MLS roundup: Sporting, RSL drawn late; Houston perfect after two

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From Jermain Defoe’s first goals in Seattle to San Jose’s late comeback in Santa Clara, Major League Soccer made up for a week two downturn in goals with an uptick in drama. Each of Saturday’s six games was decided by one goal or less, with three matches seeing points change hands thanks to late goals.

When the dust (mostly kicked up by the events at Buck Shaw) settled, the Houston Dynamo had a two-point lead on the rest of the league, with FC Dallas, Philadelphia, and Real Salt Lake moving to four points through two rounds. At the other end of the spectrum, New England and Montréal lost their second games of the season, with Jay Heaps ‘team sitting with a -5 goal difference after being shut out twice.

Here’s how the second Saturday of the 2014 Major League Soccer season played out:

New York Red Bulls 1-1 Colorado Rapids

New York’s attempt to rebound from last week’s disappointment was undone by a controversial late penalty, with Vicente Sanchez’s conversion earning Colorado a point at Red Bull Arena. While it was a strong result for Pablo Mastroeni’s head coaching debut, New York remains winless, its Supporters’ Shield defense yielding one point through two games.

(MORE: This call on Jámison Olave cost New York two points against Colorado)

Philadelphia Union 1-0 New England Revolution

The Union needed one huge save from Zac MacMath, but other than Diego Fagundez’s failed try from close range, Philadelphia was able to keep a lid on the winless, goalless Revolution. Holding nearly 60 percent of the match’s possession, the Union made Sebastien Le Toux’s first half goal hold up, moving to four points through two rounds.

(MORE: Philadelphia backs up Week One success, claims season’s first win against New England)

Seattle Sounders 1-2 Toronto FC

Two first half goals from Jermain Defoe got the England international’s Major League Soccer career off to a flying start, but thanks to a second half goal from Clint Dempsey, Ryan Nelsen’s team were left holding on at match’s end. Winning its season opener, TFC also sent Seattle to its first loss of the season.

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Houston Dynamo 1-0 Montréal Impact

Will Bruin’s 40th minute goal and some dodged bullets in Saturday’s second half have Houston out in front of the league – the only MLS team on six points through Saturday’s action. Chivas USA or Vancouver can join them tomorrow, but for now, powered by Bruin’s three goals on the season, Houston is tops in Major League Soccer.

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Sporting Kansas City 1-1 FC Dallas

Matt Hedges made up for his inability to stop Aurélien Collin’s 81st minute goal with a 90th minute equalizer, with the third-year pro heading home from close range to keep Óscar Pareja’s team undefeated through two games. Sporting, on the other hand, finish its season’s second weekend without a win, the start to its title defense hampered by its need to balance domestic concerns with Champions League’s challenge.

(MORE: Late goal from FC Dallas earns draw in Kansas City; Sporting’s attack suffering while squad rotates)

San Jose Earthquakes 3-3 Real Salt Lake

RSL’s 3-1, halftime lead only set them up to be “goonied” in Santa Clara, with a pair of late Victor Bernardez goals allowing the Earthquakes to salvage a result. With the last kick of the match, Bernardez scored from seven yards out, giving San Jose its second comeback victory of the week.

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French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga