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

1 Comment

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.

Mourinho: Tactics involved targeting young Benfica backstop

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Leave a comment

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho knew that promising Benfica backstop Mile Svilar would be facing some big nerves.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and Mourinho instructed his Red Devils to challenge the backstop at every turn.

[ RECAP: Benfica 0-1 Man Utd ]

That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.

“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.

Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.

Nemanja Matic laid out United’s strategy a bit more, from the BBC:

“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.

“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”

Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.

United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”

“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”

Chelsea 3-3 Roma – Thrills at the Bridge

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Leave a comment
  • Luiz, Hazard put Chelsea up 2-0
  • Kolarov, Dzeko brace flip lead
  • Hazard nabs equalizer
  • U.S. U-20 mid Scott on bench for Chelsea

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea overcame the sacrifice of a 2-0 lead and the Blues drew AS Roma 3-3 at Stamford Bridge in UEFA Champions League action on Wednesday.

David Luiz also scored for Chelsea. Ex-Man City men Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov starred for Roma, with Dzeko scoring twice and Kolarov adding a goal and an assist.

Chelsea has seven points to lead Group C, two more than Roma and five ahead of third-placed Atletico Madrid. The sides will meet again in Rome on Halloween.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Luiz started the scoring with a delightful strike. Call it a second bite at the proverbial apple if you must, but then admit he sunk his teeth into it.

Eden Hazard made a darting run to double Chelsea’s lead, but Kolarov pulled Roma within one with a deflected strike past Thibaut Courtois.

Diego Perotti curled a shot that hardly troubled Courtois in the 63rd minute, the Chelsea keeper just leaving his feet collect it.

Dzeko and Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Then the former Man City striker struck again, seeing a long diagonal ball over his shoulder and whizzing a perfect left-footed volley through the flailing arms of Courtois.

Dzeko then made a late move before a Kolarov free kick to lose his mark and nod home a go-ahead goal.

It wasn’t over, as Hazard found his way to space and a cross from Pedro.

The Belgian headed his chance beyond a diving Alisson, and it was 3-3 with 15 minutes to play.

American-English midfielder Kyle Scott did not make his Chelsea bow. The 19-year-old has represented England at the U-16 level and the U.S. at the U-18 and U-20 levels.

Benfica 0-1 Manchester United: Match-winner Rashford injured

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Leave a comment
  • No shots on goal for Benfica
  • United puts four on frame
  • Man Utd out-passes Benfica 522-237.

Marcus Rashford scored the lone goal of the match, then limped off injured in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Benfica in UEFA Champions League action at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday.

United is close to wrapping up a knockout round berth with the win, leading Basel by three points, CSKA Moscow by six, and Benfica by nine.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho got his managerial start at Benfica when he replaced now-Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes in 2000.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Rashford’s free kick from the left fooled young Benfica backstop Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and was caught out of goal.

While retreating toward his end line, his two-handed catch carried him and the ball into the goal despite the efforts of his outstretched paws.

Report: Landon Donovan mulling U.S. Soccer presidential run

3 Comments

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl has been all over the turmoil at United States Soccer since the men’s national team’s embarrassing World Cup qualifying ouster last week.

The latest is that many interested observers are encouraging American legend Landon Donovan to run against Sunil Gulati in February’s presidential election.

[ MORE: JPW sits down with Ederson ]

Donovan retired from playing for a second time in 2016. He’s invested in Premier League club Swansea City and tried his hand at broadcasting as well.

According to Wahl, Donovan issued no comment when asked whether he is seriously considering a run for president. Gulati didn’t confirm that he’d run for a fourth term — the maximum tenure — during his post-World Cup failure conference call, but strongly lauded his credentials for another stint.

Wahl had previously reported that lawyer Steve Gans has the required letters of nomination to run against Gulati.

While Gans would challenge Gulati and perhaps make for interesting debate and a bellwether of the appetite for change amongst the constituency, Donovan’s name would likely be enough to swing some voters regardless.

Without making any judgments about the job Donovan would do, think of it as a big entertainment name like Dwayne Johnson amongst Democrats or Donald Trump amongst Republicans who might upturn eyebrows amongst folks thinking, “Maybe we need something different.” The name value isn’t the same but perhaps it’s less polarizing to compare the runs of Jesse Ventura and Al Franken, or Jack Kemp and Steve Largent instead.

A Donovan run would likely keep U.S Soccer’s cozy relationship with Major League Soccer while perhaps emboldening those who seek big changes within the youth structure (Donovan was part of the U.S. residency program which was recently canceled in a sort of “We did it” nod to academies). His experience is varied and his network exceptional.

Donovan for President? Maybe!