of play” to mean a counterattack goal or something similarly at odds with the flow of the game.


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    He stole it from Tim Ream, who also should have been defender of the year.


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    I suspect this is Winter’s doing. Remember, Gullit behaved like an irresponsible, game-playing jerk when he coached the Galaxy in 2008. If any one individual was responsible for the Galaxy’s combustable clubhouse that year, it would be Gullit, more so than Beckham.

    Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Dutch coaches in MLS…..


  • Ossington Mental YOuth

    wow you guys are out of touch with the situation. Kid wants more money (which he was offered at the start of the season) and less years (which TFC wont swallow), he hasnt looked that great in the few games hes played (granted he needs time to adjust) and some have suggested hes asked for outlandish amounts (upwards of 6 figures).

    I dont blame Winter for freezing him out as we need a back line that gels nad if the kid isnt likely to stick around why bother to put him in the first line up (outside of the fact that harden and gargan are terrible).

    I hope it gets sorted but it doesnt bode well with his agent running his mouth. It also seems like a lame duck excuse of not wanting to sign because of the carousel of coaches, its highly doubtful Winter will be going anywhere for at least 2 or 3 seasons at this point and it feels as if Attakora is trying not to say its a money/length of contract issue so as to upset the fans (i wouldnt be upset, more upset with the carousel thing).

    Regardless hope it gets sorted as hes young and promising. Ill be shocked if hes able to sign to another MLS team without us getting anything in return and i dont see him playing anywhere high profile in europe, yet.


  • David

    He doesn’t have a position. And he was embarrassing in his only Nats call up. Cling to that dream chief. Good thing they didn’t protect Dax.


  • Akbar

    At least Gullit brought some exciting, attacking-style football. Arena’s style and style of player is tough to watch sometimes…


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