The drama was left in Manchester, where City built a 6-0 lead two weeks ago. Today at Upton Park, any hope the Hammers had of saving face dried up in the third minute, with Álvaro Negredo’s early opener paving the way for the Citizens’ 3-0, second leg victory in England’s League Cup semifinals.
Scoring the first of his two on the night, Negredo headed home from seven yards out in the third minute after being left unmarked on a Marcos Lopes cross. Sergio Agüero, making his first start since returning from a calf injury, doubled City’s lead in the 24th minute, giving the visitors the 2-0 lead they would carry into halftime. When Negredo dribbled through the Hammers’ defense to put City up three in the 59th minute, the Spanish international had his fifth goal of the tie, one that gave the visitors their final margin of victory.
Though City now moves on to face the winner of Wednesday’s Manchester United-Sunderland semifinal, the focus will be on West Ham’s failures. Though the team improved on a first leg performance that saw them out-shot 32-3, the Hammers’ inability to do more against a City team clearly in cruise control only underscores the club’s recent slump. Despite resting six of their regular starters, the Citizens still eased to a three-goal win, leaving West Ham with one win in their last eight matches.
In their last four outing, West Ham has been outscored 17-3, including an embarrassing 5-0 loss at second-tier Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. With only one win in league play since Nov. 30, the East London club find themselves in the Premiership’s relegation zone, with their lopsided exits from both cup competitions only increasing pressure on Allardyce. Trying desperately to add talent in the transfer window, the West Ham boss may not get a chance to save his team from a Championship return.
Manchester City, on the other hand, move one step closer to their first piece of silverware under Manuel Pellegrini. Whether it’s rival Manchester United or an improving Sunderland they face in early March, City will be heavy favorites to claim their first trophy in two years – the first of what Pellegrini hopes will be four titles this season.
Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley
to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.
Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.
[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]
Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:
Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.
Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.
[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]
Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?
- Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
- FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
- LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack. Upset chance: Long shot.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.
Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.
Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.
Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.
Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.
Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.
Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.
Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.
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