Teal Bunbury's 92nd minute goal gave the Revolution a late lead over the team that traded him this offseason. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Collin red, Bunbury goal see New England down visiting Sporting, 2-0

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Given the teams that met at Gillette Stadium, a game that lacked scoring chances was less of a surprised than unfortunate confirmation. New England, a team that always possesses a conservative streak, has been offensively challenged all season, while Sporting Kansas City is not immune to down spells of its own. Through 74 minutes on Saturday, each sad had put exactly one shot on goal, with the rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal seemingly destined to end scoreless.

That’s when a small, perhaps trivial piece of history turned Saturday’s match. Aurélien Collin, owner of 32 career yellow cards without a dismissal in this three-plus year MLS career, was shown a straight red card by Alan Kelly after a sliding challenge on Diego Fagundez. Nineteen minutes later, a cross sent through the penalty area that was misplayed by Eric Kronberg led to Teal Bunbury’s game-winning goal, with Lee Nguyen’s late penalty conversion giving the Revolution a 2-0 win over the defending Major League Soccer champions.

source: Getty Images
Teal Bunbury’s 92nd minute goal gave the Revolution a late lead over the team that traded him this offseason. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Before Collin’s dismissal point, Bunbury’s 32nd try on Kronberg had been New England’s only shot on target. Sporting finally tested Bobby Shuttleworth just before the hour mark, with Alex Martínez’s shot toward the lower right hand corner pushed wide. It was a match blunted by two conservative approaches, allowing the Revolution to hold the champs at bay while Sporting closed in on a road result.

When Collin was sent off, that all changed, though Kelly’s decision will prove controversial. Immediately reaching from his back pocket, the official seemed to judge the Sporting defender had gone in studs up. Replays were less conclusive. For a player who has made an MLS career of riding the line between physical and excessive, Collin pressed his luck with the wrong official, the defender left pointing to the replay on Gillette’s scoreboard as he left the field.

Moments later, Benny Feilhaber had a golden chance to snatch full points for 10-man Sporting when a ball in from the right was knocked down behind New England’s collapsing defense. One touch beyond an oncoming defender have the Kansas City midfielder a near-post chance around six yards out. Instead of going across goal, however, Feilhaber tried to pick out the upper right hand corner. His shot went into the stands.

Come stoppage time, Collin’s absence paid off. On a ball send in from the right by Fagundez, Kronberg missed on an attempted punch, apparently thrown off as Jerry Bengston made a run in front of him. Following behind, Bunbury was able to finish into an open net, scoring his first Revolution goal against the team that traded him this winter.

Nguyen’s insurance — coming after a handball for which Oriol Rosell should have seen red — made for a deceiving final score, one that gives the appearance there was some difference in quality between the two teams. There wasn’t, something that should provide the Revolution some assurances after an inconsistent start.

As far as the final score is concerned, however, one mistake (be it by Collin or Kelly) gave New England full points, costing Sporting its place atop the Eastern Conference.

Klinsmann side-steps blame, calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries

Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT
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The rivalry between the national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico is one of the fiercest and most unique of its kind in the world of sports. Anyone who’s participated in, or simply attended, a competitive fixture between the two sides will immediately attest to that.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Speaking to FIFA.com ahead of Saturday’s clash against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, it’s quite interesting to hear current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describe the rivalry from his point of view, both before and after having coached in it on a number of occasions.

Before we get to that, though, Klinsmann had a bit more blame side step regarding his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the USMNT’s worst-ever showing at the tournament for CONCACAF nations.

Q: What did you learn from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where you lost to Jamaica in the semi-finals?

A: There were so many things that happened in the tournament and decisions that were made that affected the outcome. It was difficult for the players to know what to expect. For Mexico and for Panama it was the same thing. The lesson is that you just have to roll with it and try to control the things you can.

What’s the no. 1 thing players can’t control? Who gets called into the team/plays in the games.

What was the no. 1 problem for the USMNT at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who got called up/played game after game despite performing very poorly. Ultimately, it’s what undid them in the semifinals and third-place game.

Just once — once — would it hurt Klinsmann to answer a question with an “I,” or “me,” or even “we?” The question was “What did you learn,” yet the answer always come back to “the players,” or “they,” or “them.” At this point, Klinsmann either believes he’s infallible, or he’s simply trying to see how many ridiculous statements he can get away with.

Q: You’ve been in the top US job for almost five years now and you’ve met Mexico many times. How would you define the rivalry between these countries on the pitch? Can you compare it with others you’ve experienced?

A: The USA-Mexico rivalry is one of the greats in world football. For me, it compares to Germany-Holland in terms of the intensity and emotion it brings out in the fans. As USA coach, it was a learning curve to understand how much this rivalry means to our fans. We had won some games against big nations, but the reaction from everyone to when we went down to [Estadio] Azteca and beat Mexico there for the first time was just amazing.

Q: What makes the rivalry unique?

A: What is unique is that there are so many Mexican-Americans living in the United States, so the rivalry crosses borders. We have seen many times in these last years that younger Mexican-Americans will wear a Mexico jersey to our game, and when we start doing well they take it off and have a U.S. jersey underneath! More and more they’re supporting us, and we hope to continue to win them over.

Klinsmann gets this one absolutely right. With the two countries situated right next to each other, the aforementioned immigration of so many Mexican soccer fans into the U.S., and the classic battles between the two sides over the years, USA-Mexico not only feels amazing to get one over on your rivals, but perhaps more than anything it’s avoiding that feeling of defeat, of embarrassment, of being taunted and haunted for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that makes beating the old foe so satisfying.

Ozil, Coquelin: Arsenal can win the title this season

Mesut Ozil, Arsenal FC
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I suppose, in theory, that any Premier League club that fields a team could win the league title for a given season, so the above headline could have been written in reference to any one of 20 teams a few short weeks ago.

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Fast forward eight rounds of fixtures to the present day, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every passing week that it’s a three-horse race — Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, who currently sit 1-2-3 atop the league — for the 2015-16 Premier League title.

So — and stick with me for just a second — why not Arsenal? [The crowd gasps loudly] Arsenal midfielders Mesut Ozil and Francis Coquelin believe the Gunners have what it takes to win the title this year, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Ozil and Coquelin, on Arsenal’s progression to title contenders — quotes from the Guardian:

Ozil: “We have a great team with many world-class players. Our goal is to win the Premier League and I think that this season it’s possible to do it, if we all stay healthy. But the season is long.”

Ozil: “I didn’t expect [Bayern Munich] to beat Dortmund 5-1. Their recent results show they are simply in great shape … But our victory against Manchester United was a sign: when we play and want it 100 percent, then we can beat Bayern.

“We are playing at home. Although we have respect for them, we don’t have any fear. We know how to score goals against Bayern and we can be successful. It will be difficult – but we have the potential to beat any team.”

Coquelin: “We proved a lot of people wrong. Inside the dressing room we knew we could do good things this season. We knew we could be contenders, but obviously we have to be consistent.

“We are getting stronger against the big teams. We beat City last season, now United. It’s all about consistency. The league is getting tougher, so we need to be getting results every week … We knew we had to put it right after Olympiakos and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coquelin is absolutely right — no one expected Arsenal to throttle Man United the way they did on Sunday. The Gunners acquitted themselves quite well, though it should be mentioned that Louis Van Gaal set up United to fail miserably with the immobile midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger against a quick, dynamic Arsenal unit.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

That’s not meant to take anything away from Arsenal’s scintillating performance, because they did exactly what they should be doing against a poorly planned side — that’s not always been the case for Arsenal against top teams. The Gunners will play hosts to Man City on Dec. 19; perhaps we’ll better be able to dub them contenders or pretenders based their showing that day.