Sporting Kansas City v Chicago Fire

Mike Magee goal, failed conversion define Chicago’s draw with Philadelphia (video)

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Mike Magee finally got onto the scoresheet, but thanks to his inability to covert from the spot in stoppage time, Chicago couldn’t break into the win column. Failing to beat Zac MacMath with either his late penalty kick or his rebound attempt, Magee was forced to content himself with a one goal, one assist afternoon as the Fire drew the Union, 2-2.

Given the quality of opposition, however, the Fire could still take solace in the result, but given how many chances Frank Yallop’s team had to take this game, regret would be a more appropriate response. With Philadelphia scoring both of its goals over a eight-minute span of the first half, Chicago was the better team for most of the afternoon. After Magee’s failed conversion, the Fire were left with their fourth draw in a row.

This performance, however, may have been the team’s best of the season. While they also gave decent performances in draws against Portland, New York, and D.C. United, Saturday was the first time this season where Chicago was indisputably the better side. Despite being out-numbered in midfield, they won the possession battle (52-48) while putting seven shots on goal to Philadelphia’s two. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Bakary Soumaré held Conor Casey, making his first start of the season, without a shot, let alone one on target. This was Chicago’s best performance.

It may also have been Philadelphia’s worse. With a midfield of Maurice Edu, Brian Carroll, and Vincent Nogeuira going up against Matt Watson and Jeff Larentowicz, the Union should have exacted the same control on this game that they had against New England and Montréal. But that didn’t happen. When Philadelphis broke through in the 32nd minute through Maurice Edu, it was against the run of play and with the help of a fortunate deflection. When Leo Fernandes gave them the lead seven minutes later, it was through the generosity of a chaotically played free kick. The Union were fortunate to be in front.

Given its talent and how it sets up, Philadelphia should have been able to see the game out. Instead, for the second straight week, they gave up a late goal, with Juan Luis Anangonó given an easy header from a yard out off a ball from Magee. In the first half, Magee was also allowed to score from close range, with Amobi Okugo playing a part in each conceded goal.

With Aaron Wheeler conceding the late penalty, both Philadelphia defenders were guilty of making mistakes, though they weren’t the only ones who underperformed on the day. Five games into the season the Union have their first truly disappointing performance.

It’s a fact makes the result all the more regrettable for the Fire. Whether they caught Philly on an off day or this is the Union showing their true colors, Chicago should have beat them. Unable to come through, Yallop’s team keeps their “0” in the win column.

 

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.

Men In Blazers podcast: Romelu Lukaku Pod Special

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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3 – 1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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FA Cup recap: West Brom survives with penalty win over Peterborough

PETERBOROUGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10:  Darren Fletcher of West Bromwich Albion celebrates with team-mate Saido Berahino after scoring his team's first goal during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round replay match between Peterborough United and West Bromwich Albion at ABAX Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Peterborough, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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West Brom is the last team through to the FA Cup fifth round with a penalty win over Peterborough United after a 1-1 draw in their replay at ABAX Stadium.

Down 1-0 10 minutes after the halftime break, Darren Fletcher scored the equalizer in the 71st minute, and that scoreline lasted through regulation and extra time. Fletcher missed a penalty in the shootout, but Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster saved twice to put West Brom through.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club ]

Other than the penalty shootout, things were quite even throughout the match. Posh actually lead slightly on possession, and had an 8-5 shots-on-target advantage as well. Jon Taylor was the man to score for Peterborough, putting them 1-0 ahead shortly after halftime. The 23-year-old midfielder also scored in the 2-2 draw at The Hawthornes in the original matchup.

West Brom will now take on Reading in the fifth round, a team that hammered Walsall 4-0 in their fourth round meeting. Reading currently sits 15th in the Championship table

VIDEO: Alejandro Bedoya scores extra-time winner for Nantes in Coupe de France

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Alejandro Bedoya of the United States controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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With USMNT World Cup qualifying not far away, Jurgen Klinsmann will certainly look to club performances to find out which of his players are grasping club opportunities by the horns.

One US national teamer in great form is Alejandro Bedoya. The 28-year-old has scored four times across all competitions since January 23rd, and his latest is a massive one. Bedoya sent Nantes to the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France with a 118th-minute winner against Bordeaux.

Bedoya has been a lightning rod for Nantes the past two or three seasons, but something he struggled for occasionally is consistent game time. Not anymore. The American has started five of their last six league matches, and since returning from some time off due to illness, Bedoya has featured in the starting lineup in nine of 11 Ligue 1 matches. What’s more, he’s finished the full 90 minutes in seven of those.

Klinsmann has looked to Bedoya in the past for a combination of electricity and defensive ability on the wing. Now, he may bring both endurance and a goalscoring threat to international competitions, which would go a long way in raising his national team stock.