Henry errors see New England claim victory in Toronto, 2-1

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Doneil Henry’s surely happy to be back in the Toronto lineup, but his two Saturday errors cost his team against New England. Thanks to an early giveaway ahead of Patrick Mullins’ first MLS goal and a handball that allowed Lee Nguyen to put the Revolution ahead late from the spot, TFC’s losing streak is at three, with Jay Heaps’ side unbeaten in four after its 2-1 win at BMO Field.

Henry, along with Jermain Defoe and Jonathan Osorio, was one of three Toronto starters returning from injury after the team’s bye week – health they brought hope the Reds could recapture their early season form. In the sixth minute, those hopes looked set to be rewarded, with Jackson opening the scoreing from well outside the box.

source: AP
Patrick Mullins (left) scored a goal and drew a penalty kick in his second Major League Soccer start. (Photo: AP Photos.)

It was Henry’s first big mistake that allowed New England to equalize. Under no pressure, Henry passed a ball from just outside Toronto’s penalty area to Revolution midfielder Daigo Kobayashi, who was standing alone roughly 35 yards from goal. Quickly playing the ball forward, Kobayashi allowed Mullins to capitalize on Henry’s miscue, the former Maryland forward’s left-footed blast beating Julio César from 21 yards out.

Deep in the second half — after New England had looked better until intermission, but Toronto controlled the second — a far post cross from the left by Revs attacker Steve Neumann was headed back toward the spot by Chris Tierney. Mullins was there to put a shot toward goal, but a lunging Henry was called for a hand ball when the shot appeared to strike him at the base of an extended right arm. After Nguyen sent César the wrong way, the Revolution had its third win in four – the team’s first ever win at BMO Field.

Like last week’s win over Sporting Kansas City (as well as the team’s victory in San Jose earlier this season), the result was a testament to the team’s ability to stay close enough to take advantage of what comes. In Santa Clara, that was a extra time chance to counter. Last week, it was Aurelien Collin’s red card. This week, it was Henry’s errors. That may not be a formula for world domination, but it’s a resourcefulness that will leave a team playing into November.

The Revs still have issues. Jose Goncalves is a big miss, particularly with Andrew Farrell’s positioning still a work in progress. And as Teal Bunbury skied an open chance near the end of regulation time, we were reminded the team hasn’t replaced Juan Agudelo. Yet with Lee Nguyen controlling play in midfield and the team playing savvy, relatively mistake-free soccer, the Revs can take advantage of opportunities like today’s.

That Toronto gave the Revs that chance harps on the Reds’ ongoing theme. Despite the return of Defoe, the newfound health of Osorio, and a healthier Michael Bradley, the team put only three shots on target. Though they didn’t give up possession today was willingly as they have throughout the season, Toronto’s only goal was a somewhat freakish one. Gilberto may have come close late from a Mark Bloom cross, but that initiative happened after Toronto had fallen behind. This team is still producing too few chances, given the talent in its lineup.

As a result, Toroto’s below “five hundred”: three wins; fourth losses. The team is now as healthy as its been since week one, but that may not matter. If Toronto continues to approach games as if they don’t have the talent to control its opposition, the team will be left with too many results decided by random defensive errors.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.