Man of the Match: New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara is moving up the list on my ballot for Rookie of the Year – perhaps already in the pole position. Once again Sunday he came through in the clutch with a big save at the end. It’s not just his shot-stopping, but it’s the overall management in the box, his sure hands and good choices on when to stand his ground or when to go get the ball. Other than one bobble in heavy traffic, Meara did everything right in this one.
Packaged for take-away:
- The Red Bulls have four consecutive wins for the first time in nine years, and now sit atop the Eastern Conference after Sunday’s win at PPL Park.
- I’m going to coin new term: The Marquez Conundrum ®. Because Rafa Marquez really is an asset on attack, but a complete defensive liability. Two Marquez passes led to goals for New York, including a sublime, perfectly weighted doozy into Kenny Cooper for the game-winner.
- Cooper has nine goals, or one more than he had last year for Portland
- Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams is doing OK as fill-in at center back for Danny Califf, but he got crossed up on the game-winner, letting Cooper get into a dangerous gap. (Williams is usually Philly’s starting right back.)
- Marquez was back in the lineup after four matches away. He took Dax McCarty’s holding midfield role; McCarty moved higher up the field, still stationed centrally but playing alongside Mehdi Ballouchy in the Red Bulls’ 4-1-4-1.
- I’ve already had my say about Freddy Adu and his unwise choices.
- As an addendum, no matter what you thought of Jorge Gonzalez’s choice to book Adu in that situation, here’s what the young Union attacker needs to do there: Just play! Don’t dive. Don’t fall. Don’t drag your foot and look for a call. Just try to score.
- It really was a shame, too. Because Adu had been so dangerous in this one, probably playing his best match of 2012. Playing on the right but tucking inside as a playmaker, Adu was creating with his passes, off the dribble and through crisp set-piece delivery.
- Union striker Lionard Pajoy has been a disappointment so far, if we’re being honest. But perhaps he’s the latest example that some players just need 10 or games to get things sorted out in MLS. Because he was quite bright in this one.
- Whatever was missing from Joel Lindpere’s game (or in his personal life) earlier this year, the man has clearly found it.
- At least twice, Philadelphia striker Danny Mwanga passed up opportunities to attack defenders. He hasn’t scored since last summer. Add it all up, the 2010 No. 1 draft pick just isn’t a confidence striker at the moment. Strikers who are feeling it and believing in themselves look for chances to take on defenders in 1-on-1 situations, sometimes even attacking guys along the back line when they probably should pass. Mwanga needs to call FedEx and order up a big shipment of “confidence.”
- Meanwhile, Juan Agudelo’s 30-plus minutes off the bench for New York? Yep, not bad at all. He found good spots, kept possession well, worked well and used some athletic ability to point a couple of shots at target. All in all, that might be enough to convince Jurgen Klinsmann to bring Agudelo into the 29-man camp for a closer look-see, at least.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
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Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
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The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
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Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.