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.

VIDEO: American teen Wright scores first 2.Bundesliga goal

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For all the talk about Schalke’s 18-year-old American wunderkind, Weston McKennie, it’s easy to forget that three young Yanks signed for the Bundesliga side.

One of them, Haji Wright, scored four goals in a preseason match before being loaned out to Sandhausen in 2.Bundesliga.

Ex-New York Cosmos striker Wright, 19, came off the bench for Sandhausen in its league opener Saturday, and didn’t wilt when given a clear scoring chance alone in the 18.

[ MORE: Bundesliga preview with Howedes, Nastasic ]

Wright has scored 31 goals at the U.S. youth national team level, and Bruce Arena will be quite familiar with him given a four-year stint with the LA Galaxy Academy.

Fellow American striker Andrew Wooten is on the books at Sandhausen, but the veteran was not in the 18.

Here’s video, found by American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta:

Watch Live: Swansea host Manchester United

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Swansea City welcome Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Jose Mourinho’s side aiming to stay top of the Premier League table.

[ STREAM: Swansea v. Man United ]

Yes, it’s early days, but the Red Devils were imperious in their thumping 4-0 win against West Ham United to open their season. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic dominated and Mourinho’s men are now a powerful, well-oiled machine.

As for Swansea, they struggled at Southampton but came away with a draw, however the main storyline surrounding the South Wales side this week has been losing Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for over $60 million. Paul Clement will have to act fast to spend that cash wisely, but there is no doubt the Swans will miss their Icelandic playmaker.

In team news Swansea bring in Kyle Bartley and Roque Mesa as they line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham up top.

Man United are, unsurprisingly, unchanged.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Fernandez, Bartley, Mawson; Naughton, Mesa, Fer, Carroll, Olsson; Ayew, Abraham. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fulton, Narsingh, Routledge, McBurnie.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.