MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 0-1 Real Salt Lake

Leave a comment
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS1QT7pBhnU]

One game, 100 words (or less): Ten men were all Real Salt Lake needed to take back bragging rights. Defending Javier Morales’s 14th minute opener, a 10-man RSL won back the Rocky Mountain Cup, putting the team’s goalkeeper in Major League Soccer’s record books after a 1-0 win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Early control came good for the visitors when Chris Wingert set up his team’s playmaker for the  opener. Colorado’s ascendancy from the middle of the period on culminated with RSL defender Aaron Maund being dismissed for denying in a goal scoring opportunity. Despite that man advantage, the Rapids couldn’t break through in the second half, with Nick Rimando’s 112th career clean sheet tying him for MLS’s shutouts record.

Goals

Colorado: None.
Real Salt Lake: 14′

Three moments that mattered:

14′ – Chris Wingert, supply chain – It’s understandable why Marvell Wynne hopped over Wingert, but ultimately, it’s his job to stop players from creating chances. When the Colorado central defender elected to skip over Wingerts sliding challenge, he gave the RSL left back a path into the middle of the box. One pass later, Morales was set up for the game’s only goal.

45+1′ – Tough call, right call – It was a difficult situation for Aaron Maund, who was attempting to get on the right side of Vicente Sánchez after Nat Borchers’ missed tackle allowed the Rapids attacker a path to goal. But if it’s a foul at all, it’s a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and with Maund’s swim move creating enough contact to justify the call, Baldomero Toledo may have been obliged to send him off.

72′ – The best of a bad lot – Credit Real Salt Lake’s defense, because Colorado’s best chance for an equalizer wasn’t that good. From a sharp angle to the right of goal, Deshorn Brown needed some help from Nick Rimando to even up the score. With his eyes on history, the MLS veteran didn’t oblige. By the end of the season, the U.S. international will have the shutouts record all to himself.

Lineups

Coloardo: Clint Irwin; Chris Klute, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Marc Burch; Dillon Serna (Gabriel Torres 73′), José Marí (Carlos Alvarez 73′), Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Powers, Vicente Sánchez, Deshorn Brown
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Aaron Maund, Chris Wingert; Luis Gil (John Stertzer 85′), Ned Grabavoy; Javier Morales (Cole Grossman 74′); Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval (Carlos Salcedo 50′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Like their old selves – Even while they were dropping points to New York mid-week, RSL carried themselves like the composed, controlling group we’ve seen over the last five or six years. After the team went down a man today, that composure paid off. Colorado was up in numbers, but they never came close to taking control.

2. Borchers responded – After his failure to make a tackle led to Maund’s red card, Borchers stepped up. The RSL center back ended the game with 11 clearances, five more than anybody else on the field.

3.  Buddle was missed – After making his first start since May on Wednesday in New England, Edson Buddle didn’t make Saturday’s squad. Left pumping crosses into Deshorn Brown, Colorado could have used their only true number nine.

Where this leaves them:

  • The loss leaves Colorado in fifth in the West, one point ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • RSL, all of a sudden, is within two points of Seattle, though after Saturday’s games, the Sounders will still have two matches in hand.

USL granted 2018 2nd-division sanctioning by U.S. Soccer

Photo credit: USL / Twitter: @USL
Leave a comment

U.S. Soccer has officially granted the United Soccer League second-division sanctioning, behind first-division Major League Soccer, for the upcoming 2018 season, as well as first-division status for the National Women’s Soccer League.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan unveiled by Liga MX side Club Leon ]

USL, which will feature 33 teams in 2018, had been granted temporary second-division sanctioning, alongside the North American Soccer League, in 2017. As NASL’s demise continued and accelerated — the league will not begin play this spring, opting instead for a late-summer kickoff, after a number of its teams either folded or jumped ship to USL — USL, with the help of MLS, quickly pounced to capitalize — from U.S. Soccer’s statement:

Sanctioning allows NWSL and USL to operate a Division I and II league, respectively, during the 2018 season and includes a two-year pathway to full compliance with the Professional League Standards. USL has demonstrated substantial progress toward reaching full compliance since being granted provisional Division II sanctioning in 2017.

Conspiracy theorist’s take: USL supplanted NASL as the U.S.’s second-most viable professional men’s league — and more importantly, being granted official second-division status — paves the way for MLS to, at some point well down the line — say, 2030 or so — implement its own multi-tiered system of promotion and relegation, featuring anywhere between 60 and 80 teams, while still remaining a single-entity structure closed to the lower reaches of the sport in America, as the lines separating MLS and USL have only become more and more blurred in recent years.

[ MORE: Donovan ready to “win championships” after ending retirement ]

MLS realizes that public demand for promotion and relegation in the U.S. has grown significantly louder in recent years — particularly given the climate of the sport after the men’s national team failed to qualify for the World Cup, and subsequent ongoing presidential-election campaign — thus an open-but-not-really-open system which satisfies neither side will eventually be the end result.

Wenger called ref Dean “not honest,” “a disgrace” to earn ban

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
1 Comment

LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused a referee of being “not honest” and called him “a disgrace” in a rant inside the match officials’ changing room that led to a three-match touchline ban for one of English soccer’s most experienced coaches.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

The English Football Association published Tuesday the written reasons behind its decision to ban Wenger for being abusive toward referee Mike Dean after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Dec. 31.

In his match report given to the FA, Dean said Wenger “was pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions.” Dean then said Wenger said “you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace.”

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

Wenger had been incensed at Calum Chambers being penalized for a handball and West Brom converting the resulting penalty to equalize late in the game.

The FA said “there is simply no justification for this behavior” and considered a stadium ban for Wenger.

Wenger was also fined $54,200 for his conduct.

FA Cup: Leicester, West Ham survive replays to reach 4th round

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two more Premier League sides reached the fourth round of the 2017-18 FA Cup on Tuesday, winning their respective replays and joining 10 other top-flight clubs already through to the next round…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town

Kelechi Iheanacho moved to Leicester from Manchester City for $33 million this summer and has, through his first half-season in the East Midlands, failed to live up to that price tag. In nine PL appearances, he is yet to score his first league goal. Tuesday, however, saw the 21-year-old Nigerian international put forth a bit production and performance more befitting a player of his promise and pedigree.

Manager Claude Puel picked a side consisting of first-team regulars and lesser-used squad players for the Foxes FA Cup third-round replay against League One side Fleetwood Town. It was Iheanacho, who started alongside/just behind target man Islam Slimani, who shown brightest with a pair of goals, in the 43rd and 77th minutes, to send Leicester into the fourth round. Iheanacho’s second, the one that put the game away for Leicester, was originally ruled out for offside, but was eventually after consultation of the video-assistant referee.

Leicester will travel to League One side Peterborough in the fourth round, on Sat. Jan. 27.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

West Ham United 1-0 (AET) Shrewsbury Town

It took far longer than Hammers fans would have liked — or expected — but West Ham, over the course of 120 minutes, survived the Cupset bid of third-division Shrewsbury Town. With eight minutes remaining before Tuesday’s replay went to penalty kicks at the London Stadium, 21-year-old defender Reece Burke fired home from inside the box to break the scoreless deadlock.

West Ham will be away to the winner of the replay between Bournemouth and Wigan Athletic (Wednesday), on Sat. Jan. 27.

Elsewhere in FA Cup replay action

Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Wednesday’s FA Cup replay schedule

Chelsea vs. Norwich City — 2:45 p.m. ET
Swansea City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 2:45 p.m. ET
Wigan Athletic vs. Bournemouth — 2:45 p.m. ET

Report: Newcastle sale talks between Ashley, Staveley collapse

Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images
1 Comment

Talks between Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley over the much-desired and -rumored sale of Newcastle United are off, according to a report from Sky Sports and various other UK news outlets.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Sky has quoted a source close to Ashley as having said: “Attempts to reach a deal (with Staveley) have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time.” (Full quote below)

Ashley, the club’s current and long-beleaguered owner, has been seeking a potential buyer since putting the club up for sale back in October. Staveley emerged as the front-runner (the only runner, perhaps) in the days following Ashley’s announcement, and reportedly tabled an offer of $335 million in early December before reportedly offering something closer to $400 million a couple weeks later.

Ashley selling the club — and doing so before the end of the January transfer window, which now appears nigh impossible — appeared to be one the few scenarios in which Rafa Benitez would remain the Magpies’ manager beyond the end of the current Premier League season (Newcastle currently sit 15th, just three points clear of relegation) after constant rumors of his discontent and lack of financial backing last summer.