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.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano will be out of action for six weeks to recover from a right knee injury.
[ MORE: Luis Enrique leaves Barca with feeling of accomplishment ]
Barcelona’s season is over, but the injury will rule out Mascherano from Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on June 9.
Mascherano injured his leg early in Saturday’s final of the Copa del Rey, when Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to defend its title for a third straight season.
He also cut his head during the collision with an Alaves player that produced the leg injury. He returned on crutches to join the team celebration.
Argentina doesn’t play its next World Cup qualifier until it plays Uruguay on Aug. 28.
There’s a wide range of players that were integral in Chelsea’s Premier League-winning season in 2016/17, but one of the most underrated was arguably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
[ MORE: PL clubs may miss on Celtic’s Dembele and more transfer news ]
The Blues shot-stopper started all but two PL matches this past campaign, and now the Belgian international is seeking an extension with the London club.
“Contract talks haven’t opened but I am happy at Chelsea,” Courtois told Sky Sports after Chelsea’s loss to Arsenal at Wembley.
“I hope they reward me with a good contract, then there will be no doubt I will sign it.”
The 25-year-old keeper has been in at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Genk in 2011, but Courtois spent three seasons in Spain on a loan spell.
Courtois likened this PL campaign to his time on loan at Atletico Madrid, stating that while his side’s achievements in the league were everything Chelsea could have hoped for that there was still more the Blues could have done.
“It’s not a good feeling now,” Courtois told Chelsea’s official website. “I had the same thing in Spain when I won the league and then lost the Champions League.
“We wanted to end on a high, now we feel sad. Winning is everything so this is hard to face but we have to try to forget it.”
Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.
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The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.
Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.
It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.
With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]
Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:
Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.
After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.
West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.
Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.