MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 3-2 Colorado Rapids

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKBl5ZQN5ek]

One game, 100 words or less: A prolonged slump in the wake of Mauro Díaz’s injury finally came to an end thanks to two deflected shots and some rare finishing savvy from Fabian Castillo.

Winless in eight going into the match, FC Dallas saw Colorado’s keeper look helpless on a an Andrés Escobar deflection (33′) and a blast from Zach Loyd (45′), allowing the home side to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. With an early second half goal from José Mari, Colorado was back even, but after a left-footed blast that finished his one-man counter, Castillo gave Dallas its first win since April 20.

Three moments that mattered:

1. 33′ – Escobar’s deflection throws off Irwin – The three-goal night gives the impression that FC Dallas came to life, but the team only put three shots on target, two off which needed help to beat Clint Irwin. The first of those tries came in the 33rd minute, when a Jair Benítez restart from well outside the penalty area clipped Escobar. A ball headed toward the right side of goal suddenly changed direction, leaving Irwin helpless to prevent Dallas’s equalizer.

2. 46′ – Matt Hedges follows Walker Zimmerman – When FC Dallas’s best defender didn’t come out for the second half, head coach Óscar Pareja lost his second center back of the day. With Zimmerman already subbed out, Hedges’s loss looked like a debilitating blow. Yet instead of Deshorn Brown building on his opening goal, Colorado’s only score over the last 45 minutes was a corner converted by Mari. Led by Stephen Keel, the replacements held up.

source: AP
FC Dallas’ Tesho Akindele, front left, goes up for a header with Colorado Rapids’ Drew Moor, top, and Jose Mari in front of the Rapids goal. (Photo: AP)

3. 62′ – Castillo puts it all together – Castillo is always one of Dallas’s most influential players, but the chances he created with his unmatched speed rarely see that quality duplicated near goal. Against Colorado, however, a turnover over just inside Dallas’s attacking half turned into a chance to flash his potential. Beating two players after picking up the ball 45 yards out, Castillo beat Irwin with a shot rifled into the right of goal, giving Dallas three points and fans another glimpse of his tantalizing talent.

Three lessons going forward:

1. Deshorn Brown is living up to clichés – You don’t want to succumb into unfounded cliché, but Brown’s opening score looked like a confidence goal. On a bouncing ball near the edge of the six-yard box, the Jamaican international arced a teardrop over Raul Fernández and into goal, showing the ease of a player who knows, conversion or not, more goals will come. Scoring three times in his last two starts, Brown is not up to five on the season.

2. Change can be good – Through most of the spring, Colorado and Dallas were locked into set formations despite hints they should change. Colorado had become far too conservative with its diamond midfield, while Dallas had lost the playmaker it needed to play its 4-2-3-1.

On Saturday, however, both teams showed different looks. Colorado, having moved away from its diamond some time ago, has finally reverted to the 4-2-3-1 that was so successful last season. Across the field, Dallas played a 4-4-2 that didn’t try to shoehorn a midfielder into a playmaker’s role.

Using a set up that suits your personnel. Who knew?

3. The slump may not over yet – FC Dallas ended its eight-match slide, but the keys to the victory should caution fans against thinking a corner’s been turned. Deflections are not a reliable plan for production, and through four years of his Major League Soccer career, Castillo’s been unreliable around goal. Over 90 minutes on Saturday, those factors produced three points, but they also need to be a stepping stone to a more reliable solution.

Where that leaves them:

  • FC Dallas: 6-7-3, currently fifth in the Western Conference
  • Colorado: 6-5-4, third in the West, 10 points back of first place Seattle

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

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

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia