MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 3-0 Chivas USA

Leave a comment
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiSXBGXVIFE]

One game, 100 words (or less): Chivas USA is back to its old self. Five days after seeing its unbeaten run snapped in Washington, D.C., Wilmer Cabrera’s team gave up first half goals to Nick LaBrocca and Drew Moor, sending the teams to intermission with the match seemingly decided. In the second half, Chivas never game fans a reason to think they had two goals in them. After a late score from Gabriel Torres, the Rapids had a 3-0 win, handing their guests a second straight loss.

Goals:

Colorado: LaBrocca 16′, Moor 26′, Torres 74′
Chivas USA: None

Three moments that mattered

16′ – LaBrocca with the fadeaway – You don’t often see a player moving away from goal, outside the penalty area, put his name on the scoresheet, yet after 12 months without a goal, that’s exactly what LaBrocca did. In possession in the right of Dan Kennedy’s penalty area, LaBrocca dribbled into space just outside the box. Still moving away from goal, the former Chivas midfielder lofted a hopeful shot to the far post. Finding the far side-netting, LaBrocca converted a rare fadeaway goal, giving the Rapids their early lead.

26′ – Moor powers it home – Andrew Jean-Baptiste, getting a rare start, seemed freed up defending set pieces, allowed to go anywhere he leaping ability would be most effective. On a mid-first half corner, that ability came up just short, rising just underneath a Dillon Powers corner from the left side. Behind him, Moor leapt into a header that beat Kennedy, giving Colorado the multi-goal lead that seemed to end Chivas’s night.

74 – Torres breaks through – Gabriel Torres was the first Designated Player in franchise history, but in his first year under Pablo Mastroeni, the Panama international has had trouble winning playing time. In Friday’s 74th minute, Torres made good on a rare start, dipping a 19-yard shot over Kennedy and in for his first goal of the season.

Lineups

Colorado: Clint Irwin; Chris Klute, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Marc Burch; Nick LaBrocca, Jared Watts (Marlon Hairston 42′), Dillon Powers, Dillon Serna; Vicente Sánchez (Carlos Alvarez 70′), Gabriel Torres (Edson Buddle 76′)

Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy, Akira Kaji, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Eriq Zavaleta, Donny Toja; Marco Delgado, Austín Pelletieri, Nathan Sturgis, Eric Avila (Ryan Finley 64′); Leandro Barrera, Eric Torres

Three lessons going forward:

1. Eric Torres is mortal – For the first time in six games, Cubo didn’t get on the scoresheet. In fact, the entire Chivas team only managed one shot on target, another sign the team’s summer surge is over.

2. Chivas USA is back – 16-4 in total shots, 7-1 in shots on target. Colorado dominated this game, with the final hour playing out with a depressing inevitability. Once Colorado went up two, the game felt over.

3. Don’t underestimate Colorado’s performance – A three-goal win over Chivas makes it easy to overlook what Colorado did, but a series of other teams haven’t been able to take care of business against the Goats. And this summer, a series of other teams ended up dropped points to Chivas. Tonight, Colorado put their guests away early. They deserve credit for it.

Where this leaves them:

  • The win vaults Colorado into third in the West, having entered the night two spots lower in the standings.
  • The loss keeps Chivas USA eight in the West, three points ahead of San Jose.

Report: Wenger ready to pay Ozil, Sanchez club record deals

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Leave a comment

Arsenal knows its departure from the UEFA Champions League has to be a short one, and that keeping its two best attackers around is imperative.

That’s why Arsene Wenger is preparing to make Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez the top paid players in Arsenal history, according to a report from The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson.

The contract status of both players has been a touchy one this season, and Sanchez especially has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe (including London neighbors Chelsea).

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

But perhaps the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph over Chelsea has Ozil and Sanchez feeling good vibes about the Emirates Stadium set, and Arsenal is ready to pounce. According to the report:

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stays together and is supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Ozil is understood already to have been offered more than £250,000 a week and the club are ready to go to around £280,000 for both him and Sanchez.

The Gunners need both players healthy and happy heading into next season, and appropriate additions as well (A top striker is a must. Again). Wage structure is important, but Arsenal will have a blessing in disguise if another player can make a legit case he deserves to be paid like Ozil and Sanchez any time soon.

West Ham, Everton, and the superstar striker’s need for the Champions League

Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Come up with a list of active elite level strikers, and it’s likely to be a short one filled with names from UEFA Champions League clubs.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Harry Kane, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rarely do names like these move to a non-UCL club while in their prime, and it’s just as uncommon to see them stay at clubs which have failed to qualify for the UCL.

The money, the prestige, the endorsements; All are amplified by the world stage. Given the massive import of their domestic stage and spotlight, Premier League sides have bucked this trend on occasion — see Romelu Lukaku — but it’s the exception to the rule.

That’s what puts an ambitious club like West Ham United between a rock and a hard place. The Irons have been vocal about their desires to bring in a top-end striker, and it’s likely they’d be happy to spend what it takes to attract Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang, or Cavani to town.

Lyon reportedly rejected a $45 million bid for Lacazette last season, admitting that ultimately the player’s desires would determine his future. Higuain, too, was linked to chairman David Gold’s wallet before moving to Juventus. Carlos Bacca also saw his future connected to the Irons.

Instead, Gold landed Andre Ayew from Swansea, and had to hope Andy Carroll could stay healthy or Enner Valencia would deliver. Not a striker, Dimitri Payet apparently decided to skip town soon after West Ham’s Europa League exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu.

Now it’s Kelechi Iheanacho being linked to the London Stadium, another hopeful swing from the Irons that points a strong finger at the problem: West Ham can be as ambitious as it likes, but it’s going to need a miracle to pull an elite striker to London without European football.

And it shouldn’t happen, but what if Everton is bumped from the UEL in the third qualifying round or playoff next year? Will Lukaku follow Payet’s lead and sink another team from joining the discussion? Though an argument can be made it’s better for Everton to lose those summer games, the Toffees very much need to succeed in the UEL qualifying and also show signs of strength in the early PL docket. That’s the unforgiving life of sitting on the outskirts of the powerful tier.

Every team at every level is searching for the next elite striker. Some, like West Ham, will need to luck into a young buck on the rise or a flawed striker finding his potential. And how do they hold onto that player, one who will have alerted the big boys to his arrival, without qualifying for Europe? It’s improbable.

The ability of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool to compete for a European slot in the PL standings thanks to missing out on the UCL the year before signals hope for clubs like Everton and West Ham. And five Premier League sides competing in the UCL this year could extend an invitation to stay longer in the Top Seven discussion for sides like Southampton and Leicester City, too.

So this summer’s striker captures are huge for Slaven Bilic and David Gold. This is a window the league’s “next group” won’t have open annually, and West Ham’s hopes of barging into the discussion again hinge on who shows up by August.

Toure reportedly set for another year with Man City

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Never say never.

Yaya Toure looks like his season-long peace with Pep Guardiola will stretch into a new season, with Toure’s combustible agent admitting talks with Manchester City regarding a new contract.

Dimitri Seluk is among the worst agents on Earth Toure’s agent, and said, “We are talking. We will see what happens but City is a club that is in Yaya’s heart.”

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

But Seluk has not been in City’s heart, having made numerous poor decisions on when to open his mouth, deepening a rift between Toure and Guardiola that kept the player off the pitch for some time. Earlier this Spring, Seluk also suggested that Toure could join Manchester United.

So, yeah, smart guy. Hates microphones and publicity.

Toure turned 34 this month, and became a fixture for Guardiola once he broke into the lineup. The midfielder made nine-straight starts around the turn of the calendar, scoring five goals in the Premier League.

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.