MLS logo

MLS Weekend in Review – Round 25

2 Comments

The Galaxy looks ready to gallop

Statements you want? How about a 4-2 romp-and-stomp over the Western Conference leaders, Real Salt Lake.  Following last week’s draw in Dallas, the Galaxy looks like it might be past its roller coaster summer, about to make another playoff assault. Listen to what RSL manager Jason Kreis said about Los Angeles: “What can I say? I think they’re extremely effective in what they do, and if they’re on their game, sometimes you’re just gonna have to say they are the better team and I think that’s what we have to say tonight.”

Related to the Galaxy’s showy display …

The week’s top performance

Robbie Keane hit this point in the calendar last year and absolutely carried the Galaxy attack … carried it right to the MLS Cup. Keane put three past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, his second hat trick this year. Don’t forget, teammate Landon Donovan was the hat trick hero last week. The Galaxy pair is the first to record hat tricks in consecutive games since Donovan and Dewayne De Rosario did so 10 seasons back.

Getting hot in the coaching kitchen

Not one, not two, but three managers were excused from the building in Round 25. Tsk, tsk, fellows.

Montreal’s Marco Schallibaum – of course he is going to be part of this list – was sent off along with D.C. United’s Ben Olsen. In New England, a very upset Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas was thrown out. That was part of a larger melee; Chicago center back Bakary Soumare was in the middle of that one, but he didn’t seem to believe it was such a big deal.

By the way, notice that these are all Eastern Conference sides, where a mere six points separates the conference winner from a team that will not make the playoffs. (Not that it’s any better in the West, where the gap is just seven points.)

It appears some folks may be not handling the pressure as well they should

Talking rookies and Rapids

Rookie Deshorn Brown found goal yet again, providing one in the Colorado Rapids’ 2-0 win over Vancouver, no small feat considering how well Martin Rennie’s team from Canada has performed lately. Brown has seven goals and four assists, which has “Rookie of the Year” written all over it – assuming he can hold off teammate Dillon Powers. More important to the club, the Rapids matched a club record with their ninth consecutive match without a loss. Oscar Pareja’s team is 5-0-4 in that time,

The Rapids, a team few had circled this year as an MLS contender, are two points out of the Supporters Shield leadership.

The week’s big off-field news:

Omar Gonzalez signed on for three more years with the Galaxy, and his DP contract is highly significant for two reasons. First, he’s the first true defender to gain a DP deal, a sign of the league’s growing sophistication; it’s not just the flashy forwards getting DP dough anymore. He’s also the fourth American to gain DP designation, following Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski.

Clint Dempsey watch

The Sounders’ new DP forward went all 90 minutes, creating some chances and coming close on a couple others, in his new team’s 3-1 loss in Houston (not far from Dempsey’s hometown in East Texas). That’s two matches without a goal or assist, nothing to worry about just yet; he had his moments as the visitors matched Houston in opportunities, but just didn’t finish as clinically.

His assessment: “You gotta play games to get fitness. So far I’ve only played two competitive games since I was off with the national team [in June]. It’s good to get my first 90 minutes, and fitness is getting there and still working on that sharpness. That final shot in front of goal was lacking a little bit tonight. I like to think that I could have put at least one of those opportunities away.”

The Weeks’ best goals

Ordinarily, lining up a shot from 35 yards and placing that bad boy in the upper right corner is a lead-pipe lock for Goal of the Week around here. So, atta boy, Houston Dynamo forward Giles Barnes. But, too bad you did so on a night when Juan Agudelo did the following …

Here is Barnes’ goal first, followed by Agudelo’s.

.

Loss to Sevilla quickly puts Real Madrid’s Zidane on the defensive

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach of Real Madrid CF Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to  the match against Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 15, 2017 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s first loss after a 40-game unbeaten streak was enough to put coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive.

Two days after Madrid’s unbeaten record was halted by a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the Spanish league, Zidane was forced to defend some of his players against criticism from fans and local media.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

Most comments were aimed at goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who failed to stop Sevilla’s injury-time winner on Sunday. Navas got to Stevan Jovetic‘s long-range shot but was unable to keep the ball from going in.

“He’s having a really good season,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “You can always ask for more, but if up until now we had gone 40 games without losing, it’s for a reason, and he has been there all the way.”

There have been calls for Zidane to give reserve goalkeeper Kiko Casilla a chance, but the coach said there was “no need to go over this again.”

Zidane also dismissed talk about signing a new goalkeeper.

“These are rumors,” he said. “We are focused on what we are doing this year. Whatever happens next I’m not interested and it’s not the time to talk about it. The three goalkeepers we have are important, they’re doing well and I’m very happy with them. I don’t want to change anything we’re doing.”

[ MORE: How Sevilla hope to break up the Madrid-Barca duopoly ]

Zidane defended forward Karim Benzema, who lost possession near midfield in a mistake that led to host Sevilla’s winner on Sunday.

“Everyone can say and write what they want,” Zidane said. “On a field, playing 90 minutes, you can’t do everything right. There is talk of lack of concentration, but we only had five bad minutes and that happens in football.”

Benzema also missed a chance to score from close range in the game, but a few days earlier it was the French striker who netted in stoppage time in a Copa del Rey match against Sevilla to help Madrid set the Spanish unbeaten record.

Zidane downplayed the end of Madrid’s unbeaten streak. The club hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg in the Champions League in April.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

“These things happen,” he said. “Nothing is going to change in what I’m going to do. Those who are not Real Madrid fans will want us to lose, but we must be ready and think that what we’re doing is fine. We lost a game, something that happens, and now we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Madrid hosts Celta Vigo on Wednesday in a first-leg match in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Celta has won all four matches this year.

“I am not surprised by Celta’s record because they’re a very good team, they fight and play very good football,” Zidane said. “It’ll be another complicated match for us.”

FA fines Man City’s Sagna over “10 against 12” Instagram message

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Scott Arfield of Burnley (L) tackles Bacary Sagna of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has fined Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna 40,000 pounds (around $50,000) for an Instagram post about a referee.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Sagna posted a photo with the caption “10 against 12.. but still fighting and winning as a team” on the social network site following City’s 2-1 win against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Sagna later amended the post to read “still fighting and winning as a team” after a match that saw referee Lee Mason send off midfielder Fernandinho.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

The FA also warned Sagna about his future conduct.

Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over in-limbo Matip

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Joel Matip of Liverpool and Andre Ayew of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
1 Comment

Few footballing sagas will ever reach heights of absurdity comparable to that of the Joel Matip/Liverpool versus Cameroon/FIFA battle currently raging, as the Reds defender finds himself “ineligible” to play for his club due to an international call-up 18 months after announcing his international retirement.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright summed up the situation quite well, in full, right here. An excerpt:

Matip, 25, was called up by the Cameroon national team for the 2017 African Cup of Nations which is currently taking place in Gabon. However, the former Schalke defender has previously stated that he did not want to play for them and he had retired from international duty.

Cameroon called him into their initial 35-man squad for the competition anyway but did not include him in their final 23-man squad once it became clear Matip, along with six other players, had no interest in playing for them at AFCON.

FIFA has confirmed that Liverpool has been in touch regarding Matip’s status and it now appears that he will not be able to play in any other competition while Cameroon is still in AFCON action under Article 5 of FIFA’s rules.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

Fast forward a few days, and Jurgen Klopp and Co. have no further clarity regarding the situation. It’s so unclear, in fact, that Klopp said on Tuesday he may select the 25-year-old during one of two remaining games this week, and hope for the best — quotes from the Guardian:

“As you can imagine, we are in a lot of talks. We’ve done transfers quicker than this. It’s already long term but now it’s getting really tense on our side. We’ve tried everything but at the end I have to make the decision. Of course I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make. I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice — I’m not a lawyer.”

“Most of the time in life you know if you do this, then you get this. But it’s not 100 percent clear what happens [if Matip plays]. We try everything to win football games. If this can happen — out of the tournament or whatever — then we have to decide about the risk. He’s ready to play for us and that makes it difficult.”

What an utter disaster of a situation Cameroon have intentionally created here.

VIDEO: Jeison Murillo’s incredible bicycle from a corner kick

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 17:  (R-L) Jeison Murillo of FC Internazionale celebrates his first goal with Geoffrey Kondogbia during the TIM Cup match between FC Internazionale and Bologna FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 17, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Look away now, Andy Carroll. Take a bow, Jeison Murillo.

[ VIDEOS: All in a week’s work — Messi free kick no. 1 | Messi free kick no. 2 ]

Just three days after Carroll scored the bicycle-kick goal of the year (so we thought), here comes Murillo, Inter Milan’s 24-year-old Colombian striker, to steal his thunder (below video). The fact he did it directly from a corner kick, with the ball traveling roughly 40 yards before flinging his body into the air and striking the ball so cleanly, (somehow) trumps Carroll’s accomplishment from Saturday.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — Tight at the top… and bottom ]

Sensational goals come in twos now, apparently, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud scored stunning scorpion-kick goals (WATCH HERE and HERE) just days apart earlier in the season.