Drilling down on: at Portland 2, Seattle 1

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Man of the Match

Portland center back David Horst (pictured, after his goal) nearly nailed an early opportunity and he wouldn’t miss a second time, escaping his mark to double the Timbers’ early lead. On defense, he was rock solid, especially in the air (with one notable exception, when he failed to deal properly with Eddie Johnson on the Sounders’ goal). Still, he was a bother on offensive set pieces and did his part on the back line as Portland won a biggie.

Packaged for take-away

  • David Horst could be spending his Sunday night in Portland in pain, ruing his missed 11th minute effort, a free header off a corner kick that cracked the crossbar. He got loose from Jeff Parke but couldn’t pull off the early goal. He could be, except …
  • When Portland is finding room to serve from the wings, Portland will always be dangerous. It was happening early Sunday, and Kris Boyd was the beneficiary, opening the scoring in the 17th off a feed from Steven Smith on the left wing.
  • Smith got the start at left back for Portland. Since he spent so much time early in his career with Rangers, having participated in those famous Celtic-Rangers rivalry matches, safe to say he wasn’t too undone by his first Cascadia Cup fixture.
  • A few minutes after his goal, Boyd had a free header from six. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke were having a devil of a time keeping track of Boyd, whose open header shot in the 25th turned into a corner kick. Horst doubled the home team’s lead on the ensuing corner kick, escaping Parke yet again.
  • Parke was taken off in favor of Patrick Ianni at halftime.
  • With a 2-0 lead the Timbers dropped their lines slightly and nearly paid the price. Seattle came out of the back with greater ease and established a toehold on the game. With more chances in the final third, Brad Evans clunked an uncontested header from close-range just before the half; which could have chanced the game, obviously.
  • Troy Perkins needed to be alert on two Osvaldo Alonso shots from long range, both on target.
  • More of the same to open the second half. Portland tried to pressure in higher areas, but Eddie Johnson’s 58th minute goal seemed to unnerve a young-ish Timbers’ lineup, and the game became lopsided. Seattle pressed and Portland countered. Right up to the end, Portland looked nervous and naive, unable to more easily nurse home the result.
  • Darlington Nagbe played ahead of Diego Chara in the Timbers’ diamond midfield but had very little to say about the game. He was caught in possession too often, unable to solve the little problems for which an attacking midfielder needs to plot and plan.
  • Chara, on the other hand, was a presence on offense and defense for his team.
  • Mike Fucito was handed his first start for Portland, coming against his old team, which was probably a good thing for team psyche and for creating the kind of bite and energy a rivalry contest deserves. On the other hand, there wasn’t a lot of chemistry with fellow forward Boyd. Or, perhaps it was just rust for Fucito, who doesn’t play much for John Spencer.
  • Ricardo Salazar did a credible job of keeping a lid on such a potentially volatile match. On the other hand, when Salazar ordered a free kick retaken after Fredy Montero encroached in the 76th minute, blocking a free kick from inside the 10-yard radius, why didn’t he book the Sounders’ striker?
  • Sal Zizzo’s introduction for Portland along the right side in the second half gave Seattle something to think about, dealing with the speedy Timbers’ attacker.
  • Near the end, Fredy Montero and Lovel Palmer were both shown reds for their parts in a fracas that Montero appeared to start.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga