Heard and overheard at MLS Cup 2012

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Frank Lampard to the Galaxy? Not so much

Word from those who know say any media types still peddling the Frank Lampard to Galaxy story need to tap the brakes.

The Galaxy, says one source, has very little interest.

Kaka? Yes, for sure. AEG president Tim Leiweke is on the record about that one. But the Lampard thing seems to have grown a pair of false legs.

They clubs was, on the other hand, very interested earlier this year in Giovani dos Santos and Didier Drogba, the source said, as MLS held substantive talks with representatives of both.

The Galaxy was willing to go up to $9 million a year for Drogba … which just wasn’t going to trump the ridiculous $15 million he’s earning in China.

Josh Saunders out at Galaxy?

We all saw Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders more or less evaporate on the goal line Saturday as Calen Carr slammed the Houston Dynamo into the lead. It was hardly Saunders’ best moment, and it probably will drive home the final, proverbial nail. Word is that the Galaxy are finished with Saunders, who missed time this year while in the league’s substance abuse treatment program.

Word is that the Galaxy would really like to find a way to grab Dan Kennedy from down the Home Depot Center hall. Chivas USA’s besieged goalkeeper may not fit the new profile for the Goats. Or maybe he will – who really knows with that mess of a club? This much is certain: if the Galaxy could pull off this one, it would be a true coup. (And a pretty doggone good deal for Kennedy, too, who would fall break ties with the league’s wackiest, most unstable team for a spot with the two-time defending champs.)

“One … million … dollars”

We all raised eyebrows at the thought of Chris Wondolowski’s seemingly out-sized demands of $1 million.

Word is that it never happened. Not even close.

Wondolowski made $300,000 last year, certainly underpaid for a league MVP, and a record-setting one at that. But credit the man for more awareness; he may want to be a Designated Player, but he understands that he would be more in line with a Fredy Montero or Eric Hassli, DP forwards earning base salaries of somewhere north of $500,000.

(MORE: Will MLS add a little more Designated Player money?)

Bruce Arena showed up … where?

I have never quite decided if Bruce Arena loves to hate the media … or if he just enjoys poking the media bear, and also enjoys a good joust.

Either way, Arena has never seemed to embrace that part of the American soccer coaching experience. He never seems to relish speaking to the media (which isn’t hard to understand considering all of the silly questions the man has endured through the years, especially a few years back before the media world evolved into a better place for soccer.)

Any-whose, it was downright shocking to see Arena show up Thursday at a media happy hour. He was jovial and seemed quite happy to be there.

The Galaxy will be going somewhere … soon

The Los Angeles Galaxy will not be sitting still. Very soon – by the end of the week, perhaps – they will be off on another check-cashing tour to some far-flung land. Not that this is a shocker; the Galaxy have done the same over the last couple of years. The surprise is why the club seems ever intent on making it a surprise. Look for an announcement in the next couple of days.

Red Bulls looking to “buy domestic”

The Red Bulls are moving and grooving on the personnel front. As I mentioned before, that’s dangerous, because they don’t have a coach. When player personnel strokes flow against the coaching grain, chances of success can fall dramatically.

At least the new sheriffs in town around Red Bull Arena seem to recognize their area of weakness – which is a deeper knowledge of where to find domestic talent, and a solid understanding of the MLS player personnel nitty-gritty. Word is that they truly are determined to hire someone that fits the bill – so previous reports to that effect weren’t just talk or misdirection. That’s encouraging if you’re a Red Bulls fan, that this administration may not face the same long learning curve the last one did.

That could be an American coach, and American assistant or it could be in the creation of position in between the manager and GM Andy Roxburgh.

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.