Drilling down on: at Real Salt Lake 2, Colorado 0

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Man of the Match: Fabian Espindola, for the 75 minutes he was in, was just too much for Colorado. You’d think a defense with Marvell Wynne wouldn’t have trouble keeping up with anybody, but Espindola’s speed combined with a relentless work rate to snap Colorado. A lazy backpass from Wynne late in the first half led to the winning goal, with Espindola beating Matt Pickens to a ball that ended up as a tap in for Alvaro Saborio.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Colorado seemed disorganized at the back all night. Their normal central pair of Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor was broken up with Moor at right back, Tyrone Marshall taking his spot at left center half. With new acquisition Tyson Wahl at left back, the Rapids were without their first choice at three positions.
  • That may also explain why Alvaro Saborio had a standout night, but don’t undersell the Costa Rican’s effort. Like Espindola, his work produced a goal for a teammate, with the RSL number nine moving Marshall of the ball late in the match, setting up an insurance tally for Will Johnson.
  • Espindola and Saborio’s were part of a series of good performances from RSL players. Javier Morales is slowly returning to his pre-ankle break self. Johnson had a goal, Yordany Alvarez had a strong night filling in for Kyle Beckerman, and the back five was their usual, impenetrable selves, holding Colorado without a shot on goal.
  • All those stand out performances would have provided to a more lopsided score on another night. Colorado, however, didn’t play bad, and were it not for their two brain freezes at the back, they may have been able to hold out. There was little chance of them scoring, however, given how conservatively Oscar Pareja’s team played.
  • Edu started alone up top, with Omar Cummings coming off the bench. When the Jamaican international came on in the second half, he showed why he should have played 90. Martin Rivero was supposed to provide the link to Edu, but it never materialized. Neither Tony Cascio and Jaime Castrillion put a shot toward goal (let alone on).
  • Just as Columbus’s Saturday win was very Crew-y, Real Salt Lake’s was very RSL-y. It was a controlled performance, one where they kept their opponents under constant pressure (without leaving themselves exposed), ultimately forcing some decisive mistakes.
  • The result: RSL retains the Rocky Mountain Cup, given to the winner of the teams’ season series. It is the sixth straight season Real Salt Lake has claimed the honor.
  • With the win, RSL opens up an eight point lead on Seattle and Vancouver for second place in the West. They are also tied for the second-best record in Major League Soccer. While securing that spot wouldn’t give them home field in a potential MLS Cup final, it would allow them to control their own destiny. After  all, they would get their chance at the Earthquakes before the December championship game.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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