Man of the Match: You can go two ways on this one, and just so I don’t cop-out (again), I’ll let you know which way I leaned. Andy Greunebaum came up with big saves when Columbus needed them, stifling two very good Seattle chances early in the second half. You can go with him, or you can be an arrogant, elitist snob like me and argue the number of times Sebastian Miranda was tested and passed in the first half deserves the recognition. Miranda, in truth, wasn’t exceptional, but the pure number of times he deterred Seattle gets my nod.
Packaged for takeaway:
- Individual breakdowns. Sigi Schmid harped on individual breakdowns after the match, and he had every right to. Whether we’re talking about the two goals or the open chance Alvaro Fernandez missed right before half time, Seattle’s players didn’t step up when given the chance to do so.
- But take nothing away form Columbus. Every time they get a surprise result, people moan about their perceived quality and claim the other team played down to the Crew’s level. Guess what? Columbus is now 4-4-3. Columbus is now fifth in the East. Columbus is now a decent team.
- And that decent team executed. On the first goal, Dilly Duka played a left-footed cross in from the right flank to hit Justin Meram, who got a surprise start at left wing. Low and behold the matchup of a forward against a full back on a cross went the way of the bigger man.
- And on the second goal, yes, Bryan Meredith was off his line, but Emilio Renteria also had to hit a 24-yard ball that got over him but under the bar. Blame where blame’s due, but credit where credit’s due, too.
- It really is interesting to see how much of Seattle build up goes through Osvaldo Alonso in the first two-thirds.
- Eddie Johnson had another mixed night. He always seemed to find a way to get on the ball, but he never did anything with it.
- Watch David Estrada work. He tracks back much deeper than his opposite winger, and as Alonso and Brad Evans go forward (or, in Evans’ case, wide), he’s more than willing to sit in the middle of the park. There may be no harder working wide player in the league, right now. The question, though, is whether it’s good for him to have to jump into so many holes.
- Renteria had a goal, and he was also credited with one of those fun MLS second assists, but the moment that jumped out to me was the counter attack he slowed down late in the first half. Columbus often plays nine of their 10 out-field players behind the midfield’s last man, leaving their forward all alone. Renteria doesn’t have the speed to get the Crew into counterattacks, a tactic they need to utilize if they’re going to play so deep. Then again, what do I know? Dude had a goal and an assist.
- One other note on Columbus’s deployment. Eddie Gaven and Dilly Duka played very close to each other, and when Danny O’Rourke (before he left with an ankle injury) or Cole Grossman jumped into the play, it created a quick bursts of short passes in an overloaded area. For a brief spell in the first half, the Crew opened a number of eyes by playing some very un-Crew soccer.
WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.
Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.
It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.
Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.
Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.
Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.
Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.
Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”
However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.
That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.
“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”
Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.
All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.
La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.
[ MORE: Antonio Conte pulling from experience to keep Chelsea on top ]
That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.
The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.
Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.
In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.
[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 26 ]
“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”
Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”
The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.