Author: Richard Farley


League Cup Roundup: Manchester United embarrassed by Milton Keynes, 4-0


Manchester United fans could be forgiven for summoning the spirit of Dante Hicks and bemoaning “I’m not even suppose to be here today.” It was the League Cup second round, a phase the team’s league finish normally allows them to miss, but after an embarrassing result Stadium mk, the Red Devils were given another reminder of how bad things have become.

With two goals each from William Grigg and Benik Afobe, Milton Keynes Dons, currently 51st on the English ladder (League One), posted a 4-0 victory over a United team that included David de Gea, Jonny Evans, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, and Javier Hernández. Going 72 minutes without a shot on target, Louis van Gaal’s side exits the competition at this early stage for the first time in 19 years.

To the embarrassment of fans, they did so in what was often comic fashion. The first goal resulted from an Evans giveaway deep in this own half. Failure to hold the ball also allowed Ben Reeves to set up Afobe’s first, while a Marnick Vermijl giveaway (succeeded by three poor tackles) allowed MK Dons to pile on the feeble favorite.

In the long run, being rid of the League Cup may prove a blessing for a rebuilding squad, but on a day that started with elation, Manchester United was handed one of its most striking results in recent memory. For as bad as things got under David Moyes, the Scot never delivered this kind of result.

The loss was so bad, United blog The Busby Baby posted a nine-word review: “Help us, Angel di Maria. You’re our only hope.” The only thing accompanying the analysis? A video titled “The Exploding Whale.”

Other Premier League results

United wasn’t the only top-tier side to bow out early:

  • After penalty kicks, West Ham United lost at the Boleyn Ground, with third-tier Sheffield United scoring another upset for League One (1-1).
  • Andrew Mangan’s first half goal for Shrewsbury Town allowed the fourth division side to win at Leicester City (1-0), …
  • while a late penalty converted by Atdhe Nuhiu saw Sheffield Wednesday down Burnley, 1-0.


  • West Brom got the better of their trip to penalty kicks, defeating Oxford United 7-6 after extra time ended at 1-1;
  • Bafetimbi Gomis’s first competitive goal for Swansea City put Garry Monk’s team into the third round (1-0);
  • Southampton’s first victory under Ronald Koeman saw Saints win at Millwall (2-0);
  • John Egan’s own goal allowed Newcastle to claim a 1-0 result at Gillingham;
  • while Crystal Palace got a hat trick from Dwight Gayle in a 3-0 win at Walsall.

Full results

Port Vale 2-3 Cardiff City
Middlesbrough 3-1 Preston North End
Huddersfield Town 0-2 Nottingham Forest
Swansea City 1-0 Rotherham United
Watford 1-2 Doncaster Rovers
Millwall 0-2 Southampton
AFC Bournemouth 3-0 Northampton Town
Brentford 0-1 Fulham
Scunthorpe 0-1 Reading
Derby County 1-0 Charlton Athletic
West Ham United 1-1 (p.k., 4-5) Sheffield United
Swindon Town 2-3 (a.e.t) Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City 0-1 Shrewsbury Town
Crewe Alexandra 2-3 (a.e.t.) Bolton Wanderers
Gillingham 0-1 Newcastle United
Norwich City 2-1 Crawley Town
Nurley 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Walsall 0-3 Crystal Palace
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Oxford United
Milton Keynes Dons 4-0 Manchester United

Wednesday’s matches

Burton Albion vs. Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City vs. Portsmouth
Birmingham City vs. Sunderland
Bradford City vs. Leeds United
Aston Villa vs. Leyton Orient

UEFA Champions League Roundup: Zenit, Porto through; Celtic sunk by late Maribor goal


Five of the final 10 places in this year’s UEFA Champions League field were decided today – the first of two days which complete the competition’s final playoff round. Closing out their two-leg matches at home, APOEL Nicosía, BATE Borisov, Porto, and Zenit St. Petersburg built on positive results last Wednesday, while Maribor’s late goal at Celtic Park put the Slovene champions into the competition’s 32-team group stage.

Each loser moves into the group stage of UEFA’s Europa League, with the draw for each competition schedule to be held Friday in Monaco.

Zenit St. Petersburg hosted the day’s early kickoff, carrying a 1-0 lead from its first leg at Belgium’s Standard Liège. That lead was doubled through Salomon Rondón in the 30th minute, with 10-man Zenit adding two goals through Hulk  (pictured) after Viktor Faizulin’s late first half sending off.

In Cyprus, APOEL had its tie with Danish champions Aalborg under control by halftime, a dominant first half performance yielding goals from Vinicius and Tomas De Vicenti. Second half goals from Efstathios Aloneftis and Cillian Sheridan piled on the Danes, who head to Europa League after a 4-0 pasting in Nicosía.

BATE Borisov got first half insurance on the 1-1 edge they earned at Slovan Bratislava when Mikhail Gordeychuk scored in the 41st minute, capitalizing off strong work from Vitali Rodionov and Dmitri Likhtarovich to beat Dusan Pernis. Late goals from Segrey Krivets and Rodionov gave the Belarusan champions a 3-0 win and its first trip to Champions League since 2012-13, when BATE earned an upset victory over Bayern Munich.

In Warsaw, Celtic’s result will be seen as justice served. After last week’s 1-1 draw in Slovenia, Celtic — whose 5-1 (agg.) loss to Legia Warsaw in the last round was overturned after confusion over ineligible player — was on the verge of making another group stage, with the score 0-0 at Celtic Park entering the final quarter hour. But in the 75th minute, chaos in front of Craig Gordon’s goal devolved into a chance for Marcos Tavares, who put the Slovenes into the final 36.

And finally in Portugal, a strong start for FC Porto waned as Lille came into the first half, but four minutes after intermission, Alergian international Yacine Brahimi, building on the 1-0 lead the Dragons took out of France, struck a demoralizing blow. Firing his direct kick into Vincent Enyama’s top corner, the Porto attacker gave his team a 2-0 lead, with Jackson Martínez’s insurance 20 minutes later sending Julen Lopetegui’s team into Champions League proper.

Five more matches tomorrow will complete this year’s Champions League field, with Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli, and Athletic Club among the teams competing for the last places in Europe’s premier club competition.

Scores and schedules:

Tuesday’s results

Zenit St. Petersburg 3-0 (4-0) Standard Liège
APOEL Nicosía 4-0 (5-1) Aalborg
BATE Borisov 3-0 (4-1) Slovan Bratislava
Porto 2-0 (3-0) Lille
Celtic 0-1 (1-2) Maribor

Wednesday’s matches
(with first leg results; all games kick off at 2:45 p.m. Eastern)

Malmö 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Ludogorets 0-1 Steaua Bucharest
Arsenal 0-0 Besiktas
Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Copenhagen
Athletic Club 1-1 Napoli

Landon Donovan will get U.S. farewell, to be called up to face Ecuador

One of Donovan;s finest moments came for the USA at the 2010 World Cup. His last minute goal sent the USMNT through to the last 16.

Landon Donovan’s walking away from the game at the end of the regular season, but before he hangs up his boots, U.S. Soccer is going to do right by him. As announced today by the federation, Landon Donovan will be called up for the men’s national team’s Oct. 10 friendly in East Hartford, Conn., against Ecuador.

Donovan announced his impending retirement earlier this month, with a spring cut from the U.S.’s World Cup roster leaving it unclear whether the men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer would have another change to wear his nation’s colors. With today’s announcement, the 32-year-old will get an opportunity to build on the 57 goals and 58 assists he’s collected in 156 appearances for his country.

“Playing for the U.S. National Team has been a huge part of my career and I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to play for my country one last time,” Donovan said, in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. “I’m so grateful to all the fans that have supported me and this game will give me the chance to say thank you to all of them.”

Though the U.S. is scheduled to play in Europe next month, the Oct. 10 date will be its first game on home soil since leaving for this summer’s World Cup.

“For 15 years, Landon has thrilled us with his amazing abilities on the field and impressed us with his gracious approach off the field,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “We are looking forward to celebrating his legacy during our next home National Team match and allowing fans the opportunity to thank him for all the memories he’s provided over the years.”

All of a sudden those 40,000 tickets at Rentschler Field become a much hotter commodity, but even for those who can’t get to East Hartford, the call up gives an entire nation a chance to celebrate its biggest soccer icon. From Tim Howard to Mia Hamm, from Abby Wambach to Clint Dempsey, the program has had other celebrities. None of them have occupied the same spotlight as Donovan.

“He consistently raised the bar for himself these last 15 years, and he set a fantastic example for so many other American players to follow,” head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “As one of the best players in U.S. Soccer history, Landon should be proud of everything he has accomplished.”

Via television, print, and social media, the outpouring of appreciation will be huge, with October’s focal point allowing all to focus its attentions on one, final, national team farewell. With six weeks to go until that send off, U.S. fans have plenty of time to figure out how they’ll honor the program’s defining figure.