Jahn’s second Goonie moment salvages result for San Jose

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For over 90 minutes in Santa Clara, the game carried an eerily familiar feel. At least, for San Jose fans it did. True, their team had generated more chances than last Sunday in Portland, with Timbers’ goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts called on to make two top-notch stops at Buck Shaw, but the tenor of the match was the same. Caleb Porter’s ‘don’t call it Porterball’ approach had dictated play, if to a lesser extent than last week in Portland. San Jose’s 1-0 deficit at the 90-minute mark was neither surprising nor unfair, based on how the match had transpired.

But over the match’s final half-hour, the Earthquakes had started coming into the match, with the additions of Marvin Chavez, Sam Garza, and Adam Jahn slowly ramping up the Earthquakes attack. And just as it was no surprise Frank Yallop’s team was trailing come stoppage time, the pressure they were putting on the Timbers left few eyes widened when Jahn recorded his second Goonie moment of the season:

“On that play, Nana [Attakora] got taken out and I thought it was a penalty” Jahn explained, talking about this late equalizer, “but the ref played on. The ball bounced my way and I opened my body like I was going far post, and then slotted it near post. The best part was it gave us a point here tonight.”

It was the second time this season the rookie out of Stanford has gone all Goonie on the opposition, the first being his 83rd minute equalizer against New York on Mar. 10. San Jose went on to win that game on a Chris Wondolowski penalty (Roy Miller’s famous intentional encroachment).

It was a bitter two points to give up for Portland, who took off Diego Valeri, Ryan Johnson, and Darlington Nagbe while trying to kill off the match. Once San Jose equalized, the Timbers were left without their three biggest goal scoring threats, the XI Porter had out there ill-prepared to deal with the match’s final minutes. As San Jose pushed for the winner, Portland’s personnel did the only thing they were capable of doing: Hold out.

But from San Jose’s point of view, Portland shouldn’t have been in a position to be holding out. In the first half, a great reflex save from Ricketts stoned an unmarked Chris Wondolowski from 15 yards out. In the second half, Ricketts drove at the feet of Garza to stifle the winger’s chance at a second half equalizer.

“For us not to score a goal in this game would not have been good with the quality of chances that we had,” Yallop said after the match We had at least four good looks before the goal.”

“We had enough chances to win the game and I thought we deserved to win.”

Ultimately, this has a good point for the Timbers. Despite controlling last Sunday’s match, they only beat San Jose 1-0 on home turf. A 1-1 result on the back-end of a double header seems reasonable, especially when you can claim to have dictated how the match was played.

“We leave a little disappointed because we had three points in our hands,” Caleb Porter said after the match. “But when the dust settles, it’s still a point on the road. If you look at the three-game series against San Jose, we make up three points.”

For San Jose, seeing the Timbers play ‘Porterball’ for much of the match shouldn’t be a huge concern. As they’ve showed before, they’re a team that can get results despite letting the other team play their game, and as they showed on Sunday, Portland’s style didn’t necessarily preclude their threatening Ricketts.

Last season, the divide between control and chances was crossed with astute substitutions and enough depth to give the team a totally different look after 60 minutes, qualities that made it easy to attack opposition weaknesses. Tonight, with the team getting Marvin Chavez and Steven Beitashour into the lineup for the first time this season, the Earthquakes began to look like their former selves.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough to get full points from a team that’s notoriously bad on the road. While Porter’s version of Portlandia is still undefeated (but winless) away from JELD-WEN, this is a franchise that’s only won three road matches in this two-plus year existence.

That’s why, big picture, this is the type of result Frank Yallop should be concerned about, especially considering his team was also drawn at home by the Vancouver Whitecaps two weeks ago. If this team is going to reach last year’s heights, San Jose must prove capable of getting three points at home against middle of the road Western Conference clubs.

But it seems too soon to be looking at things that way in Santa Clara. Maybe in a few weeks, after their healthy team has had more time to play together, they can start demanding more. For now, progress should be enough.

Barcelona defends Messi over “unfair” suspension

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi’s four-match international suspension for insulting a linesman was “unfair and totally disproportionate.”

[ MORE: Messi handed ban by FIFA ]

Barcelona released a statement Wednesday expressing “its surprise and indignation” with FIFA’s decision to sideline the playmaker for so long following the incident in Argentina’s win over Chile in World Cup qualifying last week.

The punishment was announced before Argentina lost at Bolivia 2-0 Tuesday, a result that left the two-time champions at risk of not qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona says it “wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the field.”

Pending an appeal, Messi will only be available to play in Argentina’s final qualifier, on Oct. 10 against Ecuador.

World Cup hopes back on track: What next for USMNT?

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After a four-point haul over the past week in their two crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the U.S. national team is back on track and heading in the right direction.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

Bruce Arena led the USMNT to a thumping 6-0 win over Honduras last Friday and then a gutsy 1-1 draw in Panama on Tuesday in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, as the Hexagonal standings will now look a lot better to U.S. fans who saw their team sitting bottom of the pile for the past four months following defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica which cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job.

So, the “Road to Russia” is looking a little less daunting for the U.S. but there are still tough tests ahead in the months to come in World Cup qualifying as well as a Gold Cup campaign on home soil in July.

First let’s look at the standings in the Hex. Ah, that’s better but things are now very tight aside from Mexico running away with things.

With six games to go the U.S. currently occupies the play-off spot as the top three teams in the Hex standings will qualify automatically for the World Cup and the fourth-place team has to play against the fifth-place team from qualifying in the Asian Football Confederation region.


Mexico — 10 points (+4 GD)
Costa Rica — 7 points (+4)
Panama — 5 points (0)
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USA — 4 points (+1)
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Honduras — 4 points (-5)
Trinidad and Tobago — 3 points (-4)


And these are the USA’s six remaining qualifiers as they aim to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

June 8: vs. Trinidad and Tobago
June 11: at Mexico
September 1: vs. Costa Rica
September 5: at Honduras
October 6: vs. Panama
October 10: at Trinidad and Tobago

The first three games at crucial. If the U.S. manages to get seven points from those three matches, that’s magical. Even six points by beating T&T and Costa Rica on home soil would be superb. Yet, if the U.S. drops points to one or both of T&T and Costa Rica, that puts so much pressure on themselves to pick up wins on the road at Honduras and T&T in two of their final three qualifiers. That would not be an ideal scenario.

Still, heading into the past week the aim for the U.S. was to get back on track in qualifying and give themselves a chance of making the 2018 World Cup. They’ve done that. Now, the hard work begins.

Chelsea chase Alexis Sanchez; Man United want Dier

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The summer transfer rumors are heating up long before the heat of summer arrives…

[ MORE: Zlatan to stay at United?

On Wednesday it is being claimed by the Guardian that Alexis Sanchez has become Chelsea’s “No.1 target this summer” as the Arsenal and Chile forward has yet to sign a new deal with the Gunners.

Per the report, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has drafted up a shortlist of the players he wants to sign this summer and Sanchez is at the top of the Italian managers wishlist as he is also close to signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge.

Sanchez, 28, has a deal at Arsenal until the summer of 2018 but if the north London club fails to agree a new deal with him this summer (as well as Mesut Ozil and Arsene Wenger, but that’s another story…) then they’ll have to sell him on or risk losing him for nothing as a free agent next season.

The striker scored twice for Chile in their 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela on Tuesday and has been essential all season long to Arsenal, scoring 18 goals and adding nine assists after playing through the middle on his own for much of the campaign.

Would Arsenal really sell Sanchez to a PL rival? It wouldn’t be ideal but it’s not like they haven’t done that in the past. Think of Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy.

The thought of Sanchez on one wing with Diego Costa up top and Eden Hazard on the other wing at Chelsea should be enough to get Arsenal to offer their star man whatever cash he wants — the report states he wants $310,000 a week which would almost double his current $160,000 a week salary — when they sit down to discuss the new deal at the end of this season.


Elsewhere in north London, Tottenham Hotspur’s versatile defender Eric Dier has been linked with a $50 million move to Manchester United this summer.

According to Neil Ashton of the Sun, Dier, 23, is being lined up to replace Michael Carrick in the holding midfield role at United.

Now, Tottenham are notoriously tough to do business with and chairman Daniel Levy will not want to lose one of his top prospects and an England international to a direct rival in the Premier League.

That said, Dier has been used in multiple positions by Spurs this season and Mauricio Pochettino appears to prefer Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele as the holding midfielders and the emergence of Harry Winks has seen Dier’s importance questioned by some.

The fact that Dier can play in holding midfield or anywhere across the back line will also suit Moruinho who likes to have a smaller squad to work with and per the report the Portuguese boss has been a long-time admirer of Dier. His power to break up the play and also use he ball safely could work very well alongside Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.

PHOTOS: Bizarre Cristiano Ronaldo statue unveiled

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Hang on, is that really meant to be Cristiano Ronaldo?

On Wednesday the Portugal and Real Madrid legend had Madeira Airport named after him just outside his hometown of Funchal and during the ceremony a bust of his head was put on show.

Except, it looked horrendous…

Take a look for yourself in the photos below. See.