Drilling down on: Red Bulls 4, at Columbus 1

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Man of the Match: Hard to imagine that Kenny Cooper may have been fourth on the Red Bulls preseason depth chart at striker, behind Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers and Juan Agudelo. After two early goals Saturday, Cooper is just behind Henry for MLS scoring leadership (going into Saturday night, that is.) It’s worth noting that Cooper had eight goals in 34 games last year. He has six so far in five games with the Red Bulls.

Packaged for take-away:

  • The home team was never in this one. Cooper opened the scoring inside three minutes, and it was pretty much a downhill spiral from there for Robert Warzycha’s team. New York took five of the game’s first six shots, stroking the ball around confidently.
  • The Crew sails caught some wind for about 10 minutes late in the first half. But Thierry Henry was left free to find the far post for New York’s third and, well, so much for the budding rally. (Columbus’ goal came way too late to matter.)
  • Columbus’ defense has a lot to answer for on this one. The back line and midfield were absolutely on holiday. Cooper was given too much room on the opener, wasn’t challenged sufficiently on No. 2 and Henry looked like he was taking shooting practice on No. 3, completely unopposed as he drifted with glee into the penalty area. In between, Dane Richards, Rafa Marquez, Cooper and Henry were free to operate and serve in the final third with near-impunity. It could have been worse than 3-0 at halftime.
  • Chances for the Crew before the halftime break? A couple of free kicks, maybe, and Milovan Mirosevic and Bernardo Anor whacked a couple of hopeful fliers from distance, but neither gave Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara any trouble.
  • Three relatively trouble free matches have provided Meara with some breathing room as he settles into the pro game. (Not that he was poor at all in the side’s opening pair.)
  • Pride presumably (hopefully) wounded, Columbus looked better in the second half. Dilly Duka’s introduction after 56 minutes pepped up the Crew attack, but a 3-0 deficit is a lot to overcome. (And in fairness, the Red Bulls had probably switched on the cruise control by then.)
  • Mehdi Ballouchy replaced Joel Lindpere on the left for New York; the Estonian has struggled in 2012 to make any impact.

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

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Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

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Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.

New Zealand 0-4 Portugal: Ronaldo, Portugal win Group A

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New Zealand gave the 2017 Confederations Cup all they had, but they go home empty-handed as Portugal won the Group A finale 3-0 to advance to the knockout round.

Portugal held much of the possession as expected, but they found little at the end early on. The first true chance fell to Cristiano Ronaldo in the 24th minute, who latched onto a Ricardo Quaresma cross from wide right and produced a powerful header, but it was poorly directed straight to New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic for the easy save.

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Ronaldo had another headed chance minutes later, but he rocketed the attempt back off the post. Portugal would eventually find the opener just past the half-hour mark via the penalty spot. Danilo was clearly shoved by a pair of defenders on a set-piece, and Ronaldo easily dispatched the spot-kick for a 1-0 lead.

The favorites would double their lead just a few minutes later as Eliseu on the overlap came down the left flank and cut horizontally into the box. He fed a charging Bernardo Silva, and the in-demand Monaco attacker jumped to meet it and poked home. Silva was unable to celebrate after turning his ankle heavily on the landing, but he would come back onto the field.

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Portugal finished things off with 10 minutes to go in the game as Andre Silva burst through the midfielder, shucked his defender, and fired past Marinovic to seal the game for good. Nani added a fourth The win means Portugal finishes level on points with Mexico at the top of Group A, winning the group on goal differential thanks to Silva’s final goal.