Drilling down on: at New York 1, Chivas USA 1

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Man of the Match: There were load of capable nights from the Red Bulls, who had far more of the ball and more chances. Everyone along the Red Bulls back line looked good. Same for the midfield; even Rafa Marquez looked comfortable after intermission, following a tame first 45. But Dane Richards made the difference with a good run and a sharp, precise pass for the second-half equalizer. And he was generally well-positioned and energetic along the Red Bulls right side, making life tough on Chivas USA veteran left back Ante Jazic.

Packaged for take-away:

  • The Red Bulls five-game winning streak is now a six-game unbeaten streak. Still not too bad. Chivas USA, meanwhile, has a remarkable 3-1-2 record on the road.
  • Rafa Marquez was back in the Red Bulls lineup, more or less occupying the role Dax McCarty was filling so efficiently during the five-game winning streak. McCarty was still central in the Red Bulls’ 4-4-2, but was designated to push into forward support during Red Bull possession while Marquez usually held the area in front of New York’s back line.
  • With Thierry Henry healthy (giving manager Hans Backe two quality forwards for selection), the Red Bulls opted out of the 4-1-4-1 that had worked over the five-game run.
  • Henry, back in the Red Bulls starting lineup after missing three games with a hamstring injury, is clearly missing some timing. He was a yard offside several times and hardly well-synched with teammates.
  • For all the good stuff we can say about Henry this year — and there is so much to praise — his body language whenever he doesn’t get the ball can really be pouty and lame. And perhaps he was being cautious due to that gimpy hamstring, but the longtime French international sure tended to be static when teammates had the ball in the attacking third.
  • Chivas USA didn’t generate a ton of quality chances. But Juan Pablo Angel, with just one goal in five matches before Wednesday and surely desperate for more, did hit the post in the 25th minute.
  • And then his strike to give the visitors an early second-half lead? A real “striker’s goal.” That is, only a striker would have the quick-reaction to know just where he was in relation to the goal and steer it, somehow, athletically, instinctively into the net.
  • Brandon Barklage, an emergency replacement along the Red Bulls back line, has held back the right back spot more than adequately. He’s not exactly zipping up and down the wing, but that’s OK. Playing within himself, knowing what he can and can’t do, and performing that stuff well, is plenty.
  • Barklage’s entry pass into Richards was weighted perfectly, put in the best spot possible. From there, Richards did what he has failed to do so often through the years: make the early, quick and correct decision, a first-time ball over to Kenny Cooper for the 56th minute equalizer.
  • Cooper joins San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski in the MLS scoring leadership with 11 goals.
  • New York left back Roy Miller, about to join Costa Rica for friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, was a spry presence along the flank for a second consecutive contest.
  • The Red Bulls’ Mehdi Ballouchy? Anyone seen that man lately? Witness protection program, perhaps?
  • Heath Pearce has been Red Bull for six days, and already has played all 90 minutes of two matches. So much for “get acquainted” time.
  • If Backe keeps Pearce in the middle along the back line, then he has a passer at that position every bit as good as Tim Ream was during the last two years at Red Bull Arena.
  • Robin Fraser, riverboat gambler? The Chivas USA manager used his third and final sub by the 70th minute. His changes were mostly offensive minded.
  • McCarty’s 83rd minute header had Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy beaten, but Ante Jazic was well positioned to clear off the goal line.
  • Kennedy was otherwise steady as a Big Apple skyscraper, just like all year.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

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

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.