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.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

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Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

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The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday