MLS Preview: LA Galaxy at Vancouver Whitecaps

Leave a comment

Is this game too early to call it a ‘must win’ for Martin Rennie? Definitely.

But the Scotsman is correct to be alarmed at the way his team have performed in recent weeks.

The Whitecaps are struggling through several growing pains, with new acquisitions taking far too long to gel. Against Real Salt Lake last weekend, Rennie didn’t mince his words when assessing his sides performance.

“The players have to decide whether they’ve got the desire or not,” Rennie said. “In my opinion, they need to apologize to the fans for that performance. They need to take a good, hard look at themselves and they need to decide if they want to be a part of the club going forward.”

Wow. Okay. So maybe hosting the two-time reigning MLS Cup champs at home is exactly what this ‘Caps team needs to snap out of the slump they find themselves in. Maybe not. Vancouver currently boast a 0-5-1 record against LA.

Vancouver sit second from bottom in the West, level on points with bottom side Seattle, but Vancouver have played one game more. They have won twice this season from nine games, both those were at home. Those wins also came in the first two games of the season. They ‘Caps haven’t won a single MLS games since March 9. No time like the present.

On the flip side, the visiting LA Galaxy have plenty of positives going in to this game. DP, captain and 2012 leading goalscorer Robbie Keane should return after missing out after he suffered an ankle injury against Sporting KC on April 20. Todd Dunivant is also close to returning as he also missed the last two games through a knock.

LA have lost just once away from home this season, a 1-0 defeat to Western conference leaders FC Dallas. With their young stars performing wonderfully of late, can they keep their place in the lineup as the experienced pros return?

With Vancouver keen to make the playoffs once again this season, a few minor tweaks here and there should do the trick. Up front the pace of Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks will give any defense problems, especially at BC Place. LA’s defense will have to be on their toes.

The Galaxy will be looking to bounce back to winning ways after their 1-0 defeat at home to the Houston Dynamo last weekend. While Vancouver will take a point. I can see a narrow win for LA in this, 2-1, as Landon Donovan continues to regain his form and fitness, Keane returns and LA try to ramp up the heat on Dallas, RSL and Portland above them in the standings.

Atlanta’s Almiron will miss at least three weeks with hamstring injury

Twitter/@SN_CA_Soccer
Leave a comment

This isn’t what Atlanta United wanted to see right before the playoffs, but the club will be praying that it gets one of its biggest stars back in time for the MLS postseason.

[ MORE: Trio of USWNT players stay in locker room for national anthem ]

Miguel Almiron has been ruled out at least three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury during Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact.

Given the projected three-week timetable, Almiron could return for the team’s final two matches of the regular season against the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC.

Meanwhile, Almiron will also likely miss out on Paraguay’s two final CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, which is a devastating blow for the country’s qualification chances. Paraguay currently sits three points behind fifth-place Argentina in South American qualifying.

In his first season in MLS, Almiron has taken the league by storm after scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists. Additionally, the 23-year-old has three game-winning goals for the expansion side, who currently sits third in the Eastern Conference.

Tackling the MLS MVP debate: Which players are for real?

Twitter/@MarkovicNeb
Leave a comment

We have a former MVP, a league newcomer and everything in between this season as MLS’ most prestigious individual award nears its end.

[ MORE: Atlanta continues home-field dominance with win vs. Impact ]

New York City FC’s David Villa is strongly in position to win his second MVP award in a row, while Diego Valeri, Josef Martinez and others chase the former Barcelona man.

PST takes a look at five serious candidates for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award this season.

David Villa

The debate starts with the NYCFC captain for a second consecutive season. “El Guaje” has come out and lit it up once more for the Bronx side and propelled his side into a prime spot to grab a first-round bye in the Eastern Conference, despite Atlanta’s hot pursuit. The biggest thing working against Villa right now is a combination of injuries and lacking finishing. The Spanish international hasn’t scored an MLS goal since August 20, making his stock fall a bit.

Diego Valeri

Is there a player hotter than Diego Valeri right now? Well, there might be one other, but we’ll talk about him in a minute. The Argentine is simply scorching MLS defenses right now, scoring in nine straight matches and lifting the Portland Timbers to within a point of the Western Conference lead. Not only has Valeri exhibited incredible finishing technique in 2017, but the 31-year-old has also recorded nine assists for Caleb Porter’s group. Valeri’s most important trait could very well be his clutch factor. The attacker has six (yes, six) game-winning finishes this season for the Timbers.

Josef Martinez

Cut the whole “he missed half the season” argument out of the equation because that argument actually helps his case. The Designated Player has scored 17 goals in 16 matches this season for newcomers Atlanta, and while the expansion side has plenty of attacking firepower, such as Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba and Yamil Asad, it’s Martinez that has proven to be the vital piece for Tata Martino and Co. down the stretch. By the way, Atlanta is 9-2-2 this season when Martinez starts for them. That’s not a coincidence.

Ignacio Piatti

These last two players won’t be sexy picks given the possibility that neither of their teams will make the postseason, but just listen to why they should be in consideration. Piatti has recorded a 25.3 percent conversion rate this season, which ranks second-highest in MLS when accounting for players that have scored 10 goals or more. The Impact have given up the second-most goals in the East this year, making it more difficult for Piatti and Co. to work

Lee Nguyen

To many, this pick will be a bit out of left field, but bear with me for a second. The 30-year-old has recorded 10 goals and 15 assists this season, making him the New England Revolution’s most dangerous attacking player because of his duel-threat abilities. Nguyen is the only player in Revolution history to record double-digit goals and assists in the same season, which further makes the case for what a historic season he is having. The Revs will need some help in order to qualify for the playoffs, but if they do, Nguyen’s stock will have to increase even more.

Report: UEFA forces PSG to sell players or risk exclusion from UCL

Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain is currently undergoing some issues within its squad, but the French giants may have bigger problems if the club fails to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play laws.

[ MORE: Arsenal knocks off West Brom behind Lacazette brace ]

The club went out and spent well over $400 million this summer when PSG acquired Neymar and Kylian Mbappe from Barcelona and Monaco, respectively, and now other major clubs throughout Europe are reportedly fed up with the team’s spending spree.

Spanish outlet El Pais has reported that PSG could face expulsion from the 2018/19 Champions League competition if the club doesn’t sell up to eight of its players.

PSG has reportedly transfer listed several big names within its roster, including Angel di Maria, Javier Pastore and Julian Draxler, while veteran Thiago Silva is also among those on the chopping block.

Given his recent spat with Neymar and others in the squad, Edinson Cavani could also be on his way out if PSG receives a bid for the Uruguayan.

There are still a few things that are unclear though about UEFA’s reported sanctions. There’s been no timetable given as to when PSG needs to comply, and more importantly, it’s hard to tell whether or not the club will actually be disciplined if they don’t sell more players in January or next summer.

Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: Lacazette brace keeps Gunners rolling

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal’s early-season struggles appear to be behind them as Arsene Wenger and Co. kept up its fine form on Monday at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger’s side took down West Bromwich Albion, 2-0, in London behind a pair of goals from Alexandre Lacazette.

[ MORE: Hemed denies intent in Yedlin stamp ]

Lacazette continued his fine scoring form on Monday, scoring his third and fourth goals at the Emirates for the Gunners.

The Frenchman found the back of the net in the 18th minute following Alexis Sanchez’s free kick, which was originally saved by West Brom keeper Ben Foster.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The Gunners then doubled their lead in the 67th minute in controversial fashion when Lacazette converted from the penalty spot.

The club’s big-money summer signing stepped up for the spot kick after Aaron Ramsey went down in the West Brom penalty area moments earlier. Baggies defender Allan Nyom was called for the foul as he shouldered Ramsey off the ball near the end line.

The Frenchman found the back of the net in the 18th minute following Alexis Sanchez’s free kick, which was originally saved by West Brom keeper Ben Foster.

Lacazette came so close to a second for the home side in the 51st minute after a brilliant build up down the left wing by Sead Kolasinac.

West Brom was furious not to have a penalty after nine minutes when it appeared that Shkodran Mustafi took down a surging Jay Rodriguez inside the Arsenal area. Rodriguez did himself no favors though after getting back up and carrying on with his run following the challenge from the Arsenal defender.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, his attempt went off the post after Petr Cech got a small touch to his shot.

[ LIVE: Stream Premier League live ]

Rodriguez was the biggest threat for West Brom on the day, with the Baggies attacker coming close to a breakthrough on several occasions.

The win for Arsenal brings the club up to seventh place in the PL, while West Brom drops one spot to 11th.