Gonzalo Pineda insists Atlanta United "are on the right path" as they look to get back to winning ways in MLS.

The Five Stripes are 12th in the Eastern Conference following a run of eight matches without victory.

Although, they enjoyed a reprieve in the U.S. Open Cup last time out, defeating Charleston Battery on penalties to reach the quarter-finals.

And Pineda hopes his side can build on that momentum when they welcome Los Angeles to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

"I think we are on the right path," he said. "I think it is really encouraging for the team, for the mentality of the team, to win. 

"There are many positives out of that. We have to hold onto that positivity, and the mentality of the players that fought and put that together on Saturday."

"I think that, especially being at home, we need to make sure we are on the front foot right away," midfielder Dax McCarty added.

"Obviously, our stadium is such a fortress. When you score an early goal, you get everyone excited and the other team feels that pressure, which is such a benefit."

By contrast, LAFC are fifth in the West and on a four-match winning streak across all competitions – during which they have scored 11 goals and conceded just once.

"The team is in a good way – winning games, scoring goals and not conceding – and we'd like to continue that," head coach Steve Cherundolo said.

"We feel good about the moment we're in, and our players are confident. 

"The players have shown an amazing response [to their defeat by San Jose Earthquakes at the start of the month]. We were shooting ourselves in the foot by making some mistakes in portions of the field where we don't usually do that.

"The message was that we are really in control of our own destiny, which is a great place to be."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Atlanta United – Thiago Almada

Atlanta will be hoping for inspiration from the likes of Almada as they look to end their winless streak.

The Argentina international has scored in two of their last three league games on home soil.

Los Angeles FC – Denis Bouanga

Bouanga scored both goals in LAFC’s 2-0 win over St. Louis City last time out in MLS.

He has now found the net 33 times since the start of last season (including play-offs), seven more than any other player during that time.

MATCH PREDICTION: LOS ANGELES FC

Only once in their MLS history have Atlanta endured a longer winless streak, going 12 straight games without victory between May and August 2021.

Meanwhile, LAFC have won successive games to nil for the first time during the regular season since August 2022.

That came after they recorded just one victory while keeping a clean sheet in their previous 21 such matches.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Atlanta United: 38.2%
Los Angeles FC: 32.8%
Draw: 29.0%

In an exciting development for Jamaican football, Reggae Boyz captain and goalkeeper Andre Blake has secured a new two-year sponsorship deal with Spectrum Systems Limited, Jamaica's leading distributor of roofing and building products. This deal comes hot on the heels of Blake's recent sponsorship announcement with Supreme Ventures.

Blake's new partnership with Spectrum Systems highlights the company's commitment to supporting local sports, adding to their existing sponsorships of the Waterhouse Football Club and race car driver Sara Misir. As part of this agreement, Blake will be featured prominently in Spectrum's advertising campaigns and will support the company’s sponsorship initiatives within the football community.

The collaboration was celebrated with Blake's attendance at the Jamaica Premier League Superfinal last Sunday. During the event, he presented a gift to Waterhouse FC, which secured fourth place in the 2023/24 season, underscoring Spectrum Systems' ongoing support for the club.

Contributed: Andrew Stanigar Managing Director of Spectrum Systems greets Andre Blake on Sunday at the Jamaica Premier League Super Final.

Andrew Stanigar, Managing Director of Spectrum Systems Ltd., expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, "We invest in sports sponsorships because they allow us to connect with our customer base. Both Andre Blake and Spectrum Systems have a lot in common—quality, reliability, and consistency. It makes sense to align the number one roofing company with Jamaica's number one goalkeeper."

For Andre Blake, the endorsement deal represents a valuable opportunity to further engage with the local football community. "Sponsorships like this allow me to connect better with Jamaica football fans," Blake commented. "I look forward to what we will be able to achieve together as I aim to inspire and connect footballers across the island while also championing Spectrum's advertising campaigns. It's a win for everyone."

With this new deal, Blake continues to expand his influence both on and off the pitch, leveraging his prominence to promote and support local sports. The two-year agreement promises to be beneficial for both Blake and Spectrum Systems, strengthening their ties to the Jamaican football community and beyond.

 

 

 

Erik ten Hag urged a "highly motivated" Marcus Rashford to use his England disappointment as "fuel" ahead of this weekend's FA Cup final.

Rashford was omitted from Gareth Southgate's provisional 33-man squad for the upcoming European Championship this week, following a disappointing season in which he has scored just eight goals.

The forward struck 30 times during the 2022-23 campaign, but has struggled to build on that momentum this term.

Rashford will hope to feature at Wembley as United face rivals Manchester City in a repeat of last year's final, needing to win to ensure they do not miss out on European football for the first time in 10 years.

And Ten Hag is backing the 26-year-old to respond to his setback in a positive manner.

"He looks good," the United head coach said. "A career has ups and downs, and a down can also give you fuel and that is what I see in training.

"So, he will be highly motivated. He is very talented and already has a big career, and I am sure he will get over this and make even more goals."

One of Rashford's finer moments of the season came against City when he opened the scoring with a stunning 25-yard strike in a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad in March.

Two months on - and at the conclusion of a difficult season blighted by injuries to several key players - Ten Hag believes United are in a stronger position to compete with their rivals.

"At the Etihad, we were very good in the game for 70 minutes, and had opportunities to go ahead," the Dutchman added. 

"They could substitute, but we didn't have the players on the bench. That is a big difference. On Saturday, we will have a bench and will have a much stronger side."

Phil Foden wants to continue enjoying working with Pep Guardiola, and will not "think too much" about the Spaniard potentially leaving Manchester City.

Foden was named Premier League Player of the Year after helping City land a record-breaking fourth successive top-flight title, scoring two goals in their crucial victory over West Ham on the final day.

Guardiola, whose contract is set to expire at the end of next season, hinted he may depart the Etihad Stadium, suggesting he was closer to leaving the club than staying.

Foden has gone from strength to strength since coming through the City ranks and being handed his debut by the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss during the 2017-18 season.

And the England international is focused on continuing to embrace making further strides with the 53-year-old at the helm.

"I've not known any other thing apart from him," Foden told BBC Sport. "So, it'll be strange when he does go. I don't want to think too much about it. I want to enjoy the things we're doing now with him.

"I feel like there's other managers out there who complicate it a little bit. The best advice he gave me this season was ‘don't try and be Phil Foden in every action’, and I feel like that advice really went a long way.

"I believed in what the manager was saying. I believed in the process. When I wasn't playing, I knew there were better players in front of me. And I knew the more I grew up and the longer time that went, there'd be an opportunity for me."

Foden was speaking ahead of the FA Cup final, in which City will face rivals Manchester United at Wembley for the second year running.

The Citizens, who prevailed 2-1 12 months ago, are aiming to become the first English side to win the Premier League and FA Cup in successive seasons.

"Last year, United didn't make it easy for us," Foden continued. "When it’s a derby, on your day, anyone can win, so it's something we have to look forward to and be at our best if we're going to win."

Milan have confirmed the departure of head coach Stefano Pioli.

The Rossoneri won the Serie A title under Pioli's guidance in the 2021-22 season.

While they could not defend their title last term, they have secured a second-placed finish with one more Serie A match remaining of this campaign, though they are 19 points adrift of champions Inter.

And Saturday's match against Salernitana will be Pioli's final game in charge, ending a four-and-a-half-year stint, with the Italian having taken over in October 2019.

A club statement read: "Milan extends heartfelt thanks to Stefano Pioli and his entire staff for leading the first team over the past five years, securing an unforgettable league title and re-establishing Milan's consistent presence in the top European competition.

"Stefano's professionalism and human touch have significantly contributed to the growth of the squad, embodying the club's core values from day one. 

"Pioli expresses his gratitude to Milan for the opportunity to be part of the history of this glorious club. He is deeply thankful to the ownership, management, team, staff, and everyone at Milanello and Casa Milan for their support and outstanding commitment.

"He also extends a special thanks to the many fans who have passionately supported Milan over the years, demonstrating unwavering dedication."

Pioli has overseen 182 Serie A games in charge of Milan, winning 108 (59.3 per cent) of those, while averaging an impressive two points per game.

Milan's title in 2022 was their first Scudetto triumph in 11 years.

Lille boss Paulo Fonseca is the favourite to succeed Pioli at San Siro.

Olivier Giroud has confirmed he will retire from international duty after Euro 2024.

Giroud is France's record goalscorer, having netted 57 goals in 131 appearances for Les Bleus.

The 37-year-old has featured for France at Euro 2012, 2016 and 2020, as well as winning the World Cup with Didier Deschamps' team in 2018 and helping them reach the final in 2022.

Euro 2024 will mark his final appearances for the national team, though, with Giroud - who is leaving Milan to join Los Angeles FC in MLS - revealing he is stepping aside.

In an interview with L'Equipe, Giroud said: "Obviously I'm going to miss it a lot, but I think my time with the French team will be over after the Euros. I need to cede my place for the young players."

France are among the favourites heading to Germany, and Giroud is set on going out on a high note.

!There is a bit of nostalgia for all those years gone by," he added.

"Obviously, there will be a lot of emotions, a lot of details, and memories that will resurface, but we have to put that aside and enjoy every moment once again. Emotion must not take over. There is still a competition to win, even if it will be special for me."

France will face Austria, the Netherlands and Poland in their group-stage matches at Euro 2024.

Oscar Pareja admires the fight Orlando City are showing as they prepare to welcome Columbus Crew to Inter & Co Stadium on Saturday.

Orlando are unbeaten in their last three matches, including a late victory over San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.

They are now within one point of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, sitting 10th on 16 points.

Pareja praised his team for being able to hold onto results in recent weeks, but he now wants to translate that into consistent success at home.

"I see a team that is growing," Pareja said. "Their confidence is growing.

"The way we're playing is much better in terms of efficiency on the other side of the box, and we're proud. The thing that we're most happy with is seeing them try to do the right thing.

"They've got through difficult moments together. The way they fight every single game is always the same. We're more knowledgeable now that we're getting results, but I haven't seen one game where they gave up.

"Now we need to go and do it at home in front of our fans. Nothing has changed, we just haven't been very good in some home games, but we will be."

Columbus sit five points above Saturday’s opponents, having won back-to-back games against CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire.

Going into the third of their successive away matches, head coach Wilfried Nancy hailed the Crew’s spirit.

"It's true that last year I didn't like the spirit that when we were playing away - it was not the same spirit," he said.

"Now, they try to play their game home or away. This is something that for me, this is growth. This is something that has been better."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Orlando City – Pedro Gallese

Gallese has kept clean sheets in two straight matches after Orlando managed just two in their first 11 regular season matches in 2024.

The Lions have never kept a clean sheet in three straight league matches within a single season before.

Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

Rossi managed a goal and two assists in Columbus’ win over Chicago last Saturday. It was his sixth MLS match with at least three goal contributions (including playoffs) but his first with the Crew.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Orlando City have won just one of their first seven home matches this MLS season (three draws, three losses), with their six points won equalling the fewest they have ever recorded in their first seven home matches of a season (also in 2015).

Meanwhile, Columbus have lost only one of their last eight away matches in MLS (four wins, three draws incl. playoffs), including winning their last two in a row on the road. The Crew have not won three consecutive away matches in the league since a four-match run between August and September 2015.

Columbus knocked Orlando out of last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 road win in the Conference Semifinals. That win was just the Crew’s second in their last 11 meetings with Orlando dating back to October 2018 (one draw, eight losses).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Orlando City – 34.5%

Draw – 26.8%

Columbus Crew – 38.7%

Girona are hoping to round off their most successful campaign in LaLiga with victory against Granada on Friday, while Artem Dovbyk is in the hunt to finish as the league's top scorer.

Michel's team, the surprise package of the season, already know they will finish third in the standings behind champions Real Madrid and runners-up Barcelona.

Girona, whose previous best finish was 10th in 2017-18 and 2022-23, have clinched their place in next season's Champions League and simply want to enjoy their outing on Friday.

"Tomorrow the stadium will be full and afterwards we want to celebrate with our fans," Michel said on Thursday. 

"The best way to end the season is to win and make the fans proud, that's what we're playing for. We have to end the season in the best way possible, which is to win. 

"If we do it with two goals from Dovbyk, that's even better. We have a chance for him to finish as top scorer and for us to surpass 80 points. We will try to win for him."

Dovbyk, who has netted 21 times this season, is two goals behind Villareal's Alexander Sorloth and two ahead of Madrid's Jude Bellingham.

After enjoying such highs this season, their 24 league wins including thumping home and away victories over Barcelona, Michel has already turned his attention to the future.

"It worries me because we need to build a competitive squad for the big year ahead. I would like to keep a lot of people, but I know there are players who are not ours and who have to go back to their teams," he said.

"However, I think we will do things right and I am convinced that we will have a top squad that will be able to compete in all three competitions."

Frank Klopas and the Chicago Fire may not have to worry about demotion from MLS, but he wants them to adopt a "relegation battle" mentality ahead of Saturday's visit to D.C. United.

The Fire sit 14th in the Eastern Conference standings after losing four straight games, with three of those defeats coming at home including last week's 3-1 reverse against the Columbus Crew. 

Their current losing run is their fifth streak or four or more regular-season defeats since the start of 2021, though they have not lost five in a row in league play since 2018.

"The thing is trying to simplify things in practice, I think that's the most important thing with teams going through a difficult moment," Klopas said.

"The mental state of the team is obviously down. I think that's expected when you don't get results, when performances are not going your way.

"Even though there's no relegation battle in this league, we have to approach every game right now like it's a relegation fight until we can get out of this situation we're in."

D.C. are also looking to respond after back-to-back losses to the New York Red Bulls (1-4) and Inter Miami (0-1), with those results leaving them ninth in the East.

Troy Lesesne's team have won praise for their counter-pressing approach this year, but he says they still have plenty of room for improvement when playing on the break.

"No matter who the opponent is, we want to be difficult to play against and to break down, but we're also doing that so we can create," Lesesne said.

"We're top in the league for expected goals on the counterattack, but we have to finalise those situations.

"We're going to keep working on that, keep gaining those moments and keep improving." 

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

D.C. United – Christian Benteke 

Benteke has scored 11 of D.C.'s 20 goals this season, with no other team-mate netting more than once in MLS play.

D.C. United are one of two MLS teams (also the Houston Dynamo) to only have one player with multiple goals this season.

Chicago Fire – Carlos Teran 

Teran scored the Fire's only goal against the Crew last week and has now netted once for them in each of the last four seasons, making him the only player to score in each of the last four campaigns for Chicago.

The Colombian defender is hardly a goal machine, but Chicago will hope he can have an impact at both ends here.

MATCH PREDICTION – D.C. UNITED WIN 

Chicago's tally of 10 points through 14 matches in 2024 is their worst total at this stage of a season in club history.

Things may not get any better for them on Saturday against a team known for employing an energetic approach.

D.C. United recorded a 4-0 home win over Chicago in the teams' last meeting last September, and they are looking to post back-to-back victories over the Fire for the first time since a four-game winning run against them between 2014 and 2016.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

D.C. United – 47.7%

Chicago Fire – 26.6% 

Draw – 25.7% 

Pat Noonan says it was always just a matter of time before FC Cincinnati found their feet, as they look to set a new club record for successive MLS wins against Toronto FC at BMO Field.

Last year's Supporters' Shield champions have won their last six matches, equalling the best streak in their league history, which they achieved last campaign.

They trail Eastern Conference leaders Inter Miami by just one point with a game in hand, having turned their season around after a slow start.

Noonan believes time spent on the training ground, particularly with offseason arrivals, has been the major factor.

"I think it's just about the understanding of some of the roles. With new faces, that always takes time," Noonan said.

"We've had 13 or 14 games together now and with games and with time, there's better chemistry, better understanding of relationships."

On Toronto, he added: "It's been a good week for them, and I think in terms of structure and personnel, there's a lot of things that are similar."

Toronto are fifth in the Eastern standings after crushing rivals CF Montreal 5-1 in their last league game.

They followed up that win by beating Saint-Laurent 8-1 in the Canadian Championship on Tuesday, and boss John Herdman is delighted to see their forwards enjoying themselves. 

"They're just enjoying their football at the minute, really enjoying it," Herdman said. "I've got to tip my hat to the lads. I just can't wait to see this whole team playing together. 

"I think there are more levels here and I can't wait to keep pushing for them in the next three or four weeks."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Toronto FC – Lorenzo Insigne  

Federico Bernardeschi scored his first career hat-trick in Toronto's derby win last week, but then picked up a late booking that will cause him to be suspended for this game. 

Six of the eight hat-tricks scored by Toronto players in MLS have now been scored by Italians, with Sebastian Giovinco netting five. With Bernardeschi out, Insigne must step up.

FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta 

Acosta has contributed to at least one goal in a club-record eight straight matches, after recording a goal and two assists in a 3-1 win over St. Louis City last week. 

The only longer streak in MLS since the start of last season was a nine-game run by the Columbus Crew's Cucho Hernandez, from April to June 2023.

MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

Toronto ended a four-match losing streak against Cincinnati on February 25 with a scoreless draw on the road. 

Cincinnati had won six of the previous seven meetings between the teams, in a run dating back to the start of the 2021 season (one defeat).

The Orange and Blue are favourites for this battle between Eastern Conference contenders, having won 30 of their last 49 regular-season games dating back to October 2022. No team in the post-shootout era has ever won 31 times in a span of 50 matches. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Toronto FC – 22.7%

FC Cincinnati – 56.4%

Draw – 20.9%

Nathan Byrne says Dean Smith's initiative of gifting players bottles of wine when they keep a clean sheet has provided him with plenty of motivation, as the Crown target a fifth successive shutout against the Philadelphia Union. 

Charlotte have kept four straight clean sheets in MLS play, playing out a goalless draw with the LA Galaxy last time out after wins over the Portland Timbers (2-0), Nashville SC and the Chicago Fire (both 1-0).

Smith has been rewarding his players for each shutout with a bottle of wine, and Byrne hopes there is plenty more forthcoming.

"It depends if you like wine or not, but for me it's definitely an added incentive. He's behind on his payments," Byrne joked. "We've got enough as it is.

"It helps when there's consistency and the same players learning each other's games every week. We have less individual duels as we can back each other up.

"If you play consistently, you're going to grow in confidence, especially when you're keeping clean sheets and getting good results."

Charlotte are sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, four points clear of eighth-placed Philadelphia. 

The Union ended a six-game winless streak by beating the New England Revolution 3-0 last time out, and coach Jim Curtin hopes that result will be a turning point for his side. 

Curtin said: "It's a justification for how hard these guys have been working, because we're still the same group right? 

"I'm still the same coach, these are still the same players. When they get confident and they get going, we can beat anybody."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Charlotte FC – Kristijan Kahlina

Charlotte have kept four straight clean sheets for the first time in club.

They are the only team to keep clean sheets in four straight matches in MLS this season, and goalkeeper Kahlina will be desperate to keep that run going.

Philadelphia Union – Jack McGlynn 

McGlynn (two goals, three assists) has contributed to at least one goal in five straight matches for the Union, equalling the longest streak in club history. 

He is the fourth player in Union history to contribute to a goal in five straight games, after Daniel Gazdag (twice), C.J. Sapong and Mikael Uhre.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

The home side has never lost a match between Charlotte and the Union, with the Crown registering a win and a draw in the teams' two meetings at Bank of America Stadium.

Charlotte have only lost two of their last 26 home matches in all competitions, winning 14 and drawing 10 in a run dating back to late March 2023.

The Union, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their first seven away matches this season (three wins, four draws), the longest unbeaten streak on the road in their history.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Charlotte FC – 35.5%

Philadelphia Union – 39.3%

Draw – 25.2%

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire will miss Saturday's FA Cup final clash with Manchester City, Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag has confirmed. 

Maguire has been sidelined since suffering a muscle injury in training earlier in May, with the timeframe for his recovery estimated at around three weeks.

That meant he always faced an uphill battle to make Saturday's showpiece game at Wembley Stadium, though he was included in England's preliminary Euro 2024 squad on Tuesday.

At Thursday's pre-match press conference, Ten Hag confirmed Maguire will not be available but said Victor Lindelof, Mason Mount and Anthony Martial are in contention after being pictured in training.

"Harry Maguire is unavailable but the rest, all the players you mentioned, I think they are available," the Dutchman said when asked for a team news update.

"We have our final training tomorrow and then we have final decisions to make. But, as I oversee it now, it looks good."

Asked if Maguire's chances of featuring at the Euros were in doubt, Ten Hag said: "I don't think so. It's just he doesn't make it [the final]. It didn't heal as we expected."

Fellow centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane are expected to be available, with the latter set to leave United on a free transfer after the final.

United have lost 19 games and conceded 84 goals in all competitions this season. They last lost 20 in a campaign in 1973-74 (22) and last conceded more than 84 goals in 1963-64 (89).

Ten Hag's position has been called into question throughout their miserable campaign, with reports on Thursday suggesting Ipswich Town's Kieran McKenna was a target for the Jim Ratcliffe regime.

Ten Hag, however, says the opportunity to win a second major trophy in as many seasons is his only focus.  

"It's all about trophies," he said. "We have a huge opportunity to win a trophy. 

"In the last 10 years, there were not many trophies in this club but we have an opportunity to win two trophies in two years."

Caleb Porter has praised the New England Revolution’s fighting spirit as they aim to turn their luck around against New York City FC on Saturday.

New England currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference with seven points after winning just two of their opening 12 matches in the league.

After losing back-to-back games, the pressure is increasing on Porter, though he does not shy away from the hard work needed to move them up the table.

"This team is united," Porter said. "They're fighting. We're all committed to this club and this season.

"This team is on board. They're fighting. They're not happy with the results, but the locker room is together. The key is to win the next game.

"The other thing is, I'm not going anywhere; I'm committed to this club. I know where we're going to get to. I'm not backing down. I'm not wavering. I'm not flinching."

NYCFC sit in third, eight points behind leaders Inter Miami, after losing just one of their last nine MLS matches.

They made it three wins on the bounce with a win over local rivals Red Bulls last weekend, but Nick Cushing is reluctant to get too excited about their current run.

"We've won some football games, that's all we've won," he said.

"We're in a solid position in the league, but in four weeks’ time, I could be saying 'we haven't won that' or 'we should've won that'.

"It's about taking every game as it comes and just keep winning football games. We enjoy our wins, but we focus on the next games. Now, I want to win [against New England]."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New England Revolution – Carles Gil

Gil has been directly involved in New England’s last two goals scored at home, scoring their most recent and assisting the other.

Overall, he is the club’s top scorer this season with four goals, twice as many as their next most prolific players, Tomas Chancalay and Giacomo Vrioni. 

NYCFC – Santiago Rodriguez

Rodriguez assisted one of NYCFC’s two goals in their win over the Red Bulls last Saturday. The Uruguayan (five goals, four assists) has been involved in half of the 18 goals NYCFC have scored this season.

MATCH PREDICTION – NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION WIN

Dating back to the end of last season, New England have lost 14 of their last 18 MLS matches (three wins, one draw incl. playoffs), including losing nine of 12 to start this season (two wins, one draw). The Revs’ seven points are their fewest after 12 matches of a season in club history.

NYCFC recorded a 2-0 home win over New England on April 13. However, they have never defeated the Revs twice in a single regular season before.

NYCFC have won six of their last seven matches (one defeat) including each of the last three in a row. They have won consecutive games away from home but won just one of their previous 24 on the road in all competitions (nine draws, 14 defeats).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

New England Revolution – 41.2%

Draw – 30.3%

NYCFC – 28.5%

 Philadelphia Union have officially announced the signing of a contract extension with their star goalkeeper, Andre Blake. The new deal keeps Blake with the club through 2026, with an option for 2027, further cementing his legacy as a cornerstone of the team's success.

Blake, 33, stands out as the only player to have won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award three times. Additionally, he is a four-time MLS All-Star and a three-time MLS Best XI selection, accolades that underscore his exceptional talent and consistency.

"Since joining the team, Andre has been a foundational piece to the club’s achievements," Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement. "He has shown himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in North America, and along with his proven sporting value, has taken on a leadership role both on and off the field. His guidance will play an important role in the further development of our young players and the team’s success. We’re happy to have reached an agreement to keep him here in Philadelphia."

Since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Blake has been a stalwart in goal for the Union, amassing 73 clean sheets in 236 matches. His stellar performances have been instrumental, particularly during the club’s 2020 campaign when they clinched the Supporters' Shield.

Blake's influence extends beyond club soccer. As an integral part of the Jamaican national team, he has earned 75 caps and often serves as the team's captain. His leadership and skill have helped the Reggae Boyz reach two Concacaf Gold Cup finals.

With Blake’s extension, Philadelphia Union fortify a veteran-heavy core as they aim for a seventh consecutive appearance in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. His presence in goal not only enhances the team's defensive solidity but also provides a role model for younger players coming through the ranks.

Blake’s commitment to the Union and his continued excellence between the posts signal a bright future for both the player and the club. As Philadelphia Union continue their pursuit of further silverware, having a player of Blake’s caliber and experience will undoubtedly be a significant advantage.

 

 

 

Greg Vanney is aiming to build some momentum for the LA Galaxy as they look to end a run of four draws against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

The Galaxy are on a five-match winless run in MLS, with another goalless draw against Charlotte last weekend seeing them drop to fourth in the Western Conference.

After a run of four away games in their previous five outings, LA are now due to play four of their next five at Dignity Health Sports Park, which is also where they got their last win.

"This is a big phase for us to really build some momentum in all ways, being in front of our fans and being at home for this next stretch," said Vanney, as quoted in The Galactic Tribune.

"Obviously, we've got to go on the road once more, but hopefully build on the momentum and get some points."

Houston Dynamo have won just one of their last six MLS matches and dropped more points in a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas last Saturday as they sit eighth in the West.

Ben Olsen is upbeat about the Dynamo’s recent performances, though he admits they need to learn lessons from their recent results.

"The reality is the performances aren't necessarily resembling the points that we're getting," he said.

"We're actually in a nice rhythm of consistency. I know it's hard to say that when we're not maximising points, but the way we're going about the games is pretty good, and it's pretty consistent.

"We'll keep working at it. That's all you can do. What else are you going to do, quit?"

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LA Galaxy – Joseph Paintsil

Paintsil has contributed to at least one goal in four straight home matches (two goals, three assists), including recording an assist in the last three.

Only one Galaxy player in the last decade has recorded an assist in four straight home matches: Douglas Costa between June and August 2023.

Houston Dynamo – Ibrahim Aliyu

Amine Bassi scored his first goal of the season in Houston’s 1-1 draw with Dallas last weekend, becoming the ninth different Dynamo player to find the back of the net.

However, only one player has netted more than a single goal for them this campaign, with Aliyu netting four.

MATCH PREDICTION – LA GALAXY WIN

The Galaxy’s 0-0 draw with Charlotte on Saturday was their fourth consecutive draw and they’ve shared the points a joint-league high seven times this year. LA have drawn five consecutive regular-season matches only once before, doing so in May 2009.

The Dynamo have lost only one of their last six away matches against the Galaxy dating back to 2017 (two wins, three draws). Houston have kept clean sheets in each of their last two visits, and the only team to keep three straight clean sheets at the Galaxy in MLS play is the Columbus Crew, who did so between 2004 and 2006.

However, the Dynamo have alternated between wins and losses on the road this season, including a 1-0 defeat to Austin in their last away match. Houston have won four away matches in a single regular season just once since 2014, winning four times away from home in 2022, including at the Galaxy.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

LA Galaxy – 42.4%

Draw – 25.6%

Houston Dynamo – 32%

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