“Gutted” Toronto FC rues blowout loss to New England

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TORONTO, CANADA — This was not the year that Toronto FC would be talking about playoff-spot six-pointers in August, much less losing them.

But there was Bradley Orr, a former Premier League back, emotionally stung. The defender was bemoaning the missed chances and soft goals in a 3-0 spanking at the hands of the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

We feel gutted at the moment,” Orr said. “Really disappointed. But we’ve got to shake that off immediately because we got a game Wednesday. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we have to dust ourselves down and go again. We have to show a bit of character now and go up against Philadelphia on Wednesday and win.”

[ RELATED — MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 0-3 New England ]

[ RELATED — Revolution feeling boosted by Jermaine Jones ]

The ‘gutted’ nature of things is understandable. Sure, TFC is missing integral pieces Jermain Defoe, Steven Caldwell and Justin Morrow, and taking just one point from three games happens almost every season.

But it’s how the losses have gone down. Toronto bookended a disappointing home draw against Chicago by getting blown out at Sporting KC and New England.

The Revolution’s Jermaine Jones was the USMNT midfielder walking off the field with three points, not TFC’s Michael Bradley. He was the player whose signing was supposed to foretell the long-desired greatness at BMO Field.

Yet Bradley, unsurprisingly, is keeping an even keel despite the piling-up losses. TFC went 2-2-1 in August, but is still in the catbird seat for the playoffs due to their low numbers of games played.

Must win? No,” Bradley said. “There are still a lot of games left, a lot of football to be played and a lot of points on the table. It was a big game but they all are… The important thing is to respond in a strong way and get ourselves ready for Wednesday.”

Of course he’s right, and Defoe should be back soon to help right the ship (We know how crucial strikers are in MLS… and everywhere).

But what about TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen? He certainly must be feeling pressure, but didn’t let on.

“We write this one off,” Nelsen said. “This is football. We are still in a lovely position, we move on and we have a really important game on Wednesday.”

Toronto is far from cooked and, while I wouldn’t label their position ‘lovely’, they should be just fine. But with the gap from third place to eighth place a mere seven points in the East, the good kind of desperation needs to creep into their play.

The Reds will face Philadelphia in Pennsylvania on Wednesday in a match that could draw the two teams level.

FOLLOW LIVE: Chelsea kicks off Champions League day

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There’s a Premier League side in action to kick off another day of UEFA Champions League action.

Chelsea is in Baku for a Noon ET match-up with Azerbaijan side Qarabag. A win boosts the Blues into the knockout rounds. CSKA Moscow and Benfica kickoff in Russia at the same time.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Here’s Antonio Conte‘s Starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger; Zappacosta, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro.

Manchester United is in Basel as one of six 2:45 p.m. ET kickoffs

Full schedule
Qarabag vs. Chelsea — Noon ET
CSKA Moscow vs. Benfica — Noon ET
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Celtic — 2:45 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. Barcelona — 2:45 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. Roma — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon vs. Olympiacos — 2:45 p.m. ET
Anderlecht vs. Bayern Munich — 2:45 p.m. ET
Basel vs. Manchester United — 2:45 p.m. ET

PST Survey results: Most exciting USMNT prospect

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Today’s question: Excluding Christian Pulisic, who’s no longer a prospect despite being just 19, who is the most exciting USMNT prospect.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

Exciting performances in the U-20 and U-17 World Cups have given United States men’s national team fans plenty of hope for the future.

The most-mentioned write-in, collecting across all attempting spellings, was injured Arsenal playmaker Gedion Zelalem.

As for the serious contenders, Jonathan Gonzalez, Andrew Carleton Tyler Adams, and Lynden Gooch lagged behind this pack of four:

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 14 percent — He had a howling back pass in Sheffield United’s 5-4 loss to Fulham on Wednesday, but the on-loan Spurs 19-year-old center back is playing every minute for a club very much in the mix for Premier League promotion.

Weston McKennie — 18 percent — Another 19-year-old, McKennie was one of the Men of the Match as Schalke went second in the Bundesliga this weekend. He’s been a regular starter when healthy, and played advanced, central, and set back in Schalke’s midfield. Next up: a Revierderby meeting with Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund.

Josh Sargent — 21 percent — Off to Werder Bremen when he turns 18 in late February, Sargent has four goals in five matches for the U.S. U-20s, and 14 in 29 for the U-17s. That includes four goals and two assists in his last three outings, against Paraguay, England, and Hungary.

Tim Weah — 24 percent — The son of African legend George Weah, Tim turns 18 two days after Sargent. Unlike his countryman, Weah has been in Europe for some time. The Paris Saint-Germain prospect is slated to get his First Team bow some time soon, having scored four goals and added an assist for PSG in the UEFA Youth League.

Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training (video)

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Among my most quoted coaching lines comes from former University at Buffalo and current Canisius College men’s basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon (and pretty sure it didn’t originate with him).

“It’s more about Jims and Joes than x’s and o’s.”

[ MLS: Seattle wins | Stalemate in Ohio ]

So if Everton rebounds from its rough start to the season to reach its preseason potential, there’s a good chance we’ll credit the return of one of the most electric attackers in the game and not necessarily their new boss.

Yannick Bolasie returned to training on Wednesday, and not a moment too soon following a near one-year layoff due to an ACL tear.

There’s no guarantee the 28-year-old Bolasie will have the same burst, of course, but he has the potential to be a season-changer.

Everton was 5-4-4 when Bolasie went down with his injury last season, and improved on the mark the rest of the way, but are a moribund 3-3-6 this season.

Player faces unsporting conduct charges for shoving ball boy

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Adelaide United defender Michael Marrone has been cited for unsporting conduct for shoving a ball boy during the late stages of his team’s 2-1 loss to Sydney FC in the FFA Cup final.

Football Federation Australia on Wednesday issued a disciplinary notice to Marrone for “engaging in serious unsporting conduct,” with a hearing date to be set.

[ MORE: Liverpool fan trouble in Sevilla ]

Marrone knocked over the ball boy, reported by local media to be aged 10, while trying to get the ball to take a throw-in during extra time in the Tuesday night match.

The ball boy and his father were later allowed to take part in the trophy presentation ceremony.

“Just thankful that nobody was hurt,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said at a news conference Wednesday. “Perhaps some lessons for a few people in that one. Glad that it didn’t detract too much from what was a really exciting finish to the game and glad that the boy and his father got to share in the celebration at the end.”

While there are no precedents in Australia for such charges, Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard was banned for three games for violent conduct after kicking out at a ball boy in 2013.

In other countries, clubs have been fined if their ball boys have been found to be deliberately slowing play.