Looking at Major League Soccer’s longest defensive streaks

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At 519 minutes, Sporting Kansas City has constructed the 7th longest defensive scoreless streak in MLS history.

They’ll need just three scoreless minutes Saturday against the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy to climb into the sixth spot. And then Peter Vermes’ side needs just 10 more minutes past that to become a Top Five member on this list of big defensive doings.

Here are six scoreless streaks still in front of SKC:

6. LA Galaxy, 521 minutes in 2006:

A tough pair of central defenders (Ugo Ihemelu and Tyrone Marshall) were given a lot of protection by Paulo Nagamura on this team of worker bees – where defense was clearly valued, but which didn’t make the playoffs because it couldn’t score.

5. FC Dallas, 531 minutes in 2011:

Ihemelu was front and center on this defense, as well. Protection in this case was provided from Daniel Hernandez, who patrolled with a certain menace just in front of the back line. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was also exceptional that year for FCD.

4. Real Salt Lake, 567 minutes in 2010:

The streak actually stretched over three difference months, beginning in late May and extending into mid-July. This one was all about center backs Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave (pictured above), backstopped more than capably by Nick Rimando and protected by U.S. international Kyle Beckerman.

3. Real Salt Lake, 568 minutes in 2010:

A second record-making streak is exactly why RSL absolutely hated last fall to trade away Olave, whose speed and anticipation covered for most defensive miscues from the team’s younger outside backs. Jason Kreis’ team allowed an all-time league low 20 goals that season.

2. Kansas City Wizards, 681 minutes in 2000:

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All you need to know about this streak is that goalkeeper Tony Meola (pictured at right)  is the only non-attacker to ever win an MLS Most Valuable Player award. He was that good in 2000 in guiding the franchise (now called Sporting Kansas City, of course) to its only MLS Cup championship. Players of that team were also acutely aware of their roles, expectations and limitations.

1. Houston Dynamo, 727 minutes in 2007:

Like the Wizards of 2000, Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo went on to win MLS Cup in this season. That bunch of defensive bruisers was tough as Kevlar … but look at the attackers and midfielders on the roster: It included Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching, Brad Davis, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Moreno, Chris Wondolowski, Ricardo Clark, Brian Mullan and Corey Ashe (then a midfielder). Teams were too busy on defense to attack! The Dynamo allowed just 23 goals that year, second lowest MLS total yet.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

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France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?

Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina in World Cup qualifying

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
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Argentina took steps backward Tuesday in its pursuit of a 2018 World Cup berth, on and off the field.

It started as Lionel Messi was suspended four matches for verbally abusing a referee in Argentina’s Friday win over Chile.

Then La Albiceleste made another move in reverse with a shocking 2-0 loss to Bolivia in La Paz. Argentina started Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the bench in what many presumed to be an easy win.

[ MORE: Three keys for USA v Panama ] 

Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins scored as ninth-place La Verde picked up its third win of qualifying with a win over powerful Argentina.

The bad news kept coming for Argentina (and Everton), as Ramiro Funes Mori left the match in the 36th minute with injury.

Bolivia will finish the international break at least 10 points back of the playoff spot, while Argentina could finish as low as that fifth-place spot.

STREAM: CONCACAF tripleheader concludes with USMNT

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CONCACAF’s bottom three sides in the Hex standings look to make the table incredibly tight as World Cup qualifying finds three-straight matches on the docket beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Los Catrachos were creamed 6-0 by the U.S. on Friday, and return home hoping a wounded Costa Rica remains vulnerable. Honduras is dead last on goal differential, but three points would be huge and put them level with Los Ticos. Costa Rica won its first two matches before falling to Mexico on Friday.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico

El Tri has two wins and a draw from their first three Hex matches, and will be without Rafa Marquez on Tuesday. A win guarantees Mexico the top spot heading into the next round of matches in June. The Soca Warriors surprised some with their 1-0 win over visiting Panama on Tuesday. Mexico is a different class.

Panama vs. USMNT

Despite its miserable start, the U.S. can find itself as high as second with a win and help from Honduras. The injuries remain plenty for the Yanks, who are without Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Sebastian Lletget, and John Brooks. Panama has allowed just a single goal through three Hex matches, but also has only managed one.

AFC and Oceania wrap: Iran, New Zealand take next steps

Photo by Amin M. Jamali/Getty Images
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With CONMEBOL and CONCACAF serving as the main course later Tuesday, the morning and afternoon saw big World Cup qualifiers on the other side of the world.

[ MORE: Three keys for USA v Panama ] 

Asian qualifying

Iran is on the verge of qualification for Russia 2018 after Persepolis star Mehdi Taremi bagged his ninth international goal in a 1-0 home win over China.

Iran leads Group A by four points, but second-place South Korea and third-place Uzbekistan kept pace with 1-0 home wins of their own. Hong Jeong-ho scored in South Korea’s win over Syria, while Odil Ahmendov’s 65th minute free kick was enough to push Uzbekistan past Qatar.

The goalkeeping was… less than ideal.

Over in Group B, shutouts were the name of the game for high-powered hosts as well.

Japan stayed atop the group with a 4-0 win over Thailand, as a trio of players with Premier League experience — Maya Yoshida, Shinji Kagawa, and Shinji Okazaki — joined Gent’s Yuya Kubo on the scoreboard.

Saudi Arabia is level with Japan on points thanks to Yahya Al-Shehri’s post-halftime goal in a 1-0 win over Iraq, while Australia saw off United Arab Emirates thanks to goals from Burton Albion’s Jackson Irvine and Ingolstadt’s Mathew Leckie.

That leaves Australia three points behind Saudi Arabia and Japan in the race for two of three automatic spots. The Socceroos hosts the Green Falcons in June before an August trip to Saitama in a pair of matches which will decide who goes directly to Russia and who has to win a pair of playoffs: One against the Group A’s third-place team and another against CONCACAF’s fourth place side.

Oceania qualifying

New Zealand took the next step in collecting Oceania’s berth in the intercontinental playoff with a 2-0 win over Fiji in Wellington. PEC Zwolle winger Ryan Thomas bagged a brace for the All Whites.

New Zealand will next face either Tahiti, Solomon Islands, or Papua New Guinea over two legs in late August and early September for the right to battle the fifth place CONMEBOL team for a World Cup berth. That could be Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, or even Colombia.

Tahiti hosts Papua New Guinea at 1 a.m. EDT Wednesday, and will be the odds-on favorite to face New Zealand with a win.