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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.

Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.