Bernardo Corradi; Julian de Guzman;

Drilling down on: at D.C. United 1, Montreal 1

Leave a comment

Man of the Match: Bernardo Corradi’s big effort helped set the pace for Montreal, as the busy Impact forward had the will near goal to help his club collect its first road Major League Soccer road points. The former Italian international won headers early, nearly scored on a hard near post run and then found the goal on a cross to the back post. Just after the important strike, he nicely set up Collen Warner, who missed just to the right.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Lots of hot-button talk about United Designated Player Branko Boskovic in 3 .. 2 … 1 …
  • It would be easy to say Maicon Santos’ introduction in the 61st minute changed things for D.C. United’s rudderless attack; his will and energy certainly helped add some pep. But it was so much more than that. When Santos came on he partnered with Chris Pontius at forward while Dwayne De Rosario dropped into the midfield in place of the drifting and ineffective Boskovic. That was the change that mattered even more.
  • De Rosario’s willingness to insert himself sharply into attacking positions created the chaos in Montreal’s defense that opened scoring chances that just weren’t there before.
  • Consider that D.C. United didn’t even have a shot on goal until Santos’ 65th minute effort. A few minutes later, the home team was on the board.
  • Further, Boskovic’s movement is so sluggish and undefined, he’s often crowding the midfield. Once he left and De Rosario took the central midfield position next to Perry Kitchen, Kitchen’s distribution from the holding areas became less cluttered, more purposeful.
  • Bottom line here, I am trying really, really hard to see what Boskovic is adding to this team. I could go on and on about what the man doesn’t do; I just don’t see what his base contribution might be. We are seven weeks into the MLS season. He should be fit. He should be making a difference.
  • So, totaling up the DP tally around RFK: They have three of them. De Rosario has yet to score, but he’s doing fine, making things happen. Boskovic just made his second start, and manager Ben Olsen needs to think long and hard about whether a third is best for the team. Hamdi Salihi, the team’s third DP, didn’t play at all Wednesday. Any way you slice it, there’s a whole bunch there to sort out — especially with players like Chris Pontius, Nick DeLeon and Andy Najar looking hungry and up for the job. They just need a playmaker around them who is more involved.
  • Early for Montreal, Sanna Nyassi looked like the most dangerous man, troubling United left back Daniel Woolard. Later, Lamar Neagle came in for the tiring Nyassi, and he added some punch to Montreal’s attack.
  • Justin Mapp had two glistening opportunities for the Impact but failed to turn either into something on goal, mostly because he didn’t have confidence in his right foot. One was a pass that needed to be better for Davey Arnaud, and one was a shot he passed up from point blank range. It’s OK to be better with one foot, but at this point in his career he needs to be competent enough with either at the moment of truth.

Pep Guardiola: “Maybe I’m not good enough”

Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola has admitted he “may not be good enough” for his players at Manchester City.

Ahead of City’s clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola has been defended his squad after severe criticism from the media.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

City were hammered 4-0 at Everton last weekend, their worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever league defeat as a manager.

With plenty pointing the finger of blame at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City’s defense, their manager put himself in the firing line.

“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good? So I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and [people saying] they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them,” Guardiola said. “They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season.”

Mind games.

Guardiola, 46, is no doubt facing the biggest challenge of his season as City look to at least seal a top four spot in this his debut season in England. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has already “said goodbye to the title” and if they lose against red-hot Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium then more questions will be asked of his tactics and if they can work in the Premier League.

So far the possession-based slow build up style has been hot and cold for City, with plenty of counter-attacking teams in the PL (Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Leicester etc.) having a field day against a shaky defense.

Despite being 10 points off the pace, Guardiola is sticking by his philosophy. One thing really sticks out to me from his first few press conferences in England: “We will see if my style of play can work in the Premier League.”

So far, it’s not.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool host Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Reds aiming to stretch their unbeaten run at home in the Premier League to 18 games.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Jurgen Klopp is a little concerned with the number of games his team have had to play over the past few weeks, but a victory against the struggling Swans would momentarily move his side just four points behind leaders Chelsea who play on Sunday.

As for Swansea, new manager Paul Clement knows a win would take his team out of the relegation zone and with new signings arriving that would be a massive boost. It would also be a massive ask for the Welsh side to get anything at Anfield but this may be a good time to play Liveprool after their midweek trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton coming up on Wednesday.

In team news Liverpool start with Philippe Coutinho once again, while Joel Matip is on the bench after the Reds finally settled the dispute with Cameroon. Swansea hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Matip, Woodburn

Swansea City: Fabianski; Olsson, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Sigurdsson, Llorente, Routledge. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Amat, Fulton, Dyer, Borja, McBurnie

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Leave a comment

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.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

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.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.