MLS Preview: Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union

2 Comments
  • Chivas USA are on a 13 game winless streak
  • Philadelphia, 3-0-2, have never lost to Chivas
  • Freddy Adu scored the winner when these sides last met

Friday night action down by the banks of the Delaware River. Does it get much better than that?

That what’s in store tonight as two team desperate for a win go head-to-head. The Philadelphia Union are on a three-game winless streak and they lost 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo last time out. While Chivas USA are in one of the deepest slumps the franchise has ever seen, and there’s been a few, as it’s now 13 games without a win for the Goats.

Union boss John Hackworth is without duo Jack McInerney, Keon Daniel who are on Gold Cup duty with the USA and Trinidad & Tobago respectively. Chivas only have one absentee through Gold Cup action, as defender Steve Purdy is away with El Salvador.

Coming off a closely fought defeat to Houston, the Union will be looking to grab a vital victory that could momentarily push them up to second place in the Eastern conference. Hackworth has impressively assembled a solid core of young US talent and despite losing leading goalscorer McInerney to the USA, he will be hoping to see veteran striker Conor Casey step up to the plate.

The only times these two teams met last season was a feisty affair in Carson, Calif. as former Union boss Peter Nowak was sent off for entering the field, while Philadelphia finished the game with nine-men as Keon Daniel and Gabrial Farfan were given red cards.

Fast forward to today, and Chivas come off the back of a spirited tie with Eastern conference leaders Montreal. Chivas’ Eric Avila put the Goats 1-0 up but the Impact rallied to net a late equalizer. The draw was Chivas’ third in a row, and interim head coach Jose Luis Real must be taking heart from the way his troops are fighting.

All the stats point to a big Union win down at PPL Park, but can Chivas defend for their lives and grab another draw? The game kicks off at 7:30pm ET and you can watch it on MLS Live.

What they’re saying

Union boss John Hackworth after the defeat to Houston: “This is a tough league; you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, especially when you play in these kinds of conditions with our third game in eight days. I thought our team put out a fantastic effort. It just wasn’t there tonight. I think it was a great opportunity for some of our younger guys. I had no problem with how they played. I think they all did great.”

Chivas’ interim manager Jose Luis Real after the Montreal tie: “In my opinion, this game was the most important, the best for our team. Because Montreal is at the top of the teams and our team was always at the top today.”

Chivas USA captain Dan Kennedy: “Every point is important in this league. We’re at a stage where we’re growing up under our new coach. There’s been a lot of change, so you can see each game we’re growing a little bit.”

Prediction

Everything is pointing towards a Union win, and a big one. But Chivas have been solid, yet unspectacular in recent weeks. They are fighting for their new manager and for their own pride. But after long road trips for both teams prior to this, energy levels will be low. I fancy Philadelphia to snatch all three points but it will be tight and tense.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia