We keep talking about “margin for error” in MLS and how far it gets reduced at this time of year, a.k.a. “squeaky bum time.”
Little match-day mistakes become significant point-shifters. Managing decisions that go wrong can cost a playoff spot.
And injuries that would cause low-level alarm in spring or summer become full-fledged fall nail-biters – all because of a drastically reduced margin for error.
With that, let’s talk about an injury that has left Houston midfielder and dead ball specialist Brad Davis questionable for Saturday’s home game against Montreal.
Davis suffered a calf sprain in practice Tuesday. He missed Wednesday’s workout, leaving manager Dominic Kinnear hopeful but unsure, awaiting Thursday’s practice to get a better picture of the situation.
As the Houston Chronicle’s Jose de Jesus Ortiz points out in the piece linked above, Kinnear has ample midfield options. But – and this is one of them very big “buts” – none of them are close to Davis in terms of impact and production.
The Dynamo lefty has scored or assisted on 19 of 44 goals for the Orange this year. That’s 43 percent, and his ability to contribute regularly at such a prodigious rate has been impressive through the years.
In the four seasons since 2008, he’s been right about there the entire way. In fact, Davis has either scored or assisted on 73 of 168 Dynamo goals. That equals … yep … 43 percent.
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.
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.
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
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.