Drilling down on: at Seattle Sounders 3, Portland Timbers 0

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SEATTLE, Wash. — The second largest stand alone crowd in Major League Soccer history saw the Seattle Sounders end their three-match winless run, getting goals from Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero en route to a 3-0 Cascadia Cup victory over the Portland Timbers.

Man of the Match: Eddie Johnson celebrated his called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team with the night’s best goal, a half-volley of a Brad Evans cross flying inside Donovan Ricketts’ left post for Seattle’s second goal. It was Johnson’s team-leading 14th goal of the season, one short of a career high. Johnson played necessary parts in Seattle’s first and third goals, playing the pass back to Osvaldo Alonso ahead of the cross on the first, flicking a header across the Portland’s penalty area on the third. Just as they have all year, Johnson’s contributions went beyond the goal column.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Seattle provided 66,452 reasons why it is the best market in Major League Soccer, drawing the largest crowd in CenturyLink’s MLS history.
  • Prior to the game, the Emerald City Supporters unveiled a a tifo extending from field level to above the scoreboard sitting on top the the south end’s first level. The image: A Godfather-esque Sigi Schmid playing poker with Gavin Wilkinson, his chips in the middle as he reveals a royal flush. The title: Tonight we’re all in.
  • Schmid didn’t get a royal flush from his players, but he didn’t need it. Thanks to a late change to their normal starting lineup, Portland’s back line was a mess. If this was a poker game, the Timbers were playing rags.
  • As for the actual match, it took a while for the action to pick up, perhaps a biproduct of the atmosphere. For 25 minutes the teams were indistinguishable from each other: No good shots, no chances, just caginess.
  • That changed when Johnson found Adam Johansson streaking unmarked down the right flank. His cross targeted Fredy Montero but never found him. Instead, Futty Danso redirected the ball behind Donovan Ricketts, opening the scoring for Seattle.
  • It was the start of a terrible night for Danso, a late addition to the starting lineup after Hayner Mosquerawas scratched:
    • On the second goal (Johnson’s), Danso’s decision to come off his line left David Horst to chose between marking Johnson and Christian Tiffert. Horst chose poorly
    • On the final goal, Danso lost the aerial battle on a long throw from Brad Evans, allowing Johnson to flick a ball across Portland’s penalty area. The chaos that followed culminating in a goal when Montero blocked a Jack Jewsbury clearance into Ricketts’ net.
  • For Montero, it was his 13th goal of the season, a new career high. He also came close to scoring in the first half, a curling shot from 18 yards out pushed onto the far post.
  • It was all part of a relative offensive explosion from the Sounders. The team had only scored two goals in their last three games and were coming off being shut out last week in Vancouver.
  • A big part of the that turn around were the performances of Evans and Tiffert:
    • Evans’ contributions were easy to overlook, but his versatility proved invaluable. Not only did he fill the spaces in midfield vacated by Tiffert and Mauro Rosales, he also stepped into central defense when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke, in separate collisions with Bright Dike, required stitches.
    • Tiffert had a 180-degree turnaround from last week. In Vancouver, he was looked lifeless and worn down. Neither of those qualities were evident on Sunday. The midfielder’s little touches that secured possession on second balls helped Seattle control the match, keeping Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chará from having an impact.
  • The result gives Seattle a one point lead in the Cascadia Cup standings, but thanks to their advantage in goal difference, Portland needs a win in their upcoming trip to Vancouver to claim the trophy. Should they fail to do so, the Timbers will have wasted three chances to secure the Cup.

Sam Allardyce: I’d give myself 11 out of 10 on survey

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Sam Allardyce has responded to Everton sending out an email survey to fans asking to rate his performance.

Yep, that actually happened earlier this week as fans were asked to rate, out of 10, if they “have a high level of trust in the current manager and coaching staff of Everton e.g. in making the right decision to get the best out of the team.”

Speaking to the media on Thursday ahead of Everton’s clash with Newcastle on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Allardyce replied “P*** Off. Eleven” when asked what he would give himself out of 10.

He then went into more depth about what happened and confirmed he had received an apology from majority owner and chairman Farhad Moshiri.

“The survey… the managing director of marketing and communications has clearly slipped up,” Allardyce said. “Even though I believe the survey has been recently passed out before, from my point of view it was a big mistake. I think it has allowed you to write some beautiful headlines on that situation. The actual question was what do you think of the manager, the players and the staff – and obviously our managing director of marketing is clearly not a great understander of football and how football works, because he is into marketing and branding and market research.”

Most of Everton’s fans would give Allardyce less than a five, hence why this is such a big deal, as the former West Ham, Sunderland and Crystal Palace manager is fighting to keep his job with just over 12 months left on his current deal.

The English manager took charge of Everton back in November 2017 after Ronald Koeman was sacked following the Toffees being sucked into a relegation battle. Since then Allardyce has steered Everton into the top half of the table but has been heavily criticized by fans for negative tactics as he was booed at Swansea last weekend in the 1-1 draw.

Allardyce has laughed off suggestions of negative soccer from fans and the fact he has jokingly given himself an 11 out of 10 will only antagonize the large band of Everton fans who want him out this summer.

The brash character then said he would be “disappointed” if he lost his job this summer and is planning to be in charge of Everton next season. Maybe those in charge of the club will now be forced to give Big Sam a little more time after this unfortunate email scenario.

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…