Eddie Johnson

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

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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.

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.

Whitecaps acquire U.S. defender Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City

Toronto FC v Orlando City SC
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With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.

[ MORE: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018 ]

The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.

“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”

Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.

Report: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.

Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.

Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.

ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.

In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.