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

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET