Donovan

MLS Roundup: LA rescued by Donovan, Vancouver ends Cascadia streak

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A trio of MLS games graced our Sunday, and a streak came to an end as Vancouver held off a late surge from Portland to beat the Timbers for the first time ever in Major League Soccer play.

The win for Vancouver puts them third in the Western Conference, but it certainly had more meaning than that. In addition, the win for the Whitecaps ends Portland’s 22-match unbeaten streak, and the Whitecaps will gladly take home these spoils along with the three points.

As for the others, Landon Donovan continues his post-cut tear, beating the Chicago heat to steal a point from the Fire, and the Colorado Rapids clearly didn’t take out enough frustration on Montreal last week and took another victim for a spin by thoroughly trouncing Houston.

Chicago Fire 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy

Landon Donovan cancelled out a Jeff Larentowicz penalty in the 74th minute and secured a point for Los Angeles.  Things seemed dire as the Chicago defense held the Galaxy to a single shot on target – Donovan’s goal.

The Fire played extraordinary defense, but it ultimately let them down. Defender Chris Ritter, on his full debut for Chicago, made a single mistake, giving the ball away to Robbie Keane and the Galaxy duo made Chicago pay by snatching a point.

Manager Frank Yallop was visibly conflicted after the match, calling it “frustrating points-wise, but encouraging performance-wise.”  Larentowicz bagged his penalty in the 68th minute after Quincy Amarikwa was taken down.

The point for either side allows the Galaxy to draw level with San Jose and even leapfrog them into 6th on goal difference. Meanwhile, Chicago has to settle for no change in the table, while the full spoils could have brought them exactly level with New York in 7th.

Following the match, Keane was publicly furious with the decision to play a 3:00 game in the middle of June as temperatures climbed into the 90’s in Chicago.  It should be fun when he watches the international teams play in Brazil.

Colorado Rapids 3-0 Houston Dynamo

23-year-old Deshorn Brown picked up a first-half brace and Kamani Hill added another as Colorado asserted their dominance over a surprisingly hapless Houston squad.

Colorado controlled 62% of possession and registered 15 shots/9 on target, while holding Houston to a big goose egg in the shots on target category.  Houston didn’t have a shot on goal of any type until Will Bruin clanged the post in the 72nd minute.

The win means Colorado remains unbeaten against Houston in their last eight meetings, and completes a remarkable turnaround following their pair of losses to Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA.  The Rapids have not only bounced back to win their last two, but they’ve done so by a combined 7-1 scoreline.

The three points take Colorado all the way up from eighth to third in the tight Western Conference, and they still hold at least a game in hand on those around them.

Portland Timbers 3-4 Vancouver Whitecaps

Just as things were starting to look up for Portland, they have come crashing down.  On the heels of back-to-back road wins – just their second and third wins of the season – the Timbers returned home and caught Vancouver at the wrong time, hammered by the surging Whitecaps 4-1.

The Whitecaps got a pair of penalties from Pedro Morales, plus Erik Hurtado picked one up deep into first half stoppage time and Jordan Harvey completed the halftime sandwich with one just four minutes after the break.

Vancouver’s win gives them a six-match unbeaten run dating back to a 1-0 loss to Los Angeles in early April. Portland nearly completed a remarkable comeback, but down 4-1 it was too big a mountain to climb. Max Urutti scored in the third minute, and after Vancouver poured on the goals, Will Johnson and Gaston Fernandez did their best to pull back level for Portland, but they fell one short.

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

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Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

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The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.