Drilling down on: at San Jose 5, Real Salt Lake 0

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Man of the Match: Yes, quite a bit of Chris Wondolowski’s damage came in the second half, after the game was more or less decided. Still, a hat trick is a hat trick (with an assist added in there, too.) He shook loose of RSL’s Chris Wingert to score the important, early goal, then struck twice more as Real Salt Lake’s defense capitulated late. Wonder Wondo has 17 goals now to extend his MLS leadership.

Packaged for take-away:

  •  That was Wondolowski’s third career hat trick.
  • San Jose has a four-point lead over Real Salt Lake in the West, with a game in hand.
  • Real Salt Lake played the last half hour a man down and gave up the second goal shortly after Kyle Beckerman was thrown out. But honestly, it probably didn’t matter. San Jose was just better in this one.
  • The Earthquakes did a tremendous of applying pressure in midfield, while everyone along the back line did their part.
  • You hear a lot about Earthquakes center back Victor Bernardez, and rightly so. But Earthquakes left center back Jason Hernandez contributed some important tackles and some worthy moments of composure to this one, too.
  • By contrast, RSL center back Jamison Olave had some struggles Saturday at Buck Shaw. Then again, you could probably say that about all the men from Utah.
  • Marvin Chavez worked the flanks like a champ, setting the table nicely for Shea Salinas and Chris Wondolowski (both missed those chances) and generally giving the visitors a bunch to deal with.
  • Real Salt Lake didn’t have a Chavez, someone to bother the opposition defense and make defenders sit a little further back. That helps explain the 57-43 edge in possession percentage for San Jose before the break.
  • With Nat Borchers and Tony Beltran still out, RSL had to roll out another patchwork defense.
  • Kenny Mansally has helped tremendously as a fill-in at left back, or possibly as a long range project at that position for Jason Kreis’ team. But he doesn’t yet possess a defenders’ reactions, instincts and sense for what’s going on around him, and that occasionally gets Mansally in trouble. Like when he got caught marking Wondolowski late in the first half and allowed the league’s leading scorer a great opportunity by not more aggressively attacking Chavez’s cross.
  • Of course, Mansally’s real forte from left back should be his ability to attack out of the back. But with San Jose’s Steven Beitashour pushing aggressively up that side, and without his team ever really generating much possession, Mansally was doing all he could just to defend, never mind the attacking part.
  • In the second half, Sam Cronin’s bad tackle on Javier Morales devolved into a huge mess, with lots of pushing, shoving, gesturing, shouting, etc. Pretty much the whole nine angry yards. Referee Allen Chapman dismissed Beckerman and handed out a couple of other cards. The problem was, Cronin’s original foul was quite dangerous. No action was taken on that one. Not yet, anyway.

Queiroz: Iran has one “match point” left in World Cup group stage

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Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

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Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…

Spain gets win after Iran loses equalizer to VAR

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  • Spain goal: Costa (54′)
  • Iranian goal disallowed
  • Next: Spain-Morocco, Portugal-Iran

Iran had an equalizer taken away via Video Assistant Referee and Spain picked up its first win of the 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 win in Kazan on Wednesday.

Diego Costa scored Spain’s goal, as La Furia Roja joined Portugal atop Group B on four points. Iran has three, while eliminated Morocco has yet to get a result.

Team Melli lost their chance to sit atop the group when Saeid Ezatolahi rebound was ruled to have come after an offside touch from a teammate.

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Spain certainly had its chances in the first half hour, capped off by an attempted overhead kick from David Silva.

Man City’s 32-year-old attacker had a great deal of chances in the contest, and would see a deflected rip bound wide of the goal during three minutes of first half stoppag time.

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After Gerard Pique missed an in-tight chance to start the second half, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand made an outstanding punch save on Isco before punching away the rebound bid.

Iran found its first true chance of the match in the 53rd minute, with Karim Ansarifard lashing into a shot from 15 yards that tore into the outside of the goal.

It was moments later that Spain went ahead, Costa getting a goal when a clearance bounding off his shin and into the net.

Mehdi Taremi flicked a header wide of the goal, and Iran thought it had an equalizer through Saeid Ezatolahi only for VAR to step in and call offside on the previous Iranian to touch the ball.

It was off, but only just.

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Beiranvand was again on the scene for a 70th minute goal mouth scramble following a drawn-up corner kick by Spain.

Taremi pounded a header over the goal after a Vahid Amiri nutmeg of Pique led to a back post cross.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL duo eyeing Asensio and more

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The ongoing World Cup hasn’t halted the transfer talk across global soccer, and on Wednesday there are a number of potentially intriguing storylines.


Two Premier League sides are chasing Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, including Chelsea and Manchester United, while they will have to battle Paris Saint-Germain as well.

Although Asensio is prepared to stay in Spain next season, he wants to be assured of playing time under new manager Julen Lopetegui, who recently joined the club.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos.


Juventus continues to have several players at the center of transfer rumors, and Miralem Pjanic is a name that keeps popping up.

The midfielder won’t come cheap though, with Juve reportedly set to ask for $92.6 million in the event that a club wants to acquire Pjanic.

Barcelona is rumored to be seeking a move for Pjanic with Andres Iniesta now heading to Vissel Kobe in the J-League.


New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is reportedly looking to bring several of his former Napoli players to Stamford Bridge, including Belgium star Dries Mertens.

The Blues are seeking more attacking options ahead of the fall, and the veteran Mertens has become a proven commodity in front of goal over the course of his Serie A career.

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

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The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

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Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

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Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.