One moment — one wishful stretch; one set of studs; one empty flail — defined Sunday’s match at JELD-WEN Field, with Max Urruti’s first Major League Soccer goal giving the Portland Timbers a 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy. The win keeps Portland third in the West, albeit two points behind conference-leading Real Salt Lake (with Seattle potentially reclaiming their lead tonight against New York). LA stays tied for fourth with Colorado, four points back of Portland.
The match looked set to go LA’s way early on, with the Galaxy’s transition game leading to a number of breaks toward Portland’s goal. Seemingly leveraging two games worth of experience against Caleb Porter’s approach, LA created a number of near-chances over the first half hour, even if strong defending from Futty Danso and Pa Modou Kah kept Donovan Ricketts reasonably trouble-free.
By halftime, Portland was controlling more of the game, but their breakthrough didn’t come until the 52nd minute. That’s when a Will Johnson corner was stabbed home by Urruti, who beat Sean Franklin to redirect past Jamie Penedo with the bottom of his boot.
From there forward, a pursuing Galaxy controlled the game, ending the match with more possession and passes than the normally hoarding Timbers. It was the second straight match Portland had lagged in those areas, but for the second straight game, the Timbers still emerged with a 1-0 win.
The victory looked in doubt in stoppage time, however, and a particularly stubborn Galaxy fan may hold on to the idea that LA had an equalizer waved off. But as replayed clearly showed, Robbie Keane was offside on Landon Donovan’s late restart, leading the captain’s potentially game-tying header to be disallowed:
Already facing some uncertainty with a depleted roster, Argentina could face a significantly greater challenge.
[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina starting XI vs. Bolivia ]
Barcelona star Lionel Messi could face suspension after reportedly verbally abusing linesman Marcelo Van Gasse during the second half of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.
Messi was reported to CONMEBOL for yelling, “F*** off, your mother’s c***” at Van Gasse and refused to shake the official’s hand at the end of the match.
The officiating crew from the match didn’t initially include Messi’s rant in the post-match report, however, it was added on Monday and submitted to CONMEBOL.
The South American federation must now decide if and when it will punish Messi for his reported actions, and there is the potential that the world-class attacker could be suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Bolivia if the federation acts quickly.
There are several other scenarios though for CONMEBOL to action, including disregarding Messi’s verbal assault.
La Albiceleste currently sit third in World Cup qualifying on 22 points.
It’s only been one competitive match since Bruce Arena regained control of the U.S. Men’s National Team and there’s already been a noticeable difference in form.
[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]
The former LA Galaxy manager wouldn’t have you believe that though following Friday night’s convincing 6-0 victory over Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
“It’s nothing I can write a book on,” Arena said about his team’s turnaround in form against Honduras. “You have a sense of your group, and you go about doing your business. There’s no secret formulas to this stuff. Work together, take ownership in what you’re doing, treat them like responsible professional athletes, and you get on with your business.
He added, “They want to be successful. They want to play in a World Cup. Is that a recipe for success? I don’t know. I’m sure Honduras wants to play in a World Cup too.”
Arena, who took over for Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S.’ collapse during the first two matches of the Hexagonal, is unbeaten in his first three games in charge since getting his job back with the Stars and Stripes.
Although there has been a considerable turnaround in the way the USMNT has performed in the first three matches of 2017, Arena wouldn’t stoop to comparing his style to that of Klinsmann.
“I’m not doing anything differently,” he said. “I’m not taking a survey [of the players]. I know it’s different. We lose tomorrow, there will be articles written that, ‘This a—— is letting these guys run loose.'”
“I have spent no time on the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. I kind of have a sense about things, but there’s no point in me spending time investigating what went on in the past. The idea was to get it going the right way from the start.”
Arena’s next test with the U.S. will be on Tuesday when the Yanks travel to Panama City to take on Panama.
The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for more Christian Pulisic-like players, and another star-in-the-making could be on his way to Old Trafford.
[ MORE: Three keys for USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]
American teenager Will Vint is reportedly being pursued by Premier League giants Manchester United after previously having trialed with Fulham and Everton.
Vint, the 15-year-old son Everton academy director Peter Vint, has reportedly impressed the Red Devils while on trial as of late. Additionally, the teen’s Instagram page describes him as a “Footballer at Manchester United.”
The number of Americans in England’s top flight have dwindled down over recent years, however, USMNT mainstays like Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan (moving to Atlanta United) still reside in the PL.
SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian club Chapecoense will play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 4 in what will be an emotional home match.
[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina XI to face Bolivia ]
In November, 19 members of the Brazilian team died in an air crash outside Medellin as they travelled to play Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Out of 77 passengers, 71 died in the incident, including players, journalists, and club officials.
Chapecoense says they will play at 22,000-seat Arena Conda in southern Brazil in the first leg of the Recopa Sudamericana.
The tragedy made Atletico Nacional pronounce Chapecoense as champions, and the South American confederation agreed.
The Recopa Sudamericana is between the champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.