João Plata's fifth goal of the season gave Real Salt Lake full points at Toyota Park in Chicago. (Photo: AP Photo.)

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.

NASL roundup: Puerto Rico nabs first win in history; Indy passes Cosmos

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As you were, top of the table.

Indy Eleven remains first and New York Cosmos second after the fifth week of the NASL’s Fall Season, just where they finished the Spring: level on points but separated by tiebreakers.

That’s because Indy took down surprising FC Edmonton 1-0, taking advantage of New York’s draw in Tampa Bay to match the Cosmos’ record at 3-1-1.

[ MORE: Messi back, blonde at Barca ]

In Bayamon, Paulo Mendes found Hector Ramos for the lone goal of the match in the 53rd minute, and Puerto Rico FC picked up its first win in team history with a 1-0 win over visiting Rayo OKC on Saturday night.

Only one team in the league remains winless, as Fort Lauderdale fell 3-1 to Minnesota United. Christian Ramirez scored his league-best 11th goal of the season, while J.C. Banks and Ismaila Jome also netted for the victors.

Elsewhere, Carolina drew Miami 3-3 on Friday night, while Ottawa picked up its first win of the Fall Season with a 2-0 win in Florida against Jacksonville Armada.

NASL Table 72416

Ranieri on Leicester post-Kante: “Don’t worry. Football in Leicester will keep going”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 23: Leicester City manager Claudio Raneri looks on during the Pre Seanon Friendly match between Cetlic and Leicester City at Celtic Park Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
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Claudio Ranieri hasn’t lost his way with words over the summer.

The Leicester City boss who famously refused to admit his team was in a title race for most of the Premier League season is keeping it cool in the wake of N'Golo Kante signing for Chelsea.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Simply put, Ranieri says everything’s going to be fine.

From Sky Sports:

“Last season we lost Esteban Cambiasso and everybody was crying,” Ranieri said, after his side drew 1-1 with Celtic in a pre-season friendly.

“Now we are crying because we lost Kante. Don’t worry. Football in Leicester will keep going.”

Kante was probably the most important part of Leicester’s title capture last season, but Ranieri’s system was also critical. The follow-up was always going to be a challenge, but the Foxes won’t sit on their hands moving forward.

Don’t worry.

Mertesacker on Arsenal’s season: “Not a lot of signings and a lot of young players”

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker celebrates his goal against Wigan Athletic during their English FA Cup semi-final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London
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Arsene Wenger says Arsenal is still looking for the right big names to join the club, but defender Per Mertesacker seems ready to battle without additions.

The big German defender was quite outspoken when it comes to the club’s second place finish in the 2015-16 Premier League, saying it was a “miracle” they finished that high.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Mertesacker, 31, notes the giant clubs who finished behind Arsenal on the PL table, and that several of those competitors have made big pick-ups in the transfer market.

From The Sun:

“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.

“So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”

Arsenal has added Granit Xhaka and English U-21 back Rob Holding, but patience seems thin amongst Gooners across the globe. Are Mertesacker’s comments a hint that the players aren’t expecting much?

Transfer rumor roundup: Icardi’s Italian stay, Atleti still seek Costa

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 07:  Mauro Icardi (L) of FC Internazionale Milano celebrates after scoring the opening goal with team mate Stevan Jovetic during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Empoli FC  at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 7, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi both spent some time as potential Arsenal players in the summer rumor mills, but will the former’s move to Juventus keep the latter from the Emirates Stadium?

As we wait for official confirmation that Juventus has purchased Higuain from Napoli for $103 million, it seems Napoli is aiming to replace him with Icardi. Football Italia says Inter has rejected an offer of $22 million plus Manolo Gabbiadini that would send Icardi to Naples.

[ MORE: Messi back, blonde at Barca ]

Gabbiadini has 20 goals in 60 matches for Napoli, but Icardi is among the hottest properties in the world. The 23-year-old Argentine is signed through 2019, and the fee is obviously going to be quite high, but Napoli is ready to spend money that others may not.


Many players have been rumored for the “fourth chair” behind Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez in the Barcelona attack orchestra, but could the issue be settled with a reserve from Atletico Madrid?

Luciano Vietto, 22, is being linked with a $24 million move from the Vicente Calderon to the Camp Nou. AS says personal terms are the only obstacle remaining, and Vietto would have a lot to prove in Barcelona. After belting 20 goals for Valencia in 2014-15, Vietto found the net just thrice in 28 matches last season.


Atleti could use that money, according to Marca, as Diego Simeone’s bunch reportedly believes it can pry Diego Costa from Chelsea. The Brazilian-born Spanish international has massive success at Atleti before moving to North London, and Simeone has not quit on the idea of bringing him back “home”.


Also, we’re just going to leave this right here, with the lone add-on that Aaron Schoenfeld is tearing it up for Maccabi’s rival.