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MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 2-1 LA Galaxy

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One game, 100 words or less: A showdown match between two of the league’s hottest teams was controlled by the defending champions, whose goals from Benny Feilhaber and Lawrence Olum built a 2-0 lead by the 61st minute. With 11 minutes left, the threat Robbie Keane posed throughout the second half paid off, cutting Sporting’s lead to one, but unable to put another shot on target, the visiting Galaxy were handed a 2-1 loss.

Goals:

Sporting: Feilhaber 10′, Olum 61′
Galaxy: Keane 79′

Three moments that mattered:

10′ – Feilhaber ¯\_()_/¯ – Kansas City came out of the locker rooms the stronger side, an advantage that paid off when Juninho committed a ninth minute foul just outside the penalty area. Moments later, Benny Feilhaber put his side in front:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ indeed, Mr. Feilhaber.

54′ – Collision at the edge of the box – Perhaps this moment was more scary than influential, but when Andy Gruenebaum bolted out of his area in the 54th minute, the result looked painful:

Gruenebaum needed some attention but was able to continue. Keane’s only reaction was incredulity, with the LA star left asking how the Sporting keeper didn’t earn a card.

79′ – Keane makes it interesting – After Lawrence Olum doubled Sporting’s lead just after the hour mark, LA was left in pursuit, yet despite the increased intensity from Landon Donovan and the rest of his support, Keane remained LA’s only threat.

After 17-year-old debutant Bradford Jamieson put him behind the defense late, Keane finally had his goal, albeit one that would prove mere consolation:

Lineups:

Sporting: Gruenebaum; Julião (Ellis 83′), Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Feilhaber, Zusi; Toni (Peterson 46′), Dwyer, Saad (Sapong 73′)
Galaxy: Penedo; Meyer, Leonardo, Opare; DeLaGarza (Jamieson 75′); Sarvas, Juninho (Ishizaki 70′), Husidic; Donovan; Zardes, Keane

Three lessons going forward:

1. LA’s Revolution was an outlier – When a team scores five times, it’s safe to assume it’s an outlying performance, but after the Galaxy poured it on against New England mid-week, there was reason to think the team’s attack was starting to come around.

Today’s performance provided a counterpoint, although the circumstances bear some consideration. The Galaxy were on the road and facing one of the best defenses in the league. A lot of teams leave Kansas City with without a goal, consolation or otherwise.

Still, the underlying performance was reminiscent of the struggles LA’s had all season. At times, it looked like Robbie Keane was playing on one level, while the rest of his team struggled lingered another.

2. Olum establishing himself in the middle – In the wake of Oriol Rosell’s sale, the Kenyan international was going to have to step up, and while he’s doing so in a different way, that’s exactly what’s happened. While Rosell added a bit of that Barcelona, Sergio Busquets flavor to Peter Vermes’s three-man middle, Olum has been a bit more like former Sporting destroyer Julio Cesar – establishing a formidable defensive triangle in front of goal.

With Feilhaber’s distribution, Kansas City can afford to make the tradeoff, and as Olum showed in the 61st minute, he can still have an impact near the opposite goal. Regardless, Sporting’s yet to miss their young Catalan holder.

3. Memorable debut for Jamieson – His team may have lost, but Bradford Jamieson make an impact in his MLS debut, setting up Keane to pull the Galaxy within one. Only 17 years old, the former Chivas USA academy member probably isn’t ready to make a consistent impact with the senior squad, but ahead of his upcoming appearance in the homegrown game, the U.S. U-level standout drew some early attention to a promising career.

Where this leaves them:

  • The win increases Kansas City’s newfound lead at the top of the East, forging a four-point gap on D.C. United.
  • The Galaxy miss their chance to hop over Real Salt Lake for second, leaving them 11 back of the West-leading Sounders.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.