Man of the Match: Veteran midfielder Brian Mullan provided both assists on clean crosses from the right side, one in the air to Jaime Castrillon and one along the ground to Martin Rivero. Before the game broke down into a 11-on-9 oddity, Mullan was doing his part to keep the FC Dallas right side in check.
Packaged for take-away:
- Well, you don’t see this very often: Dallas was two men down in the 37th minute. The second half was something that resembled training ground stuff, almost entirely in Dallas’ end, with the home team reduced to an occasional 1 on 3 “break.”
- Interestingly, Dallas set up in two banks of four after intermission. So, the old 4-4-0 if you like.
- Final shot total: 23-1
- Daniel Hernandez was excused in the 35th minute for a second yellow. His first was thoughtless and totally unnecessary, for jawing at referee Mark Geiger. The second caution was wholly justified for an overly aggressive challenge near midfield.
- Two minutes later, Blas Perez was shown red for going into a challenge with Drew Moor with his cleats exposed. It wasn’t a good challenge, but it wasn’t an obvious red, more clumsy than menacing. So whether Geiger might have shown a little discretion, just two minutes after another expulsion the same team, could be asked.
- Both ejections could be argued as justified on their individual merits, but the referee’s relative inexperience played a part, too. The problem started when Geiger turned the temperature up in the match by refusing to call obvious, early fouls. For the set who like to scream at referees “Let ’em play, referee!” … well, this is sometimes what happens when you “let ’em play.” Tempers become frayed. By halftime Geiger had shown four yellows and two reds. And that’s why the men in the middle should call fouls when he or she sees them.
- Brek Shea was left out of FC Dallas’ lineup with a turf toe ailment.
- If you’re counting, that’s six FC Dallas midfielders on the injury shelf.
- It wasn’t all good for Colorado. Omar Cummings limped off after just 13 minutes, having gotten his foot caught in the turf. Early reports were of a left ankle sprain.
- Kevin Hartman keeps adding to his MLS record total of all-time saves. His first Sunday was No. 1,400. But he’ll have to wait for career win No. 175; Hartman remains one off that total.
- At the other end, Matt Pickens’ shutout is No. 26 in a Rapids shirt, which makes him the club’s all-time leader.
- Conor Casey entered at halftime as Oscar Pareja went into a 3-4-3 alignment. This was Casey’s most minutes in a year.
- Jeff Larentowicz was steady all night for Colorado, distributing from a deep midfield spot with a calm patience throughout the second half. That was the right way for the Rapids, who would have done themselves no favors putting a big rush on things. As it was, they finally broke down Dallas’ stacked defense, earning the three points for manager Oscar Pareja, who had spent so much time in Dallas as a player and assistant coach.
Vincent Kompany is set to make his first appearance for Manchester City since Boxing Day as the defender has returned from injury.
City’s captain and center-back missed more than six weeks with a calf injury before Christmas, and then reaggravated the injury just minutes into his return at the end of December.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
However, Kompany has been back in training and manager Manuel Pellegrini said he is fit to play this weekend when City host Tottenham in a huge top-four matchup.
We’ll see what the starting XI is tomorrow – we’re not just thinking about one player and one game, we’re involved in a lot of competitions. Maybe we have a lot of criticism when we don’t play well but I’m happy with the squad over the whole season.
Every player must play a game when they’re 100%. Vincent has worked for three weeks with no problems. He played 45 minutes in a friendly game against the under-21s and I think he’s ready to play.
Kompany’s presence in the City back-line has been pivotal this season. In the eight Premier League games Kompany has started, City have kept seven clean sheets. In the 18 matches without the big Belgian in the starting lineup, City have kept just five.
[ RELATED: Diego Costa suffers broken nose in Chelsea training ]
With City just a point behind Tottenham, Kompany returns from injury just in time for one of the biggest matches of the season. Tasked with slowing down Harry Kane and Spurs’ high-flying attack, Kompany’s play could prove crucial to the Citizens getting a result.
- CFC unbeaten under Hiddink (W5, D6)
- Newcastle have just 6 away goals all season
- Diego Costa: 6 goals in his last 7 PL matches
Chelsea look to extend their unbeaten streak under Guus Hiddink to 12 matches on Saturday when the Blues host relegation-threatened Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
The Blues’ last loss came under Jose Mourinho in December.
[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]
Chelsea are up to 13th on the table, currently riding a run of 11 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Guus Hiddink is yet to suffer a loss after taking over for his second stint at Stamford Bridge in December, although draws have kept Chelsea from climbing further up the table. Diego Costa has had the hot-hand with six goals in his last seven appearances, but the Spanish striker will be forced to play with a mask after suffering a broken nose in training.
[ MORE: Hiddink has “no fear” of playing youngsters in Zouma’s absence ]
For Newcastle, the Magpies sit 17th on the table just one point above the drop. Their away form has hurt the club all season, as Steve McClaren‘s men have scored a league-low six goals on the road this year. The Magpies are coming off of a win over West Brom, and supporters will be hoping the club’s new January signings continue to produce. Seydou Doumbia could make his Premier League debut on Saturday, which would be a massive boost to the attack.
What they’re saying
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: “The status of being unbeaten sounds good but realistically we would have wished to have more victories, especially at home. And we have an opportunity to do so against Newcastle. They improved their squad with substance, some good signings, and they are more competitive now.”
Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: “In our home games we are starting to get a consistency in our performance and the way we play. We need to start transferring that to our away games and picking up points away from home – we owe it to the fans.”
Newcastle have just two wins in their last 18 league matches away from home, and I don’t see that trend changing this weekend. Chelsea have looked a new team with Guus Hiddink in charge, and they stay unbeaten under the Dutchman. Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United.
Mauricio Pochettino is getting ready for one of his biggest matches in charge at Tottenham, but he’s not letting the pressure get to him.
The Spurs’ boss talked down the importance of Sunday’s match against Manchester City (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), and went on to say he is currently having the most enjoyable time of his career.
[ WATCH: Full PL match replays ]
Pochettino has Tottenham sitting second on the table, and they travel to the Etihad this weekend for a clash against fourth-placed Manchester City, who sit one point behind Spurs.
When asked if this weekend’s match could be a decisive result in the title race, Pochettino was unwilling to admit it was anything more than three points in a long campaign. However, when asked about the season as a whole, the Argentinian manager said he was having great fun at White Hart Lane, responding “Is it my most enjoyable time of career? Yes, maybe yes if I’m honest.”
[ MORE: Who are the Premier League title favorites? ]
Pochettino’s work at Tottenham has made him one of the most well-respected managers in the Premier League, with some reports tabbing him as the potential future boss of Manchester United.
Spurs have won six on the spin in all competitions, and will be confident facing a City side they smashed 4-1 earlier this season. With leaders Leicester facing Arsenal on Sunday, Tottenham could see themselves just two points off the pace if results go their way.
Bayer Leverkusen must move forward without their top talisman as Javier Hernandez is out with a muscle injury.
The Mexican international was forced off in the second half of Leverkusen’s midweek loss to Werder Bremen in the German Cup.
[ MORE: Arsenal to play MLS All-Stars ]
Hernandez scored in that Werder Bremen match before getting injured, as the striker has now scored a remarkable 20 goals in his last 18 appearances for Leverkusen.
With a torn muscle fiber in his left glute, Leverkusen boss Rogers Schmidt announced Chicharito could be out for two or even three weeks.
[ RELATED: Messi wins his first La Liga Player of the Month award ]
Including this weekend’s match at Darmstadt, Hernandez will likely miss both matches against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League as well as a huge Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.