Houston Dynamo v DC United - Eastern Conference Championship - Leg 2

Chivas USA has another goalkeeper sent off, loses to Houston, 4-1

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There’s this sense of deja vu falling over Chivas USA’s season. At least, for those that remember the brief period when the team was competitive under José Luis Sánchez Sola, the Goats’ descent is starting to mimic last year’s fall, with this year’s brief period of intrigue all but extinguished after tonight’s 4-1 loss to visiting Houston.

With two goals from Gilles Barnes and single scores from Will Bruin and Brad Davis, the Dynamo claimed its first victory since mid-March, curing the scoring woes that came with Davis’s April injury in the process. With Davis’s 12th minute goal, Houston scored from open play for the first time since March 16 – a 512-minute drought that ended in spectacular fashion in Carson, Calif.

Slotting home Houston’s opener, Davis also made amends for the early penalty he conceded while taking down Carlos Alvarez in the box. Twenty minutes later, Barnes was given room to cut onto his right foot in transition, with his subsequent blast into the right of goal from beyond the 18-yard box giving Houston the lead. Just before halftime, Will Bruin turned Carlos Bocanegra on a cross from the left, eventually beating Tim Meila to send the Dynamo into half up two.

Meila, in for the suspended Dan Kennedy, would follow the Chivas number one’s example in the 67th minute. Taking down Bruin as the Dynamo forward went in on goal, Meila became the second Goats keeper to see red in as many games, paving the way for Barnes to beat Trevor Spangenberg for the game’s final score.

Regardless of Chivas USA’s quality, Houston can now put its six-match winless run behind it, giving the team a much-needed change of pace. Instead of having to explain their failures, the Dynamo will be asked to explain Chivas USA’s. How much should we read into that kind of result?

Until Chivas USA improves, the answer will be ‘not much.’ On Saturday, they looked every bit as inept as they did during that aimless period at the end of El Chelis’s tenure.

With none of Dan Kennedy, Mauro Rosales, or Thomas McNamara in the team, Wilmer Cabrera just didn’t have the quality to compete. The question is, with bad results starting to replace early season momentum, can Chivas USA restore the mentality that threatened to make it relevant six weeks ago?

 

Schweinsteiger waiting on visa, training in Mallorca

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Bastian Schweinsteiger is waiting on a visa to make his trip to Chicago official.

It’s a formality, albeit a bit trickier now given the political climate in the United States. The former Manchester United midfielder is training at Real Mallorca ahead of the move.

The transfer was announced one week ago, and Schweinsteiger is anxious to get back on the pitch. Set for a 1-year, $4.5 million deal, the midfielder has not missed any Chicago matches yet.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Fire is 1-1-1 to start the new season under Veljko Paunovic, and has three home matches next: Montreal (Saturday), Columbus (Apr. 8), and New England (Apr. 15)

Report: Arsenal interested in Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel

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According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal is monitoring the progress of Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The rumor does make sense. With Petr Cech at 34 years old and having a poor season in front of net and backup David Ospina failing to challenge him for the starting job, the Gunners are looking elsewhere to bring in a potential future starter.

Schmeichel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the past two seasons. Last season he led the Foxes to the Premier League title, organizing a stunningly good defensive line of patchwork players. This season, the defense has largely regressed and let Schmeichel down, but he has still performed well and has the metrics to remain one of the league’s top shot-stoppers.

The Danish keeper is 30 years old himself, but that puts him in his prime for a goalkeeper. He has been with Leicester City since 2011, and he will tick 250 appearances for the club with his next match. Schmeichel was rumored to be a member of the secret player delegation that worked hard to see Claudio Ranieri pushed out of the club, a sentiment which he and the other players have strongly denied.

Still, with an improbable Premier League title in hand and an appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals now on the cards, there probably isn’t much else for him at Leicester City. It’s possible Schmeichel could look to bank on his past performances and secure a move to a bigger club this summer.

Should Arsene Wenger stay with Arsenal past this season, a possibility that looks more and more likely, he could look to move on from Cech despite signing the former Chelsea goalkeeper just two summers ago.

Diego Costa injured, but will stay with Spain squad for friendly

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Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled up in Spain training on Sunday, and with the Blues in first in the Premier League and Costa in great form, there were obvious concerns.

With Costa struggling with leg and ankle injuries, the RFEF informed Chelsea that there was an issue, and Costa was pulled from training and sent for tests. X-Rays at the local hospital in Madrid were negative, and he’s rejoined the squad.

According to the RFEF, doctors will continue to monitor the 28-year-old and he will continue with the national team for the rest of the international break. With a World Cup qualification win over Israel already in the books and just a friendly against France to go on Tuesday, it’s odd that Spain would risk Costa moving forward, but they will continue to keep him around.

Costa has scored 18 goals this season to lead the Blues, and he scored in the win over Israel. Spain takes on France in Saint-Denis on Tuesday, with both teams leading their World Cup qualification groups. Spain has a goal-differential lead on Italy with both teams miles above the rest of the Group G, and France is ahead of Sweden by three points in Group A, with the Netherlands back in fourth.

Foul or flop? Player “headbutts” referee, is sent off

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Well, there must be something in the water down in Brasilia, because things got a little weird this evening.

Flamengo drew with Vasco da Gama 2-2, but that was just the start.

In the 54th minute, with Vasco da Gama leading 1-0 at Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha, 36-year-old Luis Fabiano was sent off for “headbutting” the referee. Headbutting is in quotes because looking at the video, it certainly appears there was little to no contact, and the referee flops.

Yes, the referee flopped. Take a look:

To be fair, Fabiano was already on a yellow, so getting in the referee’s face even without the headbutt/pelvic thrust would likely still have seen him sent to an early shower.

So the former Porto and Sevilla man was sent off, and Vasco da Gama was down to 10 men. Immediately after the red card, Flamengo took advantage, powering in a pair of goals via Willian Arao and Orlando Berrio to take the lead 2-1. But Vasco wouldn’t quit, and they earned a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, which Nene buried for the 2-2 draw.

To top things off, a player named Yago Pikachu scored the opener for Vasco da Gama, which was followed by a delay in the game seven minutes later after a power surge in the stadium. Go figure.