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MLS East Notes: Backe talks ‘nightmare defending,’ Pardew praises LSP and more


 Photo by Tony Quinn/


Colorado striker Sanna Nyassi has always been a quality MLS player, good for a speedy spark off the bench and a capable option in the starting lineup when called upon.

The New York Red Bulls defense, however, made him look like an MVP candidate Wednesday, as Nyassi notched a hat trick and chipped in an assist in Colorado's 4-1 win.

Nyassi, who shifted up top to replace the injured Conor Casey, repeatedly torched New York right down the middle. Centerbacks Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes had no answer for the Gambian, and the central midfield duo of Mehdi Ballouchy and Dax McCarty did little to help as the Red Bulls seemed to particularly miss the presences of defender Rafael Marquez and midfielder Teemu Tainio.

"I would say a nightmare defending, probably, in the middle of the park," New York coach Hans Backe said. "A nightmare for our two center backs and the center midfield, which is very important, to block in the middle of the park. If you leave that much space for guys like Cummings and Nyassi, then you will be in trouble, definitely."

Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:


For winger Patrick Nyarko, Saturday's friendly against Manchester United will come with a conflict of emotions, as the "die-hard fan" of the Red Devils will find himself going head to head with players he described as his "heroes."

"I want to say I want to beat Manchester United, but at the same time I hate to see them lose ever," Nyarko told "Hopefully I can play a great game and maybe it ends in a tie or something. That would be ideal."


After Columbus dropped a 1-0 result to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday, forward Tommy Heinemann noted that while the Crew was disappointed with the result, there was a positive side to sticking around with the top team in the league.

"Especially toward the end of the game, we were really taking it to them," Heinemann said to "We persevered. A lot of guys put in a good effort tonight. There's a lot of positives to take away, but we wanted to get points out of this match. L.A. is at the top of the league, so it’s a good measuring stick for us."


There weren't many positives for United to take away from its 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Wednesday that dropped D.C. to 2-3-5 at home. But newly acquired midfielder Austin da Luz did make a favorable impression coming on as a 71st-minute substitute and seems poised to play a bigger role for United than he did during his time with New York.

"I wasn't getting too many looks up in New York, so hopefully I'll get a great opportunity for some playing time down here," da Luz said after training Tuesday. "[New York] is a difficult team to break into. There are so many talented guys, older guys with more experience. The attitude there is win now, and I think there is a lot of pressure, a lot of tension around the team because of that, and that's not always a conducive environment to develop young players."


Speculation is that left back Mike Chabala and midfielder Lovel Palmer will be traded from Houston today after the duo were dropped from the game-day roster for the Dynamo's 2-0 loss to Bolton on Wednesday. Houston president Chris Canetti told the Houston Chronicle, "We will have an official comment [Thursday].

Palmer tweeted that he was "going green" before deleting the post. The tweet would suggest the Jamaican is heading to either the Seattle Sounders or the Portland Timbers.


Not much had gone right for the Revolution this season prior to Wednesday night's 1-0 win at D.C. United. But New England, which improved to 4-9-7 with the win, did get some good fortune at RFK Stadium when United striker Charlie Davies blasted his first-half penalty kick over the crossbar.

"We obviously got a break with [Davies] missing the penalty, but we haven't had a break since I think we played them last," coach Steve Nicol said, referring to New England scoring two controversial goals in its 2-1 win over D.C. in March. "Everything we've gotten with our team, we've had to claw to get."


Once the dust had settled after Philadelphia's 1-0 win over Everton on Wednesday, goal-scorer Christian Hernandez, a 17-year-old academy player, still couldn't believe what had transpired earlier in the evening, when he notched the contest's lone goal.

"Shocking. Coming in in the 67th minute and getting that chance and putting it in, it's amazing," Hernandez said to the Philadelphia Daily News. "It felt like a dream. When I was running, it felt like I was floating … [Union coach] Peter Nowak gave me congratulations and told me just to stay positive and keep my feet on the ground and keep moving forward."


Livestrong Sporting Park has received rave reviews since opening its doors in June, and the reaction from Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew following his side's scoreless draw against Kansas City was no different.

"The stadium is absolutely top-drawer," Pardew said. "Coming from our league, I can attest that this would easily be in the top amongst stadiums in our league."


Defenders Eddy Viator and Andy Iro, midfielder Torsten Frings, and forwards Danny Koevermens and Ryan Johnson all made their debuts for Toronto FC on Wednesday, but the result was all-too familiar, as coach Aron Winter's side fell 1-0 to FC Dallas on a spectacular strike from Brek Shea. After the game, Frings discussed his taking on a leadership role with the struggling Reds.

"That's what I am here for. We have a young team and I want to show them leadership," Frings said to CBC Sports through a translator. "I want to give them some confidence and motivation because we are on a losing streak right now."


  1. I thought the exact same thing when I read this yesterday, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to post from my phone.

    It made me wonder: Is Nyarko also a “die-hard fan” of:

    FC Dallas
    Charleston Battery
    Toronto FC
    San Jose x 2
    Kansas City
    New England
    New York
    & finally…
    Chivas USA

    I wonder if it was “ideal” to tie those clubs, too?

    @drew Relax on the ‘deep breathes’ comment. It was a completely tactless statement made by a professional athlete.

    Nyarko isn’t the first and won’t be the last athlete to face a team/club he idolized growing up (nice front-running btw Nyarko..) but he’s one of few that have stated publicly he wants to tie his idols with the team that pays him.

    Friendly or not, it was an ignorant comment that only adds to the plethora of reasons the Fire are horrible this year.

    Where’s the competitive spirit to BEAT the club you idolize?? More than likely, this will be the last time he ever faces United…so why not make a memory for the right reason?

    A Brian McBride would never say something like this. Hell, I don’t even think Landon Donovan and his passive nature would make a statement like this…and that’s saying something.

  2. Uh, actually they usually play a fairly attractive style. Yeah, they haven’t won any trophies for a long time, but they used to be a consistent top five finisher. With their recent acquisitions they seem set this year to be a quality side.

  3. Beerholder is an old hack…did you not watch the Madrid game?

    At least JPA’s class contributes to possession. He sorely needs a partner other than Chad Barret or that Lopez guy that cant shoot. Add in Birchall, and LA is one of the poorer shooting teams even with Juninho.

    They rely on Beckham set pieces and Donovan PK’s to give them that 1-0 lead. Arena has no concept of offense. Saunders and Beerholder is not the same as Gonzalez/Ricketts.

  4. wtf u talking about, Berhalter is a beast. He is just a bit old lately.

    LA has easily one of the if not the top defense in MLS. Thats the reason they are #1, b/c we all know it has nothing to do with that worthless Angel…

  5. Good to know you’re so much smarter than the rest of us. Maybe if we just kept playing in a minor league baseball park and bought 3 DPs we could save MLS.

    Well genius you have to have the whole package. You start with the stadium that produces the revenue that eventually gets you out of a single entity system and allows you to spend more money on players.

    Or we could just do it your way and confine our efforts to bitching!

  6. Pardew’s full quote:

    “The stadium is absolutely top-drawer,” Pardew said. “Coming from our league, I can attest that this would easily be in the top amongst stadiums in our league, but… not so much for the football.”

  7. the game experience (on tv and in person) is part of the product. That stadium makes the “product” much better than arrowhead of the minor league baseball stadium, even with the same players on the field.

  8. Those comments from Alan Pardew are nice and all, but I’m sorry — even the greatest facilities in the world cannot make up for a league full of crap players! MLS needs to worry much more about its product and less about its image; if you have a good product, a good image naturally follows.

  9. Positional sense and reading of the game are two of the easier areas for a player to improve, and both help in absence of blazing speed. he just needs to improve in the correct areas.

    Only time will tell, but with the right coaching he can still go far. His deficiencies are easier to overcome than someones like say Gooch, who even in his prime was well short of being a top player due to 2 left feet.

  10. When will people learn that Tim Ream cannot and never could and never will be able to actually defend?

    Other than that he’s a great defender….

    He is a good passer for a defender but if that’s our criteria why not put Lindpere on the back line? Or make Ream your number 10 midfielder.

    ….cause hr can’t defend. It’s not a slump he’s always been that bad

  11. deep breathes guys, deep breathes.

    It’s just a chat about going up against his heroes with a reporter who was probably looking for a little color commentary for the game. Do you think it will have any bearing?

    Anyway, they’ll be lucky if the game doesn’t end 7-0 – though the 90 degree heat might slow down United more than the Fire’s D.

  12. Shouldn’t we have known it was Portland and not Seattle when he didn’t add “and/or hideous neon yellow” to the color list?

    What? I keed, I keed.

  13. Wrong, RSL and FCD have excellent backline depth. LA’s is pretty good also. Heck, TFC’s is better than these 2 clubs.

  14. I think every MLS manager is aware that they need defensive depth. The problem is that it’s easier said than done to have both quality and depth at any position in MLS.

  15. I wasn’t sure if I was still watching Seattle’s nightmare defending…hopefully these managers realize that they need much better defensive depth

  16. ha yea that picture is fantastic. But my god has Ream been disappointing this summer, his stock is in a free fall, and I really hope he pulls out of it soon. Also sad to see Davies slow down so much, I mean I know like half his goals have come from pk’s but with the talent around him on DC that team, as well as Charlie, should be shining.


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