MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 1-0 DC United

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One game, 100 words or less:  With DC United looking for a spot at the top of not just the East but Major League Soccer, Houston held strong at home. The Dynamo were the best team from start to finish, and capitalized on a late mistake to pick up three points. It was a deserved victory for Houston who were the tougher, more physical, and quicker team.

Goals

Houston: Bruin 90′ + 1

Three moments that mattered:

21′ – Hamid says no – All match Bruin looked the most likely to score. He’d get one later, but for now, Bill Hamid wasn’t having it.  A cross to the far post (that sounds familiar) found Bruin’s head, and he targeted the underside of the bar. This time he put it on target, but Hamid leaped to tip it over, and he showed multiple times why he’s a top MLS goalkeeper.

39′ – Beast mode Bill – Houston eventually won, but Hamid has a shout for Man of the Match. Houston peppered his goal, and it took a late mistake to finally get one. Before the break, he maintained his stellar play. The Dynamo countered, and Giles Barnes eventually found himself one-on-one with Hamid. The keeper made himself big, and he kept the game scoreless

90′ + 1 – Fratricide – With Hamid standing strong all match, one bit of miscommunication and it all came crumbling down. Steve Birnbaum was looking to control the ball in his own box with Bruin pressuring, and Hamid got a little too close. The goalkeeper tripped his defender, and it left the goal mouth open for Bruin to ease the winner home.

Lineups

Houston – Hall; Taylor, Sarkodie, Hosrt, Beasley; Davis (Driver 88′), Clark, Garrido (Ownby 76′); Garcia, Bruin, Barnes (Owings 88′).
DC United – Hamid; Franklin, Birnbaum, Boswell, Kemp; Arnaud, Rolfe, Kitchen, Neal (Seaton 75′); Johnson, Silva (Martin 60′).

Three lessons going forward:

1. Bill Hamid is in the upper echelon – It’s pretty obvious now that the future of the USMNT goalkeeping situation could very well involve Bill Hamid. He was impressive all match as Houston slammed his goal with 20 shots, six on target. He’s one of the best in MLS, and things look up. The mistake is ugly, but it’s forgivable considering how he played the rest of the match.

2. The Houston Dynamo need Will Bruin – Bruin is one of the streakier strikers in the league, and has two different three-goal streaks in this season. Seeing how he gave Houston a dangerous option up front and ended up with a score, could he go on another mini-tear? The Dynamo need it. In the six games Bruin has scored in this season, the Dynamo have won five of them. They have six wins all season. Simple math.

3. It’s a long climb, but the Dynamo can do it – With 22 points, Houston remains in 8th place in the East. It hasn’t been pretty…actually, it’s been quite ugly…but we’ve seen it before from Houston. They have the quality to build a playoff run, but it’s going to be a journey. A long one.

Where this leaves them:

DC United – DC United had it all in front of them. Real Salt Lake drew, and Seattle lost.  But they couldn’t take advantage of those slip-ups, failing to grab the lead in the Supporter’s Shield. Instead, they’re still second in the East, with plenty of space over their shoulder.
Houston Dynamo – Still in 8th place, they have a 6-point gap between them and the playoffs. Six points is a long way in this clogged Eastern Conference.

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.