MLS roundup: Dempsey scores two more; RSL the last of the unbeatens

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Major League Soccer is down to one unbeaten team, though in a month-and-a-half full of ties, it’s only right that the last undefeated side is riddled with draws. After a 2-2 result today in Philadelphia, Real Salt Lake’s left with only two wins in six, its 2-0-4 record as indicative of its difficult opening schedule as the team’s quality.

Thanks to Seattle’s performance in Frisco, Tex., FC Dallas can no longer count itself among the unbeatens, with another headlining performance from one of the league’s biggest stars finally sinking Óscar Pareja’s upstart side. FCD does, however, maintain its place at the top of the Western Conference, with a surprise win from Colorado at BMO Field leaving a trio of clubs three points behind the leaders.

Here’s what happened on the sixth Saturday of the Major League Soccer season:

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Real Salt Lake

Oh, look what we have here: The good Philadelphia Union. We thought we lost you guys, but the way you played against Real Salt Lake? You obviously just had an off week against Chicago. Maybe that potential you flashed against Portland, New England, and Columbus wasn’t a more than a hot start.

Coming back from two different deficits, the Union got their fourth draw of the season, seeing their new striker (Andrew Wenger) score in the process. Real Salt Lake also so a “4” going into their tie column, though the Western Conference champions are the league’s last unbeaten team.

Toronto FC 0-1 Colorado Rapids

Without Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe, Toronto still had a number of chances to claim their second home win of the season, but after a well-built chance that saw Dillons Serna and Powers create a close-range opportunity for Edson Buddle, the Reds were made to rue their inability to find an opening goal. With their second loss of the year, TFC remains tied at the top of the East with Columbus, while Colorado moves to within three points of first place Dallas in the Western Conference.

Montréal Impact 1-1 Chicago Fire

Jack McInerney scored in his first game with Montréal, but much like the rest of his team, the new Impact striker was kept quiet throughout the rest of the afternoon. When Chicago got an early second half equalizer from Quincy Amarikwa, Frank Yallop’s team appeared to be building toward its first win of the season, but unable to find a winner from a match it controlled, the Fire had to settle for its fourth straight draw.

New England Revolution 2-0 Houston Dynamo

Carrying some kind of hangover from their 4-1 loss to Dallas last weekend, Houston failed to put a shot on goal at Gillette Stadium, allowing Kevin Alston’s first MLS goal to carry New England into stoppage time. Jerry Bengston’s goal after a Tally Hall error doubled the Revolution lead as well as Houston’s losing streak, with New England rebounding from its loss at D.C. to hand the Dynamo their second straight loss.

D.C. United 1-0 New York Red Bulls

A fourth minute goal from Davy Arnaud along with another surprisingly poor performance from New York gave Ben Olsen’s team its second straight win, with United now one win short of its 2013 season total. With Thierry Henry back in the team, the Red Bulls were able to take more control than they did last week in Montréal, but an inability to put more than three of their 19 shots on target leaves the Supporters’ Shield holders winless this season.

FC Dallas 2-3 Seattle Sounders

Clint Dempsey made his case for a second straight Player of the Week honor, with a Goal of the Year candidate and a late match-winner giving “Deuce” his second straight multi-goal night. Knocking Dallas from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Sounders claimed their third win of the campaign, with their biggest star taking his spot atop the league’s scoring charts with six goals.

Portland Timbers 1-1 Chivas USA

What New York is to the East, Portland is to the Western Conference. Now six games without a win, the Timbers again saw a defensive failing cost them points, with Erick Torres’s late goal giving the visiting Goats a surprise result. With his fifth goal of the year, “Cubo” joins Dempsey as the only players to net five times though six rounds (though Dempsey has played two fewer games).

LA Galaxy 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Robbie Keane’s third goal in four games keeps LA in the win column, with the Galaxy’s second straight shutout giving fans reason to think Bruce Arena has found a solution for the team’s biggest weakness. After starting the season with a loss and draw against Real Salt Lake, LA’s up to seven points in four games, though Landon Donovan remains in pursuit of goal No. 135.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.