France: Ranieri, Monaco get the result they want at Paris Saint-Germain

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He wouldn’t have admitted it before the match out fear of tipping his hand, but if you’d asked Claudio Ranieri before today’s kickoff at the Parc de Princes, he would have been happy with this result. In fact, part of him would have been playing for it, setting up his team to prioritize organization over endeavor as they tried to get a point out of Paris. And with Radamel Falcao’s 20th minute equalizer holding up after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s early opener, the AS Monaco coach got the result he’d have wanted. PSG were held to a 1-1 draw.

“I’m very satisfied with my players,” Ranieri told media after the match. “PSG have a lot of quality players and they have more experience than us. We have a lot of young players and we were up against a team with a lot of big champions.”

In short: They were the worse team. At least, on paper they were, something they’ll be able to say only one other time this season (when PSG visits them). Monaco may have came into the match at the top of the league (4-0-1), and they may have spent $230 million in transfer fees this summer, but player-for-player, they’re still not a match for PSG. Particularly at the Parc de Princes.

That’s why Laurent Blanc may have been particularly disappointed in the result, quick to lean on the tried-and-ture “deserved to win” line in the face of a result where his team dropped points.

“Given the amount of chances we had I think we deserved to win,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “It was a good match and there could have been more goals. What pleased me is that both coaches wanted to win the game.”

Perhaps in the academic sense both coaches wanted to win the game, but the teams only combined for six shots (four for Monaco). Monaco were clearly willing to wait for their chances to materialize, holding only 42 percent of the ball, so the extent to which Ranieri wanted to win, he wasn’t willing to open up his team to do so.

source: Getty Images
Laurent Blanc (left) has his PSG team second in France, 3-0-3 after six rounds. Claudio Ranieri (right) kept Monaco two points clear with Sunday’s draw in Paris. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Coincidentally, that seems to be Laurent Blanc’s M.O. Even with this hyper-talented PSG side, one that pulled away from the pack in Ligue 1 last year, he’s been reluctant to let his talent shine. Much like David Moyes with Manchester United, there is a concern that the tactics that made his Bordeaux teams successful will not translate to a more talented squad that will needs to be more creative offensively to pull apart bunkered defenses.

To this point, Blanc has been unable to do that, leaving last year’s champions with three draws through six games. Despite one of the most talented attacks in the world, PSG has yet to score more than two goals in a Ligue 1 match.

Like Moyes, Blanc is likely to figure things out in time, and to his credit, he is undefeated through six. But Monaco is also undefeated, hinting there may not be much margin for error in this year’s league. And after a draw where they were unable to parlay their huge talents into more than two shots on goal, PSG have dropped points to their principle title rivals.

Highlights:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eASDjrE5F80]

ELSEWHERE IN FRANCE

  • Marseille’s perfect start has faded, leaving them with only one point from their last three games. L’OM drew 0-0 Saturday at Bastia.
  • Saint-Étienne, second coming into the weekend, lost at home to Toulouse on Friday, giving up two second half goals and their 1-0 lead while suffering their second loss of the season.
  • Nice put up four goals in handing visiting Valenciennes their fifth-straight loss, with Dario Cvitanich, Eric Bautheach, Christian Bruls, and Alexy Bosetti getting on the scoresheet in les Aiglons’ third win of the season.
  • Fouad Kadir scored in the 13th and 15th minutes as Rennes extended their unbeaten streak to four, moving sixth with their 2-0 win over visiting Ajaccio.
  • Lyon gave up the first goal to Jordan Verevout at Stade Gerland but stormed back with goals from Bafétimbi Gomis, Clément Grenier, and Jimmy Briand in their 3-1 win over Nantes. OL’s 11 goals lead Ligue 1.
  • Lille got two first half goals from striker Nolan Roux in their 2-0 win at last place Sochaux.
  • Lorient and Bordeaux combined for six, with goals by Kévin Monnet-Paquet and Sadio Diallo bringing Christian Gourcuff’s team back from a 3-1 deficit to earn a draw.
  • Evian came back from two down to earn a 2-2 draw with visiting Montpellier, pulling back goals from Victor Hugo Montaño and Reemy Cabella.
  • And Reims overcame a fifth minute own goal from Anthony Weber with Nicolas de Preville’s second half strike, salvaging a 1-1 with visiting Guingamp.

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

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BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) Benevento fired Marco Baroni and named Roberto De Zerbi its new coach after becoming the first squad in Serie A history to lose its first nine matches of the season.

The southern Italian club is the only team in Europe’s five major leagues without a point.

[ MORE: Ronaldo wins Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Benevento also announced it fired sporting director Salvatore Di Somma.

The moves on Monday came a day after a 3-0 home loss to Fiorentina.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Benevento will have to pay Baroni 800,000 euros (nearly $1 million) as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.

Baroni guided Benevento up from Serie B last season.

De Zerbi last coached Palermo nearly a year ago before being fired by the Sicilian club.

It’s the second coaching change in Serie A this season, after Diego Lopez replaced Massimo Rastelli at Cagliari last week.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Atlanta hosts Crew, Whitecaps take on Earthquakes

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34 rounds of MLS action are in the books, and now the real fun is set to begin this week.

The MLS Cup Playoffs have arrived, and 12 teams are firmly in the running to hoist a trophy in December.

[ MORE: PST talks to Justin Meram ahead of the Crew’s playoff run ]

While Toronto FC, New York City FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers will each have the opportunity to watch the first round from their homes, the action all starts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Here’s a look at what to expect when the knockout round begins.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Fire were one of the most intriguing stories for much of the regular season, but Veljko Paunovic’s side enters the postseason limping. Lucky for them, the Red Bulls have been just as inconsistent throughout the course of 2017 — which already saw Jesse Marsch’s club lose in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Paunovic and Co. have lost eight of their last 15 matches, which doesn’t bode well entering the home stretch of the schedule. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have won just two of their last 10 matches. The Harrison side should be well-rested though for Wednesday’s encounter after starting a mostly second-tier squad in Sunday’s season finale against D.C. United.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Whitecaps looked to be a sure-fire club destined for a bye in the first round, but things didn’t fall their way on Decision Day. Now, Carl Robinson’s side faces an Earthquakes side that is simply unpredictable.

The Quakes have the second-worst road record in the Western Conference when it comes to acquiring points — holding eight in points 17 matches. However, Chris Leitch has instilled a new-found belief amongst the squad that gives the California side a puncher’s chance.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew — Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

These two sides haven’t met since July 1, so all bets are off about these teams knowing one another. Since that point, Atlanta and Columbus have been two of the hottest sides in MLS and the former moved into a new stadium — which has given opposing sides quite the difficult time.

In their last 10 matches combined, the clubs boast just one loss, which Atlanta suffered at home against Minnesota United. There’s no reason not to expect a great one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC — Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Peter Vermes’ Sporting KC side enters the playoffs winless in their last five, while their counterparts are unbeaten in six. The MLS postseason is often about which team is in the best form at the right particular moment, and right now, it doesn’t look like Sporting KC has luck on their side.

It’s also hard to not pay attention to the fact that the Dynamo have lost just once at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017, which came on September 9 against the Colorado Rapids.

Carabao Cup preview: Man City hosts Wolves, Chelsea meets Everton

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All eyes will remain on the 11 Premier League sides left in this season’s Carabao Cup, but could a potential upset(s) shake the balance of power in the competition?

Norwich City and Leeds United will be among the teams seeking an upset in the tournament as they take on Arsenal and Leicester City, respectively, on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Meanwhile, fresh off of Ronald Koeman‘s sacking, Everton must regroup quickly when they head to Stamford Bridge to take on Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea. The Toffees have taken just eight points in their first nine PL matches, leaving the Merseyside club in the relegation zone.

The Blues are aiming for their sixth League Cup title this season, while Manchester United could also achieve the same feat with the crown.

Here’s the slate of matches for the Carabao Cup Round of 16.

Tuesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Leicester City vs. Leeds United
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wednesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Chelsea vs. Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in dual nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.