Philadelphia Union v Los Angeles Galaxy

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.

West Brom boss Pulis laments EFL Cup loss to Northampton Town

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: West Bromwich Albion Manager Tony Pulis  before the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on August 20, 2016 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)
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Tony Pulis sounds a bit defensive — pun half-intended — about West Brom’s loss to Northampton Town in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.

His Baggies have started the season 1-1, winning at Palace and losing versus Everton, but the loss in a Cup competition is obviously stinging the veteran manager.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Pulis, 58, started a lineup that should’ve won comfortably, and the team went for it against the League One side in 2-2 (PKs, 4-3) match.

But conceding twice and losing in penalties really angered Pulis, who saw James Morrison and much-maligned striker Saido Berahino miss their kicks.

From the BBC:

“I wish Northampton all the best. They worked really hard and kept at it.

“If we have come here and didn’t open them up and didn’t play well then you can slaughter us, but we did that. We’ve not hit the back of the net and that’s what you have to do.

“I understand supporters – if you’re not winning you’re not going to be happy, whether it’s me or another manager.”

Pulis is 22W-23D-25L as West Brom’s manager, but has done well on the whole with the club. Perhaps his style of play is frustrating, but he’s also brought in weapons like Matty Phillips and Brendan Galloway this year and is attempting to spur the club into something a bit more exciting. His comments have us wondering, though, if he’s feeling a bit of heat.

Burnley’s Andre Gray charged by FA over Twitter posts from 2012

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Andre Gray of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Cardiff City at Turf Moor on  August 13, 2016 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)
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A Premier League player is set to be punished by English football authorities for discriminatory comments he made on social media more than four years ago.

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The comments made by Burnley striker Andre Gray between Jan. 9 and March 11, 2012 appeared anti-gay. They came to light on Saturday, when they were retweeted by other people after he scored his first Premier League goal for Burnley in the team’s 2-0 win over Liverpool. Gray released a public apology after the match.

Gray was charged with misconduct on Tuesday by the Football Association, which said the alleged comments “were abusive and/or insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.”

Gray said in his apology “the tweets were posted four years ago when I was a completely different person to the man I am now.”

“I have experienced a lot over the past four years and have had to take responsibility for a number of things in my life which has enabled me to mature and grow as a person since that time,” the 25-year-old Gray said.

“I have a lot of regrets regarding a number of things I’ve done in the past and realize I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time.”

[ MORE: Champions League roundup — Roma self-destruct; Celtic sneak in ]

Gray said he wanted to clarify that he was “absolutely not homophobic” and to “ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.”

The FA said Gray had until Aug. 31 to respond to the charge.

“He has moved a long way in life,” Burnley manager Sean Dyche said Tuesday. “He’s made that clear with an apology and also to remind the club, `It’s four years ago, I’m a different person.’

“A lot has gone on in his life to get him where he’s got to, I think he made that clear. It was authentic what he said (in the apology).”

Gray was the top scorer in the second-tier League Championship last season, helping Burnley achieve an immediate return to the Premier League.

Arsenal, Stoke target Jones part of Mourinho’s plans, will stay at Man United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Wes Hoolahan of Norwich City and Phil Jones of Manchester United compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford on December 19, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Other Premier League clubs might be interested in Phil Jones, but Jose Mourinho has no intentions of letting the 24-year-old future England captain Manchester United center back leave anytime soon.

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Mourinho and Man United have received multiple approaches for Jones this summer, but never entertained the idea of selling, according to the Guardian. Arsenal were said to have been interested earlier in the summer, while Stoke City are presently trying to pry the Blackburn Rovers academy product away from Old Trafford, as confirmed by Mark Hughes’ assistant, Mark Bowen, earlier this week.

Jones moved to Man United in the summer of 2011 for a fee believed to be north of $20 million. While he’s endured his share of hard times in his five seasons at the club, Jones would easily be a 30-$35 million player giving fees paid for comparable center backs in recent transfer windows.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup — Roma self-destruct; Celtic sneak in ]

While Jones is yet to see the field early in the 2016-17 season, he remains a viable option, along with Chris Smalling, behind $40-million summer signing Eric Bailly and midfielder-turned-defender Daley Blind. Over the course of a 38-game PL season, the UEFA Champions League Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup, a busy schedule and injuries will provide plenty of chances to impress the new manager and reclaim a regular place in the first team.

MLS preview: Galaxy, Sounders, Toronto FC hit the road midweek

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Colorado Rapids during the first half of the MLS soccer game in Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP)
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Previewing the biggest games across Major League Soccer on Wednesday…

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Orlando City SC vs. Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. ET (MLS Live)

Quick quiz: Which is the hottest team in MLS right now? Answer: It’s TFC, who are unbeaten in their last six games, a stretch which includes five wins and an aggregate score of 16-4. OK, so how are they doing it? Don’t ask silly questions. In those six games, Sebastian Giovinco, who’s again running away in the MVP race and will become the first back-to-back winner in league history (only Preki has ever been a two-time winner), has scored eight goals and notched four assists. He’s been even better this year than he was in 2015. His 2016 season tally currently stands at 16 and 11. He’ll likely be the first player in MLS history to notch multiple 20-goal seasons, if Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has 15 this season, doesn’t get there first.

It’s not only Giovinco, though, but the return Jozy Altidore which has allowed the Italian superstar the freedom, the space, and the hold-up play to thrive as he’s done. Giovinco has been given a free role by head coach Greg Vanney, and Altidore’s ability to occupy two center backs at once, along with his ability to hold the ball up and draw the opposing defense toward him, has resulted in Giovinco scoring a number of easy chances no player of his quality should ever be allowed to see. It’s amazing what happens when you build a team and system around your best player, rather than try to make that player fit into something predetermined. Three points on Wednesday would vault the Reds into first place in the Eastern Conference having finally pulled level on games played with New York City FC.

[ MORE: NYCFC’s Jack Harrison on meteoric rise — “It can only get better” ]

Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy — 8:30 p.m. ET (MLS Live)

After rattling off four straight wins over the majority of July, the Galaxy are suddenly winless winless in their last four, though they’ve managed to salvage three points during that period. During the current four-game stretch, the attacking trio of Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes have combined to contribute just one goal and three assists, all but one assist of which have come from GdS.

No team in the Western Conference has won more points away from home (14) than the Galaxy this season, while no team in MLS has won fewer home points (17 — or points, period, 22) than the Fire. All signs point toward a Galaxy victory, but this is a Fire side that has steadily improved bit by bit in recent weeks, culminating in their first road victory in 25 months last weekend. The Vancouver Whitecaps await the Galaxy on the weekend — can you say, “trap game?”

[ MORE: U.S. teen skipping college, heading to La Liga ]

Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders — 9 p.m. ET (MLS Live)

If TFC are the hottest team in MLS, the Sounders are the second-hottest and without a doubt the hottest team in the West. Since firing Sigi Schmid four weeks ago, the bunch in Rave Green are unbeaten in four games, now having won three straight. The signing of Nicolas Lodeiro has been the spark that breathed life into a dying season, but one could reasonably argue that Cristian Roldan’s emergence deep in midfield has meant just as much to a Sounders side that, for the first time all season, has found a strong base between the attack and defense.

Osvaldo Alonso is no longer being ask to play the box-to-box role in which he thrived for a half-decade, instead acting as the organizer and director in front of the backline, with Roldan, the 21-year-old with many miles left in his legs, covering large swaths of space in midfield. The biggest difference between Roldan and your typical defensive midfield in MLS? He can see a pass in the final third, and he can hit it when it’s on. Lodeiro creates plenty of space for Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey with his unbelievable range of passing, and that’s been a huge part of the eight goals the Sounders have scored in those three wins, but Roldan’s presence alongside Alonso has been just as important in allowing just four goals in four games.