MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 0-3 LA Galaxy

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One game, 100 words (or less): Unfortunately for Sounders’ fans, Seattle’s ability to inexplicably collapse is alive and well, with Monday’s performance against the Galaxy exposing the same fragility that’s undermined the last three postseasons. Scoring three times in the first 36 minutes, LA became the latest team to contribute to Seattle’s psychosis, with the Galaxy’s 3-0 win asserting the four-time champions as MLS Cup contenders. Along the way, the Sounders provided new reason to believe the juggernaut can be derailed.

Goals:

Seattle: None.
LA Galaxy: Zardes 8′, Donovan 18′, Ishizaki 36′

Three moments that mattered:

1′ – A lights out start – Shortly after kickoff, ESPN’s feed fails, though through the wonders of social media, we quickly learn it wasn’t the broadcaster’s start. When the broadcast resumes, Adrian Healey explains a power surge knocked out the electricity at CenturyLink field. Seven minutes later, fans were left wishing the lights had stayed off.

36′ – The last salvo – Donovan had set up the first and scored the second, but in the 36th minute, it was Stefan Ishizaki that finished deflating the Sounders. With LA in transition off a Gonzalo Pineda turnover, Ishizaki was given an open crack from 18 yards out, beating Stefan Frei inside the far post to end the night’s scoring. Nine minutes before halftime, the Western Conference leaders were down 3-0, at home.

90′ – A merciful end – When LA opened the second half with all of its pre-break momentum, the match was basically over. Seattle didn’t even register its first shot on target until the 59th minute, reaching full-time without ever truly mounting a charge. For all intents and purposes, the game ended in the 36th minute, when Ishizaki confirmed LA’s early outburst was more than a fast start.

Lineups

Seattle: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Dylan Remnick (Michael Ariza 81′); Marco Pappa (Tristan Bowen 65′), Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Lamar Neagle (Chad Barrett 45′); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
LA Galaxy: Jaime Penedo; Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers; Stefan Ishizaki, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Baggio Husidic 78′), Landon Donovan; Gyasi Zardes (Kenney Walker 90′), Robbie Keane

Three lessons going forward:

1. Chad Marshall may be the league’s most important defender … because without him, the Sounders were terrible.  The Seattle All-Star was scratched from the lineup with back spasms after his car was rear-ended earlier today. Seattle not only missed his play at right-center back but also missed the composure he provides to the group. Without him, the Sounders’ lacked somebody willing to assert himself, leading the back four to be picked apart of the first 45 minutes.

2. LA responded to themselves – In the lead up to Monday’s game, the talk out of Los Angeles seemed unduly dramatic, with the team referencing the Supporters’ Shield to hype  its trip to Seattle. It was the Galaxy’s way to making this into a big game, one that would test them in the wake of a flat performance in Kansas City. Obviously, LA responded with flying colors.

3. This is not a one-off – Nights like this are part of the reason Seattle considered moving away from Sigi Schmid last December. Now, with the New England and Galaxy performances in the books, it’s apparent the Sounders’ penchant for collapse has not waned. This is part of their DNA – a trait that could resurface in the postseason.

So if you’re general manager Adrian Hanauer or owner Joe Roth, what do you do? Just hope that these blowouts are aberrations, even though recent history suggests they’re not? Or do you get proactive?

You wait and hope. Changing mid-stream is not going to happen, but if Seattle has another collapse this postseason, Schmid’s almost certainly done. Every doubt that led to his job being reconsidered this offseason will resurface after tonight’s performance.

Where this leaves them:

  • With 38 points, Seattle is still first in the West, tied for Kansas City at the top of the league, with two games in hand on MLS Cup’s holders.
  • The Galaxy are still eight back of the Sounders, and while they have a  match in hand, they still need to go on a run to truly be considered Supporters’ Shield contenders.

Lamela needs hip surgery, out for rest of Spurs season

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Tottenham Hotspur won’t be getting an Erik Lamela boost any time soon.

The 25-year-old winger will undergo surgery on his ailing hip this Saturday, costing him availability for Spurs’ stretch run and Argentina duty.

[ MORE: RSL hires Petke ]

Lamela has been missing since Oct. 29, and left Spurs lineup with the team unbeaten in the Premier League (5W-4D).

He registered a goal and an assist in PL play, adding a goal and four helpers in the side’s first two rounds of the EFL Cup and two assists in three Champions League matches.

Real Salt Lake introduces Mike Petke as new head coach

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Mike Petke is getting a deserved next kick as an MLS coach.

The New York Red Bulls icon, 41, is taking over at Real Salt Lake, where he had been leading USL side Real Monarchs since December.

“They’re an animal waiting to be released from a cage,” Petke called RSL’s roster.

[ MORE: Zlatan to stay at United?

Petke won better than 41 percent of his matches as RBNY boss, leading the club to the 2013 Supporters’ Shield. This came after 351 matches between Colorado, the Red Bulls/MetroStars, and DC United.

He leaves Real Monarchs with a perfect 1-0 record. Unbeaten!

“The vision that he laid out, along with Craig and Rob, was music to my ears,” Petek said. “They really showed me what was ahead for the RSL organization, and it was an easy thing to be a part of.”

Petke thanked the Monarchs for restoring some of his love for managing, something he said was “kicked out of me”. The Red Bulls shockingly parted ways with Petke in January 2015, moving onto Jesse Marsch.

This is a low risk hire for Real, who gains a respected coach and soccer mind. The optics aren’t great coming so early into the season and so soon after his hiring at Monarchs raised eyebrows.

The hiring comes four days after RSL drew the Red Bulls 0-0 at Red Bull Arena, which is the only disappointment of this whole ordeal: Not getting to see the response at his old home.

Referee leaders want on-field official to see video replays

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LONDON (AP) Antoine Griezmann headed the ball into the net and was in full celebration mode with his France teammates when referee Felix Swayer pinned a finger into his left ear to block out the stadium noise.

[ VIDEO: VAR system used correctly

An assistant in front of a bank of monitors was assessing replays and had some bad news for Griezmann. Swayer was told through his earpiece that a player was offside in the buildup.

The goal was then ruled out, without Swayer seeing a replay. But that won’t necessarily be the case by the time video replays are fully approved to be rolled out across soccer.

For now, the experimental phase is still in full flow but if refereeing leaders get their way officials should always have access to the footage themselves around the field.

“The subjective decisions should be made by the on-field referee because they have got the feel for the game,” Mike Riley, general manager of English refereeing organization, told The Associated Press. “They can put it in the context of everything else. So as part of the process we have got to work out how we can do that as effectively as possible … without interrupting the flow of the game.”

The International Football Association Board, the game’s lawmaking body, is in its second year of trials with various versions of video assistant referees (VAR). Some games, like the France-Spain friendly, do not allow the referee to evaluate incidents and instead by rely on the VAR.

But VAR could end up only ruling on what Riley describes as “decisions of fact,” such as whether a ball was inside or outside the penalty area.

Ultimately, if you are appointing one of the top referees to preside over a major game, that person is seen as ideal for making the big calls, according to IFAB.

“Fundamentally we are told very much by players and coaches they want the referee to be making the most important decisions,” IFAB technical director David Elleray said, referencing England’s top referee. “They don’t know who is in a van out in the car park or 300 miles away in a match center.”

Soccer’s lawmakers only envisage video replays being used to correct game-changing decisions involving four situations: penalties being awarded, red cards, cases of mistaken identity and goals being scored.

That situation arose twice in the Stade de France on Tuesday as France lost 2-0 to Spain. After Griezmann’s goal was disallowed, video replays worked against France again but in Spain’s favor when an incorrect offside call against Gerard Deulofeu was overturned and his goal stood.

Swayer again relied on the information from a colleague benefiting from replays.

“Nicola Rizzoli was appointed to referee the last World Cup final because he is the best referee,” Elleray said. “But if actually the two most important decisions in the match are made by somebody watching a TV screen … the most important person is the man you put behind the TV screen not the man on the field.”

The challenges are how referees are able to view replays without lengthening the delay. For now the technology isn’t satisfactory for officials to use wearable devices and receive footage in real time. That means going to the side of the field to watch incidents with the eyes of thousands of fans in the stands on them. The screens are likely to be on the opposite side to the technical area to avoid coaches being able to surround and harangue the referee.

“Some of our stadiums don’t lend themselves to monitors by the side of the pitch because they are really tight,” said Riley, a former Premier League referee who is now in charge of appointments for games in the world’s richest soccer competition. “Is it right for referees to have to run 30 yards to go and look? Can you get the footage to the referee on the field somehow? All these things have to be explored through the experiment and come out with a solution that works for football.”

Live experiments are taking place in about 20 competitions this year, including the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July that will serves as a World Cup test event.

Once IFAB adds video replays to the laws of the game, any competition meeting the requirements will be able to use them.

For Riley, permitting replays is “the most significant change in refereeing in the game for generations,” far more significant than the 2012 decision to allow technology that simply determines whether the ball crossed the goal line.

“If you are making such a significant change,” Riley said, “you need to really explore and understand all the potential implications.”

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

Amid fanfare, Bastian Schweinsteiger arrives in Chicago

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Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, it is clear Bastian Schweinsteiger is kind of a big deal…

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Posing for photos with fans as he stepped off the flight with his wife, former Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic, the former Bayern Munich midfielder was mobbed by Chicago Fire fans who are delighted he has arrived in Major League Soccer as the newest Designated Player.

The German legend has completed his move from Manchester United to the Fire and will be officially unveiled to the media on Wednesday after signing a one-year deal.

[ MORE: Latest MLS news ]

Schweinsteiger, 32, has already had a training session in the books and the World Cup winner is expected to make his debut in Chicago’s home clash with the Montreal Impact on Saturday at Toyota Park.

Below is a video of Schweinsteiger’s arrival in Chicago, his first training session and a collection of photos he took with ecstatic Fire fans.