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

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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

MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 3-0 Columbus Crew

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The game in 100 words (or less)Goals from Ilsinho, CJ Sapong, and Marcus Epps led the Philadelphia Union to a 3-0 win over the Crew, who had not one but two players sent off in the loss. Jonathan Mensah saw red in the 35th minute for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and Lalas Abubakar was sent off for violent conduct with about a quarter hour to play. Sapong had two assists and Ilsinho added a helper too. Philly pulls to within five points of sixth-place Columbus, and have played one less game.

Three moments that mattered

20′  — Overhead pass gets deserved finish — Ilsinho made Zack Steffen’s diving attempt look feeble with a blast after Sapong’s bike-like ball across the box.

38′ — Alberg PK denied — Did we mention it could’ve been worse for Philly? Roland Alberg was stopped by the left hand of the law, er, Steffen. The left hand of the Steffen.

81′ — Epps puts it to bed — The man was credited with eight shots on the night, as 22-year-old Marcus Epps has his first MLS goal (He has scored in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup).

Man of the Match: Sapong.

Conte questions Spurs ambitions: “You must buy expensive players”

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Like most Spurs fans, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has noticed that Tottenham isn’t spending during this summer transfer window.

He’s also heard the remarks of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who said the spending from many other Premier League clubs is “unsustainable.”

Conte’s reply? Maybe not winning’s okay to you, Dan.

[ WATCH: Neymar scores vs. Man Utd ]

The Chelsea boss defends the massive money being doled out on players by, essentially, saying ambitious clubs have to keep up with other ambitious clubs. And without digging into the profit margins of Spurs and other PL clubs, perhaps he has a point.

Also, you can’t help but appreciate the subtle dig at Liverpool, as if to say, “Yeah, maybe they care.”

From the BBC:

“If [Spurs] don’t win the title, it’s not a tragedy. If they don’t arrive in the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out in the first round of the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out after the first game that they play in the Europa League and go down against Gent, it’s not a tragedy.

“Maybe for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and – I don’t know – Liverpool, it is a tragedy. You must understand this. You must understand the status of the team.

“Every team has to understand what their ambitions are. If their ambitions are to fight for the title or try to win the Champions League, you must buy expensive players. Otherwise you continue to stay in your level. It’s simple. My question is this: What are Tottenham’s expectations?”

Again, we’re not poring over the financials of these clubs, but it is saying something that Spurs have not bought any new players and sold Kyle Walker to Man City for $59 million. If the market says players are worth that, than the logic goes that Spurs cannot improve without investing that sum into players.

And look, Mr. Levy, you spent $40 million on Moussa Sissoko and close to $30m on Vincent Janssen. It’s not like we’re talking about a totally new world here.

It wasn’t all negative, or passive aggressive negative, from Conte, who said Harry Kane is the top striker worth buying in the world, and valued him at more than $131 million.

FOLLOW LIVE: Lineups as the USMNT goes trophy hunting

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Levi’s Stadium is the scene as the United States men’s national team looks to wrestle the Gold Cup back after Mexico claimed the 2015 championship.

Jamaica is the opponent, and an incredible story all things considered, as the Reggae Boyz hope their second-straight tournament final is the occasion for their first Gold Cup crown.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Stats, scores from Gold Cup Final ]

Kickoff is slated for about 9:45 p.m. ET, with the pageantry from California getting started at 9:30.

There are no real surprises in the XI, aside from Bruce Arena’s continued use of Graham Zusi at right back. Omar Gonzalez pairs with Matt Besler in the heart of the defense, with Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Darlington Nagbe, and Paul Arriola combining for an industrious midfield.

Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris are up top, while Jorge Villafana fills out the lineup at left back with Tim Howard in goal.

Clint Dempsey is on the bench, perhaps awaiting another super sub performance.

WATCH: Neymar dizzies Valencia, gets Suarez pick to score vs. Man Utd

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All three parts of the MSN trident helped Barcelona produce an International Champions Cup goal against Manchester United on Wednesday, though not in the most traditional of fashions.

Lionel Messi’s through ball was off target, and Neymar rushed onto it before spinning toward goal. Luis Suarez literally shoved Chris Smalling out of contention to stop the Brazilian, and Neymar did the rest with a finish past David De Gea.

[ REPORT: Barca confident of Coutinho deal ]

Say it with me, “It’s preseason for the officials, too, you guys.”

Neymar’s goal has given Barcelona a 1-0 lead over United, and the match is at halftime. Obviously, he hasn’t been sent to Paris Saint-Germain.