FA Cup Roundup: The other 25 Saturday games

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I’ll admit at the onset, I didn’t watch any of these games (only saw a bunch of clips). However, good guy that I pretend to be in public, I’m going to try and point you in the right direction. And newsflash: Nobody has watched all these games (yet).

Besides, as you’re flipping through PST and reading about other results, you might want to know what else happened during the FA Cup’s third round.

The four we’ve covered:

For the day’s other results, feel free to add your analysis in the comments. Here, however, is a brief rundown:

Crystal Palace 0-0 Stoke City – With the January window open, all Palace news will be about Wilfried Zaha, the 20-year-old attacker and rumored target of various Premier League giants. He played 55 minutes, drew some raves, but was unable to break the deadlock. For that matter, neither was Michael Owen, who got the start for Stoke. Palace manager Ian Holloway: “I wanted a win or a loss.” [more]

Wigan Athletic 1-1 Bournemouth – A bit of an embarrassing result for Wigan, who needed a second half goal from Jordi Gomez to draw at home with third-tier side. For Bournemouth, the result continues the club’s resurgence (unbeaten in 17) since manager Eddie Howe returned from Burnley. [more]

Fulham 1-1 Blackpool – Like Wigan, Fulham needed a late goal to earn a replay a against visiting a lower-level side. Blackpool capitulated in the 80th minute to Giorgos Karagounis and are left the try their luck at home. [more]

Aston Villa 2-1 Ipswich Town – Michael Chopra gave Villa a scare before Darren Bent (against his old club) and Andreas Wiemann dismissed the Championship side. [more]

Charlton Athletic 0-1 Huddlersfield Town – The Addicks fall after former Everton striker Jermaine Beckford’s early goal holds up, Charlton playing the match’s final 34 minutes with 10 men. [more]

Macclesfield Town 2-1 Cardiff City – The day’s token “magic of the Cup” game. Cardiff, leading the Championship, falls after Matthew Barnes Homer scored twice in the last seven minutes of regulation time, sending the non-league side through. [more]

Barnsley 1-0 Burnley – It took the home side 50 minutes to take advantage of their 10-man guests, but Danny Rose’s 85th minute winner wins the battle of Championship clubs. [more]

Manchester City 3-0 Watford – As competitive as you’d expected. City where up two at half and were able to get 17-year-old Marcos Lopes a second half, debut goal. Carlos Tévez and Gareth Barry also got on the scoresheet. [more]

Leicester City 2-0 Burton Albion – Two tiers and two goals separated the Foxes from Albion, with Chris Wood and Richie De Laet pushing the Championship side through. [more]

Millwall 1-0 Preston North End – Liam Feeney’s first half score sent the Championship site into the fourth round, past one of David Beckham’s former clubs. [more]

Derby County 5-0 Tranmere Rovers – An easy day at Pride Park for the second-tier Rams, getting four second half goals to send the American-owned club past League One’s Rovers. [more]

Crawley Town 1-3 Reading – Adam La Fondre struck twice, once from the spot, for the Royals, with three goals by the 49th minute helping to turn around Nicky Adams’ first minute opener. [more]

Aldershot Town 3-1 Rotterdam United – Aldershot’s Danny Hylton (pictured) scored three times before being red carded in the 84th minute. Not quite a Gordie Howe hat trick, but a noteworthy night nonetheless. [more]

Middlesbrough 4-1 Hastings United – That Hastings, a seventh-tier side, made it this far was the story. The result, however, was predictable. Merouane Zemmama scored twice for Boro. [more]

Oxford United 0-3 Sheffield United – As the Yorkshire Post tells us, Sheffield United is now the lowest-ranked Yorkshire club still alive in the FA Cup. A goal from Dave Kitson helped the League One side survive. [more]

Queens Park Rangers 1-1 West Bromwich Albion – Like Ian Holloway, Harry Redknapp can’t relish this result. His club has more pressing considerations than a third round replay in the Midlands. Kieron Dyer’s stoppage time goal, however, forced the replay for Rangers. [more]

Peterborough United 0-3 Norwich City – Chris Houghton’s team had an easy time at London Road as Elliott Bennett, Simeon Jackson, and Robert Snodgrass goals see off the struggling Championship side. [more]

Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Sunderland – The Black Cats needed goals from Connor Wickham and Craig Gardner to avoid an upset at the regrouping Trotters, who jumped out early thanks to Lee Chung-Yong and Marvin Sordell. Martin O’Neill, typically successful in cup competitions, will get another crack at the second-tier club.  [more]

Nottingham Forest 2-3 Oldham Athletic – As if Forest fans didn’t already have reason to rue the Alex McLeish era, the team loses at home to a League One club in the cup. Danny Collins’ 59th minute dismissal set the stage for Forest’s failure. [more]

Hull City 1-1 Leyton Orient – Steve Bruce’s team needed a stoppage time goal from Nick Proschwitz to salvage a result. The Tigers have been surging in the Championship, but the home draw to a third-tier team is one of the more disappointing results (and per the report, performances) since Bruce came on board. [more]

Leeds United 1-1 Birmingham City – In a tie between two clubs that might be too big for the Championship (if such a distinction exists), Luciano Becchio’s goal on the hour sent the match back to St. Andrews. [more]

Southend United 2-2 Brentford – Two headers from Barry Corr reversed a two-goal deficit for Southend, the League Two side sending salvaging a replay. [more]

Luton Two 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers – Alex Lawless’s goal just after halftime ended up costing Stale Solbakken his job, the Wolves coach dismissed after losing at the non-league club. [more]

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Milton Keys Dons – Nothing. Seriously. Read the match report. The word “uninspiring” is in the first sentence. [more]

MLS Snapshot: Sounders in firm control after Leg 1

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Seattle Sounders took full control of the Western Conference finals with a resounding 2-0 win over ten-man Houston. The Sounders already had hit first in the 11th minute through Gustav Svensson but the red card to Jalil Anibaba changed the game. Houston had some chances later but fatigue meant the focus and control was off. Former Dynamo striker Will Bruin’s goal may have put the tie to bed.

Three moments that mattered

11′ — Gustav Svensson Goal — The Sounders wanted to set the tone early and they picked up an early goal off a corner kick, as Svensson redirected a header past Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis. The goal changed the complexion of the game to that point, until our next big moment.

28′ — Jalil Anibaba red card — Joevin Jones was a menace to deal with tonight and after getting past Anibaba, the latter pulled Jones down and as it appeared to be denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, Anibaba was given his marching orders. Suddenly, Houston, down a goal and down a man, had a lot more to do to stay in the tie. Nicolas Lodeiro missed the subsequent penalty kick but Will Bruin picked Lodeiro up later.

42′ — Will Bruin goal — The former Dynamo man scored a massive goal against his former club on a great cross from Jones on the left wing. While the tie isn’t over, the Sounders are in firm control and look set to repeat as Western Conference playoffs champions.

Man of the Match: Joevin Jones

Three things: Sounders cruise after (and before) early red

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The Seattle Sounders all but booked a return appearance in the 2017 MLS Cup final on Tuesday, doing so by beating the Houston Dynamo 2-0 in the first (away) leg of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday. The game wasn’t as close at the final score might appear to indicate.

[ RECAP: Sounders take 2-0 lead over Dynamo ]

We learned the following three things over the course of the 90 minutes…


The red card hurt Houston

No way, you’re kidding, right? Clearly a 28th-minute red card (shown to Jalil Anibaba for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity) is going to have a massive impact on the outcome of a game. But, it really crippled Houston, given the way they play — having a numerical advantage in the center of midfield is so important to Wilmer Cabrera’s side, in the name of frantically winning the ball back after conceding half or even two-thirds of the field.

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When you have to haul off one of three central midfielders, in hopes of still being about to force-create chances on the rare occasion you recover the ball and move it forward, three things are bound to happen: 1) legs are going to get very heavy, very quickly; 2) the clock appears to be counting up in double-speed; 3) you begin to concede two-thirds and three-quarters of the field instead — every move Seattle worked during the second half came after a waltz in the final third before finally meeting resistance.

At right, you can see every Sounders pass originating in Houston’s half of the field — remember, Seattle are the away team here. Playoff games rarely, if ever, come much easier than that.


Addition by subtraction… again?

This one isn’t so much a lesson from Tuesday’s game, as much as it’s a trend played out over the course of an entire season: much like they wound up being in 2016 following Clint Dempsey‘s heart condition robbing him of the final four months of the season, the Sounders are once again, dare I say it, better without another indomitable figure: Osvaldo Alonso.

Here’s the numbers to back it up: without Alsono in the starting lineup this year, Seattle went 6W-2D-2L. In those 10 regular-season games, they scored 20 goals (2.0 per game, versus 1.3 with him in the lineup) and conceded 12 (1.1 per game, same when he played).

The central midfield pairing of Cristian Roldan (7) and Gustav Svensson (4) has proven a formidable foe for anyone and everyone during the second half of the season. On Tuesday — granted, against 10 men for more than an hour — they could do no wrong. (Passes attempted on the right; defensive actions on the left — green triangles are tackles won, orange are recoveries, blue are interceptions, purple are clearances, red are tackles lost.)

MLSsoccer.com

Alonso has been an unbelievable servant for nine MLS seasons, he’s an MLS Cup champions, a four-time U.S. Open Cup winner, a Supporters’ Shield winner and one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS history. He’s also 32 years old with a growing history of lower-body injuries that seem to never fully heal, and he’s now clearly third in the pecking order behind Roldan and Svensson. It’s clearly an oversimplification to say that soccer is a young, mobile man’s game these days, but it’s certainly true of MLS, and the results are in near total agreement.


May I have some hope, please?

Here’s a not-so-fun fact if you’re a Dynamo fan: your team won one — singular — game on the road in 17 tries this season. Not a dark enough outlook? OK, have this: that lone away win came against D.C. United, who finished 21st out of 22 teams if you put MLS into a single table.

Maybe Seattle weren’t so good at home this year… I’m really just searching for anything at this point, you’re thinking. OK, it’s possible, I suppose. They lost once at home all season, to Toronto FC, the best regular-season team in MLS history, by the final score of 1-0, in the month of May.

We’ll see you in Toronto or Columbus for MLS Cup, Seattle Sounders.

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC hold Crew on the road

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The game in 100 words (or less): Without two of its stars, Toronto FC set out to play compact and hold on for a draw on the road, and that’s exactly what they did. Michael Bradley recorded 17 recoveries and a trio of interceptions as TFC broke up play and covered the passing lanes, frustrating the Columbus Crew all night. The best chance fell to Harrison Afful late, but TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono made a crucial save to keep it at 0-0.

Three moments that mattered

0′ — The starting lineup — In a game with chances few and far between, the tactical set-up by Greg Vanney – in which his side without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore came out in a 4-1-4-1 formation – proved to be the difference in the game, frustrating the Crew all night.

52′ — Pedro Santos penalty kick no-call — Justin Meram plays a neat pass through the TFC backline that Santos runs on to, and he appears to be taken down in the box by Bono. Referee Robert Sbiga doesn’t blow the whistle and lets play continue, where Ola Kamara takes a shot that’s deflected away. Santos appeals for video review, and receives a yellow card for his efforts.

85′ — Big Save Bono — Gregg Berhalter’s 77th minute substitution to bring on Kekutah Manneh helped to push Afful higher up the field, which led to this late-game chance. Bono, who hadn’t had a whole lot to do, came up with a massive stop to keep the tie level.

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

Man of the Match: Alex Bono, Toronto FC

Three things: Being happy with 0-0, and sabotage by Precourt

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On what felt sure to be a seminal night in franchise history, Columbus Crew SC were held by Toronto FC to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. Leg 2 will be played next Wednesday, Nov. 29.

[ RECAP: TFC hold Crew SC to scoreless draw in leg 1 of East finals ]

We learned (roughly) three things over the course of the 90 minutes…


Who’s happiest with 0-0?

There’s a case to be made that both sides will be quite happy with Tuesday’s result — Crew SC for the fact they conceded no away goals, and TFC facing no deficit whatsoever before their home leg — but it’s quite clear that TFC should be the happier of the two, given 1) they were the best regular-season team in MLS history, this season; and, more importantly, 2) Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore were suspended for leg 1 (they’ll both be back for leg 2) and Crew SC failed to capitalize anywhere meaningful.

TFC lost once at BMO Field all season, while Columbus managed just four victories away from home. Granted, any draw where both sides score would see Crew SC through to MLS Cup, which they would host no matter the opponent (54 points in the regular season; Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo finished on 54 and 50, respectively).


TFC’s tactical adjustment pays off

For all of the regular season, TFC head coach Greg Vanney deployed a back-three, with great success — 69 points, an all-time regular-season record. Nov. 21, three games from lifting (or losing) MLS Cup, is hardly the ideal time to deviate from the only path you’ve known.

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Alas, the absences of Giovinco and Altidore, TFC’s permanent strike partnership in the 3-5-2, changed everything. Without Altidore’s hold-up play bringing the best player to ever grace the league into attacking moves, the 3-5-2 would have quickly devolved into a 5-3-2, followed in short order by a 5-4-1. Columbus need no invitation to hold north of 60 percent of possession in a given game, which is exactly what would have happened. Not just meaningless possession, either, but camping-inside-TFC’s-defensive-third possession; 50-crosses-into-the-box possession; get-the-center-backs-forward-too possession.

Vanney was proactive with his starting lineup, putting another body in midfield by sacrificing a striker for another man in the middle, and it paid off. At right, you’ll see Crew SC’s attempted passes into/from TFC’s defensive third. Woof.


Anthony Precourt sinks to a new low

How low is Anthony Precourt willing to go in order to sabotage Crew SC, the club he owns and efforts to move to Austin, Tex., without so much as a phony attempt at a non-relocation resolution, and alienate the fans that have supported the franchise since MLS’s debut season in 1996? Tuesday night saw Precourt and Co. up the ante as they intentionally restricted entry (two gates for the entire stadium, causing thousands to miss the game’s opening minutes) into MAPFRE Stadium with the presumed intent of a half-empty venue when the television broadcast kicked off and panned left to right.

You pay good money for a ticket so you can see your team play, which ultimately results in filling the pockets of the villain whose no. 1 goal it is to steal your team, and this is how you’re treated on gameday.

This is shameful stuff from all parties involved — Crew SC, under the leadership and direction of Precourt, and MLS, who have allowed this entire saga to be played out in a public forum and enabling Precourt every step of the way.