Liga MX wrap: Red cards a-plenty as road teams shine

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Liga MX’s 2014/15 season began this weekend with the Apertura schedule, and there’s plenty to report.

Kicking off exactly two months after the Clausura season closed up shop with Leon’s 4-3 aggregate win over Pachuca, the opening weekend featured lots of road heroics.

The visitors went 5W-3D-1L to start the year. Let’s take a spin around Mexico:

Queretaro 1-3 UNAM
Neither own goals nor red cards help, and the hosts had both. Danilinho was dismissed for fighting and Queretaro picked up five yellows to go with that red en route to a loss despite 21 shots to the visitors’ eight.

Tijuana 0-1 Puebla
Puebla scored early through Luis Lorona before needing to defend a 65th minute red card to Efrain Cortes (two yellows.) American Joe Corona subbed on late for countryman Gregory Garza, but neither could help their side find an equalizer.

Cruz Azul 0-1 Pachuca
Matías Alustiza scored on his Pachuca debut as they picked up what they left off with a road win despite having to deal with two red cards via second yellows: one to Jorge Hernandez in the 71st minute and another to Daniel Arguello in the 77th.

Monterrey 3-1 Universidad de Guadalajara
Andre Rios’ 22nd minute goal put a scare into the hosts, but goals in the 63rd and 83rd restored order as Monterrey cruised with 57 percent possession.

Atlas 0-0 Tigres
A second yellow for Marco Ruben in the 72nd minute doomed Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres’ UANL side to 10 men. The visitors still outshot Atlas 14-11, though the two sides managed a meager four on net.

Veracruz 0-1 Santos
21-year-old Colombian sensation Andres Renteria did the work for the Green and Whites with a low hard shot in the 43rd minute (despite the fact that Veracruz carried more than 60 percent possession)

Leon 1-2 America
Paraguayan international Osvaldo Martinez netted twice in the first 37 minutes as the visitors attempted to restore order to the standings by defeating the champions. Mauro Boselli converted an 84th minute penalty for the home side.

Chivas 1-1 Chiapas
Fernando Arce’s bow with Guadalajara started off with a 34th minute goal, but winger Julio Nava subbed on and scored his first goal for Chiapas to earn the visitors a share of the points.

Toluca 0-0 Morelia
A 56th minute second yellow card for Luis Silva sent the visitors down to 10-men, but Morelia held out for the point in Toluca despite being outshot 18-12 (10-3 on goal).

 

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Monterrey 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
Pumas 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
América 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
Pachuca 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
Puebla 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
Santos 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
Chiapas FC 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
Guadalajara 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
Atlas 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
Morelia 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
Toluca 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
Tigres 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
León 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
Cruz Azul 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
Tijuana 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
Veracruz 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
Querétaro 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
Leones Negros 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-0 0-0-1 0

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.

Three storylines when Mexico meets Germany in Confed Cup semis

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With a place in the final on the line tomorrow afternoon, it’s all or nothing for Mexico and Germany as they meet in the second semifinal at this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

The two nations have had very similar paths in reaching the final four, after both accumulated seven points during the group stage and showed signs of improvement with every match.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA Confederations Cup action ]

Here are some of the key battles to watch on Thursday when Mexico and Germany square off for a place in the final.

How does Germany’s youth hold up vs. Mexico’s experience?

Even when Jurgen Low released his roster heading into the Confederations Cup, much was expected of the Germans. After a strong run of play during the group stage, Low’s men have lived up to the billing with an exciting young attack and an improving backline to match.

When Germany meets Mexico though, the defending World Cup champions will be taking on an El Tri side that has loads of international experience, and similar to that of Chile, the Europeans will surely receive all that they can handle.

At the tender age of 23, Julian Draxler captains the Germans and has been challenged with leading his nation throughout the tournament. The PSG attacker has been quality thus far, but he and his side will take on a whole different task on Thursday against a quick, feisty Mexican group.

Will Hirving Lozano be the difference in the attack?

Injuries and a key suspension will certain hinder Mexico in the semifinal round, but the bigger question is: how will Juan Carlos Osorio’s side cope with the losses?

El Tri know it will be without winger Andres Guardado due to yellow card accumulation, while striker Javier Hernandez is in question ahead of the Germany clash after reportedly training by himself on Monday.

Although Hernandez likely just needed rest after a busy season of matches in the Bundesliga, Mexico is still seeking a quality playmaker to replace Guardado on Thursday, one that they’re hoping with be Hirving Lozano.

The newly-signed PSV man has quickly become one of the top young faces in global soccer, and with three international goals for El Tri dating back to 2016, Lozano is the spark that Mexico needs.

El Tri must start fast

In all three of Mexico’s group stage matches Osorio’s side fell behind during the first half. While El Tri managed to come away unscathed to remain perfect in group play, it’s difficult to imagine that they will be able to pull off the same feat against a quality German side.

On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience has been impressive. In their opener against Portugal, El Tri pulled off a late winner against the reigning European champions, a result that likely set the tone for the team’s ensuing comebacks versus New Zealand and Russia, respectively.

Chile bests Portugal on penalty kicks to reach Confed Cup final

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Chile is on its way to the Confederations Cup final after a thrilling battle with Portugal on Wednesday afternoon.

The Chileans edged their European opposition, 0-0 (3-0 on penalty kicks), at Kazan Arena in Russia after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made a trio of saves during the penalty shootout.

Arturo Vidal hit the post in the 119th minute from close range, before Martin Rodriguez’s rebound smashed off the crossbar and stayed out of goal to the dismay of the Chileans.

Chile had a legitimate claim for a penalty kick in the second half of extra time as Jose Fonte stepped on the foot of Francisco Silva inside the Portuguese area, but the referee opted to play on.

The South Americans thought they had picked out the lead just a few minutes into extra time when Alexis Sanchez’s header glanced just wide of goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo had several quality chances to break the deadlock during regulation, but none better than in the 72nd minute when the Real Madrid star had his deflected effort narrowly miss the top corner.

Chile began to find more of a rhythm during the second stanza, and Eduardo Vargas nearly gave his side the lead in the 59th minute when he acrobatically shot on goal, forcing a reaction save out of Rui Patricio.

Vargas had the first big chance for the South Americans in the sixth minute when he found himself in on goal against Patricio, but the Portuguese goalkeeper stood tall and made the save.

Meanwhile, Claudio Bravo found himself in a similar situation on the other end just a minute later, when the Manchester City keeper kept Portugal off the scoreboard.

Chile will meet the winner of Thursday’s contest between Mexico and Germany, while the Portuguese will await the loser of the match to decide third place.

Tite: Brazil would have benefited from playing Confed Cup

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KAZAN, Russia (AP) Coach Tite says it would have been good for Brazil to be playing in the Confederations Cup to give himself and his players more experience going into the World Cup.

[ MORE: Joachim Low wants clarity on Russia doping claims ]

Tite made the comments before watching Portugal play Chile in Kazan in the semifinals of the eight-nation World Cup warm-up event on Wednesday. He is in Russia to watch the tournament’s final stages and scout possible training bases for Brazil during next year’s tournament.

“I would have wanted to play in the tournament because it would have allowed me to have more time to work with the team, to get to know the adversities, the different situations that we will have to face,” Tite said. “It would have been important to be here.”

Tite has only coached Brazil for 11 games as coach, with 10 wins and a loss to Argentina in a friendly this year.

Brazil was the first team other than host Russia to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

He said he sees the Confederations Cup as a valid tournament, although it might need some changes to its format in the future.

“It’s an important competition in its broad context,” Tite said, adding that he would choose to play in the competition even if he couldn’t bring his top players.

Brazil intends to set up its World Cup base in Sochi, but details have not been finalized yet.

“The priority will be quality and privacy so we can do our work,” Tite said.

The coach said he supports the video review system because it brings “justice” to the game.

“It looks to me a little bit old-fashioned to be talking about technology,” he said. “It seems so natural to me. What will have to be done? Adjustments, yes. In the end (of the tournament), to have a situation analyzed more quickly. ”

Tite said he has been “following the news” about doping allegations in soccer, but won’t be reaching any conclusions until “there’s any evidence” about what really happened. He said that anyone found guilty must be heavily sanctioned to guarantee the game’s integrity.

Tite also said Brazil is considering a friendly against Russia.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup