Drilling down on: at RSL 1, D.C. United 0

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Man of the Match: Any goal is gold in a close match involving a team that hasn’t won in month. So, Will Johnson’s close-range strike on a brave header just after intermission was enormous around Rio Tinto. The Canadian international did the usual, useful defensive work along his side, keeping Nick DeLeon from having much to say about this one.

Packaged for take-away:

  • It was a dark and stormy night around Rio Tinto. The game was into its 4th minute when lightning forced an 84-minute delay. It was rainy from there.
  • Dwayne De Rosario’s wonderful blast from about 25 yards and the effort to keep it out from RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was surely the best shot-save combo of the night. Both were exceptional.
  • If United defender Brandon McDonald wasn’t kicking or tripping RSL playmaker Javier Morales, DCU teammate Marcelo Saragosa was.
  • McDonald was Ben Olsen’s preferred right back. He’s certainly a hardy defensive presence, but the converted center back gives his team precious little on the attack.
  • D.C. United’s transition from defense to attack was whip-sharp in the first 45. The outlets into De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy and Chris Pontius were precise, and that trio aggressively took the initiative once in possession.
  • Johnson’s goal just after intermission was precisely what RSL needed in more ways than one – Aside from the obvious, Jason Kreis’ men desperately need more scoring out of the midfield. Because Alvaro Saborio can’t do it all by himself.
  • Even when Saborio isn’t scoring, he makes a lot happen. The Costa Rican striker occupies defenders and makes them work for every challenge. In a match where United legs were going to be stretched to capacity anyway, that stuff is important. (Oh, he had a legitimate penalty claim, too, which Silviu Petrescu incorrectly waved off.)
  • The tired legs we thought we might see from D.C. United, playing the last of five matches in 14 days? Not so much in the first half, when the game was wide open and the visitors matched the pace. But it did all seem to catch up with Olsen’s men after the break, when they weren’t as zippy in the transition and couldn’t defend as actively and aggressively.
  • Pajoy is working hard for his new team. But he has has one goal and no assists in five starts for D.C. United. Sufficient production? It’s certainly not great, although the sample remains small at this point.

Sweden not keen on Zlatan’s World Cup return

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With Zlatan Ibrahimovic already making his mark in Major League Soccer with three goals in his first three games for the LA Galaxy, the veteran Swedish forward is eyeing a return to international duty for the 2018 World Cup this summer.

“A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup” said Ibrahimovic, 36, recently as he also confirmed during an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show that he will be going to Russia but didn’t give specific details if it was as a spectator or a player.

Well, perhaps we won’t be having a World Cup because it appears not all of his former teammates would be on board if Zlatan took a U-turn on his decision to retire from the Swedish national team after EURO 2016.

Back-up goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson had the following to say to outlet Main Oppose.

“We managed to qualify and go through to the World Cup without him, and I think we can manage to play well at the World Cup without him,” Johnsson said. “But it’s up to the coach to see if he wants to bring him – and I am sure if he does join, he will play well. As a team, we play as a collective, all the players together. With Zlatan, as a person, as a player he’s an individualist, and the play goes around him. Instead, now, we play more the team all together.”

Boom.

Zlatan has said multiple times that he is thinking about a return to the Swedish national team squad and with World Cup squads set to be announced in around about one month from now, surely Sweden’s head coach Janne Andersson must now if he will call up Zlatan.

The positives for Sweden are obvious. The can bring in their all-time leading goalscorer to jump off the bench late in tight games to try and get them out of Group F where they face Germany, Mexico and South Korea.

The negatives are centered around what Johnsson said, with Sweden looking like a tighter unit and all pulling together to get to the World Cup after missing out on qualifying for the last two in 2010 and 2014.

Zlatan has actually only played in two World Cups, in 2002 and 2006, scoring just once, and if he does go to the World Cup he will be taking the spot of one of Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Ola Toivonen and Issac Thelin in the squad. Berg scored eight in qualifying, while Emil Forsberg scored four and the Swedish attacking unit seems to flow a lot better from Zlatan.

Look, Zlatan will probably go to the World Cup. But it appears not everyone will be happy with this decision.

PHOTOS: Tottenham’s stunning new stadium

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Tottenham Hotspur’s new $1 billion stadium is taking shape and it is looking magnificent.

The plan is for Spurs’ new home at White Hart Lane to be ready for the 2018/19 season, with reports stating that Mauricio Pochettino‘s men will play their first couple of games away from home next season in order to squeeze in a few more weeks for construction.

Spurs’ new  home will seat 62,062 fans and will be the second-largest stadium in the Premier League behind Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

Take a look at the photos below in the spring sunshine in London, with the largest single-tier stand in Europe looking sublime as the roof panels are going on and the stadium is really starting to come to life.


Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso handed three-game ban

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After being named in the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Year on Wednesday, it has been a mixed few days for Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso as he has received a three-game ban with immediate effect after being found guilty of violent conduct.

Alsono, 27, stamped on Shane Long‘s calf in Chelsea’s 3-2 comeback win at Southampton last time out but referee Mike Dean missed the incident completely.

Since then Alonso has received a retrospective charge from the English FA and although the Spanish left back appealed the decision and the length of the ban, it was upheld and he will now miss Chelsea’s next three games.

Alonso will miss the clash at Burnley on Thursday, the FA Cup semifinal against Southampton on Sunday and the trip to Swansea City on Apr. 28.

Who will come in for Alonso?

Antonio Conte has already stated that Emerson Palmeri, a January arrival from AS Roma, will start at Burnley on Thursday and if the Brazilian full back impresses then it is highly likely he will stand in for Alonso in the big FA Cup semifinal on Sunday against Saints. Other options would be Davide Zappacosta playing as the left wing-back or even Cesar Azpilicueta out there.

As for Saints, they feel hard done by after Dean didn’t spot Alonso’s foul even though he was standing yards away from the incident and looking straight at it. At the time of the incident they led 1-0 going into half time and their manager Mark Hughes believes it would have made a big difference as Alonso’s cross set up Olivier Giroud to make it 2-1 and the Spaniard made a big difference from left back in the incredible 3-2 comeback victory. Still, at least Saints won’t have to play against Alonso on Sunday with revenge in the air…

PHOTOS: Liverpool unveil new 2018/19 kit

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Liverpool have gone for a “pepper red” kit for the 2017/18 season.

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On Thursday the Anfield club released their new jersey for next season with New Balance once again their kit suppliers.

The key features of this new kit is a small collar, with a fresh white and red look throughout.

Check out the images and video below.