Man of the Match: Rafael Baca had it easy on San Jose’s first goal, but looked at the running the 22-year-old did to put himself in position:
From that point on, Baca seemed like he was in the middle of everything. He completed a match-high 54 passes with a 83.1 percent success rate (overall match success rate: 76 percent).
Packaged for takeaway:
- The hype around this match advertised shootout, and for one half, the two teams delivered. But the goals were less a function of great attacking than poor defending:
- On the opening goal, Víctor Bernárdez got caught watching Kenny Cooper, while the entire San Jose defense seemed to lack urgency as Thierry Henry positioned himself to deliver the final ball.
- On the second goal, Rafael Marquez decides to stop running with Baca, and Jan Gunnar Solli is nowhere to be found at the back post.
- The third goal’s hard to pick apart, as a lot of left backs lose foot races with Dane Richards, but on San Jose’s second, Solli quit on the play early, seemingly assuming Steven Beitshour’s cross was destined to go out.
- Unfortunately, this match is less likely to be remembered for the goals, more likely to be remembered for a series of Crimes and Misdemeanors:
- Henry’s tackle seemed like an innocent mistake, Marquez’s incident reflects an respect issue, but Chavez’s speaks to a different issue. It’s the worst attempt at a challenge I’ve seen all year, one that harkens back to some other deplorable choices. MLS should come down hard.
- Unfortunately, those three incidents had a greater influence on the second half than the goals. The excessive physicality stagnated play, and the final 45 minutes played out scoreless and choppy. That a player led the match with 54 completed passes speaks to the lack of fluidity.
- There may have been more to the second half than two sides being wary. New York seemed like a bully that had been punched in the mouth. After easy wins over Colorado, Montreal and Columbus, the Red Bulls seemed tentative once they realized San Jose could hang with them.
- And as prolific as New York’s attack can be, it’s hard to consider them on Sporting Kansas City’s level until they solve their defensive issues. For a team that seems to have one too many midfielder, I can’t help but wonder if the Red Bulls wouldn’t be better with Marquez in defense, if only until Wilman Conde returns.
- On the same play that saw Salinas’s clavicle broken, Bernárdez was stretched from the field. Early word has the Honduran international suffering a sprained MCL.
Since arriving on the New York City scene two years ago it’s fair to summarize Mix Diskerud’s tenure with New York City FC as a disappointment.
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While the expectations of a quick transition from life in Europe to MLS were surely massive, the 26-year-old midfielder has failed to live up to the billing of not only being one of the NYCFC’s highest-paid players but also as a potential U.S. Men’s National Team candidate.
Diskerud saw his playing time dwindle down from 23 starts in 2015 to nine this past season under new manager Patrick Vieira, and it doesn’t appear that the Norwegian-American will see an influx of opportunities during the upcoming 2017 season.
Rumors have surfaced throughout the offseason about NYCFC potentially buying out Diskerud’s contract, however, the midfielder’s cryptic post to social media on Sunday afternoon suggests that he may not be in New York for much longer.
It has been suggested that Diskerud would possibly consider a return to Europe in the event that his contract was in fact bought out, however, the difference in salaries would likely be drastic.
According to figures released by the MLS Players’ Union, Diskerud made $761,250 in 2016, which was the fourth-highest salary on NYCFC books behind only David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, each of whom were classified as Designated Players.
Gabriel Jesus was a revelation for Manchester City before suffering an injury, but even with a spot in the lineup for the time being Sergio Aguero may not be coming back to Manchester City next season.
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According to the Sun, Spanish giants Real Madrid are eyeing up a move for Aguero in the hopes that the Argentine striker will join the club at the conclusion of the Premier League season.
Prior to joining City back in 2011, Aguero played five seasons in La Liga with Atletico Madrid, where he scored 101 goals in all competitions for the Rojiblancos.
While Aguero is likely to hold his starting spot for some time due to Jesus’ injured metatarsal, manager Pep Guardiola had heavily favored the young forward over Aguero since officially joining the club in January.
Tab Ramos’ side completed their first task, but now the U.S. Under-20 national team has its next challenge lying in front of them.
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The U.S. U-20s finished second in Group B at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship after winning two of its three group stage matches.
Now, Mexico and El Salvador await the U-20s in the classification stage with a spot at May’s Under-20 World Cup in South Korea on the line.
During the classification round there will be two groups of three teams, with the top two teams advancing to the World Cup. Each group winner will meet in the CONCACAF Championship final.
Classification stage schedule
Feb. 27 — U.S. U-20s vs. Mexico
Mar. 1 — Mexico vs. El Salvador
Mar. 3 — U.S. U-20s vs. El Salvador
Feb. 27 — Panama vs. Honduras
Mar. 1 — Honduras vs. Costa Rica
Mar. 3 — Panama vs. Costa Rica
Manolo Gabbiadini performed brilliantly in Sunday’s EFL Cup final, but was the Southampton striker unfairly gipped of a hat-trick?
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Saints manager Claude Puel certainly believes so.
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While the back-and-forth final between Southampton and Manchester United presented a tremendous matchup, the Saints had every right to be furious with the officiating in the early going after Gabbiadini’s 11th minute finish was called off for offsides.
“I would like, of course, video in the future for these situations,” said Puel. “It’s very hard when we see this game to lose. It was cruel.”
Gabbiadini went on to score a pair of goals at the tail end of the first half and early in the second stanza, but Puel was pleased with his side’s resilience after going down 2-0 inside the opening 38 minutes.
“We kept the good attitude and spirit to stay in the game after going 2-0 down,” said the Southampton boss. “We played since the beginning of the season every two or three days. We played to a strong and fantastic level. It’s important now to continue this work, to put away this disappointment and come back in the Premier League with this strength and this quality.”
Video replay has been a common discussion for some time now, but more leagues are beginning to examine the possibility. FIFA is prepared to introduce new experimental trials over the coming months and could present a form of replay at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.