MLS Snapshot: New England Revolution 1-2 Columbus Crew

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jGjf_NWic0]

One game, 100 words (or less): The effort wasn’t the problem. The production was. Despite carrying a 1-1 scoreline into the game’s final 10 minutes, New England found a way to drop its eighth in a row, allowing a long pass from Justin Meram to set up Ethan Findlay for an 84th minute goal. Though they split the game’s possession and shots on goal, the Revs didn’t get their share of goals, losing 2-1 to visiting Columbus.

Goals

New England: Soares 50′
Columbus: Higuaín 43′, Finlay 84′

Three moments that mattered:

43′ – Bobby, you could have done more – New England’s broadcasting team was forgiving of Bobby Shuttleworth, and really, who am I to argue with Paul Mariner? Yet even after watching replays, I couldn’t help but wonder why Shuttleworth, with the right-footed Federico Higuaín always likely to take the kick, set up so close to his right post. I wonder why, with the ball 24 yards out, he gave up so much of his goal, hoping the Columbus star wouldn’t get it under the bar. I wonder why Shuttleworth made things so easy for one of the league’s most-skilled players to open the scoring.

50′ – Nooooooooooo! YES! – When Kelyn Rowe eluded Steve Clark with a right-footed chip that went just wide, the game briefly felt like another case New England’s misfiring attack contributing to its downturn. Moments later, though, A.J. Soares was running onto a near-post corner, heading home an equalizer that gave the crowd hope. For half-an-hour in Foxborough, Mass., the Revs were back on track.

source: Getty Images
Federico Higuaín scored Saturday’s first goal and had a part in the winner as Columbus took full points out of New England. (Credit: Getty Images.)

83′ – Hey now, the dream is over – One ball, one run inside Darius Barnes, and New England’s losing streak’s at eight, though you have to have some sympathy for the Revolution defender. Forced into action after Chris Tierney’s first half injury, Barnes was playing an unfamiliar position (left back); still, it was too easy for Ethan Finlay to run into the gap between Barnes and José Gonçalves, get onto Justin Meram’s pass from the center line, and give Columbus a second straight win.

Lineups

New England: Bobby Shuttleworth; Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, José Gonçalves, Chris Tierney (Darius Barnes 21′); Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Teal Bunbury (Diego Kobayashi 81′); Patrick Mullins (Dimitry Imbongo 67′)

Columbus: Steve Clark; Chad Barson (Eric Gehrig 65′), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchiani; Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 65′); Federico Higuaín; Adam Bedell (Adam Schoenfeld 65′)

Two lessons going forward:

1. If Federico Higuaín isn’t an All-Star … then we need to reconsider the term. Only Javier Morales and Graham Zusi are creating more chances per game this season, and after generating four more opportunities on Saturday, Higuaín had plenty of moments that complemented his highlight reel goal.

2. New England really isn’t that far away – This is a game that really could have gone either way, but when you see the way they lost it (and, the way they reacted to their equalizer), you wonder if the Revs are pressing. Given their losing streak, that’s understandable, but that pressing may be the only thing separating New England from a breakthrough.

Where this leaves them:

  • Despite this shocking streak, the Revolution is only one point out of a playoff spot.
  • Columbus, on the other hand, has reclaimed a spot in the East’s top five. With 26 points, they’re even with third place Toronto.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.