MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 2-3 Seattle Sounders

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwsPK6pmykU]

One game, 100 words or less: Obafemi Martins’ early dominance was derailed by his own mistake, with a hands to the face ejection sending him to the locker room after 41 minutes and two goals. By that time, former Sounder Jhon Kennedy Hurtado had seen red, too, leaving the teams to play the second half 10-on-10. A Lamar Neagle ball into the right side of goal in the 78th minute gave the Sounders a two-goal lead, providing insurance against Harry Shipp’s second – a late blast from 17 yards into Stefan Frei’s upper-right hand corner.

Three moments that mattered:

1. 37′ – Hurtado gets sent off – The Fire defender, who had played every minute this season, had to be restrained by partner Bakary Soumaré when Chris Penso show him a second yellow card. Perhaps the Colombian defender was going to argue he didn’t make contact with Martins, but attempting a two-footed tackle in the penalty area (with Martins adroitly avoiding contact), Hurtado left himself no leg to stand on. After Martins converted from the spot, making it 2-0, Chicago seemed beaten.

source: AP
Obafemi Martins scored twice and was issued a red card in Saturday’s first half against Chicago, (Source: AP)

2. 42′ – Martins evens the scales – Shipp’s clinical finish from the left of the box inside Frei’s far post restored some hope for the hosts, but it was the aftermath of the goal that truly brought Chicago back into the game. During a fracas near the center line ahead of the ensuing kickoff, Martins was deemed to have made contact with Benji Joya’s face, earning a straight red card. All of a sudden Chicago had not only halved the lead, they’d even the scales.

3. 78′ – Lamar Neagle, Insurance Agent – A beautiful finish from the right side of Seattle’s penalty area in the 82nd minute gave Shipp his second multi-goal game of the season, further bolstering his place as this season’s Rookie of the Year. By that time, however, the Sounders had put the match away. Four minutes earlier, open in the left of the box as Seattle moved in from the other flank, Neagle calmly put a ball out of Sean Johnson’s reach and into the right side of Chicago’s goal, sealing Seattle’s win.

Three lessons going forward:

1. Neagle, Pappa continue to make wide midfield spots their own – The discussion around the wide midfield spots in Seattle’s 4-4-2 is starting to die down. Both Lamar Neagle, previously a constant source of debate, and Marco Pappa, who had a slow start to his Sounder career, have started to nail down the left and right flanks. Where that would leave Brad Evans when DeAndre Yedlin returns remains to be seen, but between Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda centrally and the strong performances Sigi Schmid’s getting out wide, Seattle’s midfield four is looking less and less like something you’d want to disrupt.

2. Obafemi Martins will go the way of Clint Dempsey – If his violent conduct red card is upheld, Martins will miss the team’s first two games after the World Cup break, matches at D.C. United and Vancouver. As important as the Nigerian has been to the team, it will be difficult playing any games without him. If Clint Dempsey can’t be integrated quickly after the World Cup (or, if the U.S. advances from its group), Seattle may be without both of its key attackers for at least one match.

3. Stop if you’ve heard this before: Chicago’s defense might not be good – Soumaré allowed Martins to turn onto goal one. Hurtado’s penalty conceded goal number two. All defenses seem to have moments like those, but Chicago has collecting them at a disturbing rate. It’s not that the Fire’s allowing such a remarkable number of goals. It’s that the goals they’re allowing are so preventable.

Where that leaves them:

  • Chicago: 2-4-8, ninth place in the East, four points out of fifth place
  • Seattle: 10-3-2, seven points clear of second place Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference

VIDEO: 10 red cards in abandoned Brazilian game

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This is utterly bonkers.

There are plenty of derbies around the globe which put fans and players on edge, but this was different.

Vitoria and Bahia squared off in the Bahia State derby in Salvador, Brazil and the match was abandoned amid violent scenes on the pitch which saw 10 players sent off.

The first half saw eight yellows dished out, but it all kicked off in the 50th minute after Vinicius scored a penalty kick for Bahia and shall we say danced before appearing to hump mid-air in front of the Vitoria fans. Predictably, that didn’t go down well.

Chaos ensued (see the video clip below) as punches flew in and the referee ended up sending off eight players, which included substitutes nearby, as all hell broke loose behind the Vitoria goal.

After a lengthy break, eventually three Vitoria players were sent off and five from Bahia, but there was to be more drama as two more Vitoria players were sent off in the 79th minute to take their tally of players on the pitch to seven.

That meant the game was abandoned and Bahia will likely be awarded a 3-0 victory.

The next time someone tells you a derby game is particularly “feisty” just show them the video below…


Arsenal sign record-breaking deal with Emirates

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Arsenal have announced a new sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines which will run until 2024 and is said to be worth over $56 million per season.

In a statement released on the club website, they call the five-year extension to the current deal “largest sponsorship deal ever signed by the club” as Emirates will continue to appear on the shirts and training gear of all of the teams.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis revealed the reason behind extending the relationship with Emirates.

“Our shirt partnership is the longest running in the Premier League and one of the longest relationships in world sport. This mutual commitment is testimony to the strength and depth of our unique relationship. Emirates are again demonstrating their great belief in our approach and ambition and their significantly increased investment will help us continue to compete for trophies and bring more success to the club and our fans around the world.”

The Gunners also confirmed that their home stadium will be known as the Emirates Stadium until at least 2028, as per the agreement reached in 2012.

Where do Arsenal rank in terms of shirt sponsorship deals?

Manchester United lead the way with their deal with Chevrolet said to be worth over $74.2 million per year, while Chelsea sit in second with a $56 million per year partnership with Yokohama but the Gunners are now alongside their London rivals.

Manchester City and Tottenham are just behind them when it comes to sponsorship deals, while Liverpool’s relationship with Standard Chartered runs until the end of next season.

Money from Wembley replay will ‘support Rochdale for two or three years’

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Worst-case scenario for Tottenham Hotspur: drawing League One side Rochdale in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash; best-case scenario for the Dale: drawing the Premier League giants and forcing a replay at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

For a club the size of Rochdale — 10,200-seat stadium, and never been above the third tier of English soccer — the financial impact of raking in half of the game’s gate receipts “will support the club for the next two or three years,” according to manager Keith Hill — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

As for Steve Davies’ 93rd-minute equalizer, Hill was adamant that it was nothing short of what they “deserved”:

“It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Tottenham Hotspur, soccer philanthropists.

Try, try again: Messi seeks 1st goal vs. Chelsea in 9th attempt

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LONDON (AP) As unlikely as it sounds, Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous Champions League matches.

The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

“I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg Champions League game. “The most important thing is the present.

“We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It won’t be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”

The teams have produced some epic games in the past although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semifinal victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.

Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at the Nou Camp as the London club overcame the first-half dismissal of captain John Terry, and a 2-0 deficit, to draw the game 2-2 and secure an unforgettable 3-2 aggregate win.

Bayern Munich hosts Besiktas in Tuesday’s other game while the following day sees Manchester United traveling to Sevilla, and Shakhtar Donetsk playing host to Roma.

Two weeks ago, the prospect of a Chelsea win over Barca would have been unthinkable after Conte’s men had slumped to successive defeats by two of the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The London club was still smarting from a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth when it traveled to Watford and succumbed to an embarrassing 4-1 reverse.

Chelsea has got back on track since then, though, easing past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the league last Monday before swatting aside second-tier Hull 4-0 in the FA Cup four days later.

Conte has several selection dilemmas. He must choose between captain Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger for a place at the back, and between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud up front.

Cesc Fabregas will also be desperate to play against his former team but may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Barca has lost only once in 38 matches this season since falling in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August. It has a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.

Messi is having another stellar campaign, scoring 27 times in all competitions, and he helped set up two goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Eibar.

Philippe Coutinho is ineligible for Barca following his move from Liverpool.