West Bromwich Albion v Fulham - Barclays Premier League

Plucky Felix Magath still convinced Fulham will stay up

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You certainly have to like Felix Magath’s optimism, which can be more easily swallowed after a good result today. Yes, it would have been much better for the debuting manager had Fulham held on and took all three points at the Hawthorns.

Still, a point at West Brom (in a 1-1 draw) isn’t an awful outcome for Fulham’s increasingly desperate doings.

Magath says he is certain the last-place Cottagers – a team so close to so many American hearts due to all the U.S. internationals who have passed happily through Craven Cottage over the last 10 or so years – will remain in the Premier League.

He said so before Saturday’s match and refused to come off that stance afterward.

“I was sure before the game and I am sure now,” he said after Saturday’s draw. “We were close to winning against West Brom and the next game we will win. It is only against Chelsea!”

Plucky fellow, eh?

Here’s the issue: Magath will have to instill that kind of genuine, unbending confidence in his charges, because the schedule gets harder before it starts softening a bit. The Cottagers finish with matches at home in the last five weeks against Norwich, Hull and Crystal Palace – all contests in which supporters of the West London side can arrive with realistic hopes of Ws.

But the toughies are lined up ahead of what will surely be a late, gripping dash to the wire; there are plenty of matches that would ring the bell of “big upset” if Fulham can take a point or three.

Here is what Fulham’s final 11 matches look like:

  • vs. Chelsea
  • at Cardiff
  • vs. Newcastle
  • at Manchester City
  • vs. Everton
  • at Aston Villa
  • vs. Norwich
  • at Tottenham
  • vs. Hull
  • at Stoke City
  • vs. Crystal Palace

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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

Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)