New York Red Bulls v New England Revolution

10-in-2: New England puts up another five-spot, routs the Union


Two weeks, 10 goals, and the inevitable conversation: Is the New England Revolution now the best team in Major League Soccer? Over the last two weeks, the Revs certainly have been, following up a 5-0 win over the Seattle Sounders with today’s 5-3 rout of Philadelphia. The question is: How sustainable are these results?

Let’s set that aside for now and talk about the contrast between this result and Wednesday’s, when Philadelphia was able to take a 2-1 win out of Sporting Park in Kansas City. Before that game, John Hackworth’s side was seen as one of the worst in the league, but after a road win over the defending champs, the potential we noticed in the season’s first weeks was again shining through. Maybe the Union weren’t as bad as we thought.

source: AP
Lee Nguyen (R), pictured with Patrick Mullins, was one of three New England players to register a goal and an assist against the Revolution (Diego Fegundez, Chris Tierney). (Photo: AP Photos.)

On Saturday, the defense gave us reason to think otherwise. An early goal was surrendered when Austin Berry overran A.J. Soares. Diego Fagundez doubled the lead in the middle of the half. A scorching hit from Vincent Nogueira pulled one goal back, but then the second half onslaught: Lee Nguyen getting the best of Raymon Gaddis and Berry; Chris Tierney’s fine but too easy direct kick; Patrick Mullins scoring in his third straight. Though the Union would add a second through Sheanon Williams late, this game felt almost as lopsided as the Seattle result. Sébastien Le Toux’s late penalty conversation was practically irrelevant.

Given we’ve seen a New England outburst two weeks in a row (against teams at the opposite ends of the MLS spectrum), focusing on what Philadelphia couldn’t do should probably wait until we figure out why Nee England has been so successful. Better yet, why are the Revs all of a sudden so successful? After a slow start to the season and a series of ground out results, how has this team been able to put up 10 goals in the last two games of this surprise four-match winning streak?

Though there’s been a shuffle at the back, the big changes seem to be in the middle and up top. Lee Nguyen, dangerous throughout the season, has gone from effective to imposing, potentially striking a more potent balance with Daigo Kobayashi then he did with Kelyn Rowe. Whereas there was a sense of Maverick and Iceman when the emerging UCLA talent was in midfield, Kobayashi may be a better Goose.

Up top, getting Teal Bunbury wide, Patrick Mullins in, and Saer Sene out has completely balanced the attack. Rather than starting a player who is only effective cutting into the middle, New England has somebody who seems capable of playing (or, willing to play) wide. Combining with better balance via Kobayashi and stronger striker play from Mullins, that means more space for Nguyen, more chances to play direct, and players who can better take advantage of opportunities in transition.

At least, that’s one theory. The extent to which it’s true may determine whether this run is sustainable. If there really is a method to this madness (and 10 goals in two weeks is sure madness), New England is a true contender. If this is just a strong streak that will fade this summer, it’s still gotten New England to the top of the East. With this attacking talent, Jay Heaps may come up with another trick before the season’s out.

Gerard Pique continues to be booed by Spain supporters

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 21:  Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona looks down dejected after missing a chance to score during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Malaga CF at Camp Nou on February 21, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Spain secured qualification to EURO 2016 today with a 4-0 win over Luxembourg, but once again a good performance was overshadowed by the rift between fans and Gerard Pique.

The center-back continues to be booed and whistled by his own fans, despite ongoing calls from the manager, players, and Pique himself to stop the jeers.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

The boos started when Pique, who plays for Barcelona, made some joking comments about Real Madrid while celebrating Barca’s treble winning season last year. Ever since then, Pique has been the subject of boos from Real Madrid fans while playing for the national team.

Before the match against Luxembourg, Spanish legend Xavi called for a stop to the antics, saying supporters should put their club allegiances aside when rooting for the national team. However, they paid no attention to one of Spain’s greatest players, as Pique was whistled at throughout the match.

Following the win, Pique was pleased with the result that booked Spain a place in the final tournament, but was still upset over his treatment by his own fans.

I’d like to resolve this situation with the whistling, of course I do but that depends on the fans. I am going to give all I’ve got to do my job. We’ve reached our objective which was to qualify. I think we’re changing the dynamic; the whistling is louder than the applause but we will improve.

I seem to have explained myself a thousand times on this… no one should be in any doubt about me and my commitment; I’ve been with the national side since I was 16. People can take a look through the archives and see everything I have said in the press since I was a kid. You won’t find anything bad, or comments I’ve made against the national team or this country for people to get upset about.

While the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid is one of the biggest in the world, it shouldn’t carry over into the national side. Pique has made more than 70 appearances for the Spanish team, and started every match at center-back in Spain’s 2010 World Cup run, which was the country’s first major trophy in nearly 50 years. He also played every minute of Spain’s EURO 2012 campaign, which resulted in another title.

[ RELATED: Sergio Aguero suffers torn hamstring playing for Argentina ]

With Spain now into EURO 2016, it’s time for fans to move on and start showing Pique the respect he deserves as one of their most consistent and important players over the past five years.

FIFA presidential election could be postponed

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 30:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks to the press during the FIFA Post Congress Week Press Conference at the Home of FIFA on May 30, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Alessandro Della Bella/Getty Images)
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For months now, the footballing world has been waiting for February 26, the date on which the FIFA presidential election is scheduled to take place, which will finally put Sepp Blatter out of power.

However, that election may not take place as scheduled, as FIFA has called an emergency meeting amidst the suspensions of some top officials.

[ RELATED: Klopp introduced as Liverpool boss ]

The emergency meeting will be held on October 15, just a few days before the October 26 deadline for candidates to officially declare their intent to run for the presidency.

On Thursday, FIFA announced bans on multiple executives, including Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and Chung Mong-joon. Platini has been the odds-on favorite to succeed Blatter as FIFA’s leader, while Mong-joon has also announced he will run for president.

Because of the current investigation and suspension revolving around Platini, he would not be allowed to run for the presidency if the election were to take place as scheduled in February. If the election was pushed back, it would give time for the investigation to come to a conclusion, which could possibly absolve Platini of any wrongdoing and allow him to re-enter the race.

Issa Hayatou, who has been the president of the Confederation of African Football since 1988, is currently serving as the acting FIFA president following Blatter’s suspension, and will preside over the meeting next week.