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.

Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.

Mark Hughes wants Stoke City to “suck it up”

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Mark Hughes is under fire at Stoke City with the Potters firmly entrenched in the relegation battle, and with that he’s charging his players, staff, and himself to gut the rest of the season out.

With Stoke heading to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, they sit just three points above the drop. The players were faced with jeers from angry fans at the train station following this past weekend’s 5-1 disaster against Tottenham. The fiery Hughes is hoping to use this jarring moment to jolt his squad.

[ PREVIEW: Tuesday’s Premier League action ]

“That is still resonating. It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably, and they can use it as a motivating factor,” said Hughes during his pre-match press conference.

“You either suck it up and do ­something about it or you go under, and we can’t accept players like that. I don’t feel we have players like that.”

With managers nowadays often reaching into the excuses barrel as they hope to save their own skins, Hughes refuses to do just that, instead placing the decision firmly on the players shoulders, telling them they are the only ones who can save the club.

“Maybe some hadn’t ­confronted that before – but sometimes you need a reality check, and understand how our results and ­performances affect people,” Hughes said. “When people criticize you, you have to grow a thick skin in this industry. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong place.”

Louis van Gaal calls Mourinho’s United “far more boring”

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Louis Van Gaal has picked just the right time to pipe up.

The former Manchester United manager, who took flak while in charge for his side being hideous to watch, has now taken shots of his own at his successor Jose Mourinho, kicking Manchester United while they’re down after a 2-1 derby defeat at home.

The Dutchman told Fox Sports Netherlands, “If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under. We played football that was quite alright. But it’s not football that is appreciated in England. And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticized while it’s far more boring football.”

[ PREVIEW: Premier League Tuesday matches, including Chelsea vs. Huddersfield ]

Van Gaal was blasted consistently for playing a boring style, especially in front of the home crowd, and now Mourinho is being criticized for the same concept. Mourinho was denounced for similar reasons while in charge of Chelsea, but with the club winning multiple titles under his leadership, the noise was always less while the team was winning. With Manchester United still unable to crack the top 4, Mourinho is feeling the heat.

“What United produce now is defensive football,” van Gaal said. “I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus. They don’t do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive.”

To van Gaal’s point, Manchester United is seventh in the Premier League in possession, holding 51% possession this season. They were out-possessed by Manchester City 65-35 at Old Trafford over the weekend. Meanwhile, van Gaal’s last full season with Manchester United, the 2015/16 season, saw the Red Devils hold 54%, which ranked third in the Premier League, just a percentage point behind leaders Arsenal. However, van Gaal’s United ranked 15th in the Premier League in total shots, while Mourinho’s United this season ranks sixth at this point.

Van Gaal made sure to point out he prefers their cross-town rivals.

“I would rather watch City play than United. You need quality in a squad and it’s clear City have a better squad.”

Conte blames fatigue for dip in Chelsea form

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Antonio Conte has figured out what is plaguing his Chelsea side as they sit 14 points back of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“I think when you play every three days, it is impossible to have a training session and to work on the physical aspects,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference as the Blues get set to play Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. “It’s impossible. It’s impossible because you have to prepare with the players for a game every three days.”

Chelsea has yet to find itself eliminated from a single competition, drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League while navigating fixtures across all four competitions.

And yet, this is nothing new for Conte. The Blues boss is more than familiar with fixture congestion, having taken charge of Juventus and regularly competing at a high level on multiple fronts. In 2012/13, he won the Serie A title, won the Supercoppa Italia, and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

However, this is new for Conte at Chelsea. Last season, the Blues did not take part in a European competition thanks to their disastrous season the previous year. While they reached the FA Cup final, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the 4th round.

“We have to try to do our best,” Conte said. “For sure, some players can be tired, that’s normal because some players are playing from this summer and our tours in China and Singapore. It’s normal. But I repeat we have to find the best solution. We have to find more rotations. I’m doing this, we will try and do our best with hunger and desire. We will fight.”

As an example, Conte said Alvaro Morata will miss the match on Tuesday against Huddersfield Town due to fatigue, with the Spaniard battling a slight back injury. “Morata is out. He is a bit tired and he has a problem in his back.