U.S. Open Cup reaction: D.C. United revel in victory, Real Salt Lake wallow in defeat – Video

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Following D.C. United’s shock 1-0 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final win over Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday, soccer fans across America are scratching their heads as to exactly how that happen.

D.C. are by far the worst team in MLS this season, after winning just three of their 30 league games so far they sit rock bottom of the standings and are on course to break many MLS records, not the good kind.

But on Tuesday night in Utah, they rolled their sleeves up and put all that to one side and stunned home team Real Salt Lake to snatch the silverware.

(MORE: D.C. United stuns Real Salt Lake in 2013 U.S. Open Cup final)

United were the deserved winners, but RSL’s failure, once again, in front of their home fans on the big occasion is worrying.

Many thought they were one of the favorites to hoist MLS Cup in 2013, but they couldn’t even lift the Open Cup at home against MLS’ worst side.

They must regroup, fast. Here’s all the reaction from a jubilant D.C. United and a downbeat RSL.

D.C. UNITED – LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP CHAMPIONS 2013

“It’s been a strange season,” head coach Ben Olsen said on the pitch after the game. “To have the smiles on those guys faces right now is unbelievable, they’ve forgotten about the negativity of the year. We managed to find focus in this Open Cup and come way with something, even in a season of turmoil with a trophy. I credit hose guys, I credit the organization, everybody, I credit out fans. Our whole organization, we didn’t let the wheel fall off.”

And United’s manager knew that if his squad kept plugging away, their fortunes would turn around sooner rather than later. The Open Cup has been a welcome distraction all season long, as their league play has been nothing short of abysmal.

source: Getty Images
D.C. United captain Dwayne De Rosario and General Partner Will Chang , along with fans, celebrate their 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

“We did a great job sticking together,” Olsen said. “The wheels never fell off and there were a lot of times they could have. “We took the Open Cup extremely seriously from the first game. Each game, our belief in the Open Cup grew. The size of the game helped us focus. Some of the guys who have a tough time focusing when it doesn’t matter really did what they needed to do.”

“If we [had lost] this one, it’s back to the drawing board,” Olsen said. “Now we have a new energy about us to finish the season in the right way and look forward.”

Lewis Neal was D.C.’s game-winner, as his left-footed strike just before half time proved the difference between D.C. and RSL. The Englishman hailed their Open Cup performances and the positives it’s brought in a dismal regular season in MLS.

“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Neal said. “We’re under no illusions that the season has been terrible from top to bottom. But for some reason in this cup, we’ve played really well.”

REAL SALT LAKE – LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP RUNNERS UP 2013

Real Salt Lake have been here before, damaging defeats in front of their home crowd as they look destined to win a trophy.

source: Getty Images
Javier Morales reacts to Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 defeat against D.C. United

But past failures still don’t make it any easier to accept, as defender Chris Wingert explains.

“It is extremely tough,” Wingert said. “It feels a little bit surreal, like a bad dream right now. I can’t believe it. I’m shocked. I thought for sure we were going to win.

“I can’t believe we had to sit there on the field after the game and realize we came up short — again. I don’t know if I have the words to describe how tough this is.”

Head coach Jason Kreis was also stunned by RSL’s poor showing when it really mattered. The Utah outfit have been riding high in the Western Conference for most of the regular season but when it really mattered — in 2011 falling 1-0 to Monterrey in the CCL final second leg, unable to overturn a first-leg deficit against FC Dallas in the 2010 MLS playoffs and many other occasions — his side put in a pretty dire performance.

“It is something I can’t really put my finger on,” Kreis said. “How we can get so close and how we can have so much momentum through the majority of the season and we get to get to a game like this and we can’t seem to put things together. We can’t seem to get over that last hurdle.”

Salt Lake just didn’t get out of the blocks and several of their big name players like Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales just didn’t perform.

They still have an MLS Cup and a Supporters’ Shield to challenge for, but if they’re not careful, before too long RSL will be known as MLS’ nearly men.

Or maybe that’s already the case.

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

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

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.