The Pitch: MLS NEXT Products Lift USMNT to Concacaf Nations League Title
June 8, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release
It was every bit of sizzling drama that fans could wish for when rivals from the U.S. Men's National Team and Mexico met in an epic Concacaf Nations League Final last Sunday. From lead changes and kicks from the spot to unsung heroes and the new generation of U.S. stars, the USMNT hoisted that championship trophy with 16 of the 23 rostered players hailing from MLS NEXT clubs. Among the MLS club academy products called in for the stars and stripes, FC Dallas Academy alumni included Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids, MLS), Reggie Cannon (Boavista, Portuguese Primeira Liga), Weston McKennie (Juventus, Serie A), and Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma).
With brand-new hardware in tow, Team USA's next trophy pursuit kicks off with Concacaf Gold Cup next month.
Josef Martinez Returns to Venezuela for Copa America, Euros To Feature Record Number of MLS Call-Ups
The summer of soccer is in full swing, and MLS players are showing up strong around the world for their home countries for some of the most high-profile international competitions. A record eight MLS players have been called in for UEFA European Championships, with this week's highly anticipated Copa America rosters expected to have some serious MLS representation.
With the delayed UEFA Euro 2020 set to kick off on June 11, Hungary has called in Szabolcs Schön (FC Dallas) and Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union), while Poland has brought in Przemysław Frankowski (Chicago Fire FC), and Slovakia has tabbed Ján Greguš (Minnesota United FC). Finland becomes the first country to call in three MLS players for this competition - the most ever by a single country - with Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United FC), Lassi Lappalainen (CF Montréal) and Robin Lod (Minnesota United FC).
On the other side of the world, Atlanta United's golden boy Josef Martinez will return to the Venezuelan National Team for the first time since his season-ending injury last year. As of this Monday, Martinez will be joined by five other MLS standouts for the largest league representation during this international window for a single country outside of the U.S. and Canada, with Venezuela's roster also including Freddy Vargas (FC Dallas), Junior Moreno (D.C. United), Cristián Casseres Jr. (New York Red Bulls), Jhonder Cádiz (Nashville SC), and José Martínez (Philadelphia Union) also earning the nod.
Among the four Peruvian players called up for Copa America, Seattle Sounders FC's scoring star Raúl Ruidíaz suits up for international duty after starting the season on a tear of 6 goals in 8 games to remain the second leading scorer in league play up to the point.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Austin: A Stadium Tale of Two MLS Cities
Sporting Kansas City hosts expansion club Austin FC on Saturday, as the home side aims to catapult to the top of the Supporters' Shield standings with a victory. The newly formed rivalry welcomes familiar faces in Austin FC defender Matt Besler, head coach Josh Wolff and assistant coach Davy Arnaud , all of whom starred for Kansas City earlier in their playing careers. The second meeting between the clubs (Sporting won 2-1 at home on May 9) will mark the eighth consecutive road match for an Austin side that currently sits in 11th place among 13 Western Conference teams.
Saturday's contest is the final road match before Austin FC returns home to open their brand-new, state-of-the-art Q2 Stadium on June 19. This scene is all-too-familiar for Sporting Kansas City, which played its first 10 matches away from home in 2011 before using Children's Mercy Park as a catalyst for rising from worst to first in the Eastern Conference. This weekend's game will come almost exactly a decade after Sporting opened Children's Mercy Park on June 9, 2011.
Sporting and Austin FC will compete in the lone MLS fixture this weekend, as the rest of the League is on break for international competition. Saturday's match was originally scheduled for July 17 but was moved up to June 12 due to Children's Mercy Park hosting five matches in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup from July 11-18.
Sporting Kansas City's Gadi Kinda Scores Sensational Strike in International Debut with Israel
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gadi Kinda is on international duty with the Israel Men's National Team and celebrated his first cap last weekend with a 91st-minute finish to help Israel defeat Montenegro 3-1 (WATCH ). The friendly match provided a long-awaited senior international debut for the 27-year-old, who was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Israel. Kinda received his first call-up to Israel in 2019 for UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying but didn't earn a cap at that time. Last year he was unable to join Israel in 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Kinda's wonder strike against Montenegro puts the talented playmaker in contention for an increased role on Wednesday when the Israelis travel to face European powerhouse Portugal at Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon. The friendly match, serving as a Portuguese tune-up for UEFA Euro 2020 later this month, will kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET and stream live on ESPN Plus.
Sporting KC's Alan Pulido is also on international duty with Mexico and will be unavailable for selection by Manager Peter Vermes due to his involvement in a friendly match between El Tri and Honduras, also on Saturday.
Saturday, June 12
Sporting Kansas City vs. Austin FC, 3 p.m.
Sporting won a third game on the trot, defeating Houston Dynamo FC 3-2 at Children's Mercy Park on May 29. Gianluca Busio scored his second goal of the season from a stunning free kick and Gadi Kinda scored his third goal of the season.
Alan Pulido converted a penalty kick for his fifth goal of the season (tied for third in the MLS Golden Boot standings) - his fourth goal in the last three games.
Austin FC put an end to a three-game losing slide with a goalless draw vs. Seattle Sounders FC at Lumen Field on May 30. Brad Stuver was credited with two saves in recording his second shutout of the season.
The teams are meeting for the second time this season and in their histories. Jon Gallagher gave ATXFC the lead after just seven minutes, but Sporting got goals eight minutes apart from Ilie Sánchez (82) and Gadi Kinda (90) to secure a 2-1 win May 9 at Children's Mercy Park.
The teams are also scheduled to play again Nov. 3 at Q2 Stadium in Austin.
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Major League Soccer Stories from June 8, 2021
- Walker Zimmerman to Join U.S. Men's National Team for Friendly Match against Costa Rica - Nashville SC
- Sounders FC Wins Three Northwest Emmy Awards - Seattle Sounders FC
- Academy Update: Scouting Department Building the Future - Inter Miami CF
- Kickoff Times Adjusted for Colorado Rapids Matches on August 28, October 31 - Colorado Rapids
- Kickoff Time for Sounders FC's Match at Sporting Kansas City on September 26 Changed to 4:00 p.m. PT - Seattle Sounders FC
- Kickoff Times Updated for Three Sporting KC Home Matches - Sporting Kansas City
- Updated Start Time for Minnesota United's August 28 Game at Houston Dynamo Announced - Minnesota United FC
- Timbers Acquire Midfielder George Fochive - Portland Timbers
- Arlo White to Call Four Games on WGN-TV Starting June 19 - Chicago Fire FC
- FC Dallas Foundation and CornerStone Staffing Announce 2021 Community Action Grantees - FC Dallas
- New York Red Bulls Home Match on October 30 Versus CF Montreal Set for 4 PM ET - New York Red Bulls
- Minnesota United Announce Ticket Sales Schedule - Minnesota United FC
- Construction at Parc Paul-André-Potvinin Shawinigan Progressing Well - Club de Foot Montreal
- The Pitch: MLS NEXT Products Lift USMNT to Concacaf Nations League Title - MLS
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