Category Archives: Toronto FC

Gavin picks the MLS – Week 23 picks

028

So after a dismal few weeks of picking matches in the MLS, I have decided to turn matters over to my son Gavin from here on out.  Gavin is 2 years old, going on 3 in September, and I am working on getting him started into the game early as I had him watch the opening match of the EPL season with me Saturday morning; since he was awake already.  So from here on out I relinquish control of the MLS picks to him, and he seemed to enjoy making them so it should be quite interesting, until he forms a real opinion or picks his own club.  So without further ado, here are Gavin’s picks for MLS’ Week 23.

Last Week:  1 – 5

MLS Overall:  8 – 17

**team in bold is chosen winner, no bold denotes a draw

Los Angeles  v  Chicago

New England  v  Seattle

Los Angeles  v  DC United

Kansas City v  San Jose

Toronto v  Chivas USA

FC Dallas v  New York

Colorado v  Chicago

Real Salt Lake  v  New England

Seattle  v  Houston

Now here is my take on the matches, minus any REAL predictions.

Chicago should show strong as usual and LA are hurting at the moment, but I would not be surprised if LA come out to play in this one as Donovan will be a bit more recovered from his H1N1 virus, and they were managing before Beckham joined the team so his absence should not hurt them much.

Seattle got a result in what I can only guess was a horribly called match last weekend, but New England is struggling this season, and Seattle is a tough place to play this term.  This could be an interesting match to watch, if one of the sides can get a goal early.

LA will go from a mid-week matchup in Chicago to DC, who will have played a CCL match on Tuesday in Honduras.  This match in DC could go either way with both teams playing two matches in a short week.  LA could bounce back in this one after dropping two, but DC has the deeper side and should give the Galaxy trouble in DC.

Two of the worst possible teams face each other this week in San Jose.  Kansas City will come to town and will be looking to get on track, after going through a recent coaching change.  San Jose could pose a problem to Kansas City though, as they have gotten some results of late, and do not look to be giving up on their season quite yet.  This is probably one of the more useless matches to view of the week, the other taking place in New York.

After getting back on track against DC last weekend, Toronto will travel to the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA, who also managed to gain back some confidence in New York on the weekend.  This should be an entertaining match, and very physical with the two sides involved.  Do not be surprised to see more than a couple of bookings in this one, and maybe a player or two sent off by the end, as they both play a pretty physical game.

Dallas will travel this week to New York to face what has to be the worst team in the MLS at the moment.  This match is almost pointless, except I am a Dallas fan and hope to see them do well.  Dallas still has an outside chance at the playoffs, but New York really has nothing to look forward to for the rest of the season, and should be playing spoiler for the rest of their term.

The only other match I am really looking forward to is taking place in Chicago at the weekend, as Colorado come to town.  Colorado has looked good of late and Chicago will be playing their second match inside of a week with a weakened squad.  I am very interested to see if Colorado can take their show on the road in this one and find a result, but I am afraid I am going to be sadly disappointed by Chicago shutting up shop and defending like made.  Here is hoping that Colorado gets a goal early so Chicago cannot get all their men behind the ball for 90 minutes.

New England will welcome Salt Lake into Foxboro this weekend after returning from a late week match against Seattle, in Seattle.  With a weakened squad, I find it hard to believe New England can compete strongly twice in one week, but I would hope so since Salt Lake is not one of the stronger sides in the league.  This match will most likely be a bore to watch, but there are some entertaining players, and if they can produce some fireworks it could be interesting to see.

After a disappointing result in Seattle a few weeks back, the match that earned Brian Ching his $500 fine for his comment on Twitter, Houston will welcome the Sounders to Houston.  The Houston side will be on a short week as they open up CCL group play in the mid-week, but barring any serious injuries, Houston should be up for this match as they are used to this busy schedule.  Seattle will also be on a short week after playing New England at home in the mid-week, but if they can find the net this could be a match to watch.  The MLS new boys have had their ups and downs this season, but at the moment they still find themselves in position to make the playoffs, a feat not normally associated with a first year expansion side.  This should be a match to watch this weekend though.  I know I will be tuning in.

So there it is.  Week 23 picked by my son so I no longer have to embarrass myself trying to pick a league based on parity, to be sadly disappointed as the results roll in.  This should be a good weekend, as the MLS is packed with matches, the CCL and UEFA CL have action, and the EPL will start in the mid-week.  Another busy week in the world of footy.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, CONCACAF CL, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, Uncategorized

Recap of MLS Week 22 – Pushing towards the playoffs

Fan

So as this was the opening weekend of the EPL, I did not watch any MLS matches this weekend.  It was a busy weekend as it sat and I could not find time to get through all of the matches.  I have watched some, but I am going to stick to a brief recap on the weekend’s action.  As for the normal predictions review included with this post, I am planning a new predictions review post that will cover both the MLS weekend picks and the EPL picks into one.  Also, starting with MLS Week 23 fixtures, there will be a change to how the games are picked so lookout for that.  Enough babbling by me though, so let’s get on to the action.

Toronto FC  2 – 0  DC United

With Toronto’s recent struggles I had not expected this result, but TFC righted their ship this week and got back on track with an important win against Conference rivals DC United.  Dwayne De Rosario would put TFC up in the 30th to take TFC in at the half up 1-0.  TFC was not finished yet though, as O’Brian White netted for TFC in the 66th to put TFC up 2-0 and secure the home win.  DC will be in action this week in the CONCACAF CL so look for them, TFC bowed out of the CCL in the preliminary rounds, so now I am looking for them to get back on track in the league.

New York Red Bulls  0 – 2  Chivas USA

Chivas pulled it off in the Big Apple!  Having not scored a goal and seeing their strong start to the season resemble Hull City’s EPL start last season, Chivas have gotten themselves back on track.  What better a side to do it against than the NYRB, a side who has the leagues worst record and do not look to improve on it any time in the near future.  Chivas would end their scoring drought early on in the match through Maykel Galindo in the 14th and in the 90th with Eduardo Lillingston.  These goals were crucial to Chivas USA, who have been through a very rough patch of late and needed an easy match to gain back some confidence.  There will be hope for Chivas yet this season as they start their ascent back up the table while New York Red Bulls continue to anchor themselves to the bottom.

Columbus  2 – 0  FC Dallas

I do not know what to say about this match.  As a Dallas supporter I feel I should rail against the ref who made a poor call that led to Columbus’ first goal, but as someone who writes about the sport and who knows the team in question, I think no matter what the ref did or did not call Dallas needed to score and didn’t.  Columbus got their first goal on a header from Marshall in the 10th through a corner earned by a poor call.  Dallas pressured Columbus throughout the match though, looking dangerous at times but lacking the finishing touch.  Columbus would shut the door on Dallas though in the 87th when substitute Eddie Gaven came on and weaved his way through the Dallas defense before beating Dario Sala, to give the Crew a 2-0 victory.  Columbus continues to get the results although I do think their play is less than stellar of late, and Dallas needs to keep on going and score some more goals.  The playoffs are a far off option for Dallas still, but results like this one are not going to help them get any closer to those coveted playoff spots come the end of the season.

Real Salt Lake  0 – 0  Houston Dynamo

I thought for sure Houston would take this match, but that would not be the case on this night as both teams failed to find the back of the net.  The only real stat of interest in this one for me was the fact that both sides finished with 10 men as Houston’s Andrew Hainault managed two yellows in the first half, to be sent off in the 36th, and RSL’s Clint Mathis followed suit by picking up his second yellow in the 45th.  This tells me one of two things about this match.  Either the match was poorly called, which is the most likely case in MLS, or the players did not heed the refs early cards as warning enough.  Either way, there is no reason to have sent off two players in the first half.  I might have to go back and watch this one later to see what really happened.

Los Angeles  0 – 2  Seattle Sounders FC

Looks like the Sounders have bounced back when you look at the score line, but I doubt that was the whole story in this one, as two players were sent off for the Galaxy in the match and one for Seattle, and Landon Donovan did not enter the match for the Galaxy until the second half while recovering from his bout with the H1N1 virus.  Now after looking at the stats in this match I am definitely planning to go back and look at the tape to see what happened, but David Beckham was the first sent off in the 17th minute, with Seattle’s Tyrone Marshall following in the 76th and Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis departing in the 79th.  Only Marshall’s was for two yellows, as both Galaxy players were issued straight reds by the official.  Missing a healthy Donovan did not help the Galaxy and going down to 9 men in the end did them no favors either.  Seattle did manage to find the finishing touch again in this one though as Steve Zakuani netted in the 22nd and Fredy Montero found the net in the 54th.  Since I did not watch the match I will not pass judgment on Seattle, but I do not think the new side is out of the woods yet, as winning against a weakened side does not convince anyone that you have gotten back in your stride.  Next weekend’s result will probably be the result that fans should concern themselves with concerning Seattle, and LA should be alright as this could just be a little bump on the final stretch of the season.

Kansas City  0 – 2  Chicago

Mike Banner scored his first goal for Chicago!  That was the headline I saw referring to this match.  Kansas City is in dire straits at the moment, following the sacking of their coach and their lack of results of late, but I was surprised to see Chicago win this one by 2.  No McBride and no Blanco did not look good for Chicago coming into this one, but I am guessing through sheer grit, the Fire pulled it out.  Rolfe provided the goal that Chicago would need in the 13th and Banner did net for his first time in a Fire uniform in the 89th.  I am guessing Chicago’s defense was great as usual in this one.  The only other thing that happened of note was the sending off of Kansas City’s Zoltan Hercegfalvi in the 86th.  It had no real effect on the match for sure, but Kansas City is not looking like they will improve anytime soon.

So there you have it.  MLS Week 22 is now in the books and a few teams will now be looking forward to their group stages in the CONCACAF Champions League.  This will be a busy week for a few sides and many writers, but look for my predictions with a new twist to be up in the next day or so for Week 23.  I now have a few matches to catch up on to better understand what the outcome was, but that is nothing new in MLS, as there are always strange occurrences.  My prediction wrap up should be posted before long, but as the UEFA CL is starting up along with mid-week matches in the EPL, it will be another busy week in the world of soccer.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, CONCACAF CL, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC

MLS Week 22 – Predictions/Looking ahead in a busy week

Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Brian Ching

So with the anticipation building for Wednesday and the match at the Azteca, I decided to go ahead and get this coming weeks MLS predictions out of the way.  I am looking forward to an improvement in my prediction form but not expecting much as MLS just has a way about shutting you down when you think you know what is coming.  So to avoid being late due to mid-week madness here are the picks for this week, including my choice for winner in the Mexico v US match.

Overall Record: 8 – 14

MLS Record: 7 – 12

Last Week: 3 – 3

**Winners in bold and draws neither in bold

DC United v  TFC

Chivas USA  v  NYRB

FC Dallas  v  Columbus

Houston v  RSL

Seattle  v  Los Angeles

Chicago  v  Kansas City

It will be interesting to see how things turn out this week as both DC and TFC try to get back on track in MLS this week.  Chivas taking on NYRB can either be a match that puts some confidence back in Chivas or turns out to is a very dull game for all involved, maybe ending 0-0 or seeing NYRB pulling out the win over Chivas.  Although Dallas has had a good run of form of late, look for Columbus to take all three points in this matchup with their dominant play and strong defense.  Houston will have a few of their stars back from a mid-week clash with Mexico, but look for them to continue their good run of form and take all three from RSL.  Seattle has not looked good of late and I do not see that improving anytime soon.  Look for LA to take the match with Seattle and continue chasing frontrunners in the West, Houston.  Kansas City is short a few coaches now but I look for them to put on a strong performance and gain a point with a draw against a weakened Fire team.

The weekend’s action should be interesting if nothing else, although many will not find the time to watch with the Premier League kicking off this weekend.  Look out for my EPL week one predictions sometime soon as the season is mere days away.  I am hoping the predictions will turn around here, but if not there is always the EPL, which at times picks itself.  So here is looking forward to the EPL season as I know the rest of you are as well.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, Uncategorized

This Weekend in MLS – Week 21 Reviewed and Recapped

Shea Salinas

Coming off the shocking performances of a few teams in MLS last week, what was a fan to expect for an encore?  Would we see this week to get the blood flowing in a league that is supposed to be built on parity?  I am sure the results came out in favor of a few sides, and my predictions improved a bit, but overall it was a good week for the MLS.  Many sides were still out with exhibition matches and CONCACAF CL play, so there were only 6 matches taking place this week, with Houston playing in two of them.  I also decided to add a nice video I found of Week 21’s Goals of the Week, which I will post after the recaps for you to enjoy before looking forward.

My predictions for this week: 3-3

MLS All-Time predictions: 7-12

FC Dallas  1 – 0  Houston Dynamo

Starting off the week was a match that I saw Houston taking from start to finish as they travelled to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas.  After Dallas’ shocking performance last week, taking Kansas City 6-0, I did not expect one of the worst teams in the MLS to show an equally strong performance this week.  Dallas would shock even its fans though as Jeff Cunningham continued to score, netting in the 20th minute and giving Dallas the only goal they would need on the night.  Cunningham missed a penalty earlier in the half but it turned out the Hoops would not need it as Houston obviously did not show up to play on this night.  Only odd thing that happened in the match aside from Houston’s lack of offense was when Houston winger Brad Davis earned a red card from the bench late in the match.  Davis would miss Houston’s next match but as I did not see anything from the replays; I am still wondering what he did.

Colorado Rapids  4 – 0  Chivas USA

In one of the strangest matches of the weekend, Colorado waxed Chivas from the opening minute, literally.  Pablo Mastreoni took a back pass from Omar Cummings and blasted it from about 25 yards out in the first minute of the match to give Colorado the 1-0 advantage. (First time Pablo has scored since 2005)  Three minutes later Colorado would practically shut the door on Chivas when Conor Casey lofted a ball from just inside the 18 to beat the Chivas keeper, putting the rapids up 2-0 inside the first 5 minutes.  After the quick start Colorado would settle into the match and wait until the 23rd before scoring their 3rd goal of the match, and again until the first minute of stoppage time to get their 4th, after a red card was given to Chivas defender Shavar Thomas for taking down Omar Cummings in the box.  It was a light red card but Casey scored his hat trick in the first half and Cummings extended his assists total to 10 on the season with 3 coming from this match; I would give him 4 for drawing the penalty as well.  Chivas looked dire in this match and without scoring and without a presence in the back, they could be looking at dropping farther to the depths of the Western Conference by the end of the season if something does not turn around quick.

Real Salt Lake  1 – 0  Seattle Sounders FC

A match that saw Seattle lose yet again!  Could Seattle finally be feeling the freshman pressure of their maiden season in the MLS?  I think so as their results continue to pile up in an unfavorable fashion of late.  Seattle owned this match in every way but the final score.  They dominated possession and had many chances to get in on goal but lack of finishing was yet again the Achilles Heel of Seattle.  RSL keeper Nick Rimando played a ball long in the 62nd and caught Seattle sleeping, hooking up with Robbie Findley, who would shake his defender and put RSL in the lead just before the halfway point of the second half.  Try as they might Seattle never answered and Findley’s goal would be the game winner for RSL.  Seattle needs to wake up if they plan on staying on track for the playoffs.  They have not dropped from their playoff position yet, but if they do not find the scoring touch pretty soon they could follow Chivas down the standings.

San Jose Earthquakes  0 – 3  Columbus Crew

Coming off a few strong performances, San Jose were feeling good and looking to try and take down another strong opponent this week.  Seattle and DC had failed to defeat San Jose in the past two weeks but Columbus is a bird of a different color and would not be had so easily by the Earthquakes.  San Jose would play the Crew tough throughout, but once the Columbus found the back of the net in the 69th it was all downhill.  Moreno would net for the Crew in the 69th after coming off the bench to put the Crew ahead.  Four minutes later in the 73rd, Robbie Rogers would find the net to increase the score line, and in the dying minutes (87th) of the match substitute Adam Moffat would finish off the Earthquakes with a goal of his own.  The Crew is looking strong and will only become better as they see some of their top talent return to fitness.  Could there be another MLS cup in their future this season?

New England Revolution  1 – 2 Los Angeles Galaxy

On the road in a place they have not won since 1999, LA would try to continue a run of good form with a win over the Revs.  They would not be disappointed this round, as NE is a bit weaker than previous seasons and LA seem to have found their stride of late.  What can only be described as the inevitable goal of the week happened for LA and Landon Donovan in the 21st minute, when a shot deflected from inside the box found Donovan just outside the right wing of the 18 and he smashed it with a volley into the side netting past Matt Reis, putting LA up 1-0 early.  Kirovski would add to the lead in the 52nd after find the end of an Eddie Lewis cross that got Reis out of position and allowed Kirovski to turn and poke the ball into an uncontested net to pad the Galaxy’s lead.  New England is not a team to quit though and a takedown in the box in the 82nd by Galaxy rookie Omar Gonzalez would grant the Revs a PK opportunity.  Not one to miss a chance, veteran Steve Ralston would step up for NE and slam the PK home to give the Revs a chance in the final minutes of the match.  Through some desperate defending that LA have not been too successful with in the past, they would hold on and finish out the match though, earning a big 3 points on the road in this one.

Houston Dynamo  3 – 2  Chicago Fire

Closing out the week on Sunday night, Dynamo players and fans were out looking for a win against the visiting Chicago Fire.  After a disappointing performance Thursday, the Dynamo would come out firing, though their breakthrough would not come right away.  In the 21st minute however, Houston would catch the Fire sleeping in their own end and Kei Kamara would receive the inbound pass and turn to find himself in on Fire keeper Busch without a defender in sight.  Kamara would fire almost point blank on Busch and put it past him and into the far side of the net.  In the 38th Houston would strike paydirt yet again as Brian Ching played a beautiful long ball into the left side of the box for a hustling Ricardo Clark, who would take a nice left-footed touch over an onrushing Jon Busch and into the net, putting Houston up 2-0 at the half.

The second half may have seen a totally different Houston side emerge as Chicago came out pressing to get back into the match.  A Blanco ball found an open Patrick Nyarko in the 47th minute before Nyarko laid it off to Chris Rolfe; Rolfe took the pass and cleared some space before unleashing a rocket from 25 yards out to beat Houston’s Pat Onstad, bringing the scoreline to 2-1 and breathing life into the Fire.  Minutes later a questionable decision would be made by Houston defender Julius James when ushering a ball to the touchline; Blanco would approach and looked to give James a nudge knocking him off the ball that would soon lead to the game tying goal.  James in my opinion went down way too easy, but in the 48th Blanco took that ball and played a beautiful cross into the box that found Peter Lowry right before he volleyed it into the net to tie up the match.  The decision to not call Blanco for the foul on James was questionable, but unless you have the Oscar’s that Blanco has in his trophy case you cannot go down that easy.  The match looked to be a tie going into the end when Houston’s Corey Ashe was taken down late in the proceedings by Brandon Prideaux on what can only be called a very light penalty.  Whether it was a makeup call for the Blanco no call earlier or the ref believed it was a penalty is beyond me, but there did not look to be enough contact to warrant a penalty in this case.  In the end Stuart Holden would step up and put the game away for Houston from the penalty spot, giving Houston the win and me a win over Chicago in my predictions for the first time.  It was a good match and one that Houston needed after the poor result earlier in the week.

Next weekend looks to be a very busy one on the MLS schedule.  Most teams will be back on track with only New England, San Jose, and Colorado having the week off.  After watching the USMNT travel to Mexico City this weekend the focus will be back on the MLS for a bit here in the US, so looking at next week here are a few matches to look out for.

  • DC United  v  TFC – Which team gets back on track in MLS after recent poor league form.
  • Chivas USA  v  NYRB – Can the Red Bulls steal one against a struggling Chivas side?
  • FC Dallas v  Columbus – Can Dallas continue their race towards the playoffs?
  • Seattle  v  LA – Does Seattle find their form or do LA continue their ascent?

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, International Football, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, Uncategorized, USMNT

Disappointment, Redemption, Expectation – Leg 2 of CCL

Well last night started out the second leg of the Preliminary Round of the CONCACAF Champions League, becoming one of triumph and defeat. I was only able to catch two of the matches, since the 3rd was played at the same time as the second with no repeat airings, so here is what I saw and I will insert the score of the 3rd match at the end for those following the results with me.

Dwayne De Rosario

Puerto Rico Islanders 0 – 0 Toronto FC

**PRI advance on 1-0 aggregate scoring

Now I could go on telling you how the USL is an American league as well and that PR is part of the U.S. or even that TFC is Canadian, but I won’t. TFC played poorly is what it all boils down to. In both matches TFC had opportunities that they squandered and PRI made the most of one chance and played defense, not perfectly but enough to get through. Toronto failed to produce a single goal in this two legged tie and should feel bad about it given the chances they failed to capitalize on. In the second leg TFC pushed for the entire 90 minutes, though looking dangerous at many points, never managed to put it together in the final third to score. This is the third match I have seen Ali Gerba play for TFC and the most dangerous thing I have seen from him was a deflection against New England in league play that led to a Dwayne De Rosario goal. The finishing was poor, the passing in the final third was poor, and the overall play by TFC was lacking. While TFC was happy to make their first appearance in CCL play, they were disappointing to watch and deserved the early exit they have now received.

MLS: MAY 30 United at Revolution

Luis Angel Firpo 1 – 1 DC United

**DC United advance through PK win after extra time.

I could say Firpo was surprising, but it was more along the lines of DC played poorly again in the CCL. They will advance, but unless something changes in the group stages they will be disappointed in the CCL again this season. Firpo came into the match tied 1-1 on aggregate, but having scored the away goal they held the advantage. DC had no excuses on this night in El Salvador as they fielded a strong squad to start the match, minus rookie sensation Chris Pontius and the new guy Danny Szetela. Both men would see action on the night though. Firpo would earn a PK in the 39th when a ball would strike a DC’s Marc Burch on his outstretched hand from a free kick, and on the ensuing pk Leandro would put Firpo up 1-0, increasing Firpo’s advantage. DC had held much of the match up to this point and would change nothing as three minutes later in the 42nd Christian Gomez would equalize for the MLS side. The rest of the match was played with DC in control for most of the time and Firpo not looking exactly dangerous on the counter, but nothing would come of DC’s pressure and the match would see extra time. Extra time would pass with neither side finding the breakthrough, though DC’s Da Silva would earn a red card in the 118th minute of play, leaving DC to finish out the last few minutes with 10 in order to take it to penalties. This was not a storybook ending for DC, but they took the PK Shootout 5-4 and will now advance for the first time in a few years, also becoming on of the few MLS sides who have managed to qualify while playing in Central America. The result was good for DC, but unless their play picks up before the group stages, it looks as though they could find themselves right back at home before the knockout stages begin.

APER SOC CALERO

Deportivo Jalapa 1 – 7 Pachuca

**Pachuca advance 10-1 on aggregate

In a match that looked promising to be exciting, the final score line does not disappoint. Jalapa scored on a penalty and Pachuca, who there was in no danger going into this match, missed one penalty. There was one hat trick in the match and 5 different goal scorers for Pachuca. They side looks strong going into group play and will not disappoint those who enjoy watching good football be played.

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Filed under CONCACAF CL, DC United, FMF, MLS, Pachuca, Puerto Rico Islanders, Rest of the World, Toronto FC, Uncategorized, USL