Montreal Impact v Seattle Sounders

Sounders loss not only surprising, but awfully timed

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No one likes to lose their home opener – most especially not the club that keeps obliterating attendance records.

But the Montreal Impact did the smash-and-grab thing last night to Seattle, downing the Sounders before 38,000-plus at Century Link Field.

Here’s why the Sounders throwing down a clunker will particularly resonate:

  • It added misery to what was already a bit of a bummer day in the Sound; just hours before the kickoff, the club announced that it had bought out Christian Tiffert’s contract. The move was no stunner; the club is attempting to make room for Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins. They needed the cap space, the Designated Player slot and have ample midfield depth to cushion the blow. Still, no one relished seeing the German midfielder go.
  • The loss, a shutout at home, adds pressure on the club’s ability to finalize the Martins deal. Sounds from all accounts like it will happen, but nothing is done until it’s done.
  • Montreal is a team the Sounders should beat, especially at home. The Impact was great at home last year, especially for an expansion outfit, but just 2-12-3 away from Montreal. Plus, if there was a time that coach Marco Schallibaum and his men are vulnerable, it should be now, before the Swiss manager (an MLS newbie) gets more familiar with his team and the league.
  • Finally, the Sounders have to get right quickly. Over the next 10 days they will decide their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against one of Mexico’s best of the moment, Tigres. First game in the home-and-away set is Wednesday in Monterrey.

Here is the goal that undid the Sounders, from Montreal captain and longtime MLS man Davy Arnaud:


Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia