Drilling down on: at LA Galaxy 2, FC Dallas 0

Leave a comment

CARSON, Calif. – Two goals in the last half-hour allowed the LA Galaxy to claim full points from hard-charging FC Dallas, putting the defending champions eight points into a Western Conference playoff spot.

Man of the Match: Juninho’s work in the first half, often drawing the assignment of keeping tabs on David Ferreira, helped Los Angeles win the midfield battle over the first 30 minutes. Given how quiet Dallas’s best player was for most of the half, it was only appropriate Juninho be the man to break through late, his 66th minute goal proving the game-winner.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • As hinted earlier, Landon Donovan sat out this one, still nursing his hamstring back to health. That meant two of the games’ three starting forwards were Jackson and Mike Magee, two players with a virtues deeper in the formation, not as many in out-and-out attacking roles.
  • Unfortunately, that meant a lack of chances on goal in the first half. Dallas’s best threats were wide (Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo), but with Los Angeles controlling much of the play, David Ferreira was unable to bring them into the game until just after the 30-minute mark.
  • For the Galaxy, the first half’s best chance came off a litany of restarts (corners, direct kicks) conceded by Dallas in their final third. You would think eight LA restarts in one half (unofficial count) is enough for the David Beckham-Omar Gonzalez combination to do some damage. Kevin Hartman, however, went relatively untested, with George John and Matt Hedges leading some (mostly) strong set piece defending.
  • Dallas started to create some havoc after a half hour when Shea and Castillo switched flanks, allowing each to cut onto their stronger foot. Castillo, in particular, really came into the game, with Ferriera playing him through the Galaxy defense. Unfortunately for Dallas, the tactic led to an early end to Castillo’s evening, a collision with Josh Saunders forcing him from the game in the 41st minute.
  • The substitution brought Blas Perez in, the Dallas striker still recovering from a right foot injury. He didn’t look anywhere near 100 percent, at times walking gingerly, a hitch apparent in his gait when he tried to hit full speed.
  • In the second half, the game opened up, with both sides getting their chances to take runs at the opposing defense. For Dallas, it was Ferreira leading the charge through the middle, though balls played wide never came back in dangerous spots. For LA, passes behind a high Dallas line gave Robbie Keane a chance to craft a final ball, though his passes toward the six-yard box were easily cleared.
  • It wasn’t until a somewhat freak play in the 66th minute that LA broke through. Hedges, trying to play a ball into midfield, saw his pass blocked by Jose Villarreal. Hartmen tried to get to a ball rolling in the left of his penalty area, but Villarreal, winning the race, was able to play a ball across the top of the six for Juninho, who finished high into the right of goal.
  • LA would add a late Todd Dunivant goal (a nice piece of work between the LA left back, Keane, and Michael Stephens), leaving a final score that exaggerates the distance between the teams. For much of the game, Dallas seemed just as likely to find an opener as their hosts. With the teams going back and forth at the beginning of the second half without generating good chances, it looked like the match was destined to end 0-0.
  • Instead LA gets full points and opens up an eight-point gap on sixth-place Dallas. Only two points behind Seattle and Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy can worry less about if they’ll make the playoffs and more about where they’ll be slotted.
  • For Dallas, they stay five points behind the Whitecaps, but time is running out. Vancouver has a match in hand, and Dallas is down to six matches left in their season. Had they won, they would have been within two of the Galaxy and Whitecaps.

Pressure builds on Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Borussia Dortmund has fallen to fifth in the Bundesliga table thanks to a trio of consecutive losses in league play, and suddenly there is loads of pressure on manager Peter Bosz.

The Dutchman came to Westfalenstadion after upper management pushed Thomas Tuchel out over the summer, and while he won seven of his first eight league matches in charge by a total goal differential of 21-2, things have come crashing down. The black & yellow have lost three in a row Bundesliga matches and four of their last five across all competitions, with their only win in that span coming over third-tier Magdenburg.

With fans feeling helpless over the departure of the wildly successful Tuchel that came as a result of a falling out between the German and his superiors, Bosz would always be on a short leash. He inherited a flawed squad, yet one that had achieved much under his predecessor, and immediate failures would naturally be lumped on the new man.

The most recent defeat, a 2-1 falter at Stuttgart, was a microcosm of Dortmund’s recent failures. The team conceded a comically poor goal five minutes into the match, worked hard to equalize just before the halftime break, and conceded again just after returning to the pitch. They controlled much of the match, but largely failed to capitalize.

The head man summed it up pretty well. “The defeat really hurts,” Bosz proclaimed after the final whistle. “We came here to win, so we’re very disappointed. When you see the goals we conceded, it borders on the ridiculous. It hurts because we actually put in a relatively good performance in the first half. The team performed well after conceding the early goal, only the final ball was lacking. The second half wasn’t as good. We need to keep going, we won’t give up.”

So what do the Dortmund executives do? Does Bosz get the benefit of the doubt based on performances? Or does he get blamed for the sudden dropoff in results? There is plenty of pressure given the team sits not only nine points back of Borussia Dortmund in league play, but is also third in a brutal Champions League group with almost no hope of recovery, and even threatens to miss out on a drop to Europa League play if they slip behind Cypriot club Apoel Nicosia, whom they find themselves level on points with.

Even if the club sticks with the Dutchman for now, his room for error has almost completely evaporated and it’s only mid-November. The next two matches will likely tell the tale, and it’s an uphill battle. Tottenham comes to Westfalenstadion on the backs of a disappointing defeat to North London foes Arsenal, followed by the home end of the Rivierderby against a Schalke side that sits second in the Bundesliga table, three points above Bosz and Dortmund.

Antonio Conte calls Tony Pulis a “really good manager”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

West Brom, after four straight defeats, sits 17th in the Premier League table, most recently suffering a 4-0 dismantling at the hands of Chelsea.

Yet Blues boss Antonio Conte has offered his counterpart an olive branch, supporting his fellow Premier League manager at a time of panic.

With reports that Pulis could be fired this coming week – some say as early as Monday – the Baggies boss is under heaps of pressure, but Conte doesn’t believe he should be. “I must be honest, I think Tony Pulis is a really good manager,” Conte said, hoping those in charge don’t make decisions based on Sunday’s result.

“He has great experience and it’s always very difficult to play against his team. This game became easy because we started very strong, with great concentration and desire to win. We showed from the start our will to win this game. But I repeat: Last season we struggled a lot against them.”

West Brom has lost four in a row in league play, and they haven’t picked up a win since August, and as The Guardian points out, they have the lowest average possession in the Premier League and have the second-lowest shots on target thus far. They registered just two shots on target against Chelsea, and held 39% possession, which is actually slightly above their average for the season.

Sergio Ramos suffers broken nose in Atletico Madrid draw

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Real Madrid trails Barcelona by 10 points in the La Liga title race just 12 matches in, and now they will have to play catch-up without their best defender.

Club captain Sergio Ramos suffered a broken nose after being accidentally kicked in the face by teammate Lucas Hernandez during the first half of Madrid’s 0-0 draw with cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. He received treatment and remained on the field, but he was withdrawn at halftime.

Manager Zinedine Zidane was unable to give a timetable for Ramos’s return.

Ramos said via Twitter, alongside some graphic images of his bloody nose, “I would bleed a thousand times for this badge and this shirt. Thanks for your support. I’ll be back in no time.”

Up next for Madrid is Champions League group match against Cypriot club Apoel midweek before a league game against Malaga at home. Athletic Bilbao and Borussia Dortmund are also on the horizon. A masked Sergio Ramos could be in our midst soon.

Real Madrid has not lost a league match without Ramos since March of 2015, but they drew their only game this season with Ramos suspended, a 2-2 home split with Valencia.

Moyes roasts West Ham players after loss to Watford

Getty Images
1 Comment

After his first game in charge of West Ham, David Moyes thought he had a better squad. Apparently he was mistaken.

A 2-0 loss to Watford gave Moyes a rude awakening as he looks to replace Slaven Bilic and pull the Hammers out of the relegation zone. He was not pleased with his players.

“Overall, that level of performance will not be good enough,” Moyes told reporters after the match.

He wasn’t done.

“I thought this was a big job, but there were some players with big reputations who disappointed me. There were some who I thought would show me more, and why they play for the team regularly. They need to show me, ‘If that’s your reputation, show me why you’ve got it.'”

He backtracked slightly, agreeing that the players are in a difficult position changing managers, but ultimately that excuse wasn’t enough for him. “It’s tough for the players – I could sense that – but I didn’t enjoy our performance in the end. I didn’t enjoy us giving the ball away too cheaply, too many times and I expected us to do better.”

Moyes even called out striker Andy Carroll, saying he removed the England international because he feared Carroll would pick up a second yellow card. Carroll could have been carded seven seconds into the match, leaving Marvin Zeegelaar with a bloody nose after an elbow to the face, something Carroll has been sent off for earlier this season. He was eventually given one in the 28th minute.

“I thought we defended OK,” Moyes said, “but then we gave away cheap goals by getting bundled off the ball and we didn’t really deal with it. We didn’t do well enough in all departments at different times.”

That’s about as ruthless as you’ll ever hear the mild-mannered David Moyes, and all West Ham players should beware that their places in the team are in jeopardy.