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.

LIVE – Champions League playoff: Nice-Napoli headlines action

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With Celtic (just about) booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday, four more teams will join them.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Napoli, Olympiacos, Sevilla and Hapoel Be’er Sheva all have narrow leads heading into the second legs which sets things up rather nicely for the winner takes all second legs. Olympiacos and Be’er Sheva will be feeling particularly nervous after conceding at home in the first leg.

On Wednesday five more ties takes place across Europe with Liverpool looking to book their spot in the UCL group stage against Hoffenheim.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all four matches.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs

Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli lead 2-0 on aggregate)
Astana 4-3 Celtic (Celtic advance 8-4 on aggregate)
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel Be’er Sheva lead 2-1 on aggregate)

LIVE – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

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Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Grimsby Town vs. Derby County
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm

Celtic qualify for UEFA Champions League group stage

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Celtic survived a scare in Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second season on the trot.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Brendan Rodgers‘ side beat FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff last week at Celtic Park but the trip to Kazakhstan proved much trickier with Astana leading 4-1 late in the game which had pulled the score back to 6-4 on aggregate.

However, Scott Sinclair had scored a priceless away goal to make it 1-1 at half time and despite a late flurry of goals for the hosts Olivier Ntcham scored a deflected effort and Leigh Griffiths wrapped things up late on as Celtic lost 4-3 on the night but went through 8-4 on aggregate.

Last season the Scottish champions went out in the UCL group stage after being drawn with Manchester City, Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach and will be hoping for a kinder draw this time around.

Premier League clubs on League Cup upset alert

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The second round of the League Cup (known as the Carabao Cup in 2017-18 for sponsorship reasons) kicks off on Tuesday with 13 Premier League clubs in action.

[ MORE: League Cup scores live ]

All 13 have been drawn against lower-league opposition and those klaxons you can hear signify upset alerts.

Below is a look at how each Premier League club will get on as they enter the competition on Tuesday and Wednesday with a ranking on each game out of 10, with 10 being the most likely for an upset to occur.

Remember: the seven PL teams in European competition will enter the League Cup in the third round.


Upset alert ranking for PL clubs

Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 8/10
Brighton vs. Barnet – 4/10
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom – 7/10
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City – 6/10
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth – 7/10
Watford vs. Bristol City – 5/10
MK Dons vs. Swansea City – 5/10

Wednesday
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest – 6/10
Southampton vs. Wolves – 7/10
Huddersfield Town vs. Rotherham United – 7/10
Cheltenham vs. West Ham United – 8/10
Stoke City vs. Rochdale – 6/10
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley – 6/10