Dax McCarty hearts Tim Cahill; and vice versa

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At the risk of beating this to death, even after it’s surely been beaten to death, let’s talk about three main midfield men for the New York Red Bulls.

Rafa Marquez has turned up gimpy once again. If he doesn’t make it back before the playoffs, that means the former Mexican international will have played in 12 matches in 2012. That’s an absolutely horrid return on the DP dollar for the league’s most visible franchise.

(A bad return in terms of competition, that is; New York is presumably recouping some of the salary outlay in merchandise and exposure for the Red Bull parent brand throughout Mexico. Otherwise, why in the world would the man still be there?)

In his absence, Dax McCarty returned happily to the position in which he has excelled this year, a holding midfield role. He had been pushed out wide to the right when Marquez got back in the lineup two weeks ago.

Third man into this pile is Tim Cahill. How do McCarty and Cahill reckon they are doing as a tandem? Swimmingly, by the sound of it. This is what they had to say about things following last week’s comprehensive romp over Toronto (a 4-1 result).

What Cahill had to say:

With Dax playing with you, there’s a lot of energy between us. We want to win every ball, we want to clear every ball. We want to run and do other people’s jobs and our own jobs. I suppose it feels like the best combination at the moment or the team. It’s a nice partnership.”

And then what McCarty had to say:

I really enjoy playing with Tim in the middle. He hit the nail on the head. In this league, you play against some pretty athletic midfields, some pretty good midfields. Obviously, with our older guys, Rafa [Marquez], Teemu [Tainio], they’re our more experienced guys, their positioning is fantastic. Sometimes you need guys who can cover some ground in there. So with me, I just try to make sure we’re solid defensively and then I let our special players who can attack make magic and go forward.

In a word: telling.

(Of course, if you believe one very important man around Red Bull Arena, Thierry Henry, the club cannot win an MLS Cup without Marquez. So, there’s that.)

I suppose we should insert a fourth man into the conversation here: Tainio. Not so far back, Tainio was a valued midfielder. But the Finnish veteran is 32 now, and 2012 has been a rough go with injuries. When he’s on the field now the team’s speed (in thought and in quickness) through midfield falls.

Well, it falls compared to the McCarty-Cahill combo. With Marquez as a point of comparison, it’s probably a wash.

By the way, the piece linked above from Big Apple Soccer points out this little statistical gem: the Red Bulls are 0-4-3 when Tainio starts.

WATCH: USMNT’s Pulisic cues up ex-Man City teen for 1st goal

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Jadon Sancho made history for English players in Germany thanks to a little help from an American teenager.

Christian Pulisic dribbled free from a pack of would-be tacklers to cue up the ex-Manchester City player for a finish against Bayer Leverkusen in the 13th minute of a match at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday.

[ MORE: Klopp rips West Brom ]

Sancho just turned 18 on March 25, and becomes the youngest English goal scorer in Bundesliga history having entered the match with one assist in 415 Bundesliga minutes.

As for 19-year-old Pulisic, the USMNT prodigy has five goals and seven assists in 39 matches across all competitions this season.

Dele, Alexis trade 1st half goals in FA Cup semi (video)

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Paul Pogba made amends for an early marking error that led to a Spurs opener by setting up Alexis Sanchez’s equalizer as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are tied at 1 after 45 minutes of their FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

Spurs went ahead through Dele, as Pogba lost Christian Eriksen as the Dane raced onto a long ball. Eriksen crossed to the back post for Dele’s sliding finish.

Pogba made amends in his preferred third of the pitch, stealing the ball from a Mousa Dembele and lofting an inch-perfect cross for Alexis to nod home. The headed finish was anything but easy, hit across the goal while falling to the pitch.

Sunderland relegated for second-straight season

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It’s one-and-done for Sunderland in the Championship, though not in the way expected by most  supporters of the Black Cats.

[ RECAP: WBA 2-2 Liverpool ]

Relegated from the Premier League under David Moyes‘ guidance last season, Sunderland lost Saturday to leave them six points back of safety with two to play.

But either Burton Albion or Bolton will get at least a point from a match against each other, meaning Sunderland would need at least seven when all is said and done.

  • Twenty-one clubs have been relegated since the start of the 2010-11 season.
  • Six have sunk as low as League One (including Sunderland)
  • Seven returned to the Premier League (including Wolves for 18-19)
  • Ten are currently in the Championship

It’s a message to all Premier League sides expecting favorite status in the Championship, including likely relegation side West Bromwich Albion.

Here’s how the most recent sides have fared since dropping out of the top flight.

Relegated sides this decade, and current status
*club still alive for 2018-19 promotion to Premier League
#club could be relegated from current league

Hull City (2016-17) — Championship
Middlesbrough (2016-17) — Championship*
Sunderland (2016-17) — Relegated to League One
Newcastle United (2015-16) — Returned to PL in one season
Norwich City (2015-16) — Championship
Aston Villa (2015-16) — Championship*
Hull City (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance, then relegated last season
Burnley (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance
Queens Park Rangers (2014-15) — Championship
Norwich City (2013-14) — Has since been promoted, relegated back to Championship
Fulham (2013-14) — Championship*
Cardiff City (2013-14) — Championship*
Wigan Athletic (2012-13) — promoted to Championship for 2018-19
Reading (2012-13) — Championship#
Queens Park Rangers (2012-13) — Since promoted, relegated back to Championship
Bolton (2011-12) — Championship#
Blackburn (2011-12) — League One*
Wolves (2011-12) — Promoted to Premier League this season
Birmingham City (2010-11) — Championship#
Blackpool (2010-11) — League One
West Ham United (2010-11) — Promoted at first chance, still PL

LIVE, FA Cup semifinal: Man United v Tottenham

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Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur clash in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Saturday (12:15 p.m. ET kick off) with both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho aiming to keep alive their only remaining hope of winning a trophy this season.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

For Spurs, they are certainly used to playing at Wembley after calling it home all season long while their new stadium is completed. Yet Harry Kane and Co. know they will keep hearing about how they need to win a trophy to prove themselves as Spurs have gone 10 years without a piece of silverware.

Mourinho is the master of grinding out wins in these kind of situations but United were dominated by Spurs at Wembley back in January in the PL and were lucky to escape with just a 2-0 defeat.

[ MORE: Minute-by-minute on United v Spurs ]

Click on the links above to follow the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis live from Wembley right here on Pro Soccer Talk.