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

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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.

Mourinho: Van Gaal left good team, but I brought belief

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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are bringing happiness to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, or at least more of it.

The United boss says the club’s turnaround is emotionally-based, and that the cupboard certainly wasn’t bare when he took over the Red Devils last summer.

[ MORE: Fellaini red  had “a bit of acting” ]

United finished fifth in the Premier League last season, tied for fourth with Man City and 15 points back of Arsenal. Mourinho’s men sit in the same spot this year, but are in the semifinals of the Europa League, have won the League Cup, and have the door open to the Top Four.

So what’s different? Here’s the boss, from the BBC:

“I think Mr. Van Gaal left a good group of boys with very good relations between them.

“[But] I think they missed happiness, they missed trust, belief, this extra bit that brings resilience, brings fight and they have it [now].”

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster with the Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw drama, but — like any new manager — Mourinho did have to sort the club. Now we wonder whether he’ll keep it happy or hit a traditional rut by Year Three (assuming he gets there, and United should be very good next season).

Spurs confirm Wembley as 2017-18 home

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May 14 will indeed be the last time Tottenham Hotspur takes the field at White Hart Lane.

Club chairman Daniel Levy has announced that Spurs will play all of its 2017-18 home matches at Wembley Stadium, and that WHL will be demolished in the offseason.

Spurs have a new venue under construction next door to WHL, calling the venue “the heart” of regeneration plans in the region. From TottenhamHotspur.com:

“This marks a momentous day in our Club’s history as it is the day we formally agreed the demolition of our beloved White Hart Lane.

“The Lane means a huge amount to each and every one of us and we needed to gain greater certainty on the delivery of the new stadium before we made the final decision to commence with the decommissioning of our iconic, historic home for some 118 years.

‘We shall ensure that we give the Lane a fitting farewell when we play our last match here on May 14.”

West Ham’s final match at Upton Park was a memorable one last season, thanks not just to the off-field but the on-field as well. The Irons came back to beat Manchester United 3-2 on a Winston Reid goal.

With Manchester United coincidentally (?) serving as the visitor on May 14, with Top Four if not title implications likely still in play, sign us up for a comfortable seat in front of TV.

Pochettino: Derby matters, but this is about title not “Totteringham”

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Mauricio Pochettino is a focused boss, one many of us wouldn’t mind as our manager.

The longtime Espyanol man knows a thing or two about being relegated to second fiddle in town, with Catalan rivals Barcelona enveloping the spotlight 99 times out of 100.

That’s why he’s not even bothering with treating Arsenal and “St. Totteringham’s Day” — the Gunners’ annual celebration of clinching a spot above Spurs in the standings — like anything than a derby date.

“I really don’t think about which position Arsenal are in. My view and focus is to try to win every game and try to win the Premier League.

“For me (finishing above Arsenal) is not a motivation. The motivation for me is to win because it’s a derby and I know what it means to win a derby. My motivation is to try to win some titles with Tottenham, and my players improve every day and show we are better than the opposition.”

Spurs as a club is growing in big ways, and aiming to sit atop the Premier League standings every year. Yes Premier League derbies are important, but aiming to finish above a rival versus above all rivals is short-sighted. Pochettino’s got it right.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 35

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The Premier League games continue to come thick and fast with 10 matches on the slate this weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush”

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

West Brom 2-0 Leicester City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Man United 2-0 Swansea City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Middlesbrough 1-3 Man City – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM

Crystal Palace 3-1 Burnley – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Stoke City 2-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal – (Sunday, 11:30 am. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Sunderland 1-2 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM

Southampton 2-1 Hull City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Watford 2-1 Liverpool – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Everton 2-1 Chelsea – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM