Late strike from Manneh allows Vancouver to salvage a point against LA Galaxy (video)

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If it wasn’t for one second half slip and a great, late strike from Kekuta Manneh, we would be hailing this as LA’s best performance of 2014, asking whether the tweaks Bruce Arena’s made during the season’s first seven weeks have quickly fused to produce a Western Conference contender. But those two things did happen, leaving us asking a different question: How did the Galaxy not win this game? After taking two  leads in Vancouver and looking the mildly better side, LA was left drawn, 2-2.

The numbers don’t show a lopsided affair — the Galaxy with an edge in shots on target (6-5), but Vancouver lead in total shots (17-14) and possession — but that’s more an indication of game state than the teams’ quality. Starting with Stefan Ishizaki’s 38th minute opener, LA led 39 of the final 52 minutes, allowing Whitecaps  to make up the numbers while chasing the game. That chase ultimately paid off in the 86th minute when Manneh’s superb 19-yard shot found Jaime Penedo’s lower-left corner.

It was the type of goal Vancouver should be producing more often, with LA’s defense drawn to Darren Mattocks before the Jamaican attacker laid off for one of his myriad talented teammates. For most of the game, however, LA had been able to avoid such scenarios. An energetic performance that pressured the Whitecaps defense allowed the Galaxy to play the game on its own terms. Instead of letting a talented Vancouver attack and midfield turn the game into a track beat, LA kept the Whitecaps under control.

There were, however, three notable exceptions. After dictating the first 15-or-so minutes, LA allowed Vancouver to temporarily gain control of the game, something that went for naught when Ishizaki beat David Ousted inside his left post for the game’s opening goal. From that point forward, the teams played on even footing, though a 67th minute error from Penedo left (unable to claim a ball Leonardo was shielding from Mattocks) gave the Vancouver forward a chance to finish into an open net.

The last exception was the end game, where a LA team trying to hold on to its 2-1 lead gave Mattocks time on the ball. Standing off the speedy attacker, Landon Donovan allowed Mattocks to cut back to his right foot, giving him a clear path to find the oncoming Manneh. Superbly struck, the shot gave Penedo no chance to prevent the late equalizer.

In the big picture, one point in Vancouver is a good result, but given how the game was played, LA should be left regretting two points lost. But was is so often the case in this sport, today’s affair was about a few moments, not the 90-minute struggle. Those moments allowed the Whitecaps to salvage a result.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

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An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.