Written by Travis Clark

USATSI_9635974_167117710_lowresHeading into Thursday night’s MLS playoff clash between D.C. United and Montreal, Didier Drogba dominated the headlines.

Much of that is the player’s stature in the global game. No matter what he does,  Drogba will generally draw the attention, whether good or bad. It’s part and parcel of the approach that Major League Soccer clubs seek with big name signings. Create the splash, by acquiring internationally recognized talent, and deal with the blow backs if conflicts arise

Whatever happened between Drogba and the Impact over the past few days (or weeks even), the Impact sure didn’t need his services in Thursday’s win. Thirty-two year-old Italian forward Matteo Mancosu scored twice and had an assist as Montreal’s lone striker, with Drogba watching on from the stands, sharing his delight on social media.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The Greek ideal of “the middle course” didn’t rise with Aristotle. Its genesis was probably in the story of Icarus, the son of a famous artist whose wings melted as he approached the sun. But it wasn’t until Aristotle that we came to understand the broader notion of moderation – the middle course – as a form of beauty.

In the end we take a great many of our social cues from Greek mores. The pilasters upholding the foundations of the reasoned, post-Enlightenment Western world were carved by it. Arthur Herman, the historian and author of the outstandingly nuanced The Cave and the Light, once called Aristotle the spiritual godfather of the internet.

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Written by Will Parchman

Today is Wednesday, which means the Impact are in Mexico City to stumble blindly onto the threshing floor of the Azteca Stadium. It’s the CONCACAF Champions League final, which is a Wild West, where the mostly bad Impact somehow managed to qualify to face perennial challenger Club America.

The Impact will almost certainly lose, but still. How many times have we said that against Pachuca and then Alajuelense? They survived both times, somehow, and here they are. In the MLS Thunderdome. Godspeed.

The Impact’s media team is fantastic, and they’ve been hard at work documenting the team’s improbable run through the tournament. You can see one of those beauties here. Will the Impact win tonight? Almost certainly not. But given this tournament, anything’s possible. Even at the Azteca.

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Written by Will Parchman

The continuing saga of how the Impact are somehow squirreling their way to the CONCACAF Champions League final is one of the most bizarre stories of the tournament’s history. The Impact were terrible last year, and they haven’t won any of their first three MLS games of the season. And yet they managed to survive and advance again this week. A 4-2 loss to Alajuelense wasn’t enough to overturn the away goals they scored, and they’re now just the second MLS club to ever even make it this far. RSL couldn’t finish the job in 2011. The Impact somehow can.

This tremendous video is as good a look you’ll get at the experience of playing on the road in the CCL. It starts with the players being warned about not making eye contact with opposing fans. That should be all the enticement you need.

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Written by Will Parchman

It happened again. The Impact won another CONCACAF Champions League match.

After brushing aside Pachuca in the quarters thanks to the Thrust Heard ‘Round The World (and a goal or something from rookie Cameron Porter), the Impact smashed Alajuelense 2-0 at home on Wednesday night in the first leg of the semifinals. It should’ve been even more. As you’ll notice from the highlights, Montreal wasted a couple prime opportunities to make it 3-0 (or even 4-0) and put the tie to sleep. Because the Impact still have to play in Costa Rica. And nobody wants to play in Costa Rica. It’s the MLS/USMNT Thunderdome.

Perhaps the most bizarre thing about all this is that the Impact gave absolutely no indication they’d be even half this good in a spot where MLS teams have been historically terrible. Only one MLS side has ever made it to the CCL final, Real Salt Lake in 2011. And it didn’t win.

If suddenly in-form Ignacio Piatti manages to lead Impact into the final at all, let alone to a title, it’ll rank as the most surprising championship run in the tournament’s history after the Great Montreal Dumpster Fire of 2014. I speak for all neutrals, Montreal, when I say: “Wreck this damn thing.”

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Written by Will Parchman

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The Montreal Impact might’ve notched the biggest non-win in club history on Tuesday night. With the specter of a work stoppage looming like a shroud over the match, the Impact faced off against Pachuca in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League match. A spot in the semifinals loomed, a bastion MLS teams haven’t widely visited. Further, the Montreal Impact, the Worst Team In MLS Not Named Chivas USA in 2014, was the league’s last hope.

Right. This wasn’t supposed to turn out well.

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Written by Will Parchman

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As the season putters toward the playoffs, a handful of coach of the year candidates are beginning to separate from the league’s cluster. These typically run the gamut from coaches turning big talent into points to molding former also-rans into legitimate MLS Cup contenders. I don’t necessarily buy that one is intrinsically more impressive than the other. That Mike Petke has done what he’s done in New York, for instance, is not diminished by the team’s payroll. Look at his predecessors and the praise seems baked into the pie.

And while his tenure is short, I want to acknowledge what Brian Bliss is doing in Columbus.

Bliss’ rap sheet is the shortest of any coach here, which means he’ll have a difficult time dislodging other coaches from higher places. So perhaps Bliss won’t win the honor, but he at least deserves praise for his brief month-long stint in the manager’s chair in Columbus. The Crew had lost seven of 11 when Robert Warzycha was let go at the start of September, and they were drowning and left for dead in the playoff race. Since then, Columbus has won four of five, including an entertaining 4-2 win over FCD over the weekend that inched the Crew closer to the playoffs. The Crew are playing vibrant attacking soccer (11 goals in those four wins), and if their year stretches into the postseason, there might not have been a more dramatic shift in the league all year. And that’s down to Bliss.

Without further ado, five of the top MLS coach of the year candidates.

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Written by Travis Clark

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Every year, over the past few years, Major League Soccer puts on its annual Generation adidas Cup, a youth tournament that matches up its academies against once another.

In the past, the tourney is held nationally, with all participating teams congregating in one location. This year, it’s been split regionally into East, Central and West groups, with a national final scheduled around Easter 2014.

On Friday down in Leesburg, Virginia, six teams kicked off the East group, with the Montreal Impact, D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union U16s doing battle.

Check out photos and scores from Friday after the jump.

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Written by Trey Messiah

I recently asked some of the incoming MLS talent if they had any superstitions before games. Here are their responses followed by our 91st Minute analysis. No charge.

 

Andy Riemer (LA Galaxy): I don’t know if it’s necessarily a superstition, but during the national anthem I try to control my breathing and heart rate and visualize the game … Definitely not a superstition, Andy. I believe controlling your breathing and heart rate is more commonly referred to as, well … breathing.

 

Will Bates (Seattle Sounders): At Virginia I had to always be the last person to walk out of the locker room before a game. As Ricky Bobby used to say: you’re either first, or you’re Will Bates.

 

Andy Rose (Seattle Sounders): Right sock, left sock, right boot, left boot …wet foot, dry foot, low foot, high foot …

 

Fernando Monge (Montreal Impact): Naw, not really. I’ve always wondered about that but never figured out something. I wanted to respond to this, but I couldn’t figure out anything either.


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Written by Jahmal Corner

I guess this is one of the perks of being a No. 1 draft pick. MLS Rookie Andrew Wenger, the first overall pick of the January draft, has clearly aligned himself with an ideal roommate as Zarek Valentin prepares a pregame meal for the two of them.

I hope Wenger realizes just how good he has it. Between the six or so roommates I’ve had in my lifetime the closest any of them ever came to cooking for me was loaning me a pizza delivery coupon – and it was expired.

The meal above looks legit. I have newfound respect for Valentin who just might rival Stuart Holden in the kitchen.

 

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