MLS Preview: Montreal Impact at Toronto FC

Leave a comment
  • Toronto are 1-2-1 against Montreal since the Impact joined MLS
  • TFC have conceded just three goals in their last five games
  • Marco Di Vaio leads MLS with 10 goals, Montreal have scored just eight away from home all season.

On the eve of Independence Day in the USA, one heck of a battle is set to ensue north of the border in Canada.

There will be no love lost between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact tonight, as the fierce rivals square off at BMO Field.

Montreal have had the upper-hand so far this season after winning their MLS encounter at the Olympic Stadium 2-1 early in the season, before rallying to beat Ryan Nelsen’s men 6-2 on aggregate in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals.

Toronto will be without Kyle Bekker, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio who are all on Gold Cup duty for the Canadian national team. Montreal have no such worries, although veteran defender Alessandro Nesta could have inadvertently announced his retirement from soccer at the end of this season ahead of the clash.

But TFC did have a boost earlier this week, as Scottish defender Steven Caldwell signed a new contract with Toronto after impressing during his short-term loan with the club. Caldwell, 32, has helped shore up TFC’s defense, who have conceded just three times in their last five games. During that stretch Toronto have a 1-2-2 record.

A win for the Reds tonight, watch on TSN in Canada from 7pm ET, would see them close the gap on Chicago to just three points but they have scored a measly nine goals at home all season, only D.C. United have scored fewer home goals in the whole of MLS.

Meanwhile Montreal are coming off the back of a wild defeat to the Colorado Rapids, as Tony Cascio’s dramatic late winner stunned the Eastern conference leaders. That 4-3 defeat to Colorado was down to defensive mistakes, according to head coach Marco Schällibaum. “My team had intensity, heart and a will to win,” he said. “But individual mistakes cost us the tie, and they’re a part of football. Maybe we wanted the win too much, but that’s my team: we absolutely wanted the three points.” Meanwhile Schällibaum was handed a one-game ban by the MLS Disciplinary Committee after his actions on the bench during the defeat.

No doubt Montreal will be favorites for the three points tonight, but after TFC dominated for large spells but couldn’t find the net against Real Salt Lake last time out, maybe their luck will change and a huge win in the 401 Derby.

OTHER NOTES: Since coming to MLS, the Impact have not won in Toronto, with two losses and a draw in three meetings in all competitions at BMO Field.

Reports: Liverpool reject latest Barcelona offer for Coutinho

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona has reportedly upped its offer for the services of Philippe Coutinho. But the response from Liverpool has remained the same.

According to multiple reports, Liverpool has rejected a third Barcelona offer for Coutinho, believed to be worth up to $151.5 million. Coutinho put in a transfer request a week ago but Liverpool has remained firm on its desire to keep Coutinho for this season. Liverpool has not yet publicly commented on Barcelona’s latest transfer bid.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Coutinho meanwhile is still off the field for Liverpool due to a back injury, the club states.

“Phil is not available; he is not training so far, so there is nothing new,” manager Jurgen Klopp told reporters. “It is always how it is with injured players, there is no real time on when he is back.”

The Brazilian midfielder signed a new five-year contract with Liverpool just last January and the deal doesn’t have a buy-out clause. But should Liverpool accept a new bid for Coutinho, he’d become the second-most expensive transfer behind fellow Brazilian Neymar.

It’s unclear whether Barcelona will shift focus to other targets such as Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele or Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann as a replacement for Neymar.

Conte can’t stop laughing when asked about Costa

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was asked for his thoughts on Diego Costa‘s latest comments on the club-player impasse. When he heard a reporter say Costa felt he was being treated like a criminal, Conte lost his composure and began laughing.

Conte spent a good 20 seconds giggling during the question before responding, saying “I can tell you that everyone who was in Chelsea knows what happened last season with Diego.

“I’m not interested to continue this issue.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Diego Costa has held out from Chelsea training to stay in his native Brazil after being told to train with the reserves ahead of the 2017-2018 Premier League season. Costa has made clear his desire to leave Chelsea for a return to Atletico Madrid, but Costa claims that Chelsea are asking for an absurd transfer fee, which prices Atleti out of the market.

[ Costa: Chelsea “won’t decide my fate”]

It’s unclear as to what’s next in the transfer saga, but it’s looking more and more likely that it will come down to the final hours of the transfer window. Complicating matters is that Costa’s preferred destination, Atletico Madrid, is banned from signing players during this transfer window and can’t add new pieces until January.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Tottenham set to make Ajax’s Sanchez its record signing

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham look set to break the bank on one of the world’s most exciting defensive prospects.

According to a report in the Guardian, Tottenham and Ajax have agreed on a $54.1 million transfer fee for centerback Davinson Sanchez. The Colombian international only joined Ajax a year ago but led the backline to the Europa League final, where Ajax fell to Manchester United.

Spurs officials reportedly traveled to Amsterdam earlier this week to sort out a deal to bring Sanchez back to London. It’s believed to be a $36 million transfer with add-on clauses worth around $18 million.

Sanchez will add more speed and strength to one of the Premier League’s best backlines, giving Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen a partner to play with in a back three.

Here’s some more news from around the Premier League:

(more…)

Costa: Chelsea “won’t decide my fate”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As each day passes, the impasse between Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Diego Costa grows.

Costa is continuing to holdout from Chelsea after being asked to train with the reserves and has made clear his preference to transfer back to his former club, Atletico Madrid. But in his latest comments to ESPN Brazil, Costa said that Chelsea are asking for a transfer fee that’s well above what Atletico can afford.

[ LIVE: Stream Premier League live ]

“Chelsea offered me to several clubs,” Costa said. “But I was very clear with them. They said that since I’m not part of the coach’s plans, I want to choose my destiny. For them they have made more money, I will not let them decide my destiny. Even because when I came to Chelsea they paid well below the proposal that is coming now. I think they have to be aware and see everything I’ve done.”

It’s easy to feel sympathetic for Costa and his situation. He said in the interview that he’s struggled with English and as such, has had to rely on people at the club to take care of a lot of tasks. In Madrid, a country he’s received citizenship from and a city and language he’s comfortable with, he doesn’t have these worries.

But for all the good will he earned, Costa also painted himself in a bad light later in that response to a question about what the deadlock was about with Chelsea.

“It’s not my fault I’m not there,” Costa said. “If it was up to me, I’d be playing. There’s already (been) a month. Holiday is good, but it gets boring. I did not cause this situation. Since this is where the club has to think in two ways. Of course they have to have a payback, as I have given sportily and financially as well. After three years you will receive an amount above what you paid.”

Costa though did provide some insight. It had been believed over the past week or so that Costa would only move to Atletico Madrid, but the Brazilian-born Spanish international forward clarified that statement, saying he’d prefer to go to Atletico but if Atletico can’t afford him or can’t figure out a deal to sign him and get around the club’s transfer ban, he’d be open to going to another European club.

“I have already shown my affection and my interest in playing for Atletico,” Costa said. “But if they, Athletic and Chelsea did not reach an agreement and they [Athletic] do not force a move, I can not be wanting to play in a club that does not want to make a greater effort. I know that this will happen. If it is to pay as much as Chelsea want [the transfer], it is not possible. You must see this. What I know is that the proposal to come will exceed that Chelsea paid when he brought me. And I gave back in every way.”