Gyasi Zardes

MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 2-2 San Jose Earthquakes

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One game, 100 words or less: Don’t need 100 words for this California Clasico.

LA dominated possession (70% of it), San Jose struck early on the counter, the hosts finally took advantage of their possession, San Jose hung on for dear life, it finished level.

About sums it up.

Goals

San Jose – Wondolowski 18′, Garcia 31′
LA Galaxy – Zardes 29′, Gonzalez 49′

Three moments that mattered:

18′ – Wondo strikes on the counter – A shot from Marcelo Sarvas was blocked as the Galaxy dominated possession and shots on goal, and the ball fell kindly to San Jose for a breakaway. Shea Salinas did the hard work through the middle of the pitch, and he found Chris Wondolowski in the 18-yard-box one-on-two. The USMNT striker worked himself space for a shot from a very tight angle, but it didn’t matter. Wondo pinpointed the far corner and struck it on a dime with a low shot.

29′ – Zardes breaks through – With the Galaxy clearly the team on top despite their deficit, the home side pelted the San Jose defense with shots. Robbie Keane thought he’d put a shot on goal, but the blocked attempt fell to Gyasi Zardes right next to him. The in-form striker had plenty of the goal to aim at with Jon Busch wrong-footed on the block, and he struck a curling ball past a lunging Busch and home for the equalizer.

49′ – Gonzalez levels again –  After Matias Perez Garcia netted in the first half to put San Jose up again – and again on the counter – LA needed just four minutes to equalize again. A set piece did the trick, as Omar Gonzalez beat Atiba Harris in the corner scrum and headed home the goal. It was a poor showing by Busch as well as Salinas, as the header squeaked between the pair covering the near post.

LINEUPS

LA Galaxy – Penedo; Gargan (Hoffman 89′), Gonzalez, DLG, Rogers; Ishizaki (Jamieson 82′), Sarvas (Husidic 80′), Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Zardes.

San Jose – Busch; Francis, Bernardez (Harden 70′), Hernandez, Stewart; Harris, Cronin, Pierazzi, Salinas (Cato 89′), Perez Garcia (Koval 83′); Wondolowski.

Three lessons going forward:

1. The Galaxy are vulnerable on the counter – LA controlled much of this match, but their high-pressing style made them weak at the back, and with a few lucky bounces San Jose took full advantage. This isn’t anything terribly novel, but teams can sit back and frustrate the Galaxy and still bear fruit on the other end.

2. Wondolowski finally has a capable partner – The signing of new Designated Player Matias Perez Garcia may not be enough this year to save the Earthquakes’ season, but over the long term it will heavily benefit Chris Wondolowski to have another dangerous player. Wondo’s brilliant backheel to Perez this game for San Jose’s second goal was a beauty, and the new boy knew exactly where to be on the counter. With more possession, this pair could be dangerous.

3. The Galaxy will be fine once Donovan is gone – Already no longer the focal point of his team’s attack, Donovan is a very important player, but he’s no longer irreplacable. Gyasi Zardes is a very capable front man who is also a creative producer, and the team has a compliment of creative midfielders who will take over the roles. With so much possession tonight, the team was able to dish the ball to just about every option and give each player a chance to show what they’re capable of.

Where this leaves them: A point unfortunately helps neither side.

LA Galaxy – The Galaxy for now go ahead of FC Dallas and into sole possession of the Western Conference’s third spot on 34 points, but with FC Dallas set to play, a point may not be enough to secure the spot long-term. They do stay unbeaten in now nine straight home matches, and four straight overall.
San Jose –
If the Earthquakes wish to make a push for the playoffs, they’ll want more than a point. They were dominated, but hitting back on the counter, two goals could have been enough. Instead, they move to 24 points and still wallow back in eighth place.

Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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Designing the perfect UEFA Champions League Round of 16

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 06:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona chips the ball over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Muenchen to score his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, first leg match between FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Muenchen at Camp Nou on May 6, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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With 16 teams settled into their spots for Monday’s UEFA Champions League draw, what would be the most tantalizing octet of matches for February’s Round of 16.

We’ll include a full list of seeded and unseeded teams at the bottom so you can pair ’em up however you like, but let’s start with our best ideas.

Remember: Teams can neither be drawn against teams from their own domestic leagues, or against the other advancing team from their group stage quartets.

[ MORE: USMNT GK off to Belgium? ]

Let’s begin with the reigning champions. Real Madrid is unseeded, and cannot draw Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund. Our vote would be Juventus and a reprisal of the 2015 final in Berlin.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane would not be pleased.

Staying in Spain, seeded Barcelona only knows it will avoid Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Sevilla. We’re interested in attractive soccer, so how about a bombastic battle with Bayern Munich.

Manchester City is the lone Premier League team in the unseeded pool, and cannot face Arsenal, Leicester City, or Barcelona. We’re thinking Sky Blue vs. Sky Blue, and a match-up with Napoli.

Leicester City completes the Premier League trio. Given our above draw and group mates Porto, that leaves Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen, Sevilla, and PSG as potential rivals. We’ll chose Bayer Leverkusen as the match-up likely gives the Foxes their best chance to hit the snooze button and keep dreaming.

The biggest name left is Paris Saint-Germain (with apologies to BVB). Unai Emery’s bunch would be left with Atletico Madrid as the lone option, and another tete-a-tete between the ex-Sevilla boss and Diego Simeone works for us.

Now Arsenal… who do you draw with the hopes of a quarterfinal berth in ages? The remaining options are Benfica, Sevilla, and Porto. We’ll give Benfica a trip to the Emirates, leaving Porto to face Monaco, and Sevilla on the road to Borussia Dortmund.

Our final draw:
Arsenal vs. Benfica
Monaco vs. Porto
Borussia Dortmund vs. Sevilla
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli vs. Manchester City
Leicester City vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Juventus vs. Real Madrid


Seeded
Arsenal
Atletico Madrid
Barcelona
Napoli
Monaco
Leicester City
Juventus
Borussia Dortmund

Unseeded
Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich
Manchester City
Benfica
Bayer Leverkusen
Porto
Sevilla
Real Madrid

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Europa League preview: Saints, Man Utd hope to join Spurs in Round of 32

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Yuto Nagatomo of Internazionale (R) and Ivan Perisic of Internazionale close down Nathan Redmond of Southampton during the UEFA Europa League Group K match between Southampton FC and FC Internazionale Milano at St Mary's Stadium on November 3, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Tottenham Hotspur will be seeded in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 32. What do Manchester United and Southampton need to do Thursday to join them?

Both the Red Devils and Saints enter the final group stage match day in their respective groups’ second place, but only United can claim a seeded place in the Round of 32.

[ UCL: Scenarios for Premier League sides ]

United can still win Group A, and would need to better Fenerbahce’s result on Thursday. Jose Mourinho’s men are in Ukraine against bottom-dwelling Zorya Luhansk, while Fener are away at Feyenoord.

Manchester United will advance with a draw, and could also go through if they lose and Feyenoord doesn’t defeat Fenerbahce.

As for Saints, Claude Puel‘s men are level with Hapoel Be’er Sheva and welcome the Israel side to St. Mary’s after drawing 0-0 in the reverse fixture.

Southampton needs to beat Hapoel or hold them to a scoreless draw. A scoring draw would push HBS through via road goals.

Full UEL schedule

11 a.m. EDT
Konyarspor vs. Gent
Qarabag vs. Fiorentina
Osmanlispor vs. Zurich
Braga vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Villarreal vs. Steaua Bucuresti
PAOK vs. Liberece

1 p.m. EDT
Vikrotia Plzen vs. Austria Wien
Apoel Nicosia vs. Olympiacos
Sassuolo vs. Genk
Anderlecht vs. Saint-Etienne
Zorya Luhansk vs. Manchester United
Rapid Wien vs. Athletic Bilbao
Young Boys vs. Astana
AZ Alkmaar vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Feyenoord vs. Fenerbahce
Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. Dundalk
Mainz vs. Gabala
Astra Giurgiu vs. Roma

3:05 p.m. EDT
Panathinaikos vs. Celta Vigo
Standard Liege vs. Ajax
Inter Milan vs. Sparta Prague
Southampton vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva
RB Salzburg vs. Schalke
Nice vs. Krasnodar

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