MLS snapshot: Second half surge sees Seattle top Houston

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Over 50,000 fans packed into CenturyLink field, as the Seattle Sounders beat the Houston Dynamo 2-0 on Sunday.

Second half strikes from Marco Pappa and Gonzale Pindea were enough to hand the Sounders their first win in three games as they continued their push for the 2014 Supporters’ Shield. The win was soured by a late red card for Obafemi Martins but despite that minor blip Sigi Schmid will be delighted with his sides performance.

With the win Schmid recorded his 200th MLS victory as a head coach. The first manager in MLS history to reach that milestone.

[RELATED: ‘Caps, Chicago bag big wins]

The turf field was looking a little strange in Seattle as recent maintenance work had left black patches and patterns all over the pitch. A tight encounter played out on that surface as the Dynamo took the game to Seattle early on in search of their first road win in six.

In the 26th minute Houston squandered the perfect opportunity to the take the lead as they were awarded a penalty kick by referee Chris Penso after Djimi Traore was adjudged to have handled in the box. However Brad Davis’ penalty kick was saved by Stefan Frei. The U.S. national team winger performed a stutter-step and tamely slotted his left-footed effort to Frei’s left but the big Swiss ‘keeper got down and kept the scores level.

Houston continued to push throughout the first half and Davis’ outswinging corner was headed just over the bar by Ricardo Clark. Seattle gradually came into the game as Martins and Lamar Neagle tried to get in behind but Tally Hall had little to do in an even first half at CenturyLink.

In the second half Houston continued to look lively in attack and Giles Barnes was went clean through but saw his shot blocked by a combination of Frei’s foot and Seattle defender Chad Marshall. Shortly after Martins looked to have been fouled in the box but play was waved on despite protests from the home crowd. The second half turned into a sloppy affair but in the 69th minute Pappa wriggled free of his marker on the edge of the box and drilled a shot goalwards which deflected off of David Horst’s standing leg and past Hall into the net. The deadlock was finally broken.

Less than five minutes later Seattle doubled their lead as Clark was clearly holding Martins in the box as a free kick arrived from the left. Referee Penso pointed to the spot for the second time in the match and Pineda slammed the ball home despite Hall getting his body behind the ball but the sheer power beat him. Late on Martins slid in and was shown a second yellow card and his marching order by Penso as the Nigerian striker will now miss Seattle’s pivotal trip to Real Salt Lake next weekend.

With the win Seattle go back to the top of the West on 41 points from 21 games, while Houston stay five points off a playoff spot in the East and sit in ninth.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out:

Champions League last 16 draw sets up huge clashes

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The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League did not disappoint.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

We have some monster clashes with Chelsea facing Barcelona, once again, and the reigning champs Real Madrid paired with the favorites Paris Saint-Germain.

With five Premier League teams remaining, Tottenham have been handed a tough draw against Italian champions Juventus who were also runners up in the UCL last season, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool will all be rather happy with their draws.

United have been drawn against Spanish side Sevilla, Liverpool will face FC Porto and Man City clash with Basel.

Below is the draw in full, while UEFA has also released the schedule for the games with Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and Man United all playing their second legs at home.


Report: Whitecaps teen sensation Davies could have Man United trial

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The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup saw a lot of young faces in competition, and one name that really seemed to stick came from Canada’s national team.

[ MORE: Five players LA FC should consider selecting in MLS Expansion Draft ]

Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Alphonso Davies has been doing it for both club and country since making his Major League Soccer debut in 2016, and now the young Canada international could be making a massive leap.

According to CTV Edmonton, the 17-year-old has been contacted by Premier League side Manchester United for a trial in January.

Davies would need clearance from the Whitecaps to join the Red Devils to train, however, with it being MLS’ offseason it’s hard to imagine the Cascadia club not allowing the former Edmonton Strikers player to seize the opportunity.

In 2017, Davies appeared in 26 matches for the Whitecaps and registered one assist for Carl Robinson’s side.

Davies has already become a regular with the Canada national team, after previously receiving call ups from the Under-15, U-18 and U-20 teams.

Five players LA FC should consider selecting in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC will take another big step towards its entry into Major League Soccer next season on Tuesday when the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft commences.

Bob Bradley and his side will have the opportunity to select up to five players during the Expansion Draft, however, the team can only choose one player per club.

[ MORE: Rimando, Pontius among MLS free agents ]

MLS sides had to select their list of 11 protected players by Sunday evening in order to put them off limits from LA FC. Any player not protected by their club is available for selection.

After exploring some of the names of those left unprotected, PST takes a look at five players LA FC should select in Tuesday’s Expansion Draft.

Maxime Chanot — (CB from New York City FC)

He’s 28 years old, and helped build one of the better central defensive partnerships in MLS last season with Alex Callens, prior to his injury. NYCFC could be banking on the fact that his injury will prevent him from getting back to his previous level, but there’s no question Chanot is the sort of player that could anchor the LA FC back line for five-plus seasons.

David Ousted — (GK from Vancouver Whitecaps)

Made 90-plus saves in four of his five seasons with the Whitecaps, and overall one of the top goalkeepers in MLS. The Denmark native has recorded 36 shutouts in his time with the Cascadia side, and helped guide the Whitecaps to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference in 2017. With Real Salt Lake not picking up Nick Rimando’s contract, the veteran USMNT shot-stopper could also be an option for LA FC, however, Ousted is younger and arguably better at this stage of his career.

Marco Urena — (FWD from San Jose Earthquakes)

The 27-year-old may not be on many people’s radars, but the Costa Rican had five goals and three assists last season for the Quakes. Urena was tied for second on the team in goals, and provides a solid veteran player on a new LA FC side. While Carlos Vela will be the focal point up front for the newcomers, Urena is the sort of player that could player a very important supporting role.

Osvaldo Alonso — (MID from Seattle Sounders)

The Designated Player contract could scare LA FC away because Alonso is 32 years old, but this is the type of guy you want in the center of the park. For nine seasons, Alonso has anchored the Sounders midfield, and he does all the dirty work that could very well help the transition of the expansion side’s back line in 2018.

Chris Tierney — (DEF from New England Revolution

Similar to Alonso, Tierney isn’t going to be the sexiest pick, but he’s had the MLS experience, and he’s likely a player that could move on from a team where he’s spent his entire career. His versatility in the midfield and defensively allows Tierney to be a highly-coveted asset, especially as a player that is capable of delivering a quality cross from down the left flank.