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.

Wild day in American soccer: Crew relocation, NASL LOIs, USL reserves

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The top three soccer leagues in the United States of America are dealing with varying bits of turmoil this Tuesday in October.

It began late Monday with reports that Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt aims to take the MLS founding member to Texas, seemingly only paying lip service to the idea of investment keeping the team in Ohio.

[ MORE: Leicester sacks Shakespeare ]

Some have said Precourt’s goals have always been to find a way out of Ohio, and the Crew owner was asked what has changed in the four years he’s owned the club (From ColumbusCrewSC.com):

Q:When we read your story about your purchase of the team, this was back in 2013, part of that was that it was very important to the Hunt family that the Crew remained in Columbus and you said at the time that you were committed to that. So what’s changed?

AP: I was committed to that and I believe that I demonstrated my commitment through significant investment in infrastructure, in personnel, in the quality of our product on the field. What has changed? Our League has grown leaps and bounds, it’s been unprecedented the improvement we’ve seen year over year and new markets that have come in the League have shown dramatic attendance. Let’s look at Atlanta with over 70,000 fans over their last few games, with Orlando building a new facility and averaging over 30,000 fans a game, with New York City FC. The list goes on and on. Our peers get stronger and stronger, year in and year out and I have to get back to our ambition as a club. This is key: our ambition as a club is to be a standard bearer in Major League Soccer, to be respected on and off the field in terms of our soccer operations and our business operations and to operate world-class, soccer-specific infrastructure. We’re going through growing pains now. It’s time for us to explore building a world-class, soccer-specific stadium so that we can be celebrated and successful and sustainable.

So, yes, barring a king’s ransom — word use intended — from the Ohio business community, it’s not being cynical to read Precourt’s intention to leave Ohio as very strong. The idea is very sad for the league, and makes every pro/rel honk’s argument against the closed model.

Then there’s the NASL, where it’s almost head-spinning to keep abreast of the future of the league. New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso has taken the wheel in an attempt to not only see the NASL rise, but remove Sunil Gulati from power at the United States Soccer Federation in the hopes of a complete overhaul. In what should not be read as a footnote, the NASL is currently suing the USSF.

There are reports that the league could have as many as 17 teams next season in a bid to regain sanctioning from the Unites States Soccer Federation, including a series of teams from the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League.

According to SocTakes.com, the NASL has letters of intent from NPSL clubs in Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Arizona, New Orleans, and Virginia Beach. Additionally, there’s interest in Hartford and it may not be the NPSL club.

Then came this Tweet:

Now here’s a league, the USL, whose only issues have been perception-related. Growing well and instituting a D-3 companion, the biggest concern has been the mentioned MLS Reserve sides creating a minor league feel for the league.

All of this is manageable, and you could argue that the disappearance or at least rebranding of most of these reserve sides would be a boon for the league.

Taken in a vacuum, any of these stories has the potential to carry a day’s news. Together, and in the wake of the United States men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, they give Tuesday one of those Soccer-USApocalyptic feelings.

UEFA Champions League Weds. preview: Chelsea, Man Utd look to break out

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Only one of 16 teams was held off the score sheet on Tuesday. Could the same level of entertainment reach the UEFA Champions League a day later?

Two more Premier League teams take the pitch on Wednesday, with Manchester United facing its stiffest test of the group stage and Chelsea with a tricky visit from AS Roma.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

Manchester United has a significant challenge in Benfica, and may need a man familiar with the Estadio da Luz to help them out. Center back Eric Bailly remains out for United, which could bring Victor Lindelof into the fold to help stop Haris Seferovic, Gabriel Barbosa, Raul Jimenez, and especially Jonas.

Coming off a sleepy weekend draw versus Liverpool in an underwhelming derby, United will take on a desperate Benfica team which is traditionally strong but lost at home to CSKA Moscow and was crushed in Switzerland by Basel.

(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Speaking of the need to rebound, Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace still has many scratching their heads. Fortunately, Roma is also in a mini-funk after a weekend loss to Napoli that ended a five-match winning streak.

There’s a reunion for Antonio Rudiger inside Stamford Bridge with Roma in town. I Lupi has been pretty one-dimensional in terms of offense, with ex-Man City man and reigning Serie A capocannoniere winner Edin Dzeko. He’s scored eight times in nine matches for Roma this season.

Full Wednesday UCL schedule
All kickoffs at 2:45 p.m. ET except where indicated

Qarabag vs. Atletico Madrid — Noon ET
Anderlecht vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Benfica vs. Manchester United
Juventus vs. Sporting Lisbon
Barcelona vs. Olympiacos
Chelsea vs. Roma
Bayern Munich vs. Celtic
CSKA Moscow vs. Basel

U-17 World Cup wrap: England advances to meet USA

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The United States now knows it’ll have to take down England’s best to get to the semifinals of the U-17 World Cup in India.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

England, don’t laugh, won in penalty kicks after a scoreless match with Japan, advancing to meet the Baby Yanks.


England 0-0 (5-3, PKs) Japan

There wasn’t a single miss amongst the England shooters, as Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Phil Foden (Man City), Nya Kirby (Crystal Palace), and Curtis Anderson (Man City) converted from the spot to set up a date against the U.S.

Mali 5-1 Iraq

Lassana Ndiaye scored twice to join France’s Amine Gouiri atop the goal scoring list for the tournament as Mali advances to face the winner of Ghana vs. Niger.

France 1-2 Spain

Barcelona prospects Juan Miranda and Abel Ruiz get the better of France to set up a date with high-flying Iran.

 

Iran 2-1 Mexico

Iran conceded for just the second time in the tournament, but not before Mohammad Sharifi and Allahyar Sayyad (both of Iranian club Saifa) made it 2-0 by the 11th minute.

UEFA Champions League wrap: Tables turned on wild day

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One clean sheet in eight Tuesday matches certainly helped the entertainment value of the UEFA Champions League, and the group ramifications follow suit.

Borussia Dortmund whiffed on a chance to take advantage of Real Madrid’s home draw versus Spurs, while Sevilla was waxed in Russia, and Besiktas continues to strut in UCL play.

Real Madrid 1-1 Tottenham HotspurRECAP, VIDEO

Raphael Varane’s plans to mark Harry Kane were subverted by the French defender’s unwitting legs, but Serge Aurier chopped down Toni Kroos in the 42nd minute for a yellow card and penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo sent beyond the reach of Spurs backstop Hugo Lloris.

It was Lloris’ outstanding day, along with a couple timely Keylor Navas saves, that kept the score line 1-1 after 90 minutes. The backstops will likely match wits again come Nov. 1 at Wembley Stadium.

Manchester City 2-1 NapoliRECAP

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored in the ninth and 13th minutes as City has been an unwelcoming host for the Neapolitan side. Ederson stopped a Dries Mertens penalty, adding insult to Napoli’s twin concessions, but Napoli would get a second penalty kick and pulled back a goal courtesy of Amadou Diawara.

Monaco 1-2 Besiktas

Reported Newcastle United and Crystal Palace target Cenk Tosun scored a pair of goals as group-leading Besiktas came back to beat Monaco after Radamel Falcao made it 1-0 to the hosts.

Feyenoord 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Similar story in the Netherlands, where Ex-Watford man Steven Berghuis gave the Eredivisie hosts a lead only to see a Bernard brace lead Shakhtar at De Kuip.

Spartak Moscow 5-1 Sevilla

Liverpool’s score line was a bit surprising, but this one raised eyebrows even given Sevilla’s long road (or flight path) to Russia. Quincy Promes scored twice to make Sevilla consider its Europa roots (though plenty of time remains in the group stage).

Spartak’s Luiz Adriano scores past Sevilla’s Sergio Rico (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Maribor 0-7 LiverpoolRECAP

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds are sent their finishing demons off a cliff. It was 3-0 after 20 minutes, 4-0 at half, and when all was said and done there were braces for Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to go with single markers from Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

APOEL Nicosia 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

A significant step backward for BVB, who would’ve done well to take advantage of Real and Spurs drawing at the Bernabeu. The Germans even trailed for five second-half minutes before Sokratis Papastathopoulos provided the equalizing goal.

RB Leipzig 3-2 Porto

Five first half goals felt like the start of something special, but the upstart Germans held on through a scoreless second half to claim their first UCL win.