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MLS Snapshot: San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Seattle Sounders

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One game, 100 words (or less): The game seemed to set up perfectly for one of the late Dempsey-Martins-fueled explosions that defined Seattle’s spring, but aside from a Chad Barrett chance, a Gonzalo Pineda free kick, and some typical late-match drama, that explosion never happened. Though Seattle improved on its Monday performance, the Sounders were again kept off the board, with a late first half goal from San Jose’s Yannick Djaló delivering a 1-0 win in front of over 45,000 at Levi’s Stadium.

Goals

San Jose: Djaló 42′
Seattle: None.

Three moments that mattered:

42′ – Chipped right in – Toward the end of a half that had only featured three shots on target, San Jose got their match-winner, thanks in large part to Chris Wondolowski. Lifting a perfect pass over defender  Zach Scott, “Wondo” sent Djaló in alone on goal, with Stefan Frei doing little to stop the game’s only goal from rolling into his abandoned goal.

79′ – Pineda’s bullet – Speaking post-match, San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch said the kick got a piece of the wall, not that that piece slowed it down. With a left-footed bullet for around 34 yards out, Gonzalo Pineda tempted Busch to spill the ball in front of goal. The Earthquakes keeper, up to the challenge, pushed it over and out.

85′ – Chris Wondolowski, again – “Wondo” was responsible for the two biggest plays of the night, the second of which came at the defensive end. On a late corner from Pinedo, Chad Barrett redirected a header just inside Busch’s right post. Unfortunately for the Sounders, Wondolowski was right there, with his clearance preserving a 1-0 win.

Lineups:

San Jose: Jon Busch; Shaun Francis, Victor Bernárdez, Jason Hernandez, Jordan Stewart; Atiba Haris, Sam Cronin, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Shea Salinas (Cordell Cato 87′); Yannick Djaló (Khari Stephenson 65′); Chris Wondolowski

Seattle: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez (Chad Barrett 83′); Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alsono, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Kenny Cooper 65′); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins

Three lessons going forward

1. We can forget collapse – Hey, after last season, you can’t blame  people for wondering if Seattle was going to free fall again (I think we’ve mentioned this one or 50 times in the last week). Tonight, they were fine. They weren’t run away with the Supporters’ Shield fine, but they weren’t Seattle circa Oct. 2013, either.

2. The West is pretty tough – The Sounders didn’t play their best, but they generated a number of chances, and as you saw the urgency pick up in the second half, the Seattle that was able to orchestrate a number of early season comebacks started to come through. The only problem: They were up against a decent team, even if the Western Conference standings say otherwise.

San Jose isn’t going to win any silverware this season, but if what we saw tonight is (was) the last place team in the West, it says a little something about the strength of the conference.

3. More encouraging signs for San Jose, the market – For the second time this season, the Earthquakes drew huge numbers to a game, only this time, it wasn’t for the annual showcase against the Galaxy. Granted, there was something unique about playing at Levi’s Stadium, but the hints of San Jose’s potential were still there. Forty thousand need not be a once-a-year thing in the Bay, anymore.

Where this leaves them:

  • Not in last place! Though San Jose is even with Chivas on points, the tiebreakers go in the team’s favor. They’re now eighth in the Western Conference.
  • Seattle’s lead in the West has been cut to one, and they’re trailing Sporting KC in the Supporters’ Shield chase, but while fans can comfort themselves with a favorable games played column, the reality of a two-game losing streak is defined by doubts.

Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

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But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.