MLS Roundup: Seattle wins battle of conference leaders; Rapids, Union, and LA teams claim wins

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Major League Soccer may have officially returned on Friday night, but Saturday’s six-match slate marked the true end to the league’s World Cup break. Unfortunately for those in attendance in Columbus, weather and near-tragedy reduced the number of five, but amongst those matches was a battle between teams at the top of the league’s conferences.

That game kicked off the day’s action in Washington, D.C., where the Sounders beat Ben Olsen’s team at its own game. Elsewhere, Philadelphia made its new coach’s debut a winning one, Carl Robinson’s lineup games cost him in Colorado, while Erick Torres’s Goal of the Year candidate sunk visiting RSL.

Capping off the night, the California Clasico went to the LA Galaxy, but with over 50,000 people showing up at Stanford Stadium, Earthquakes management was still given reason to smile.

Here’s what happened on Saturday night in Major League Soccer:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYBvuX6penk]

D.C. United 0-1 Seattle Sounders

The MLS break did nothing to slow down the league-leading Sounders, who put D.C. United’s formula for success to work for themselves at RFK Stadium. With a first half goal from Chad Barrett and a defense that held the Eastern Conference co-leaders to two shots on target all night, Seattle rendered large deficits in possession (66-34, D.C.) and shots (14-5) meaningless. Unable to break the Sounders down, D.C. was handed their second home loss of the season.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTWm4o-9tdM]

New England Revolution 1-3 Philadelphia Union

That Revolution team that looked like the league’s best earlier this spring? It may be gone, even if New England still appeared dangerous at times going forward against Philadelphia. But that couldn’t prevent a major José Gonçalves error just before half time from gifting Philly the lead. With second half goals from Danny Cruz and Sebastien Le Toux (his second of the night) the Union were able to exact revenge for the 5-3 defeat they suffered to New England six weeks ago, using a lineup that featured Maurice Edu in central defense, Amobi Okugo in midfield, and Brian Carroll on the bench, to give interim boss Jim Curtin his first win as an MLS head coach.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el6d7RKQmYE]

Colorado Rapids 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

When Dillon Powers is on and getting help from Vicente Sanchez and Deshorn Brown, the Rapids’ attack goes from pedestrian to potent. In the first half against visiting Vancouver, that potency emerged, with Powers hitting the woodwork three minutes before giving the Rapids a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute. In the 35th minute, after Brown drew a penalty, Sánchez converted his fifth of the season from the spot, finishing the day’s scoring before Carl Robinson could get Gershon Koffie, Darren Mattocks, or Kekuta Manneh on the field. (Manneh, curiously, never got off the bench.)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjx848dyR-k]

Chivas USA 1-0 Real Salt Lake

A match of two moments was defined by 10 minutes before halftime when a wonder strike from Erick Torres* left the visiting Western Conference champions down a goal and a man, with a ninth minute, studs-up tackle from Luke Mulholland reducing RSL to 10 in the ninth minute. Though Jeff Cassar’s team would hold a huge possession edge throughout the match (57 pct.), they only put two shots on Dan Kennedy, with Jeff Attinella needing seven saves (and some help from Chris Schuler) to keep RSL within one.

* – With the goal, Torres passed Cuauhtémoc Blanco to become MLS’s all-time leader in goals by a Mexican-born player (17).

San Jose Earthquakes 0-1 LA Galaxy

From our snapshot:

In front of 50,006 at Stanford Stadium, San Jose’s attempts to leverage Steven Lenhart fail to pay off, with a series of chances in the air against an Omar Gonzalez-less defense allowing the Galaxy’s single goal to stand up. Finishing into the top of Jon Busch’s net in the 62nd minute, Gyasi Zardes delivered full points for the Earthquakes’ visiting rivals, giving LA a 1-0, California Cup victory in Palo Alto.

Everton agree deal to buy land for new stadium

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Everton have moved a step closer to a new home on Liverpool’s waterfront.

[ MORE: PL clubs on preseason tours

The Guardian is reporting that the Premier League have “agreed a deal to purchase land at Bramley Moore dock” which is where a new stadium is proposed for the Toffees.

Per the report, a deal has been agreed in principle with the landowners Peel Holdings and now Everton, led by new billionaire majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, will try to kick their new stadium project on. It is widely expected that the club will announce more details later on Thursday, with Liverpool City Council set to be heavily involved in the huge regeneration project.

Moshiri now has to acquire funding for the stadium and also get planning permissions from the council but things appear to be moving in the right direction.

Back in November 2016, Moshiri said having a stadium which “rewards the fans” was his “key aim” at Everton.

Everton’s search to find a new home after 125 years at Goodison Park has been exhaustive and frustrating. They’ve had three separate sites turned down since 2000 but with Moshiri’s arrival last February there is renewed optimism that building a new luxurious home in Liverpool’s docks is possible.

With Manchester City expanding the Etihad Stadium in recent seasons, Liverpool drastically improving Anfield, West Ham moving into the London Stadium, Chelsea closing in on securing a deal for a $600 million revamp of Stamford Bridge, plus Tottenham Hotspur moving into a new 61,000 home for the 2018-19 season, the rest of the Premier League is kicking on in terms of stadium expansion.

Moshiri has lofty heights for Everton and with Ronald Koeman as manager and plenty of funds promised to improve their exciting squad, the final major hurdle to overcome is the construction of a new home.

VOTE: Select Premier League Goal of the Month – March

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The 2 Robbies have selected their contenders for the Premier League Goal of the Month for March.

[ VOTE: Select your GOTM here ]

Now it’s your job to select the winner by clicking on the link above.

Watch the contenders in the video above and then vote for your favorite.

Enjoy.

At 0-2, Americans understand stakes in World Cup qualifying

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Michael Bradley sees no reason to keep harping on that 4-0 loss at Costa Rica four months ago.

Yes, it’s still fresh in the Americans’ minds, a night every mistake snowballed into another.

“There is zero point in continuing to look back on that at the moment,” Bradley said. “We are where we are. Now it’s about on Friday night beginning this process of moving ourselves back up the table and stepping on the field from the first minute and playing a really aggressive way that ultimately leaves no doubt as to who’s stepping off the field, win or lose.”

Bruce Arena’s U.S. squad gets a fresh start in World Cup qualifying Friday against Honduras, and the pressure is on following the home country’s first 0-2 start in the North and Central American and Caribbean region’s final round.

“We understand the position we’re in,” Bradley said. “There’s no need for anybody on the outside to put any more pressure on us than we’ve already put on ourselves, because we didn’t start the hex in the right way. We put ourselves behind the eight ball. We’re honest and real enough with ourselves to understand that. Friday night is the beginning of our chance to put things right and get ourselves back in a good position. … We need guys to step on the field and understand the moment, not be fazed by it, go for it in a fearless way and have a big group of guys play really well.”

Forward Jordan Morris’ status for Friday appears in question after he missed a third straight day of practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury sustained Sunday with the Seattle Sounders. Morris rehabbed in the gym, the U.S. Soccer Federation said.

“Have you followed our team at all the last month? You think that’s going to be something that’s going to bother me?” Arena said at the start of the week when asked about health concerns. “We’re fine. We’re going to have 11 good players on the field on Friday.”

For those who do play, Bradley said it is paramount everybody brings his best game. Same goes for the Americans’ next match in Panama on Tuesday.

While the man in charge has changed – Arena replaced the fired Jurgen Klinsmann in November for a second stint as U.S. coach – and more Major League Soccer players were called upon this time than in November, Bradley insists the approach remains simple: Find a way to win.

“We stepped on the field in Costa Rica wanting to win. That desire to win is obviously still there, so in terms of the basic idea of stepping on the field and trying to play well and go for it in the right way and come away with a positive result, that part’s still the same obviously,” the longtime captain said. “There’s no two ways about it, we let ourselves down in Costa Rica. We didn’t play well enough. Mistakes turned into bigger mistakes, which turned into bigger mistakes, and so it all comes together in a way that you can lose a game in a bad way.”

And, there are many faces who have been on the big stage – Bradley, included.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard started the past two World Cups. Howard, four-time World Cup participant defender DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey played for Arena leading into the coach’s last World Cup qualifying, in 2005. Jozy Altidore brings experience up front.

“It’s a huge game for us,” Howard said. “It’s helpful that we have guys who have been through the hex before, who understand what that takes and the pressures that are on us. Yeah, it’s a big game.”

Bradley isn’t getting fancy when it comes to what the U.S. group must do.

“Winning. Three points,” Bradley said. “That’s it.”

“For us the reality is simple: We let ourselves down in the first two games,” he said. “It means that our margin for error is very, very small, but nothing’s changed in that we still feel good about the team that we have, the group that we are. I think that Bruce has come in and done an excellent job in terms of re-establishing certain things, getting at a few things. The mentality, the spirit in training and around the group both in January and now this week has been excellent, so we’re getting a little excited about the chance to step on the field in a big-time qualifier.”

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

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As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.