Eddie Johnson

Drilling down on: at Seattle Sounders 2, LA Galaxy 0


Man of the Match: For Seattle, it had to be one of the goal scorers, and when one for the scores was this bad boy, few would begrudge Fredy Montero tonight’s champagne bottle.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • We knew Los Angeles was going to be without David Beckham and Robbie Keane. They also started without Edson Buddle and Mike Magee , though the two regular saw time in the second half.
  • Bruce Arena was clearly willing to let these points go. While there were a few very mild hints throughout the first third of the match that LA could get to full time without giving up a goal, this is the result you would have expected.
  • The main hint these teams could end drawn: Both sides were playing near-identical 4-4-2 formations that created mildly stoic individual matchups all across the field, with the exception of the free deep midfielders. Juninho and Osvaldo Alonso gave each team an extra man in defense, so for much of the first 40 minutes you got the feeling the match could end a stalemate if neither team adjusted.
  • There were two ways that could have changed. Arena or Sigi Schmid could change up how they had configured their midfield, so the Landon Donovan-Mauro Rosales matchup could break the match.
  • Eventually that matchup became decisive. On Eddie Johnson’s opening goal, Donovan was lax in closing down Rosales, who put in a perfect cross for Johnson, matched up against the smaller A.J. De La Garza. A nice finish from Johnson and Seattle had the opener against a team that was going to rely on counter attacking soccer.
  • Donovan was in a bad spot, forced out to left midfield. It’s not that we’ve never seen him out there or he’s incapable of playing that spot, but with Arena needing to move Sean Franklin into midfield, there was really no other place to play his captain, given the XI chosen. That matched him up with Rosales. With hindsight, you can’t help but wonder if Donovan should have been moved to forward while Michael Stephens or Magee started in midfield.
  • Michael Gspurning left the game at halftime, the broadcast team speculating that a hip injury had tightened up, potentially because of a lack of activity. He was replaced by Bryan Meredith, leaving Alonso as the only Sounder to have played every minute this season.
  • Speaking of announcers, Bruce Arena’s choice to start an “experimental”, “makeshift” team dominated the broadcast. Even deep into the game, the broadcasters’ incredulity never waned. I understand that two hours is a lot of time to fill, but this wasn’t that big of a story. Yeah, it’s disappointing, but it’s also open the broadcast and move on disappointing. We’ve seen Arena do this in recent years. Agree with his decision or not, but there is a logic behind it. He decided to drive 10 miles under the speed limit to save some gas.
  • That should not detract from Seattle’s performance. Whatever team is put out there, you still have to execute, and we’ve seen Arena steal points over the last couple of years with exactly this type of decision. The two Seattle goals were beautifully taken, giving them three points from a team that had owned them.
  • Rosales had an injury scare in the second half, pulling up on a movement toward the middle before he took time to stretch. He walked around tentatively for a few minutes while play continued, though the recently-returned attacker would play about 15 more minutes before coming off.
  • With the win, Seattle moves into third place in the West still having played fewer matches than the rest of the conference. LA stays seventh and have now lost four of their eight games to date.

Report says Impact will add 96-times capped Ivorian defender

Monaco's Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov (L) challenges Montpellier's Ivorian defender Siaka Tiene (R) during the French L1 football match between Montpellier and Monaco at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier on September 24, 2014.   AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT        (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Eastern Conference’s second-stingiest team is looking to enhance its already-strong back line.

Joining MLS Best XI defender Laurent Ciman could be Siaka Tiene, a longtime international teammate of Didier Drogba on the Ivory Coast squad.

[ MORE: Timbers hold off Dallas | Crew advances past RBNY ]

The 96-times capped Tiene will be 34 when next season starts, but will have fresh legs having not played since last season ended for Montpellier.

MLSSoccer.com does the translation work for us:

A report from RDS.ca states that the Impact have signed 33-year-old left back Siaka Tiéné, an Ivory Coast international who boasts World Cup and African Cup of Nations experience.

Aside from Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo is the only Impact back currently under contract.

Tiene played relatively well last season, but was limited to just 17 appearances in Ligue 1.

Phil Neville takes over Valencia training; Could he get job?

VALENCIA, SPAIN - AUGUST 19:  Valencia CF assistant coach Phil Neville gestures prior to the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg match between Valencia CF and AS Monaco at Mestalla Stadium on August 19, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
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Phil Neville is one stroke of the pen from opening his full managerial career at a vaunted La Liga stop, with a club in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

Nuno Espirito Santo stepped down from his manager’s role at Valencia on Sunday, with the Bats in ninth place, five points outside the Top Four.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup | Bundesliga wrap ]

In his place in former Manchester United and Everton legend Neville, who will take charge of the team in the interim.

As weird as it would be to give the job to a man who has only led Salford City — a club he co-owns — on a caretaker basis, the hire would be no weirder than Tim Sherwood being allowed to run Tottenham Hotspur.

Would it be a surprise, given the time of season, if Neville was at least given through the end of the year?

And consider, from the BBC:

The club’s Singaporean owner, Peter Lim, has a stake in Salford City, the non-league club co-owned by Neville with his former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

Valencia needs to beat Lyon in its final UCL Group H game, and hope Gent draws or loses at home to first-place Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Otherwise, it’s on to the Europa League.

Porter’s Timbers just wanted in the playoffs, now they’re 90 mins away from a title

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Caleb Porter of the Portland Timbers looks on from the bench before the match against the FC Dallas at Providence Park on November 22, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
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Midway through the season, it was reasonable to question whether Caleb Porter could hang onto his job as Portland Timbers coach. With two games to play in the regular season, the Timbers were on the verge of missing the playoffs entirely, that job status still hung in the balance.

[ MORE: Timbers hold off Dallas | Crew advances past RBNY ]

Yet, this is Major League Soccer, where anything is possible. “Hot at the right time” is a mantra, and Portland hasn’t tasted defeat since early October. The Timbers are 6W-2T since losing to Sporting KC on Oct. 3.

Whether that’s “more exciting” than another league’s system is a conversation for another day, because today’s conversation is about what Porter and the Timbers have done in rising to within 90 minutes of an MLS title.

From Timbers.com:

“When we started the year, we wanted to get into the playoffs and win a trophy,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said in his post game comments outside a champagne and beer-drenched locker room. “That was the goal, and here we are. We’ve won one, and now we want to win the big one. So it’s very satisfying.”

And that’s the thing: You just have to get in. I imagine most Portland fans aren’t thinking, “Does this feel good in relation to how it would feel if we went wire-to-wire as champions?” They are thinking, “This feels good.”

The Timbers just needed to get in. Columbus, too. And now they are playing for a title with some of the better all-around players in the league, running the gamut from veteran savvy (Nat Borchers) to youthful flair (Lucas Melano).

MLS Best XI comes from a wide variety of backgrounds

Toronto FC 's Sebastian Giovinco, center,  tries to take the ball between Columbus Crew's Harrison Afful, left, and Ethan Finlay during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Toronto, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Major League Soccer rolled out its Best XI on Sunday, with few surprises.

Though the lack of fullbacks perhaps rightly cause Taylor Twellman and others to roll their eyes, the MLS’ 3-4-3 formation looks daunting.

[ MORE: Timbers hold off Dallas | Crew advances past RBNY ]

With expected MVP attacker Sebastian Giovinco of Toronto pacing the field, the XI is strong and filled with players from different backgrounds.

From American College Soccer, to Costa Rica, Serie A and the Premier League, there’s no one unifying thread. Heck, Benny Feilhaber and Kei Kamara mark careers reborn with the win, perhaps shining as bright as ever.

Best XI
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles (RBNY)
Defenders: Laurent Ciman (Montreal); Matt Hedges (Dallas); Kendall Waston (Vancouver)
Midfielders: Ethan Finlay (Columbus); Dax McCarty (RBNY); Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC); Fabian Castillo (Dallas)
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto); Kei Kamara (Columbus); Robbie Keane (L.A. Galaxy)

It’s hard to call out snubs on a team this loaded, but David Ousted from Vancouver certainly deserves a shout, and Darlington Nagbe is probably the most aggrieved omission. But who comes out for the recently-made USMNT star?