New England Revolution v Seattle Sounders

MLS preview: San Jose Earthquakes at New England

Leave a comment
  • San Jose is playing on the road for the second time in four nights
  • Temperatures in the area will climb into the 90s, so conditions on the artificial turf could be downright brutal at kickoff
  • New England must replace injured striker Juan Agudelo

After that soft opening to 2013, when goals were so doggone hard to come by, New England has stabilized and pulled into mid-pack status in the East.

Riding the offensive surge of young Diego Fagundez and the tight defense of Jose Goncalves (starting to pick up some mentions as possible MLS Defender of the Year), Jay Heaps’ team is 3-1-3 in MLS matches since mid-May.

San Jose’s mini-revival of late is more humble, still. But it is a mini-revival. Two wins in four tries under interim manager Mark Watson (especially considering the other two contests were one-goal setbacks on the road) have breathed some fresh life into the bunch from Buck Shaw.

The timing, on the other hand, cannot be to San Jose’s liking. When the kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Gillette Stadium, it will be the Earthquakes second road date in four nights.

Considering temperatures expected to climb into the 90s in the Boston area on Saturday, conditions on the artificial turf at Gillette could be brutal – especially for the team that traveled in on Thursday.

While San Jose copes with potential fatigue, New England has been idle since last week’s 1-1 draw at Chivas USA.

The Revs will, however, deal with the business of replacing injured striker Juan Agudelo. Heaps’ choices to oppose big San Jose center back Victor Bernardez include Chad Barrett, Dimitry Imbongo and Jerry Bengtson.  Heaps could also move Saer Sene further ahead in the formation; he has been playing along the outside.

Barrett has been a nice addition on the bench lately, making a strong case for the start. Then again, by doing so Heaps would remove his top option for a striker who can clearly be effective off the bench. The MLS journeyman has two goals in four games since returning from a hamstring injury.

Watson’s striker pairing should be well-rested, at least. Alan Gordon and Adam Jahn played up front in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Toyota Park, leaving Steven Lenhart fresh for Saturday. Shea Salinas also returns from suspension.

MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski and speedy winger Marvin Chavez are not available, away on Gold Cup duty.

“Any time we set off on a road trip and are missing five starters from the match before, you are behind the 8-ball already,” ‘Quakes center back Jason Hernandez said. “We are lucky we have a good team that has guys that can fill those holes. But it’s a battle.  It’s going to take another strong effort mentally and physically in Boston and we’re going to have to keep grinding and push for a win because time is running short.”

We’ve already mentioned the pair to watch in particular for the Revs: Fagundez, just 18, is already in his third MLS season. He has five goals and four assists this year from that outside attacking spot in the Revs’ 4-1-4-1 preferred system, continuing to improve while brimming with even greater potential.

On the other hand, he can be thoughtlessly sloppy and inconsistent at times – or, exactly what you’d expect from an 18-year-old still learning the tricks of mental focus.

And then there is Goncalves, a big reason the Revs are 2-0-1 lately at Gillette without allowing a goal in that time.

The official league preview, stacked with facts, is here.

League Cup roundup: Middlesbrough and Burnley fall to lower league foes

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Adam Forshaw of Middlesbrough is challenged by Tim Ream of Fulham during the EFL Cup second round match between Fulham and Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage on August 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sunderland, Bournemouth, and Burnley all advanced to the League Cup third round, while Middlesbrough dropped out after finding themselves bested in extra-time.

A strong Boro lineup still saw its goal pummeled all evening by Fulham’s young squad, and Lasse Vigen Christensen won it in extra time with an assist from American youngster Luca de la Torre to complete the 2-1 scoreline. Middlesbrough went ahead early on an 8th minute header by David Nugent, but they were on the back foot the rest of the match. Scott Malone forced a Boro own-goal for the equalizer shortly after halftime, and Christensen won it seven minutes before penalties. The win for Fulham means they are unbeaten through five matches this season across Championship and League Cup play.

Burnley also went to extra-time after a scoreless full 90 minutes, and they were stunned by a goal from Accrington Stanley’s Matt Pearson in the 122nd minute, just ticks before penalties to down the Clarets 1-0. It was a dull match up to that point, and the League Two side earned its first-ever victory over a Premier League side in cup play with the late winner.

Bournemouth nudged past League Two side Morecambe 2-1 thanks to goals from Max Gradel and Marc Wilson, although Morecambe had leveled things for a bit between the two Cherries’ goals.

Sunderland also saw themselves through thanks to Adnan Januzaj‘s first goal for the Black Cats, an 83rd minute strike to down League One side Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. The match was a relatively even affair until Januzaj’s late goal, but Sunderland likely deserved to win on number of chances, with Patrick van Anholt having the best prior opportunity just before halftime with a rocket saved by Jason Leutwiler.

Champions League playoff roundup: Man City eases through, Ajax bounced

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Joe Hart of Manchester City looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Play-off Second Leg match between Manchester City and Steaua Bucharest at Etihad Stadium on August 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The result was never in doubt for Manchester City after a 6-0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest in the first leg, but the Premier League side made it official as they eased into the group stage with a 0-0 second leg result at the Etihad.

Joe Hart started and played what could be his final match in a City shirt, with Pep Guardiola handing him potentially one last showing in front of the home fans. The fan favorite received a thunderous welcome from the home fans who understood the situation.

Guardiola rested Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva but still put forth a strong side, and Fabian Delph‘s 58th minute goal sent Man City home with an easy victory and clean sheet. There was a scary moment when Kelechi Iheanacho appeared to pull up lame with a hamstring injury, and then suddenly passed out on the field, but he came to just before a Bucharest player was about to attempt to resuscitate him. The young striker was brought off in favor of Fernandinho in the 75th minute.

Also through easily is Borussia Monchengladbach, with a 6-1 home win over Young Boys to complete a 9-2 aggregate victory. Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring just nine minutes in with a solid bit of skill, and Raffael continued his solid run of form with a hat-trick to easy the Germans through. Hazard would eventually cap off a hat-trick in the 84th minute as well.

In the surprise of the round, Dutch giants Ajax saw themselves bow out of the Champions League following a 4-1 aggregate defeat to last year’s Russian Premier League runners up FC Rostov. The spot in the group stage was there for the taking after a 1-1 first leg in the Netherlands, but Ajax was hammered on Wednesday 4-1 in Russia. Rostov managed four goals with four different goalscorers, including Ecudorian international Christian Noboa. The visitors, meanwhile, didn’t even manage a shot on target until the 73rd minute.

FC Koln needed a late equalizer to send them through over APOEL Nicosia, as Paraguayan international Federico Santander scored in the 86th minute to level the match at 1-1 and give the visitors a 2-1 aggregate win. Finally, Dinamo Zagreb completed a stunning comeback, scoring twice after the 87th minute to beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 on the day in Austria and 3-2 on aggregate. Junior Fernandes scored in the 87th to level things at 1-1 and requiring extra time. Then Algerian international El Arabi Hilal Soudani bagged the winner in the 97th minute, sending the Croatians through to the group stage.

Coleman explains why he stayed as Wales coach, rejected Hull

ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - OCTOBER 10: Head coach Chris Coleman of Wales celebrates after the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Wales at the Stadium Bilino Polje in Elbasan on October 10, 2015. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chris Coleman says he chose to remain as Wales manager despite interest from Premier League side Hull because he’s in a job that is “close to his heart.”

The Football Association of Wales rejected an approach for Coleman from Hull this month, with the Welshman deciding to stay on rather than resigning.

Coleman, who guided Wales to the European Championship semifinals against the odds, said on Wednesday that “if someone comes and it’s the Premier League, anybody, you kind of look at it sideways. Of course.”

But, Coleman added, managing your country “comes around once, if you’re lucky.”

Coleman has made no secret of his desire to manage in club football in the future, but says “what I’ve got here is something very special and close to my heart.”

FOLLOW LIVE: The UEFA Champions League finds its last five group stage teams

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Joe Hart of Manchester City warms up prior to the UEFA Champions League Play-off Second Leg match between Manchester City and Steaua Bucharest at Etihad Stadium on August 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Who’s going to join Porto, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic as playoff teams to join the UEFA Champions League group stage?

The biggest names of Wednesday’s slate are cruising after their first legs, with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach putting five and three goals on the board, respectively.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. roundup ]

Could the match be Joe Hart‘s last for City? The longtime backstop gets the call with the transfer window a week away.

In the other three cases, things are wide open. Rostov plays Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg faces Dinamo Zagreb, and APOEL lines up Copenhagen.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League slateFOLLOW LIVE

Borussia Monchengladbach (3) vs. (1) BSC Young Boys
Rostov (1) vs. (1) Ajax
Red Bull Salzburg (1) vs. (1) Dinamo Zagreb
APOEL (0) vs. (1) Copenhagen
Manchester City (5) vs. Steaua Bucuresti (0)