San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders

Let’s talk about this odd situation in San Jose vs. Vancouver

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Yes, it’s an arcane rule. And, yes, it may have tripped up a lot of teams. In fact, let’s go with “probably would have” tripped up a bunch of them.

But the bottom line on this odd situation that developed in San Jose last night – and that probably cost the Earthquakes two points – is that San Jose should have known better. It was a costly error.

The situation: Playing at home, the Quakes held a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute thanks to Chris Wondolowski’s goal. A second-half lead over a Whitecaps team that has not ever done well on the road is getting into “We got this thing done” territory.

Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez and forward Alan Gordon both elected to leave the field for a shoe change. Who thought that was a good idea? Nine on 11 for any length of time is a fiasco waiting to happen. Sure enough …

As both players waved frantically to get back onto the field, referee Fotis Bazakos allowed play to go on. Whitecaps forward Corey Hertzog capitalized on a scramble inside the San Jose penalty area (right where Bernardez, among the league’s top center backs, would have been). The equalizer in pocket, the visitors, thanks to some dandy work by goalkeeper Joe Cannon, hung on to split the points.

(MORE: Joe Cannon’s stoppage time highlight pack)

Thing is, Bazakos was 100 percent correct.

Bazakos told a pool reporter after Saturday’s 1-1 draw that players may legally return from an equipment change only during a stoppage of play. It’s in Law 4 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game (the rules dealing with player equipment).

Someone on the home team’s bench should know that, even if all the players do not. Even if we cut the Earthquakes a little slack in not knowing all their clauses, who in the world thought it was good idea to have two players changing out their shoes at the same time?

There were some circumstances that might qualify for an asterisk here. Bernardez had been waiting several minutes to change out his shoes, apparently. That’s according to this story. Plus, the players apparently tried to sneak in an equipment change without actually leaving the field; Bazakos was having none of that.

Once they left the field, one of the clauses in ol’ Law 4 kicked in.

Earthquakes manager Frank Yallop, who has proven himself again and again to be a stand-up sort, took the blame. He acknowledged that he did not know the rule.

It was really poor on our behalf of not realizing that the rule is you can’t go back on the field [during the run of play]. There has to be a stoppage in play… It’s just one of those nights that frustrates the team and frustrates me as a head coach.”

Here was the goal; you’ll hear the match announcers talking about the players’ shouts and efforts to get back on the field as Hertzog makes the home team pay. (Even the sideline reporter says, “As soon as there is a stoppage of play, hopefully they’ll be able to get back in.”)


Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga
Photo by Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
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There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.

Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.

Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

[ MORE: Three big battles between U.S. and Mexico ]

Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.

Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:

On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”

But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”

In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”

It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.

MLS to the death: Taking stock of playoff scenarios

Portland Timbers' Diego Valeri, right, challenges Montreal Impact's Laurent Ciman during the first half of a soccer game, Saturday, May 9, 2015 in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP
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Five MLS teams have made the playoffs, but in the world of probability that number is a lot closer to 10.

Red Bulls, DC, L.A., Vancouver and Dallas are in the postseason, while Toronto, Columbus, New England and Sporting KC are on the verge. Seattle is just behind that group.

[ MORE: Three big battles between U.S. and Mexico ]

So how about those final two slots?

Eastern Conference

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – New York 31 16 6 9 55 39 16 11-2-3 5-4-6 54
x – D.C. 32 14 6 12 39 40 -1 10-3-3 4-3-9 48
New England 32 13 8 11 45 45 0 9-6-1 4-2-10 47
Columbus 32 13 8 11 51 53 -2 8-4-4 5-4-7 47
Toronto FC 31 14 4 13 55 53 2 10-1-4 4-3-9 46
Montreal 31 12 6 13 44 43 1 10-2-4 2-4-9 42
Orlando City SC 32 11 8 13 44 54 -10 6-5-5 5-3-8 41
New York City FC 32 10 7 15 47 53 -6 6-4-6 4-3-9 37
Philadelphia 32 9 7 16 40 51 -11 6-3-7 3-4-9 34
Chicago 32 8 6 18 42 52 -10 8-1-7 0-5-11 30

Matches remaning
at Colorado, vs. New England, at Toronto 
vs. NYC, at Philadelphia
New York City: at Orlando, vs. New England

Obviously, the Impact have the wheel here, though a pair of road tests — one across the continent — aren’t easy. If it comes down to a match against their rivals at BMO Field, all bets will be off. NYC can do Montreal a huge favor by getting a result in Orlando, but Jason Kreis’ side need all three points (Well, all six points… and a load of help). No one is playing better than Orlando right now.

Western Conference

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – FC Dallas 31 15 6 10 47 38 9 11-2-2 4-4-8 51
x – Los Angeles 32 14 9 9 53 39 14 12-3-1 2-6-8 51
x – Vancouver 32 15 5 12 42 34 8 8-2-6 7-3-6 50
Sporting KC 31 13 9 9 46 41 5 9-5-1 4-4-8 48
Seattle 32 14 5 13 40 34 6 10-2-4 4-3-9 47
San Jose 32 12 8 12 39 37 2 7-6-3 5-2-9 44
Portland 31 12 8 11 31 36 -5 7-6-3 5-2-8 44
Houston 32 11 8 13 41 45 -4 9-3-4 2-5-9 41
Real Salt Lake 31 11 8 12 37 43 -6 7-6-2 4-2-10 41
Colorado 31 8 10 13 30 38 -8 5-5-6 3-5-7 34

Matches remaning
San Jose:
vs Sporting KC, at Dallas
at RSL, at LA, vs. Colorado
Houston: vs. Seattle, at Vancouver
Real Salt Lake: 
vs. Portland, vs. Dallas, at Seattle

Quite literally anything can happen here in terms of these four. Pressure’s surely on Caleb Porter and the Timbers to finally give their supporters a side worth their passion. RSL is the only other side with three matches left, and the two pair up next. Houston has a harrowing pair of matches, one without Cubo Torres, while San Jose also has two tough efforts.