MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 0-3 New England Revolution

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One game, 100 words (or less): Through Jermaine Jones made his Major League Soccer debut, the drama of Saturday’s match was resolved before the U.S. international was subbed on.

With two goals in the first 21 minutes, the visiting Revolution took advantage of a lackadaisical Toronto defense, scoring twice from distance to build an early lead. Seeing little resistance from their hosts, the Revs added a third near the hour, completing an easy 3-0 win at BMO Field.


Toronto FC: None.
New England: Lee Nguyen 2′, Kelyn Rowe 21′, Teal Bunbury 58′

Three moments that mattered:

21′ – More at Bradley’s expense – After opening the scoring through Lee Nguyen in the second minute, New England doubled their lead via Kelyn Rowe, who dribbled past Michael Bradley to create an open shot just outside the Toronto penalty area. Just as on the opener, where Bradley failed to show any urgency to get to a pass from Mark Bloom, Toronto’s biggest star was caught in first gear, with two long shots swaying the match toward New England.

58′ – The final word – It was another play that started with Bradley, though a number of errors occurred after the U.S. star’s contribution to this one. Attempting to switch play just inside New England’s half, Bradley put his pass off Nguyen, with the rebound sparking a New England counter. Moments later, Charlie Davies was playing across the Toronto area to Teal Bunbury, who finished into an empty net to make it 3-0.

65′ – Wasting no time – He’s only been training with New England for four days, but with his team leading 3-0, Jermaine Jones was given room for an extended run out. By the time he stepped onto the field, the game may have been over, but the near-half-hour of playing time will come in handy mid-week. With Scott Caldwell picking up his fifth yellow card, Jones is likely to get his first MLS start on Wednesday against Sporting.


Toronto FC: Joe Bendik; Nick Hagglund, Bradley Orr, Daniel Haber, Mark Bloom; Dominic Oduro (Jackson 68′), Collen Warner, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio (Daniel Lovitz 62′); Luke Moore (Dwayne De Rosario 80′), Gilberto
New England: Bobby Shuttleworth; Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, José Gonçalves, Darius Barnes; Scott Caldwell; Teal Bunbury (Steve Neumann 65′), Lee Nguyen (Diego Fagundez 76′), Daigo Kobayashi (Jermaine Jones 65′), Kelyn Rowe; Charlie Davies

Three lessons going forward:

1. Michael Bradley is not “best player in CONCACAF, Michael Bradley” right now – At his best, Bradley is in that discussion. Right now, he’s clearly not. Typically so active in all phases, Bradley looked worn out, almost injured at points on Saturday. Unfortunately for Toronto, those points included the day’s first two goals.

Via WhoScored.com, New England’s average positions shows Kelyn Rowe, number 11, is still spending much of his time in the middle of the park. Though switching wingers often makes wide midfielders’ average positions deceptive, New England’s second goal shows the damage Rowe can do coming in from the left side.

2. Kelyn Rowe wide. Again. – Lee Nguyen’s partnership with Daigo Kobayashi has had the benefit of settling which midfielder’s Maverick and which one is Goose. Last year, when Rowe was healthy, it wasn’t as clear. Now, with Rowe back healthy, it’s been difficult to fit him into the team, though Jay Heaps may have found a solution.

Leaving Kobayashi in the middle (as the team’s done over the last two games) preserves Nguyen’s comfort zone, while starting Rowe wide allows New England to leverage his skill as needed. Rather than be a second focal point, Rowe can pick his moments to come in and take advantage of space created by his central partners.

On Saturday, that skill produced the game’s second goal, one that permanently put the match in New England’s control. While other teams could probably use those talents through the middle, for New England, a wide-to-in Rowe can complement what already works.

3. Life without Defoe – We’ve looked at Toronto’s attack sans the former England international before. Today, this absence was glaring. The starting duo of Gilberto and Luke Moore combined for zero shots on target.

Where this leaves them:

  • Toronto’s now in the three-way tie for third in the East, one that could be broken if Columbus gets a result at Monday. A New York win (tomorrow) and a Crew result leaves Toronto in sixth place come Monday morning.
  • New England is back in the East’s top five. One of three teams with 33 points, the Revs technically sit third thanks to their 10 wins (one more than Toronto; two more than Columbus).

WATCH: Chelsea’s Chalobah nutmegs two Manchester United players in seconds

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Nathaniel Chalobah of Chelsea is closed down by Paul Pogba of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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For the first time since the 2011-12 season, Nathaniel Chalobah is not on loan and getting the chance to show what he can do for Chelsea.

At the very least, the 21-year-old midfielder has given the club a viral video.

[ MORE: Manchester Derby “a final” ]

Chelsea uploaded a video of Chalobah going double nutmeg on Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Ander Herrera.

Given the opposition, it’s gone quite well to the tune of several hundred thousand views inside of four hours.

Watch the ex-Watford, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading, and Napoli man go.

BVB boss Tuchel not worried about Real Madrid links

SHENZHEN, CHINA - JULY 27:  Thomas Tuchel, head coach of Dortmund looks on during team training session for 2016 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at Shenzhen Universiade Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Shenzhen, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Less than five months have passed since Real Madrid won the Champions League final, yet in Florentino Perez’s mind that’s a lifetime. ()

Real’s president is anything but patient with managers, the latest example being Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian was fired a year after winning the club’s long-desired Decima and losing a whopping 19 of 119 matches in charge.

[ MORE: Manchester Derby “a final” ]

So even though Real Madrid leads La Liga under Zinedine Zidane and won the UCL last season, people are always imagining the future.

Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel’s style of play has captured the imaginations of so many supporters. And with BVB president Hans-Joachim Watzke claiming that Real is tracking the German, the questions are heading for Tuchel.

From Goal.com:

“It’s dangerous if you are flattered as a coach.You lose focus on the important things. I read it as a rumour before our game in Ingolstadt and so I already said back then that it’s dangerous to admit it and to think about it because it takes on too much importance.”

There’s no reason for Tuchel to have to ask those questions. Perez has called Zidane’s appointment one of his proudest moments, and that was just three days ago. Even in Perez’s world, that’s only a solid month, maybe two. %tags%

“It is a final” — Manchester Derby day finds both City, United craving win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10:  Images of Pep Guardiola the manager of Manchester City and Jose Mourinho of Manchester United are seen on a scarf ahead of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on September 10, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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It’s bonus Manchester Derby Day thanks to the EFL Cup, and so many eyes will be trained on Old Trafford come 3 p.m. ET.

There’s plenty at stake on the day, as both Manchester United and Manchester City have undergone a run of disappointing play in recent weeks.

[ MORE: Tues’ EFL Cup roundup ]

United was spanked 4-0 by Chelsea on Sunday, bringing their Premier League run to 1W-2D-1L over four games. City’s had it far worse, winless in five with a trio of draws in the mix.

For those considering that this derby could take on any lesser feel, rest assured that longtime rival bosses Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will not be operating at full blast (even with rumors of youth-heavy teams on Wednesday).

Here’s Guardiola, from Sky Sports:

“I think everyone can believe this competition is not the big one but I am going to prepare to win the game.

“For the players who play, we’ll be depending on them to make the best performance possible. It is a final.”

Mourinho seems under special pressure given the losses against Man City and Chelsea in the Premier League, ones in which the genius was clearly outfoxed. He was talking about the PL when he said Tuesday that Man Utd needed wins, but there’s little doubt he’ll want to lose to City at home in any competition.

Get your proverbial and actual popcorn ready.

‘Ravens’ challenge soccer orthodoxy in Belarus

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) Less than three years ago, Alexander Skshinetsky’s soccer career seemed over.

The former under-21 international found himself unemployed after his career stalled, and was working on construction sites when an offer came. Would he consider joining an amateur team that had been playing seven-a-side soccer but now wanted to go pro, founded by a small group of fans staking thousands of dollars of their own money to build a club from scratch?

Two seasons and two promotions later, the 26-year-old midfielder is a key player in one of European soccer’s most unlikely success stories. In only its third professional season, Krumkachy Minsk is playing top-flight soccer, beating established names and challenging the economic orthodoxy in one of Europe’s most closed-off countries.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

Krumkachy – “Ravens” in Belarusian – has soared into the country’s top league with a shoestring budget but an enthusiastic and growing fan base of hipsters, families and others turned off by the stagnation of soccer in the ex-Soviet nation. Before a recent run of losses, it was even challenging for Europa League qualification.

The secret has been finding talented players on the verge of leaving the game, or even those who have already quit, “people who have been underestimated and put down,” in the words of co-founder Denis Shunto, who set up Krumkachy with friends in 2011. “We get those guys and we can really make them into a team.”

After starting out in recreational competitions, Shunto and his friends decided to aim higher. Belarusian soccer has a three-tier league system packed with clubs backed by various government agencies and state-run factories in the country’s Soviet-style economy, a set-up which prefers predictability over ambition and can give rise to conflicts of interest. With a spot open in the third tier, but without a state patron, Krumkachy scraped together a few thousand dollars to apply. Each subsequent step up the pyramid brought predictions of imminent financial collapse.

“Everyone said we wouldn’t have the money, we couldn’t take part,” said Skshinetsky, the midfielder. “We played for free in the second division, and in the first division it wasn’t much. Maybe $100 for a win in the first division and salaries maybe $150 (a month).”

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

On a freezing Friday night in Minsk, the crowd was small and the game scrappy. Goalkeeping errors helped to hand Krumkachy a 2-1 win which all but ensured the club’s top-flight survival for 2017 in the Belarusian league’s calendar-year system. Financial survival is always a trickier question.

“We’ve got the smallest budget (in the league) and we’re still putting money in ourselves,” said Shunto, who wonders if the approach of going without government funding may be “too romantic.”

At Friday’s game, commercial tie-ups were prominent and Krumkachy’s shirts were covered in a myriad of small logos from various businesses which have chipped in as sponsors, while opposition Granit Mikashevichi bore only the logo of its backer, a state-run quarry. Consumerism may be the norm in most European leagues, but in Belarus’ state-dominated economy, it’s the mark of the plucky underdog.

After ending a nine-game wait for victory, the players came over to celebrate with the sparse crowd. An hour later, the reserve players were still sharing the field with fans and their children having a kickabout.

“It’s an atmosphere like home, very warm. It’s been helping the guys not to give up,” said Vasily Khomutovsky, one of Krumkachy’s two co-coaches.

At a recent away game, “a woman with two children who went there, with two small kids 7 and 10 years old, she made each player a little souvenir by hand and signed it, something different for each player,” Khomutovsky said.

There’s a family atmosphere within the club, too, with Shunto’s brother serving as a backup goalkeeper and Skshinetsky’s wife in charge of fitness training.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Going to the playoffs edition ]

Vladimir Harlach, one of the team’s supporters, said Krumkachy reminds him of AFC Wimbledon, the English club founded by fans after owners relocated its previous incarnation to another town, and which has since shot up several divisions.

“That’s a bit different, there was history,” Harlach said. “Here, it’s from scratch. History is being written in front of our eyes. You could compare it to other countries 100 years ago, when (soccer) was all being created.”

Krumkachy’s average home attendance of about 1,500 is tiny by European standards, but enough to put it comfortably above all but the biggest clubs in Belarus, as well as higher than that of FC Minsk, the city government-run club whose stadium Krumkachy is using.

Some at the club wonder whether European qualification might be possible next year, another improbable step up, but the top spot in Belarus appears far out of reach. Able to outspend rivals with cash from occasional Champions League appearances, BATE Borisov has just sewn up its 11th straight title.

Khomutovsky welcomes the comparison to Leicester, a team which was promoted to top division in England, survived one season, then won a wildly unlikely title the following year.

“I hope next year,” Khomutovsky said, “we do what we can to become the Belarusian Leicester.”