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MLS roundup: HOU, CLB run rampant; NYCFC drop points late

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A roundup of Wednesday night’s midweek action in MLS…

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New York City FC 2-2 New England Revolution

The top of the Eastern Conference is as interesting and tight as it could possibly be. While Toronto FC have raced out to a five-point lead on the entire league, places no. 2 through 6 in the East are currently separated by just four points. NYCFC were four minutes from moving to within a single point of second-place Chicago Fire, but Patrick Vieira’s side conceded a late equalizer to Xavier Kouassi and ultimately dropped a pair of points they deserved to claim as their own on Wednesday.

David Villa was brilliant in setting up the game’s opening goal just after the quarter-hour mark, but Kei Kamara drew New England level in the 24th minute. Miguel Camargo put the home side back ahead with his first MLS goal in the 64th minute, but NYCFC couldn’t hold the lead, as Kelyn Rowe masterfully set up Kouassi in the 86th minute.

The draw leaves NYCFC with just one win from their last five games, now fifth in the East, eight points back of TFC.


Columbus Crew SC 3-0 Seattle Sounders

Columbus hit Seattle early and often at MAPFRE Stadium, as the defending MLS Cup champions lost for the fourth time in their last six games.

Federico Higuain opened the scoring in the 10th minute, Justin Meram made it 2-0 just 11 minutes later, and Ola Kamara completed the rout just before the hour mark.

After 14 games, Seattle have just 16 points to their name, though right now they sit just a point out of the sixth and final playoff place in the Western Conference.


Houston Dynamo 5-1 Real Salt Lake

No one loves sleeping in their own bed, and hates sleeping in a hotel, more than Houston. Just shy of the halfway point of the season, Wilmer Cabrera’s side currently sports the following home-away splits: 7W-1D-0L, and 0W-1D-5L.

Wednesday night represented RSL’s turn on the BBVA Compass Stadium chopping block, and things turned rather ugly, rather quickly. Justin Schmidt put the ball into his own net less than three minutes into the game, and Alex double Houston’s lead in the 15th minute. Mauro Manotas made it 3-0 just before halftime, and Erick Torres and Leonardo piled on more misery after the intermission, with Joao Plata bagging a brilliant consolation free kick just after the hour mark.

That’s six losses in the the last eight games for RSL, who sit above only Colorado Rapids and Montreal Impact in the full league table. Houston, meanwhile, leapfrog Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the West, and could have some serious staying power with even marginally improved form on the road.


Orlando City SC 2-0 D.C. United

Speaking of teams with drastic different home-away splits, here’s Orlando’s following their 2-0 win over D.C. United: 6W-1D-1L, and 1W-1D-4L.

Coming into Wednesday’s game, Cyle Larin hadn’t scored a goal in any of Orlando’s last three games, which was actually beginning to feel like a “slump” for the 22-year-old Europe-bound striker. After 66 minutes of knocking on D.C.’s door, the slump was busted, and Orlando had themselves a lead they’d never relinquish. Giles Barnes tacked on a second goal in the 88th minute, courtesy of Bill Hamid’s most shocking howler to date, and just like that, Orlando climbed two spots to third in the East, just one point back of Chicago.

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 1-1 FC Dallas (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): It ended scoreless when the two sides met for the first time this season, and although there were goals in this one, it finished with the same outcome. The Dynamo and Dallas remain equal on points following the draw, with each team boasting 25 at the midway point through the MLS campaign. Goals from Erick “Cubo’ Torres and Maxi Urruti cancelled one another out at BBVA Compass Stadium, but it was the Dallas that had more of the chances in the match. The Dynamo remain one of the top sides in MLS at home, boasting a record of 7-0-2 in their opening nine matches in Houston.

Three two moments that mattered

19′ — Torres makes it 11 on the year! — Give Erick Torres an inch this season… Well, you know the rest of the saying…

59′ — Urruti makes Dynamo pay for missed chance on other end — The Dynamo were so close to making it 2-0 just a minute sooner, but Maxi Urruti had other plans for the visitors.

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Man of the match: Maxi Urruti

Goalscorers: Erick Torres (19′), Maxi Urruti (59′)

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 2-0 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC was without some of its regulars on Friday night, but that didn’t matter much as Greg Vanney’s side avenged their loss to the Revolution from two weeks ago. Coming off of just two days’ rest, TFC continued its push towards an Eastern Conference title at BMO Field behind Drew Moor’s first goal of the season. Sebastian Giovinco was held in check most of the evening, but the Italian scorer did what he does best in the final minute of stoppage time to seal it for the home side with his seventh goal of the year. The Revs pushed and pushed during the second half for an equalizer but TFC’s resilience defensively proved superior as they kept the visitors off the scoreboard for their eighth shutout of 2017.

Three moments that mattered

11′ — Moor taps in for early Toronto advantage — Even on two days’ rest Toronto looks like this…

57′ — Cheeky Nguyen keeps Revs in match — Lee Nguyen is typically known for his creativity in the offensive half but it was this clever play defensively that kept the Revolution down just one goal.

83′ — Kamara comes so close! — It’s just not meant to be on the night for the Revs.

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Man of the match: Alex Bono

Goalscorers: Drew Moor (11′), Sebastian Giovinco (90+6′)

Video: Orlando City product scores crazy bicycle kick

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Goals like this one below never grow old.

Orlando City academy product Alejandro Pereira scored a brilliant bicycle kick for his Under-17/18 side in their 2-0 win on Thursday night during the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs.

Orlando will continue its path in the Academy Playoffs on Saturday when they face off against Players Development Academy (PDA) U-17/18, before meeting Indiana Fire U-17/18 on Monday.

Brazilian league filled with possible transfer targets

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SAO PAULO (AP) While soccer takes a rest in Europe and the Brazilian league gets going again, many local players have already caught the eyes of foreign clubs.

[ MORE: Confed Cup scenarios before final group stage matches ]

A few of them are already in Brazil coach Tite’s plans for next year’s World Cup in Russia, and signing them now instead of next season could be a real bargain.

Here are some names to know:

LUAN

A 24-year-old striker at title-favorite Gremio, Luan has yet to play abroad and his coach has already said it will be hard to keep him in Brazil until the end of the season. After eight matches, Luan has scored four goals. Gremio executives have said they won’t take less than 24 million euros ($27 million) for him. Luan was part of Brazil’s gold-medal winning team at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He began the tournament on the bench, but eventually took a place in the starting lineup alongside Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. Ronaldinho said Luan deserves to be at Barcelona. “Luan would fit in perfectly there, he is very creative,” Ronaldinho said.

GUILHERME ARANA

More than 20 percent of the goals scored by Corinthians this year have come from the left foot of 20-year-old defender Guilherme Arana. An excellent Brazilian-style dribbler, Arana had several assists in the derbies against the team’s three Sao Paulo city rivals. Arana has yet to make his international debut, but he believes his short time with Tite at the club could help him get to Russia next year. Many in Brazilian media have dubbed him “the new Marcelo.”

LUCAS LIMA

A close friend of Neymar, 26-year-old midfielder Lucas Lima has been frequently linked with a transfer to Barcelona. In the first 100 days of 2017 he had 10 assists – the same number he produced all of last season. He is in top physical shape, something that has earned him praise from coaches and a series of callups from Tite to play with Brazil. Lima has rejected a series of offers from Chinese clubs because he wants to play in Europe.

GUSTAVO SCARPA

Fluminense midfielder Gustavo Scarpa is classy and cerebral, traits he tries to mirror from his hero Andres Iniesta. But the 23-year-old Brazilian can also provide some stunning shots from long distance, like the goal he scored from his own half in February in a Brazilian Cup match against Globo. Scarpa likes to play as a left winger, but he can also be used in a central midfield position and as a left back. Tite called on him for a friendly against Colombia in February. In the 2016 Brazilian league, he scored eight goals and had 10 assists. He has just finished recovering from a right foot injury.

DUDU

A fan-favorite at defending champion Palmeiras last season, 25-year-old striker Dudu has yet to score in this year’s competition. Still recovering from injury, Dudu is fast and often runs right at goal. He played at Dynamo Kyiv without much success from 2011-14, and he admits he was not very mature when that transfer happened. In March, he was part of the Brazil team for World Cup qualifying matches against Uruguay and Paraguay, as a replacement of injured Douglas Costa.

RODRIGO CAIO

A 23-year-old Sao Paulo defender who has frequently been called up by Tite, Rodrigo Caio has played more than 200 matches for his club. Caio wants to go to Europe after a first attempt at Valencia fell through — he failed a medical check because of a now-healed knee injury. Also a gold medalist at the 2016 Olympics, the defender can play as a defensive midfielder. Although he looks a lot like Kaka, his style is more like Dunga’s: great tackles, accurate passing and leadership.