Offshore drilling, Mexico: at Tigres 4 (5), Monarcas 1 (1)

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Man of the Match: Going up again his former club, Elias Hernández dominated the right flank, forcing a change from Monarcas coach Tomas Boy after 30 minutes. Within seconds after Adrian Aldrete was brought off, new left back Carlos Guzman was getting torched. You’d expect Boy to have a plan for a man he coached for three years, but on Sunday, Morelia was never able to slow down Hernández.

Tigres entered today’s second leg up 1-0 after their mid-week win in Morelia.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • After 45 minutes, it looked like the defending champions were going to ride their 1-0 lead into the semifinals. They’d taken a stranglehold of the match, keeping a Morelia team that started without forward Rafael Marquez Lugo from connecting with talismanic striker Miguel Sabah.
  • The floodgates opened in the 64th minute when defender Hugo Ayala, inexplicably chilling just outside the six-yard box, hammered home a knockdown from forward Héctor Mancilla (which, I learned today, sounds like man-SHEE-shah in a Uruguayan/Argentine accent).
  • Ten minutes later, a wall terribly positioned by Morelia goalkeeper Federico Vilar (along with the `keeper’s mistaken instinct to jump behind said wall) gave Tigres midfield Lucas Lobos the left post from 19 yards. Two minutes later, miscommunication between defender Mauricio Romero and Vilar gifted Edno Cunha a gift goal. Tigres went up 4-1, capping three nightmarish minutes for Vilar.
  • Sabah pulled one back (only the second time in the last eight playoff games Tigres has been scored on), but with a spot kick in the 91st minute, Hernández got a deserved goal, ending a five goal second half and a quarterfinal that will look slightly more lopsided than it actually played.
  • If you happened to be a Santos player watching from Torreon, the second half was scary. Not only did it remind you of the Apertura’s final (when Tigres second three times in the final 40 minutes to win, 4-1), but it showed a semifinal opponent that may have regained their champions’ form.
  • But unlike that final, Tigres will go into the semifinal the lower seed, having to play the second leg on the road. We’ve seen they can post goals when the opposition has to chase them, but in a position where they’ll need to outscore Santos, it’s unclear they can rely on suffocating their opponents.
  • With Damian Alvarez and Hernández, Tigres have an avenue toward goals. While Mancilla is going to have his hands full with Santos defenders Felipe Baloy and Aaron Galindo, Alvarez and Hernández are likely to be able to concentrate on breaking down full backs Jorge Estrada and Osmar Mores. Tigres’ defense will have to figure out how to handle Santos’s attack-heavy approach, but there is a good chance Tigres can grab the first goal and again force their opponents to come after them.

MLS Three Things: RBNY beats Atlanta, is a special club right now

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At this point, Jesse Marsch could take the USMNT job, Tyler Adams could bolt for the Bundesliga, and we’d still have to select the New York Red Bulls to finish with a home playoff game.

[ MORE: Willian’s shot at Conte ]

That’s how well run RBNY is these days, which is to take nothing away from their coach and 19-year-old star, but considering they navigated a solid CONCACAF Champions League run en route to this start… well…. wow.

On a night when Luis Robles’ ironman streak ended, Kaku recorded two assists, and Ezequiel Barco bagged his second goal in three matches, they don’t even meet the requirements of our three things.

Form giants deliver more goals

Marsch’s men have been shutout once this season, and most multiple goals in four-consecutive wins. Three of those four wins have come on the road, at LA, Colorado, and now Atlanta.

RBNY has the best points-per-game in Major League Soccer, has scored the joint-most goals despite playing in the second-fewest games, and is allowing barely more than a goal-a-game.

Bet against ’em. We dare ya.

BWP delivers the goods

RBNY’s 33-year-old English star scored twice and won a penalty that Daniel Royer converted as he continued his assault on all future Red Bulls’ hopes of becoming the club’s leading scorer.

Bradley Wright-Phillips has almost 50 more goals than his nearest competitor, Juan Pablo Angel, and he makes headers look like child’s play.

Victory comes with a price

Kemar Lawrence was lost with a scary-looking face-plant on a clearance, and needed to be stretchered off the pitch. Hopefully it’s not long-term for the Jamaican back.

Willian “edits” Conte out of FA Cup champions photo

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Willian is not a fan of Antonio Conte.

Come to another conclusion if you like, but it’s hard to argue the Brazilian wizard’s feelings following his Instagram post after Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup Final.

[ MORE: Matic wants squad changes at Man Utd ]

Willian covered his manager in trophies following the win, and it’d be a stretch to call that a tribute to the Italian’s tactical brilliance.

The player recorded seven goals and six assists despite playing less than all but 12 Chelsea players in league play (12th place Alvaro Morata had 11 and 6).

We’re accepting alternative explanations for the since-deleted Instagram photo below:

Elis scores twice as Dynamo beat Fire 3-2

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Alberth Elis scored two second-half goals to help the Houston Dynamo beat the Chicago Fire 3-2 on Sunday for their first road win of the season.

Elis, on a one-on-one breakaway, cut back to evade defender Johan Kappelhof and ripped a right-footer from the center of the box into the back of the net to give Houston (4-3-3) a 3-2 lead in the 74th minute.

[ MORE: Man Utd youngster gets USMNT call-up ]

The Dynamo’s Romell Quioto opened the scoring in the fourth, running onto a long through ball from Tomas Martinez and rolling the finish past sliding goalkeeper Richard Sanchez. Nemanja Nikolic tied it in the 14th minute and then fed Diego Campos for a goal about two minutes later. Elis converted from the spot to make it 2-2 early in the second half after Mauro Manotas drew a foul in the area conceded by Sanchez.

Chicago (3-6-2) has lost three of its last four games.

 

Inter Milan back in the Champions League after late heroics (video)

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It’s been more than a half-decade since Inter Milan qualified for the UEFA Champions League, an infamous run that ended on Sunday.

Inter scored twice in the final 13 minutes to beat fifth-place Lazio and advance into the Top Four via head-to-head record.

[ MORE: Man Utd youngster gets USMNT call-up ]

Lazio held 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but could not get the job done at home, collecting red cards in the 79th minute and stoppage time.

Uruguayan midfielder Matias Vecino scored his third goal of the season, redirecting a corner kick home in the 81st minute, as Inter clinched fourth place in Serie A.