Colorado Rapids v Philadelphia Union

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 3-0 Chivas USA

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[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.

AT THE HALF: Man City 1-2 Monaco; Atleti lead in UCL round of 16

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Radamel Falcao Garcia of AS Monaco celebrates as he scores their first and equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City FC and AS Monaco at Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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We’re only halfway through the first leg of Manchester City versus Monaco, and Bayer Leverkusen versus Atletico Madrid, in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, but the goals are coming fast and furious from England to Germany.

[ MORE: Rooney left out of Man United’s Europa League squad (again) ]

Man City found themselves 1-0 up at the Etihad Stadium, when Leroy Sane turned on video-game mode to set up Raheem Sterling for the opening goal in the 28th minute. But, as City have so typically done in the Champions League, they began self-destructing four minutes later. Radamel Falcao‘s diving header brought Monaco level in the 32nd minute, and Kylian Mbappe’s finish over the head of Willy Caballero put the visitors 2-1 up eight minutes later.

[ MORE: FA Cup QF draw — Chelsea vs. Man United; Arsenal vs. Lincoln City ]

As for Tuesday’s other round-of-16 tie, Saul Niguez simultaneously opened the scoring and snatched the soul of every Bayer defender who dared to contest him. Antoine Griezmann added a second for Atleti, who hold their 2-0 lead at halftime, seven minutes later.

LIVE: UCL last 16 – Man City v Monaco; Bayer v Atletico Madrid

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his sides fourth goal during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on January 6, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clashes get underway on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Manchester City host AS Monaco at the Etihad Stadium with Pep Guardiola knowing his shaky defense must stay strong against the leading scorers in France’s top-flight. Monaco have already come to England and beaten Tottenham Hotspur in the UCL group stage and under talented manager Leanardo Jardim the likes of Radamel Falcao looks fired up and ready to go.

That said, City have been much better in recent weeks and have shown their best form this season in the UCL. Remember, Pep has never failed to reach the semifinals of this competition as a manager. Quite the record.

Elsewhere Bayer Leverkusen welcome Atletico Madrid to the BayArena with Mexico’s Javier Hernandez back among the goals and aiming to give the Bundesliga outfit a lead to take with them to Madrid.

The runners up late season, Atleti are currently fourth in La Liga but Diego Simeone’s side have looked stellar in Europe this season once again as they finished above Bayern Munich to win their group. Expect a tense, tough game in Germany.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary on both games, while we will have reaction and analysis on all of the UCL knockout games here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UCL Round of 16, first legs

Manchester City vs. AS Monaco – 2:45 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid – 2:45 p.m. ET

Bayern defends Ancelotti for middle-finger gesture to fans

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich has defended coach Carlo Ancelotti for raising his middle finger to Hertha Berlin fans after supposedly being spit at following a dramatic 1-1 draw in the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Shaw in betting investigation ]

Bayern says “basically we find the human reaction of Carlo Ancelotti with the gesture to be emotionally understandable after the nasty spitting attack.”

Robert Lewandowski’s injury-time equalizer for Bayern on Saturday prompted altercations between Bayern and Hertha players in a heated atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium.

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The German soccer federation ended its investigation into the matter after Ancelotti agreed to pay 5,000 euros ($5,300) to its foundation for social work.

In 2014, Norbert Duewel, then-coach of second-division club Union Berlin, was fined 3,500 euros for raising his middle finger in a 4-1 loss at home against 1860 Munich.

Sacha Kljestan ready to take reigns as Red Bulls captain

HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 6:  Sacha Kljestan #16 of New York Red Bulls dribbles past Steven Beitashour #33 of Toronto FC  during their match at Red Bull Arena on March 6, 2016 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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When news began to spread of a trade regarding one of Major League Soccer’s most recognizable faces, Sacha Kljestan was with his New York Red Bulls teammate at the U.S. Men’s National Team’s January camp.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The clarity over Dax McCarty’s move to Eastern Conference foe Chicago Fire is very much uncertain — even a month after the fact — but the veteran midfielder’s absence left an opening for the Red Bulls captaincy.

[ MORE: PST talks with Atlanta president Darren Eales ahead of 2017 ]

And that was an opportunity that Kljestan was honored to be named.

“I was just proud. My first feeling was that I’m thankful for Jesse [Marsch] having that trust in me and my teammates having that trust in me as well, which is very important,” Kljestan said. “But I just feel very proud to represent Jesse and the coaching staff and represent every member of the club that works with the New York Red Bulls. Most importantly I want to represent the fans in a way that they are proud of.”

Fortunately for the Red Bulls, what they have had over the past two seasons in Kljestan is a player that not only provides flash and brilliance on the pitch but also stability off the field and in the locker room.

Since making his return to MLS in 2015, Kljestan has notched an astounding 34 assists — the most of any player during that span — to go along with his 14 goals.

Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch has been impressed with Kljestan’s work ethic since bringing in the Designated Player, and he says little thought needed to be put into naming the U.S. international his squad’s next captain.

“It almost wasn’t even a choice at all,” Marsch said in regards to naming Kljestan his primary captain. “He had served as basically a vice-captain for two years and it was an natural fit. There were discussions with the staff but I think it was pretty clear that this is a guy that is a top leader. That being said, we’ve said all along that the captain isn’t a one man job.

“It’s about a community of people and certainly the two guys that will support Sacha the most will be Luis [Robles] and Brad [Wright-Phillips]. I think the three of them will take on big leadership roles and there’s room for young guys to blossom into bigger leadership positions as well.”

The Red Bulls have undoubtedly proven their success in the regular season since rebranding to the aforementioned name in 2006 when the Global giant, Red Bull, acquired the franchise.

The last 11 seasons have provided the club with plenty to cheer about, including two Supporters’ Shield crowns and only missing out on the postseason once, but the Red Bulls have struggled to get past one major hurdle.

Winning an MLS Cup is challenging.

It’s only something that 11 teams have accomplished in the league’s history. Of those 11 teams, only five of them have won two or more titles since MLS’ inception in 1996.

Marsch’s approach since day one has been very clear to both his team and the opponents that the Red Bulls face. The goal has been to play an attacking-minded press, similar to that of Barcelona in the club’s hay day.

While that pressing style likely won’t change, the team is prepared to add another dimension to its attack by switching to a two-forward setup starting in 2017.

“With our little tweak in formation that we’re doing now, we’re trying to be less susceptible to opening ourselves up and creating too much space between our lines,” Kljestan said. “We’re working on ways now to become more connected and become harder to break down and really make teams earn their chances against us. We might go through some growing pains with the formation but I think it’ll make us stronger in the long run.”

The Red Bulls begin their 2017 journey on Wednesday when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The two sides will meet a second time on March 2 in Vancouver.