Quickie Review of Round 10 in Major League Soccer

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Best goal: From Nick Rimando’s wise distribution, to Joao Plata’s pinpoint cross and then to Luis Gil’s brave finish, RSL’s first goal against Vancouver was the tops. You will see more flashy finishes, but you will see few goals constructed as sweetly. (The goal is linked and discussed here, or you can watch it at bottom of this post.)

Most important goal: A 1-0 win for the Houston Dynamo was more than just another win over 34 matches. It was sweet, sweet redemption in a building where season dreams died three of the last four years. So, tip of the hat to Andrew Driver, whose second half goal provided the difference in a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals at the Home Depot Center.

Worst scheduling: If MLS is going to stage a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals, and if MLS wants to promote the match as the weekend biggie, shouldn’t they get together with TV partners to identify a better kickoff time. I mean, 11 p.m. ET on Sunday night? For a regular season match? The do want people to watch, don’t they?

Best performances in goal: Both men were large and in charge as Week 10 opened with a scoreless draw in Portland. Timbers No. 1 Donovan Ricketts may have pulled off the save of the weekend late in Thursday’s contest at Jeld-Wen Field, but the Revs’ Bobby Shuttleworth  was sensational front to back in gathering up nine saves.

The only scoreless tie – not a bad scoreless tie: Thursday’s match at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, the opener for Round 10, was sure proof that a scoreless draw can be exciting. Quality was high, and the goalkeeping was exceptional on both sides. See above.

Most unlikely two-fer: Philadelphia’s Danny Cruz had six goals in 86 previous MLS appearances out of D.C. United’s and Philly’s midfield. So, an afternoon with two goals? Yeah, that’s a big day for the hard-charging Union man.

Biggest weekend off-field news: Robbie Rogers being spotted at LA Galaxy training camp was last week’s big talker. Well, this story is moving quickly … so the weekend’s big news off the field was Rogers saying he will probably be back in MLS. This year!

Best comeback: it came out of San Jose. And if that shocks you – well, you aren’t paying attention. This time it was against Montreal, which took a 2-0 lead … but left with just a draw after the Earthquakes hit twice in the second half.

Oddest PK failure: Landon Donovan had a second consecutive spot shot saved. Remember when the Galaxy man was Mr. Automatic on these things?

Larger PK blues in MLS: League shooters are now 4-for-12 since March. What is going on here, guys? Compare that puny rate of PK conversion to the historical rate, around 85 percent.

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Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

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Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

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England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

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KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.