U.S. Open Cup recap: Portland, home teams advance to semifinals

2 Comments

The Portland Timbers are into the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, now without a loss in 110 days after their 3-2 win Sunday night in Dallas. Thanks to second half goals from Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, and Frederic Piquionne, Major League Soccer’s Western Conference co-leaders clinched their first semifinal birth, with goals from Je-Vaughn Watson and Blas Pérez not enough to keep Schellas Hyndman’s team in the competition.

Wednesday wins by Real Salt Lake, D.C. United, and the Chicago Fire make for an all MLS semifinal, with Chicago to host D.C. on one half of the bracket, RSL welcoming Portland on the other.

Portland three goals came in an 11-minute span of the second half, with the Timbers getting their first ever Texas win thanks in large part of a goal and an assist from Darlington Nagbe. His 61st minute equalize came two minutes before assisting on Valeri’s go-ahead tally, with Piquionne’s fifth goal of the tournament taking advantage of a Walker Zimmerman error for the eventual game-winner.

The Timbers’ victory sets up an August matchup with the Western Conference’s other leaders, with Real Salt Lake rolling to a 3-0 win over the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks. Tony Beltran’s first half bomb (25-26 yards) broke through a conservative RailHawk setup and sent the home side into half time up one, with second half scores from Chris Wingert and Alvaro Saborio continuing RSL’s quest for their first U.S. Open Cup title.

In the other half of the bracket, D.C. United started the night with a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution, with second half goals from Dwayne De Rosario and Lionard Pajoy breaking a deadlock formed after Juan Carlos Toja equalized Chris Pontius’s late first half opener.

Pontius opened the scoring in with a clean up goal after a half of D.C. dominance before Toja pulled the Revolution even with a free kick. Playing with Pontius for the first time this season, De Rosario headed home his fourth goal of the competition before Pajoy converted from the spot to give D.C. a two-goal win.

United will travel to Chicago in the semifinals, with the Fire ending the Cinderella run of third division Orlando City SC with a 5-1 win.  The USL PRO side had brief hope when a second half goal from Rob Valentino pulled back Chris Rolfe’s sixth minute opener. A bit of flash from Patrick Nyarko killed the visitor’s mounting momentum, with a follow-up goal from Rolfe putting the home side up two just after the hour mark.

The match’s final half hour featured two Orlando red cards (Yann Songo’o, Adama Mbenge) along with goals by Mike Magee and Joel Lindpere.

UEFA Champions League semifinal predictions

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League to kick off over the next few days, let’s take a look at both games and predict which teams will make it to the final in Kiev on May 26.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

Liverpool or Roma? Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?

Here’s the lowdown as two eagerly anticipated games take center stage across Europe.


Liverpool vs. AS Roma
First leg: Apr. 24, 2:45 p.m. ET at Anfield
Second leg: May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET at Stadio Olimpico

This should be one heck of a tie with defending optional for both teams but both have very different ways of playing. Jurgen Klopp will unleash the fluid trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on an often brittle Roma defense but the Italian giants have a giant in their own up top in the shape of Edin Dzeko. How Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s defense deal with the threat of Dzeko will likely decide the outcome of this game. Liverpool will look to feed off the famous Anfield atmosphere to wrack up a big first leg lead before they head to Roma for Leg 2, and I fancy Salah to blow his old team away in the first leg. Liverpool to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
First leg: Apr. 25, 2:45 p.m. ET at Allianz Arena
Second leg: May 1, 2:45 p.m. ET at Santiago Bernabeu

A proper heavyweight clash as Bayern and Real do battle knowing that whoever wins will be the favorites in the final. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his life (again) after a slow start to this season and Zinedine Zidane’s side made hard work of it against Juventus in the last round but are on course for a third-straight UCL trophy. As for Bayern, they have been in imperious form and you feel like Robert Lewandowski can get the better of Real’s center backs. Expect this to be a tight game with extremely high quality from both teams. Real being at home in the second leg is a big advantage. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate. 

Cologne’s Hector extends contract despite likely relegation

AP
Leave a comment

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Germany defender Jonas Hector has shunned reported interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by extending his contract with Cologne – despite the club’s almost certain relegation from the Bundesliga.

Cologne, eight points from safety with three games remaining, says its 27-year-old captain has signed a two-year extension to 2023 instead of using a release clause in his contract.

Hector, who has been at the club since 2010, says, “It wouldn’t have been a problem to switch to another club after this season but it didn’t feel right for me. I belong to Cologne and want to tackle the new season with the team and the fans behind us.”

Cologne sporting director Armin Veh says Hector’s decision is, “a great signal for the team, the club and our fans.”

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.