Steve_Clark

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

Report: French outfit Nice interested in adding Liverpool’s Balotelli

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 14:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 14, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
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Mario Balotelli could soon have a new home, according to the BBC’s Phil McNulty.

The mercurial Italian striker, 26, has one league goal in each of his last two seasons (spent between Liverpool and AC Milan).

Jurgen Klopp is ready for Balotelli to find a home away from Anfield and McNulty says that place could be OGC Nice, where he’d join newly-signed ex-Bayern man Dante. Balotelli also had talks with Sion in Switzerland, according to the report.

The striker was a blazing hot commodity after scoring 17 goals for Manchester City in 2011-12, and again after netting 18 for AC Milan in 2013-14.

Balotelli has 13 goals in 33 caps for Italy, but hasn’t appeared for the national team since 2014.

Report: West Ham lands Zaza from Juventus for $32 million

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Simone Zaza of Juventus in action during the Pre-Season Friendly between West Ham United and Juventus at The Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
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After months and months of trying to land a big name striker, it seems West Ham has done just that.

David Amoyal of DiMarzio says that Juventus striker Simone Zaza is on his way to the London Stadium for a medical which will seal a $32 million transfer to West Ham.

[ MORE: Chelsea adds EURO champion ]

Zaza, 25, made his name as Sassuolo before moving to Juve last season, and forced his way into the national team. He has 14 caps with one goal, but is perhaps better remembered at this point for missing a penalty — with a creative run-up —  in Italy’s final EURO game.

The striker had been linked with West Ham as far back as this time last season.

This move should help insure the Hammers avoid too many goalless outcome moving forward, even with Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew out for a while.

That’ll be music to Slaven Bilic‘s ears. The manager said, “The disappointment is massive” after his side couldn’t break down Astra Giurgiu and dropped out of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

Chelsea adds No. 2 goalkeeper from Portugal’s EURO winning squad

LISBON, PORTUGAL - JULY 11: Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo  during the meeting with the countries President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa for the Portugal Euro 2016 Victory ceremonies at Lisbon on July 11, 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images
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Chelsea have added some depth at the very back.

Eduardo’s the name, and the 33-year-old Portuguese backstop arrives at Stamford Bridge with a decent resume, having been on the roster for his country’s EURO 2016 triumph.

[ MORE: Stambouli, Bentaleb reunited ]

USMNT fans will remember him from his time between the sticks for Portugal at the 2014 World Cup. He has 35 caps, and has been with Dinamo Zagreb since 2014.

From ChelseaFC.com:

‘All the colleagues I have always say the dream is to come to the Premier League, where there are the best clubs and the best players, and the opportunity to come here arrived at this moment.

‘I am happy to be here and I hope I meet the expectations people have for me.’

Eduardo certainly won’t be taking over for Thibaut Courtois, but will definitely provide competition for No. 2 Asmir Begovic.

UEFA Europa roundup: West Ham bounced by Astra Giurgiu; Genk, Gent, Anderlecht roll on

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Angelo Ogbonna of West Ham and Takayuki Seto of FC Astra Giurgiu battle for possesion during the UEFA Europa League match between West Ham United and FC Astra Giurgiu at the Olympic Stadium on August 27, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images
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West Ham dominated the game but not the score line against Romanian side Astra Giurgiu, who advanced to the UEFA Europa League group stage with a 1-0 win at London Stadium on Thursday.

Well-traveled French midfielder Filipe Teixeira did the damage for Astra Giurgiu, as the former West Brom and Barnsley man scored in the 45th minute to give the visitors a 2-1 lead on aggregate after the sides went 1-1 in Romania last week.

The Irons carried possession and a wealth of shots, but couldn’t find their way past Romanian international goalkeeper Silviu Lung, Jr.

[ MORE: Stambouli, Bentaleb reunited at Schalke ]

Sassuolo star Domenico Berardi scored in a 1-1 draw with Red Star Belgrade, completing a 4-1 score line.

Elsewhere, a hat trick from Slovan Liberec’s Jan Sykora led the Czech side to a 3-0 second leg win, and 4-0 aggregate defeat of Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.

Gent got a pair of goals from giant Malian striker Kalifa Coulibaly as the Belgians completed a 6-1 aggregate win over Shkendija.

Full scoreboard
West Ham United 0-1 (agg. 1-2) Astra Giurgiu
Astana 2-2 (agg. 4-2) BATE Borisov
Arouca 1-2 (agg. 1-3) Olympiacos
Midtjylland 0-3 (agg. 0-4) Osmanlispor
Trencin 2-0 (agg. 0-4) Rapid Wien
Lokomotiva 0-2 (agg. 2-4) Genk
AEK Larnaca 0-3 (agg. 0-4) Slovan Liberec
Dinamo Tbilisi 0-2 (agg. 0-5) PAOK
Austria Wien 2-1 (agg. 4-2) Rosenborg
Beitar Jerusalem 0-0 (agg. 1-2) Saint-Etienne
Vojvodina 0-0 (agg. 0-3) AZ Alkmaar
Gabala 0-1 (agg. 3-2) Maribor
Slavia Prague 0-3 (agg. 0-6) Anderlecht
Fenerbahce 2-0 (agg. 3-0) Grasshopper
Panathinaikos 1-1 (agg. 4-1) Brondby
Krasnodar 0-0 (agg. 4-0) Partizani Tirana
Gent 4-0 (agg. 6-1) Shkendija
Istanbul Basaksehir 0-2 (agg. 1-4) Shakhtar Donetsk
SonderjyskE 2-3 (agg. 2-3) Sparta Prague
Sassuolo 1-1 (agg. 4-1) Red Star Belgrade
Goteborg 0-3 (agg. 1-3) Qarabag
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-2 (agg. 3-3) Hajduk Split