Manchester City reunites Caballero with Pellegrini, brings in challenger for Hart

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Say you haven’t seen Málaga play over the last few years. You not only managed to avoid their UEFA Champions League run two years ago, but after their financial mishaps led them out of Europe last season, you didn’t bother digging into La Liga’s depths to follow their post-Manuel Pellegrini progress. With Isco, Joaquin, and Javier Saviola following the now-Manchester City manager out the door, Málaga remained irrelevant to you.

If that’s the case, you’ll probably see City’s $10.2 million signing of goalkeeper Willy Caballero as a depth purchase, but more likely, this is Martín Demichelis all over again. The veteran Argentine defender, who was so important for Pellegrini at Málaga, was brought in last season despite the presence of Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic, and Joleon Lescott in central defense. He ended up being of the team’s starting center backs shortly after his arrival.

Caballero’s acquisition could play out the same way. While there may be the perception that Joe Hart will retain the starting spot, a number of circumstantial factors hint Caballero could get a chance. Given Hart’s performance, Pellegrini’s history with the Argentine, and the manager’s willingness to bench Hart last season, Manchester City’s newest goalkeeper could be given every opportunity to win the starting job.

While luring Caballero to Manchester, Pellegrini wasn’t ready to go that far. He did, however, say that should Hart slip again, the job is his. From The Guardian:

Caballero was initially reluctant to join City as he did not want to see his chances of first-team football limited … But the City manager has offered Caballero assurances that he would be given a fair chance to establish himself should Hart slip up once more and the size of the fee – which could rise to around £9m due to appearances and other clauses – reflects the role Pellegrini wants him to occupy.

That price is more than you’d pay for a mere safety net, though given how Caballero played for Málaga after Pellegrini signed him from Elche, the fee makes sense. Over the last three years, the now 32-year-old has been one of the best goalkeepers in Spain, with his shot-stopping helping an often over-matched Málaga maintain a solid defense (46 in 38 games) while finishing in 11th place. Though Bernd Schuster’s team barely eclipsed one goal-per-game (1.02), Caballero made Málaga into an average side.

To me, Caballero’s been clearly better than Hart over the last three years. Whereas the Englishman has been decent if erratic, Caballero has been borderline elite. Perhaps he’ll have some David de Gea-esque troubles adjusting to the Premier League, but it’s also possible he’ll be the better goalkeeper from day one.

Given Hart’s reputation in England, Manchester City could sell him and make a profit on what they paid for Caballero. With Costel Pantilimon having departed for Sunderland, that probably won’t happen, but today’s move does provide an alternative. If Hart has another bad spell, Pellegrini’s probably won’t hesitate to turn to the alternative.

MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-3 Toronto FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Greg Vanney and Toronto keep on doing their thing, and the Canadian side is yet another step closer to achieving MLS glory. TFC picked up its 50th point of the season on Saturday night after comfortably handling the Chicago Fire, who have cooled off significantly as of late in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are now nine points behind the East leaders and are losers of four of their last five matches.

Three moments that mattered

54′ — Accam, Fire level it up — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from everybody…

64′ — Hasler nets first MLS goal — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from all of their players…

90′ — Giovinco says goodnight to Chicago — That’s 12 goals on the season for Sebastian Giovinco and the TFC striker continues to help his side push towards the top seed in the East and MLS.

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Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Marco Delgado (14′), David Accam (54′), Nick Hasler (63′), Sebastian Giovinco (90′)

Video: Watts gifts D.C. United own goal for the ages

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Not many things have gone right for either side involved in 2017, but D.C. United was the recipient of a gift early on against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

[ MORE: Piatti brace lifts Impact to fourth win in a row; Orlando, Crew draw ]

In the 27th minute, Rapids center back Jared Watts received the ball at the back, before making a routine back pass to USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard

Or at least, it should have been a routine back pass.

Instead, Watts’ pass was well off target and too strong for Howard to reach and landed in the back of the Rapids goal. 1-0 in favor of D.C.

Reminder: Both these teams sit at the bottom of their respective conferences on points.

MLS Snapshot: Piatti brace lifts Impact | Crew, Orlando City draw

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact have proven to be a second-half of the season team the last several years, and that form appears to be holding true once more. Mauro Biello’s side won its fourth straight match on Saturday, while Ignacio Piatti continues to show he’s one of the most deadly scorers in the league. Meanwhile, RSL’s six-match unbeaten run is snapped north of the border, leaving the Western Conference side three points out of sixth place.

Three four moments that mattered

11′ — Piatti nets his first of the night — The Impact made this attack look so easy, and Ignacio Piatti simply won’t miss a chance like this one.

26′ — Evan Bush left motionless as RSL equalize — Luis Silva took matters into his own hands, and boy did he connect with this effort!

29′ — Impact punish poor RSL defense — Guess who? Piatti has his second of the evening.

47′ — Hosts begin to pile it on — Anthony Jackson-Hamel played provider in the first two goals, so it’s only fair he got one of his own.

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Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Ignacio Piatti (11′, 29′), Luis Silva (26′), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (47′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Orlando City and the Crew settled for a point apiece on Saturday night, but for the former the club is running out of opportunities to pick up points in the playoff race. Giles Barnes pulled a goal back for the hosts after Lalas Abubakar netted his first MLS goal for the Crew, but Orlando couldn’t find a second. The Lions played up a man for the final 13 minutes, following Harrison Afful’s dismissal.

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Abubakar knocks in first MLS goal — Orlando City’s defensive woes are certainly notable as well, but for Lalas Abubakar this is a quality way to open his scoring account in MLS.

67′ — Barnes knots it up at 1-1 — The veteran MLS forward picked up his second goal of the season.

77′ — VAR used for red card decision — The video monitor came into play briefly in the second half, and Harrison Afful was sent off the pitch early after the referee viewed the defender’s elbow to the head of Yoshi Yotun.

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Man of the match: Zack Steffen

Goalscorers: Lalas Abubakar (35′), Giles Barnes (67′)

Atlanta United fans pack 20,000 into new stadium for training session

AP Photo/John Raoux
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Atlanta United is currently in the midst of a three-match road trip in MLS play, but that didn’t stop the club from unveiling its new home venue to a massive crowd of supporters on Saturday.

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Over 20,000 fans of the Eastern Conference expansion side filed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium to watch Gerardo Martino’s side train on Saturday as Atlanta prepares to finish out its road trip against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union.

Atlanta will open up home play at their new stadium on September 10 when they host FC Dallas. The club will have the benefit of playing eight of its final 10 regular season matches in front of its Georgia fan base.

The first-year MLS side will share the stadium with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Here are some sights from the training session