Most impressive MLS Round 9 win: Portland or LA Galaxy?

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Project Porter is rolling with speed in Merritt Paulson Valley. Manager Caleb Porter has the Timbers playing well and performing with the requisite aesthetic. If we take the big look at Portland Timbers matter, all of this is helping validate Paulson’s tough choice last year, to abandon ship on manager John Spencer and go a different direction.

The latest paint stroke of validation came last night in the Heartland, where Porter’s team took down Sporting Kansas City in a hard-fought, well-played 3-2 thriller.

Considering Sporting KC’s status (perched at No. 2 in our latest MLS rankings), it was a mighty impressive result. No soldier in the loyal Timbers Army would have felt badly about a draw, and Porter’s posse did one better.

On most weekends, that would rank as the result of the round.

But not long after final whistle outside Kansas City, the two-time defending champion Galaxy did their best to one-up the men from Oregon. Bruce Arena had to assemble a patchwork lineup to account not just for missing starters, but for the starting-est of starters, if you know what I mean.

When we name Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Carlo Cudicini, you have just named three of the champs’ most important four men. Throw in Todd Dunivant, and you take away a quality left back and one of the Galaxy’s most experienced vets. Then, one of the better young starters, Jack McBean, leaves after 53 minutes injured.

Some of the replacement parts are names that even someone like me, who does this stuff for a living, know little about. I mean, Charlie Rugg? That young man played 71 minutes last night. Total time now in MLS matches all-time for Mr. Rugg. Uh, 71 minutes.

Same for young goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who also made his pro debut.

For the Galaxy young bucks to rampage to an early lead, that’s one thing. But to stay hungry, as they did, and maintain discipline, as they did, that’s mighty impressive stuff, too.

I’ll sit the fence on this one. They both rank as huge achievements.

You may think differently.

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.