A few quick leftovers from Tuesday night’s win in Seattle:
- The players are having their “regeneration” day in Seattle; the plane pulls out tomorrow, bound for Salt Lake City. (SLC, by the way, is 4,200 feet above sea level, so five days of acclimation could be helpful.)
- U.S. Soccer says crowd of 40,847 at CenturyLink was the seventh largest for U.S. World Cup qualifier at home.
- Seeing as DaMarcus Beasley (pictured) picked up his second yellow card and will miss next week’s match against Honduras, my early guess would be Fabian Johnson sliding back into his old left back spot. Then again, Edgar Castillo is there, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s personnel adjustments Tuesday indicate a regard to keep as many men in their same positions as possible. Clearly, we have a few days to sort that one out.
- The updated list of U.S. men on yellow card warning now: Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Tim Howard and Fabian Johnson. I know ESPN’s Taylor Twellman talked about the short leash in World Cup qualifiers, where two yellow cards result in a one-game suspension. He called it ridiculous. But the way I see it … Don’t get yellow cards! Behave! There should be a price for professional fouls, for instance. This is big boy soccer.
- Besides, it tests these teams’ depth. This way, qualifying for the World Cup becomes a little more about a nation’s best 18-20 players, not about the best 14 or 15.
- Stuart Holden appearance was his first in a qualifier since facing Costa Rica back on Oct. 14, 2009. Who doesn’t continue to be excited about this guy getting his international groove back?
- The United States is now unbeaten in 24 consecutive home contests in World Cup qualifying.
(MORE: Which U.S. men have already locked up World Cup roster spots?)
The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.
[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]
Three moments that mattered
16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.
33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.
43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.
Man of the match: Luke Mulholland
Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)
Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.
[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]
United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.
All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]
Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.
You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.
[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.
[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.
The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.
Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.