Where MLS teams stand in CONCACAF regional play

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Here’s the long and the short of it for Major League Soccer’s group of contenders as CONCACAF Champions League group play is set to conclude over the next two nights … who is “in,” “out,” or otherwise for the coming quarterfinals:

  • Houston Dynamo: IN
  • Los Angeles Galaxy: IN
  • Seattle Sounders: IN
  • Real Salt Lake: OUT
  • Toronto FC: Hanging on, soon to be OUT

Houston is in following last night’s white-knuckler, a 1-1 draw against Olimpia of Honduras that was just enough to get Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo into the tournament quarterfinals.

(MORE: Houston advances amid chaos far too typical in CONCACAF matches)

Los Angeles was already in. The team is down in El Salvador to finish out group play Thursday night, and there is positioning still to be determined. But Bruce Arena’s team, with MLS playoffs more in focus now, will surely lean on reserves for this one against Metapan.

Same for Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders, who also has their quarterfinal place booked. (The quarters will be played early next year.)

(MORE: Precious little awareness among broader audiences in this tournament)

Alas, for MLS supporters, Real Salt Lake could not get the job done. Minus leading scorer Alvaro Saborio, the Utah side could not find a single goal against defensively dug-in Herediano last night in the cold and rain at Rio Tinto.

RSL outshot the visitors from Costa Rica by an 18-6 margin but could never find a way through with 10 and all 11 men generally working to get behind the ball.

It is surely an organizational blow considering all the emphasis and attention RSL put on this tournament. The Rio Tinto men were, after all, came closer than any other MLS outfit to claiming CONCACAF Champions League glory, finishing second two years ago. Still, manager Jason Kreis was upbeat in his final assessment.

Really, really proud of the men out there. At halftime, I told them their performance was spectacular. We did all the things that we need to do to win these big games, except for that final touch. I really felt like it would come tonight, and I’m a little bit shocked that it didn’t.”  

One final MLS side, Toronto FC, remains in the Champions League running.  Paul Mariner’s side meets Mexico’s Santos Laguna two countries to the south in Torreon. In order to advance, the Reds need to win by a 3-0 score, or win by two goal with a minimum of four scored.

Considering that Toronto is traveling without some of its top players, and considering that Santos prevailed by a 3-1 margin when the teams met in Canada, let’s file this one under: Not. Gonna. Happen.

VIDEO: Celtic’s 1st minute goal breaches PSG

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Celtic still have hope of advancing to the UEFA Europa League, but have a new feather in its cap regardless of whether they hold their table advantage on Anderlecht.

Moussa Dembele became the first UEFA Champions League player to score against Paris Saint-Germain, when he side-footed a first minute corner kick off PSG backstop Alphonse Aréola.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Neymar would score just eight minutes later to level the score at the Parc des Princes, but Celtic had its moment and PSG is no longer unbreached despite entering the match with 17 goals scored, conceding zero.

2017 CONCACAF Awards shortlist revealed

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The 2017 CONCACAF Awards shortlist is up, and fan voting counts.

Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Christian Pulisic are among the nominees for Men’s Player of the Year. Philadelphia Union’s Jamaican backstop, Andre Blake, is also on the list along with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and others.

[ MORE: Big American Soccer Survey results ]

The Female Player of the Year is predictably American-heavy, with Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe, Sam Mewis, and Tobin Heath competing with a trio of international players.

Tim Howard is the only American up for Male Goalkeeper of the Year, though Blake is again in the running. The female side has American backstops Adrianna Franch, Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris, Jane Campbell, and Nicole Barnhart.

The full ballot, including Best XI, coaches, referees, and goals, is up for your votes here.

UCL: Chelsea advances vs. 10-man Qarabag (video)

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  • Chelsea into knockout rounds
  • Willian draws two penalties, scores two more
  • Hazard, Fabregas score

Willian scored two goals from the run of play and drew a pair of penalties in Azerbaijan, as Chelsea beat 10-man Qarabag 4-0 on Wednesday.

His second goal was a fantastic thump from atop the arc, and further iced the result in the 85th minute.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Qarabag hung tough for the first 20 minutes, but saw its odds of getting a point take a hit with a penalty and red card.

Rashad Sadygov made contact with Willian inside the 18, and Portuguese referee Manuel de Sousa awarded a penalty. That was understandable, but surprisingly he produced his red card to send Qarabag down a man.

Eden Hazard converted his low penalty, wrong footing keeper Ibrahim Sehic, and Chelsea took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.

Willian would score a goal of his own in the 36th, part of a terrific team goal with Hazard and Pedro.

The Blues were largely content to let Qarabag have the ball early in the second half, but resumed control around the hour mark and Sehic made an outstanding stop on Hazard before substitute Alvaro Morata dragged a shot wide of the far post.

Willian drew a second penalty in the 71st minute, as Maksim Medvedev tugged on the Brazilian’s jersey on a dribble into the 18. Yellow card for this foul.

Cesc Fabregas scored but two Chelsea players infringed on the 18 thanks to the shooter’s stuttering — and stopping — PK. He finished the second as well as the first. 3-0.

Willian added the fourth with a vicious strike five minutes from the end of scheduled play.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia fires coach Edgardo Bauza

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia has fired coach Edgardo Bauza nine days before the draw.

The Saudi Arabia Football Federation announced the Argentine coach’s exit after only five friendlies in charge. The team lost to Portugal and Bulgaria this month.

[ MORE: Big American Soccer Survey results ]

Bauza has been fired twice this year by teams in the World Cup lineup. He lost the Argentina job in April, after eight months in charge, when the two-time World Cup champions risked missing out on qualification.

In September, Bauza was appointed by Saudi Arabia to replace Bert van Marwijk, who was fired despite leading the team to its first World Cup since 2006.

Saudi Arabia joins Australia without a coach for the World Cup draw in Moscow on Dec. 1.