You can prepare all you want for a team like Manchester United, but some things are unstoppable. Sure, Queens Park Rangers may have been able to prevent some of the events that led to this shot, but when Rafael hits this kind of ball from 20 yards out, all you can do is throw your hands up and ask why.
Why do soccer gods who already create teams with United’s resources than endow them with strikes like this?
But it goes hand-in-hand, doesn’t it? If you’re Manchester United, you so many great players that even the player who’s arguably 11th out of 11 starters can beat you.
That’s what QPR was left with in the 23rd minute after a Robin van Persie shot had been blocked clear of the box by Julio Cesar. Rafael accelerates away from his man and hits his shot first time, one of those screaming tries that seem to curve in midair as they approach goal.
Unfortunately for QPR, that curve meant Rafael’s shot dove right into their goal. Courtesy FOX Soccer:
The goal put Manchester United up 1-0 at Loftus Road, a lead they’ve maintained late into the second half of what’s played out as a typical Manchester United game. Up early, the Premier League leaders have been in control. But playing to type, they’ve also been unconvincing.
It’s hard to say who’ll score the next goal, if there’ll even be one. QPR doesn’t look willing to test what’s been a leaky United defense.
For Rafael, it’s the third league goal of what’s turning into a breakthrough campaign for the 22-year-old Brazilian. Coming into this season, he’d never started more the 15 league goals. Today was the 21st start of a season that’s proved his most consistent.
More Premier League fun:
While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.
[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]
Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.
Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.
Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.
Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.
Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic
City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.
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The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.
CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.
Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.
MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.
The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.
[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]
Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.
Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.
Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.
[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]
ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.
The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.
Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.
Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.
According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.