Swansea 2-3 Manchester City: Goals galore keeps City rolling (video)

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Manchester City won back-to-back games away from home for the first time this season, as they downed a spirited Swansea side 3-2 at the Liberty Stadium to celebrate 2014’s arrival in style.

City took the lead through Fernandinho in the first half but on the stroke of the interval Wilfried Bony equalized for the Swans with a great header. After the break Manuel Pellegrini’s men flexed their attack-minded muscles superbly as Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov both scored in quick succession to make it 3-1, before Bony’s late strike made the match look closer than it was.

With the victory City momentarily went top of the league, as they have 44 points from their 20 games so far. As for Swansea, they remain in 11th and sit just five points above the relegation zone.

It was an even start at a rainy Liberty Stadium, as the visitors had the first effort at goal when Alvaro Negredo fed Edin Dzeko who swept his shot just wide of Swansea’s goal.

But the home side started well and an effort from Bony flew just wide of Joe Hart’s right-hand post after five minutes, as the lone striker got an early sight of goal. Soon after a setback hit the home side as Pablo Hernandez was forced off with a hamstring injury, he was replaced by Belgian international Roland Lamah after just 10 minutes.

Moments later Fernandinho opened the scoring as Samir Nasri’s corner was cleared only to the edge of the box, where City’s Brazilian midfielder was waiting to smash home a low drive to put his side 1-0 up. City threatened to double their lead on several occasions during the first half, as Jesus Navas and Nasri on both wings created plenty of problems for Swansea’s defense.

To their credit the Swans kept going as Jonjo Shelvey and Julian de Guzman both went close midway through the first half following patient build up play from the home side. But City always looked more dangerous as Dzeko’s effort on the half hour mark was deflected just wide by Chico Flores. At the other end Bony once again came close, as he struck almost a carbon copy of his first effort which flew just wide of Hart’s post.

But he wasn’t to be denied, as Ivorian striker Bony scored for the first time in seven games right on the interval, heading home from De Guzman’s delicious cross from the right to make it 1-1 at the break. Despite City looking comfortable for most of the match, it was Swansea who were in the ascendancy at the break.

Early on in the second half Negredo caused havoc in the box but the Spanish striker couldn’t finish after a defensive mix up at the back nearly put Swansea behind once again. Soon City raced away, with Toure bursting into the box after 55 minutes and hitting a shot that deflected off Ashely Williams and into the net to put City 2-1 ahead.

Less than 10 minutes later it was 3-1 as the Citizens’ fine goal-scoring record continued into 2014. Left back Kolarov picked up the ball on the left flank and drive down the line, before cutting inside and smashing home an effort with his right foot for his first PL goal in over a year.

City were rampant after that but Swansea looked dangerous on the odd occasion as Bony stung the palms of Hart with the Swans looking to pull a goal back and make it interesting. However that goal didn’t arrive until the 91st minute, when Bony grabbed his second of the match with a sensational drive from outside box to pull Swansea within one goal of City.

However, it proved to be too little, too late.


Swansea City: Tremmel, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Canas, de Guzman, Shelvey (Pozuelo, 81), Hernandez (Lamah 10), Routledge, Bony

Goals: Bony (45 &90)

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Navas (Rodwell, 90), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri (Milner, 70), Negredo (Garcia, 60), Dzeko

Goals: Fernandinho (14), Toure (58), Kolarov (66)

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.

MLS Weekend Preview: Friedel’s Revs get NYCFC test

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It’s an international break, and Major League Soccer is only sorta observing it.

More than half of the league’s clubs will participate on Saturday match days, with several shorthanded by national team duty.

[ MORE: Southgate on racism in football]

Columbus won’t have Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp for a visit from DC United — who is missing Zoltan Steiber, Bruno Miranda, and Oniel Fisher — while the Red Bulls will be without Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, and Michael Murillo for Minnesota United’s visit.

NYCFC won’t have Alexander Ring, Ronald Matarrita, and Rodney Wallace, Portland’s without David Guzman and Andy Polo, and Sporting KC loses Daniel Salloi.

The Whitecaps won’t have center back Kendall Waston, while opponents LA Galaxt are without Ola Kamara.

New England Revolution vs. New York City FC — 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Brad Friedel‘s New England revolution, purposely lower case, is making believers out of its players. It would take a giant step if it could slow the NYCFC juggernaut. The visitors have allowed just one goal in their 3-0 start.

As for the hosts, Friedel has made his mark in a way that mostly makes you wonder what in the world Jay Heaps was doing:.

(Bunbury) pointed to a fine system in the locker room, increased accountability, how Friedel posts the starting XI on game day, and occasional two-a-day training sessions, which never occurred in the forward’s four years under Heaps.

“I think it unifies the team,” Bunbury said. “The broad sense of professionalism, it’s about having respect for each other and making sure you are held accountable in every part of this club.”

Never occurred under Heaps? Woof.

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers — 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

FCD had an uninspiring ending to their CONCACAF Champions League dreams, but that’s little compared to the Timbers’ 0-2 start under Gio Savarese. A trip down South isn’t a surefire way to right the ship.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET Saturday

A long trip up North is only made worse by a laundry list of injuries for Sigi Schmid’s Galaxy. We’re only listing it amongst our Top Three because an LA win would be wildly impressive given the ‘Caps strong start.


Columbus Crew vs. DC United — 6 p.m. ET Saturday
New York Red Bulls vs. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting KC — 9 p.m. ET Saturday

Mourinho: “People with brains” understand Man Utd in transition

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Jose Mourinho’s been having a little fun on his international break, “managing” a team of superstars including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in a charity match.

[ MORE: Southgate talks racism in football ]

Speaking CNN as part of a publicity run, Mourinho was asked about Manchester United’s second place campaign and disappointment after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho reiterated his position that United is a team in transition, and that the season is going along at an acceptable clip.

“I understand the frustration, I understand the sadness of being knocked out in the Champions League, but I don’t understand anything more than that,” Mourinho said to CNN’s Amanda Davies.

United has scored the third-most goals in the Premier League, and allowed the fourth-fewest. It’s drastically reduced its propensity to draw matches, which hurt its table position last season, and has already surpassed last season’s goal total.

Two more wins, 10 goals better differential, and the list goes on but unfortunately also includes crosstown rivals running away with the league and still alive in the UCL.

“Of course in the future we want to have 19 clubs behind us but this is the reality,” said Mourinho. “And the reality is for people with brain, with sense, with common sense, with knowledge of what sports is, we are in a moment of transition. Being in a moment of transition and still manage to do what he did last season and win trophies and to do what we are trying to do this season, which is still trying to win a trophy, and try to be second, because in this moment it’s the only top position that is possible for us to get. I think we are in a good position.”