Top Stories

MLS Pre-Season Recap: Nagbe shines in debut, Seattle tops Whitecaps, and more



Is it too early to peg Darlington Nagbe as the MLS rookie of the year favorite?

The Portland Timbers midfielder-forward showed a glimpse of the lofty potential that made him the No. 2 pick in January's SuperDraft, scoring the equalizer during his side's first exhibition as an MLS club, a 1-1 draw Friday with the Ventura County Fusion in Ventura, Calif.

The Akron product finished a near-post run in 46th minute by nodding home trialist Jorge Perlaza's chip from the touchline. Ventura County of the PDL went ahead in the 17th minute when midfielder Edur Vaca scored on a counter attack.

Nagbe entered in the 20th minute after striker Bright Dike was carted off the field with an apparent leg injury. Timbers coach John Spencer told The Oregonian it looked like a "bad calf strain" for Dike, who scored 10 goals for Portland in the second division last year.

Here is a roundup of other MLS squads in exhibition action Friday and Saturday:


A Brad Evans goal was all the Seattle Sounders needed to defeat the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0, on Friday in an early glimpse at the new Pacific Northwest rivalry in MLS.

The clubs played three 35-minute periods in Casa Grande, Ariz. Evans, who missed most of the 2010 campaign with a knee injury, scored the lone tally off a David Estrada assist in the 63rd minute.


Trialists Lester Peltier and François Swaby found net as the Houston Dynamo downed Houston Baptist, 2-0, on the HBU campus Saturday.

Peltier opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a long-range strike that snuck inside the far post. Houston doubled its advantage shortly after halftime when Swaby collected Steven Morrissey's cross in the penalty area and launched a half-volley into the back of the net.


Juan Pablo Angel didn't take long to open his scoring account in Los Angeles, notching a goal during the first half of the Galaxy's 7-1 win over Loyola Marymount at the Home Depot Center on Friday.

Chris Birchall bagged a brace for the Galaxy, while Gregg Berhalter, Juninho, Paolo Cardozo and Jovan Kirovski also got their names on the scoresheet.


The Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC will be in action Sunday. The Union will play the U.S. U-17 national team in Orlando, and Toronto will take on Serbian giant Red Star Belgrade.


  1. I hate “brace.” It’s a Britishism — we don’t need Britishims to describe soccer. Avoid “brace” and “pitch” and the like.

  2. No, it’s not too early to peg him as a favorite. You can peg players as a favorite based on the draft. Nagbe is likely to get major minutes (hard to have an impact on a team if you’re not playing) and is in a role where he’s not likely to feel the kind of pressure that say a Salgado (ie: center forward or AM) would feel. That said, to peg him as a favorite is like pegging the RedBulls or LAG as a favorite to win MLS Cup this year–you can do it but then you might “unpeg” in game one and replace them with someone else and then “repeg” in game two with a completely different set.

    You won’t likely have a strong sense until game 15 or 20 for ROTY. But heck, you’ll even see people “pegging” who our likely starters are for WC 2014.

  3. Look, these early matches are basically…your team against….cones that move. Seriously, they’re about conditioning and starting to implement systems and roles and concepts. And one of the first things that USSF teaches in licensing coaches is: to teach/learn you first have the player work with no pressure, than up the pressure (a shadow or loose marking or undermanned defense or offense at half-speed), than game situation than real application. To build good habits and avoid short cuts, you let the players experience success with the new roles and techniques before you put them against another team that is their peer (or better). Most of these MLS teams will then play other squads (foreign teams, USL teams where the players are all viewing this as a tryout, MLS teams in a competition like the Carolina Cup) before the season kicks off.

  4. Any talk of rookie of the year candidates is premature unless we’re 15 games into the season. Let everybody play some meaningful games against real opponents. End of story

  5. I definitely didn’t think that any of the Dynamo starters or top reserves played a significant role but I just would like to think that I rag tag team of professionals could still score more goals against small commuter colleges like HBU. They play a stronger schedule than I originally thought, but I still hope that MLS grows to the level where their most rag-tag groups do challenge more engaging opponents. Maybe its just the title ‘exhibition’ or ‘friendly’ throws me off a bit, where what I should expect is more of an extended practice. I get that with the small rosters that sometimes they just need more bodies. Heck, even teams like Arsenal lose to League 2 teams like Barnet in some preseasons, but at least Barnet pays their players (but I guess the point I was trying to make is that I would still be marginally disappointed in Arsenal, as much as the friendly didn’t matter).

    Look, my bad, my post was off, but c’mon man let’s not throw around this condescending language.

  6. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’d like to see commenters read the linked articles before spewing garbage. Anyhow, the Dynamo article said Houston had 4 trialists in the game, didn’t play Cameron, Ching, Davis, or Palmer and outshot HBU 22-3. But I guess a ragtag group of guys that have been practicing together for a few days should beat a tight-knit college team 7-0 every time.

  7. Man, MLS teams play some pretty lame early scrimmages… I know not to expect Barcelona to come over and its the preseason etc. but come on. I would like to see my Dynamo play UH or Rice at least… and I would hope that even the trialists and worst players in these systems could beat teams like HBU more than 2-0…

    I know it’s a lot more than that and these are glorified practices but it would be nice to see more results like LA’s when playing scrimmages like this. If LA scrimmaged UCLA, then hey, losing wouldn’t even really surprise me.

  8. Uh, yeah I’d say it’s a tad early on the Nagbe thing 😛 I mean…I’m not saying he’s bad, but one decent preseason showing against a college team doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves 🙂


Leave a Comment