MLS Week in Review – Round 18

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Quite a weekend in MLS, with wild finishes and results that had two prominent manager blowing their stacks!

Let’s get into it …

West is best: At least for Round 18. Five matches featured a team from the Eastern Conference vs. a team from the West. The left coast went 3-0-2 in those matches, even though four were played in Eastern Conference grounds. That West-leaning record includes road wins by Real Salt Lake, Vancouver and Colorado. FC Dallas drew in Philadelphia. The only dent, such as it was, in that mark was Chivas USA’s draw at home with New England.

Coach blowing his stack, East Coast Version: If you want to see a man under intense pressure, watch the way D.C. United manager Ben Olsen handles himself in the post-game press conference. Olsen was incensed that referee Matthew Foerster adjudged a penalty area foul on young goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Vancouver’s resulting spot shot was the only goal in a 1-0 Whitecaps win at RFK Stadium. So, was Olsen right to go all whacko? We’ll have more later today … but do consider that his team is in last place and was just shut out for the 11th time in 17 matches. That’s a hint on what’s to come.

Coach blowing his stack, West Coast Version: Man, on man, anybody want to be a player at LA Galaxy practices this week? They could get nasty, because Bruce Arena was one unhappy two-time defending champion camper. His team went up 2-0 Saturday on California rival San Jose and probably should have put the game in its back pocket with other chances. But …

“I’m absolutely embarrassed at that performance, it’s disgraceful.” Those were Arena’s words not long after the Earthquakes scored the third goal in stoppage time, harkening back to all those 2012 stoppage time comebacks.

The comebacks: The Earthquakes’ 3-2 win over L.A. wasn’t the only big rally worth talking about. Montreal took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 at home over Colorado, but Oscar Pareja’s men dug in with two late goals for a 4-3 win over Montreal.

Dallas was down a man and a down a goal on the road when Blas Perez scored deep into stoppage time

The Rapids’ rookie parade: Will the Rookie of the Year race be an all-DSG Park affair? Versatile midfielder Dillon Powers must be in the conversation; he had a goal an assist Saturday as his fine season moves forward. But so should forward Deshorn Brown be in the running; he struck for his fourth goal of 2013.

The week’s big off-field news: Before the summer transfers from abroad start trickling in, how about one who is staying around? A darn good one, too. That’s Graham Zusi, who signed a new deal with Sporting Kansas City late last week. It’s a smart move to tie up a guy who keeps improving, protecting their asset and doing all they can to keep a good U.S. star at home.

source:  We assume the Houston Dynamo WILL score again this year: But, who knows? They were just shut out for the fourth consecutive match in the 2-0 loss at New York.

The next call for goal-line technology: We get these from time to time. In this case, justice appeared to be done, because FC Dallas was wrongly denied a goal late against Philly … but did squeeze one past the Union defense late to manage the draw anyway. You be the judge. The telling photo is on the right as Sheanon Williams clears Blas Perez’s ball from just behind the line.

The big crowds: Red Bull Arena was sold out for a 2-0 win over Houston. It may not sound like anything worth shouting about, but they tend to fill that swell building less than you think. Across the country, 50,028 were at Stanford Stadium to see the Earthquakes rally against the Galaxy. Presumably, they do know that David Beckham isn’t playing anymore.

The weekend’s top goal: Watch the two superb touches from Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara – and consider that he is running at top speed as he collects that original ball. Enjoy.

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LIVE – Arsenal v. Man City in FA Cup semifinal

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Arsenal and Manchester City clash in an FA Cup semifinal on Sunday at Wembley which promises to be a case of all-out attack.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola met earlier this month with their teams drawing 2-2 at the Emirates Stadium in an end-to-end encounter.

The winner of this semifinal will play Chelsea in the FA Cup final on May 27 at Wembley after Antonio Conte‘s side beat Tottenham 4-2 on Saturday.

In team news Arsenal stick with the 3-4-2-1 formation they used at Middlesbrough with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil off Olivier Giroud.

City line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Sergio Aguero up top and Leroy Sane, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne off him.

Click on the link above to follow live coverage of what promises to be an entertaining semifinal, while here at Pro Soccer Talk we will have plenty more reaction and analysis after the game too.

STREAM LIVE: Burnley host injury-hit Man United

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Burnley host Manchester United on Sunday (Watch live, 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at fortress Turf Moor with the Clarets in search of yet another huge scalp.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Sean Dyche‘s men have already beat the likes of Everton and Liverpool at home this season and one more victory should all but secure their Premier League status and first-ever consecutive seasons in the PL.

As for United, Jose Mourinho’s squad is depleted and after the news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo both suffered “significant knee ligaments injuries” in the Europa League quarterfinal clash against Anderlecht the Red Devils’ resources have been stretched even further.

In team news Burnley stick with a solid 4-4-2 formation as Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray play up top, with former United duo Tom Heaton and Michael Keane also starting.

United make eight changes and line up with what looks like a three-man central defense given that Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Rojo are all missing, while Wayne Rooney starts up top and captains United.

LINEUPS

Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Boyd, Barton, Hendrick, Brady; Gray, Barnes. Subs: Flanagan, Westwood, Defour, Tarkowski, Gudmundsson, Agyei, Pope

Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Blind; Young, Herrera, Pogba, Fellaini, Lingard; Martial, Rooney. Subs: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Shaw, Carrick, Mkhitaryan, Rashford

Barcelona leaves Neymar out of ‘El Clasico’ v Real Madrid

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MADRID (AP) Barcelona has decided to leave Neymar out of the decisive “clasico” against Real Madrid because of the legal uncertainty over an appeal to overturn his suspension.

The club had taken all legal measures to try to clear the player for Sunday’s match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, but ended up not including him in the squad because there had been no ruling on its latest appeal by Sunday morning.

Barcelona’s first appeal was rejected by the Spanish football federation last week, but the club was also trying to reverse the suspension through a local sports tribunal.

The club released a statement on Sunday criticizing the tribunal for not making a decision on the case in time for the match.

The tribunal said Saturday that while it had not yet had the opportunity to consider the appeal, that did not mean the striker was cleared to play.

Neymar was handed a two-game suspension for sarcastically applauding an assistant referee after being sent off in a 2-0 loss at Malaga on April 8.

The two-match ban was in addition to the one-game suspension he was automatically required to serve for the red card. The Brazilian had already sat out one match.

Two-time champion Barcelona also won’t have the injured Rafinha and Aleix Vidal, who have long-term injuries.

Madrid, seeking its first title since 2012, is expected to welcome the return of Gareth Bale, who had been sidelined because of a muscle injury.

Madrid enters Sunday’s game with a three-point lead over Barcelona. Madrid also has a game in hand.

MLS roundup: FCD win battle of unbeatens; POR rebound vs. VAN

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With seven MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 27 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage

FC Dallas 1-0 Sporting Kansas City

The only two remaining unbeaten teams faced off in Frisco on Saturday, and only one came out still unblemished. FCD dominated in the two most important facets of the game — chances created, and goals.

Maynor Figueroa scored the game’s only goal, a 77th-minute header to put home Michael Barrios’ floated cross toward the back post. If not for the (increasingly typical) heroics of Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia (five saves), FCD would have already been 3-0 or 4-0 in front by that point. Sporting’s only shot on target didn’t arrive until the 47th minute, and it was far from a clear-cut chance, as Jimmy Medranda fired from the corner of the 18-yard box and hardly tested Jesse Gonzalez with the effort.

The win sees FCD move to six games unbeaten to start the season (three wins, three draws), while Sporting suffer their first defeat in seven games.


Portland Timbers 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Darlington Nagbe and Darren Mattocks bagged goals for Portland, who wasted little time in bouncing back from last weekend’s home defeat to Sporting. Nagbe’s goal, a stunner from outside the penalty area (WATCH HERE) opened the scoring in the 18th minute, and Mattocks made it 2-0 five minutes before halftime.

Fredy Montero scored his third goal in two games to bring Vancouver back to 2-1 just before the hour mark, but that’s as close as the visitors would get.

Diego Valeri was carried off the field in the 80th minute, which is the worst scare that Timbers fans could have possibly imagined, though the Argentine superstar told reporters after the game that he was feeling much better.


Real Salt Lake 1-3 Atlanta United

The honeymoon period is over for Mike Petke who, after back-to-back wins to open his tenure as RSL head coach, suffered his first defeat since taking over for Jeff Cassar five games into the season.

A series of comedic errors doomed RSL just about from the start, as Hector Villalba (9th minute) and Yamil Asad (46th), two of Atlanta’s South American starlets, put the visitors 2-0 ahead a minute into the first half — the latter was set up by Miguel Almiron, another of the young, South American attackers at Gerardo Martino’s disposal. Albert Rusnak pulled RSL back to 2-1 in the 69th minute, but it would remain that way until second-half stoppage time, when Brandon Vazquez beat Nick Rimando for a 3-1 clincher.


New York Red Bulls 2-0 Columbus Crew SC

Columbus’s defeat away to New York went from bad, to worse, to worst, in 39 minutes’ time on Saturday. Midfield revelation Artur went off with a nasty arm injury in the 6th minute, Alex Muyl put the home side 1-0 up in the 11th minute Daniel Royer made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the 38th minute, and defensive revelation (and rookie) Alex Crognale went off injured immediately thereafter.


Houston Dynamo 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Wilmer Cabrera’s side will live and die by the form of his young attacking quartet this season. On Saturday, Erick Torres and Alberth Elis delivered the goals (read: goals) as Houston picked up a rather comfortable him win over San Jose.

Torres opened the scoring in the 9th minute, and though Elis didn’t double the advantage for another 63 minutes, the result was rarely, if ever, in doubt. San Jose managed just two shots on target (Houston had just three, for what it’s worth), as Adolfo Machado, Tyler Deric and Co. kept their first clean sheet of the season.


New England Revolution 2-2 D.C. United

In a battle of bottom-half Eastern Conference sides, New England and D.C. drew 2-2 after Lee Nguyen and a Sean Franklin own goal stalemated tallies from Jared Jeffrey and Sebastien Le Toux.