MLS Week in Review – Round 18

Leave a comment

Quite a weekend in MLS, with wild finishes and results that had two prominent manager blowing their stacks!

Let’s get into it …

West is best: At least for Round 18. Five matches featured a team from the Eastern Conference vs. a team from the West. The left coast went 3-0-2 in those matches, even though four were played in Eastern Conference grounds. That West-leaning record includes road wins by Real Salt Lake, Vancouver and Colorado. FC Dallas drew in Philadelphia. The only dent, such as it was, in that mark was Chivas USA’s draw at home with New England.

Coach blowing his stack, East Coast Version: If you want to see a man under intense pressure, watch the way D.C. United manager Ben Olsen handles himself in the post-game press conference. Olsen was incensed that referee Matthew Foerster adjudged a penalty area foul on young goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Vancouver’s resulting spot shot was the only goal in a 1-0 Whitecaps win at RFK Stadium. So, was Olsen right to go all whacko? We’ll have more later today … but do consider that his team is in last place and was just shut out for the 11th time in 17 matches. That’s a hint on what’s to come.

Coach blowing his stack, West Coast Version: Man, on man, anybody want to be a player at LA Galaxy practices this week? They could get nasty, because Bruce Arena was one unhappy two-time defending champion camper. His team went up 2-0 Saturday on California rival San Jose and probably should have put the game in its back pocket with other chances. But …

“I’m absolutely embarrassed at that performance, it’s disgraceful.” Those were Arena’s words not long after the Earthquakes scored the third goal in stoppage time, harkening back to all those 2012 stoppage time comebacks.

The comebacks: The Earthquakes’ 3-2 win over L.A. wasn’t the only big rally worth talking about. Montreal took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 at home over Colorado, but Oscar Pareja’s men dug in with two late goals for a 4-3 win over Montreal.

Dallas was down a man and a down a goal on the road when Blas Perez scored deep into stoppage time

The Rapids’ rookie parade: Will the Rookie of the Year race be an all-DSG Park affair? Versatile midfielder Dillon Powers must be in the conversation; he had a goal an assist Saturday as his fine season moves forward. But so should forward Deshorn Brown be in the running; he struck for his fourth goal of 2013.

The week’s big off-field news: Before the summer transfers from abroad start trickling in, how about one who is staying around? A darn good one, too. That’s Graham Zusi, who signed a new deal with Sporting Kansas City late last week. It’s a smart move to tie up a guy who keeps improving, protecting their asset and doing all they can to keep a good U.S. star at home.

source:  We assume the Houston Dynamo WILL score again this year: But, who knows? They were just shut out for the fourth consecutive match in the 2-0 loss at New York.

The next call for goal-line technology: We get these from time to time. In this case, justice appeared to be done, because FC Dallas was wrongly denied a goal late against Philly … but did squeeze one past the Union defense late to manage the draw anyway. You be the judge. The telling photo is on the right as Sheanon Williams clears Blas Perez’s ball from just behind the line.

The big crowds: Red Bull Arena was sold out for a 2-0 win over Houston. It may not sound like anything worth shouting about, but they tend to fill that swell building less than you think. Across the country, 50,028 were at Stanford Stadium to see the Earthquakes rally against the Galaxy. Presumably, they do know that David Beckham isn’t playing anymore.

The weekend’s top goal: Watch the two superb touches from Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara – and consider that he is running at top speed as he collects that original ball. Enjoy.

.

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There will be plenty of 2005 U-17 World Cup final shades at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

On that clear night in Lima, Peru, the likes of Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos wrote history for Mexico, as they powered El Tri to its first-ever World Cup title over a favorite Brazilian side, who was composed of Marcelo, Renato Augusto, and Anderson, in a 3-0 win.

14 years and some change later, both youth powerhouses meet again in the same tournament, for the same silverware, and with the same pressure looming over them from entire nations who expect nothing but excellence from their respective teams.

But of course, to the Brazilians, there is a sense of added pressure given the fact that they’re on home soil.

“We’re familiar with Mexico’s quality,” Brazilian forward, Veron, said ahead of the final. We know they are a great team. But we’re Brazil, and we have five stars on our chest. We intend to play our best match and get the result that makes history.”

As it stands, Mexico is the clear-cut underdog, having barely crept into the knockout stages and being composed of players with far less notoriety to its Brazilian counterpart, who boast three players with three goals or more in the tournament.

That said, Mexico pose as a balanced, reliable, and pragmatic team under coach Marco “Chima” Ruiz. Throughout the six games this tournament, El Tri have found the back of the net 14 times and have conceded a mere three goals (two of which came against Italy). With four goals and two assists in only 344 minutes, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez has proven to be the team’s most productive player going forward.

Asked who he would rather take between France or Brazil in the final, the Mexican American answered with the same confidence that has made him one of the most exciting players in the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter which of the two it is, we’ll beat them,” he said.

It’s 90 minutes for either team to make history, again. A win for Brazil will raise the number of U-17 stars to four, while Mexico can claim its third with another historic performance. Will Brazil’s high-flying attack crack Mexico’s solid defense? If Alvarez starts, will he rise to the occasion and guide Mexico to another U-17 title?

That has yet to be seen; the second final between two, routine winners awaits the first whistle.

Report: Man City considering Kingsley Coman as Leroy Sane replacement

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are considering Bayern Munich’s Kinglsey Coman as a replacement for injured Leroy Sane if he were to leave for the defending German champions over the summer, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sane, who is projected to be out until February or March with an ACL injury, was the subject of a $176 million move to Bayern Munich over the summer, but a move never came to fruition, largely due to the aforementioned injury. If negotiations between Sane’s camp and the defending Bundesliga champions pick up again this summer, City have a replacement in mind: 23-year-old Coman.

Coman, who has played in 10 league games for the Bavarian club this season, was managed by Guardiola during his time with the club and flourished during the title-winning 2015-2016 season. In 2017, the Frenchman revealed that the Spaniard’s departure was tough on him, saying, “I found life easier at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola.”

As expected, Coman is not the only option City are exploring.

Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who has a reported $82 million release clause, is also on the Premier League giant’s shortlist. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, has strong ties to La Reala that goes back to his first day in the sport.

At the Etihad, the general feeling from Guardiola’s players is that the German winger is one foot out of England, and is instead focused on a move to Bayern and a return back home. With his contract in the final 12 months this summer, it is expected that the release clause for Sane will not be as lucrative as before. 

In 134 appearances for City, Sane has scored 39 goals, while Coman has scored on 28 different occasions in 139 appearances.

Abidal: Barcelona, Messi negotiating a new deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed  to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.

“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”

Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”

Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.

Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.

“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.

EURO qualifying wrap: Germany, Austria, Croatia join Netherlands in qualifying

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Like the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Croatia qualified for EURO 2020 after wins on Saturday.

[ READ: Netherlands qualify to first EURO since 2012 ]


Germany 4-0 Belarus

With goals from Matthias Ginter, Leon Goretska, and a second-half brace from Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Germany routed an uncompetitive Belarus side 4-0 at Borussia-Park. The scoreline, however, should have been more lopsided, as the home side easily won the possession battle and outshot the visitor’s with a total of 31 shots (10 on target). Leaders of Group C, Germany is an early favorite for next summer’s tournament. Not hard to believe that, right? 

Austria 2-1 North Macedonia

Qualifying for Europe’s main tournament is becoming a norm for Austria.

Bayern Munich’s David Alaba scored early while Stefan Lainer added his own three minutes into the second half, as Austria edged North Macedonia 2-1 at Ernst Happel Stadion. Das Team, who stand second in Group G with 19 points after nine games, have now clinched a berth for the EURO on back-to-back occasions.

Croatia 3-1 Slovakia

When all was said and done, Croatia was too much for a 10-man Slovakia, who, initially, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.

Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic scored the home side’s third and final goal of the match, which punched Croatia’s ticket in next summer’s tournament. Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic also contributed goals in the second half for Croatia.

Elsewhere

Russia 1-4 Belgium

Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales

Cyprus 1-2 Scotland

Israel 1-2 Poland

Armenia 0-1 Greec