After spending most of his Major League Soccer debut quietly lurking on Portland’s left flank, Argentine import Gastón Fernández delivered a 94th minute goal at Providence Park on Saturday, a score that salvaged a 1-1 result against the new-look Philadelphia Union. With a strong performance from the newly returned Maurice Edu complementing successful debuts from Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogeuira, the Union were able to carry a one-goal lead deep into stoppage time before Fernández equalized seconds before Ioannis Stavridis’ final whistle.
Up to that point, it appeared as if John Hackworth’s team would pull off the weekend’s biggest upset, with a Philadelphia team expected to compete at the edge of the Eastern Conference playoff race set to hand Timbers head coach Caleb Porter his second regular season loss at home. But while Will Johnson took a quick corner four minutes into stoppage time, Fernández was left unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box, with Brian Carroll’s misplay of a near post ball providing an inadvertent assist for “La Gata.”
The error cost the Union two points, but it couldn’t overshadow what was an unexpectedly strong performance. Setting up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Philadelphia leveraged Edu’s presence to offset Portland’s strength in the middle. Though the Timbers still held 59 percent of the match’s possession, the Union forced their play to the flanks, with the home side unable to generate enough quality chances when they cut back into the penalty area. Although Diego Valeri had multiple chances to put Portland in front, the Timbers finished the night with only two shots on target.
The Union, in contrast, generated six, with Jack McInerney’s close range finish of a second half corner providing the one ball that beat Donovan Ricketts. Even on that play, Edu played the key part, rising above the defense to head the ball down as McInerney stood in front of the Portland keeper.
Add in a strong night from Amobi Okugo at the back, and the Union flashed a foundation that should challenge for a playoff spot, provided they can maintain this level. Though Philadelphia had touted the importance of their offseason acquisitions, the influence of players like Edu and Maidana finally became evident against the Timbers. On a day when four other Eastern Conference teams fell to Western Conference opponents, the Union manage to get a point in Portland.
Jose Mourinho has identified perhaps the most underrated position on the pitch as a place he needs to upgrade his squad this summer.
According to a report from The Guardian, the Manchester United manager is looking to sign Tottenham wing back Danny Rose and potentially another full back in the summer transfer window. With Luke Shaw likely to leave the club, Mourinho is left with incumbents left back Ashley Young and right back Antonio Valencia, both on the wrong side of 30-years old and both converted wingers playing out-of-position.
Mourinho last December decried crosstown rivals Man City for spending more than $140 million to sign wing backs Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker last summer. Though Mendy missed most of the season with a torn ACL, Walker and fellow outside back Danilo helped give Man City’s attack another dimension out wide, as the wing backs in the 3-4-3 or Man City’s 4-1-4-1 with Fernandinho dropping back into the centerback pairing become ever more important.
Rose has had a contentious last 18-months or so at Tottenham and could be looking to leave this summer. But it will likely take a bid north of $75 million, around what it cost Man City to sign Walker last summer, to buy Rose out of his Tottenham contract.
Matteo Darmian meanwhile, another potential outside back for Man United, could also be departing the club this summer, as Man United looks to replenish its side.
The implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Italy has been controversial, but according to a look at the statistics, it has for the most part done its job to fix clear and obvious errors.
Italian sports paper Gazzetta Dello Sport compiled all the times VAR has been used through 346 matches, 330 in Serie A and 16 in the Coppa Italia. There were 1,736 checks (916 goals, 464 penalties and 356 red cards) with 105 corrections and just 17 errors where the referee and assistant made the wrong decision. Eight of those errors did affect the result, which is an issue that will surely be addressed by the Italian officiating organization.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
But overall, Gazzetta found that in the VAR era, referee errors only amounted to 0.98 percent during a match, as opposed to 6.03 percent in the past. In addition, fouls are down 8.8 percent, red cards are down 6.4 percent, and yellow cards are down 14.7 percent. On the flip side, penalty kicks are called 4.3 more percent of the time.
The Premier League voted recently not to add VAR to its league matches next season, while top leagues in Germany, Italy and in Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League continue to use it.
Whoever takes the helm as Arsenal’s next manager will have to do some math gymnastics this summer to stretch every penny available.
According to a report from The Telegraph, Arsenal is giving Arsene Wenger‘s successor a little less than $70 million to work with in this summer’s transfer market, citing back-to-back transfer windows with club-record signings (Alexandre Lacazette last summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January) and three raises given to players. Arsenal paid around $78 million alone to sign Aubameyang and around $65 million for Lacazette.
[READ: UCL Preview: Liverpool vs. Roma]
That means whoever comes in next to lead Arsenal will likely have to sell one or two players this summer to raise additional money for world-class signings.
For the last decade, Arsenal has been crying out for a new pair of centerbacks and a holding midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. In addition, with Petr Cech getting older, the prospect of needing a new goalkeeper is also on the horizon.
Luckily for Arsenal, they seem to be just fine up front. From Aubameyang and Lacazette to Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, the club has the talent to challenge for a title next season in that department.
A dozen different names have been bandied about as to who will be Arsenal’s next manager, with out-of-contract and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique reportedly on the shortlist. Vieira, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, Germany National Team coach Joachim Low, Juventus boss Max Allegri and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsman have all also been linked with the job.
MADRID (AP) Spanish third-division club Toledo says a Tunisian player who collapsed from heart failure during practice 10 days ago has regained consciousness.
The club says doctors removed sedative medication and Lassad Nouioui was responding well to treatment on Monday.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
They will consider removing the 32-year-old Nouioui from the intensive care unit if his condition keeps improving. Nouioui has played for a number of clubs during his 14-year professional career, notably a four-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna and a one-year spell with Celtic.
Nouioui collapsed on April 14.
The game against Real Madrid B the following day was postponed because of the problem with Nouioui.