Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City: Tale of two penalties in fiery draw (video)

Leave a comment

Cardiff City drew 1-1 with Stoke City in the Welsh capital on Saturday, as the Bluebirds missed a great opportunity to draw level on points with teams outside the drop zone.

Stoke went ahead on the stroke of half time as Birthday boy Marko Arnautovic scored a penalty after Kim was harshly adjudged to have brought down Cardiff old-boy Peter Odemwingie in the box.

Five minutes after the break Howard Webb then awarded Cardiff a PK, as Steven Nzonzi fouled Fraizer Campbell in the box and Peter Whittingham scored the penalty to make it 1-1. Late on Stoke had all the play and the Bluebirds had ‘keeper David Marshall and the woodwork to thank for grabbing a point.

With the draw Cardiff are now on 30 points, just two points behind 17th placed Norwich, while Stoke remain in 10th place on 44 points.

(Premier League Roundup: Chelsea blow it, Swansea, Spurs and Palace win)

Early on Cardiff started brightly and Mutch was found in the box after a good run from Mats Moller Daehli, but Cardiff’s top scorer side-footed a weak effort straight into the hands of Asmir Begovic. In the 15th minute Stoke got going and a set piece from the right just evaded Peter Crouch at the back post, who argued he was being held by a Cardiff defender, as the Bluebirds defended stoutly to keep Stoke at bay.

Cardiff kept putting on the pressure as Mutch dragged an effort wide but Stoke came back into the match as former Cardiff striker Peter Odemwingie cut in from the right after a lung-bursting run and smashed a swerving effort in on goal that Marshall saved superbly to keep the game scoreless.

Just before half time Cardiff almost went in front as Whittingham curled a free kick up and over the wall from 30-yards out but Begovic tipped the effort wide of the post. Then, as first half stoppage time arrived, Stoke won a controversial penalty as former Cardiff striker Odemwingie went down easily in the box following a challenge from Kim. Referee Howard Webb took his time before pointing to the spot, as Arnautovic stepped up to score just his second goal in his last 23 appearances to put Stoke 1-0 up at the break.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Within five minutes of the restart Cardiff were level as Steven Nzonzi brought down Fraizer Campbell in the box. Referee Webb again took his time before making the decision, but pointed to the spot and Whittingham scored the PK to make it 1-1. That equalizer put Cardiff on the front foot as the home fans roared them on and in the 57th minute it looked like the Bluebirds had taken the lead. Begovic made a great stop from close range, then the ball hit the post and found its way back to Juan Cala who scored to send the home fans wild… but the goal was chalked off, correctly, as Cala was offside. Cardiff had Stoke rocking in South Wales.

The Potters then recovered and Stoke should have had a penalty midway through the second half as Cala wrestled Crouch to the ground off the ball during a set piece. The incident was waved away by the match officials, as a tense and fiery encounter unfolded with severla players shown yellow cards.

The away side did all the pressing in the second half as Odemwingie and Assaidi were both stopped by Marshall and Jonathan Walters smashed a late curling effort against the bar as the Bluebirds hung on for a point.

LINEUPS

Cardiff City: Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Cala, Fabio (John, 84′); Medel, Whittingham, Kim (Zaha, 60′), Mutch, Dæhli (Jones, 81′); Campbell.

Goal: Whittingham (50′)

Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters (Muniesa, 29′); Arnautovic (Assaidi, 78′), Nzonzi, Ireland (Walter, 85′), Whelan, Odemwingie; Crouch.

Goal: Arnautovic (45′)

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!

Ozil to Manchester United?!? Wenger reacts to gossip

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sometimes, even the biggest Arsene Wenger detractors have to feel for the guy.

Coming off a thrilling late win in Serbia, one that saw Olivier Giroud cap off a team goal straight out of the creative Wenger playbook, the manager should’ve been discussing how to stretch those good vibes into this weekend’s visit to Goodison Park.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

Yet no. Instead of talking about how the Gunners would respect the struggling Toffees, Wenger had to address speculation from several outlets claiming Mesut Ozil would move to Manchester United, perhaps as soon as January.

Feeling it? No, no Wenger was not feeling it. From Arsenal.com:

“We have to deal with all kinds of speculation when the players are at the end of their contracts. On the other hand, to be professional is to give 100 per cent as long as you are somewhere. For the rest, we came out many times and said that’s the situation. It [the media] can come out tomorrow and say that he extends his contract here. It will be exactly the same, it will not change anything. When you play the next game, commit 100 per cent. … When a player plays for Arsenal Football Club, his commitment cannot be linked with the length of his contract, it has just to be linked with the responsibility and the ambition he has to win the football game.”
Of course most big clubs have to deal with such drama on a year-to-year basis and, yes, having Ozil and Alexis Sanchez still in town was completely avoidable. But the idea that Ozil could leave, for free, to Manchester United? We’re sure Gooners the world over will be thrilled with the gossip.

MLS Decision Day preview: Much at stake

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Four teams can claim a Western Conference second round berth, while four more can earn a valuable first-round bye in the East.

Yep, there’s plenty to play for beyond the West’s final playoff spot Sunday during Major League Soccer’s Decision Day, when every team will take the pitch for 4 p.m. ET kickoffs.

[ MORE: Conte feels pressure ]

Here’s what we do know regarding the playoffs:

  1. Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto FC gets a first round bye, while No. 6 seed New York Red Bulls are headed to the road for a first round playoff
  2. New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando, DC, Minnesota, Colorado, and LA will not make the playoffs
  3. Full stop.

So, yes, this will be fun.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings ahead of Sunday’s extravaganza:

Eastern Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Toronto FC 33 20 8 5 72 35 37 13-3-1 7-5-4 68
x – New York City FC 33 16 8 9 54 41 13 10-4-2 6-4-7 56
x – Chicago 33 16 7 10 61 44 17 12-3-2 4-4-8 55
x – Atlanta 33 15 9 9 68 38 30 11-2-3 4-7-6 54
x – Columbus 33 16 5 12 51 47 4 12-2-3 4-3-9 53
x – New York 33 13 8 12 51 46 5 9-6-2 4-2-10 47

— New York City FC controls its bye destiny, though Columbus could join them on 56 points and would pass them on tiebreakers (wins).

— If that happens, Chicago could claim the second bye with a win or draw in Houston (The Fire owns the goal differential tiebreaker).

— If New York City and Chicago lose or draw, Atlanta could finish second with a home win over TFC.

— Columbus can finish second with a win and non-wins for Chicago and Atlanta.

Western Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Vancouver 33 15 7 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 6-2-8 52
x – Portland 33 14 8 11 58 49 9 10-4-2 4-4-9 50
x – Seattle 33 13 11 9 49 39 10 10-5-1 3-6-8 50
x – Sporting KC 33 12 13 8 39 27 12 10-6-1 2-7-7 49
x – Houston 33 12 11 10 54 45 9 11-4-1 1-7-9 47
San Jose 33 12 7 14 36 58 -22 9-5-2 3-2-12 43
FC Dallas 33 10 13 10 43 47 -4 7-7-2 3-6-8 43
Real Salt Lake 33 12 6 15 47 54 -7 8-4-4 4-2-11 42

Byes

— Vancouver finishes first with a win or draw at Portland. The ‘Caps could finish as low as third with a loss to Portland and a Seattle win versus Colorado.

— Portland finishes first — and wins the Cascadia Cup — with a win over visiting Vancouver.

— Seattle can claim a first round bye with a win over visiting Colorado and a Vancouver win over Portland.

— Sporting KC can finish second with a win at Real Salt Lake and non-wins for Portland and Seattle.

Final playoff spot

— San Jose claims the sixth seed with a home win over Minnesota. They can also finish sixth with a draw joined by non-wins for FC Dallas at home to LA and Real Salt Lake at home versus SKC.

— FC Dallas claims the sixth seed with a win over LA and a San Jose draw or loss versus Minnesota. FCD gets sixth with a draw, and a San Jose loss coupled with a RSL loss or draw versus SKC.

—  Real Salt Lake gets sixth with a win over SKC, and non-wins from San Jose and Dallas. RSL could also get sixth with a draw and losses for San Jose and Dallas.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Schedule
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
San Jose vs. Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Colorado
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City
Portland vs. Vancouver
Montreal vs. New England
New York City vs. Columbus
Atlanta vs. Toronto

Predictions

— NYCFC hangs on for a draw against Columbus, earning a bye, leaving Chicago to host New York Red Bulls and Atlanta off to Columbus for the first round of the playoffs (We have Toronto beating Atlanta on Sunday).

— Vancouver and Portland draw, while Seattle beats Colorado. The ‘Caps and Sounders get byes, while Seattle takes back the Cascadia Cup.

— San Jose beats Minnesota, gaining the West’s sixth seed. The Quakes head to Portland for the first round, while SKC hosts Houston.