Nick De Santis no longer sporting director in Montréal

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Former Canadian international Nick De Santis is a fixture in Montréal soccer, from signing with the Canadian Soccer League’s Montréal Supra in 1987, to moving to the Impact in 1993, to his position as Sporting Director when the club jumped to Major League Soccer in 2012. As resident, player, manager, and executive, the 46-year-old has been a near constant presence in his home town.

As of today, however, the presence will be redefined, with an Impact team sporting Major League Soccer’s worst record relieving De Santis of his sporting director’s role.

From Montréal’s website:

“In business, the most difficult decisions to make are those made involving emotions,” explained Impact president Joey Saputo. “ This is why, today, I am forced to make this decision with a heavy heart. After twenty years of being part of the technical team as a player, successful coach and GM, it gives me great sadness to announce that Nick De Santis has been relieved from his functions.”

Though it’s always sad when connection as deep as De Santis’s has to be severed, this move has been coming. Fans at Stade Saputo had displayed signs reminding their owner that mixed results over the team’s first two-and-a-half seasons had one commonality. Decisions on players and coaches couldn’t be separated from the man who was making them.

According to Montréal’s statement, De Santis will continue with the club, albeit in an administrative role, but for a man Saputo called the Impact’s “architect,” a new soccer life starts now.

“He’s acted as not only a great advisor, but was also a friend,” Saputo said. “However, we are in a results based business. Since July 2013, the results are not at the level of our expectations. The decision not to make moves to improve this club during the offseason, albeit calculated, did not give us the competitive edge we were expecting.”

“We tried with coaches, had three coaches in three years. We changed players. Obviously Nick took responsibilities as sporting director. He made decisions during the offseason. There’s a certain amount of accountability that you have to take, and unfortunately we’re not where we want to be, and he’s paying the price for it.”

This time last year, Montréal was competing at the top of the Eastern Conference, with a quick start under first-year coach Marco Schällibaum leaving the Impact destined for the playoffs. Come the start of the postseason, Montréal were tripping over themselves, imploding during a season-ending 3-0 loss at Houston.

This offseason, De Santis elected to bring former Fire head coach Frank Klopas in as Schällibaum’s replacement while staying the course with his roster. The decision has left Montréal with three wins in 20 games, costing its architect his job.

It’s the change Impact fans asked for, though the lack of a clear alternative should give supporters pause. Nine months after being let go by Chicago, Klopas is in temporary control, with Montréal deferring its search for a new sporting director until the club reorganizes its technical department.

Regardless, this was a change that needed to be made. By staying true to the squad he assembled last season, De Santis crafted a make-or-break scenario. With 14 points in 20 games, something its broken in Montréal.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.