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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.

Atleti’s Torres ready for “game of his life” in UEFA Champions League final

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21: Atletico de Madrid players Saul Niguez (L) and Fernando Torres (R) stretch during the training session during the Club Atletico de Madrid Open Media Day ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match against Real Madrid CF on May 21, 2016 in Majadahonda, Spain.
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Fernando Torres has won the UEFA Champions League before, but a victory on Saturday would ring as true as ever.

Calling it the game of his life, the Atletico Madrid striker spoke about this year’s final against Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determined UCL final ]

A lot has changed since the 2012 victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, when Torres subbed into Chelsea’s comeback win.

His decline at Chelsea found him on loan to Milan, where he transferred before finding another loan back home to Atleti. Now 32, Torres has his most goals since 2013 and is preparing for a Madrid Derby final.

From Sky Sports:

“Tomorrow [Saturday] is the game of my life, without doubt,” said Torres. “To me it means everything. Everything you dream when you’re a kid, I have the chance tomorrow to make this dream come true.

“I’ve played for great teams, and won many things, but this one is special, it is different, it’s what I wanted when I was a kid.”

Later lauding Atleti for giving him the chance “to come back and fight for what I wanted”, Torres is clearly hungry for a bit of redemption. And if his side comes out on top, he’ll likely be a big part of it.

Costa injury sends Kaka into Brazil’s Copa America squad

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 06:  Kaka (R) is seen on the field prior to a MLS soccer match between Real Salt Lake and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 6, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Kaka will not start the season opener due to injury. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
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Orlando City is losing its wizard for a bit.

Kaka, 34, has been called into Dunga’s Brazil squad for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

The move was made after Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa picked up an injury that will cause him to miss the tournament.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]

The 2007 Ballon D’Or winner didn’t play in that year’s Copa America, which Brazil won.

Kaka has two goals and five assists in 7 MLS matches this season, a year after netting nine times with six assists in 28 matches.

Evans to face new rape trial in October

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 28:  Sheffield United player Ched Evans in action during the npower League One game between Sheffield United and Chesterfield at Bramall Lane on March 28, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) A former Premier League player whose rape conviction was overturned will face a new trial in October.

Ched Evans, a Wales international who has played for Manchester City and Sheffield United, appeared in court in Cardiff on Friday and pleaded not guilty to raping a woman at a hotel in May 2011.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed | Speaks more ]

Evans had already served half of a five-year sentence before being released from prison and getting the conviction overturned in April following an appeal.

Evans only spoke briefly to confirm his identity before entering his plea.

The new trial will start on Oct. 4 in Cardiff.

Mourinho: “I prefer to forget the last three years” of Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho is asked for his autograph by fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on October 26, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has immediately begun courting the fans of his new club.

The 53-year-old Portuguese manager may’ve run rivals Chelsea on two occasions, but claims he’s always had empathy with United even when defeating the Old Trafford club.

[ MORE: United hires Mourinho | Things he must do ]

In an interview with Manchester United TV, Mourinho issues some high praise of the club while also managing a bit of classic “The Special One” ego in saying, “Giant clubs must be for the best managers.”

As for the disappointing trio of years between David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, Mourinho says he’d rather consider his tenure in line with the run of Alex Ferguson.

From the BBC:

“I think we can look at our club in two perspectives – one is the past three years and another is the history. I prefer to forget the last three years. I prefer to focus on the giant club I have in my hands now. “

Mourinho has had some time to calculate the best way to endear himself to United supporters, and playing to their belief as the most historic club in the world sure pushes the right buttons.

Now comes the task of delivering titles in a climate more competitive than any other time in modern history.