MLS Snapshot: Los Angeles Galaxy 2-2 Portland Timbers

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One game, 100 words or less: Bruce Arena was asked at halftime what he can do to get his team on the board. “Play better” he said. Yup, about sums it up.

The Galaxy came out of the break and would soon open the scoring, but moments of relaxation soon after would relegate them to just a point.

It was a solid point considering they ended up needing a comeback to earn it, but having gone ahead early in the second half, they’ll be disappointed to have even put themselves in that situation.

Portland will be happy to have earned a road point, but they too will be disappointed to have given it up at the end.

Three moments that mattered:

65′ – Marcelo earns it this time – Sarvas may have hit the corner 15 minutes in, but he would get his goal in the second half. With the Galaxy threatening most since the halftime break, they would pick up the opener for their patience. A cross ricocheted out to the trio of Donovan, Sarvas, and Gyasi Zardes, and Marcelo took control. Zardes slid wide to tug Timbers defender Michael Harrington just slightly off Sarvas, and the space was enough for him to rip into the far corner.

70′ – Timbers strike for a second – Just when the Galaxy thought they’d taken control, it evaporates just five minutes later. Diego Valeri bagged one in the 67th minute to level things up at 1-1, and had another wide open opportunity three minutes later, but his shot careened into a Portland defender. The ricochet came right back out to Jorge Villafaña and he struck home powerfully.

86′ – Galaxy equalize at the death – The Timbers were the ones to steal a point last time out, and the Galaxy took that role at the StubHub Center. An own goal from Raushawn McKenzie was the final result of a great ball across the face intended for Robbie Keane at the far post. The ball didn’t make it to the striker though, as it evaded Donovan Ricketts but clipped McKenzie and went in.

Three lessons going forward:

1. The most likely time to concede, etc etc

Hey Galaxy, don’t let up after scoring. The old adage “the most likely time to concede is right after scoring” remained true, and in a deadly way, as the home side conceded not once but twice in five minutes after taking a 1-0 lead. This team proved creative on the day, but a poor stretch at the back was their undoing. The Galaxy will feel unlucky to get nothing from their build-up in the final minutes before their goal where Donovan twice went down in the box, but both Portland goals came on moments that should have been cleared, so they only have themselves to blame.

2. Both these teams remain dangerous and in good form

The first half was a chess match, but the second 45 opened up and showed why these two teams are still very much in the thick of things. The Galaxy created a pair of chances that could have resulted in penalties on another day, but the referee (probably correctly) ruled them as nothing and a free kick just outside the box, much to the chagrin of Donovan.

However, they are both dangerous sides that shouldn’t be taken lightly in the push for the Western Conference playoff spots.

3.  Nobody wants to win this fixture

After what happened in Portland in the reverse, it appeared for much of this second half that we’d have a winner. Nope. The Galaxy got the own goal, and good chances on either end in the dying minutes of the game go unpunished. Rodgers tried to win it with the final kick of the game, but his howitzer flew over. Three points would do both sides a big service here, but a draw doesn’t do much for anyone involved.

Where that leaves them:

Both sides will have wanted the win to pull away from the other, but this Western Conference remains a dogfight.  These two sides both are well in the hunt and are putting horrible starts behind themselves, but mistakes still resound.

  • The LA Galaxy sit on 21 points on 14 matches played, with a 5-6-3 record.
  • The Portland Timbers are also holders of 21 points, this time in 18 matches played and a 4-9-5 record.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

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