New York Red Bulls v Columbus Crew

Drilling down on: at New York 1, Chivas USA 1

1 Comment

Man of the Match: There were load of capable nights from the Red Bulls, who had far more of the ball and more chances. Everyone along the Red Bulls back line looked good. Same for the midfield; even Rafa Marquez looked comfortable after intermission, following a tame first 45. But Dane Richards made the difference with a good run and a sharp, precise pass for the second-half equalizer. And he was generally well-positioned and energetic along the Red Bulls right side, making life tough on Chivas USA veteran left back Ante Jazic.

Packaged for take-away:

  • The Red Bulls five-game winning streak is now a six-game unbeaten streak. Still not too bad. Chivas USA, meanwhile, has a remarkable 3-1-2 record on the road.
  • Rafa Marquez was back in the Red Bulls lineup, more or less occupying the role Dax McCarty was filling so efficiently during the five-game winning streak. McCarty was still central in the Red Bulls’ 4-4-2, but was designated to push into forward support during Red Bull possession while Marquez usually held the area in front of New York’s back line.
  • With Thierry Henry healthy (giving manager Hans Backe two quality forwards for selection), the Red Bulls opted out of the 4-1-4-1 that had worked over the five-game run.
  • Henry, back in the Red Bulls starting lineup after missing three games with a hamstring injury, is clearly missing some timing. He was a yard offside several times and hardly well-synched with teammates.
  • For all the good stuff we can say about Henry this year — and there is so much to praise — his body language whenever he doesn’t get the ball can really be pouty and lame. And perhaps he was being cautious due to that gimpy hamstring, but the longtime French international sure tended to be static when teammates had the ball in the attacking third.
  • Chivas USA didn’t generate a ton of quality chances. But Juan Pablo Angel, with just one goal in five matches before Wednesday and surely desperate for more, did hit the post in the 25th minute.
  • And then his strike to give the visitors an early second-half lead? A real “striker’s goal.” That is, only a striker would have the quick-reaction to know just where he was in relation to the goal and steer it, somehow, athletically, instinctively into the net.
  • Brandon Barklage, an emergency replacement along the Red Bulls back line, has held back the right back spot more than adequately. He’s not exactly zipping up and down the wing, but that’s OK. Playing within himself, knowing what he can and can’t do, and performing that stuff well, is plenty.
  • Barklage’s entry pass into Richards was weighted perfectly, put in the best spot possible. From there, Richards did what he has failed to do so often through the years: make the early, quick and correct decision, a first-time ball over to Kenny Cooper for the 56th minute equalizer.
  • Cooper joins San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski in the MLS scoring leadership with 11 goals.
  • New York left back Roy Miller, about to join Costa Rica for friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, was a spry presence along the flank for a second consecutive contest.
  • The Red Bulls’ Mehdi Ballouchy? Anyone seen that man lately? Witness protection program, perhaps?
  • Heath Pearce has been Red Bull for six days, and already has played all 90 minutes of two matches. So much for “get acquainted” time.
  • If Backe keeps Pearce in the middle along the back line, then he has a passer at that position every bit as good as Tim Ream was during the last two years at Red Bull Arena.
  • Robin Fraser, riverboat gambler? The Chivas USA manager used his third and final sub by the 70th minute. His changes were mostly offensive minded.
  • McCarty’s 83rd minute header had Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy beaten, but Ante Jazic was well positioned to clear off the goal line.
  • Kennedy was otherwise steady as a Big Apple skyscraper, just like all year.

Report: Ronaldo, Mourinho involved in massive tax evasion system

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 19:  Head Coach Jose Mourinho (R) of Real Madrid instructs Cristiano Ronaldo during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Real Madrid and AC Milan at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
1 Comment

Wikileaks findings played a massive role in this year’s presidential election, and now “Football Leaks” could produce potentially damaging news regarding some of the world’s greatest soccer players.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines heading into the weekend ]

According to information obtained by various European media outlets, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho are at the heart of a multi-million dollar tax evasion ring.

[ MORE: Who’s more important? Diego Costa or Sergio Aguero? ]

German outlet Der Spiegel is reporting that Ronaldo could have hidden as much as”hidden 150 million euros (roughly $160 million) in tax havens in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands.”

Jorge Mendes, who serves as an agent for both Ronaldo, Mourinho and various other major soccer stars, is considered to have played a key role in the alleged wrongdoing.

Mendes reportedly helped Ronaldo and Mourinho conceal money in various offshore accounts, including in Switzerland, Panama and the British Virgin Islands.

In total, the alleged system implemented by Mendes amounted to a loss of “at least 185 million euros (roughly $197 million) of sponsorship income from the tax administrations.”

As more details emerge, follow PST for all the latest information.

Atlanta United adds U.S. U-19 forward Brandon Vasquez

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 07:  (L-R) Former professional soccer player Carlos Bocanegra, MLS Atlanta owner Arthur Blank, rapper Ludacris, Commissioner of MLS Don Garber, and former professional soccer player Darren Eales attend the MLS Atlanta Launch Event at SOHO on July 7, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for MLS Atlanta)
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for MLS Atlanta
Leave a comment

As their entrance into Major League Soccer continues to draw closer and closer, Atlanta United keeps on adding young talent to its roster.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The 2017 Eastern Conference expansion side announced on Friday that they have signed U.S. Under-19 national team forward Brandon Vasquez after Atlanta claimed Vasquez as a discovery signing.

The 18-year-old joins Atlanta from Liga MX side Club Tijuana, while also having represented the United States at various levels of its youth setup. Vasquez played a key role in the U.S. U-17 national team during the 2015 World Cup, scoring two of the team’s three goals during the competition.

This year, Vasquez has bagged four goals in 2016 for the U-19 side.

Including Friday’s addition of Vasquez, Atlanta has now officially signed nine players to its MLS squad. Both expansion sides Atlanta and Minnesota United will have the opportunity to further their teams during the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft, which will take place on December 13.

Premier League Preview: Tottenham vs. Swansea City

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur takes on Angel Rangel of Swansea City during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City at White Hart Lane on February 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Spurs had unbeaten run ended last Saturday against Chelsea
  • Tottenham has never lost to Swansea in PL (8 wins, 2 draws)
  • Swans have kept two clean sheets in first 13 matches

Tottenham looks to rebound from its first loss of the Premier League campaign on Saturday when the London side hosts Swansea City (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN and streaming via NBC Sports Live) from White Hart Lane.

For the first time in the PL this season, Tottenham has been defeated. Now, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side must quickly look past their road defeat against Chelsea and focus on Swansea City, who have taken points in back-to-back matches for the first time in 2016.

[ MORE: Kane signs new Spurs deal, ends Man United speculation ]

Spurs have now lost three of their last five matches across all competitions, and anything other than a win on Saturday against one of the league’s bottom sides could prove to be damaging to the club’s title aspirations. Tottenham currently sits fifth in the table on 24 points, already seven points off the pace set by league leaders Chelsea.

Last weekend’s 5-4 win for Swansea gave manager Bob Bradley his first win since joining the PL side, however, the Swans have much to do if they want to continue their success in England’s top flight.

Swansea sits firmly in the early relegation battle after taking just nine points out of their opening 13 fixtures. Despite facing a stiff test upcoming against Spurs, Bradley and co. should be looking to take advantage of the schedule that lies ahead, including matches against bottom-half sides Sunderland, Middlesbrough and West Ham all before the start of 2017.

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pochettino on Tottenham rebounding after Chelsea defeat: “Against Chelsea we lost but we recovered the feeling that we can play well. This week has been perfect because we could spend time together and train hard. We held a lot of meetings and the answer from the players was fantastic.”

Bob Bradley on Swansea’s thrilling victory over Crystal Palace“Last week was positive, but a stretch of good performances and results changes the conversation in a better way. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. But it is a real opportunity to go there, play our football. We have reminded the players of some of the things we will be up against, but what is more important is who we are, how we play and our mentality. We must never let the opponent take away from our confidence in our game.”

Prediction

The Swans will be riding in hot following last weekend’s historic and thrilling win against Crystal Palace, but Bradley’s side will face a hungry Spurs club looking to bounce back from their first defeat of 2016. It would be nice to see Bradley and co. build off of the impressive win but Spurs have proven to be a force at home under Mauricio Pochettino. Tottenham’s only two losses at home this season have come against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, and I expect Spurs to get back on the winning side of things on Saturday. Tottenham 3-1 Swansea

Messi looking to end El Clasico scoring drought

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 02:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during a training session ahead of their La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid on December 2, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) There couldn’t be a better time for Lionel Messi to end his scoring drought than in the clasico against Real Madrid.

With Barcelona struggling and desperately needing a victory to stay close to its rival in the Spanish league, Messi could help turn things around on Saturday if he can find the net again after five scoreless games against Madrid.

Barcelona enters the home game at Camp Nou six points behind Madrid, and another setback could leave it in a difficult position to fight for a third straight league title.

[ MORE: Chapecoense crash survivor could play again ]

Messi hasn’t played badly in recent clasicos, but his last goal against Madrid came almost three years ago when he had a hat trick in a 4-3 win at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

He hasn’t scored in the four games since, not even in the stunning 4-0 win at the Bernabeu last season, when Messi came off the bench in the second half after a long injury layoff. Barcelona has won two of the last five games against Madrid, but it’s been 400 minutes since Messi last scored.

Since that hat trick in March 2014, Cristiano Ronaldo has attracted most of the headlines in the clasico, having scored three times, including the late game-winner at Camp Nou last season that ended Barcelona’s record 39-game unbeaten streak.

“They’re two exceptional players,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “Cristiano is doing exceptional, incredible things, I hope he carries on like this.”

Messi remains the all-time leading scorer in the clasico with 21 in 32 matches, but at Camp Nou it’s been Ronaldo who has thrived the most.

He has 10 goals in 12 games in Barcelona, including five in the last five matches and eight in the last nine. He failed to find the net only in four of those 12 games. Messi netted only five times in those same 12 encounters in Catalonia.

Ronaldo has scored in each of the last two league games between them at the Camp Nou. He has 16 goals in 25 clasicos, behind only Messi (21) and Alfredo Di Stefano (18).

[ MORE: Birnbaum spurns Europe for DC United ]

Messi has 15 goals in the 25 clasicos in which he and Ronaldo faced each other.

Ronaldo, who recently netted a hat trick in the Madrid derby against Atletico, is the Spanish league leading scorer with 10, one more than Messi. Ronaldo has eight goals in his last four league matches.

Messi also has been playing well recently, having scored five goals in his last four games. He has netted 16 in his last 11 matches.

Barcelona is coming off three consecutive draws, two in the league and one in the Copa del Rey.

Madrid is enjoying a 32-game unbeaten streak under Zidane.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni