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Record again eludes Landon Donovan as Galaxy down Vancouver (video)

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This may be the most apt way for Landon Donovan to set the Major League Soccer goal scoring mark, because the guy has never been the league’s most efficient goal-scorer. That’s weird to say about a man who, already the U.S.’s all-time leading scorer, will soon hold the same honor in MLS, but it’s true. Donovan’s goal scoring has been more about quantity of chances than quality finishes;* prolonged, all-around greatness rather than dominant, individual seasons.

(*Please, analytics guys: Not now.)

Tonight was no different, with Donovan engaging in what is starting to become a weekly ritual: Teasing  those editors who have stories, videos, slide shows in the can, waiting for goal number 135 to hit the back of the net. “Donovan sets MLS career mark” has become the celebrity obituary saved to use at a moment’s notice.

Tonight’s big moment came in the 40th minute when a Dan Gargan cross found Donovan just above the six-yard box, waiting to head it inside the left post. When his attempt went wide, we instinctively knew: It wasn’t happening tonight, part of the reason his 43rd minute miss off a Stefan Ishizaki pass seemed to carry less drama.

What did happen was LA’s second win of the season, with Robbie Keane breaking through two minutes after halftime. The goal stood up, giving LA a 1-0 win, leaving the team 2-1-1 on the season. Against non-Real Salt Lake opposition, Bruce Arena’s team is now 2-0-0.

source: Getty ImagesDespite those results, the story from here forward is likely to be Donovan. Now eight games without a goal, the chase for 135 has not begun to overshadow his otherwise strong performances, it’s starting to overshadow his team’s results. Donovan’s quest for history is just more interesting than what the Galaxy’s doing in April.

That may sound dramatic, but most records are, especially when the buildup goes on for this long. Not only did Donovan give us the offseason to think it, but this eight-game stretch is his longest drought since 2011, when he went 11 games without a goal.

If people are allowing No. 135 to overshadow results, it’s not only because the record is in view. It’s because the record is in view while Donovan’s in a slump.

At least his team’s results haven’t suffered. Up to seven points through four games, the Galaxy now have better points-per-game rate than Real Salt Lake and Seattle, and while that’s only good for sixth place in the West, it does provide a different context for LA’s start. The only things keeping them from a higher place in their conference are their bye weeks, not their results.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.
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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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New York City FC
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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.