Highlights: Looking at the U.S.’s goals in Antigua

6 Comments

We’ve had our say on Eddie Johnson (in multiple places), but as we get to Friday night’s highlights, let’s be sure recognize the men who provided the assists.

For the second match in a row, Graham Zusi impressed. While Friday’s performance may not have been as eye-opening as last month’s effort in Columbus, the Sporting Kansas City attacker was one on the States’ best players over the first half hour, a period highlighted by this cross for the first goal.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN9h0yaYeSU]

Later in the half, Zusi nearly added a second assist, running onto a restart from Michael Bradley before quickly turning on a cross for Johnson, the Man of the Match heading a potential go-ahead goal just wide.

Zusi’s performance was enough to ask: Is Zheusi starting to close the gap between him and Landon Donovan? Perhaps, but for large stretches of Friday’s match (that lull between goals), the U.S. was desperate for somebody to break open the game as only Donovan can. Even if Zusi does a good job most of the time, it’s those few extraordinary minutes per match that make Donovan special.

One of Donovan’s long-time teammates played a crucial part on the game-winner. Alan Gordon, the most criticized of Klinsmann’s selections, came off the bench to provide the assist:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sodSb_v4VyE]

How many players can say they recorded an assist in their first appearance for the national team? Let alone an assist on a game-winning goal on the road in World Cup qualifying?

Take a look at how fast the play develops. Throw in, two touches, and the ball’s into the six-yard box. Johnson pulls away from his mark, with Gordon’s cross leaving little chance for the defenders or goalkeeper to adjust. You don’t see many U.S. goals like that, but if Jurgen Klinsmann has his way, we’ll see a lot more of those type of quick, aggressive decisions from the States’ attackers.

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

ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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)

Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.