MLS Snapshot: D.C. United 0-0 Columbus Crew

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqy2cwgKJqQ]

One game, 100 words or less: Columbus’s second visit to D.C. United proved less successful than its opening day route. Again playing without Federico Higuaín (hamstring), Gregg Berhaltter’s team was shut out for the fifth time this season, putting only two shots on target at FedEx Field. D.C. United did Columbus only one shot better but still had a chance to take all three points when Fabian Espíndola stood over a stoppage time penalty kick. Steve Clark guessed correctly on his paneka, easily catching what could have been the game’s winning goal.

Three moments that mattered:

1. -90′ – Spain in control against El Salvador – Taking advantage of a visit from Spain, D.C. United and Columbus played the second match of a doubleheader. The turf, however, proved better for American football than MLS’s game. Spain went on to beat the Salvadorans, 2-0, but after his team’s scoreless finale, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen complained “[The field] was slow, thick, it’s not built for soccer … It’s built for big boys that run around and tackle each other.”

2. 83′ – Bedell fails to convert –  Seven minutes from time, after a match of half-chances left neither keeper significantly stressed, Columbus was given a chance to take another three points from United. Unfortunately for the Crew, the team’s chance fell to the wrong man. Having replaced Ben Speas six minutes earlier, Adam Bedell, a third round pick in this winter’s draft, hit his nine-yard shot straight at Bill Hamid, assuring Columbus would need a clean sheet to claim a point from United.

source: AP
Steve Clark’s three saves included a late penalty kick stop against Fabian Espíndola. (Photo: AP)

3. 90+6′ – Too cute, Fabi – Espindola will be criticized for trying his paneka, but the numbers don’t back the claim his choice was a bad one. A vast majority of the time, goalkeepers leap to one side or the other, leaving the middle of goal open. Unfortunately, something Espindola did in his run up may have tipped off Clark, who didn’t move before catching the failed shot.

Three lessons going forward:

1. Doubleheaders may not be worth it – Let’s assume Ben Olsen is right and the field greatly inhibited both teams. Is it really worth it for MLS to book these double headers if the conditions may not allow for a representative product? Of course, that assumes D.C. United knew FedEx Field would play so slow.

2. Crew finally missed Higuaín – In its first game without its Argentine maestro, Columbus managed to score twice in Toronto. It was the team’s defense, not attack, that failed it at BMO Field. On Saturday, however, chances were too scarce, with Bill Hamid enjoying one of his least active days of the season.

3. Steve Clark continues to be under appreciated – I get it. The first year keeper has no MLS legacy to fall back on. He plays in a small market, and his performances tend to be more solid than spectacular. Nobody cares about Steve Clark., though they should. Strong positioning, decisive reads, and, ultimately, results have defined his first year back in North America. That final save on Espindola wasn’t the amazing, diving save we normally laud on from keepers, but something about Espindola told Clark not to move. That he didn’t was proved just as valuable as a leaping stop.

Where that leaves them

  • D.C. United: 6-4-4, one point behind New England in the Eastern Conference
  • Columbus: 4-5-6, still with on victory since March

Latest on Ronaldo: PSG offer readied for Perez meeting

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Cristiano Ronaldo will meet with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez at the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, according to reports, at which point a pair of cut-and-dried options could be on the table.

Paris, or the status quo.

Marca reports that Ronaldo will bring a “money no object” offer from Paris Saint-Germain into the meeting, although the same outlet says Perez will know exactly what’s coming due to an understanding between the two big money clubs.

[ MORE: Juve confirms Alves release ]

The 32-year-old Ronaldo remains in fine form at the Confederations Cup, with Portugal’s unbeaten run continuing in Russia. If Portugal is upset by New Zealand in its group stage finale on June 24, it would still stand a good chance of proceeding to the knockout rounds depending on the Mexico-Russia result.

That means the Perez-Ronaldo meeting wouldn’t occur until after July 2, which is when the Final and third-place playoff are scheduled in Russia.

In the meantime, Real manager Zinedine Zidane is said to be cutting his vacation short to meet with Perez regarding not just Ronaldo’s future but the club’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe (which is a bit over-dramatic given the above news. Feels like a phone call could get the job done).

MLS Snapshot: Minnesota edges Timbers; D.C. tops Atlanta… again

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The game in 100 words (or less): Abu Danladi scored the game-winner on Wednesday night but the rookie striker had about as interesting a six-minute run of play as anyone you’ll see this season. The Minnesota forward notched second goal of the year after the hour mark before being sent off minutes later for a nasty encounter with Sebastian Blanco, who was also dismissed. It was a back-and-forth affair all night, with both sides having their chance to land a punch or two but Adrian Heath’s team moves off the bottom of the Western Conference with their win.

Three four five moments that mattered

7′ — Okugo own goal hands Minnesota lead — Good things happen when you get crosses into dangerous areas, and this was a prime example.

37′ — Valeri buries from the PK spot — It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Diego Valeri doesn’t convert this honestly…

47′ — Ramirez continues to be a goalscoring machine — Yeah, that’s right. Nine goals on the year now for Christian Ramirez. Looks like this guy is going to be just fine in MLS.

50′ — Another own goal… — Francisco Calvo is the unfortunate recipient of this own goal, but again, dangerous crosses pay off.

Man of the match: 

Goalscorers: Amobi Okugo (OG – 7′), Diego Valeri (PK – 37′), Christian Ramirez (47′), Francisco Calvo (OG- 50′), Abu Danladi (64′)


The game in 100 words (or less): For all the things that have gone wrong for D.C. United this season, Ben Olson’s side has actually played well against Atlanta United. That continued again on Wednesday night as D.C. picked up its fifth win of the season behind goals from Luciano Acosta and Patrick Nyarko. Atlanta went ahead inside the opening 20 minutes when Yamil Asad set up Julian Gressel, who tapped home for the visitors. From there, Atlanta had a tough time of it capitalizing on their chances.

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Visitors leave D.C. in the dust for the opener — They make this look so easy… By the way, that’s nine assists on the season for Yamil Asad, who leads the league in that category.

23′ — Acosta equalizes for D.C. — Really sloppy play out of the back from the visitors, and Luciano Acosta made Atlanta pay with his fourth goal of the season.

60′ — Slow to react, Nyarko makes Atlanta pay — That’s some volley from Patrick Nyarko, but where’s the defending from Tyrone Mears? 2-1 D.C.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Patrick Nyarko

Goalscorers: Julian Gressel (17′), Luciano Acosta (23′), Patrick Nyarko (60′)

Juventus confirms Dani Alves will be released, opens path to Man City

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Pep Guardiola could be one step closer to reuniting with one of his former pupils at Barcelona, and the Manchester City manager has Juventus to thank for that.

[ MORE: Bayern says clubs “risk FIFA punishment” for pursuing Lewandowski ]

The reigning Serie A champions confirmed on Wednesday that the club will release outside back Dani Alves, clearing the veteran defender’s path to join Man City this summer or another club.

“We’re not talking about a breakdown in the relationship, it’s motivation that is fundamental for players,” said Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta.

“Alves has realised he has a desire to try a new experience, so we’re trying to reach a mutual termination of his contract and we wish him good luck.

“There’s certainly sadness because of what’s been said, but I can confirm there’s been no breakdown in our relationship.”

Alves signed a two-year contract with Juve last summer after previously playing for Barcelona since 2008, however, the winners of six consecutive Italian titles are willing to let the Brazilian walk away without acquiring a transfer fee.

Man City appears to be the preferred destination for Alves, who turned 34 in May.

PL champions Chelsea have also been linked to Alves’ services, but it’s more likely that the right back will reconnect with Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

Bayern says clubs “risk FIFA punishment” for approaching Lewandowski

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Two Premier League giants are reportedly in the market for Robert Lewandowski, however, his current club isn’t having any of it.

[ MORE: Mexico tops New Zealand behind comeback second-half effort ]

Bayern Munich has threatened repercussions from FIFA after Chelsea and Manchester United reportedly made contact with Lewandowski’s camp recently over a possible move to England.

[ MORE: Ronaldo goal lifts Portugal past Russia ]

The 28-year-old goalscorer is said to be displeasured with the Bundesliga champions after having a falling out with manager Carlo Ancelotti towards the end of the 2016/17 season.

Despite the alleged uncertainty between player and manager though, Bayern has no intentions of allowing their prized striker to leave.

Below is the statement released by Bayern to Sky Deutschland on Wednesday amid the speculation.

“Robert Lewandowski is under contract at Bayern and only recently renewed his deal until 2021. Bayern Munich waste no thought on a Lewandowski move.

“There are no talks with other clubs, and there won’t be any. If other clubs negotiate with players who are under long-term contracts, they risk FIFA punishment. The agent also confirmed to us that he has not held any contract talks.”

While Bayern would clearly be losing a key asset if Lewandowski were to exit this summer, Chelsea and United are two clubs certainly in the market for a striker.

The reigning PL champions are expected to cut ties with Diego Costa in the lead up to the 2017/18 campaign after the Spaniard showed a text message exchange with manager Antonio Conte displaying the Italian’s disinterest in bringing back the striker.

Meanwhile, United released Zlatan Ibrahimovic after this past season following a devastating ACL injury that he suffered in April.