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.

La Liga: Real Madrid win wild one, now just 17 points behind Barca

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona ties club-record 31-game unbeaten run ]

Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

So long as they manage to hold off Sevilla for fourth place (Champions League qualification), Real Madrid will quickly move on from their disastrous 2017-18 season, spend a half-billion dollars in the summer and pretend like the 12 preceding months never even happened.

For a brief period on Saturday — nearly 30 minutes including the halftime intermission — that plan appeared fatally flawed and at risk. After going 1-0 up away to Real Betis courtesy of Marco Asensio’s 11th-minute opener, Los Blancos found themselves in big trouble after Aissa Mandi leveled things up in the 33rd minute, followed by a Nacho own goal four minutes later.

Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Ramos drew the visitors level, followed by another from Asensio in the 59th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-2 six minutes later, at which point Madrid appeared home free.

Sergio Leon pulled Betis to within one in the 85th minute, but Karim Benzema restored the two-goal lead in the 91st, less than two minutes after replacing Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

With Barcelona still unbeaten on the La Liga season, the title is all but decided with more than three months still to play. That hasn’t stopped Atleti, though, as Diego Simeone’s side, which has lost just once in the league, continues to pursue Lionel Messi and Co. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao moved Los Rojiblancos back to within seven points of Barca with a dozen games, and one head-to-head matchup, still to play.

Kevin Gameiro scored what turned out to be the winner in the 67th minute, followed not long after by Diego Costa‘s second league goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) to make it 2-0.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 3-0 Levante
Espanyol 1-1 Villarreal

VAR provider apologizes for wrong image of offside Man Utd goal

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Whether or not you’re in favor of the use of video-assistant refereeing the world over — and, more specifically, English soccer — one thing on which we can all agree has become abundantly clear: VAR’s maiden voyage has been a chaotic, poorly conducted mess.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho demands VAR calls be “perfect” ]

Any change to the game’s century-old rules and practices — especially of VAR’s monumental proportions — must be implemented and executed without a hitch. Any issues that had arisen prior to this weekend were minor in significance and import, but that all changed on Saturday, when Manchester United’s Juan Mata had a goal wiped away by VAR (WATCH HERE).

Mata appeared to have timed his run perfectly and been onside before slotting home to put Man United 2-0 ahead of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round. After consulting the off-site video assistant, the goal was taken off the board. While the slightest bit of Mata’s knee appeared to have been in an offside position, the issue lies in the fact that the images provided to television broadcasters, by VAR provider Hawkeye, displayed a clearly crooked line of demarcation.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

Hawkeye issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for the faulty image provided to broadcasters, but insisted that a correct version of the image was seen by the refereed:

“A technical error led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawkeye to BT Sport on Saturday. To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologize.”

In the end, by the most stringent interpretation of the law, VAR got the call correct. But that won’t matter one iota in the court of public opinion, as one mistake as simple as a crooked line gives the impression that the entire operation is haphazard and not fit for practice.

Juventus suffers blow with apparent Higuain injury

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The back-and-forth battle at the top of Serie A continued on Sunday as Juventus topped Torino at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, however, the visitors suffered a big injury scare in the process.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup ]

Alex Sandro‘s winner came in the 33rd minute, but the focus of the match will leave all eyes on Gonzalo Higuain — who exited after just a quarter of an hour.

The Argentine international was looking to latch onto a through ball from Miralem Pjanic in the fifth minute, before jumping over an oncoming Salvatore Sirigu — goalkeeper for Torino.

Higuain appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle, though, and while he attempted to continue on in the match he was substituted off for Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes later.

The extent of Higuain’s injury is unknown to this point, however, it comes at a very bad time for Juventus.

The Italian giants are heavily involved in the Serie A title race, holding a two-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table.

Additionally, Juve has important fixtures coming up in both the Coppa Italia and Champions League against Atalanta and Tottenham, respectively. Higuain and Co. are level at 2-2 with Spurs heading into their UCL second leg in early March, and Juve will surely need the striker’s presence to have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.