Drilling down on: at New England 1, Portland 0

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Man of the match: Winless in two games, the Revolution badly needed some early success to blow up their balloon of confidence. New Revs’ striker Saer Sène provided the very antidote around Gillette Stadium, striking on a glancing header just 28 seconds in Saturday. Portland had plenty of chances, but couldn’t do what Sene did so early and efficiently for the home side.

Packaged for take away:

  • A crowd of 13,000-plus for a home opener? Things aren’t getting any better for the Revs’ front office, which is still running “MLS 1.0” in too many areas.
  • The supporters who did show for Saturday’s 1-0 win saw some very encouraging signs. Midfielder Kelyn Rowe, the first-round draft pick out of UCLA, is starting to follow up on a promising preseason with bright nights in the regular season. And Lee Nguyen showed some of his nifty dribbling moves along the left. He can be a real factor in the league if he adjusts his game (which sometimes looks like soccer’s version of hoops’ street-ball) to the extra-physical MLS defending.
  • What club wouldn’t love to have Shalrie Joseph? Even if the longtime midfield enforcer around Gillette was a little slow to get going in 2012, he’s still one of the league’s top utility knifes. Playing as an emergency center back on Saturday, he was big and strong all evening on Kris Boyd, the Timbers’ DP striker. In fact, the two locked up in some great battles. Remember, this is a guy who can and has played at striker for the Revs … and surely remains one of the league’s premier holding midfielders, his natural spot.
  • On a couple of instances inside the Revolution penalty area, Joseph did no less than Geoff Cameron did last night to Patrick Ianni on the instance that earned a Sounders’ penalty kick. Still, “you play the game you’re in,” as coaches like to tell players, and in this one it wasn’t a penalty kick.
  • Portland’s attack will get goals this year, but there are still problems along the outside in defense. Most preseason assessments called left back Rodney Wallace and right back Lovel Palmer the weak links going into 2012, and neither has done much to change anyone’s mind. Neither will remember a Saturday as Gillette Stadium as anything shout about.
  • Jay Heaps, the second-youngest MLS coach (and not by much), recorded his first win as man in charge. That’s gotta mean a lot to the longtime Revolution defender, who took the top spot this year with full knowledge that a learning curve would be ahead. In fact, everyone can see that. But patience runs out fast, and nobody wants to hear about learning curves when it starts getting really hot in the kitchen. And 0-3 (where the Revs would have been if they had lost Saturday) would already be a mighty hot kitchen. Bottom line: it doesn’t matter that it was a close one, with some steady goalkeeping required of Matt Reis at the end. The Revs had to have this one.

Here’s the Rev’s early goal.

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FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.

Report: Frank De Boer accepts Crystal Palace job

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Frank de Boer is widely expected to be named new Crystal Palace manager this week, as he has reportedly accepted the job after having been offered the position this week.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The 47-year-old Dutchman has been out of work since he was fired by Inter Milan in November. He lasted just 84 days at the San Siro, where he managed to win just five of 14 games. Inter Milan is Inter Milan, though, and that’s something worth remembering when critiquing Palace’s impending appointment of De Boer.

Palace are also widely expected to back De Boer in the transfer market this summer, in a big way. Kelechi Iheanacho is the biggest name linked with a move to Selhurst Park, as the 20-year-old Nigerian striker is reportedly unwanted by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

5th-place San Jose parts ways with Kinnear after 2.5 seasons

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Dominic Kinnear is out after two and a half seasons as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, despite leading the club to a hugely improved standing 17 games into the 2017 season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The move comes 17 hours after San Jose put to bed a three-game winless skid with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, a result which propelled them into fifth place in the Western Conference, just two points off second place. After seventh- and ninth-place finishes in Kinnear’s first two seasons back in Northern California (he managed the club in 2004 and 2005 before the club was relocated to Houston, where he would remain for nine seasons, through the 2014 season), this year’s team seemed to be moving in a positive direction quicker than most had previously expected.

[ MORE: Accam scores a backheel (video) | Opara scores a CB bicycle ]

The club has named Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo as assistant coach. Current assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will remain in their current roles.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years,” Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a release. “He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club.”

Kinnear is the second MLS coach to be relieved of his duties this season, suffering the same fate as RSL’s Jeff Cassar, who lasted just three games before being fired in March.