Houston Dynamo v New England Revolution

MLS Roundup: DC and NE wins congest the East, Seattle thumped

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What a weekend in Major League Soccer. The best part: Only one tie (though of course it featured the Tying Timbers).

Philadelphia Union 0-1 DC United: Even a new formation couldn’t help Philly’s struggling offense, and Chicago’s offload of Chris Rolfe and his salary continues to reap dividends for DC, which surged into second place in the Eastern Conference after the midfielder’s 6th minute goal. Could United be for real?

Montreal Impact 0-3 Sporting KC: Seventy-three minutes of 10-man ball is not a recipe for beating the reigning MLS champions, and Sporting took care of business after Collin Warner received an early red card. Two goals came courtesy of Dom Dwyer, while Paolo Nagamura also found the back of the net. Montreal is not clicking under Frank Klopas so far, while KC is tied atop the East.

New York Red Bulls 4-5 Chicago Fire: Chicago has a win! Chicago finally has a win! The good Shipp, Harrison, buried his first three MLS goals as it looked like the Fire were going to make a mockery of the Red Bulls in New York, but the hosts came charging back thanks to Bradley Wright-Phillips. He added a league-best eighth and ninth goals on the night, but couldn’t bring New York all the way back.

Columbus Crew 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps: Super-early-season darlings Columbus lost again at home, where their record fell to 1W-2L-2T. The villain in this one was Erik Hurtado, who netted his first MLS goal for Carl Robinson’s surging club. It was Vancouver’s first win on the road.

San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 FC Dallas: Oscar Pareja and FC Dallas red-hot opening slate has fizzled into four straight losses, and perhaps San Jose will start to get a bit more respect after this triumph that saw just 45 minutes of even play. No Mauro Diaz did not help — nor will it — as Dallas tries to find answers. Meanwhile, San Jose has pulled into fifth-place after the tough, congested start that included CONCACAF Champions League matches.

Portland Timbers 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy: Who had the Portland Timbers as the team with the West’s worst record in mid-May? The traditionally-tying Timbers caught a major break to even get one point, as a takedown of Juninho on a breakaway could’ve easily been the penalty attempt to make it 2-0. Both markers came in stoppage time, as Diego Valeri scored at the death to cancel out Robbie Keane’s fifth goal of the year.

Colorado Rapids 1-3 Chivas USA: Break up the Goats. Chivas USA is technically out of the basement again after substitute Martin Chavez scored twice in the second half to lift the visitors. Erick Torres was solid again with a goal and assist, and Dan Kennedy lost his shutout late when Deshorn Brown scored in stoppage time.

New England Revolution 5-0 Seattle Sounders: Diego Fagundez took nine games to score his first of the season, but picked up two as New England picked apart Seattle to the tune of a 4-0 halftime lead. Bobby Shuttleworth was fantastic as the Sounders tempted the frame several times early, but Sigi Schmid will regret many missed chances.

Houston Dynamo 2-5 Real Salt Lake: The story could’ve been Mark Sherrod’s first two MLS goals, but instead it’s about a dicey red card to Servando Carrasco and Javier Morales finding his goal-scoring boots. Morales netted a hat trick, with two in the first 17 minutes and an 89th minute penalty kick. RSL led 3-1 at halftime on the way to a comfortable 5-2 win at BBVA Compass Stadium, its first ever at Houston.

STANDINGS

Eastern
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Sporting KC 9 5 2 2 14 6 8 3-2-0 2-0-2 17
New England 10 5 2 3 14 10 4 3-1-0 2-1-3 17
D.C. 9 4 2 3 13 11 2 3-1-1 1-1-2 14
Houston 11 4 2 5 15 19 -4 3-1-2 1-1-3 14
New York 11 3 5 3 18 17 1 2-2-1 1-3-2 14
Columbus 10 3 3 4 10 11 -1 1-2-2 2-1-2 12
Toronto FC 7 3 0 4 7 9 -2 1-0-2 2-0-2 9
Chicago 9 1 6 2 17 18 -1 0-3-1 1-3-1 9
Philadelphia 11 1 5 5 10 14 -4 1-3-1 0-2-4 8
Montreal 9 1 3 5 7 17 -10 1-2-2 0-1-3 6
Western
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Seattle 11 7 1 3 22 19 3 4-0-2 3-1-1 22
Real Salt Lake 10 5 5 0 21 12 9 2-2-0 3-3-0 20
FC Dallas 11 5 1 5 20 19 1 4-0-2 1-1-3 16
Vancouver 10 4 4 2 16 12 4 3-1-1 1-3-1 16
Colorado 10 4 3 3 11 12 -1 2-1-2 2-2-1 15
San Jose 9 2 4 3 10 11 -1 2-3-1 0-1-2 10
Los Angeles 7 2 3 2 8 6 2 1-0-1 1-3-1 9
Chivas USA 10 2 3 5 12 19 -7 1-1-3 1-2-2 9
Portland 10 1 6 3 13 16 -3 1-5-0 0-1-3 9

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FIFA candidate Prince Ali claims voting pledge from Liberia

Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, flanked by school-age soccer players in uniforms, speaks before about 300 guests during an event at a Roman amphitheater in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The prince is running for FIFA president, saying Wednesday he will fight "deep-seated corruption and political deal-making" and make soccer's scandal-scarred governing body more transparent. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan says the Liberia soccer federation has pledged its vote to him.

Liberia follows Egypt as the second African voter claimed by Prince Ali since the Confederation of African Football’s leadership endorsed Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman of Bahrain on Friday.

The CAF executive committee urged the 54 African voters among FIFA’s 209-strong membership to back the sheikh in the Feb. 26 election.

Prince Ali’s campaign team on Saturday published a three-page letter of endorsement signed by Liberia federation president Musa Bility.

Bility writes that Prince Ali “represents real change” while other candidates are “not even prepared to criticize” the FIFA system.

Bility was himself an applicant in the presidential contest, then failed an integrity test judged by FIFA’s election monitoring committee.

LVG says Mourinho speculation is false, calls the whole thing “nonsense”

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho, center left, makes his way from the opposition dugout after greeting Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, centre right, during their English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Sunday Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Louis Van Gaal is sick and tired of the media speculating about his employment (or potential lack thereof), as well as reports linking the presently unemployed Jose Mourinho to his job, so what we’re going to do now is speculate on those reports a bit more.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

But first, we’ll give Van Gaal the chance to tell his side of the story. Who better to explain what’s going on at Manchester United than the manager of Man United, right? OK, Louis, take it away, mate — quotes from the Guardian:

“The last two months have been very difficult for my wife, my kids, my grandchildren and my friends to cope with. For me too, but I can cope. In the Netherlands they know I am too arrogant to doubt myself, but I also know that such a nonsense is being created about me. I do not believe that there is already a relationship between José Mourinho and Manchester United.”

“It is logical when you have lost four matches in a row, people are bound to be doubting. … I criticize the media for inventing stories. I never hired security. Never ever. And I am walking on the streets without security and all the people I meet are very positive.”

OK, now that that’s out of the way, Jose Mourinho is definitely talking to Manchester United, or someone is doing so on his behalf. There’s arguably never been a more sitting-duck manager in world football than Van Gaal is right now — not only have the results been extremely “meh” for nearly two seasons now, but he’s also got less than 18 months left on his contract, which means it would cost the club considerably less to make him go away than, say, David Moyes, who still had more than five years(!!!) left on his deal when he was fired in April of his first season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL preview — Leicester hammer Man City, Spurs go 2nd ]

Also, they were totally in for Pep Guardiola, too, and since they didn’t get him, they’ll have to respond thusly, and since Carlo Ancelotti has already been named Guardiola’s successor at Bayern Munich, Mourinho is the last “big name” out there right now. Unless, of course, they wanted to tap up Manuel Pellegrini, who’s on his way out to make room for Guardiola. Could be fun. But not as fun as Jose back in the Premier League, at Man United, in the same city with Pep. Remember the last time those two were employed on opposite sides of a heated rivalry?

As spectacular as this year’s PL season has been — and it’s bordering on the best of all time, still with 13 weeks to go — think about what that means for next season. It’s going to have be even more bonkers, so as not to seem boring by comparison. Louis van Gaal seems like a nice enough guy, but his team’s football isn’t that exciting on the field, and he offers little more off it. Mourinho isn’t the hero we deserve, but he’s certainly the one we need.

Another one: Lavezzi the latest star set for the riches of China

Paris Saint Germain's Ezequiel Lavezzi form Argentina, celebrates the opening goal during a French league one soccer match between Paris-Saint-Germain and Rennes at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Paris Saint Germain clinhed its second straight French league title on Wednesday after rival Monaco drew 1-1 against French Cup holder Guingamp. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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The list just keeps growing; Ezequiel Lavezzi, he of Paris Saint-Germain and Argentine national team fame, is the latest star leaving Europe behind with the Chinese Super League his next stop, according to multiple reports Saturday night.

[ MORE: The latest transfer news and gossip ]

Linked with a move to Premier League side Chelsea during the recently completed January transfer window, a move away from PSG never materialized for the 30-year-old. Not on the European continent, at least.

Now, the former Napoli, San Lorenzo and Estudiantes (Argentina) attacker is set for Shanghai Shenhua, where he’ll reportedly take home something in the $11-to-15-million-per-year ballpark. When you can somehow get a raise from your current deal with a Qatar Sports Investments-owned club… well, I guess you’d be dumb not to do it.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Leicester hammer Man City, Spurs go 2nd ]

It was already pretty well known Lavezzi would be leaving the French capital in 2016, but when his tenure survived through much of Europe’s winter window, it seemed he would hang around until the expiration of his current contract before moving elsewhere on a free transfer.

Then came the monstrous windfall of cash into and subsequent spending by CSL clubs over the last two weeks; Lavezzi joins the likes of Ramires, Gervinho, Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixeira, Demba Ba and Fredy Guarin, among others, to move to China for massive annual salaries. At Shenhua, Lavezzi will play alongside Ba and Guarin, as well as former Everton and New York Red Bulls man Tim Cahill, who made the move to China last year.

The CSL’s transfer window doesn’t close until Feb. 26, so the spending spree may well go on a little while long.

La Liga & Serie A roundup: Atleti bounce back to keep pressure on Barca

Atletico's Jose Maria Gimenez, right, celebrates after scoring a goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico de Madrid and Eibar at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Eibar

The race for the La Liga title isn’t over quite yet — though Barcelona are overwhelmingly favorites at the moment — and Atletico Madrid will have to keep winning, with just about no room for error, to keep it that way. On Saturday, they did just that by defending their home turf, to the tune of a 3-1 victory over Eibar.

Keko put the visitors ahead in the 46th minute, but Jose Gimenez quickly opened the scoring for Atleti and equalized on 56 minutes. Saul Niguez made it 2-1 to Atleti seven minutes later, and Fernando Torres’ 100th career goal (below video) gave Los Rojiblancos a bit of insurance in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. With the victory, Atleti are level on 51 points with Barca, but the Catalan giants have two games in hand on Madrid’s “other” team, the first of which they’ll play on Sunday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Rayo Vallecano 2-0 Las Palmas
Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Villarreal
Sporting Gijon 1-1 Deportivo La Coruña

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Levante vs. Barcelona (6 a.m. ET)
Real Betis vs. Valencia (10 a.m. ET)
Celta Vigo vs. Sevilla (12:15 p.m. ET)
Granada vs. Real Madrid (2:30 p.m. ET)


Bologna 1-1 Fiorentina

Fiorentina have left the door wide open for Inter Milan to re-enter the top three — and UEFA Champions League-qualifying — places with a 1-1 draw away to Bologna. The Viola finished the game with 10 men after Matias Fernandez was sent off for two yellow cards 10 minutes apart either side of halftime.

Their opening goal, which gave them the lead in the 59th minute, was beautifully worked and wonderfully taken by Federico Bernardeschi (below video). It was quickly canceled out, though, as Emanuele Giaccherini equalized four minutes later to earn a point and strengthen Bologna’s hold on 10th place in the league table.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Genoa 0-0 Lazio

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Hellas Verona vs. Inter Milan (6:30 a.m. ET)
Napoli vs. Carpi (9 a.m. ET)
Torino vs. Chievo (9 a.m. ET)
Frosinone vs. Juventus (9 a.m. ET)
Sassuolo vs. Palermo (9 a.m. ET)
AC Milan vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Atalanta vs. Empoli (12 p.m. ET)
Roma vs. Sampdoria (2:45 p.m. ET)