D.C. United Face Stiff Test With Pozuelo Pulling The Strings For TFC

While Carlos Vela is currently the talk of Major League Soccer, and rightfully so with a staggering 12 goals in 12 games, few players have had a more immediate, transformative impact in recent memory than Alejandro Pozuelo with Toronto FC. D.C. United will have their hands full in trying to contain Pozuelo and company as they take on the Reds  at BMO Field on Wednesday night.

Toronto have experienced as wide of a range of emotions as any team in the league over the last two seasons. The Reds produced a stellar 69-point regular season en route to the 2017 MLS Cup and earned plaudits as possibly the best team in MLS history. They carried that form into the Concacaf Champions League the next spring and came just short of capturing the title, falling to Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara in the final by way of a penalty shootout.

Focusing their efforts on the intercontinental competition at the start of the year combined with a number of injuries to derail their chances of completing another successful league campaign. A 9th-place finish in the East had fans disoriented after their recent highs, and matters only got worse when the club failed to strike a new deal with leading goal scorer Sebastian Giovinco, leading to his departure for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal.

In steps Pozuelo, who has reignited the attack in style since arriving and has Toronto back in playoff contention. The 27-year-old Spaniard joined as a Designated Player in March, after the MLS season started, from Belgian outfit KRC Genk, where he recorded 25 goals and 60 assists in five years. Stepping into the void left by one of the league’s all-time best players in Giovinco was never going to an easy task, but Pozuelo has wasted no time announcing himself as the best acquisition of the transfer window.

The Seville native made his Toronto debut on March 29th against New York City FC, and immediately wowed his new team. His first assist came roughly a half hour into the match when he zigzagged through defenders into the box and calmly teed up Jozy Altidore to slot home. He got off the mark with a cheeky penalty in the 58th minute before bringing the home crowd to their feet with a brilliant chip over NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson secure a brace twenty minutes later, which ultimately earned Goal of the Week honors.

Fast forward three weeks and another appearance with two goals and an assist, against Minnesota United, captured the league’s Player of the Week title. Take a look at the league’s offensive statistics and you’ll find Pozuelo in the upper echelon across the board. The numbers offer a glimpse of how important he’s been to the team’s turnaround as the heartbeat of everything they do going forward.

Five goals and six assists are remarkable tallies given he’s only appeared in eight matches thus far, and he trails only Portland’s Diego Valeri with 3.4 key passes per game. His ingenuity and ability to pick out a teammate has been on full display, while he’s equally lethal with the ball at his feet – his 2.8 dribbles completed per outing trail only leading MVP-candidate Vela and Houston’s Alberth Elis.

A new-look Pozuelo was at it again this past Saturday, showcasing his ability from dead ball situations. A foul resulted in a Toronto free kick just outside of the box, an incredibly difficult distance to get a strike over the wall and back down under the crossbar. A deft hit with the inside of the foot saw the ball nestle into the top right corner to draw his side level with the Philadelphia Union.

Wednesday night’s tilt marks the first of three consecutive away matches for D.C. United, so it’s imperative they begin the stretch in a positive way. Midfielders Russell Canouse and Junior Moreno will need to produce the same type of industrious performances we’ve witnessed for much of the year to keep Pozuelo in check and allow the back line to deal with the bruising play of Jozy Altidore following his return from injury.

Fiorentina's Annus Horribilis Could End In Relegation

As Serie A moves into its final round this weekend, there are few things still to be decided. Juventus won the title weeks ago, and Napoli have also comfortably secured their place in next season’s Champions League. Chievo Verona and Frosinone have long since been relegated, leaving just the third through sixth European places still to be decided as well as one team who will face the drop to Serie B. 

Audi Field To Host French Clubs For Next Three Years

D.C. United and  Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) announced on Monday morning that United's home, Audi Field, will host an upcoming tournament this summer, featuring four teams from France's Ligue 1. The event, sponsored by Electronic Arts (EA), will take place on July 18 and 21, with two teams on each day.

MLS Little Things: New England Approaches The Arena Era

We’re back with some more Little Things, this time featuring the Revolution, who are approaching the Bruce Arena era; Real Salt Lake, with explanations for their inconsistency; and plenty more:

Three Thoughts From D.C. United's Loss To The Houston Dynamo

Wayne Rooney's early second half goal seemed to put D.C. United on track for a seven-point week on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo, but two goals in two minutes later in the half gave the hosts all three points. 

Alejandro Bedoya On What Went Wrong With USA & More

The Philadelphia Union have enjoyed a strong start to the 2019 Major League Soccer season, with the Chester outfit (at the time of writing) sitting second in the Eastern Conference. Captain Alejandro Bedoya has been crucial to their early success and so FloFC figured this would be a good time to catch up with the former Nantes and Rangers midfielder.

Houston Dynamo Fight Back To Defeat D.C. United 2-1

Despite taking a lead early in the second half, D.C. United's troubles in Houston continued on Saturday night, as the Houston Dynamo fought back for a 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. Wayne Rooney's goal 25 seconds into the second half was negated by two goals in two minutes from substitutes Memo Rodriguez and Tommy McNamara. Paul Arriola then got a red card late on, harming United's chances of grabbing a late equalizer.

D.C. United Out For Another Result On The Road Against Houston Dynamo

D.C. United are back at it on Saturday in part two of a three-game road trip following their midweek draw against Toronto FC. They face a stiff test against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in a matchup of two of the league’s best teams this year. The action is set to kick off at 8:30 PM ET, and coverage starts on FloFC at 8 PM ET for DMV viewers.

Graham Smith Answers Sporting KC's Call

After spending most of the 2018 campaign with Sporting KC’s USL affiliate, the Swope Park Rangers, center back Graham Smith has started the last two games for Sporting KC as the club fights through a number of injuries. 

DCU Face Another Talented Attack After Defensive Masterclass In Toronto

Fresh off a scoreless draw in which D.C. United were able to fend off the third most shots in MLS history (35), Ben Olsen’s men head to the Lone Star State in search of another positive result against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night. The Black-and-Red will face another stiff test at the back when they line up opposite of one of the league’s most electrifying attacks

Yoann Damet Brings A New Attitude To FC Cincinnati

A change of coaches brought about a much needed change in attitude for FC Cincinnati.