Oscar

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CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

Copa QF: Messi misses PK, Barca’s 29-game unbeaten run ends

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MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi missed a penalty and Barcelona conceded late as its 29-match unbeaten streak ended in a 1-0 loss to city rival Espanyol in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Messi failed from the spot in the 62nd minute, his shot brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Youngster Oscar Melendo netted the winner for the hosts in the 88th with his first goal as a professional.

“I have no words, I was looking forward to this first goal,” said the 20-year-old Melendo, who had come on as a substitute in the second half.

It was Espanyol’s first win against Barcelona at its RCDE Stadium.

The second leg of the Catalan derby is next week at Camp Nou.

Barcelona hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Aug. 16. It had won 23 of its last 29 matches in all competitions.

“We knew we would lose one day,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. “The positive thing is that in a week we have a chance to rebound and advance.”

Messi had his chance from the spot after Sergi Roberto was fouled by Esteban Granero, but his low shot into the right corner was stopped as Diego Lopez dived to his left to tip the ball away.

It was a rare miss for Messi, who is having a stellar season and is the Spanish league’s top scorer with 17 goals.

“The penalty save gave us the boost that we needed,” Melendo said. “We were playing too defensively.”

Melendo netted the winner with a low shot from the middle of the area after a well-timed pass by Marc Navarro.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde did not use all of the team’s regular starters, leaving players such as Luis Suarez on the bench.

The match was interrupted for a few minutes in the 76th after Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was hit by an object thrown by fans behind his goal.

Barcelona midfielder Paulinho was replaced in the second half because of a foot injury.

Greg Vanney named MLS Coach of the Year

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It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to many, but Toronto FC’s historic 2017 season has earned its manager significant accolades within Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Anthony Hudson could be Rapids’ next head coach ]

TFC head coach Greg Vanney was selected as MLS Coach of the Year on Monday after guiding his side to the Supporters’ Shield, as well as the top spot in the Eastern Conference regular season.

The 43-year-old beat out Atlanta’s Gerardo Martino, Fire coach Veljko Paunovic and NYCFC’s Patrick Vieira for the award, while Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson and Columbus’ Gregg Berhalter finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Vanney and his side are currently vying for a place in MLS Cup for the second consecutive year as TFC battles with Columbus Crew SC in the East final.

Under Vanney, Toronto has improved each season thus far, and the former U.S. Men’s National Team defender boasts a 61-41-30 record in three-and-a-half seasons with the Canadian club.

The award is Vanney’s first as a manager, after FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja took home the honors in 2016.

Three things we learned from Liverpool v. Chelsea

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LIVERPOOL — Liverpool and Chelsea each grabbed a point in an encapsulating clash which did little for their title hopes but proved just how evenly matched the two clubs are.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replay ]

Former Chelsea player Mohamed Salah put Liverpool 1-0 up but substitute Willian rescued Chelsea a point late on as his cross drifted over Simon Mignolet and in.

Here’s what we learned from an intriguing clash between two title hopefuls.


LIVERPOOL’S LOW BLOCK HALTS CHELSEA

Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard had been ripping teams apart with their new partnership up front for Chelsea, so Jurgen Klopp put a roadblock in midfield to stop them linking up.

It worked a treat. Yes, Hazard was sublime (more on that later) but his flashes of individual brilliance didn’t lead to direct chances for himself or Morata.

Klopp sat Jordan Henderson and James Milner in central midfield in a more defensive lineup with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench. Some will call it a lack of ambition from Klopp but after the defensive collapse at Sevilla in midweek they needed to stay solid and not open themselves up to rapid Chelsea counters.

It worked and Klopp should be applauded for changing his tactics and showing he can grind out results against a fellow top four contender. A draw was probably a fair result but if Willian’s cross wouldn’t have looped in late on, not many would have argued with a win for Liverpool.


RED-HOT SALAH PROVES CHELSEA WRONG

Mohamed Salah left Chelsea after two seasons with two goals in 13 Premier League appearances. In his first 13 PL appearances for Liverpool the Egyptian winger has scored 10 goals and is the main man at Anfield.

At $37 million he is the best signing of the summer transfer window and he is proving Chelsea wrong for offloading him in 2014-15. Salah, 25, has developed his game and physicality during three years away at Fiorentina and AS Roma in Italy and now he is the real deal.

When he scored Liverpool’s goal to give them the lead he refused to celebrate. Salah obviously still respects all that Chelsea have done for him in his career, even though he had to leave west London to reach his now lofty heights. He was denied a game-winner by Thibaut Courtois late on as he always looked Liverpool’s most dangerous player with his mix of pace, trickery and directness deadly.

During his Chelsea days he had Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle ahead of him in the pecking order and this week Hazard said his former teammate was unlucky to not get a decent run of games at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho didn’t give him a chance to shine in the Premier League and like Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku offloaded him in 2014-15.

Chelsea don’t wait for players to develop. They want the finished article right away so they won’t lose much sleep over allowing Salah to leave. That said, Roman Abramovich may be wondering “what if” as Salah, De Bruyne and Lukaku are all the main men for Chelsea’s main title rivals this season.


HAZARD ON ANOTHER PLANET

Hazard deserved to be on the winning team on Saturday.

In the first half the Belgian ran ring around Liverpool, flicking through passes, jinxing by defenders and playing in Danny Drinkwater for a glorious chance.

Hazard, 26, is at the peak of his powers and with three goals in his last two games heading into this clash his link up play with Morata was the main concern for Liverpool. They managed to disrupt that pair but Hazard still shone.

In a central role he can set the tempo for the Blues and after recovering from a broken ankle over the summer he is ready to push Chelsea on.

Hazard’s fine form will be the main positive from this draw for Antonio Conte and the main source of hope if they’re going to claw back the growing gap to Manchester City atop the Premier League table.

PST Survey results: Who should be the next USMNT coach?

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Our next BASS post deals with who should coach the USMNT.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

We asked thousands of voters who should helm the U.S. men’s national team after October’s horrifying World Cup qualifying collapse, and there were plenty of write-ins apart from a very even vote.

David Wagner earned the most write-ins, but the variety of names mentioned was varied and wild: Caleb Porter, Thomas Tuchel, Slaven Bilic, Gregg Berhalter, Dominic Kinnear, Eddie Howe, Nick Mendola (not kidding, smart alecks).

Guus Hiddink, Rafa Benitez, Miguel Herrera, Oscar Pareja, Mike Petke, Berti Vogts, Tim Howard, Geno Auriemma (not kidding again).

But here are the four top vote getters:

4) Sam Allardyce — 13 percent — Please, no. No. For everyone who thinks his down-home English structure will get the job done, please remember that there are probably 10-15 guys just like him who are less abrasive and haven’t been fired in disgrace from a national team. Want to hate someone’s perception of your league, MLS fellas? Wait til you get a load of him.

3) Laurent Blanc — 14 percent — Late of PSG, the 51-year-old Blanc has experience in cleaning up a mess; When he took over France, the FFF suspended all 23 of the players who bombed out of the 2010 World Cup.

2) Tata Martino — 19 percent — Atlanta United’s guru is best known for leading Barcelona between 2013-14, but has wide international experience with Paraguay and Argentina.

1) Tab Ramos — 20 percent — Call it the Gareth Southgate corollary, albeit by a slim margin. The 51-year-old Ramos has 81 caps for the USMNT and plenty of background in leading the U-20s for several years. He also played in both MLS and abroad, with Segunda Division experience for two teams in Spain.