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.

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.