Jamison Olave can dominate a game like few MLS center backs can. Everyone knows so – everyone paying attention, anyway.
The issue was never about ability for the 6-foot-3 Colombian, who looks a lot like an NFL linebacker but has the precision timing a special ops soldier, the recover speed of a college sprinter and the feet of a midfielder.
The issue with Olave has always been about staying on the field. In his first years at Real Salt Lake, Olave had anger issues, it seemed, which manifested in yellow and red cards. Those left RSL playing a man down (never helpful) and then without use of their top center back for the next contest.
Once those issues were tamed, his ability to avoid injury became the pressure point. Olave, 32, averaged 24 games a season in his five years at RSL, which is bordering on “concerning.” What was definitely concerning for RSL officials was that the number was declining, from 27 contests in 2010, then to 24 and to then 21 matches last year. So they traded Olave and his relatively high salary.
All that said, all you needed to do in order to recognize his gold-plated value was see Olave win ball after ball Sunday in the Red Bulls’ 1-0 win over the champion LA Galaxy. Even in a game with the man often identified as the league’s top center back, Galaxy man Omar Gonzalez, Olave’s performance stood out.
Here’s what Red Bulls manager Mike Petke said about the Colombian’s massive contribution in a nationally televised meeting of the league’s marquee teams. Petke wonderfully sums up what his play and his presence means for the men in Harrison:
The biggest reason we brought him here is for what he’s been doing. We don’t expect him to be the man building plays out of the back. I couldn’t care less if the ball winds up at his feet once. The way he hunts the ball, the way he reads the game, his catch-up speed is unbelievable and he’s a guy who makes a difference. From the first moment, the first tackle he gets into, he’s somebody that a forward is going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of the game. He doesn’t do it dirty, he does it very timed, and he does it well.”
The game in 100 words (or less): While one American star continues to earn more time on the pitch, another is making his presence felt as his side pushes for a playoff position. Jordan Morris’ 11 and 12th goals of the season were the difference for the Sounders on Sunday afternoon, propelling his side to within three points of the six spot in the Western Conference. Despite trailing early on, the Sounders stormed back with three second-half tallies and now have the postseason very much in sight. For the Galaxy, Bruce Arena’s group remains in third place in the West.
[ MORE: David Villa discusses MLS playoffs, Guardiola and more ]
Three four five moments that mattered
20′ – Keane smashes home header — Sebastian Lletget has played a key role for the Galaxy in 2016, and the midfielder’s cross was everything it should be to help put the the hosts out in front.
35′ — Van Damme own goal levels it up before halftime — Call it lucky but with the playoffs on the line, the Sounders need all the help they can get as the regular season winds down.
63′ — Morris stuns StubHub crowd — It’s safe to say the Sounders are happy Jordan Morris opted to play in MLS this season. The American striker not only knocked in his 11th goal of the year but this beauty of a finish also propelled the Sounders to within three points of a playoff spot.
73′ — Morris tacks one on for good measure — Was it as pretty as the first one? No. Was it timely? We’ll let you judge.
73′ — Alonso caps off win with screamer — He got a little help from the referee but Osvaldo Alonso made no mistake with this finish.
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Man of the match: Jordan Morris
Goalscorers: Robbie Keane (20′, 84′), Jelle van Damme (OG 35′), Jordan Morris (63′, 73′), Osvaldo Alonso (78′)
Antoine Griezmann was the difference for Atletico Madrid on Sunday as Atletico Madrid narrowly defeated 10-man Deportivo La Coruna, 1-0, to move up to third place in La Liga. The visitors were reduced a player prior to halftime, as Faycal Fajr was sent off in first-half stoppage time after picking up his second yellow card.
[ MORE: Schalke misery continues, Leipzig earns road point ]
A clinical first half performance from Villareal gave the hosts a 3-1 win over Osasuna, who remain at the bottom of the table. Alexandre Pato kicked off the impressive offensive display from the Yellow Submarine after five minutes, before Bruno and Nicola Sansone also tallied before halftime. Roberto Torres pulled one back for Osasuna before the break but it wasn’t enough to capture a share of the points for the road side.
After trailing inside of the opening half hour, Valencia battled back for a 2-1 win over Leganes. Alexander Szymanowski handed the hosts the lead after 21 minutes, but it was Nani and Mario Suarez that had the final say for Valencia as they wound up with the points on the day. The victory pulls Valencia out of the relegation zone temporarily, with the club currently sitting on six points in as many matches.
It looked like the two sides were on pace for a share of the points, but late stoppage time finishes from Giuseppe Rossi and Pione Sisto gave Celta Vigo a 2-0 win over Espanyol. Rossi, who entered the match in the second half, knocked Celta into the lead in the 91st minute, before Sisto doubled the lead two minutes later.
Everything about Manchester City’s start to the 2016/17 Premier League season has been right, and Bacary Sagna is already praising the squad’s biggest attacking threat.
[ MORE: Podolski displeased with Mourinho’s treatment of Schweinsteiger ]
With the Citizens already on 18 points and unbeaten in their opening six matches, the veteran defender was quick to note the importance of Argentine striker Sergio Aguero — who has already notched five tallies.
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Aguero, 28, has posted nine straight double-digit goalscoring seasons, dating back to his time in La Liga with Atletico Madrid. Last season, the Argentine netted 29 goals across all competitions, including 24 finishes in the PL.
“He is one of the best players I have played with, not just because he scores goals but also because of his attitude – he always wants to give his maximum for his team and bring the team up,” Sagna said of Aguero’s effort.
“His two goals showed his class. He has such desire in front of the box, and in the box itself. He is great.”
The Jose Mourinho-Bastian Schweinsteiger relationship is a very puzzling situation for Manchester United, and most outsiders appear to be taking the German’s side.
[ MORE: De Bruyne sidelined a month with hamstring injury ]
Former teammate Lukas Podolski has chimed in on the matter, pointing out Schweinsteiger’s decorated career for both club and country.
[ MORE: Lewis Baker stuns Twente with long-distance golazo ]
Since the arrival of Mourinho this summer, the Portuguese manager has made it clear that the 32-year-old isn’t his plans, including dropping Schweinsteiger to United’s reserves.
Podolski recently spoke to Bild about the situation:
“When you look at the career Bastian has had, I can only say that what is happening there is simply not right for a player of his stature,” Podolski said.
“I do not know what Mourinho has discussed with Bastian. But is clear that it is not okay to drop someone like Basti to the reserves.
“A coach should always keep his door open to all players, and especially to players like Schweini.”
While Schweinsteiger’s contract doesn’t run out until 2018, the volatile relationship between the Red Devils midfielder and Mourinho certainly looks to be one that won’t last much longer.