Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup final: How the teams got here

1 Comment

We previewed the final here. But how did the teams arrive into Rio Tinto Stadium for the final of this centennial, 100th  edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup:

(Remember that MLS teams join the competition later than clubs from lower tier leagues; both of Tuesday’s finalists joined in the third round of tournament play.)

REAL SALT LAKE

Third Round: The run was almost over before it started as the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks from NASL took the MLS club into overtime at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kyle Beckerman scored early, but the men from Utah needed late goals from Devon Sandoval and Khari Stephenson for a 3-2 overtime win over the Silverbacks.

Fourth round: Sandoval, a rookie having a sensational season, mostly off the bench in league play, kept producing the Open Cup goods. He had two goals in this one as Real Salt Lake scored a 5-2 win over the Charleston Battery from the USL PRO league. This one, also at Rio Tinto, was closer that it looks, also extended into overtime.

Quarterfinal round: RSL’s outside backs roared in this one as Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert came forward to score on either side of halftime. Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio scored late in the 3-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks of NASL in Sandy, Utah.

Semifinal round: Real Salt Lake prevailed in the tightly contested and highly anticipated clash with the Portland Timbers. Saborio and Joao Plata hit goals for the home team, while Diego Valeri’s late goal for Portland provided the final margin in the 2-1 win. It put  Jason Kreis’ club into a final for the first time since the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League title game. (RSL fell to Monterrey from Mexico on aggregate in that one.)

D.C. UNITED

Third round: Following a scoreless regulation in Richmond, Va., against the Richmond Kickers from USL PRO, United advanced through a PK tiebreaker, 4-2. Dwayne De Rosario, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon and James Riley converted their penalty kick attempts for United.

Fourth round: In a meeting of MLS sides, United claimed a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in a match in Boyds, Md.  Dwayne De Rosario, in his best moment for the club in 2013, scored all three United goals. De Rosario thus established himself as the third Black and Red man to record an Open Cup hat trick; Raul Diaz Arce (2000) and Abdul Thompson Conteh (2001) were the others.

Quarterfinal round: It was De Rosario rising once again in a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution in another all-MLS meeting. Chris Pontius and Lionard Pajoy also scored for Ben Olsen’s team in the match in Maryland.

Semifinal round: Real Salt Lake never had to travel during its Open Cup pursuits. D.C. United, meanwhile, won twice on the road. This was one, as Olsen’s team took a 2-0 win from the Chicago Fire in Bridgeview, Ill.  De Rosario’s goal just before intermission was the winner, while Nick DeLeon’s 48th-minute strike helped provide the visitors some safe distance.

.

(MORE: Match preview, Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United)

(MORE: A domestic soccer “Treble” could loom, but this is the first box to check)

(MORE: Where would a United win rank among Open Cup upsets?)

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

Photo by Visual China/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

Photo by Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy/Qatar 2022 via Getty Images
Leave a comment

An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

Photo credit: Liverpool FC / Twiter: @LFC
Leave a comment

It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.