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MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-1 Columbus Crew

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAX-zkbW0q0]

One game, 100 words (or less): Chicago’s plague of draws continues, with the Fire managing to drop points from after scoring first for the eighth time this season. Today, a first half penalty conversion from Mike Magee gave them temporary hope, but a goal seconds after the teams returned from the locker room pulled Columbus even. Thanks to a big stop early in the second half from Sean Johnson, the Crew were prevented from building on their equalizer, with Chicago left to endure its 13th draw of the season.

Goals

Chicago: Magee 37′
Columbus: Higuaín 46′

There moments that mattered:

36′ – Ball to … oh, wait. Nevermind – This type of play usually draws a number of “ball to hand” appeals, but Tyson Wahl had both arms outstretched when Grant Ward hit his cross. When the ball found Wahl’s right arm, Silviu Petrescu pointed to the spot, with little doubt behind the call that put Chicago up one.

46′ – 10 seconds? – Jeff Larentowicz jumps into midfield, Patrick Ianni ends up on his backside, and next thing you know, Columbus is even, with Federico Higuaín’s goal coming before Chicago’s sen any second half possession. Straight out of the locker rooms, the Crew have their equalizer, with the corresponding momentum leaving Chicago on the edge of a deficit.

53′ – The leg of Sean – After the equalizer, Columbus looked ready to take over, with the field apparently tilted toward Sean Johnson’s goal. In the 53rd minute, that advantage was set to pay off when Ben Speas ran unto a layoff from Higuaín, but with a kick save worthy of Dominik Hasek, Johnson kept the Fire even, leaving the teams destined to play out a half of few chances.

Lineups

Chicago: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Larentowicz, Gonzalo Segares; Grant Ward (Harry Shipp 57′), Matt Watson, Chris Ritter (Logan Pause 81′), Alex (Razvan Cocis 63′); Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa

Columbus: Steve Clark; Michael Parkhurst (Eric Gehrig 91′), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchiani, Wil Trapp, Ben Speas (Jusitn Meram 66′); Federico Higuaín; Adam Bedell (Aaron Schoenfeld 66′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Larentowicz in the back still a work in progress – It’s not so much that the defense was bad. After all, Chicago only gave up one goal. It’s just a matter of how soon it clicks. Today, Larentowicz did play a small part in the goal, coming out of defense but failing to win the ball. At the same time, the rest of the defense, specifically Patrick Ianni, didn’t make the play behind him. How much can you really fault him for the goal?

In that way, the change leaves Chicago no better off, with the Fire defense still exhibiting a tendency for random error. Will that tendency continue into the future? In theory, time can only help the Fire’s new center back.

2. The value of Sean Johnson – Johnson used to be known for a hyper-athleticism that offset his inexperience, a quality that led to some eye-opening errors in goal. Over time, however, those errors have started to fade, while the high points have become more frequent. Bill Hamid may be going to Portland, but you can see why Sean Johnson remains slightly higher in Jurgen Klinsmann’s pecking order (for now).

3. Drawing out the season – 21 games, only eight of which have ended with a winner. That’s Chicago’s season, and while it’s admirable the Fire have avoided more than five losses, they play in a three-point world. At some point, preferably while the playoffs are still a distant hope, they need to become a three-point club.

Where this leaves them:

  • With the draw, Chicago remains five points back of the playoffs, albeit in eighth in the East.
  • As for Columbus, the point allows them to move clear of New England – one point into the East’s top five.

Joe Hart’s agent confirms loan move to Torino

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Joe Hart of Manchester City warms up prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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Joe Hart‘s Manchester City departure seems all but complete.

According to a report in Italy, the goalkeeper’s agent has confirmed a loan move to Torino is complete pending a medical.

“Yes, Joe Hart will play for Toro,” agent Jonathan Barnett told Tuttosport. “It’s all done, the goalkeeper said yes to the Granata and now Manchester City have given the green light. It’s all true, it’s secured. Tomorrow Hart will have a medical in Turin.”

Earlier Monday, it was reported that Hart was considering the offer but had not decided yet if this was the right course of action. Reports over the last week have stated the 29-year-old has been looking to leave Manchester City after being benched by Pep Guardiola, but preferred a permanent move to a loan due to the uncertainty for his family that comes with the short-term nature of a loan.

To back this up, Sky Sports reporter Gemma Davis tweeted that Hart has been given permission leave the England squad to travel to Torino for a medical. This is unlikely to affect Hart’s place in the England team, given they do not play until Sunday.

After two games in Serie A play, Torino sits seventh in the league table with a win and a loss so far. 30-year-old Daniele Padelli has started both games in goal, playing the full 90 minutes. Padelli has been the main man for Torino since his arrival in 2013, missing just a chunk of games two seasons ago when benched early in the year.

Reports: Nigel de Jong preparing to leave LA Galaxy for Galatasaray

Los Angeles Galaxy's Nigel de Jong, right, strikes the ball in front of San Jose Earthquakes' Quincy Amarikwa during the first half of a MLS soccer game Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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Multiple reports across both the United States and the Netherlands have claimed Nigel de Jong is close to a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray.

A report by AD writer Maarten Wijffles states that De Jong is currently in the country for talks. However, while L.A. Times writer Keith Baxter confirms that a deal is in progress, he claims the player is still currently situated in the United States and has not left for Turkey yet.

According to reports in Turkey, Galatasaray began its interest in De Jong only recently, when Newcastle enforcer Cheick Tiote apparently failed a medical. Other reports citing sources with Newcastle and the player have disputed this, saying talks instead broke down over personal terms.

De Jong had only joined Los Angeles at the end of the January transfer window, moving from A.C. Milan after the termination of his contract. The 31-year-old Dutchman made 18 appearances for the Galaxy and did not score a goal.

Between Tiote and De Jong, the Turkish club is clearly targeting a certain style of player. De Jong has been known throughout his career as a midfield enforcer, sometimes on the border of dirty play, and that did not change during his short time in Major League Soccer. He made several cringe-worthy tackles, including one in April on Darlington Nagbe that caused many to fear for Nagbe’s career until it was revealed he suffered just a sprained knee. Another in early July earned De Jong a straight red card against Vancouver in early July.

The Dutchman was thought to be taking over Steven Gerrard‘s Designated Player spot next year after his retirement at the end of the current season, but De Jong’s departure means the Galaxy could have an open DP slot next season.

Lionel Messi picks up hamstring injury, will travel with Argentina anyways

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 20: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis Balompie at Camp Nou on August 20, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi’s “return” to the Argentinian national team may have to wait.

Barcelona has revealed their superstar picked up a left hamstring injury at an unspecified time, and discovered them during tests earlier on Monday. The statement said he would still travel to Argentina to link up with the national team for the international break, and will have more tests there.

Argentina, sitting in the third spot in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying and just two points above elimination, have vital matches against Uruguay and Venezuela over the next week. “His presence in those matches will depend on how the injury develops,” the statement from Barcelona read.

It is unclear when Messi developed this injury. He has played the full 90 minutes in all four of Barcelona’s matches this season, including the 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, the first of the four matches in which he did not score or assist a goal.

This also could be a bit of gamesmanship from Barcelona. Obviously, it benefits clubs for their players to rest during international breaks instead of play international matches, and for them to suddenly announce an injury to Lionel Messi would put pressure on Argentina to consider sitting their superstar. Of course, in attempts to dispel this idea, Barcelona included in their statement that the injury report was “approved by the FC Barcelona Medical Services and the Argentinian Football Association.”

A legitimate injury to Messi would be a devastating blow to Argentina considering Sergio Aguero has already withdrawn from the squad following an injury picked up against West Ham this weekend. Aguero was substituted in the 88th minute of Manchester City’s 3-1 win over the Hammers.

Messi was expected to make his first appearance to the national team setup after his brief “retirement” following the loss in the Copa America finals.

VIDEO: What will Southampton’s new star Boufal provide?

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Sofiane Boufal is a name many will be familiar with.

After his $21 million move to Southampton on Monday for a club-record fee, plenty of people are getting excited about seeing Boufal in the Premier League.

The Moroccan international is the type of player who has already become a cult figure due to the “Football Manager” video game, as his potential to become a star of European soccer has been well documented with huge teams interested in signing him over the past six months.

[ MORE: Fabregas wants Chelsea stay ]

That’s because Boufal, 22, shone for Lille last season, scoring 12 goals and his trickery, pace, set pieces and direct running saw him named as the best African player in Ligue 1.

He chose Southampton and it seems like a very wise choice after they helped turn the likes of Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, plus many more, into top international players.

So, what have Southampton got in Boufal?

Take a look at the video above which gives a great overview of Boufal from his time at Lille after making the step up from Angers in Ligue 2 in January 2015.

That’s right, those comparisons with Riyad Mahrez seem pretty legit.