João Plata's fifth goal of the season gave Real Salt Lake full points at Toyota Park in Chicago. (Photo: AP Photo.)

Real Salt Lake exacts early Rocky Mountain revenge, downs Colorado, 2-1

Leave a comment

Despite Real Salt Lake’s run to the team’s second MLS Cup final, the Western Conference champions lost their regional rivalry’s trophy in 2013. On Saturday, however, the team that saw its six-year-run as Rocky Mountain Cup winners come to an end took the first step toward regaining its title, with only late consolation bringing the Colorado Rapids to within 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL opened the scoring when a movement from right-to-left caught Colorado too narrow on the far side. Javier Morales fed João Plata into the left of the area, setting up the Ecuadorian for the home side’s 23rd minute opener.

Just after halftime, a foul in the penalty area by Drew Moor allowed Javier Morales to score his fourth goal in two games. Colorado pulled the goal back late through Moor’s close range header but went the final 14 minutes without a shot on target. Prolonging its rivals’ recent slump, RSL improved to 6-0-5 on the season, remaining the only undefeated team in Major League Soccer.

In the absence of Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, and Álvaro Saborío, it was a convincing performance by one of the league’s teams hit hardest by World Cup call ups. Granted, Colorado ended up putting more shots on target, but the Rapids didn’t test Jeff Attinella until two minutes into first half stoppage time. The rest of the team’s chances came with the score 2-0. RSL may have been limited to four tests of Clint Irwin, but the team maintained a degree of control.

That they were able to do so without three key cogs has to be a concern for Colorado. Unlike RSL, the Rapids are without World Cup absences, yet they were unable to replicate last year’s success against their Rocky Mountain rivals. After three straight poor performances, the Rapids look like they’re over their early bounce and are in need of a new solution, particularly going forward.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
Leave a comment

Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
Leave a comment

Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.