Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

MLS (late-night) roundup: Early favorites, FC Dallas & Portland, emerge

Leave a comment

With three MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 31 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Portland Timbers 4-2 Houston Dynamo

Isn’t it just wonderful when you look forward to a game all week, and when Saturday finally arrives, it lives up to everything you hoped of it? That’s Portland versus Houston, in a nutshell. Tied for the Western Conference’s top spot after two weeks, only Atlanta United looked to be on par with Saturday’s combatants in terms of attacking intent and ability.

What transpired at Providence Park was a six-goal thriller chock-full of brilliant midfield play, inspired final-ball making in and around the penalty area, and some decent finish on the business end. Diego Valeri scored twice (once from the penalty spot), and David Guzman and Fanendo Adi added goals of their own for Portland, erasing a 2-1 halftime deficit after Erick Torres (penalty kick) and Romell Quioto had the visitors halfway home with three points. Quiot’s goal, mostly for Alberth Elis’s seeing-eye through ball, was particularly stunning.

Valeri started the comeback just before the hour mark, and Houston couldn’t slow the momentum once Portland began rolling downhill.

2017 looks to be the start of a golden attacking age in MLS, and these two (young) sides are leading the charge. Portland and Houston’s next meeting? July 29, in Houston.


Real Salt Lake 1-2 LA Galaxy

It’s a strange new world, where LA find themselves Robbie Keane-, Landon Donovan- and Bruce Arena-less, and without a single point from their first two games of the 2017 season. Through 68 minutes on Saturday, zero points from three games seemed a distinct possibility, trailing away to RSL despite their man advantage since the 44th minute.

As far as headers go, you’ll not find one more impressive than this one from Yura Movsisyan to put RSL up in the 18th minute.

Dave Romney and Emmanuel Boateng got the goals to bring LA back from the depths of the unthinkable, and give Curt Onalfo his first win since replacing Arena this offseason.


FC Dallas 2-1 New England Revolution

FCD just keep doing work, whether it be in league play or CONCACAF Champions League. On Saturday, three days after a dogged CCL semifinals first-leg affair with Pachuca, Oscar Pareja’s men came back from a goal down to New England and move to seven points from three games.

Lee Nguyen put the visitors ahead, from the penalty spot in the 10th minute, one of just four shots from Jay Heaps’ side on the night. The comeback wasn’t quick, but it didn’t have to be. Maximiliano Urruti hit twice six minutes apart, in the 71st and 77th minutes, to not only rob New England of their first win of 2017, but their first points as well.

The 2017 Supporters’ Shield goes through Dallas, though Portland inch closer and closer with each passing week.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — NYCFC dominate, disappoint; ATL roll ]


Sporting Kansas City 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Sporting KC have their first goal, as well as their first win, of 2017 following a mostly dominant performance against San Jose. Benny Feilhaber’s long-range, knuckle-balling bomb opened the scoring in the 37th minute (WATCH HERE), and David Bingham’s epic howler made it 2-0 with a minute of regular time remaining.

Good thing for Sporting, too, as all concentration and focus disappeared once stoppage time began. Florian Jungwirth pulled a goal back in the 91st, and Tim Melia was called into action again a minute later. His Save of the Week candidate preserved a narrow, but thoroughly deserved three points for the home side.


Orlando City SC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

At some point, Cyle Larin will stop scoring every goal for Orlando, and I’ll be forced to formulate a lede other than “Cyle Larin’s going to Europe, and soon,” but that day isn’t today, as the 21-year-old Canadian international bagged his second and third goals of the season, each time putting the Lions in front.

The fluidity in the build-up to the second goal shouldn’t go unnoticed, as clinical as Larin may have been with his chance. Carlos Rivas is 22 and two full years into his MLS adventure. He’s made the jump from deer-in-the-headlights newcomer, to full-time contributor on a good team. That’s him with the simple lay-off to Matias Perez Garcia on the second goal, and he absolutely deserves a secondary assist for it. I’ll be petitioning the league on his behalf first thing Monday morning.


Colorado Rapids 2-2 Minnesota United

Minnesota have their first MLS point, just barely. Adrian Heath’s side came back from a goal down — then blew their first MLS lead in under two minutes, but that’s neither here nor there — to draw away the stingiest defense in all of MLS last season.

Dominique Badji put Colorado ahead in the 17th minute, but that was canceled out by Kevin Molino from the penalty spot five minutes into the second half. Christian Ramirez put Minnesota 2-1 up in the 58th minute, but Marlon Hairston equalized 108 seconds later. Such is life as an expansion team, but it brings the Loons’ goals conceded average down to 4.3 goals per game.


D.C. United 0-2 Columbus Crew SC

Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara converted a penalty kick each — no drama between the Argentine and a striker named Kamara this time — as Crew SC picked up their first win of the season, away to D.C., who look a serious contender for second-worst team (sorry, Minnesota) in MLS through three games. 0 goals scored, 6 goals conceded; 1 point won.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

New York City FC 1-1 Montreal Impact
Atlanta United 4-0 Chicago Fire
Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 Toronto FC

Toronto FC beats Crew 5-0 to extend unbeaten streak to 8

Twitter/@torontofc
Leave a comment

TORONTO (AP) Victor Vazquez scored twice and Toronto FC routed the Columbus Crew 5-0 on Friday night to extend its unbeaten streak to a franchise record-matching eight games.

[ MORE: Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape ]

Toronto (8-1-5) is 7-0-1 since its lone league loss of the season, a 2-1 decision in Columbus on April 15. Columbus (6-7-1) has lost five of seven since topping Toronto.

Justin Morrow and substitutes Jonathan Osorio and Jordan Hamilton also scored for MLS-leading Toronto. The Canadian team also was unbeaten in eight games (4-0-4) from May 8 to July 10, 2010.

Toronto was reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when midfielder Marky Delgado was red-carded for a studs-up tackle on Columbus captain Wil Trapp. Osorio and Hamilton then scored to pad the lead for Toronto in its sixth shutout of the season.

Toronto played without the starting forward tandem of Sebastian Giovinco (injured) and Jozy Altidore (suspended for yellow card accumulation). Defender Nick Hagglund also is injured.

Agent: Barcelona offered more than Real for Vinicius Junior

Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Vinicius Junior can become half the player at Real Madrid that Neymar has lived up to be at Barcelona, Los Blancos will be pretty pleased.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on Monaco’s Silva ]

Real closed the deal for the 16-year-old Brazilian this week, but there were several other lucrative offers on the table, according to the player’s agent, Frederico Pena.

[ MORE: Totti leaves future uncertain heading into final Roma match ]

That includes bitter Spanish rivals Barcelona.

The agent stated that the Blaugrana did in fact offer a higher deal to acquire the Brazilian, however, he felt it would have complicated matters further to seek a greater offer from Real.

“There is practically unanimous view of the deal as a success,” Pena said. “If anybody gets criticised it is Real Madrid, for the risk they have taken, but they are sure that it will work. There were other clubs interested, and one offered to pay more money … Barca’s remuneration package offer for the player was higher than Real Madrid.

“But as we had reached an agreement with Real, we did not want to make this last push for them to match it. That could have embittered the relationship. Many people think it is crazy what Madrid are doing, but they were not alone in this craziness. They were not the only ones willing to pay this much for Vinicius.”

Pena also clarified as to why Vinicius chose Real over Barcelona, citing the player’s excitement about the development of Los Blancos during recent seasons under manager Zinedine Zidane and prior.

“Because Vinicius liked Madrid’s project better. There is always the feeling that players choose based on financial reasons, but that is not true. I assure you of that. Real Madrid’s negotiating posture was better.”

Real is on the verge of winning its third UEFA Champions League trophy in the last four seasons as the club prepares to face Juventus in the upcoming final.

Zidane’s men also won La Liga during the 2016/17 campaign.

Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Leave a comment

U.S. Soccer has come a long way over the years, and one of the nation’s most promising young players recognizes the progress the United States has made.

[ MORE: Man City acquire Monaco’s Silva after passing medical ]

Christian Pulisic, who plays for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, is one of several young talents that U.S. hopes to finally bring the American men a moment of glory on the biggest of stages — the World Cup.

The 18-year-old has done just about everything a player of his age could do. He’s played in one of the top leagues in the world, appeared in various UEFA Champions League matches and now he’s likely on pace to appear in the 2018 World Cup, assuming the USMNT advances out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The U.S., who have reached the World Cup during seven straight cycles, have come a long way in a short period of time, and Pulisic is happy with the improving U.S. Soccer landscape.

“It’s been big flaw of ours in the soccer department that a lot of our best athletes go and play other sports,” Pulisic told The Guardian. “But I think young players have seen me, and others, go over to Europe and play in some of the best leagues — and MLS is improving so much too.

“There’s so much potential and I think it’s changing: we’ve had some bigger athletes in the past but I don’t think that defines us anymore.

“We’re going to keep moving forward, developing young players and we’re going to have a really good shot in the next few years.”

During this past Bundesliga season, Pulisic recorded three goals and added six assists for a club that has become well known for its high-powered offensive attack.

Report: Kyle Walker a top target for Manchester City

Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City could be looking to bolster its backline further this summer, and the Citizens could turn to Tottenham for help.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on acquiring Monaco’s Silva ]

According to ESPN FC, Pep Guardiola‘s side is growing more and more enamored with Spurs defender Kyle Walker and believes City can acquire the experienced outside back prior to the 2017/18 Premier League season.

With City already losing Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna since the end of the PL season, Guardiola will have to address the club’s lack of depth at outside back.

Several other big clubs have been considered in the running for Walker’s services, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

The 26-year-old has been at White Hart Lane since joining Spurs in 2009 from Sheffield United and has made 222 appearances for the club in that span.