Man of the Match: FC Dallas center back Ugo Ihemelu surely felt like he’s been there before. Early in the 2010 season, the FC Dallas center back scored on a header, off a free kick and near the end as FC Dallas won for the first time in Houston. Thursday, after a night of steady defending, where goalkeeper Kevin Hartman never really needed to stretch himself, Ihemelu came through once again, on a header off a free kick near the end. He got behind his marker, Shalrie Joseph, to drop in the game-winner deep into stoppage time.
Packaged for take-away:
- With both sides missing fullbacks who can add speed or something else to the attack (Kevin Alston for New England and Jair Benitez for Dallas), and without their creators (Benny Feilhaber for New England and David Ferreira for Dallas) a creative spark was noticeably absent from this one.
- Thursday’s match was a bad one for Alston to miss; he would have helped the Revs with Fabian Castillo’s speed, which was crushing the visitor’s back line early.
- Revs manager Jay Heaps made a slight tactical adjustment, asking central midfielders Clyde Simms and Shalrie Joseph to adjust their positioning, getting closer to the passing lanes faster along Castillo’s side, and things looked more under control from there.
- Castillo has as much speed with the ball as anyone this side of Dominic Oduro. But like Oduro, he sometimes hopes to do too much. If Castillo ever learns a better deployment of all that speed, he’ll really be a handful.
- An FC Dallas without Daniel Hernandez to pass through the midfield, without Ferreira to operate the attack and without Benitez to work the left flank … that’s an FC Dallas team that can only hope for a goal and then lean on a dependable defense. As it is, Blas Perez is the closest thing Dallas has to a “playmaker.”
- New England’s outside midfielders, Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen, never got anything close to the room they had Saturday against Los Angeles.
- New England goalkeeper Matt Reis had a Man of the Match-kind of evening, too. Revolution center backs A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy had good nights, although Dallas’ Perez did win a bunch of balls in the air. In the end, a couple of big saves by Reis – one in the first half on a low shot by Brek Shea, and another big effort late in the second half on a deflected ball that seemed to be twisting into the upper corner – was nearly enough to help New England close out what was nearly a highly successful five-days on the road.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday