MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-3 Toronto FC

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One game, 100 words (or less): For the second time this season, Toronto visited Crew Stadium without Jermain Defoe, and for the second time this season, the Reds leave Ohio with a victory. Thanks to goals Gilberto, Jonathan Osorio, and Luke Moore, TFC never trailed, answering equalizers from Federico Higuaín and Justin Meram with Moore’s 84th minute winner. In game which saw both sides with stretches of control, Toronto’s execution (and some Crew failings) in front of goal was the difference, allowing the Reds to claim their third win of the year over Columbus, 3-2.

Goals:

Columbus: Higuaín (p.k.) 47′, Meram 81′
Toronto: Gilberto 43′, Osorio 59′, Moore 84′

Three moments that mattered:

45+2′ – The Comeback, Part I – After a lazy giveaway and a lack of urgency in the 43rd minute, the Crew allowed Gilberto to put Toronto in front, and edge that only lasted four minutes. After Justin Morrow was whistled for a handball in the first minute of stoppage time, Higuaín buried his ninth goal of the season, wiping his team’s slate clean after a poorly conceded goal.

81′ – The Comeback, Part II – After more suspect Crew defending allowed Jonathan Osorio to finish into an empty net just before the hour, the Crew received a blessing: A cross from Justin Meram that left Joe Bendik in no man’s land. Electing to stay on his line as the ball came in from his right, Bendik was frozen as the cross flew over Aaron Schoenfeld’s head six yards from goal and inside the far post, giving Meram an unlikely equalizer.

84′ – The final response – When a team responds to two equalizers by finding a way to claim full points, it’s easy to say something like “they wouldn’t be denied,” but on Luke Moore’s winning tally, the cliché applied. Jumping to the ground and away from goal on an 84th minute corner, the former Chivas USA man headed in the winner from just over five years out, shrugging off his mark to deliver Toronto’s 3-2 win.

Lineups

Columbus: Steve Clark; Eric Gehrig (Aaron Schoenfield 79′), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchiani, Ben Speas (Justin Meram 64′); Federico Higuaín; Adam Bedell (Jairo Arrieta 63′)
Toronto: Joe Bednik; Warren Creavalle, Nick Hagglund, Doniel Henry, Justin Morrow; Dominic Oduro (Jackson 61′), Michael Bradley, Collen Warner, Jonanthan Osario; Luke Moore (Kyle Bekker 92′), Gilberto

Three lessons going forward:

1. Lines of delineation – As we saw with Toronto’s recent struggles against D.C. United, the results leave no doubt about the different in quality between the Reds and Columbus. Ryan Nelsen’s team has took all nine points from the Crew this season, securing eight goals in three games. Just as there’s a clear difference in quality between the East’s second and third place teams, Columbus have shown themselves to be on a lower level than Toronto.

2. Life alright without Defoe – When it was announced Toronto’s leading scorer would be out for 2-3 weeks, we ran the numbers. On Saturday, the Reds defied those results. This was the first time this year Toronto has scored more than two without Defoe in the team.

3. Lack of … something, from the Crew – After the game, Gregg Berhalter said there were “four or five” sub-par performances from his team, and when you see the nature of the Crew’s goals, you see a game that could have been worse. For all its quality in some places on the field, Columbus only generated four shots on target. Toronto had eight.

Where this leaves them:

  • The loss means Columbus drops one place in the East, with Philadelphia’s win pushing the Union into the top five.
  • Toronto firms up its grip on third place, now sitting four points clear of the fourth place Red Bulls.

Sporting KC claims its fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (video)

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Latif Blessing and Daniel Salloi scored as Sporting KC held on to beat New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the 104th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park in Missouri.

Bradley Wright-Phillips blasted a Gonzalo Veron rebound beyond Tim Melia in the first minute of stoppage time to set up a nervy final five minutes. It was the Red Bulls’ second final, and second loss.

The win marks KC’s fourth title, tied for the most amongst active clubs, and its third in six tournaments.

KC now qualifies for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.

[ MORE: Pulisic scores 10th BVB goal ]

Sporting KC could’ve been down a man within five minutes, as referee Hilario Grajeda was handing out a yellow card to Seth Sinovic when Diego Rubio inexplicably kicked Felipe Martins in the ankle. It went unseen, and VAR is not a part of the final.

Gerson arrived on the doorstep with the ball and instead side-footed a pass that never got to Benny Feilhaber, a huge let-off for the Red Bulls.

Sacha Kljestan ripped a shot through traffic that forced a save out of Tim Melia in the 14th minute.

KC went ahead when Graham Zusi’s cross was somehow missed by a trio of Red Bulls defenders, allowing Blessing to pound a header home.

Benny Feilhaber committed a pair of fouls to allow a Red Bulls free kick from just outside the 18 and the end line, but the chance was blocked. A counter attack pass from Blessing sprung Gerso on a breakaway, but Ryan Meara blocked the shot.

Meara made another save after the first ball off the ensuing corner cranked off the cross bar.

Feilhaber then cued up Salloi for the insurance marker, before tournament leading scorer Wright-Phillips pulled one back for New York.

Ike Opara ripped down Wright-Phillips in the sixth of six stoppage time minutes, earning a yellow card and giving RBNY a free kick from 23 yards. Felipe skied his effort over the bar.

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 3-5 Montreal Impact (video)

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The match in about 100 words: Well, here’s a formula for ending Toronto FC’s 11-match unbeaten run –

  1. Hope they don’t use Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Victor Vazquez.
  2. Have your best player ball out of control.

Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti did just that, scoring twice and adding an assist in the first half alone. A 42nd minute own goal from Montreal opened the door to home hope, but Anthony Jackson-Hamel continued his breakout campaign with two goals in four minutes. Tosaint Ricketts scored a pair of late headers to complete the score line.

Toronto FC’s home crowd didn’t see arguably its three top performers of the season, and did see something it hadn’t this year: a home loss. That it was a derby loss won’t feel good for the Reds, who also gave oxygen to their rivals’ flickering playoff hopes.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

12′ — Michael Bradley clears TFC’s runway — Not the finest moment for Captain America, as Marco Donadel opens up his laser and fires.

24′ — “When defenders fall down” — …And when they do it in front of Nacho, inside the 18.

47′ — AJH puts it to bed — It wasn’t Toronto’s night, and a bad back pass met tepid decision-making and one of the sleepy breakout players of MLS in Anthony Jackson-Hamel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Piatti

Goal scorers: Piatti (10′, 24′), Donadel (12′), Boldor (o.g. 42′), Jackson-Hamel (47′, 51′), Ricketts (77′, 79′).

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 4-0 LA Galaxy (video)

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The match in 100 words (or less): Somewhere, Atlanta United is still scoring now with 19 goals in its last five outings. The “Five Stripes” fired at will for the second-straight game, leading 3-0 before Jermaine Jones made it academic with a silly red card. Yamil Asad had two goals and two assists in the first half, while Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez also scored. For Martinez, it’s seven goals in seven days. LA has quit, and Tata Martino’s Atlanta may just pose a threat to Toronto FC’s presumed MLS Cup Final spot.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

13′ — Maaaaayyyybe defend, LA? — It’s one thing for Rafael Garcia to back off and back off and back off and back off Yamil Asad. It’s another thing to fail in any attempt to mark the hottest scorer in MLS: Josef Martinez.

20′ — Three goals in seven minutes — About that “defending”… woof. This is a straight-up passing drill for ATL.

39′ — Jermaine Jones rolls back the years (not in a good way) — The combustible midfielder showed that vibes haven’t settled in LA despite Sigi Schmid’s presence, taking an easy red considering VAR’s abilities for dragging his cleat in the direction of a fellow human’s spine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Asad

Goal scorers: Martinez (13′), Asad (16′, 20′), Almiron (43′)

Atletico Madrid to host 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final

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The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Final is headed to Madrid.

Atletico Madrid announced that next season’s final will be played at the recently-opened Wanda Metropolitano, making Atleti the fourth Spanish club to host a UCL final (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla).

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational goal ]

Atleti raves of its new home, “The Wanda Metropolitano can seat 68,000 spectators and is at the technological forefront due to agreements with top companies in their sector.”

This season’s final will be played at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, the home of the Ukraine national team and Dynamo Kiev.

The UCL Final was last in Madrid at the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu, for Inter Milan’s triumph over Bayern Munich in 2010.