Quickie Review of Round 10 in Major League Soccer

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Best goal: From Nick Rimando’s wise distribution, to Joao Plata’s pinpoint cross and then to Luis Gil’s brave finish, RSL’s first goal against Vancouver was the tops. You will see more flashy finishes, but you will see few goals constructed as sweetly. (The goal is linked and discussed here, or you can watch it at bottom of this post.)

Most important goal: A 1-0 win for the Houston Dynamo was more than just another win over 34 matches. It was sweet, sweet redemption in a building where season dreams died three of the last four years. So, tip of the hat to Andrew Driver, whose second half goal provided the difference in a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals at the Home Depot Center.

Worst scheduling: If MLS is going to stage a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals, and if MLS wants to promote the match as the weekend biggie, shouldn’t they get together with TV partners to identify a better kickoff time. I mean, 11 p.m. ET on Sunday night? For a regular season match? The do want people to watch, don’t they?

Best performances in goal: Both men were large and in charge as Week 10 opened with a scoreless draw in Portland. Timbers No. 1 Donovan Ricketts may have pulled off the save of the weekend late in Thursday’s contest at Jeld-Wen Field, but the Revs’ Bobby Shuttleworth  was sensational front to back in gathering up nine saves.

The only scoreless tie – not a bad scoreless tie: Thursday’s match at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, the opener for Round 10, was sure proof that a scoreless draw can be exciting. Quality was high, and the goalkeeping was exceptional on both sides. See above.

Most unlikely two-fer: Philadelphia’s Danny Cruz had six goals in 86 previous MLS appearances out of D.C. United’s and Philly’s midfield. So, an afternoon with two goals? Yeah, that’s a big day for the hard-charging Union man.

Biggest weekend off-field news: Robbie Rogers being spotted at LA Galaxy training camp was last week’s big talker. Well, this story is moving quickly … so the weekend’s big news off the field was Rogers saying he will probably be back in MLS. This year!

Best comeback: it came out of San Jose. And if that shocks you – well, you aren’t paying attention. This time it was against Montreal, which took a 2-0 lead … but left with just a draw after the Earthquakes hit twice in the second half.

Oddest PK failure: Landon Donovan had a second consecutive spot shot saved. Remember when the Galaxy man was Mr. Automatic on these things?

Larger PK blues in MLS: League shooters are now 4-for-12 since March. What is going on here, guys? Compare that puny rate of PK conversion to the historical rate, around 85 percent.

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Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.