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Depleted Earthquakes can’t match early Martins stunner

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An early, jaw-dropping goal relegated San Jose to a 1-0 loss in Seattle, but considering the myriad of absences the Earthquakes carried into Seattle, this may have been the best result Mark Watson could have reasonably expected. Both Víctor Bernárdez and Clarence Goodson were gone from the defense, while the team’s attack was missing all of Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, Yannick Djaló and Shea Salinas. In that light, a one-goal loss at one of the league’s best (albeit Clint Dempsey-less) team almost seems like a fortunate result.

(San Jose’s XI: Jon Busch; Brandon Barklage, Ty Harden, Jordan Stewart, Shaun Francis; Cordell Cato, Jean Baptiste Pierazzi, Khari Stephenson, Sam Cronin; Billy Schuler, Atiba Harris)

Where it not for Jon Busch, it would have been much worse. The San Jose keeper, who drew national attention last week with his performance against Colorado, had another good night, victimizing Lamar Neagle, Alonso, and Chad Barrett. Nobody would have faulted the oft-overlooked keeper for conceding a second goal.

But almost all of Seattle’s chances were isolated, often from distance. Had the Sounders not gone up in the eighth minute, perhaps there would have been a greater desire to extend their lead, but up against an opponent that could put a shot on target until the 91st minute (and that one was from 35 yards), Seattle was never pushed expend its reserves. Coming off a devastating day last week in New England, the Sounders were given 90 minutes of assurances by a depleted San Jose.

Because of that depletion, the Earthquakes shouldn’t take too much out of Saturday’s game, though as the number in their games played column continues to increase, Watson’s worry has to grow. While the Earthquakes have shown they can be a competitive, even resourceful team, they’ve yet to show they’re capable of keeping a team like the Vancouver Whitecaps out of the playoffs. If Portland, Dallas, and Colorado’s struggles continue, that may not matter, but if any of those teams start to recapture their form, San Jose will need to find another level. Each 90 minutes without a solution is 90 minutes slower to another season outside of the playoffs.

At the same time, Seattle didn’t get many answers, either; not that games like tonight’s could quell their concerns. The Sounders’ problems, on display last week in Foxborough, can’t be solved by a convincing performance against an average team.

In light of that lopsided result, the best they could hope for transpired at CenturyLink. The Sounders got back in the win column.

 

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Pardew saves his job, says Palace owners “don’t know a lot about football”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Alan Pardew, Manager of Crystal Palace thumbs up prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park on December 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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While some may advise that keeping a low profile would best suit Alan Pardew right now, Crystal Palace’s embattled manager is of a totally different mindset.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Southampton, in which Pardew’s side saved his job (for the time being), the 55-year-old Eagles boss and former player chose the first bright moment, Palace’s first Premier League win since Sept. 24, to hit out at the club’s new American owners with a scathing assessment of the footballing prowess, or perhaps lack thereof — quotes from the Guardian:

“The chairman got a bit edgy this week, as you’d expect. We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don’t know a lot about football so the chairman has been defending me.

“I always think as a manager at any level, particularly in the modern era, expect the sack. Just expect it; it’s coming at some stage, so just do your job as best you can. Every week, that’s what I try to do.

“Sometimes it’s hard to dress up six defeats when you’re the owner of the club and you have investors. Obviously there are things he’s got no control over but he’s tried to offer me all the assistance that he could. He’s been brilliant for me and I just want to say thank you to him really.”

With various reports linking Sam Allardyce and Roberto Mancini to a job which he still holds, it’s understandable that Pardew would be slightly on edge, quick to thump his chest and restake his claim as the right man for the job, but perhaps alienating and borderline embarrassing the new investors, who are now responsible for signing your paychecks, wouldn’t have been my go-to move.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

On the other hand, as Pardew rightly stated in the above quotes, his day of reckoning will eventually arrive, so what’s he really got to lose?