Roundup: All scores, recaps, highlights from MLS’s seven-match Saturday

1 Comment

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 LA Galaxy

A statement game against a Galaxy team that came into the match eight-games unbeaten saw Sporing control the first hour, giving LA 30 minutes to pull back goals from Benny Feilhaber and Lawrence Olum. Robbie Keane did his best, finally breaking through in the 79th minute, albeit LA’s last chance of the game. After a convincing performance by Kansas City, the Galaxy’s streak is over.

Where the leaves them: Pending D.C. United’s match tomorrow, Sporting’s four points clear in the East. The Galaxy slide to fourth in the Western Conference.

New York Red Bulls 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes

The match ended as a missed opportunity for the Red Bulls when a lackluster performance couldn’t build on Bradley Wright-Phillips’ 33rd minute penalty conversion. Five minutes from time, a San Jose team that’d also failed to shine was blessed an open chance or Steven Lenhart near the penalty spot. The forward volley first goal of the season past Luis Robles to salvage a point for the visiting Earthquakes.

Note: Tim Cahill left this game in the 70th minute with an eye injury, though the problem did not appear serious.

Where this leaves them: The point allows New York to claim fourth in the East, while San Jose remains at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Columbus Crew 2-1 Montréal Impact

The slump is over! For the first time in eight games, the Crew are in the win column, and while it took a visit from the league’s worst team to do it, the three points count all the same. Thirty-five minutes in, after Marco Di Vaio’s opener, it didn’t appear as if that result would come, but thanks to two strikes from Bernardo Anor and another strong performance from goalkeeper Steve Clark, Gregg Berhalter’s team busted its slump.

Where this leaves them: Tiebreakers are all that keep the Crew out of a playoff spot, while Montréal is five points away from being able to climb out of the cellar.

Chicago Fire 1-1 Philadelphia Union

An often choppy match saw Jeff Larentowicz take advantage of some ridiculous marking to head home a corner in the 60th minute. Just before full-time, a controversial hand-ball call on Gonzalez Segares sent Sebastien Le Toux to the spot, where the Philadelphia veteran beat Sean Johnson to earn a draw.

Where this leaves them: Despite five wins in 21 games, Philadelphia is how sixth in the East. (Seriously, East: get your act together.) Chicago, three points back, remains in eighth.

FC Dallas 2-0 New England Revolution

The Revs run hits seven, with neither the defense nor attack able to dent in what’s becoming a season-defining swoon. After Andres Escobar put FCD up in the 29th minute, Tesho Akindele’s late tally provided the insurance, with the two-goal margin flattering a New England team that was out-shot 24-9 on the night.

Where this leaves them: New England is nearly out the playoffs, having slipped to fifth in the East. FC Dallas, on the other hand, has jumped to second in the West just as they’re about to get Mauro Díaz and Fabián Castillo back in the fold.

Houston Dynamo 2-2 Toronto FC

One week after giving up four in Toronto, Houston cut that total in half, though two goals allowed and a penalty conceded in the first 45 minutes saw the Dynamo blow two one-goal leads. After a second half defined by goalkeeping and Houston’s oppressive heat, the teams shared the spoils of a 2-2 draw.

Where this leaves them: The Dynamo stay ninth in the East, only four points out of a playoff spot. Toronto’s position holds steady, too, albeit at the other end of the standings (third).

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Matching the controversy in Chicago, a late whistle played a major role in Sandy, with Nat Borchers’ 71st minute challenge on Darren Mattocks earning Vancouver a disputed penalty kick. When the Jamaican converted into the left of Nick Rimando’s goal, the Whitecaps had a 1-0 lead. Eight minutes later, with what would have otherwise been the winning goal, João Plata claimed a point for RSL, handing the Whitecaps their second straight road draw.

Where this leaves them: Real Salt Lake is now tied on points with Dallas for second place, while Vancouver is part of the trio resting two points back.

Wenger: Sanchez, Giroud will both be with Arsenal next year

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger thinks Alexis Sanchez will sign a new deal at Arsenal this summer, whether the manager changes or not.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Leicester City, Wenger did not offer any clues as to his future with the club. He also said it does not hinge on how the Gunners finish the current campaign, and that he is working on transfers for the benefit of Arsenal regardless of his future.

[ MORE: Will Real open door for Barca? ]

That’s no surprise, given his reputation and fidelity to the club. What may surprise some is Wenger’s confidence that Sanchez will stay at the Emirates Stadium.

From Sky Sports:

“I personally think he will stay and sign. First of all he is happy here, his desire is to stay, that is what I deeply believe.

“I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. The question is why would you sell him to another club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen the other teams.”

Wenger said both sides want to work out a deal and that the hold-up resides in agent-related matters. He also said Arsenal does not have interest in selling Olivier Giroud, who backed Wenger just over a month ago.

Title fight in Spain: Will Real slip up again?

AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
Leave a comment

Barcelona’s dramatic 3-2 win over Real Madrid has set La Liga’s title race on its ear, with both clubs level on points with 75.

Real still controls its own destiny in a bid for its first league title since 2011-12, but a single loss puts Barcelona in pole position for its fourth title in five seasons.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

The tiebreaker is head-to-head, which Lionel Messi lifted from Real with his thrilling stoppage time thriller on Sunday at the Bernabeu.

Here are the run-ins for both sides, with Real facing a more congested schedule thanks to its status as a UEFA Champions League semifinalist.

Real Madrid

Only two of Real’s remaining five La Liga matches are at home, a boon for Barcelona considering Real boasts a strong home mark. The loss to Barca was Real’s first at the Bernabeu this season, and the Merengues only drew three matches at home (Villarreal, Eibar, Atletico Madrid).

Those home matches, however, are against teams that beat Real in the sides’ other league meetings this year, Sevilla and Valencia.

Wednesday – at Deportivo de la Coruna (16th)
Saturday – vs. Valencia (12th)
May 2 – vs. Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 6 – at Granada (19th)
May 10 – at Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 14 – vs. Sevilla (4th)
May 21 – at Malaga (14th)

Barcelona

Barca is home for three of its remaining five matches. The Blaugranas drew Villarreal and blew out Osasuna and Eibar ahead of the return visits.

As for the road matches, Barca has the Derbi barceloni with Espanyol, having taken the Camp Nou meeting 4-1, as well as a trip to Las Palmas (5-0 at home).

Wednesday – vs. Osasuna (20th)
Saturday – at Espanyol (9th)
May 6 – vs. Villarreal (5th)
May 14 – at Las Palmas (13th)
May 21 – vs. Eibar (8th)
May 27 – vs. Alaves (Copa del Rey Final)

The verdict

Any whiplash Real faces from schedule congestion should be offset by Barcelona’s much tougher schedule. Real could lose again, perhaps versus Sevilla, but Barca will likely finish second thanks to dropped points against Espanyol, Eibar, or Villarreal.

Premier League Weds. preview: Desperation on display

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two London powers face a race to stay alive for their lofty season goals, while two Northeast sides see their last chances to claim hope for another year in the Premier League.

[ STREAM: All PL games here ]

That’s what’s on the docket for Wednesday’s PL matches, one day after Chelsea buried Southampton 4-2 t0 move seven points clear of Spurs in the race for the league’s 2016-17 crown.

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

No team has looked better than Spurs lately, though Palace won’t be bowed by a big name or good form. Sam Allardyce‘s Eagles boast wins at Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as a home defeat of Arsenal. Those have all come in 2017, as Palace has leapt to within striking distance of the top half.

Spurs need to win at Selhurst Park to keep pace with Chelsea and sit four points back of the No. 1 spot with five matches to play. Lose, concede, and feel like last April all over again. It was a year from Tuesday that Spurs coughed up a home lead to Leicester and saw any hopes of catching Leicester fade into the sunset.

Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET

This Tees-Wear Derby oozes desperation, with Sunderland knowing it needs to win its matches-in-hand on Hull City and Swansea to have any hope of staying up, and Middlesbrough nearly as desperate.

Boro’s 24 points is three more than Sunderland, who has played one less game. Hull sits 17th with 33 points while Swansea holds 31.

Middlesbrough hasn’t won in the Premier League since Dec. 17, a run of 16 matches. Their only wins of the year are over lower league opposition, a trio of victories against Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington Stanley, and Oxford United.

Sunderland has just one league win since that same date in December, and that came at Crystal Palace. The Black Cats have lost six of eight, and look destined to join Boro in the second tier as Northeast neighbors Newcastle comes up.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images )

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — 2:45 p.m. ET

Did Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Manchester City snap Arsenal out of its funk, or was it just a matter of Alexis Sanchez’s class squeezing a bit of excellence out of the tube?

Arsene Wenger will hope for the latter, because Arsenal’s Top Four hopes hinge on winning its matches-in-hand on Liverpool and getting significant help from Man City and Manchester United. Their opposition will also be rested, having rested since bowing out of the UEFA Champions League on April 18.

Leicester’s five match winning streak, part of Craig Shakespeare’s new manager bounce, has died down a bit. The Foxes lost at Everton and drew at Palace, and get a third tricky road test in a row at the Emirates Stadium.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Leave a comment

“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”