MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 2-2 NY Red Bulls

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One game, 100 words or less: Bang. That’s how quick you can concede a goal.

The US National Team figured that out the hard way against Portugal at the death, and with USMNT winger Brad Davis back to captain the side, the Houston Dynamo also discovered that against New York. In fact, both sides did.

Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his blistering run, bagging his 13th and 14th goals of the season to lead the league.

Three moments that mattered:

1′ – Houston strikes early – Well, that was quick. Kofi Sardokie shot up the right touchline, and sent a dangerous cross into the box.  The defending was horrific, and the ball sailed a wide-open Will Bruin and fell to an equally as wide-open Giles Barnes who headed home.  There was absolutely no man-marking by the Red Bulls, who were all caught ball-watching in the opening seconds. Oops.

72′ – BWP does it again – Yea, he’s on fire. After scoring in the 13th minute out of nothing, he picked up a brace. Ambroise Oyongo made Andrew Driver look silly on the left flank, and Wright-Phillips fired home his league-leading 14th goal of the season. He skipped away with a carefree

81′ – Davis returns in style – Ehhhh. A penalty for a handball allowed Houston a way back in, albeit a soft one. Chris Duvall was called for the foul, but replays showed the ball likely hit his shoulder legally. Brad Davis, back from World Cup duty, calmly and cooly equalized by converting low for a 2-2 draw.

Three lessons going forward:

1. Defending lasts for 90 minutes

Both teams learned in the opening 15 minutes that one iota of relaxation at the back can result in a concession. New York took the opening minute to get their legs under them, and it resulted in a disastrously defended corner.  Houston then let up for a moment, and they were punished for a second of losing concentration.

2. Misses matter

Will Bruin will be kicking himself. Chris Wondolowski missed a sitter to send the US past Belgium at the end of regulation, and Bruin had a wide open goal at the end of the first half that ended up being a big miss. Gotta take the chances the opponent gives you.

3. Petke won’t like this

It could be ugly for Mike Petke postmatch, as he will surely be asked about the penalty that allowed Houston to steal a point. The Red Bulls benefitted from Wright-Phillips’ wonderful form, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to earn all the points. Well…it was, except that it wasn’t. The match was wide open, but New York, er, Wright-Phillips was more clinical in front of net.  Look out Red Bulls reporters, Petke could be heated.

Where that leaves them:

Nobody wins here. Both teams would have been clamoring for a win, but a point each leaves the sides in eighth and fifth respectively.

  • New York sits on 20 points, sitting them in fifth place having played 17 matches to a 4-8-5 record.
  • Houston jumps to 18 points, good enough for seventh place with 18 matches under their belt on a 5-3-10 record.

Pulisic: Dortmund can win the league

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.

The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.

“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.

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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.

“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”

Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.

“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Bale’s agent laughs off speculation

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It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.

“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.

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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.

Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:

(more…)

Neymar storms off after training dustup with teammate

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Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.

As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.

A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.

Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.

In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.

Australian women beat US 1-0 in Tournament of Nations

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SEATTLE (AP) Tameka Butt scored in the 67th minute and Australia beat the United States for the first time in the 28-game series, 1-0 in the Tournament of Nations on Thursday night.

The Matildas also snapped the Americans’ four-game winning streak.

Just moments after Butt’s goal got past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, Carli Lloyd blasted a cross from Megan Rapinoe at Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who made a fantastic save. Lloyd had another chance that sailed just over the net.

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Japan and Brazil played to a 1-1 draw in the tournament’s opening game in the afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

Each of the four teams in the tournament is in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings. The top-ranked United States went into the game with a 25-0-2 record over the seventh-ranked Matildas.

Rapinoe, who plays for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign, had a good chance early on in the game but the Americans were unable to break through. Rapinoe has 12 goals to lead the NWSL in scoring this season.

The Matildas have been on the rise of the past several years, with quarterfinal appearances in both the 2015 World Cup and the Olympics last year.

Following the stop in Seattle, the tournament shifts to San Diego on Sunday before wrapping up in Carson, California, on Aug. 3.

U.S. Soccer is looking to host a Tournament of Nations each summer that there isn’t World Cup or Olympic competition.