Man of the Match:Fabian Espindola, for the 75 minutes he was in, was just too much for Colorado. You’d think a defense with Marvell Wynne wouldn’t have trouble keeping up with anybody, but Espindola’s speed combined with a relentless work rate to snap Colorado. A lazy backpass from Wynne late in the first half led to the winning goal, with Espindola beating Matt Pickens to a ball that ended up as a tap in for Alvaro Saborio.
Packaged for takeaway:
Colorado seemed disorganized at the back all night. Their normal central pair of Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor was broken up with Moor at right back, Tyrone Marshall taking his spot at left center half. With new acquisition Tyson Wahl at left back, the Rapids were without their first choice at three positions.
That may also explain why Alvaro Saborio had a standout night, but don’t undersell the Costa Rican’s effort. Like Espindola, his work produced a goal for a teammate, with the RSL number nine moving Marshall of the ball late in the match, setting up an insurance tally for Will Johnson.
Espindola and Saborio’s were part of a series of good performances from RSL players. Javier Morales is slowly returning to his pre-ankle break self. Johnson had a goal, Yordany Alvarez had a strong night filling in for Kyle Beckerman, and the back five was their usual, impenetrable selves, holding Colorado without a shot on goal.
All those stand out performances would have provided to a more lopsided score on another night. Colorado, however, didn’t play bad, and were it not for their two brain freezes at the back, they may have been able to hold out. There was little chance of them scoring, however, given how conservatively Oscar Pareja’s team played.
Edu started alone up top, with Omar Cummings coming off the bench. When the Jamaican international came on in the second half, he showed why he should have played 90. Martin Rivero was supposed to provide the link to Edu, but it never materialized. Neither Tony Cascio and Jaime Castrillion put a shot toward goal (let alone on).
Just as Columbus’s Saturday win was very Crew-y, Real Salt Lake’s was very RSL-y. It was a controlled performance, one where they kept their opponents under constant pressure (without leaving themselves exposed), ultimately forcing some decisive mistakes.
The result: RSL retains the Rocky Mountain Cup, given to the winner of the teams’ season series. It is the sixth straight season Real Salt Lake has claimed the honor.
With the win, RSL opens up an eight point lead on Seattle and Vancouver for second place in the West. They are also tied for the second-best record in Major League Soccer. While securing that spot wouldn’t give them home field in a potential MLS Cup final, it would allow them to control their own destiny. After all, they would get their chance at the Earthquakes before the December championship game.
Transfer rumor roundup: Schurrle to Newcastle, Spurs
Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.
Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.
But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.
Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.
And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.
He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.
Voted “the best right back” in Europe between 1962-64, the former England and Blackpool captain also had a successful management and broadcasting career.
Armfield was a member of the 1962 and 1966 World Cup squads, though a toe injury kept him from his place in the starting lineup when England won the tournament.
He spent his entire playing career with Blackpool before managing Bolton Wanderers to promotion and Leeds United to the European Cup Final, righting the ship after Brian Clough’s infamous spell in charge of the club.
There’s a statue outside Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, and the club legend has a stand named after him inside the venue.
While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.
The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.
For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.
Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.