Just when you think the Columbus Crew or the Colorado Rapids have sorted themselves out and are ready to push up the standings, they falter.
Inconsistency has been the buzz word for both camps during the 2013 campaign.
The Crew’s 12-game unbeaten run at home came to an end last weekend, after New York handed them a 1-0 defeat. While the Rapids recorded their third 1-0 win of the season against Toronto thanks to a late Edson Buddle goal.
However the visiting Rapids have also lost three contests by the familiar 1-0 scoreline. Oscar Pareja’s second year as an MLS head coach is going smoothly. Though his Rapids side are certainly not as dynamic or explosive going forward as they were for vast swathes of last season.
But that is probably for the better. Rookie goalkeeper Clint Irwin has been a sensation. I have had the great pleasure of knowing Clint while he was with the Charlotte Eagles in the USL and he is a player that has truly grabbed his chance with both hands. Yet another clean sheet last week proved his great shot-stopping ability. He is sure to be there or there abouts in the Rookie of the season awards if he keeps this form up. And another promising youngster, Shane O’Niell, is quietly turning into a top notch defender. The future looks bright for the Rapids and they should see a trip to Columbus as a chance to return home with at least a draw.
As for Columbus, they have struggled to reignite the rampant offense that almost propelled them to a playoff spot during the second half of last season. Federico Higuain has been isolated in attack this season and Jairo Arrieta hasn’t got going. But if those two can get anywhere close to the form they displayed in 2012, Columbus can push themselves up the Eastern conference. One bright spot for Columbus has been Dominic Oduro. The former Chicago Fire striker has scored four times from eight shots on goal this season, a solid off-season pickup.
These two clubs are MLS originals and have been playoff foes in recent years. Colorado won on both occasions, so Columbus are out for some revenge against the Rocky Mountain outfit. All-time there have been 36 meetings between the two sides, with the Crew winning 11, Colorado taking 17 and eight draws. Columbus have won eight of the 18 matches at Crew Stadium, with Colorado taking six.
All that points to a lively encounter between two old adversaries. The Crew are desperate to get back to winning ways after last weeks defeat, as Higuain’s PK miss left a bad taste in the mouth. While Colorado’s solid back line is littered with youngsters and experienced heads and will be buoyed after another shutout. The combination has worked nicely so far but something tells me the Rapids will come unstuck in Ohio on Saturday, a blowout win for Columbus is on the cards.
SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.
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Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.
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Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.
Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.
Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.
Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.
Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.
“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”
Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.
Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.
With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.
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The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.
“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”
Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.
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Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.
Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.
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According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.
Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.
Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.
ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.
In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.
Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.
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Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.
Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.