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

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D.C. United’s winless streak is now at 15 games, but there are a number of positives to take out of Saturday’s performance at RFK Satdium. For the second week in a row, Ben Olsen’s team showed progress, this time getting a 2-2 result against visiting Chicago.

It’s a somewhat patronizing view, but remember: This is a team coming off a season where it set a record for fewest wins. They also lost 3-0 at home on opening day, giving their last two games the feeling of an upward trajectory. After losing 1-0 last Saturday at BMO Field, D.C. United got its first goals and points of the year.

This wasn’t a game that would recommend either side, though. Particularly in the first half, where D.C. was creating most of the initial chances, the game was characterizing more by hard play and effort than skill and execution. This looked like two teams that had combined for zero win in five games.

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

Chicago, however, found its first piece of execution in the 27th minute, though the opening goal looked as much like a D.C. breakdown as it did a well-executed corner. Yet after Sean Franklin lost Jhon Kennedy Hurtado on a mid-half restart, the Fire had drawn first blood.

source: Getty ImagesD.C. quickly staunched the wound, with Chicago’s own piece of poor set piece defending allowing the hosts to equalize. After Eddie Johnson drew a foul on Greg Cochrane just beyond the Fire penalty box, a back-heeled restart from Nick DeLeon allowed Fabian Espindola to get an angle around the Chicago wall. His low blast went under a slow reacting Sean Johnson to tie the game before halftime.

The second half was more of the same, though the teams reversed roles. Instead of Chicago taking advantage of D.C. to go up on a corner, it was Perry Kitchen’s (pictured) third career goal through some goal mouth chaos that gave United a 2-1 edge in the 73rd. Nine minutes later, Patrick Nyarko shredded Cristian Fernandez down the right flank before finding Quincy Amarikwa at the edge of the six-yard box. The striker’s second goal of the season gave Chicago its third straight draw.

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

Perhaps that breakdown will leave D.C. disappointed, but a look at the numbers helps describe what was team’s best day of the season. Fifty-two percent possession speaks to the improved play in the midfield, something that’d been a problem through games one and two. The team put nine shots on target while limiting Chicago to four. While soccer stats can often portray a false impression of a game, there’s some truth in today’s numbers. Perhaps United weren’t as far beyond Chicago as a 9-4 shots on target edge suggests, but they were generating more chances throughout.

In that sense, there’s no need for disappointment. True, D.C. gave away a late lead, and on Thursday, we called this game an “if we can’t win this one, we’re in real trouble” affair, but that looks like an exaggeration, now. United didn’t win, and it’s in less trouble than it was three hours ago. Today was progress, if only slightly so.

Report: FIFA president Infantino in hot water

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The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.

According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.

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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.

FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.

The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.

Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

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La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.