Man of the Match: Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara was easily the most active among the home team’s trio of forwards. No one asked more questions of New York’s back line. And his early goal was all SKC could manage, never mind enjoying more possession and far more time in the opposition final third.
Packaged for take-away:
- Interesting choice from New York manager Hans Backe, who needed to find a left back after Roy Miller’s bad night from a week ago. Rather than go with Heath Pearce (left back is probably his best spot), the New York manager moved Wilman Conde, a natural center back, out there. The idea was probably about getting a physical defender on the left to deal with Kei Kamara, who usually lines up on the right for Sporting Kansas City.
- Conde had never played a match at left back before last night.
- The Red Bulls shifted their midfield, too. Dax McCarty and Teemu Tainio played side-by-side in a 4-2-3-1, with Tim Cahill ahead of them.
- For the home team, Graham Zusi was up higher on the field, stationed as a wing rather than as an advanced midfielder in SKC’s 4-3-3. He had a fairly quiet match.
- Kamara’s early goal was all about Teal Bunbury making something happen, and about New York’s reconfigured back line and its inability to deal with the trouble. But there was also some home team serendipity at the end. Because Kamara vs. Connor Lade on a header might be the mismatch of MLS. Kamara, at 6-3 and 190 pounds, looks like an NFL free safety. Lade is listed at 5-7.
- SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was standing at his six as Sebastien Le Toux’s took a long free kick. That ball dropped … right about where Nielsen was standing. Except he had decided to retreat into a shot-stopping position. The visitor’s goal was squarely on the SKC ‘keeper.
- Roger Espinoza was easily the home team’s most disruptive force in midfield. That man has an awfully big engine.
- He was a major part of the reason the Red Bulls never established a link between their two holding midfielders and attacking midfielder Cahill.
- There were plenty of reasons why New York’s attack was completely ineffective. Start with Thierry Henry’s absence, of course. The inability to deal with SKC’s relentless pressure is another. And then the lineup selections …
- Le Toux just doesn’t understand how to play the wide spots. Even if he did, New York didn’t have enough possession to get the ball to him. There was never enough possession to get either outside back into the attack. Final result: the visitors’ attack was quite narrow and was never really going anywhere.
- If there is a goalkeeping “six second” call out there this year, it’s going to be called on Bill Gaudette. That’s not likely, of course. But if it happens, my money is on him.
WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.
A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.
[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]
A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.
Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.
“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”
Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”
LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.
[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]
The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.
Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.
In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.
Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.
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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.
[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]
Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.
The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.
European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.
Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.
Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET