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.

Kenya loses hosting rights to 2018 African Nations Championship

Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images
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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Kenya has been stripped of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship.

The Confederation of Africa Football cited “accumulated delays” in Kenya’s preparations for the tournament, which is the continental championship for players playing in their home leagues.

[ MORE: Premier League Sat. roundup ]

CAF made the decision to take the tournament away from Kenya at an executive committee meeting in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday and opened the bidding process for a new host on Sunday. CAF says applications must be received by next Sunday and the new host will be announced in just over two weeks.

The African Nations Championship is scheduled to be played from Jan. 12-Feb. 4.

Kenya’s preparations for the 16-team tournament were already troubled before August when its presidential elections were nullified and a re-vote was ordered. That re-vote is scheduled for next month, and the political instability has meant preparations for the soccer tournament have been undermined.

CAF also says it is opening a tender process to recruit an audit firm to examine Cameroon’s preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, Africa’s top soccer event.

Like Kenya, Cameroon’s readiness to host the Cup of Nations has been under scrutiny. CAF says it needs to examine the state of Cameroon’s “infrastructure to host the tournament,” with the 2019 Cup of Nations the first to be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.

MLS Snapshot: Red-hot RSL end Sounders’ unbeaten run at 13

Photo credit: Real Salt Lake / @RealSaltLake
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The game in 100 words (or less): With the Seattle Sounders’ 13-game unbeaten run now a thing of the past (and the final four of those games all draws), Real Salt Lake (two losses in their last two, including wins in four of their last five) might just be the hottest team in MLS not named Atlanta United (just one loss in their last 12, including wins in three of their last four; combined score: 17-3). Furthermore, Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Seattle at Rio Tinto Stadium boosts RSL into fifth place in the Western Conference, two points clear of the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, as Mike Petke’s side makes this year’s improbable, late charge toward the MLS Cup Playoffs, in much the same fashion Brian Schmetzer’s Sounders did a year ago. Jefferson Savarino, who scored one and assisted one on Saturday, has proven himself a star on the rise in recent weeks, and has RSL playing their best soccer of the year at exactly the right time.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three moments that mattered

52′ — Savarino slams home Rusnak’s pass for 1-0 — RSL have themselves an attacking trio (Savarino, Albert Rusnak and Brooks Lennon) that loves to play together, and that joy really shines brightly in moments like this.

66′ — Mulholland slams home from Savarino’s cross for 2-0 — Savarino turned provider just 15 minutes later, getting in behind Joevin Jones, corralling Joao Plata’s through ball, and picking out Mulholland atop the six-yard box.

92′ — Rimando makes a stunning save to deny Dempsey — Clint Dempsey tried to sneak a quick free kick past Nick Rimando, but the all-time greatest goalkeeper in MLS history was over it.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jefferson Savarino

Goalscorers: Savarino (52′), Mulholland (66′)

MLS Snapshot: FCD’s winless skid hits 10 in loss to MNUFC

Photo credit: Minnesota United / @MNUFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): Just when FC Dallas think they’ve hit rock-bottom, the fall a little bit farther. Oscar Pareja’s side saw its winless skid hit 10 games on Saturday, with a 4-1 loss away to Minnesota United, a side themselves with all of three wins from their last dozen games. Gone now are the games in hand that buoyed FCD’s hopes just a few weeks ago, as they’re now level on games played with many of the sides presently ahead of them in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot, save for Real Salt Lake (level on points) and the San Jose Earthquakes (one point ahead). Following their sixth loss in 10 games, FCD remain eighth in the West, a point behind the Houston Dynamo for the sixth and final playoff place (RSL play later on Saturday with a chance to go fifth themselves. Minnesota, meanwhile, distance themselves from the 10th-place LA Galaxy and sit just six points behind FCD, having rebounded nicely after an appalling start to their expansion season.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

14′ — Akindele arrives late, slams home for 1-0 — Tesho Akindele waltzed through the penalty area, unnoticed and unmarked, before arriving at the top of the six-yard box just in time to meet Michael Barrios’ cross.

24′ — Ramirez finishes after a beautiful through ball sets him up — Kevin Molino picked the right pass, and played it perfectly (with a bit of help from Walker Zimmerman), and Christian Ramirez made no mistake with the finish.

35′ — Ibarra volleys past Gonzalez to make it 2-1 — Ramirez turned provider on Minnesota’s second goal, lofting the ball into the penalty area for Miguel Ibarra, whose first-time take beat Jesse Gonzalez to put the home side ahead.

68′ — Shuttleworth denies Diaz from the spot — Two games, two saves from the penalty spot for Bobby Shuttleworth.

71′ — Finlay finishes some fancy build-up for 3-1 — Heartbreak on one end of the field, heartbreak on the other end of the field. Anything and everything that could go wrong for FCD, continues to go wrong for FCD.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Christian Ramirez

Goalscorers: Akindele (14′), Ramirez (24′), Ibarra (35′), Finlay (71′), Danladi (88′)

MLS Snapshot: Fire lose again, continue slide into KO round

Photo credit: MLS / @MLS
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Chicago Fire’s slide toward the mean — some might call it regression, indicating maybe, just maybe, they overachieved during the first half of the season — continued on Saturday, following a brief reprieve to begin the month. Veljko Paunovic’s side lost its seventh game in 11 outings, falling 3-1 away to the Philadelphia Union. Bastian Schweinsteiger remains sidelined with a calf injury, but the rest of Chicago’s key figures — Nemanja Nikolic, Dax McCarty, David Accam and Matt Polster remain in place. Chris Pontius did the majority of the damage on Saturday, bagging Philadelphia’s first two goals, followed by CJ Sapong for the third. Luis Solignac grabbed a consolation goal inside the final 25 minutes, but the damage had been done. The result means Chicago (48 points) remain third in the Eastern Conference, still four points back of New York City FC and just two points clear of Atlanta United, who have two games in hand.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three moments that mattered

10′ — Pontius heads the cross home for 1-0 — Keegan Rosenberry cut inside and delivered a delicate, left-footed cross into the box. Pontius got away from his man and met the ball with his head at the top of the six-yard box.

55′ — Pontius again, this time on the rebound — Fafa Picault’s shot was saved by Matt Lampson, but no one followed up to boot the rebound clear. Pontius reacted quickest, and the lead was two.

64′ — Sapong pokes it home for 3-0 — This is Sapong’s 14th of the season, tying Sebastien Le Toux’s club record (2010), and reminded me once again the Peter Vermes insisted on playing Sapong as a winger for multiple seasons before trading him.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Chris Pontius

Goalscorers: Pontius (10′, 55′), Sapong (64′), Solignac (67′)