MLS news updates: All the latest from around the league on Saturday

MLS news updates: All the latest from around the league on Saturday
Carlos Vela - LAFC - March 8, 2020

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Decision Day presented by AT&T is almost upon us, with coaches and players from around MLS holding their final pregame media availabilities before their clubs take the pitch on Sunday. Here’s what they had to say before the action kicks off tomorrow at 3:30 pm ET

Henry: Playoff spot would be “great for the club”

It’s a simple scenario for the Montreal Impact and head coach Thierry Henry in their matchup with D.C. United: Win and they’re in.

D.C. are also fighting for their playoff lives, hoping that a win and some help from other results can eke them above the line, and Henry said that his side is preparing for an intense matchup against a team that has seen its form improve in recent weeks after limping through much of the season. If they can get it done, the coach didn’t down play what it would mean to the organization after a season rife with adversity.

“Oh, it would be great for the club,” Henry said. “Not only for me and the squad, for everybody involved. A lot of people here that you don’t see that came here to help for us to be in a better situation. So it would mean a great deal, obviously, if we can achieve that with all the things we’ve had to deal with. We’re not the only team in this league [that had adversity], we’ve had to deal with it more with some stuff. But that’s the way it is. It would be a great deal obviously if we can win against D.C.

“We had to battle against them at the MLS is Back Tournament. Those guys are in a different momentum since more so than when we played them at MLS is Back. So we’ll see what’s going to happen. One thing that’s pretty sure  that you can expect from D.C. is that they are going to fight. They always have been, when you play against them, they’re always going to fight and give you a difficult time on the field, so we need to adapt to that and have a good result, but it won’t be easy.”

Porter: Playoffs will determine our legacy

Columbus Crew SC have been one of the league’s top teams throughout the season, even if they’ve slowed down a bit recently after a torrid start.

While their Supporters’ Shield aspirations weren’t realized, coach Caleb Porter said on his Saturday call that he told his players they should take pride in their whole body of work, noting that Columbus’ 1.73 points per game from 22 matches represents the best mark the team has posted in over a decade. But Porter said he’s using that perspective to impart another message: That it really only matters if they get a trophy. 

“I told the group that they need to understand that they’ve had one of the best seasons in the last 12 years, because I think that can be lost in the shuffle when you have a bad loss and you don’t get results like we have,” Porter said. “We have had one of the best seasons in the last 12 years. That’s not me saying, that’s the truth, that’s the facts, when you look at points per game and overall league standing at the end of the year. So the guys can’t forget that.

“But I also told them that no one’s going to remember the points per game. If you ask supporters in the last 12 years, is this the best points per game, they’d probably say no because they don’t remember that stuff. But it is. And if you ask supporters do we have a chance to have the best standing overall in the league in the last 12 years, the supporters wouldn’t know that, because no one remembers that stuff. What people remember is, how you finish at the end of the year and whether or not you put a trophy in the trophy case. So, I think our group understands the last game [against Orlando City SC] wasn’t good enough, they understand big picture, we’ve had a very good season. But they also understand that the games in the playoffs are going to determine the legacy that 2020 is.”

LAFC star Vela ready for more minutes

Bob Bradley’s LAFC side is looking for some positive momentum heading into the playoffs, and the coach said Saturday that he feels as though their matchup with the Portland Timbers is a great opportunity to establish that.

That’s because the Timbers are one of the league’s more in-form teams at the moment, and will have a chance to secure the top seed in the West with a victory, meaning they’ll be plenty motivated. With that in mind, Bradley said it should be a solid measuring stick for his group as to where they stand headed into postseason play.

“We’d like to finish the season on a really good note,” Bradley said. “Portland’s always a really tough game. We certainly also know that they’re playing to try and win the conference, so we believe it’s a really good test to finish the season, prepare us for the playoffs.

“We want to use the game to sharpen our team, we want to use the game to have guys ready for playoffs, so there’s different factors to weigh. For me, most importantly, I’d like to see our team step on the field with the right mentality, play some really good football and get a great result to finish the regular season.”

Something to watch will be the workload of superstar midfielder Carlos Vela, who has been working his way back off the bench over LAFC’s last few games as he gets back to fitness coming off the MCL injury that cost him much of the season. Bradley said that Vela is ready to start increasing his workload, but added that exactly how much he plays will be determined by game-state.

“Carlos is ready to play more minutes, but I don’t know if it’s 90 minutes,” Bradley said. “A little bit of that will depend on the tempo of the game. We know that we still have a couple more weeks before the playoffs, so we want to be smart, push him in the best way, but not go overboard.

RBNY relish chance to spoil Toronto’s Shield bid

Toronto FC can clinch the Supporters’ Shield with a win over the New York Red Bulls and dropped points from the Philadelphia Union, and New York Red Bulls interim head coach Bradley Carnell said his team wouldn’t spoiling the party.

Carnell said he’s taking some cues from the last match between the sides on Oct. 14, that ended in a 1-1 draw, as far as how to go about slowing down the Reds and making sure there’s no trophy celebration for the visitors at Red Bull Arena.

I think you have to look back to a few weeks ago, when we played them,” Carnell said. “I thought it was a very intense game, I thought we frustrated them and took away a lot of the spaces they were trying to exploit, and the game became progressively more frustrating for them. So much of the same for us. We know we’re going to up for the challenge, we know we don’t want any opposition playing on our turf thinking about any celebrations of any Supporters’ Shield of which we hold ourselves to these high standards, and we’ve had decent successes in the last few years. So there’s definitely a lot for us to gain as a team and as well we can spoil a few hopes of some other teams.”

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