We’ve heard about Major League Soccer’s absurdly, luxuriously long break. It is “absurdly” and “luxuriously” lengthy according to a few key figures, that is.
But even the advocates of a shorter off-season would probably concede that this player/loan calculus resides on a sliding scale. What bothers the most of the domestic game’s leaders is how a longer break affects player development. As Jurgen Klinsmann, chief engineer of the Shorter Break Express, says, “We aren’t getting better by doing less.” And fair enough.
But what seems like a good idea for an Omar Gonzalez or a Matt Besler or even a Clint Dempsey may not seem like the best fit for a veteran like Tim Cahill, someone approaching the winter of his career.
News is out today that Cahill might consider a loan to Australia’s A-League. And someone will have to explain to me how this makes sense for the Red Bulls’ midfielder/forward.
Cahill is 33, and he has a World Cup coming up for Australia, which means that much of his personal training and preparation in 2014 will point toward events of June in Brazil. Once he’s back into MLS action (probably after a short break), his work is just getting started; the Red Bulls will be plowing into the business end of the league schedule, plus dealing with Champions League matches for the first time.
His most recent season did not exactly end with the Red Bulls’ playoff elimination two weeks ago; he’s in Sydney right now, training with the Aussies for this week’s friendly against Costa Rica. Then consider that New York will be back on the training ground by mid-January, with friendlies and exhibitions set to begin late that month or on the earliest days of 2014.
So the man’s break is really just a little more than six weeks. At 23, maybe he would want to fill the gap, to learn more, be more, do more, etc. At 33 … ? Maybe all of that is not so critical. Maybe the R & R ahead of a very busy season is more important than a loan that wouldn’t last more than a few weeks anyway.
Monaco took care of business at the top of Ligue 1 on Saturday and now the Champions League semifinalists could be closing in on France’s crown.
[ MORE: Spurs revel in ruling North London, but want more ]
Paris Saint-Germain slipped up on Sunday with a 3-1 loss against third-place Nice, and it could spell the end for the Parisians’ hopes of winning Ligue 1 in 2016/17.
Mario Balotelli sprung Nice in front after 26 minutes with a curling left-footed effort from outside the box, before Ricardo Pereira doubled the advantage for the hosts just three minutes into the second stanza with a lovely curler of his own.
PSG managed to pull a goal back in the 64th minute as Marquinhos gave the visitors a glimmer of hope to keep their title hopes alive.
However, the final minutes of the match took a drastic turn for the worse for PSG as Thiago Motta and Angel di Maria were both shown red cards for violent tackles on Nice players.
Nice also found a third finish after PSG was dwindled down to nine men when Anastasios Donis headed home a lofted cross from the left wing.
With three matches remaining for PSG, Unai Emery’s side sits three points behind league leaders Monaco, who also have a match in hand. PSG finishes up their Ligue 1 account with matches against Bastia, St Etienne and Caen.
Camilo Sanvezzo scored two goals on Sunday for Queretaro but many won’t even remember the score of the game after his brilliant first effort.
The Queretaro forward scored the first of two finishes in the 66th minute after winning the ball in his own half, carrying it into the Toluca end and unleashing a deadly shot from just inside midfield.
Sanvezzo eventually scored his side’s second goal in the dying minutes of the match, and his 88th minute finish proved to be the winner for Queretaro, who currently sit 13th in Liga MX.
The 28-year-old should be familiar to MLS fans after Sanvezzo’s time with the Vancouver Whitecaps from 2011 to 2013. The veteran scored 39 goals in 92 matches with the Canadian side.
The game in 100 words (or less): Atlanta has been one of the most exciting teams in MLS over the opening two months of the season, but with a bit of luck and grit D.C. United spoiled the newcomers’ fun on Sunday afternoon. It was all the home side early on in the match, which was spearheaded by Kenwyne Jones‘ emphatic header, but D.C. responded well with some good pressure of their own. The win for D.C. moves Ben Olsen’s club into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Atlanta still holds the sixth and final playoff position through eight matches as Gerardo Martino’s side sits on 11 points.
[ MORE: MLS roundup from Saturday’s action ]
Three moments that mattered
9′ — Hosts apply pressure and hit D.C. where it hurts — This is exactly why Atlanta brought in Kenwyne Jones. Big body and deadly heading ability. Can’t stop that.
25′ — D.C. unexpectedly pulls level — It certainly wasn’t how Lamar Neagle drew it up but he and D.C. somehow equalized before the half hour mark after some sloppy Atlanta defending.
36′ — Acosta runs wild — Atlanta will probably want to look back on this moment and make sure they do a better job covering the diminutive attacker next time.
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Men of the match: Luciano Acosta
Goalscorers: Kenwyne Jones (9′), Michael Parkhurst — OG (25′), Luciano Acosta (36′), Sebastian Le Toux (55′)
A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…
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Celta Vigo 0-3 Athletic Bilbao
Bilbao is up to sixth place following Sunday’s win over Celta, and it was quite the dominant performance from the road side. Celta managed zero shots on target throughout the match in comparison to Bilbao’s 12, while Raul Garcia’s brace helped pace his side to victory with goals on each side of halftime. Mikel Rico added a third in the 83rd minute for good measure but there was never much doubt on the day as to which side was coming away with the points.
Real Betis 1-4 Alaves
Despite going down inside the opening quarter hour, Alaves put out a superb showing after halftime to solidify its place in the top 10 in Spain. Nenad Krsticic, Rubén Sobrino and Christian Santos scored in a 10-minute span early in the second half to give the visitors a commanding lead before Aleksandar Katai added his side’s fourth of the day late in stoppage time.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Osasuna 2-2 Deportivo La Coruna
Eibar 2-0 Leganes
Roma 1-3 Lazio
It’s always a fun one when these two sides get together in the Derby della Capitale but Lazio’s victory could prove quite costly for their rivals from Rome. Keita Balde Diao continues his fantastic scoring run for Lazio as the 22-year-old is up to 13 Serie A goals on the season after Sunday’s brace. The Senegalese striker scored after 12 minutes before providing the final touch on the match for the visiting side. Daniele de Rossi converted from the penalty spot to pull Roma even on the stroke of halftime, but Dusan Basta restored the lead for Lazio five minutes into after the break.
Napoli 1-0 Inter Milan
Jose Callejon made things a lot more interesting in the race for the UEFA Champions League. Following Roma’s defeat, a victory for Napoli ensured that the side would move to within a point of the Giallorossi in Serie A. And that’s exactly what Napoli did. Callejon’s first-half finish gave Napoli the cushion it needed on the day, and now sets up an intriguing race for automatic qualification into next season’s UCL.
Elsewhere in Serie A
Bologna 4-0 Udinese
Cagliari 1-0 Pescara
Crotone 1-1 AC Milan
Empoli 1-3 Sassuolo
Genoa 1-2 Chievo
Palermo 2-0 Fiorentina