Blerim Dzemaili

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MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

MLS: Red Bulls, Impact win; Draws in NYC, Minnesota (video)

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Four matches in 100 words (or less, each)

NYCFC 2-2 Toronto FC: Toronto FC entered Wednesday’s match against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium without three players on USMNT duty in the forms of left back Justin Morrow, center midfielder Michael Bradley, and forward Jozy Altidore. The youthful Reds were unbowed, going up 1-0 and denied a 2-1 lead by an offside call that sent manager Greg Vanney to the stands. Trailing late, Victor Vazquez scored a penalty kick for his fourth goal of the season to seize a point for the visitors. An advertisement for its academy, Toronto kept its five-point advantage on third-place NYCFC.

New York Red Bulls 5-1 San Jose Earthquakes: Daniel Royer’s sixth and seventh goals of the season helped RBNY’s much-maligned attack to a breakout performance. Sacha Kljestan, Sean Davis, and Felipe Martins also scored for the Red Bulls, who have eight goals in their last two matches. Kljestan added two assists. The match ruined a goal-scoring debut for new Quakes DP Valeri Qazaishvili.

Montreal Impact 2-1 Philadelphia Union: The Impact’s addition of Blerim Dzemaili has been just what the doctor ordered, and the Swiss midfielder scored a pretty goal in Montreal’s win. Dzemaili has four goals and five assists in eight league games since arriving from Atalanta, and the Impact’s playoff hopes aren’t dead yet. Montreal leapfrogged Philly with the win, getting a goal and an assist from UC Riverside product Michael Salazar. Fafa Picault had the Union marker.

Minnesota United 0-0 Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo’s attack was depleted by Gold Cup call-ups, but Loons backstop Bobby Shuttleworth was still tested four times in the scoreless draw. Tyler Deric made two stops for Houston.

Much Needed: Dzemaili to join Montreal early

Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images
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The Montreal Impact needs help, and will be receiving it soon from a familiar country.

DiMarzio reports that the Impact is close to adding Serie A veteran Blerim Dzemaili. The midfielder was set to join the team after the season, and apparently the move will happen before Bologna’s season concludes (The club is safe from relegation).

[ MORE: How long is Sunderland gone? ]

The 31-year-old Swiss midfielder has 55 caps and nine goals as an international, and has spent time with Torino, Napoli, Parma, Genoa, and his current home is Bologna.

The club boasts Italiasn Marco Donadel and Matteo Mancosu, the latter arriving from Bologna last year.

Montreal has won just one of its first eight matches. Dzemaili will go a long way towards changing that, assuming coach Mauro Biello finds the right midfield formula with Ignacio Piatti and Donadel or Hernan Bernardello.

Messi the hero as playmaker and Di Maria’s extra time goal beats Swiss

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After 117 minutes of scoreless soccer, Lionel Messi fed Angel Di Maria, who scored the goal that made the Arena Sao Paolo erupt.

The goal also pushed Argentina to a 1-0 win over Switzerland and a berth in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Argentina will move on to play the winner of the Belgium and United States game, which kicks off at 4pm ET.

A fun, back-and-forth first half between Switzerland and Argentina gave way to a tentative, defensive second as the two sides searched for the goal that could lead them into the quarterfinals.

Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said on Monday that his team would show the way to stop Lionel Messi, and they punished the diminutive superstar with hard tackles and physical play. Messi’s chances were limited, and his team was frustrated.

Hitzfeld was presumably coaching with a heavy heart, as his brother passed away from leukemia hours before the match.

Meanwhile, first half counterattacks probably should’ve lead to goal for the underdogs. Granit Xhaka’s point-blank shot was saved by the foot of Argentine keeper Sergio Romero, while Josep Drmic’s cheeky chip didn’t get the height to soar above the keeper.

Here’s what we were saying at halftime.

In the second half, the chances were lesser. Marcos Rojo’s splendid cross was headed on target by Gonzalo Higuain, but Benaglio was able to tip it over the bar.

Benaglio made a diving stop on Messi in the 77th minute, able to get his right arm on the ball and thwart the shot.

And it was Messi magic again in the 89th minute, as his slaloming run ended with a pass for Palacio that was received poorly and skidded away from danger.

Extra time it would be. Of course.

The first period of extra time did not provide a wealth of prime chances, as the teams continued to beat each other about with hard fouls.

The second featured an early rip by Di Maria that Benaglio pushed over the goal, as Switzerland’s continued attention to Messi opened up some lanes for the Argentines.

With Argentina controlling possession and attack, it felt they were only team that could tally before kicks… and Messi found Di Maria for the goal.

Dzemaili headed a cross off the post in the 121nd minute before pushing the rebound wide with an off-balance touch. That was it for the Swiss.

LINEUPS

Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Fede Fernández, Garay, Rojo (Basanta, 105′); Gago (Biglia, 105′), Mascherano, Di María; Lavezzi (Palacio, 73′), Messi, Higuaín

Goals: Di Maria (117′)

Switzerland: Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Djourou, Schaer, Rodriquez; Shaqiri,  Inler,  Xhaka (Fernandes, 64′), Behrami, Mehmedi (Dzemaili, 112′); Drmic (Seferovic, 81′)

Switzerland hampered by the loss of Steve von Bergen

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Six minutes into Switzerland’s game against France on Friday, Steve von Bergen and Olivier Giroud collided. The Swiss defender came off much worse for the wear, with blood pouring from his cheek where Giroud’s boot had raked over his skin. Philippe Senderos replaced von Bergen, and the latter was taken to the hospital in Salvador.

The collision left von Bergen with a fractured cheekbone. He will now return to Switzerland for treatment, leaving his teammates attempting to advance in his absence.

The match against France ultimately ended in a 5-2 defeat for the Swiss, who were unable to score until the 81st minute. They are on 3 points in Group E, having beat Ecuador 2-1 in their first match, but an inferior goal difference puts them into third place.

Switzerland might be bolstered by the fact that Ecuador now face France, and could very well receive a similar beating, while their next opponent is Honduras, who’ve scored just one goal thus far. However, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side will likely struggle without von Bergen. Senderos, recently signed by Aston Villa, gave supporters of his new club no cause for celebration in his display for Switzerland. The centerback was caught out of position time and time again, allowing France to have their way with goal.

Hitzfeld also faces a selection dilemma in central midfield. Valon Behrami, once such a solid enforcer, gifted France their second goal with a direct pass, and his link-up play between the defense and attack was abysmal. He was replaced at halftime by Napoli teammate Blerim Džemaili, who scored a wonderful direct free kick for Switzerland’s first goal. But while Džemaili offers more going forward, he is not as strong as Behrami defensively.