Fulham 2-2 Crystal Palace: Youngsters provide Whites glimpse of hope for Championship

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Dwight Gayle picked up a brace for Crystal Palace but relegated Fulham received a glimmer of hope as a worldly goal from young Chris David in stoppage time earned the Cottagers a point before heading down.

A 13-year Premier League run comes to an end at Craven Cottage, but the Championship will see plenty of David and fellow goalscorer Cauley Woodrow as they look to work their way back up.

The visitors, on the other hand, get a point to complete a remarkable turnaround under Tony Pulis, finishing in 11th position after being in the relegation zone for much of the season’s first half.

Crystal Palace began quickly, but the first chance of the match fell to Fulham against the run of play in the sixth minute when Alex Kacaniklic lashed at goal powerfully off a corner but Wayne Hennessey saved well.

They had another on 15 minutes when young Cauley Woodrow had a go, another powerful effort looking to clean up a mess, but it was expertly blocked by David Delaney.

The chances got Fulham stuck in, and they began to steal more of the possession and pegged Palace back.

Unfortunately, the home side were forced into an early change, as an earlier yellow-card challenge from Marouane Chamakh forced Kacaniklic off with an injury in just the 23rd minute, replaced by youngster Chris David.

They continued to press, and Hugo Rodallega had a close effort saved just before the half-hour mark as Fulham saw up to 70% of possession.

Palace had a chance on a break, as Gayle slotted in Yannick Bolaise but David Stockdale made an expert one-on-one save.

But Gayle would make good moments later off the corner, as a shot from Joel Ward powered in and found the foot of an onsides Gayle who tapped past Stockdale for the lead.

Fulham continued to come close on the other end, when Fernando Amorebieta’s header came in just before the break but they couldn’t equalize with Hennessey in fine form and walling off the chance.

After the halftime break, Fulham continued to search for a goal.  Felix Magath brought on super-sub Ashkan Dejagah, and they came desperately close to scoring soon after as Hugo Rodallega clipped the post and out in the 54th minute.  More pressure a minute later ended with Chris David skying over.

The pressure eventually got to Palace, as Fulham found their equalizer. With Hugo Rodallega on the ball in the box but with his back to the goal and no immediate options, he found Woodrow in space at a tight angle, and he finished into the far corner.

It’s a nice bit of promise for Fulham going forward into the Championship, as they will likely get a heavy dose of the 19-year-old up front next year.

As the home side pressed for a winner, they shouted for a penalty on twenty minutes to go but referee Kevin Friend waved off Chris David and replays showed he should have been booked for a shockingly embarrassing dive.

In the 83rd minute, with both sides poking and prodding at the other for a winner, Scott Parker committed a silly foul with Palace flooding towards the box. Dwight Gayle took the free kick, and he produced a howitzer through the wall and past Stockdale for the winner.

Gayle nearly had himself an accidental hat-trick as time ticked town, as a shot from Murray clattered the bar, and the powerful ricochet smacked Gayle at close range, but the unintended attempt went just wide with Stockdale on the ground.

LINEUPS:

Fulham – Stockdale; Zverotic (Dejagah 50′), Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta; Kacaniklic (David 23′), Parker, Sidwell, Richardson (Tunnicliffe 79′); Woodrow, Rodallega.

Goals – Woodrow 61′, David 90+3′

Crystal Palace – Hennessey; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Bolasie, Jedinak (Dikgacoi 59′), Ledley, Ince (Puncheon 72′); Chamakh (Murray 74′), Gayle.

Goals – Gayle 28′, 84′

Report: Wesley Sneijder close to LAFC move

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Dutch legend Wesley Sneijder is close to signing for Los Angeles FC.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

A report from ESPN states that Sneijder, 33, will sign a two-year deal with LAFC and become a Designated Player for the team who will enter Major League Soccer in 2018.

Per the report, Sneijder has been offered a deal worth $3.5 million a year to join LAFC and he would link up with the squad in January 2018 ahead of their debut season in MLS.

Having a star of Sneijder’s size will certainly attracted plenty more interest in LAFC, plus he’s still a mainstay for the Dutch national team as he has 131 caps with 31 goals for the Oranje and his quality as a deep-lying playmaker is undisputed.

The former UEFA Champions League winner has enjoyed an illustrious career in Europe, winning trophies at Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter and Galatasaray. He won the UCL with Inter in 2010 as he was a pivotal part of Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning team. Sneijder has spent the past five seasons playing in Turkey for giants Galatasaray.

Sneijder would become LAFC’s first DP signing and although the newly-formed club do not yet have a head coach, who wouldn’t want to work with Sneijder in MLS?

With the Banc of California Stadium set to be ready for the start of the 2018 MLS season, excitement is building in LA.

Sneijder’s arrival would help that grow further as one of the premier playmakers of the past decade will get to strut his stuff in MLS. Whether he turns out to be as influential a DP as the likes of David Villa or Kaka remains to be seen, but LAFC are clearly willing to back up their grand plans with grand signings.

Six charged over Hillsborough disaster

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Six individuals, including four former members of the South Yorkshire Police (SYP), have been charged over the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 which left 96 Liverpool fans dead.

Former SYP Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was the match commander of the FA Cup semifinal which saw 96 fans crushed to death, will face charges of manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 of the victims. For legal reasons Duckenfield has not been charged over the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, who died four years after the tragedy.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must apply to the High Court to lift an order imposed on Duckenfield after he was prosecuted privately in 1999. That must be removed before he can be charged with 95 cases of manslaughter.

Families of the victims gathered in Warrington, England on Wednesday and were told about the charges by the CPS, who later released the following statement.

Other individuals who will be prosecuted include the former Chief Constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire police, Sir Norman Bettison, who is facing four charges misconduct in office following the disaster, while former SYP Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and SYP Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster have both been charged with perverting the course of justice.

Former Sheffield Wednesday chief executive and designated safety officer Graham Mackrell has been charged with breaching the terms of the stadium’s safety certificate and failing to take reasonable care under the the Health and Safety at Work act, plus SYP solicitor, Peter Metcalf, has also been charged.

The families of those who perished at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough over 28 years ago have fought for justice ever since with Liverpool Football Club and the wider soccer community supporting the families in their battle.

From 1991 until 2014 they struggled to cope with the cost of a lengthy legal battle, but that all changed as the UK government have funded the legal costs for all the victims families with the total investigation now spanning four-and-a-half years and costing over $128.2 million.

Last April a verdict of “unlawful killing” was reached for the 96 victims after a new inquest was launched into the deaths following the original verdict from 1991 being quashed by the High Court in 2012 after a report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The new inquest then prompted a new police criminal investigation as Operation Resolve was set up to determine what led up to the deadly crush, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) then investigated what happened after the tragedy and allegations that SYP had perverted the court of justice and tried to cover up their own responsibility.

The defendants, apart from Duckenfield, will appear in Warrington Magistrates Court on Aug. 9.

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

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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.