Chivas USA v Colorado Rapids

Drilling down on: Colorado 2, at FC Dallas 0

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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.

Norwich City striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel signs with former club Vitesse Arnham

NORWICH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17:Ricky van Wolfswinkel of Norwich City celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Everton at Carrow Road on August 17, 2013 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
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Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City’s record transfer at the time of his purchase from Sporting CP in 2013, is moving on after a largely unsuccessful four-year stint with the Canaries.

The 27-year-old has returned to his home country, moving to Vitesse Arnham – the club he went professional with as a 19-year-old. Van Wolfswinkel made his professional debut in April of 2008 with Vitesse, and now returns for an undisclosed fee.

Van Wolfswinkel came to Norwich in 2013 with much fanfare, signing for a reported fee of $11 million – a club record signing at the time.

He proceeded to score just a single goal in 25 appearances during his first season in the Premier League, with Norwich finding itself relegated. He moved to Ligue 1 on loan with Norwich in the Championship, but still managed just five goals in 28 league appearances with St. Etienne. He never made another appearance for the Canaries, instead moving on loan again Real Betis last season, but flopped there too, scoring just once in 16 league appearances.

“I debuted in professional football on behalf of Vitesse and that is something you never forget,” van Wolfswinkel said upon signing. “After several foreign adventures I look forward to returning to the Dutch fields. I hope to find my niche and want to play well and add many goals and assists for Vitesse.”

Report: Arsenal continues to push for Lacazette transfer, readies another bid

LISBON, PORTUGAL - JULY 23:  Lyon's forward Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring Lyon«s goal during the Friendly match between Sporting CP and Lyon at Estadio Jose Alvalade on July 23, 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
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According to Friday’s edition of French publication L’Equipe, Arsenal is set to table yet another improved bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette should the current one of $44 million be rejected.

The Gunners have spent little this transfer window, with the capture of Granit Xhaka their only incoming purchase thus far, and it has unsettled many supporters. The club has looked to calm those fears, going so far as to claim they are unable to spend big like many others across England, but on the inside they appear ready to spend for the French frontman.

Should Arsenal submit yet another bid for Lacazette, it would be their third. An initial bid for $39 million was rejected earlier this week, the Ligue 1 side announced on Wednesday.

“The reality is that the Arsenal made an offer of £30m,” the club confirmed in a statement, “which Olympique Lyonnais did not respond to for one reason only: OL wishes to keep Alexandre Lacazette because he is irreplaceable and one of the major leaders of Bruno Genesio’s group.”

The Frenchman scored 21 goals last season in Ligue 1 play, including 11 goals in the season’s final 10 games. His total haul was second in the league behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s whopping 38.

It seems that, with this report out in public, Lyon would be silly to accept the new bid, given that Arsenal is likely to have another improved one soon to follow.

Europa League qualifying roundup: West Ham falls in Slovenia

NYON, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 08:  The UEFA Europa League trophy is displayed during the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League Play-off round draw at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football on August 8, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In what is often described as more of a distraction than anything for English teams, the Europa League third qualification round is under way, and a Premier League club is in danger of crashing out of the competition prior to the group stage for the third straight season.

West Ham fell 2-1 at NK Domzale, the third-placed finishers in the Slovenian league last season. Mark Noble grabbed an 18th-minute penalty, the only takeaway from an otherwise depressing road result. On the other side, 24-year-old Matic Crnic scored twice to put Domzale through.

Last season, the Hammers also dropped out of the competition in the third qualification round, to Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, although they had wins in the first and second rounds after entering the competition via fair play. In addition, Southampton also crashed out of last year’s Europa League in the playoff round to Danish side FC Mitdjylland. Hull City dropped out of the tournament two seasons ago in the playoff round.

West Ham has the opportunity to turn things around at home in a week as they host Domzale at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, August 4 in what will be West Ham’s first competitive game in their new home.

Other notable scores from Europa League qualification include:

  • Lille 1-1 Gabala FC
  • Panathinaikos 1-0 AIK
  • Genk 1-0 Cork
  • Pandurii Targu Jiu 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
  • Videoton 0-1 Midtjylland
  • Hertha BSC 1-0 Bronby
  • AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Giannina

Napoli chief calls Gonzalo Higuain a “traitor,” striker hits back

Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain shows the Juventus' jersey as he arrives in the team headquarters in Turin, Italy, Wednesday July 27, 2016. Italian champion Juventus said Tuesday it has signed  Higuain from Serie A rival Napoli for 90 million euros ($99 million). (Alessandro Di Marco/Ansa via Ap)
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Gonzalo Higuain’s summer move to Juventus has not come without bad blood.

When the 28-year-old striker moved from Naples to Turin thanks to Juventus activating his release clause, it left Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a sour taste in his mouth. “There are those who say that talk of betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think the opposite,” De Laurentiis told Corierre dello Sport. “Because, in this decision, there is the full sense of betrayal, which also includes ingratitude.”

“We never seriously thought he would leave. Nor that he would have erased in a flash the memories of his three years in Naples.”

That didn’t sit well with Higuain, who fired back that it was de Laurentiis who drove him out of his former club.

“It was my decision to leave, but it was [De Laurentiis] who pushed me into making it,” Higuain told the media at his Juventus unveiling. “I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates, but not De Laurentiis. I no longer had a relationship with him; I couldn’t stand another minute with him.”

Higuain was more celebratory about his time at Stadio San Paulo. “These have been three amazing years,” Higuain said, “and I can only say thanks for all the love I was given, but this was a decision I took for my own reasons. I can understand that they are angry with me and I’ve seen the insults, but it is something I had to do and I’m happy about it.”

Napoli visits Turin in Serie A play on October 30, while Juventus will not travel to Naples for the return fixture until early April of 2017.