Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo

MLS (late-night) roundup: Cubo bags a hat trick; MNUFC win a game!

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With four MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 30 more to go…

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Houston Dynamo 4-1 New York Red Bulls

It’s probably time we start calling Erick Torres by his nickname, “Cubo” (cube, as a reference to the size and shape of his head), once again. After a disastrous first season in Houston, and a subsequent loan to Cruz Azul, who decided against making the signing permanent, Torres is starting for new-old head coach Wilmer Cabrera, and the goals are flowing.

The 24-year-old entered Saturday’s game against New York with a goal in three straight games. 41 minutes into the game, the streak was extended to four. 15 minutes later, he had a brace. 35 minutes after that, Torres completed his first MLS hat trick with a sensational free kick.

As far as early-season MVP candidates go, Torres threw his name into the hat — alongside the likes of David Villa and Justin Meram — with his fourth, fifth and sixth goals of the season, after four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s (afternoon) roundup: Villa, Schweinsteiger, Meram stellar ]


Minnesota United 4-2 Real Salt Lake

After four minutes, everything was beginning to feel all too familiar to Minnesota players, coaches and fans alike — less than 240 seconds on the clock, they were a goal down after Luke Mulholland slotted home from the top of the box. This time, though, the deficit was short-lived, as Kevin Molino headed home from close range in the 16th minute.

Then, the strangest pair of things occurred in unison: the Loons stopped leaking goals, and starting bossing the game themselves. Christian Ramirez bagged his third and fourth goals of the season, 10 minutes apart early in the second half, and the score was 3-1. Johan Venegas added a fourth, just in case, and Adrian Heath had staved off unemployment for an additional week in charge.

[ MORE: Sporting KC rookie got GOT by Vermes, teammates’ April Fools’ prank ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 4-2 LA Galaxy

A game that could have easily featured 10 goals, Vancouver’s 4-2 victory over LA had just six instead. Still, the track meet at BC Place trumped anything and everything on offer elsewhere in MLS.

Cristian Techera opened the scoring in the 19th minute, but Romain Alessandrini equalized with his first MLS goal seven minutes later. The Frenchman put LA 2-1 ahead after four more minutes.

Then, even quicker than Alessandrini’s brace had put LA in front, Fredy Montero (his first goal since returning to MLS) and Matias Laba turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead, in the 66th and 67th minutes. Laba notched a brace of his own with an exclamation-point header in the 87th minute.

[ MORE: San Diego’s April Fools’ prank — Footy McFooty Face ]


D.C. United 2-1 Philadelphia Union

D.C. achieved a pair of firsts on Saturday: they scored a goal, and they won a game. Jose Guillermo Ortiz took care of the first first, and Luciano Acosta (from the penalty spot) secured the second first. C.J. Sapong pulled one back for Philly with 20 minutes to play, and so nearly made it 2-2, if not for the heroics of Bill Hamid.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

New York City FC 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire 2-2 Montreal Impact
Columbus Crew SC 2-0 Orlando City SC

VIDEO: Accam’s slick backheel puts Chicago ahead

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For the last two years, David Accam has been, in my estimation, the best player in MLS that no one talked about.

[ MORE: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win NY derby 2-0 ]

Understandably so, of course, given the 26-year-old Ghanaian international and the Chicago Fire been rooted to the bottom of the league table for two years running. All of that has changed in 2017, though, as Accam finally has a forward (Nemanja Nikolic) who can not only put chances away, but create space and chances for his teammates, and a solid midfield base which allows him to cherry-pick counter-attacks just that little bit more.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Entering Saturday’s game against Orlando City SC, Chicago sat second in the Eastern Conference, just four points back of Toronto FC, and Accam’s 9 goals and 5 assists (in 15 games) were a huge part of the why and the how. It didn’t take Accam long — two minutes, in fact, to put Chicago ahead of Orlando with a ridiculous backheel finish to Matt Polster’s cross.

 

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)