MLS Preview: Colorado Rapids at San Jose Earthquakes

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This game isn’t going to be a thing of beauty.

But that’s okay, you just know there will be a few late goals in this one. Hopefully.

The San Jose Earthquakes will be looking to bounce back quickly, after suffering that humiliating capitulation in last weekends 4-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders.

San Jose have yet to reach the heights of last seasons Supporters’ Shield winning season. Not even close. But Saturday produces the opportunity to right a few wrongs and kick-start their season.

However Colorado probably aren’t the team Frank Yallop’s men would have picked to face on Saturday. The Rapids have won four of their last six and are just finding ways to get it done, by hook or by crook. Edson Buddle is gradually getting back to full fitness (although he will miss this clash due to suspension) and their staunch defensive displays has won them plenty of plaudits.

(More: Colorado Rapids; the MLS team we aren’t talking enough about)

Revenge will also be a key factor. Last season San Jose annihilated Colorado.  They won all three games they played, outscoring the Rapids 10-3, with two 4-1 wins reflecting their dominance in the series.

Not sure if we’re going to get a game like that this weekend. I hope so. But Colorado are much harder to break down this campaign.

The ‘Quakes have won just once in their last eight matches and currently sit fifth in the West with 12 points from 14 games. Last weekends 4-0 loss to Seattle was their worst loss since losing by the same scoreline to Real Salt Lake on July 23, 2011.

Marvin Chavez, Adam Jahn and Steven Lenhart could all return for San Jose, as they hope to get back to winning ways.

San Jose’s ‘keeper Jon Busch hopes their rough patch is the making of them. “To be honest, this is a good test for us. Adversity is a great thing,” Busch said. “You find out the strength of a man through adversity — not when things are good, when things are tough. And that’s where we are right now … We’re going to be fine. We’ve just got to tighten some things up.”

(More: MLS Salary Profiles, San Jose Earthquakes)

While Colorado have no such problems. Rookie ‘keeper Clint Irwin has grabbed his chance with both hands, pardon the pun, and has established himself as a top ‘keeper in Matt Pickens’ absence through injury.

Colorado are 4-1-1 since April 6, with four shutouts in that time. They are stubborn and San Jose will have to work hard to break them down.

What we are going to see at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday (10:30pm ET) is a battle of will and determination. There is no way San Jose can continue to give up soft goals and expect to win. So they will be solid, but so will Colorado. The Rapids have only lost twice on the road this season — 1-0 losses to both LA and FC Dallas — and they can cause an upset here.

I think San Jose will leave it late, as always, whether they can get in behind Colorado I’m not so sure. It’s going to be a closely contested tie but the Earthquakes could squeeze it at a push.

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

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Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.