New York Red Bulls v Portland Timbers

Attack, defense as advertised in Portland’s draw with New York


PORTLAND, Ore. — We knew they’d score goals. And on Sunday, Caleb Porter’s Portland Timbers did, putting three on the visiting New York Red Bulls.

We also knew they’d allow goals, and boy did they ever. A terrible debut from imported defender Mikael Silvestre contributed to three New York goals in the first 28 minutes.

As wild as the night was by Major League Soccer standards — six goals, including two during the Timbers’ second half comeback — we maybe in store for more. If the first 90 minutes of the Caleb Porter era are any indication, Portland fans could be in for a few more 3-3 results like the one they played out against New York.

In attack, Portland were as advertised. Newcomer Diego Valeri was a constant threat, the skill exhibited on his 14th minute goal sure to make the Timbers’ opener a Goal of the Week candidate. After a quiet start, Darlington Nagbe was the final hour’s best player, scoring the Timbers’ second before starting the play that led to the third. With two close calls late, Ryan Johnson nearly completed Portland’s comeback from 3-1 down. All the stars of Portland’s attack shined.

At the other end of the spectrum was their defense, with Silvestre playing a part in all three goals. Miscommunication between the former Manchester United defender and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts gifted Fabian Espindola a ninth minute opener. His misread of a bouncing ball in the 24th gave the former Real Salt Laker a second. His inability to cut out a ball across the six from Heath Pearce saw Jamison Olave put New York up 3-1 after 28 minutes.

The 35-year-old responded well, his play on the ball helping the Timbers’ second half siege. But it’s a debut he’ll want to forget.

Other notes from Sunday’s draw (mostly about New York):

  • Because of the Timbers’ ups and downs, it’s hard to draw any conclusions about New York. It was, however, noticeable how little influence the Juninho-Dax McCarty midfield had on the game.
  • It also appeared as if New York may have taken their 3-1 lead for granted. The intensity of their four advanced players (Espindola, Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, and Ruben Bover Izquierdo) dropped. Had the team kept going to him, Espindola could have kept taking advantage of Portland.
  • What a weird night for Jamison Olave. The New York defender was caught flat-footed on the Valeri goal. A late own goal credited to him bookended his night. In between, he was the game’s best defender, and he scored the team’s third goal. Strange stuff.
  • Thierry Henry started wide left but played most of the match through the middle, with his permanent shift to a central role coming after New York went up two.
  • Overall, it was a poor night for the Red Bulls’ star. He looked slow and rusty, his touch failing him a number of times.
  • After the game, Caleb Porter quoted a lot of Portland’s favorable statistics. They held 63 percent of the game’s possession. They out-passed New York 549-319. They put 10 shots on goal to New Yorks five, and their total shots advantage was 21-10.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?