DC United v New York Red Bulls

MLS’s Eastern Conference playoff picture is set


We had to wait until the last game on the East’s slate, but now we know the match-ups (or, potential match-ups) for the Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference playoff.

After their win in Washington, D.C., Houston was in, but while at one point today they were sitting third, last year’s conference representatives in the MLS Cup final will have to go through the four-five game once more. New England’s win in Columbus gave the Revolution the conference’s third seed.

[MORE: Garcia, Barnes goals put Houston into MLS postseason.]

[MORE: Agudelo goal in Columbus puts New England into playoffs.]

The other open spot coming into the day was claimed by a team that played yesterday, with the Montréal Impact handed their first postseason spot despite yesterday’s loss in Toronto. Whether they’ll remain alive past mid-week will be settled mid-week at BBVA Compass Stadium.

[MORE: Toronto win leaves Montréal vulnerable.]

At the top of the conference, New York’s history making performance means they get the one-seed, the first time since 2010 Sporting Kansas City hasn’t held the top spot going into the postseason.

[MORE: New York’s surge helps Red Bulls claim first major honor.]

Here are the matches:

Who: Houston Dynamo vs. Montréal Impact
What: First Round (Four-Five game)
How: One-game, winner take all
When: Wednesday or Thursday

The enigmatic Impact, Eastern Conference leaders through much of the season, back in thanks to Chicago’s loss in New York. If they’re to stay alive, they’ll have to win mid-week at Houston, with the exact day likely to be announced on Monday. Though Houston won the team’s last meeting, Montréal is 2-1-0 this year against the Dynamo, outscoring the four-seed 7-1.

Who: Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution
What: Conference Semifinal
How: Two-legged series, Sporting hosting game two
When: Saturday or Sunday; then Nov. 6 or 7

Sporting’s been part of the East’s lead pack all season while New England’s stayed back in the peloton. But the seven-point gap between the teams may as well be one after the clubs finished second and third in the East, pairing them off in the conference semifinals. Kansas City took four points from the teams’ two regular season meetings, outscoring the Revolution 3-0 over 180 minutes.

Who: New York Red Bulls vs. Houston/Montreal
What: Conference Semifinal
How: Two-legged series, New York hosting game two
When: Saturday or Sunday; then Nov. 6 or 7

New York is 3-0-0 against Houston this season and have outscored the Dynamo 9-1. They’re 2-1-0 against Montréal, having outscored Le Impact 6-2. New York should be  big favorites against either team, but given how the Dynamo have performed in the last two postseasons, you’d forgive the Red Bulls for secretly hoping Montréal pulls an upset mid-week.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?