Los Angeles Galaxy  v Chivas USA

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

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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.

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
AP Photo/Jon Super
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

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Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

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The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.