PORTLAND, Ore. — Roy Lassiter has company in the Major League Soccer record book, but it’s not without controversy. A disputed, first half penalty led to Chris Wondolowski’s record-tying 27th goal of the season as San Jose drew in Portland, 1-1
Man of the Match: He drew the goal, and he’ll come under criticism for the exaggerated way he did it, but Steven Lenhart created his team’s only score of the match. He was also the most active Earthquakes player, constantly going to battle with David Horst when he wasn’t providing the hold up play San Jose needed to mount their attack. After he went off in the second (as San Jose tried to protect their 1-0 lead), the Earthquakes never threatened, a Timber defense that had held Lenhart at bay having no trouble keeping his teammates in check.
Packaged for takeaway:
- In time, people will forget the details of Wondolowski’s record-tying goal – as it should be. Today’s record is the culmination of a season-long effort. Wondolowski’s earned his place as the joint-record holder.
- It’s just unfortunate the record had to come this way. In the 23rd minute, a long ball out of San Jose’s end exploited some poor Timbers defending, sending Lenhart in alone on Donovan Ricketts. Ricketts read the play and came out to meet Lenhart, but didn’t get to the ball in time, the San Jose forward touching the bouncing ball beyond the Timbers keeper with his right thigh.
- Lenhart beat Ricketts to the resulting ball 16 yards from goal in the left of Portland’s area. Ricketts went to ground attempting a tackle, cueing Lenhart to go airborne. Referee Mark Geiger immediately pointed to the spot. For his share of the record, Wondolowski converted low and into the left of Ricketts’ goal, putting San Jose up one in the 24th minute.
- Until that point, the Timbers had played San Jose even, not surprising given the venue. At Jeld-Wen, Portland’s a league-average team, posting a +3 goal difference. On the road, the Timbers become Toronto FC’s second string (-25 difference).
- Part of that even-footing was due to the formations and weather. The teams played near-identical 4-4-2 formations (Wondolowski’s falling into a withdrawn role more often than Danny Mwanga). Combined with a windy, wet, grey day in Portland, there wan’t much separating the two teams.
- Toward the end of the first half, San Jose started obviously playing to Wondolowski, looking for the record-setting 28th goal. Three low-percentage crosses were delivered right to Timbers players, hinting what San Jose’s approach would be in the second half.
- That plan never materialized. The Timbers played one of their best halves of the season over the last 45. Moving Darlington Nagbe in from the left, Portland used a three-man midfield to help lock down the middle of the park.
- Portland also zealously went down their left, deploying Mwanga on the flank to use as a target, moving Nagbe and midfielder Eric Alexander to that side when establishing possession.
- The tactic helped Portland control the half, but it failed to yield a goal. Instead, it was hard work by Alexander, taking the ball off Steven Beitashour’s foot just outside the Earthquakes’ penalty area, that led to tying goal. Bright Dike’s resulting shot was saved by Jon Busch, but the resulting rebound was pushed to the center of the area for an easy Dike put-back.
- Wondolowski’s best chance of a record-breaker came in the 65th minute when a shot from the left of the area drew a save from Ricketts.
- Portland had the best chance to claim full points, a header from David Horst off a set piece going wide of goal after he’d out-jumped Busch.
- As time wound down, San Jose’s reputation for late goals loomed larger, but Wondo’s 28th goal never came. The Earthquakes close their season with a draw in Portland, their Saturday captain having earned his piece of history.
- Portland concludes a tumultuous season with one of their best efforts, taking their fifth point of the season from the Supporters’ Shield winners.
- At the end of the match, Portland players walked around Jeld-Wen displaying a sign that read “TO THE LEAGUE’S BEST FANS: WE WILL REPAY YOU”.
Two teams are set to bring in experienced players ahead of the new season, while another veteran has said his goodbye to his former club.
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D.C. United has reportedly signed veteran forward Sebastian Le Toux after spending last season with the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids.
According to SB Nation’s Black and Red United, Le Toux has inked a one-year deal with D.C. United. Le Toux has scored 57 goals in his time in MLS, with 50 of those goals coming with the Union.
Le Toux has also previously played for the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers are reportedly set to sign long-time Sporting KC defender Chance Myers, who spent the last nine seasons with the Western Conference side.
The 29-year-old had made 147 appearances for Sporting KC since joining MLS, while adding two goals over that span.
Dax McCarty posted a heartfelt message to New York Red Bulls fans, players and staff following the veteran’s move to the Chicago Fire.
The midfielder was recently traded to the Eastern Conference side after the spending the last five-and-half years with the Red Bulls, where McCarty served as the team’s captain.
Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.
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Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.
Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.
“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”
The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.
With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.
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According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.
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The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.
NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.
MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.
If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).
In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.
Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.
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The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
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It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.
Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.
“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.
“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”
While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.