MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Montréal Impact

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-40L9-SDOo]

One game, 100 words (or less): Amid a summer surge that’s taken the Union from bottom dwellers to postseason aspirants, Jim Curtain’s team gave a “taking care of business” performance, one reminiscent of a team transitioning from insignificance to contention.

Claiming the lead after 12 minutes, the home side took advantage of a ineffective Montréal to double the lead just past the hour mark. Though the last place Impact found consolation late, they failed to make their hosts pay for an approach that ceded 68 percent of the ball.

Philadelphia held on for a 2-1 win, running its unbeaten streak to five, while Montréal fell for the sixth time in a row.

Goals

Philadelphia: Sebastien Le Toux 12′, 63′
Montréal: Maxim Tissot 79′

Three Two moments that mattered:

12′ – Relegation-worthy stuff – After a week were the idea promotion-relegation continued to wilt on the vine, Montréal provided some defending that would draw laughs from the second division. After Matteo Ferrari headed a set piece behind Zac MacMath’s goal, Philadelphia quickly launched a goal kick into the Impact’s half, with Le Toux’s pursuit causing trouble for Patrice Bernier and Krzysztof Krol. Just when it looked like Montréal had recovered, miscommunication on a headed back pass allowed Le Toux to step in, round Troy Perkins, and finish into an open net. Embarrassingly, Montréal was down one.

63′ – Coast-to-coast – Once again, Montréal provides almost no resistance as Philadelphia tried to come out of its own end, only this time, instead of a goal kick leading directly to a score, the have to Union string together a whole four passes. At the end of the exchange, Le Toux catches Perkins guessing, rolling a shot from near the top of the penalty area into the right side of goal.

It was one of only two shots the Union put on target all day, but even after Maxim Tissot halved the lead in the 79th minute, the Union maintained their passive control. Up early, the Union could afford to sit back an wait for Montréal to beat them. By the time that happened, it was too late for the Impact to make up the difference

Lineups

Philadelphia: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, Carlos Valdes, Raymon Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu; Sebastien Le Toux, Vincent Nogueira (Fred 86′), Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 62′); Conor Casey (Brian Brown 72′)
Montréal: Troy Perkins; Eric Miller, Wandrille Lefebvre, Matteo Ferrari, Krzysztof Krol; Patrice Bernier, Gorka Larrea; Justin Mapp (Maxim Tissot 75′), Felipe Martins (Dilly Duka 67′), Andrés Romero, Jack McInerney (Anthony Jackson-Hammel 67′)

Three lessons, going forward:

1. Carlos Valdés’s impact? – The Colombian international made his long-rumored return to Philadelphia this week and instantly went into the first team. The move helped stymy Montréal, holding a team that dominated possession to three shots on target (11 total). Valdes’s nine clearances were over four-times as many as partner Ethan White (2).

2. The trickle down effect – Amobi Okugo was odd-man out today, with Valdes’s acquisition creating a crowded situation at the back and in midfield. Today, Curtain moved Edu into the middle and Okugo out of the team, with Brian Carroll keeping his spot in the XI. Between Christian Maidana and Brian Brown, Philadelphia has similar depth further up the field. The shakeup in defense, however, may have an effect further of the field.

3. Three points or bust – Philly took advantage of Montréal early and waited for an Impact threat that never surfaced. On the back of last week’s performance against Toronto, Frank Klopas’s team looks like an obligatory three points. Teams that slip against them will have no excuses when the missed points impact impact their playoff hopes.

Where this leaves them

  • With Toronto winning in Columbus, Philadelphia’s now in fifth place in the East, albeit with one more game played than the Crew or Revolution.
  • After its 14th loss of the season, Montréal remains eight points behind Chicago or ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

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Swansea City’s bid to slow down steamrolling Liverpool begins at 3 p.m. ET Monday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The rampaging Reds are coming off a 4-3 win that ended Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season, and will hope to avoid a let down against desperate Swans.

The Welsh hosts are six points adrift in the race for Premier League safety, and look set for a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew the only forward. Wilfried Bony and Oliver McBurnie are on the bench along with attack-minded Luciano Narsingh.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Fer, Clucas, Dyer, Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Narsingh, McBurnie, Bony.

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Kevin De Bruyne commits to Man City through 2022-23

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Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, and he’s committing his prime to the club which has taken him to the next level.

[ MORE: How will Arsenal, Man Utd line up? ]

Manchester City announced a new deal for the Belgian wizard, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium through 2023.

De Bruyne, 26, has posted 31 goals and 38 assists for Pep Guardiola‘s men since returning to England from the Bundesliga, and appreciates being given a lot more money. From ManCity.com:

“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one. Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

De Bruyne is in the discussion for a Ballon d’Or finalist spot this year, along with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and others (Hot take: This does seem to be year Ronaldo possibly knocked off, barring a remarkable run in the Champions League or World Cup).

After the swap: Alexis, Mkhi-infused XIs for Man Utd, Arsenal

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The deal is done: Henrikh Mkhitaryan has moved to Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way in a monumental January move.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

How will it look for each side once the shape’s settled?

Arsenal

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at his very best — for Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 — he was deployed as a left or right wing. He contributed 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 matches during his final season at the Westfalenstadion, and predictably saw those numbers drop as Jose Mourinho consistently moved him toward an attacking center midfield role.

He’ll get the chance to go out wide again at the Emirates Stadium, though perhaps not always to the extreme flanks. Expect Alexandre Lacazette‘s numbers to explode with this move.

Arsene Wenger used a 4-3-3 to batter Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with Ozil on the right wing and Alex Iwobi on the left. The club still needs better at center defensive mid while Aaron Ramsey is out, so that will likely keep the lineup similar until he returns (at a minimum):

Cech

Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Montreal

Elneny (Ramsey, eventually)

Xhaka — Wilshere

Ozil — Lacazette — Mkhitaryan

By the way, a lot of Arsenal supporters aren’t feeling great about this (understatement alert):

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez prefers left wing, too, and Mourinho has a trio of in-form players who like that side of the field. Anthony Martial is red hot but plays wider than Jesse Lingard, and it seems one of them will take the slot of Juan Mata to the right of Paul Pogba in a 4-1-4-1. Marcus Rashford could also see the far right positioning.

But against top competition — continued apologies to Burnley — it’s usually a 4-2-3-1 for Mourinho with Pogba dropping next to Nemanja Matic a little deeper in the formation. Lingard has been getting the run as CAM here, usually to the detriment of Juan Mata. With Alexis as the clear-cut left wing in this formation, it causes real combat for the two other slots between Mata, Lingard, Rashford, and Martial.

So while it’s likely we’d see something like this in a big game for Manchester United…

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Pogba

Martial — Lingard —  Sanchez

Lukaku

… We’d love to see something more like this:

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Herrera

Pogba

Martial — Lukaku — Sanchez

How do you think Wenger and Mou will run ’em out?

Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap official (video)

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Arsenal and Manchester United have completed their American-style trade, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez on board the Red Devils’ train.

Both 29 years old, the playmakers arrive at their new homes with plenty to prove.

More to come…