Tally Hall

Yellow card peril: yet another reason to avoid the dreaded 4th-vs.-5th MLS elimination match


As the playoffs move forward, clubs and their fans will develop a deeper understanding of why it is so dreadfully important to finish first, second or third … and to avoid those final two conference playoff seedings at all costs.

Chicago knows today, for instance, the cost of that poor finishing in its regular season finale, the 1-1 draw at home with D.C. United. Rather than finishing in a higher spot, afforded the luxury of a sit-and-wait for a weekend match, the Fire had to play in last night’s single-game knockout round. And came the knockout.

(MORE: analysis of last night’s match in Chicago)

So the Fire is done.

For Houston, the news is better … but the Dynamo are hardly on the bullet train toward MLS Cup success and downtown parades and such. They get just three full days of rest before facing Eastern champion Kansas City in the first of a two-leg series. One of those days (today) will be largely eaten up with travel.

And here’s a big reason why this extra match begins to sting, one that doesn’t get as much attention:

Yellow cards have a tendency to mount.

Critical midfielder Brad Davis and goalkeeper Tally Hall collected cautions last night, and both deserved, it should be said. (At one point, Hall held a gathered ball for every bit of15 seconds; if this had been a women’s Olympic game, we would have seen the rare indirect free kick inside the penalty area for Chicago.)

Referee Baldomero Toledo managed the contest well, nit-picking on some little things early and whistling for all the fouls early, a trusty way of quickly establishing the correct tone, and yet a method that too many referees simply cannot get figured out. The result was a match that finished with just two yellow cards, quite acceptable by MLS standards.

But … Hall and Davis are now on notice. If they are cautioned once more they will miss the following playoff contest. (Unless it happens in the second leg of a conference final; in that case, they would not miss the MLS Cup final.)

Hall was excellent last night, just as he was in the Dynamo’s 2011 playoff run. Davis is Davis, a man who greatly assists the Dynamo midfield possession and scares the pooh out of teams with those deadeye set piece deliveries.

Peru extradites ex-soccer boss to US on bribery charges

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 13: A FIFA logo next to the entrance during part I of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 13, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.

Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.

He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.

Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.

San Jose Earthquakes release Clarence Goodson, eight others

San Jose Earthquakes forward Quincy Amarikwa (25) is mobbed by teammates after scoring against the Portland Timbers during the first half of an MLS soccer match Sunday, March 13, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.

Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.

Napoli beats Inter 3-0 in Serie A after lightning start

NAPLES, ITALY - DECEMBER 02:  Players of Napoli celebrate the opening goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and FC Internazionale at Stadio San Paolo on December 2, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines heading into weekend ]

The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.

[ MORE: Ronaldo, Mourinho involved in massive tax evasion system ]

Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.

It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.

Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.

Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.

Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Report: Paraguayan midfielder Almiron to join Atlanta United for $13 million

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 11:  Miguel Almiron #17 of Paraguay tries to keep the ball as John Brooks #6 of United States slides in the first half during the Copa America Centenario Group C match at Lincoln Financial Field on June 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.

According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.

Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.

On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.