San Jose overcomes early red, hands Dallas fourth straight loss

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Major League Soccer’s officials are clear cracking down. Last season, red cards came once every 4.08 games. This year, that rate’s down to one every 3.10. Perhaps that figure will climb as the season progresses, but through 10 weeks, it’s meant  a lack of 11-on-11 soccer.

Saturday night in Santa Clara gave us only 45 minutes of even strength play, those Cordell Cato’s goal in the 25th sent San Jose into halftime with a lead. But the Earthquakes were also down a man at that point after Shea Salinas saw red for a reckless challenge. In the second half, the shorthanded hosts got insurance from a David Texiera own goal, enough to overcome a Michel free kick and two close calls to give the Earthquakes a 2-1 win.

The victory gives Mark Watson’s side seven points in its last four games, turning what was once a dreary spring  into something decent. With 10 points, the Earthquakes are now in sixth place, and while part of that is due to having three more games played than the seventh place Galaxy, it’s also three spots better than they were a short time ago.

Dallas, on the other hand, is trending in the other direction, though it’s four-game losing streak has gone from one extreme to the other on the red car spectrum.Two weeks ago in D.C., Dallas ended the night with nine men.  Last week in Frisco, Tex., Dallas lost Je-Vaughn Watson after 10 minutes. Wednesday’s game in Seattle was played without any dismissals, while tonight’s match gave the Toros an advantage. Against Chivas USA next week, expect Dallas to finish the game playing against nine.

While that makes it difficult to figure out where Oscar Pareja’s team is in this (perhaps temporary) post-Mauro Diaz world, FCD still should have found a way to get something out of Santa Clara. Down one but up a man with 45 minutes left should give a team averaging just under two goals per game plenty of time to equalize, if not win. Unfortunately, without a creator to replace Diaz, Dallas was largely ineffective – unable to break through Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez.

It’s difficult to be too critical of Dallas given Diaz’s situation, but even if the Argentine playmaker comes back in six weeks, Oscar Pareja needs a better Plan B. Whether he gets injured again or just doesn’t come back as quickly as the most optimistic rumors hope, Dallas can’t continue as a team that can’t win 11-on-10 when he’s not on the field.

Brazil’s Gremio wins Recopa Sudamericana in penalty shootout

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) Brazil’s Gremio has won the Recopa Sudamericana, beating Argentina’s Independiente 5-4 in a penalty shootout Wednesday night.

The two-legged final ended 1-1 on aggregate, with no goals scored after 120 minutes in the second.

The winners of last year’s Copa Libertadores overcame the holders of Copa Sudamericana after goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe stopped the last penalty of the series, taken by Independiente’s striker Martin Benitez.

The Recopa is played between the champions of South America’s two most important tournaments.

Independiente played most of the match down to 10 players after defender Fernando Amorebieta was sent off after 38 minutes.

The Brazilians made most of the pressure until the end of extra time, but failed to score.

Gremio also won the Recopa in 1996.

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.