Montreal Impact v Houston Dynamo

Two-in-a-row for New York as Houston falls apart (Video)

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Perhaps my memory is failing me, but this might be the worst defensive performance we’ve seen from a Dom Kinnear team.

It’s not just that they gave up four to New York in today’s 4-1 loss. And it’s not that they gave up those goals at BBVA Compass Stadium, a venue that at one time played as a fortress. It’s that it was far too easy for the Red Bulls to use basic execution to leave Tally Hall with almost no chance to prevent the rout.

The first Red Bull goal was a well-placed, well-hit (in an unconventional sense) shot from Eric Alexander, but New York was able to pass right through the middle of New York’s defense to set that up. While roster issues that forced Will Bruin into a start at the head of a midfield three might have contributed to the overall result, Adam Moffat and Alexander López have to do better at the base of midfield.

Thierry Henry expended little effort walking through the Houston defense for the second, Mike Chabala just decides he’s done playing as Jonny Steele makes it 3-1, while nobody seems to be willing to actually challenge New York as they built Lloyd Sam’s 88th minute insurance.

On a couple of the goals, New York looked like they were playing a poorly-prepared college team. It was too early to pull the defense apart. There was too little resistance in the build up. They didn’t have to settle for lower percentage shots, knowing they would be able to get at Hall.

What’s happened to the Houston Dynamo? Normally reliable players like Bobby Boswell and Moffat are making basic mistakes. Will Bruin still can’t buy a goal. They’re not even giving Tally Hall a chance to keep them competitive anymore. Kinnear’s fiddling with his formation, but it’s not going to matter unless these guys start playing better.

It’s not that they’re a little off their game. These players are bad, right now. Missing basic assignments. Almost open nets being missed. At times, even a lack of effort. Houston’s hit rock bottom.

As for New York, this is a great three points to get, but given Houston’s performance, there isn’t much to learn from the match. Red Bull proved they can take advantage of a bad team, but any team playing at the top of their conference should.

And right now (and perhaps, surprisingly), Houston is bad team. Fortunately for them, Montréal’s performance in New England is going to keep them tied on points for the last playoff spot, even if they technically sixth in the East. But right now, they’re not the sixth-best team in the East. They’re playing more like Toronto and D.C. United than the conference’s elite.

USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN