Philadelphia Union v DC United

Let’s recap 10 absurd minutes of mayhem at RFK Stadium


No need for a big set-up here, other than to say the final 10 minutes of D.C. United’s 1-1 draw Sunday with Philadelphia was one capital-sized mess. With the score even at 1-1, here’s what happened:

(MORE: analysis of the other 80 minutes from Sunday’s 1-1 draw is here)

  • With about five minutes remaining and the teams level at 1-1, Philadelphia’s Roger Torres fouled Chris Pontius to give D.C. United a potential go-ahead penalty kick. That was interesting on its own, because the recently injured Torres had just entered the match, without much time on the field lately. Sure enough, he looked sluggish, and his late tackle on Pontius was more evidence of it.
  • Dwayne De Rosario kissed the ball and set it on the 12-yard spot, still looking for landmark goal No. 100. He has been stuck frustratingly on 98 goals since May 19. Yes, May 19. So it was a big moment for a bunch of reasons – not the least of which could be seen in the standings. United, beginning the day in 6th place in a race where only five spots pay, needs every possible point. So …
  • De Rosario nailed the spot shot. But wait! …Referee Mark Geiger ordered a re-kick for encroachment; United striker Hamdi Salahi was the guilty party, false-starting his way about two steps inside the penalty arch.
  • In the messy in-between of De Rosario’s efforts from the penalty spot, Branko Boskovic did something unseen by the cameras, apparently bundling over Torres or shoving him or something. So Geiger – in his 100th MLS match, interestingly – showed United’s playmaker a red card. That made it 10-on-11.
  • Pushing and shoving ensued.
  • Arlo White: “Oh, it’s all happening here at RFK Stadium!”
  • Boskovic had changed the game, by the way, for United upon his 61st minute entrance. His ejection probably wouldn’t have mattered much had United taken the late, 2-1 lead. But …
  • De Rosario’s second effort went high. Ooof! No. 100 is out there, somewhere. Right?
  • With a man advantage, Philly pressed for the points. On one attack United center back Emiliano Dudar was shown a straight red for a nasty tackle in a situation that didn’t call for such a nasty tackle.
  • Fair verdict from Geiger? Yes. A reckless lunge from behind with the studs exposed (on Antoine Hoppenot) is the textbook definition of a red card. So, now Philly was up two men now, although with only a couple of minutes remaining.
  • Pushing and shoving ensued. And harsh words – but between teammates! Pontius was clearly annoyed at Dudar for the boneheaded lunge.
  • Minutes later, as United broke on a counter, Philly defender Sheanon Williams tackled Pontius from behind. Williams appeared to get the ball on a pretty skillful tackle. Geiger didn’t see it that way, however, issuing the Philly right back a second yellow. So, it was 9 on 10.
  • Pushing and shoving ensued. Some arguing, too.
  • Williams complained vehemently of the decision (and correctly so). He might have a fine coming for not leaving the field in a timely manner. Meanwhile, somehow, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid decided it was a good idea to roam well out of goal to get involved. He was shown a yellow card for this idea.
  • Arlo White: “It will be dark at RFK before this game is done.”
  • Final whistle. Mercifully so for the NBC team of White and Kyle Martino, who deserve combat pay for trying to untangle this one. Truly, there was no time to ‘splain, only time to sum up.
  • More pushing and shoving ensued – this time between teammates! United’s Chris Korb and Brandon McDonald had to be separated as they left the field. Manager Ben Olsen needs to be sure to sort that out.
  • Final totals: 2 goals, 7 yellows, 3 reds

About Geiger’s performance: The re-kick was probably unnecessary, although not an egregiously poor decision. Salihi, a DP bust at RFK, managed to find a way to take two points off the board by scooting in too early. With De Rosario at the penalty kick spot, that’s just not something that needed to be done. No, that’s not a decision we see very often, but that’s beside the point. Salihi simply did not need to be in early.

The second yellow to Williams was incorrect, but tackling from behind in that situation is an invitation to trouble. Presumably, Geiger had a bad angle.

Overall, the man in the middle probably let too much go over the first 80 minutes. For everyone who likes to say “Let them play!” … well, this is what happens when you “Let them play.”  You arrange a situation where things can spiral out of control – and then referees have no choice but to issue cards.

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.