Drilling down on: San Jose 2, at Real Salt Lake 1

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Man of the Match:

Alan Gordon (pictured) with the late-game heroics again? Are you kidding me? And he did it twice this time? Are you kidding me? ‘Tis true, the San Jose Earthquakes’ substitute extraordinaire keeps getting it done in the waning minutes for Frank Yallop’s team. This go-round Gordon took advantage of some sloppy work in RSL’s defense to put his team ahead with a 74th minute header. And when the home side equalized, Gordon flicked on a throw-in toward Chris Wondolowski, who turned that chances into the game-winning goal.

Packaged for take-away:

  • A lot of the game is just about opportunism. Real Salt Lake created 2-3 times the number of chances San Jose did; the visitors left with the points because they were more ruthless in and around goal.
  • Real Salt Lake has lost two in a row at home, a real rarity for the Jason Kreis’ team.
  • Jason Hernandez was Jason of the Spot several times for San Jose. The Earthquakes’ center back could easily have been Man of the Match, as well.
  • Chris Wingert usually an outside back, played centrally along the RSL back line for the injured Jamison Olave. Tony Beltran, usually stationed on the right, played along the left for Kreis. The back line adjustments certainly showed as Steven Lenhart and Wondolowski found gaps in the RSL back line that usually aren’t there, or that are harder to locate, at least.
  • Going just a little more defensively, San Jose manager Frank Yallop assigned Ramiro Corrales to a left midfield role rather than a spot in the back.
  • It’s really a testament to poor communication between match officials (including the fourth official) that more of Lenhart’s off-the-ball shenanigans aren’t seen and/or punished. That’s why those guys are there – or one of the reasons, anyway.
  • Speaking of officials, referee Jair Marrufo completely blew it in the 35th minute, missing a penalty kick or at very least a foul right at the 18 as Corrales tripped Real Salt Lake playmaker Javier Morales from behind. He also allowed San Jose midfielder Khari Stephenson to kick and hack with relative impunity.
  • Morales, making only his seventh start this year in an injury-pocked season, ran the RSL offense with the tactical and technical proficiency of a man who has been playing all year. Thanks largely to Morales, the home team controlled most of the possession and definitely created that greater number of high-quality chances. On the other hand, San Jose did enough to create a good chance here and there, which is what the road team needs to do.
  • Earthquakes left back Justin Morrow made the defensive play of the night, launching himself to knock a ball out of goal after RSL’s Fabian Espindola had rounded San Jose ‘keeper Jon Busch. (Busch was back in the lineup after serving his one-game league-mandated disciplinary suspension.) Morrow, like Hernandez in the middle, was excellent Saturday.
  • Will Johnson also got around Busch, but failed to get a shot away as Hernandez recovered in a goal-mouth mashup in time to thwart the shot. Later in the half, Hernandez was on the goal line to knock another shot away. So Busch was rounded twice and beaten one other time without actually conceding a goal, thanks to heads-up defending.
  • RSL striker Alvaro Saborio was quite active inside the penalty area for the home team, making both San Jose center backs work hard.  On the other end, Marvin Chavez made life hard on RSL makeshift left back Beltran.
  • RSL manager Jason Kreis had hoped to get 50-60 minutes from Morales but got the full 90.

Giovinco strikes twice to lift Toronto FC to Canadian Championship (video)

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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Sebastian Giovinco scored twice including in stoppage time as Toronto FC overcame Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla’s fantastic strike to win 2-1 in the second leg of the Canadian Championship at BMO Field on Tuesday.

TFC held the advantage after a 1-1 first leg in Montreal. The Reds advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Tabla, who just turned 18 in March, is an Ivorian-born Canadian youth international who now has four senior goals for the Impact.

Montreal veteran Patrice Bernier saw red in the 89th minute, putting the Impact’s chances behind the 8-ball.

[ MORE: USMNT Gold Cup questions ]

Toronto FC entered the match with a road goal advantage, which was undone in the quick flash of a left-foot, as Tabla dug a ball from underneath him and past a flying Clint Irwin to make it 2-1 on aggregate.

The goal was a double whammy for Toronto, which went to the break knowing it would need to score twice (or win in penalty kicks) to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Yet TFC came back after a horrendous pass from Montreal, as Michael Bradley pinged a gorgeous diagonal ball to Sebastian Giovinco. The Atomic Ant recovered from a tough opening touch to bury his chance. 1-1.

And, oh yeah, watch this man work for his second…

Who is Kenny Saief, and other USMNT Gold Cup personnel questions

Photo by Stephen Pond - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
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Kenny Saief is an 23-year-old American left-sided player with UEFA Champions League experience.

So why do we know so little about the Miami-born man?

The answer is pretty straight-forward: Saief’s entire career has been under-the-radar. After coming up through a series of Israeli teams, he moved to KAA Gent in Belgium. None of those matches, even adding in his representing the full Israel national team twice, got a ton of play on American soil.

[ MORE: Saul scores stunner for Spain U-21s ]

So when Saief filed his one-time switch to represent the United States, paving the way for a USMNT call-up for this summer’s Gold Cup, even those of us who’d followed his career from afar had put a limited amount of actual observation on match footage.

So here’s the long-and-short:

  • Saief turns 24 in December.
  • He moved to Gent from Israeli second tier side Ramat haSharon in 2014.
  • Played a total of 35 minutes in friendlies versus Serbia and Croatia.
  • Saief has 20 total appearances between the Europa and Champions Leagues.
  • Posted a UCL assist versus Wolfsburg in the 2015-16 Round of 16.
  • Had goal, 2 assists in UEL this season, played 180 mins vs. Spurs.
  • Has 15 goals, 9 assists in 107 apps for Gent.

Saief should get an opportunity to make an impact for Bruce Arena’s USMNT, perhaps as soon as Saturday’s friendly against Ghana in East Hartford.

Who else stands a chance to gain the most from this tournament?

Joe Corona — The 26-year-old made his thirst-inducing name in American soccer circles by scoring a pair of goals in the 2013 Gold Cup, but has just 17 caps to his name. His call-up over veterans like Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan either shows how high he’s risen or how far those veterans have fallen.

Cristian Roldan — Seattle’s hard-nosed midfielder was playing college ball at Washington just three years ago, and it’s not crazy to think strong performances could boost him onto the radar of bigger clubs abroad (let alone make him a mainstay along Kellyn Acosta with the USMNT).

Dom Dwyer — If Roldan’s rise is surprising, Dwyer’s really is astounding. It’s easy to forget that the Sporting KC star forward was playing junior college soccer in 2010 before spending one season of Division I soccer with South Florida. Now he has 57 MLS goals and a look at becoming the clinical finisher the American side has wanted for some time.

Justin Morrow and Eric Lichaj — The 29- and 28-year-old fullbacks would love to prove their mettle is as good if not better than Jorge Villafana, the current front-runner to start at left back should the Yanks complete their revitalized run to the World Cup. Lichaj, a Nottingham Forest veteran, is also adept at right back.

This isn’t to say that Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe won’t benefit from strong tournaments, but the names above have either been rescued from soccer’s scrap heap or at least Jurgen Klinsmann’s prison.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check out the podcast here:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.