Late Saborío, Plata goals bring unbeaten Real Salt Lake back, keep Fire winless

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Frank Yallop was on the right end of a number of these games two years ago, withn his San Jose Earthquakes using its tendency toward late match heroics to win the 2012 Supporters’ Shield. On Saturday night in Bridgeview, Ill., however, Real Salt Lake gave Yallop a dose of his own medicine, using late goals from Álvaro Saborío and Joao Plata to complete their comeback. Two goals down entering regulation time’s final 18 minutes, RSL came back to claim a 3-2 victory, maintaining the defending Western Conference champions’ place as the league’s last unbeaten team.

The win comes in the face two months’ results that saw Real Salt Lake drop eight points from winning positions, including losing a 2-0 lead late last week against visiting Vancouver. With the win, however, new head coach Jeff Cassar remains unbeaten in Major League Soccer, the team’s 4-0-4 record leaving it unbeaten in 12, going back to last year’s playoffs.

Perhaps as important, in the long run: RSL not only answered any questions of a mental block about their late game performances, but they turned the notion on its head. Cassar’s team came back from two down to claim full points from a good Chicago team.

That this Chicago team is in fact good will be disputed, given their record. At 0-2-6,  the Fire’s detractors have a point. But just like the rest of their performances, the Fire left Saturday’s match able to point at a series of silver linings.

For much of the game, they looked like an average (at worst) team, not a group lodged at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Even without the suspended Quincy Amarikwa, the team generated two early goals. In midfield, the Fire were able to compete with the vaunted RSL diamond. All trends were pointing in the right direction.

But just as they did over the season’s first two months, the defense let Chicago down. They failed to get tight on João Plata as the Ecuadorian cut the lead to one from just inside the penalty area. In the 90th minute, Bakary Soumaré seemed to close his eyes and tuck his chin trying to head a Abdoulie Mansally cross, missing a ball that allowed Saborío to finish from close range. Two minutes later, Saborío was given too much room to curve a perfect, left-footed cross to the far post, allowing Plata to run onto this second goal of the match.

You could pick apart any goal like in that manner — identifying what the defense could have done differently — but RSL’s first two goals were particularly egregious. Plata was allowed to take a touch and turn on a ball in the middle of the field, with neither the defense nor destroyer Jeff Larentowicz close enough to close him down. And on Saborío’s goal, an individual error brought RSL even. Soumaré has to clear that ball.

That he didn’t meant Chicago was destined to stay winless. When, two minutes later, Real Salt Lake flashed the type of execution that made them MLS Cup finalists a year ago, the Fire couldn’t even claim a point from yet another near miss.

Prosecutors question Beckenbauer in World Cup fraud case

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”

Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.

Honduran federation suggests U.S. Soccer gamesmanship ahead of WCQ

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Three critical points are on the line for the U.S. Men’s National Team and Honduras on Friday night when CONCACAF World Cup qualifying returns to action, but the Central American side may have some added motivation.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

In the lead up to their Hexagonal meeting in San Jose, California, Honduran federation president Jorge Salomon has suggested that his national team has had difficulty finding training facilities because of U.S. Soccer’s gamesmanship.

[ MORE: Five USMNT questions ahead of WCQs ]

Salomon told Honduran outlet Diez that Los Catrachos were forced to train in Fort Myers, Florida ahead of the match because of U.S. Soccer’s attempt to sabotage Honduras’ comfortability ahead of Friday.

“That’s why we went to (Fort Myers),” Salomon told Diez. “We found two (fields) but they weren’t up to the standard for a national team.

“They have blocked us from some fields to train, but that is part of the sporting psychological battle you face when you are the visiting team,” Salomon added. “It’s no problem, we have done a good job.”

Meanwhile, Goal USA is reporting that U.S. Soccer claims to have provided Honduras with the same resources that it does for every visiting opponent and that it was Honduras’ choice to train in Florida as “a cost-saving measure.”

Rapinoe named to USWNT roster ahead of April friendlies

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The U.S. Women’s National Team wasn’t at its best the last time they stepped out for the SheBelieves Cup, but Jill Ellis’ group will have a chance to find their feet again next month as they prepare to face Russia in a pair of friendlies.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

Ellis announced her 24-player roster on Thursday, which was headlined by the inclusion of Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe.

“This is our last chance to get together before the NWSL starts and we’ll take full advantage of the training time as well as the two matches against a team in preparation for the European championships,” said Ellis. “Following these matches, my staff and I will begin a heavy investment in attending and evaluating the NWSL games as well as tracking our players overseas before we get back together for our European trip in the summer. I’m very much looking forward to our domestic league starting.”

Back-to-back losses to England and France in the SheBelieves Cup gave the USWNT an unwanted start to 2017, however, the Russians will give the U.S. another strong test in April.

The USWNT will play the first of the two friendlies on April 6 in Dallas at Toyota Stadium before meeting the Russians three days later in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Here’s the entire 24-player roster for the USWNT ahead of their Russia friendlies.

Goalkeepers (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (6): Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Megan Oyster (Boston Breakers), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)

Midfielders (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash/Manchester City), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)

Forwards (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (UCLA), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)