MLS roundup: Dallas moves top; Toronto, Columbus stay perfect

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The 2014 Major League Soccer season has barely started, but the desire to connect dots is irresistible. Though each team has only played between five and nine percent of their seasons’ games, we want to see this weekend’s results as part of a bigger story, one which builds on the season’s first two weekends. We want these games to be more significant than they are.

For example, Toronto got its second win in as many games, marking the first time in franchise history the team has started 2-0-0. But does a 1-0 win at home against D.C. United tell us anything about Ryan Nelsen’s team? When the result slides into the bigger story of Toronto’s revival, it becomes more meaningful than it should.

What about Sporting Kansas City’s win over San Jose? With Champions League behind the defending champions, it’s tempting to see their first win of the season as turning a corner. Through three games, however, the team still hasn’t scored an open play goal.

And then there’s the league’s running joke: Chivas USA. Wilmer Cabrera’s team lost 3-1 in Frisco, Tex., on Saturday, a result that fits nicely with the idea that the league-owned club will be the circuit’s obligatory doormat. In reality, Chivas USA looked more like the team that took four points through two rounds than the squad that finished last year at the bottom of the Western Conference.

It’s too early to tell where this weekend’s games fit in the bigger picture. After three weeks, we have no clue what that picture will look like. Right now, all we have are the results.

Here’s what happened on the third Saturday of the 2014 MLS season:

New England 0, Vancouver 0

With Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene back in Jay Heaps’ starting lineup, the Revolution looked like their 2013 selves for the first time this season. Unfortunately for New England, that produced neither a win nor a goal, leaving the Revolution without either through three games this season.

(MORE: Everything there but the end product for New England against Vancouver)

Real Salt Lake 1, LA Galaxy 1

The Galaxy’s defensive problems persisted, giving up an early goal to Álvaro Saborío after leaving the Costa Rican unmarked on a set piece. Robbie Keane responded by finishing a trademark LA counterattack, sending the teams into halftime at 1-1. A lack of second half chances meant the two teams that opened the season with an RSL win in Carson, Calif., shared points at Rio Tinto.

(MORE: First half goals, lack of second half chances leave Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy drawn at Rio Tinto (video))

Toronto 1, D.C. United 0

Jermain Defoe’s third goal of the season gave Toronto a lead on the hour, and advantage Ryan Nelsen’s team would ride to their second win in as many games. While D.C. United improved on their opening day loss to Columbus, Ben Olsen’s team remains at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

(MORE: Bloodied Michael Bradley earning Toronto’s praise after staple-requiring win)

Columbus 2, Philadelphia 1

Bernardo Anor scored twice in the first half as Gregg Berhalter’s team built their second straight two-goal lead. Rather than building on it (as they did week one in D.C.), the Crew saw Leonardo Fernandes pull one back. Columbus eventually steadied the ship and held out for their second win in as many games.

(MORE: Perfect through two: Columbus answers opening day questions with win over Philadelphia)

Colorado 2, Portland 0

Donovan Ricketts’ 68th minute red card broke open the game for Colorado, who saw Vicente Sanchez convert the first of two penalties kicks in three minutes. Deshorn Brown put home the rebound of his 73rd minute attempt to give the Rapids their first win of the season, sending the Timbers to their first loss.

(MORE: Two goalkeepers, two penalties conceded as Portland falls in Colorado)

Sporting Kansas City 1, San Jose 0

A first half sequence that saw Sal Zizzo and Ike Opara hit Jon Busch’s right post left the teams even a halftime, a stalemate that was broken early in the second half. After Steven Lenhart was called for a hand ball in the box, Dom Dwyer converted from the spot for his third MLS goal and Sporting’s first win of the season.

(MORE: Defending champions get first win of the season, but scoring, chances still a question for Sporting Kansas City)

FC Dallas 3, Chivas USA 1

Goals from Fabian Castillo, Je-Vaughn Watson, and Michel turned a match that was even in the 70th minute into a decisive win for Dallas, with only Erick Torres’s third goal of the season providing consolation for Chivas. The win left Óscar Pareja’s team two points clear at the top of the Western Conference.

(MORE: Óscar Pareja’s still defying expectations, but who’s going to play defensive midfield next week for Dallas?)

Champions League score picks – Week 2

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The UEFA Champions League group stage kicks off Week 2 on Tuesday, so let’s have some fun and try to predict the scores.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Feel free to join in down in the comments section, as I’m predicting another unbeaten week for all five Premier League teams in action.

[ MORE: Group stage predictions ] 

Below you will find score predictions for all 16 UCL games across the next two days.


Tuesday

Group E
Sevilla 3-1 Maribor
Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool

Group F
Man City 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli 3-1 Feyenoord

Group G
Besiktas 0-2 RB Leipzig
Monaco 2-1 FC Porto

Group H
Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Real Madrid
APOEL 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday

Group A
CSKA Moscow 1-2 Manchester United
Basel 0-2 Benfica

Group B
Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Bayern Munich
Anderlecht 2-1 Celtic

Group C
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Chelsea
Qarabag 1-3 Roma

Group D
Sporting Lisbon 1-3 Barcelona
Juventus 2-1 Olympiacos

Court hearing opens into spectators attacking referees

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Witnesses in Uruguay’s capital testified before a judge on Monday about an attack on two referees by spectators at a soccer match.

A male and a female referee were attacked on Saturday during a second division under-19 game between Basanez and Platense.

The next day, the Uruguay Football Association cancelled all organized football as referees protested the violence by refusing to officiate. Officials are expected to meet on Wednesday to decide if they will lift the stoppage.

Witnesses told Judge Julia Staricco it started after a kid threw rocks on the field with encouragement from his father. The female referee’s partner asked the kid to stop, leading to an argument with other spectators who punched and kicked the referees.

An attorney representing the country’s referees union, Fernando de Los Santos, says the officials suffered bruises to their bodies.

“There are several people responsible here: The players, especially who are all young in the under-19 category; their parents, and their families,” de Los Santos said.

“This is not new. We’ve seen this kind of violence in the lower divisions. But this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The Basanez and Platense clubs have issued statements condemning the violence. Basanez also said it fired one of its players who was part of the attack.

The case is being handled by the same local judge who recently charged three people for violent acts during the Penarol-Nacional derby.

Morata has a warning for Chelsea’s Premier League rivals

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Alvaro Morata believes his fast start to life in the Premier League at Chelsea is only a taster of what is to come.

[ MORE: Who is the PL’s most complete striker? ]

After scoring a hat trick at Stoke City on Saturday in Chelsea’s 4-0 win, Morata spoke to reporters about the chances he missed and admitted he could have had five goals to his name.

The Spanish striker, 24, is clearly not content with simply replacing Diego Costa at Chelsea.

“I am happy with my start in the Premier League but I can do better,” Morata said. “I had two chances at the end of the game against Stoke [but didn’t take them]. I also need to improve my physical condition to be as good as possible.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Can do better. Six goals in your first six Premier League games is a pretty decent return, Alvaro.

Still, you can see what he’s saying. Morata has looked good in fits and starts so far this season but his undeniable quality is there for all to see. He scored three goals and added two assists with his head before Saturday’s breakout where he proved he can also score with his feet.

Morata struggled against Arsenal 10 days ago as he seemed isolated up top and the physicality of the Premier League seems to still surprise him at times.

It is still early days for the Spanish international who joined for $77.8 million (which could rise to $93.9 million) but the way in which he accelerated past Stoke’s defense on his first and second goals, then finished coolly reminded us all that of his schooling at Real Madrid and Juventus.

Morata is now undeniably a contender for the Golden Boot and looks like a more refined, agile replacement for Costa. His quickness of thought and elegance has replaced the brute force and desire of Costa and it seems like it will work out just fine.

Jose Mourinho on Man United’s midfield injury crisis

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Jose Mourinho has been speaking in Moscow ahead of Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

[ MORE: UCL team news for PL clubs ]

The Man United boss has had a positive start to the new season with seven wins from nine games in all competitions as his side are second in the Premier League table only on goal difference.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

That said, injuries are mounting up for the Red Devils, particularly in central midfield as Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick are all missing for United’s trip to CSKA.

“We don’t have Fellaini. We don’t have Pogba. We don’t have Carrick. All three midfield players that we lose for this match. The solutions are not many,” Mourinho said. “We are trying not to focus on individual battles in specific areas on the pitch. We are going to have a team with quality and balance to try to win the match. That’s our objective.”

What are Mourinho’s solutions to plug these gaps?

Ander Herrera will likely start in central midfield alongside Nemanja Matic which should be enough but given the extent of the injuries to both Pogba and Fellaini they will also have to play against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Fellaini was injured by Southampton’s Shane Long on Saturday and Mourinho confirmed the Belgian midfielder would not play again before the international break.

“Fellaini was lucky. It could be a much worse situation but in a moment where we don’t have Pogba and Carrick he becomes even more important than he always is. I expect Fellaini not to be out for a long time,” Mourinho added.

As for Mourinho, he was asked about the decision by the English Football Association to take no further action after he was sent to the stands late on in United’s 1-0 victory at Southampton on Saturday.

“If I am not punished it is because there are no reasons for the sending off,” Mourinho said. “I am happy that it is recognized and I can do my work normally against Crystal Palace. That’s enough for me.”