Pérez’s late goal gives FC Dallas 2-1 win over Toronto FC (video)

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When Issey Nakajima-Farran scored early in Frisco, Tex., the Reds’ visit to Toyota Stadium was shaping up to be another Ryan Nelsen Special: Score first; slowly retreat, destroying anything that approaches; bunker late and hold on for dear life. Thanks to Dallas’s continued mastery of set pieces, however, Óscar Pereja’s team was able to comeback, lengthening its lead at the top of the Western Conference. With a 2-1 win on Saturday night, FCD handed Toronto its third loss of the season, extending its lead over second place Colorado to five in the process.

Toronto went up in the 21st minute through some set piece magic of its own, the chaos off the second ball into the box giving Nakajima-Farran two cracks from the left of the area. Chris Seitz did well no the first, his save punched wide of the crowd in the middle. Unfortunately, the ball went back to Nakajima-Farran, whose second crack got help from a deflection at the edge of the six-yard box.

Eight minutes before halftime, Dallas was back even, with Matt Hedges’ finish off a near-post corner cueing the home side’s second half control. With the exception of the second half’s opening moments, Dallas dictated the rest of the game, building up a 61-39 possession advantage in the process. But chances for Fabian Castillo and David Texeira couldn’t capitalize on that advantage, with Toronto nearly claiming its own lead against the run of play through Jackson in the 54th minute.

As the game approached full-time, the Nelsen Plan was about to earn a point, yet the same type of set piece chaos that helped Toronto take an early lead eventually led to their downfall. After a restart from just inside the Reds’ half was lofted into the area by Michel, headers from Stephen Keel and Hedges eventually found Blas Pérez, whose lunging poke at a ball in the six-yard box beat César for the game’s final goal.

Though Toronto is still without Jermain Defoe and Doneil Henry, this may have been Dallas’s best performance of the season – overcoming a strong team after conceding an early goal. The team seems a bit too dependent on set piece execution (only five of the team’s 17 goals have come from open play), but there’s a resourcefulness to its play that’s encouraging. Though Seattle showed lifting Dallas to the heights of the league’s 2014 elite is premature, they continue to win games a variety of days. Tonight, after Toronto went full Nelsen, they proved capable of beating a team they couldn’t run through.

Toronto, however, has got to start getting a little less risk averse. On a night where teams are reminding us how tenuous a one-goal lead can be (here, here), Nelsen was far too content to relying on the slimmest of margins. TFC wasn’t ahead when it conceded int he 88th minute, but the team was close to a road point that would have satisfied Nelsen.

While beating Seattle and Columbus, the Reds showed they’re not only able to play with some of the league’s better sides but capable of getting a second goal. Against D.C. United and Dallas, however, they’ve proved less willing to leverage their talent. At home, against an inferior opponent, they got a 1-0 win last month. On the road, against a team that’s shown some vulnerabilities at the back, they could have used a more balanced approach.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.

Report: Bayern Munich scouted Walker, Alexis this weekend

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German publication Kicker says Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke attended both of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinals and had his eye on two players in particular.

Reschke apparently wants to bring players from both North London Derby rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the Allianz Arena.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s Top Four plight ]

In the case of Spurs, that man is right back Kyle Walker. The 26-year-old has also played right mid in 8 of his 35 matches for Tottenham this season, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. It’s hard to believe Spurs would have interest in selling Walker, who would help fill the role of retiring Philipp Lahm.

On the other side is Alexis Sanchez, the embattled but electric Arsenal attacker who Arsene Wenger described as an “animal” and “always ready to kill the opponent” this weekend. Wenger says Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, but Bayern does boast Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal and former Barca mate Thiago Alcantara.

Walker is signed at Spurs through 2021, while Sanchez’s contract ends after next season.

Roma lands sporting director Monchi, a reported Arsenal target

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AS Roma has found its new sporting director, and it’s a man with a keen eye for talent.

Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez Verdejo, 48, has spent the last 18 years as the sporting director at Sevilla, which won five UEFA Europa League titles under his watch.

Monchi was discussed in the media as a target for the same job at Arsenal and was a target for other Premier League clubs, but Roma sealed the deal with the former goalkeeper.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

He is considered to have a big role in discovering and developing Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Dani Alves.

Read more from ASRoma.com.

Liverpool’s murky Top Four path depends on Manchester United

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Liverpool is a historic club with incredible presence. Jurgen Klopp is a celebrated manager with a strong reputation as a players’ coach.

Those two facets will always make the club attractive to players. Missing out on the UEFA Champions League is another thing altogether and would put a huge dent in Klopp’s ambitious recruitment goals.

And right now, the Reds look destined to drop out of the Top Four.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Chelsea 32 24 3 5 65 27 38 13-0-2 11-3-3 75
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 21 8 3 68 22 46 15-2-0 6-6-3 71
 Liverpool 34 19 9 6 70 42 28 11-4-2 8-5-4 66
 Manchester City 32 19 7 6 63 35 28 8-6-1 11-1-5 64
 Manchester United 32 17 12 3 50 24 26 7-9-1 10-3-2 63
 Everton 34 16 10 8 60 37 23 12-4-1 4-6-7 58
 Arsenal 31 17 6 8 63 40 23 10-3-2 7-3-6 57

Even if Manchester United and Manchester City draw Thursday’s derby, both will be poised to pass the Reds by winning the match-in-hand.

Injury-ravaged United is bothered by UEFA Europa League duty against Celta Vigo, and has a brutal run-in that includes Spurs and Arsenal in addition to City. Liverpool has to hope United falls off, because Man City is likely going to walk over the Top Four line even with a draw in the derby.

The worst case scenario for Liverpool, aside from continuing to flail against clubs outside the Top Seven, is United toppling City on Thursday.

As an aside, it’s extremely unlikely that Arsenal leaps into the fray but if the Gunners did it would come at the expense of United.

Really, Liverpool’s run-in is perfectly built for two of its supporters’ favorite things: Winning matches and rooting against Manchester United. Here’s how they finish:

May 1 — at Watford
May 7 — vs. Southampton
May 14 — at West Ham United
May 21 — vs. Middlesbrough

Liverpool battered Watford 6-1 at Anfield and Boro 3-0 at the Riverside Stadium, but drew both Saints and West Ham earlier this season in addition to losing to Southampton in an EFL Cup semifinal.

Say the Reds nab a perfect 12 points to finish with 78; They’ll need City to take less than 14 from six remaining matches and United to earn less than 15 from six. The latter is far more likely than the former, but will matter very little if Klopp can’t motivate and organize his men in the final four matches.