Sporting Kansas City breaks out, overcomes penalties in Colorado (video)

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Neither Colorado nor Sporting Kansas City had scored an open play goal ahead this season, something the defending champions rectified in the second half of today’s game in Commerce City, Colo. Two well-worked goals saw Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber score for the first time this season, with Dom Dwyer roofing a winner in stoppage time to send a 10-man Colorado to its first defeat of the season, 3-2.

Along the way, the Rapids were blessed with two more penalty kicks, running the team’s total to five on the season. Converting both his tries, Vicente Sanchez is up to a league-leading four goals, withthe Rapids having yet to score from anywhere but the spot.

Yet despite getting two kicks for the second straight week, the Rapids suffered their first loss of the season, with Kansas City’s wide play able to create each of  the team’s second half goals. In the 50th minute, Paulo Nagamura fed Sal Zizzo down Sporting’s right flank, with the former Timber eventually playing through the six-yard box for Zusi. The U.S. international finished into an open net to make it 1-0.

source: Getty ImagesIn the 79th minute, it was Zusi (right, at MLS Cup) that started the final movement down the left, with Zizzo getting his second assist of the day when he headed down for Feilhaber. Though he need two chances to get around a diving Nathan Sturgis, Feilhaber’s goal equalized one minute after the Rapids’ second conversion.

But amid all those fireworks, the match’s key development looked like something that could have proven irrelevant. With five minutes left in regulation time, while pressuring Zusi on a ball coming out of the Sporting end, Marvell Wynne’s right foot came down on the attacker’s ankle, earning him a red card.

(ELSEWHERE: Late Di Vaio goal makes Philadelphia pay, gives Montréal first point of 2014 (video))

So close to the end of the game, Colorado should have still been able to kill off the draw. Instead, one minute into stoppage time, Zusi fed Dwyer in the left of the penalty area before this blast – what might be the best goal of the young striker’s career:

Sporting beat a very good San Jose team last week, but despite giving up two goals, this was the defending champions’ best performance of the season. There were points of this game, particularly in the first half, were Colorado was very good. Kansas City rode that out, though, got to half time even, and were eventually able to deflate a confident Colorado with Zusi’s goals. The first penalty was a bit of bad lack, the second one was fully Feilhaber’s fault, but the team overcame both. Between the attack’s awakening, the fight back, and three points on the road at altitude, this is a very impressive result.

(ELSEWHERE: D.C. United finally into goals, points columns, but Chicago takes result out of RFK (video))

Though the first three weeks of the season, we were left wondering what Sporting would look like once they moved on from their Champions League commitments. Though Dwyer, Aurélien Collin, and Chance Myers weren’t in today’s starting lineup, the team played more like last year’s champions than any Sporting squad that’s taken the field in MLS. Aside from the first half at home against Cruz Azul, this was the best Sporting team we’ve seen all season.

So consider the questions answered, even if the queries were more curiosities than serious. If you were wondering when the real Sporting Kansas City would show up, wonder no more.

Xabi Alonso denies Spanish accusations of tax fraud

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The list of players pursued by Spanish authorities crying tax fraud is starting to resemble a pretty good team,

Call it The Longest Yard: La Liga.

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Xabi Alonso is being accused of not paying taxes on his image rights while a player at Real Madrid, joining Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo as World XI-caliber players who’ve faced legal troubles in Spain.

Jose Mourinho even had to travel to Spain earlier this season to face accusations from a Spanish court. Those found guilty have found punishment other than jail time.

Alonso denies any wrongdoing, according to Sky Sports:

Prosecutors say he defrauded the Spanish state of £1.75m between 2010 and 2012 and called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonso’s financial advisor Ivan Zaldua Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Maestre Casanova.

Iraq hosts friendly tournament after 3-decade FIFA ban

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BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq is hosting a friendly soccer tournament this week, with Syria and Qatar.

It comes just days after FIFA lifted a three-decade-long ban on Iraq hosting international competitions.

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An Iraq-Qatar match is to start Wednesday evening in the southern city of Basra.

FIFA lifted the ban on Monday for Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil, considered to be the safest in Iraq – but not the capital, Baghdad, which still sees frequent militant attacks.

Iraq’s minister of youth and sports, Abdul-Hussein Abtan, congratulated the Iraqi people following FIFA’s move and said it would change how Iraq is viewed in the region and beyond.

While the ban was in place, Iraq was still able to host friendly games and tournaments.

$280m? Who cares? Salah is the rare “unsellable” player


The gossip reports are out there, with lofty claims that Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to pay as much as $280 million dollars for Mohamed Salah.

Normally that figure triggers something in my brain that screams, “Sell! Sell! Sell before they realize what they’ve offered!”

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That’s not happening with Mohamed Salah.

This isn’t an inflated fee for a young English player like Ross Barkley or John Stones, nor is it a club throwing a lofty and desperate figure at a very good but supremely overvalued player like Philippe Coutinho. Even Raheem Sterling, who I advocated selling, has proven replaceable.

In the case of Salah, his Golden Boot figure is likely to dwarf any in the Premier League era. He’s at 28, three behind Luis Suarez’s 31. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged 31 once Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hold the modern record with 34.

Salah needs six to tie Shearer. Here’s Liverpool’s run-in: Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A), Brighton and Hove Albion (H).

Five of those teams absolutely hemorrhage goals. Would you bet against Salah?

By the way, Salah has 10 assists, too. Sure Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for buying and deploying the Egyptian wizard, but

When Klopp argued that Liverpool was not a selling club, this is the exact example to follow. Selling Coutinho — again, not trying to poke the bear that is ornery overvaluing fan — is fine in a world where your club has Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah

But selling one of Europe’s leading scorers is almost never okay for a club challenging for a Champions League crown and with the clear caliber of a Premier League title hunter.

I’d argue that for this club, one who has sold Coutinho and Suarez, there is not a fee that meets Salah straight-on.  He’s 25 and living in the air just below Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The Messi comparisons I keep reading are fun but still unbelievably premature by every stretch of the imagination. By the time Messi was Salah’s age he had league seasons of 34, 31, 50, and was en route to a 46-goal mark. He posted 68 combined assists over those four seasons.

If this is somehow an aberration, and Salah cannot find this form ever again, well, that’s bad luck and a risk worth its weight in standard setting.

There is not a replacement player.

There is no fee.

Say it again now.

Dangerous playmaker Silva joins Montreal Impact (video)

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Alejandro Silva’s got a creative mind, and that’s something Montreal will welcome with open arms.

The Uruguayan signed with the Impact this week, joining Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider as playmakers in Quebec.

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Silva, 28, is a right-sided and forward-playing attacker who can also play right back if necessary.

The Impact lost two of three to start the season, winning this weekend’s 401 Derby versus Toronto FC to put a number in the win column.

Lanus has been a fertile ground for Major League Soccer clubs in recent years, with Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) making the move to North America.

The South American club has also sent Gustavo Gomez to AC Milan and Oscar Benitez to Benfica.