Cardiff City 1-2 Chelsea: Blues surge back for late win

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Chelsea finished off the season by beating Cardiff City 2-1 away from home, as the Blues staged a surging second half comeback in South Wales.

The home side took the lead early on as Craig Bellamy’s deflected effort found the top corner and Chelsea struggled to get back into the match as the Bluebirds held firm. It took until the final 20 minutes for Chelsea to come to life as Cesar Azpilicueta hit the crossbar and substitute Andre Schurrle finished things off to equalize, then two minutes later Fernando Torres scored to give Chelsea the 2-1 lead which they hold on to.

In Mourinho’s first season of his second spell in charge of Chelsea the Blues ended up finishing third on 82 points, while Cardiff finished rock bottom on 30 points.

MORE: Final Premier League standings

Early on Chelsea had a great chance to go ahead as Fernando Torres latched onto a loose ball and rounded Cardiff ‘keeper David Marshall and slotted an effort towards the open goal but Steven Caulker cleared off the line superbly. Moments later Oscar smashed the ball just over the bar as the Blues from West London took the game to the Bluebirds.

However it was Cardiff who took the lead as as Bellamy was found on the left-hand side of the box in the 15th minute and his effort was deflected into the far corner of the goal to hand the home side the lead.

After going behind Chelsea pushed forward but failed to carve out any clear cut chances and before the break Cardiff could’ve gone 2-0 up as Frazier Campbell danced past four challenges however the Englishman blasted his effort way over from close range. Right on the stroke of half time Chelsea almost leveled the scores as the ball dropped to Mohamed Salah after a corner but the Egyptian winger put his effort just wide.

Chelsea tried to go for broke and get back into the game as Salah saw one shot blocked by his own player Cesar Azpilicueta, then smashed another into the side-netting as Chelsea piled on the pressure. To their credit Cardiff dug in and tried to get back into the game but Chelsea’s pressure finally paid off late in the game.

In the 72nd minute Azpilicueta hit the crossbar and Schurrle cleaned up to make it 1-1, then moments later a header from Nemanja Matic found Torres unmarked in the box and the Spanish striker coolly slot home to complete the comeback.

LINEUPS

Cardiff City: Marshall, Fabio, Caulker, Turner, John, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Whittingham, Daehli (Cowie, 67′), Bellamy (Healey, 76′), Campbell (James, 69′)

Goal: Bellamy (15′)

Chelsea: Schwarzer, Ivanovic, Cole, Azpilicueta, Kalas, Oscar, Mikel (Schurrle, 66′), Salah (Ake, 79′), Hazard (Swift, 89′), Matic, Torres

Goals: Schurrle (72′), Torres (75′)

Giovinco strikes twice to lift Toronto FC to Canadian Championship (video)

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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Sebastian Giovinco scored twice including in stoppage time as Toronto FC overcame Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla’s fantastic strike to win 2-1 in the second leg of the Canadian Championship at BMO Field on Tuesday.

TFC held the advantage after a 1-1 first leg in Montreal. The Reds advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Tabla, who just turned 18 in March, is an Ivorian-born Canadian youth international who now has four senior goals for the Impact.

Montreal veteran Patrice Bernier saw red in the 89th minute, putting the Impact’s chances behind the 8-ball.

[ MORE: USMNT Gold Cup questions ]

Toronto FC entered the match with a road goal advantage, which was undone in the quick flash of a left-foot, as Tabla dug a ball from underneath him and past a flying Clint Irwin to make it 2-1 on aggregate.

The goal was a double whammy for Toronto, which went to the break knowing it would need to score twice (or win in penalty kicks) to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Yet TFC came back after a horrendous pass from Montreal, as Michael Bradley pinged a gorgeous diagonal ball to Sebastian Giovinco. The Atomic Ant recovered from a tough opening touch to bury his chance. 1-1.

And, oh yeah, watch this man work for his second…

Who is Kenny Saief, and other USMNT Gold Cup personnel questions

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Kenny Saief is an 23-year-old American left-sided player with UEFA Champions League experience.

So why do we know so little about the Miami-born man?

The answer is pretty straight-forward: Saief’s entire career has been under-the-radar. After coming up through a series of Israeli teams, he moved to KAA Gent in Belgium. None of those matches, even adding in his representing the full Israel national team twice, got a ton of play on American soil.

[ MORE: Saul scores stunner for Spain U-21s ]

So when Saief filed his one-time switch to represent the United States, paving the way for a USMNT call-up for this summer’s Gold Cup, even those of us who’d followed his career from afar had put a limited amount of actual observation on match footage.

So here’s the long-and-short:

  • Saief turns 24 in December.
  • He moved to Gent from Israeli second tier side Ramat haSharon in 2014.
  • Played a total of 35 minutes in friendlies versus Serbia and Croatia.
  • Saief has 20 total appearances between the Europa and Champions Leagues.
  • Posted a UCL assist versus Wolfsburg in the 2015-16 Round of 16.
  • Had goal, 2 assists in UEL this season, played 180 mins vs. Spurs.
  • Has 15 goals, 9 assists in 107 apps for Gent.

Saief should get an opportunity to make an impact for Bruce Arena’s USMNT, perhaps as soon as Saturday’s friendly against Ghana in East Hartford.

Who else stands a chance to gain the most from this tournament?

Joe Corona — The 26-year-old made his thirst-inducing name in American soccer circles by scoring a pair of goals in the 2013 Gold Cup, but has just 17 caps to his name. His call-up over veterans like Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan either shows how high he’s risen or how far those veterans have fallen.

Cristian Roldan — Seattle’s hard-nosed midfielder was playing college ball at Washington just three years ago, and it’s not crazy to think strong performances could boost him onto the radar of bigger clubs abroad (let alone make him a mainstay along Kellyn Acosta with the USMNT).

Dom Dwyer — If Roldan’s rise is surprising, Dwyer’s really is astounding. It’s easy to forget that the Sporting KC star forward was playing junior college soccer in 2010 before spending one season of Division I soccer with South Florida. Now he has 57 MLS goals and a look at becoming the clinical finisher the American side has wanted for some time.

Justin Morrow and Eric Lichaj — The 29- and 28-year-old fullbacks would love to prove their mettle is as good if not better than Jorge Villafana, the current front-runner to start at left back should the Yanks complete their revitalized run to the World Cup. Lichaj, a Nottingham Forest veteran, is also adept at right back.

This isn’t to say that Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe won’t benefit from strong tournaments, but the names above have either been rescued from soccer’s scrap heap or at least Jurgen Klinsmann’s prison.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check out the podcast here:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.