Adam Moffat, Ricardo Clark

Assessing the Adam Moffat, Servando Carrasco trade between Houston and Seattle

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Adam Moffat was a huge piece of Houston’s personnel puzzle over the last two years as Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo made its way into consecutive MLS Cup finals. Moffat isn’t the best of MLS midfield distributors, but his hard edge and desire was a good fit for Houston’s grinding style, and he sure delivered a few clutch goals courtesy of that well above average long-range shooting.

So something looked askew when Moffat (pictured, along with former Dynamo teammate Ricardo Clark) was traded to Seattle right at last week’s MLS roster deadline for reservist Servando Carrasco and a second-round draft pick. Carrasco is a versatile, third-year midfielder but perhaps not an MLS starter. (Not yet, anyway. Maybe he will be now that he’s not stuck behind the league’s top ball-winning midfielder, Osvaldo Alonso, but we’ll have to see.)

The Dynamo’s midfield was already strong, one of Major League Soccer deepest; it’s the lack of a striker this is currently undermining Houston’s playoff chances. Will Bruin simply is not having a good year, Cam Weaver can’t finish reliably (he missed a couple of absolute golden opportunities last week in Philadelphia, including one with a wide-open goal to shoot at), Omar Cummings’ injury recovery just hasn’t been fruitful to this point and the old Dynamo warrior of a striker Brian Ching is now a limited, role player off the bench.

It would have made more sense if Carrasco was a forward, someone to give Kinnear one more option closer to goal. But Carrasco’s best position is the very same one Moffat played, holding midfielder.

So Seattle got the better part of this trade in the short term. Moffat, a tough Scotsman full of desire, provides a little more cover in the event of injury to Alonso, probably the most indispensable man to the Sounders’ Supporters Shield and MLS Cup chances. He can be what the increasingly immobile Shalrie Joseph just has not been, an experienced, holding midfielder who keeps the dropoff from being egregious if Alonso has to take a seat.

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New Houston Dynamo midfielder Servando Carrasco with his girlfriend, on the right. Maybe you’ve heard of her … U.S. women’s national team star Alex Morgan.

Moffat can also play alongside Alonso if Sounders manager Sigi Schmid wants to reconfigure his midfield according to the situation, something that happens with some regularity around CenturyLink anyway. In that scenario, the versatile Brad Evans would play elsewhere – which, of course, he can.

So why would Houston agree to this? There is about $100,000 of salary cap relief for Houston, as the more experience (and quite popular) Moffat makes about $160,000. And Carrasco is four years older. Otherwise, it must indicate a couple of things.

First, Dynamo coaches have a lot of faith in second year man Warren Creavalle. Versatile enough to play along the back line or as a holding midfielder, he stands to gather up even more minutes now (having already started 11 games this year for Houston.)

Or Houston officials believe Carrasco has more upside; he is already a better passer than Moffat, so there’s that. But will Carrasco get more minutes in Houston? Because while he’s no longer sitting behind Alonso, he’s behind the rangy, effective Ricardo Clark. This also means more of Clark back into his more natural spot, further back in the midfield. That will allow Kinnear to deploy someone more technical, with more attacking craftsmanship into the playmaking areas.

And maybe that’s the point. Guys like Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Andrew Driver give the Dynamo plenty of offensive push along the flanks, but the middle channels don’t always do enough to create. A little better passing, a little more offensive craft from the midfield and maybe one of those strikers will finally find his scoring shoes.

FIFA disbands racism task force ahead of World Cup in Russia

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
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MANCHESTER, England (AP) FIFA has disbanded its anti-racism task force, declaring the work complete despite ongoing concerns about discriminatory behavior in 2018 World Cup host Russia.

FIFA wrote to members of the task force to say that it has “completely fulfilled its temporary mission” and “is hereby dissolved and no longer in operation.”

“I wish I could say that I am shocked by the decision, but unfortunately I am not,” task force member Osasu Obayiuwana told The Associated Press on Sunday. “The problem of racism in football remains a burning, very serious and topical one, which need continuous attention.

“I personally think there remained a lot of very serious work for the task force to have done – the 2018 World Cup in Russia being one such matter. But it is evident the FIFA administration takes a different position.”

The task force was established in 2013 by then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter and headed by Jeffrey Webb, a vice president of world soccer’s governing body until he was arrested in 2015 as part of the American investigation into soccer corruption.

Webb, who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, was replaced exactly a year ago as task force chairman by Congolese federation president Constant Omari, who also sits on FIFA’s ruling council.

“We never had a single meeting under his chairmanship,” Obayiuwana said. “I wrote him, more than once, asking for when a meeting would be held. But I never received a reply from him.”

Obayiuwana, a journalist, broadcaster and qualified lawyer, received the letter from FIFA on Friday announcing the end of the task force.

“The FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination was set up with your help on a temporary basis to develop recommendations for FIFA,” wrote Gerd Dembowski, FIFA’s diversity and anti-discrimination manager.

“We are therefore delighted to inform you that all of the task force’s recommendations have been implemented and all resulting projects are ongoing.”

FIFA pointed to the introduction of an anti-discrimination monitoring system at matches, the launch of a “Good Practice Guide ,” starting a team of footballing legends and a new diversity award. Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s first female and non-European secretary general, will present the award on Monday at the SoccerEx convention in Manchester.

FIFA also told task force members that its own initiatives “actually exceed the working group’s recommendations” – trumpeting its “Say No to Racism” campaign, women’s leadership conferences and programs in Russia. There are less than nine months until Russia stages the Confederations Cup, the warm-up event for the 2018 World Cup.

The most recent research from the Moscow-based SOVA Center and the UEFA-affiliated FARE Network reported a surge in the number of racist displays by Russian soccer fans, with most cases going unpunished. Researchers logged 92 incidents of discriminatory displays and chants by Russian fans in and around stadiums in the 2014-15 season, against a total of 83 for the previous two seasons put together.

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-0 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): It was mostly the Crew from start to finish, and Ola Kamara’s brace helped ensure Greg Berhalter’s side that the team will remain in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. While the other Kamara — Kei — and his Revolution teammates were largely limited for chances on the evening, the Crew backline did an admirable job to prevent their opposition from testing them. For the Crew, it was the team’s first shutout since the two sides last met on August 20, ironically also a 2-0 victory for Berhalter’s group.

[ MORE: David Villa discusses MLS playoffs, Guardiola and more ]

Three moments that mattered

42′ – Ola smashes one past the Revs on the stroke of halftime — The Crew attack has sputtered a lot in 2016, but Ola Kamara continues to keep the team’s bleak playoff hopes intact.

67′ — Afful’s effort smacks against the post, stays out — The Crew attacked and attacked and attacked some more. Harrison Afful was definitely a bit unlucky that this chance didn’t end up in Brad Knighton’s goal.

84′ — Questionable penalty seals the points — It looked a bit soft to be given, but Kamara makes no mistake with the finish.

 

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

Man of the match: Ola Kamara

Goalscorers: Ola Kamara (42′, 84)

Watch: Dario Benedetto scores audacious blast for Boca Juniors

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When there’s little support up the field, what should you do?

Just ask, Dario Benedetto.

The Boca Juniors man broke Sunday’s 4-1 win over Quilmes wide open after a quarter hour when Benedetto smashed a 40-yard attempt into the back of the net, leaving the opposing keeper speechless.

The 26-year-old did just about everything right on the day, as Benedetto finished off the match with a hat-trick before halftime.

Serie A roundup: Torino knocks off Roma, Fiorentina-AC Milan finish scoreless

TURIN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 25:  Andrea Belotti (L) of Torino and Federico Fazio of Roma compete for the ball during the Serie A match between FC Torino and AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on September 25, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
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Joe Hart and Torino earned a 3-1 win over Roma on Sunday after two second-half finishes from Iago Falqué separated the hosts from the Giallorossi. Andrea Belotti struck for Torino after just eight minutes to give Siniša Mihajlović’s men the early lead. Meanwhile, Francesco Totti attempted to get Roma back in the match after halftime as the veteran striker converted from the penalty spot with 35 minutes remaining. For Totti, the goal marked his 250th in Serie A with Roma.

[ MORE: Schalke misery continues, Leipzig earns road point ]

Fiorentina drew AC Milan, 0-0, as the latter managed just one shot on target throughout the afternoon. Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was forced into five saves on the day, however, the Viola couldn’t find a way to break through the Milan backline.

Goals from Mattia Destro and Ivan Perisic cancelled out as Bologna picked up a point on the road against Inter Milan. Frank de Boer’s Inter currently sit third in Serie A, trailing only Juventus and Napoli, while holds the seventh spot.

Despite going down to nine men in the second half, Genoa managed a 1-1 draw against Pescara on Sunday afternoon. Giovanni Simeone’s opener gave the hosts the advantage just two minutes after the halftime whistle, however, Rey Manaj tapped in from close range in the 85th minute to secure a point for Pescara.

A pair of finishes from Balde Diao Keita and Senad Lulic helped hand Lazio a 2-0 win over Empoli to propel the Biancocelesti to fifth place in Serie A. The defeat leaves Empoli in the relegation zone through six matches.

Gregoire Defrel lifted Sassuolo past Udinese, 1-0, after knocking home the game’s lone finish in the 34th minute. Udinese fought until the very last minute, nearly finding an equalizer in the 90th minute when Felipe’s header struck the cross bar.