Drilling down on: at Montreal 2, Toronto 1

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Man of the Match: Both Impact center backs had good matches, but Matteo Ferrari offered more Saturday in the way of leadership and composure in dealing with Danny Koevermans and the TFC attack.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Impact manager Jesse Marsch changed out half his starting lineup for this one following his team’s mid-week loss to Real Salt Lake. On the outs: defender Josh Gardner, midfielders Davy Arnaud, Jeb Brovsky and Justin Mapp and forward Justin Braun. Arnaud, by the way, is the team captain.
  • It was a good-sized gamble from Marsch, considering the experience that guys like Arnaud and Mapp bring. But both teams had reason to be tired. The extra midfield pep provided by fresher legs helped the Impact control possession through most of the match, a spell here or  there in the second half notwithstanding.
  • Arnaud and Mapp did come on late to help nurse home the result. In fact, Matt’s ball out of the back, wise, precise and early, spring Andrew Wenger for the game-winner.
  • Lots of firsts for Montreal on Saturday. Let’s see: first win, first goal for No. 1 MLS draft pick Wenger, first career win as a head coach for Marsch. That about covers the most important ones.
  • It was very nearly the first shutout for l’Impact de Montreal but for Koevermans’ clinical finish two minutes from the end.
  • Koevermans can clearly score, but getting the ball to him in good spots near goal is a real chore right now for TFC. The side’s shape and passing through the midfield is a mess. But we’ve said that before.
  • Montreal right back Zarek Valentin inserts himself into good spots in the attack, but his crossing really isn’t passing muster. Put a big check mark next to “lots of room for improvement.”
  • On Logan Emory’s 66th minute red card, which left the visitors to playing 10 on 11: Referee Hilario Grajeda got most it right. The foul on Sanna Nyassi was just outside the penalty area, and Emory definitely had “stop at all cost” in his mind as Nyassi sped toward goal. You do wonder if a yellow card might be sufficed here, as Grajeda could have made a case that defensive cover was close enough (i.e., that Emory wasn’t clearly the last defender involved in the sequence).
  • Toronto attacker Ryan Johnson always looks like a winger trying to play the midfield when Aron Winter uses him on the inside. He was behind the striker in the side’s 4-2-3-1 Saturday.
  • For all the trouble with TFC’s attack right now, the sides biggest problem continues to be lack of quality center backs. Emory got himself thrown out and Ty Harden simply must be better in critical moments. He didn’t deal well at all with the situation that turned into Wenger’s game-winner.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Another Alexis link; Zlatan, the coach?

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Rumors linking Alexis Sanchez to the half-dozen clubs bigger than Arsenal won’t subside until the summer transfer window closes, which is to say, Thursday’s grandest transfer rumor links the Chilean with a move away from north London.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

With his current contract down to just 10 months, Manchester City are the latest club reportedly interested in snatching him away from the Gunners for a pittance of his true value. That’s not to say $77 million is anything to scoff at, but given the current climate of the transfer market, Sanchez would fetch something closer to $120 million with three or four years to run on his contract.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]


Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four months into rehabilitation from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in April. With five or six months still to go, the big Swede is nearing the point of the process during which he’ll likely announce his next club.

If Manchester United have their way, the 35-year-old might just stick around Old Trafford a while longer. Here’s the catch: Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering offering Ibrahimovic a role on his coaching staff in the interim before he completes his rehab and gets the OK to return to action.

[ MORE: Chelsea plan to raid Spurs — Danny Rose for $64 million ]


14 days remain before the end of the summer transfer window, and Tottenham Hotspur are still yet to sign a single player. The $65 million received upon Kyle Walker‘s departure would burn a hole in the pocket of everyone not named Daniel Levy.

That said, Tottenham are still expected to sign someone before the window closes, and they could certainly do worse than Suarez from Barcelona — that’s Denis Suarez, of course, not Luis. The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder is reportedly close to completing a move to Napoli, but Spurs are said to be late entrants into the race and could easily hijack the deal.

Costa statement: Let me go, “I must return to Atletico Madrid”

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Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.

[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]

Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:

“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.