Chicago Fire v Sporting Kansas City

Costs of MLS leadership changes evident in Berry, Laba, Moffat deals

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When ESPN analyst and United States Men’s National Team legend Alexi Lalas revealed Austin Berry cost Philadelphia only $100,000 in allocation money, fans across the league would have been right to ask why their favorite team didn’t get in on the action. A more direct question: How could Frank Yallop, handed the keys to the Chicago Fire this offseason, make that deal?

The obvious answer is probably the right one. Citing defense as an area of need when he traded for former Sounders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni, Yallop didn’t appear to value Berry as highly as his predecessors. Add in the constraints of the league’s salary cap and the need to get players off the books, and Yallop may have just decided to let go. He might have wanted more for the 2012 Rookie of the Year, but with Kennedy, Bakary Soumaré, and Ianni in his squad, the desire to free up a roster spot as soon as possible may have won out.

In an ideal situation, Chicago would have planned ahead for Berry’s departure, knowing he was not a part of their long-term plan. They could have picked a time in the MLS calendar that maximized his value and gotten more than $100,000 worth of allocation. A long-term vision for not only their team but the value they could get for assets would have paid off.

But those kind of plans go out the window when a team’s decision-makers change, and while the Fire undoubtedly had a series of persuasive reasons for moving on from Frank Klopas, those types of changes don’t come without costs. Not only are you embracing the risk that your new hire won’t work, but you’re also accepting the fact that even successful transitions come with inefficiencies.

Berry represents one of those inefficiencies, something Philadelphia took advantage of with this week’s trade. Whereas the Union got a 25-year-old center back they hope can slot in beside Amobi Okugo in their starting lineup, Chicago had to accept a poor return on a player who, five months ago, appeared to be a part of their long-term plan.

source:  Then again, Chicago’s not the only team that’s had to embrace with these types of inefficiencies this winter:

  • Earlier today, Vancouver sent Daigo Kobayashi to New England, a trade that garnered a fourth round pick for a player that was on track to do little more than take up one of the team’s international slots. Under Martin Rennie, however, Kobayashi played 30 games in 2013, and while he failed to live up to the expectations cast on him when he arrived last winter, Vancouver’s willingness to accept a fourth round pick speaks to their sharp change in opinion about the Japanese midfielder.
  • In Frisco, an early offseason trade saw FC Dallas swap Kenny Cooper for Seattle’s Adam Moffat (right), a player that had been sent to the Pacific Northwest from Houston midseason in a cost-cutting move. On Jan. 10, however, Dallas hired Óscar Pareja as their new head coach, a move the precipitated this month’s trade for former Rapids destroyer Hendry Thomas. Now Moffat, thought to be making in the high $100,000-range this season, is an inefficiency, one that may not have been acquired if Pareja had been hired a month earlier.
  • And in Toronto, the transition from Kevin Payne to Tim Bezbatchenko temporarily left Argentine Matías Laba in limbo, with the Argentine midfielder becoming the fourth of three Designated Players after the Reds signed Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, and Brazilian striker Gilberto. On Tuesday, Laba was sent to Vancouver, forced to leave Toronto less than one year after Payne signed the 22-year-old.

The potential benefits to changing coaches, general managers, or chief executives tend to be huge, mostly because teams prone to making those moves are failing on some level. But big transitions are rarely smooth ones, and while Chicago, Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver may see themselves in better hands than they did when the 2013 season ended, their winters have featured the types of inefficiencies that come with a change in approach.

Emre Can back in the Liverpool side ahead of Europa clash vs. Villarreal

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  Emre Can of Liverpool battles for the ball with Idrissa Gana of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on February 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Emre Can has recovered from an ankle injury and will be in Liverpool’s squad for their Europa League semifinal against Villarreal on Thursday night.

The German international has not played since April 14 when he was forced off in the Reds’ wild 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool prepping for Villarreal ]

Giving his team update on Wednesday, manager Jurgen Klopp said Can is back in the team, although captain Jordan Henderson is still out. The Reds enter the second leg trailing 1-0 on aggregate.

Another positive note out of Melwood was the return of Danny Ings to first-team training. The 23-year-old striker signed with Liverpool last summer, but managed just eight appearances before having his season end to a torn ACL in October. Ings is still far away from his full return, but it was a good sight to see him back on the pitch and making progress in his recovery.

Disappointed Pellegrini rues lack of offense in Man City’s loss to Real

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )
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Manchester City put in an uninspired performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday, losing the match 1-0 and falling out of the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Real Madrid 1-0 Man City ]

The match was decided by just one goal, but the scoreline was flattering to City as they failed to create any kind of real chances at the Bernabeu. Over the two legs, City managed just two shots on target.

While City were wildly disappointing in the second leg, manager Manuel Pellegrini did not think the match was that one-sided, saying both teams struggled on the attack.

I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game with two teams who did not create many chances. The two teams were working with no-one making a difference.

It is not the best thing changing a defender very early but I don’t think we had any problems in defence, we had problems creating, same as Real Madrid. They did not create many chances.

Real Madrid was not in top form, but they still could have scored three or four goals on Wednesday. Joe Hart had to come up with some big saves to keep things close, as the England goalkeeper was by far City’s most valuable player throughout the tie.

[ MORE: Liverpool preparing for Europa League match vs. Villarreal ]

The absence of David Silva through injury certainly hurt City’s attack, but there was very little service moving forward from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure. The poor play in the midfield left Sergio Aguero stranded alone up top, nearly invisible in the second leg.

Without service, Aguero was forced to track back to try and find the ball himself, leaving City no options to hit on the counter. For a tie between two of the most expensive teams in the world, neither side was truly impressive, but City surely disappointing.

Real Madrid 1-0 (1-0, agg.) Manchester City: Lackluster Citizens bow out of UCL

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Gael Clichy of Manchester City and Gareth Bale of Real Madrid challenge for posession during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )
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  • Kompany lasts just nine minutes
  • Fernando scores own goal
  • Real headed to 14th UCL final

Ninety minutes came and went but Manchester City never showed up, losing to Real Madrid 1-0 and bowing out of the UEFA Champions League in the semifinals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

Fernando’s own goal in the first half was enough to send Real to a record 14th Champions League final, while City must now shift their focus back to the Premier League.

The Champions League final on May 28 will be a rematch of the 2014 final, a Madrid derby between Real and Atletico.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The match got off to a brutal start for Manchester City as Vincent Kompany lasted just nine minutes before going down with a thigh injury. The Belgian center-back has been plagued by muscle injuries all season and Manuel Pellegrini was forced to make an early substitution, bringing in Eliaquim Mangala to replace his captain.

Real Madrid would find the tie’s first goal in the 20th minute, although it would come off the foot of City’s Fernando. Gareth Bale streaked in from the right wing and tried to play a cross into the box, but his attempt deflected off of a sliding Fernando and sailed into the top corner at the far post. Originally given to Bale, it was later ruled an own goal.

Real thought they had a second when Pepe put the ball in the back of the net off a scramble in the box, but the defender was correctly ruled offside as City remained just a goal behind.

It took nearly the entire first half, but City finally created a chance in the 44th minute. Fernandinho found himself upfield and took a pass from Kevin De Bruyne towards the box. The Brazilian cut onto his right foot and fired a shot on goal, but it hit the outside of the post and deflected wide.

[ RELATED: Has Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Bayern Munich been a failure? ]

After the break it was more Madrid pressure, with Joe Hart making a massive stop on Luka Modric just minutes into the second half to keep City alive. Gareth Bale also saw a header rattle off the crossbar as Real continued to control the match.

Just one goal would put City through to the final, but Pellegrini’s side never threatened Keylor Navas, registering just one shot on target. In City’s biggest match in recent history, they were simply not good enough as they must now focus on a top-four finish in England.

Vincent Kompany forced off just nine minutes into Man City’s UCL semi

MADRID, ENGLAND - MAY 04: Pepe of Real Madrid checks on the injured Vincent Kompany of Manchester City  during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Vincent Kompany managed just nine minutes in Manchester City’s Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid before going down with a thigh injury.

The City captain pulled up around midfield and immediately went down, replaced by Eliaquim Mangala.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Real Madrid vs. Man City ]

Earlier this season in the Champions League, Kompany lasted just six minutes before leaving the pitch with a calf injury against Dynamo Kiev.

At 30-years-old, injuries have been Kompany’s biggest enemy this season, with the Belgian center-back managing just 13 starts in the Premier League.