Montreal Impact v D.C. United

Drilling down on: at Montreal 1, LA Galaxy 1

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Man of the Match: The only blemish of Donovan Ricketts‘ day was a David Beckham free kick, though he isn’t the first to be beaten by that type of effort. While Ricketts’ inability to get to that ball might be immortalized in Beckham’s highlight reel, Montreal’s goalkeeper forged a one-game highlight reel of his own, making three spectacular stops in the first 15 minutes of the second half to keep Montreal in the game.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • And Montreal barely staying in this one. Although the Impact were better in the first half, they were dominated in the second. You can’t help but think they would have broken if Los Angeles had some way to meaningfully change up their attack.
  • David Beckham’s numbers speak to that lack of variation. He led the game in successful passed (63) but was also, by far, its leader in unsuccessful passes (31). A big part of that: Only four of his 15 attempted crosses were successful. He also lost possession another 33 times, a number that speaks not only to his place in LA’s plans but also their need to find somebody else that can help promote play.
  • On both sides of halftime, we saw (more) striking examples of how much Los Angeles misses Omar Gonzalez. On Montreal’s goal, A.J. De La Garza misjudged a long ball while Dan Keat, probably assuming De La Garza would at least put in a challenge for the ball, let Davy Arnaud get behind him. Late in the game when LA was forcing corner after corner, they missed their most dangerous set piece option.
  • This was, however, and improvement for the Galaxy. Though their first half was somewhat poor, over the course of 90 minutes, they didn’t look pathetic. They also responding in the second half in the face of what would have been another embarrassing result. The team is highly flawed, but today, they managed to look minimally capable.
  • Of course, now there’s a danger LA starts to make strides just as U.S. World Cup qualifying starts, Robbie Keane leaves for Euro 2012, and David Beckham gets called away to Team GB. Even if LA finds a solution soon, they’ll need another one in a few weeks.
  • For Montreal, it was a decent point in front of a huge crowd (over 60,000). They still offer very little in attack, but the core of a good defense is in place, particularly with a Nelson Rivas-Matteo Ferrari pairing playing between Ricketts and a midfield of Felipe Martins and Collen Warner. It’s a group that will buy Jesse Marsch time to work out his team’s attacking issues.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.