New York Red Bulls, DC United finish scoreless

Leave a comment

HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls and DC United played to a 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena on Saturday in a game the home side dominated everywhere but the scoreboard.

New York dictated large stretches of the match, out-shooting DC 24-4 and controlling 57 percent of the game’s possession. Fabian Espindola hit the bar twice and DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid scooped the ball of the line in stoppage time to keep the Red Bulls off the board, but New York never found a breakthrough.

“I think we deserved to win, no disrespect to DC,” Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said. “I think they fought hard for that point. Like I said, if we were playing a game of statistics we got three points today. Unfortunately it’s not a game of statistics and the ball didn’t fall in the net for us.”

The Red Bulls looked like they had won the game in stoppage time, but Hamid saved Brandon Barklage’s header off the line as he fell into the goal. After the game Hamid insisted the ball never crossed the line; replays proved inconclusive.

It was a frantic ending to a match that took a while to get going. A contentious opening few minutes gave way to a tame first half. New York forward Thierry Henry exchanged off-ball fouls with DC forward Lionard Pajoy, but there was little heat to follow in the opening 45 minutes.

Espindola’s 27th minute header hit the crossbar from 12 yards out, but that was the main chance for a Red Bulls team that played well in the middle third but offered little finishing quality around the net. Espindola was effective drifting wide and providing service from the left wing, where most of New York’s efforts came from in the first half.

For its part, United stayed compact and thwarted off New York’s forays forward. DC mustered up next to nothing offensively, though, even with the return of attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who made his season debut after serving a two-game suspension for a preseason altercation.

“We pissed the ball away so many times when we didn’t need to,” DC United coach Ben Olsen said. “We are missing that in our game right now. We know that, I know that, the players know. We’ll continue to work on it; we’ll continue to do better with the ball.”

DC produced even less after halftime, outside a 59th minute chance that Chris Pontius had denied by goalkeeper Luis Robles. New York’s pressure increased throughout the second half, but so too did the Red Bulls’ frustrations.

Hamid denied Tim Cahill on a tap-in from three yards out and Eric Alexander’s header two minutes later was cleared off the line by Chris Korb.

“I came in and told the boys I should have stuck it in the back of the net,” Cahill said. “But that’s what you do – you’ve got to pick yourself up and go again.”

Cahill thought Barklage’s stoppage time header crossed the line, but admitted nobody — including him — had a good angle to see it.

“It looked like it went over – it looked – it’s hard for the referee’s and officials to see it,” he said. “Sometimes they give it, sometimes they don’t. We felt it was in, but you’re always going to when you’re shooting on their goal.”

(MORE: Further analysis on the Red Bulls-DCU match)

Coming away with no goals and one point in such a lopsided affair, Red Bulls players were surprisingly upbeat about the match. The finish was an upgrade from New York’s first two games of the year, a 3-3 draw in the opener in Portland and a 2-1 loss at San Jose last weekend. In both those games, the Red Bulls watched leads evaporate in the final minutes.

Jamison Olave’s own goal in the 83rd minute of the March 3 opener gave Portland a share of the points and New York followed that up by conceding another 83rd minute equalizer to San Jose on March 10, followed by a stoppage time game-winning penalty kick from Chris Wondolowski (which he got a second chance on thanks to Roy Miller, remember).

So while Saturday’s result left points on the table yet again, Red Bulls players, including midfielder Dax McCarty, were pleased with the effort.

“It’s disappointing but at the same time you can see the confidence that we played with today,” McCarty said. “Mike [Petke] instilled that in us before the game and we were ready. I think they had absolutely nothing. That was a complete performance; we haven’t had many since I’ve been here. That was a complete 90-minute performance top to bottom.”

New York (0-1-2, 2 pts.) heads north to face Montreal next Saturday in search of its first win, while DC United (1-1-1, 4 pts.) hosts Columbus next Saturday.

Match highlights:

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!

Ozil to Manchester United?!? Wenger reacts to gossip

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sometimes, even the biggest Arsene Wenger detractors have to feel for the guy.

Coming off a thrilling late win in Serbia, one that saw Olivier Giroud cap off a team goal straight out of the creative Wenger playbook, the manager should’ve been discussing how to stretch those good vibes into this weekend’s visit to Goodison Park.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

Yet no. Instead of talking about how the Gunners would respect the struggling Toffees, Wenger had to address speculation from several outlets claiming Mesut Ozil would move to Manchester United, perhaps as soon as January.

Feeling it? No, no Wenger was not feeling it. From Arsenal.com:

“We have to deal with all kinds of speculation when the players are at the end of their contracts. On the other hand, to be professional is to give 100 per cent as long as you are somewhere. For the rest, we came out many times and said that’s the situation. It [the media] can come out tomorrow and say that he extends his contract here. It will be exactly the same, it will not change anything. When you play the next game, commit 100 per cent. … When a player plays for Arsenal Football Club, his commitment cannot be linked with the length of his contract, it has just to be linked with the responsibility and the ambition he has to win the football game.”
Of course most big clubs have to deal with such drama on a year-to-year basis and, yes, having Ozil and Alexis Sanchez still in town was completely avoidable. But the idea that Ozil could leave, for free, to Manchester United? We’re sure Gooners the world over will be thrilled with the gossip.

MLS Decision Day preview: Much at stake

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Four teams can claim a Western Conference second round berth, while four more can earn a valuable first-round bye in the East.

Yep, there’s plenty to play for beyond the West’s final playoff spot Sunday during Major League Soccer’s Decision Day, when every team will take the pitch for 4 p.m. ET kickoffs.

[ MORE: Conte feels pressure ]

Here’s what we do know regarding the playoffs:

  1. Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto FC gets a first round bye, while No. 6 seed New York Red Bulls are headed to the road for a first round playoff
  2. New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando, DC, Minnesota, Colorado, and LA will not make the playoffs
  3. Full stop.

So, yes, this will be fun.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings ahead of Sunday’s extravaganza:

Eastern Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Toronto FC 33 20 8 5 72 35 37 13-3-1 7-5-4 68
x – New York City FC 33 16 8 9 54 41 13 10-4-2 6-4-7 56
x – Chicago 33 16 7 10 61 44 17 12-3-2 4-4-8 55
x – Atlanta 33 15 9 9 68 38 30 11-2-3 4-7-6 54
x – Columbus 33 16 5 12 51 47 4 12-2-3 4-3-9 53
x – New York 33 13 8 12 51 46 5 9-6-2 4-2-10 47

— New York City FC controls its bye destiny, though Columbus could join them on 56 points and would pass them on tiebreakers (wins).

— If that happens, Chicago could claim the second bye with a win or draw in Houston (The Fire owns the goal differential tiebreaker).

— If New York City and Chicago lose or draw, Atlanta could finish second with a home win over TFC.

— Columbus can finish second with a win and non-wins for Chicago and Atlanta.

Western Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Vancouver 33 15 7 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 6-2-8 52
x – Portland 33 14 8 11 58 49 9 10-4-2 4-4-9 50
x – Seattle 33 13 11 9 49 39 10 10-5-1 3-6-8 50
x – Sporting KC 33 12 13 8 39 27 12 10-6-1 2-7-7 49
x – Houston 33 12 11 10 54 45 9 11-4-1 1-7-9 47
San Jose 33 12 7 14 36 58 -22 9-5-2 3-2-12 43
FC Dallas 33 10 13 10 43 47 -4 7-7-2 3-6-8 43
Real Salt Lake 33 12 6 15 47 54 -7 8-4-4 4-2-11 42

Byes

— Vancouver finishes first with a win or draw at Portland. The ‘Caps could finish as low as third with a loss to Portland and a Seattle win versus Colorado.

— Portland finishes first — and wins the Cascadia Cup — with a win over visiting Vancouver.

— Seattle can claim a first round bye with a win over visiting Colorado and a Vancouver win over Portland.

— Sporting KC can finish second with a win at Real Salt Lake and non-wins for Portland and Seattle.

Final playoff spot

— San Jose claims the sixth seed with a home win over Minnesota. They can also finish sixth with a draw joined by non-wins for FC Dallas at home to LA and Real Salt Lake at home versus SKC.

— FC Dallas claims the sixth seed with a win over LA and a San Jose draw or loss versus Minnesota. FCD gets sixth with a draw, and a San Jose loss coupled with a RSL loss or draw versus SKC.

—  Real Salt Lake gets sixth with a win over SKC, and non-wins from San Jose and Dallas. RSL could also get sixth with a draw and losses for San Jose and Dallas.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Schedule
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
San Jose vs. Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Colorado
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City
Portland vs. Vancouver
Montreal vs. New England
New York City vs. Columbus
Atlanta vs. Toronto

Predictions

— NYCFC hangs on for a draw against Columbus, earning a bye, leaving Chicago to host New York Red Bulls and Atlanta off to Columbus for the first round of the playoffs (We have Toronto beating Atlanta on Sunday).

— Vancouver and Portland draw, while Seattle beats Colorado. The ‘Caps and Sounders get byes, while Seattle takes back the Cascadia Cup.

— San Jose beats Minnesota, gaining the West’s sixth seed. The Quakes head to Portland for the first round, while SKC hosts Houston.