Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo

MLS roundup: FC Dallas still unbeaten; Dynamo destroy Orlando

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With nine MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 25 more to go…

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Real Salt Lake 0-3 FC Dallas

Eight games into the 2017 season, Dallas are the last remaining unbeaten team (five wins, three draws) in MLS and continue to look like runaway favorites in any “best team in the league” discussion.

On Saturday, Oscar Pareja’s side went for a comfortable stroll in the park and notched a completely unspectacular 3-0 victory over RSL. Things couldn’t have started any better for the visitors, as they were awarded a (highly questionable) penalty in the 3rd minute, which Maximiliano Urruti converted, and that was basically ballgame. Matt Hedges made it 2-0 not long after the hour mark, just for formality’s sake, and Urruti completed his brace a minute into second-half stoppage time.

The firing of Jeff Cassar, and subsequent hiring of Mike Petke, has done very little to fix a number of glaring problems which have plagued RSL since their 2016 season started coming unglued last April. A complete teardown and rebuild seem a foregone conclusion this summer/next winter. If Petke’s the right man for the job — and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise — the RSL hierarchy (and fans) are going to have to be mighty patient, as there’s only a handful of salvageable pieces currently on the roster.


Philadelphia Union 3-0 New York Red Bulls

After 15 regular-season games without a win, going all the way back Aug. 27, 2016, Union fans can call themselves winners once again, thanks to C.J. Sapong’s first career hat trick and a second straight clean sheet by Andre Blake.

Blake made a pair of stellar saves either side of halftime to keep New York off the board, setting the stage for an 11-minute explosion of goals (from minutes 74 to 85) from Sapong, who moved level with Erick “Cubo” Torres in the race for the 2017 Golden Boot (7 goals). Sapong has never reached the double-digit goals benchmark (he has hit 9 twice in his first six seasons as a pro).


Houston Dynamo 4-0 Orlando City SC

Here’s something I said on Twitter following Houston’s third (of four) goal against Orlando on Saturday: “Dynamo are terrifying in the first three or four seconds after winning the ball. Don’t find yourself one-on-one against them in open space.” Orlando head coach Jason Kreis, nor any of his players on the field, listened. It was, of course, already too late to make much difference, but it happened again fewer than 10 minutes later.


LA Galaxy 2-2 Chicago Fire

Fact: LA’s midfield is a gigantic problem.

Theory: Jermaine Jones is a big part of that problem

Recent evidence: During the 42 minutes he was on the field against Chicago on Saturday (he went off injured), LA were soundly beaten, 2-0 (Jelle Van Damme’s 30-minute shift is an additional variable which cannot be isolated at this time), and seemed headed for a thorough beating. In the 48 minutes that followed, LA found their footing, looked the better of the two sides, and rescued a point from an otherwise disastrous evening.

Clearly, soccer is far more complicated than simple plus-minus totals, but the eye test also supports the above evidence. Those opening 30 minutes saw Chicago go 1-0 ahead in the 13th minute (David Accam, from the penalty spot) and 2-0 up just three minutes later (Nemanja Nikolic, courtesy of Accam). LA weren’t just bad; they were atrocious.

Still unable to create much of anything through open play, LA made the most of set pieces and willed themselves back to life.


Columbus Crew SC 2-0 New England Revolution

Ola Kamara is quickly becoming is already a star in MLS, as the Norwegian striker continues to shred defenses and add to his impressive haul of goals barely a full 34 games into his MLS career. Through 35 regular-season games played, the 27-year-old has 22 goals to his name after bagging the winning goal against New England on Saturday.

Kamara also notched an assist (his third since arriving in MLS last year) on Columbus’s second goal, scored by Federico Higuain. With the victory, Columbus are up to third in the Eastern Conference, just three points back of red-hot Toronto FC.


San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 Portland Timbers

This week in MLS Results That Make Absolutely No Sense, But Hey, That’s MLS


D.C. United 0-1 Montreal Impact

In a league with so many exciting, entertaining, enjoyable teams to watch, Ben Olsen’s D.C. United remains the hardest of hard passes on MLS Live.

Elsewhere in MLS

Seattle Sounders 0-1 Toronto FC — RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

[ MORE: Go behind the scenes at NYCFC’s new training facility ]

Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.

Report: USMNT likely to face Brazil, Mexico in September friendlies

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The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t have a busy schedule throughout the summer, but Dave Sarachan and his side will get a tiny taste of the World Cup in September.

[ MORE: Chivas’ Almeyda exhales after CCL title win ]

ESPN FC is reporting that the USMNT will likely face Brazil and Mexico — both of whom will travel to Russia in June — later this year, as the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of finalizing both friendlies.

The matches are set to be played during the September international window, which runs from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11.

Both fixtures will reportedly be played in the United States, although venues haven’t been determined yet.

The U.S. has already begun booking a slate of difficult matches to round out 2018, with England and Italy already confirmed opponents for the Yanks in November.

The Yanks are 1-17-0 all-time against Brazil in all competitions, while the U.S. hasn’t faced Mexico since its 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca in June 2017 during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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