MLS Snapshot: Montréal Impact 2-0 Columbus Crew

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One game, 100 words (or less): The momentum Columbus build in recent wins over Los Angeles and Houston failed to make it through customs, with the last place Impact opening the scoring before halftime. The Crew’s second half pressure never evolved into chances on goal, and when Marco Di Vaio drew the defense’s attention in stoppage time, Ignacio Piatti was set up for his second score of the night,. The Argentine’s first two MLS goals gave Montréal the 2-0 win, ending Columbus’s two-game winning run.

Goals

Montréal: Ignacio Piatti 40′, 93′
Columbus: None

Three moments that mattered:

40′ – Piatti’s payoff –  A deserved breakthrough for a home team that tested the Columbus defense from the get go, but whereas many of those tests came via through balls from deep, the home side’s opener came in transition, allowing the team’s new Designated Player to record his first MLS goal. After Ignacio Piatti broke down the Crew defense, converting from just inside the penalty area, the Impact had a 1-0 lead, the third straight match Frank Klopas’s team had drawn first blood.

71′ – Di Vaio’s chance – Columbus took control out of intermission, but a Montréal defense showing a newfound resilience managed to keep the Impact in front. In the 71st minute, with the Crew pushing, the home side had a chance to put the game away, creating a chance for Marco Di Vaio on the counter. From the right of goal, the former All-Star nearly found the gap between Steve Clark and his near post. The shot into the right side-netting left Columbus within one.

93′ – Caught in pursuit – The Crew’s push for an equalizer finally bit them in added time when another Di Vaio counter drew the attention of the two defenders kept behind the ball. Free in the right of the area, Piatti waited out a moment’s chaos for his chance at a second, with his finish high into Clark’s net giving his new team its 2-0 result.

Lineups

Montréal: Evan Bush; Hassoun Camara, Matteo Ferrari, Wandrille Lefebvre, Krsysztof Krol; Patrice Bernier (Callum Mallace 80′), Felipe Martins; Andrés Romero (Eric Miller 88′), Dilly Duka (Maxim Tissot 63′), Ignacio Piatti; Marco Di Vaio
Columbus Crew: Steve Clark; Eric Gehrig (Héctor Jiménez 59′), Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Justin Meram (Ben Speas 76′); Federico Higuaín; Adam Bedell (Aaron Schoenfeld 67′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Montréal isn’t rolling over – This is the same lesson as last week, but given how long we’ve seen Montréal’s struggles (and how low our expectations have become), it’s going to take a while to believe. Piatti  makes them more dangerous, while playing Felipe’s presence behind him, Dilly Duka, and Andrés Romero gives the team a totally different look. Maybe we just need time to get used to that look before we consider Montréal.

2. Disappointment need not mean panic for Columbus – A win today would have helped Columbus pull clear of the five-team cluster fighting for the East’s last three playoff posts. In that sense, today’s loss is disappointing, but the team didn’t play that bad. The lack of a danger man in front of Federico Higuaín is a problem, but that’s nothing new. Though Columbus fans surely would have loved the team’s home form to make it over the border, the Crew weren’t going to be world-beaters forever. And at some point, despite the team’s record, you have to give credit to Montréal.

3. Berhalter will need some imagination in midfield – Tony Tchani’s first half yellow card leaves the Columbus midfielder suspended for next weekend’s visit from Chivas USA. Wil Trapp, electing to take a professional foul on Piatti late, will join his teammate on the sidelines, testing Berhalter’s imagination in midfield. Tchani’s up to seven yellow cards on the season. Trapp now has five.

Where this leaves them:

  • Montréal’s still lodged in the East’s cellar, but with its fifth victory of the season, the Impact are no longer last in the win column. Five victories leave Montréal one win ahead of Chicago.
  • Columbus remains in a three-way tie for third in the East, but they’ve played more games than both New England and Toronto.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga