Roland Lamah

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

MLS: FCD hitting their stride; Dempsey scores twice in SEA win

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FC Dallas 4-2 D.C. United

The game in 100 words (or less): We’re only just beginning to see anything resembling the very best FC Dallas have to offer, now that Mauro Diaz, the magical unicorn no. 10, is back. The Argentine playmaker returned to the starting lineup a week and a half ago, and Oscar Pareja’s side have two wins and a draw (combined score of 8-4) to show for their efforts. Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over D.C. United had Diaz’s fingerprints all over the film, as he tallied an assist for the third straight game and masterfully dictated tempo for an FCD side so happy to have its midfield metronome back in tow. Roland Lamah has been the biggest beneficiary of Diaz’s presence, scoring twice more on Tuesday to take his season tally to eight goals, including seven in his last five games (four while playing with Diaz). The victory pushes FCD level on points (31) with Sporting Kansas City atop the Western Conference, and ahead on goal differential. Ian Harkes and Deshorn Brown scored DCU’s goals on the night, the first for each player this season.

[ MORE: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT to win over Ghana | Three things ]

Three Four moments that mattered

41′ — Harris rises above, heads home for 1-1 — Victor Ulloa’s corner kick found Harris atop the six-yard box, and it was all pretty straightforward from there.

45+3′ — Lamah pounces on a loose ball, 2-1 — Failing to clear the ball from inside your own penalty area, on multiple occasions, will cost you every single time.

47′ — Urruti forces Worra into a blunder, and it’s 3-1 — Travis Worra should do something — anything — else here.

55′ — Lamah bundles home from close range for 4-1 — Diaz started the entire move (shocker, right?), Michael Barrios picked out Lamah inside the box, and it would have been tough to miss from there.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Roland Lamah

Goalscorers: Harkes (30′), Harris (41′), Lamah (45+3′, 55′), Urruti (47′), Brown (57′)


Colorado Rapids 1-3 Seattle Sounders

The game in 100 words (or less): The key to winning in Colorado, or against any other side that sits ultra-deep defensively, is to score early and force them out of their defensive shell, wait for the spaces to open up when they creep forward in search of the equalizer, and strike on the break. Seattle executed that particular game plan with aplomb on Tuesday, thanks to Clint Dempsey‘s 6th-minute opener, Will Bruin’s 30th-minute tally to make it 2-0, and the icing on the cake from Dempsey in the 85th minute — the latter two of which capped off quick counter-attacking moves. The victory pushes Seattle past Vancouver Whitecaps and LA Galaxy as the defending champions move into the sixth and final playoff place in the Western Conference (for the time being).

[ MORE: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT to win over Ghana | Three things ]

Three Four moments that mattered

6′ — Dempsey finds some space, makes it 1-0 — The invisible forcefield around Dempsey not only prevented anyone from closing to within five yards of him, but seemed to actively push everyone wearing a burgundy shirt farther and farther away.

30′ — Bruin pounces on a mistake for 2-0 — Route 1 soccer is rarely pretty, but it’s often effective — especially when the would-be clearances are this poor.

78′ — Badji pokes home Hairston’s cross for 2-1 — Marlon Hairston delivered the inch-perfect ball for Badji, and there was no missing from there.

85′ — Dempsey beats Howard in spectacular fashion for 3-1 — Tim Howard will be having a word with Dempsey post-game after beating hit this first-time, left-footed lob to ice the game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (6′, 85′), Bruin (30′), Badji (78′)

FC Dallas’ Lamah pays tribute to friend Tiote

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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A big win in an important game allowed Roland Lamah to make an emotional statement to a lost friend.

The Ivorian attacker scored twice for FC Dallas in its 3-1 win over visiting Toronto FC on Saturday, and the 29-year-old paid tribute to his good friend: the late Cheick Tiote.

[ CONFED CUP: Portugal tops Mexico ]

Lamah lifted his shirt to reveal an undershirt with the words “Forever in my heart, Tiote” with an accompanying heart, and the Belgian international said “in every game, I’m going to play for him” in his post-match comments.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“We’ve always been together. It’s a little difficult [to talk about it],” Lamah said. “He’s always in my heart. When he played, he was a good, good, good player. He always played strong. He never gave up. I’m going to try to never give up every game.”

Tiote, the former Newcastle United midfielder, died in early June after collapsing at a training session for Chinese second-tier club Beijing Enterprises. He was 30 years old, and has been mourned by many in the football community.

MLS Snapshots: Fire in 1st; FCD coast past TFC; SKC extend streak

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
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Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Portland Timbers

The game in 100 words (or less): Sporting KC extended their home unbeaten streak in MLS play to 18 games with a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, but only just by the skin of their teeth. The visitors controlled and dominated in every aspect for the game’s opening 55 minutes and held a 1-0 lead before Sporting came to life just before the hour mark. Diego Valeri fired Portland ahead with a long-range striker in the 26th minute, but Daniel Salloi’s first MLS goal pulled the home side level after 60 minutes. Tim Melia saved his third penalty kick (he’s faced only four) of the season in the 75th minute, denying Valeri after Fanendo Adi won the spot kick in controversial fashion.

Sporting were far from their best, playing without Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer (international duty), on the day that their lead in the Western Conference was cut from five points down to three.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Three moments that mattered

26′ — Valeri’s blast from distance makes it 1-0 — No one stepped to Valeri as he approached the 18-yard box (due in large part to Sebastian Blanco‘s full-sprint run to occupy Kevin Ellis), and the Argentine playmaker-turned-sniper made them pay.

60′ — Espinoza sets up Salloi for 1-1 — Everything about Salloi’s equalizer — from Roger Espinoza‘s pass, to Salloi’s first touch and finish — is perfect.

74′ — Melia denies Valeri from the spot — Adi threw himself to the ground and won Portland a penalty with just over 15 minutes left in the game, but the ball simply refused to lie, as Melia atoned for his “mistake” and stood tall as Valeri hit his penalty down the middle and into the goalkeeper’s waiting hands.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: Valeri (26′), Salloi (60′)


FC Dallas 3-1 Toronto FC

The game in 100 words (or less): The first half of the 2017 season was about one thing for FC Dallas: biding their time until Mauro Diaz returned to full fitness and form after rupturing his achilles last October. Through their first 15 games (before Diaz returned to the starting lineup last weekend), Oscar Pareja’s side managed to tread water and hold onto a top-three place in the Western Conference throughout. On Saturday, making his second start of the season, Diaz was unleashed, and FCD’s sky-high potential was unlocked. Hosting league-leading Toronto FC, the Hoops found themselves 2-0 ahead after 21 minutes (a brace from Roland Lamah, the second of two set up by Diaz), were pegged back by Marco Delgado in the 56th minute, and sealed the victory courtesy of Maximiliano Urruti’s 10th goal of the season in the 78th minute. The win moves FCD, who have two games in hand, to within three points of Sporting KC at the top of the West. TFC, meanwhile, relinquish their hold on the East and league’s top spot, due to results elsewhere.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Three moments that mattered

5′ — Lamah pokes it past Bono for 1-0 — Maynor Figueroa released Urruti into the channel, and Urruti cut it back for Lamah who arrived in the nick of time to poke it past Alex Bono.

21′ — Lamah reels in Diaz’s through ball to make it 2-0 — The brilliance that is Mauro Diaz, on full display.

78′ — Barrios feed Urruti for 3-1 — Totally stretched while chasing an equalizer, TFC were caught out and Michael Barrios set up Urruti, with ease, to put the game out of reach.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Roland Lamah

Goalscorers: Lamah (5′, 21′), Delgado (56′), Urruti (78′)


Chicago Fire 4-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

The game in 100 words (or less): The only way to describe Chicago’s current standing as the first-place team in MLS is as rarified air, or unfamiliar territory.

Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing demolition destruction of Vancouver was but the latest in a string of impressive results, spurred on by a string of star performances by newcomer Nemanja Nikolic, who’s presently miles and miles ahead of everyone else in the Golden Boot and MVP races. Nikolic scored two more on Saturday, four minutes apart before the clock read 20:00, taking his 2017 tally to 16 (David Villa and Erick Torres are second, with 11 each). Nikolic turned provider on Chicago’s fourth, setting up Michael de Leeuw to complete the rout. The most impressive part? Dax McCarty and David Accam were away on international duty, and Bastian Schweinsteiger left the game after 43 mintues with an injury.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Three moments that mattered

14′ — Nikolic slams home Polster’s cross for an early lead — Matt Polster’s future is undoubtedly as a right back. A central midfielder up until last season, the 24-year-old still has the patience and vision required to excel in his former position, and showed it off in picking out Nikolic for the opener.

18′ — Nikolic slots past Ousted for 2-0 — Right down Main Street this time, Chicago create scoring chances from every level and every area of the field.

25′ — Alvarez volley’s Polster’s cross for 3-0 — See again: Polster, Matt, above. Arturo Alvarez does incredibly well with the finish, and it was “game over” after 25 minutes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Nemanja Nikolic

Goalscorers: Nikolic (14′, 18′), Alvarez (25′), De Leeuw (84′)

MLS Snapshot: FCD lose 2nd in a row; Fire win 4th straight

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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The game in 100 words (or less): After starting the 2017 season nine games without a loss, FC Dallas, the longest-lasting unbeaten team in MLS, has lost two straight. Saturday saw their unbeaten start come to an end, against the San Jose Earthquakes, just as Wednesday’s trip to Toyota Stadium saw Oscar Pareja’s side drop all three points to the Chicago Fire. All three of the game’s goals were scored during the opening nine minutes, as FCD fought back from 1-0, but couldn’t find a second equalizer on the night. Nemanja Nikolic bagged the opener, his 11th goal in 13 games to extend his lead in the Golden Boot race to two, in the 3rd minute. Roland Lamah brought FCD back to level terms three minutes later, but David Accam restored the home side’s advantage after three more minutes. Nikolic had every opportunity in the world to take his goals tally to a dozen during second-half stoppage time, but Chris Seitz denied the Hungarian international from the penalty spot. For the first time since Sept. 2012, Chicago have won four straight league games, and sit just two points back of Eastern Conference-leading Toronto FC (26 points).

[ WATCH: Chicharito-to-MLS in doubt due to $10M contract demands ]

Three moments that mattered

3′ — Nikolic redirects past Seitz for 1-0 — Nikolic ran 15 yards straight ahead without a single FCD player picking him up or impeding his path to the near post, and they paid for it.

6′ — Lamah taps it in to make it 1-1 right away — Lamah has been quite the disappointment since arriving in Dallas this winter, but he happened to eb in the right place at the right time in this one, as a failed clearance fell to the five-times-capped Belgian international for an easy tap-in, and his first MLS goal.

9′ — Accam cuts inside to make it 2-1 just as quickly — At some point, Accam will be properly rated by the wider MLS audience, as he’s been Chicago’s best player for two full seasons, and has only hit a new high with capable attackers all around him.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Dax McCarty

Goalscorers: Nikolic (3′), Lamah (6′), Accam (9′)

Watch Live: Everton vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Discuss)

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Swansea look to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone, but collecting three points at Goodison Park will be difficult, considering Everton have lost just once at home this season (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Falling out of Europa League was meant to help Swansea get back on track, easing their pressure in the Premier League. Yet the Swans are still just four point clear of the danger zone, having picked up only two points in their last four matches. Swansea looked to be in the driver’s seat last weekend when Roland Lamah scored within two minutes of kickoff, but fellow strugglers West Brom came back to steal a win with two goals in the second half.

Everton are seeking a chance to prove themselves in Europe next season, but need a third straight win to keep themselves solidly in the Europa League places. Currently the Toffees are sixth, three points above Manchester United but with a game in hand, and two points below Tottenham, who have a two-match advantage. Everton left it til late last weekend, frustrated by Cardiff closing ranks, but Seamus Coleman broke through in injury time to grab his side the win.

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Michu is still not fit enough to start, but that’s not stopping Gary Monk from making changes to the side that fell apart in the second half last weekend. Lamah drops to the bench, as do Jonathan De Guzmán and Jordi Amat. Nathan Dyer, Chico Flores and Pablo Hernández all start.

The hosts make two changes to last week’s winning side. Gerard Deulofeu and Leon Osman are on the bench, while Ross Barkley and Aiden McGeady start. Captain Tim Howard takes his place in goal while Romelu Lukaku spearheads the attack.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Stones, Distin, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, McGeady, Barkley, Lukaku

Subs: Joel, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Browning

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, Canas, Hernandez, Dyer, Routledge, Bony

Subs: Tremmel, Amat, Taylor, de Guzman, Shelvey, Michu, Lamah