2013 MLS Cup-Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City

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.

Wales manager says Arsenal could have avoided Aaron Ramsey injury

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 07: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Pre-Season Friendly between Arsenal and Manchester City at Ullevi on August 7, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
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Wales manager Chris Coleman says Arsenal could have prevented Aaron Ramsey‘s current hamstring injury had they left him out of the early-season matches.

Ramsey was withdrawn in 62nd minute of Arsenal’s season opener against Liverpool after pulling up, and Coleman believes it happened for a reason. “It’s disappointing he’s got an injury. Could it have been prevented? Possibly, yes,” Coleman told the media ahead of the international window. “I think we all expected him to [miss the start of the season]. So I don’t know what happened between then and when he ended up on the pitch. Obviously only Arsenal can answer that. I think, to a man, if you were looking at [Arsenal’s team-sheet], it was a bit of a surprise he started.”

Ramsey helped Wales progress to the Euro 2016 semifinals. Many starts from countries that went deep in the Euros got a rest to start the season. Many of France’s team members, including Dimitri Payet and even Ramsey’s Arsenal teammate Olivier Giroud saw time off to start the Premier League season.

“When you’ve got a player as good as Aaron, take him out of any team and you are going to know about it,” Coleman said. “He is irreplaceable. He makes a huge impact for us. He is a great player and it’s a shame he’s not here. He’s a loss to any team.”

Wales has a World Cup qualifier against Moldova on September 5.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 1-2 Toronto FC

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC dribbles the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Orlando City defense played a 75 minute match, and those 15 minutes off cost them the match. A pair of sleepy moments early and late in the match saw Toronto bag two goals on the road and leave Citrus Bowl Stadium with all three points. Sebastian Giovinco had the assists on both, a pair of perfectly timed through balls – one over the top and one through the middle – sprung the Toronto strikers.

Three moments that mattered

7′ – Toronto had a dream start just seven minutes in when a looping ball from Sebastian Giovinco found Tousaint Ricketts. He torched Tommy Redding down the right, breaking free on goal and finishing the one-on-one chance around Joe Bednik cooly.

56′ – Greg Vanney’s anger was doubled. First, the Toronto FC manager was left seething at a foul called as Marco Delgado clipped Matias Garcia and gave Orlando a set-piece opportunity. In the ensuing spell of possession, a cross from Luke Boden met the head of Clye Larin, who deposited it into the back of the net. A stone-faced Vanney was left seething on the bench as the home side leveled it up at 1-1.

86′ – Jozy Altidore came off the bench to finish off the game, and while he had a horrible miss just minutes into the game, he atoned at the end. The visitors again caught the Orlando defense completely asleep, with the back line pressed way high up the pitch. Altidore timed his run perfectly, and the hosts didn’t even attempt to catch up. One-on-one, the USMNT striker finished easily.

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Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Ricketts 7′, Larin 56′, Altidore 86′

Men In Blazers podcast: Leicester vs. Arsenal, plus wins for Mourinho, Pep, and Conte

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Rog and Davo recap the discordant draw that was Leicester vs. Arsenal and break down perfect starts for Mourinho, Pep and Antonio Conte.

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Hope Solo suspended from USWNT for 6 months, contract terminated

KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 22:  Goalkeeper Hope Solo #1 of the United States in action during the game against Costa Rica at Children's Mercy Park on July 22, 2016 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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U.S. Soccer has announced that Hope Solo has been suspended from the USWNT for six months following the comments she made about Sweden’s performance in the quarterfinal match that saw the U.S. eliminated from the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals.

Sweden played a defensively-minded match, which finished in a 1-1 draw and progressed to penalties, where Sweden defeated the reigning World Cup champions. Solo told reporters following the match that “I think we played a bunch of cowards” and “the best team did not win.”

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“The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a statement on Wednesday evening. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions. ”

The statement said that prior incidents were considered “as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member” when determining the length of the suspension. Solo was suspended in 30 days back in 2015 for a build-up of conduct issues. Even considering her prior conduct problems, the length of suspension is surprising for simply inflammatory comments, but U.S. Soccer made it clear in the statement that there is likely more to this than meets the eye.

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With the six-month layoff, Solo will be eligible to return to the team in February of 2017. The team has just two more matches scheduled for the remainder of 2016. She can still play for her club team Seattle Reign during the suspension. There was another term of punishment levied on Solo:

Other reports have confirmed that, because U.S. Soccer pays her club contract as well, only her national team portion of the contract was revoked.

“During our current National Team camp, Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates,” coach Jill Ellis said in a separate statement. “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”

Solo responded to the suspension, saying, “I apologize for disappointing my teammates, coaches and the Federation who have always supported me,” she wrote. “I think it’s best for me to take a break, decompress from the stress of the last several months, and come back mentally and physically ready to positively contribute to the team.”

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While Hope Solo seems to accept the decision, the player’s union isn’t so much.