Which the real, true-life version, and which is the duplicitious imitation? Was it the rather meek version we watched over four rounds in MLS, or the higher-quality version seen in last night’s dominant 2-0 win over previously perfect Montreal.
Perhaps a lot depends on which version of Benny Feilhaber shows up for coach Peter Vermes and Co. Last night, the newly arrived U.S. international was quite influential in Sporting’s midfield – quite unlike his first performances for the bunch from Sporting Park. Feilhaber registered assists on both SKC goals, an early strike from new striker Claudio Bieler and also on Graham Zusi’s late goal.
Feilhaber’s second assist was a precision pass into space for Zusi, the kind he can deliver like so few, but just doesn’t with enough regularity. The former New England man says he’s feeling more comfortable in Sporting’s system … so we’ll see.
Bieler, by the way, really should have had two or three goals. His fifth-minute goal did snap SKC’s 197-minute scoreless streak.
That Zusi and center back Matt Besler could both start and contribute was an achievement in itself, and perhaps an inspirational one for a team still straining to get out of low gear. Both players had started in the U.S. national team’s most recent pair of World Cup qualifiers, assisting in the effort to collect four enormous points in Denver and four nights later in Mexico City.
Underrated right back Chance Myers also returned to the SKC starting lineup following a short injury absence.
Highlights of Saturday’s breakthrough for the home team:
We were treated to a pair of very different but still aesthetically pleasing goals as the first legs of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday.
Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk and Monaco are three of the biggest teams playing at this stage of the tournament, with the first two playing today and one featuring in the goals in question.
[ MORE: Everton to land Gueye? ]
That was Ajax, as PAOK’s Djalma Campos took a walk around wandering Ajax goalkeeper Jesper Cilleseen and cut a goal home from a tricky, tricky angle.
The Dutch legends came back to draw 1-1, but gave up a quality road goal to its Greek visitors.
Romanian powers Steaua Bucharest found themselves a thrilling free kick goal in a 1-1 draw at Sparta Prague.
Nicolae Stanciu is the goal scorer in question, the 23-year-old who’s scored four goals in 7 appearances for the Romania national team since breaking through this season.
This is how he did it today:
Tuesday’s first legs
BATE Borisov 1-0 Dundalk
Ludogorets Razgrad 2-2 Red Star Belgrade
Sparta Prague 1-1 Steaua Bucharest
Partizani Tirana 0-1 Red Bull Salzburg
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Qarabag
Rostov 2-2 Anderlecht
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Young Boys
Ajax 1-1 PAOK
Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 Dinamo Tbilisi
PARIS (AP) French champion Paris Saint-Germain has signed attacking midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Argentine club Rosario Central on a five-year deal, making him new coach Unai Emery’s fourth signing since replacing Laurent Blanc last month.
The 20-year-old Lo Celso, who operates best as a probing playmaker behind the strikers, scored twice for Rosario last season.
No financial details of the deal were given.
[ MORE: Everton to land Gueye? ]
In recent weeks, PSG has signed France winger Hatem Ben Arfa, Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak and Belgium right back Thomas Meunier.
Lo Celso says he hopes to “follow in the footsteps” of countrymen Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore – who are key players for PSG.
Before joining up with his new teammates, however, Lo Celso will play for Argentina at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month.
If you’ve read this space at all, you’ll know PST is very high on Aston Villa box-to-box midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Only N'Golo Kante registered more successful tackles than Gueye in last season’s Premier League, and that came on a Villa side which endured its first PL relegation.
[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]
Gueye, 26, has a release clause of $9.3 million, and according to Sky Sports it’s now been met by two teams: Marseille and Everton. Reports say Gueye prefers to stay in England, so Ronald Koeman could have a huge addition to his squad.
It’s not overstating it to say Gueye could revolutionize the Everton squad, allowing players like Ross Barkley even more freedom and giving terrific cover. Gueye has a better offensive acumen than we saw with Villa, and is an invaluable part of Senegal’s set-up.
The underachieving Seattle Sounders have cost their legendary coach his job.
Sigi Schmid and the Sounders have agreed to part ways, the team announced on Tuesday, ending an eight-year run as the only coach in franchise’s MLS history.
Schmid, 63, is one of the most decorated coaches in MLS history, and has four U.S. Open Cup titles with Seattle after a pair of MLS Cup wins between Columbus and Los Angeles.
[ MORE: How did Yedlin, CCV play vs Juventus? ]
He also won three College Cup titles at UCLA between 1980-99.
Here’s Schmid, from SoundersFC.com:
“I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years, with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and the rest of the club’s ownership group. I’d also like to thank my coaches and technical staff for the support they’ve given me, and most importantly I want to thank my players for their tremendous effort throughout the years,” Schmid said.
“I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven-straight seasons. My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad. In closing, I want to thank the Sounders FC organization, the club’s fans and the city of Seattle for this amazing run.”
Longtime assistant Brian Schmetzer takes over in the interim, tasked with finding a way to improve on the uninspiring Sounders’ 6-12-2 record.
The Sounders are 10 points out of the final playoff spot and haven’t won since June 22 (2L-4T). They’ve scored the third-fewest goals in MLS. Without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, the players’ performances over the last few weeks raised serious character concerns. Hopefully a coaching change somehow eases those, as it did for Chelsea.