The addition of an extra playoff match also added one more layer of yellow card jeopardy; players were thusly afforded one extra opportunity to collect that dreaded, second post-season yellow card earlier in the process.
As for the contest in Houston today, this might be the one and only area where we make the call for “advantage D.C. United.” Here are the players who have been cautioned once already, who will miss the second leg if they are booked at BBVA Compass today:
Clearly, United has done well in avoiding the cards, a real achievement considering the white-knuckle nature of the series triumph over New York.
Houston had that extra match (the elimination contest up in Chicago) in which to collect a booking. Davis (pictured), for instance, picked up a silly and unnecessary card for grabbing a shoulder in a situation that really wasn’t so threatening, as his club held a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute. So Houston’s dead ball expert, who is also so critical in helping the men in orange keep possession, must be extra careful today in Houston.
Not having Andy Najar to deal with will assist Davis is this regard.
Hall, Houston’s starting goalkeeper, collected a wholly unnecessary caution for stalling against Chicago – and he was. Stalling that is. So he’s got to get on with the goal kicks today, no question about it.
Important to remember: The players are more or less in the clear after today’s match. Bookings are wiped out after the conference finals. If any of the names listed above are cautioned in the second leg, they’ll not sit out the final.
Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.
The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).
Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.
Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.
On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).
Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.
The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.
“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.
“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”
Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.