MLS Preview: Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union

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  • Chivas USA are on a 13 game winless streak
  • Philadelphia, 3-0-2, have never lost to Chivas
  • Freddy Adu scored the winner when these sides last met

Friday night action down by the banks of the Delaware River. Does it get much better than that?

That what’s in store tonight as two team desperate for a win go head-to-head. The Philadelphia Union are on a three-game winless streak and they lost 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo last time out. While Chivas USA are in one of the deepest slumps the franchise has ever seen, and there’s been a few, as it’s now 13 games without a win for the Goats.

Union boss John Hackworth is without duo Jack McInerney, Keon Daniel who are on Gold Cup duty with the USA and Trinidad & Tobago respectively. Chivas only have one absentee through Gold Cup action, as defender Steve Purdy is away with El Salvador.

Coming off a closely fought defeat to Houston, the Union will be looking to grab a vital victory that could momentarily push them up to second place in the Eastern conference. Hackworth has impressively assembled a solid core of young US talent and despite losing leading goalscorer McInerney to the USA, he will be hoping to see veteran striker Conor Casey step up to the plate.

The only times these two teams met last season was a feisty affair in Carson, Calif. as former Union boss Peter Nowak was sent off for entering the field, while Philadelphia finished the game with nine-men as Keon Daniel and Gabrial Farfan were given red cards.

Fast forward to today, and Chivas come off the back of a spirited tie with Eastern conference leaders Montreal. Chivas’ Eric Avila put the Goats 1-0 up but the Impact rallied to net a late equalizer. The draw was Chivas’ third in a row, and interim head coach Jose Luis Real must be taking heart from the way his troops are fighting.

All the stats point to a big Union win down at PPL Park, but can Chivas defend for their lives and grab another draw? The game kicks off at 7:30pm ET and you can watch it on MLS Live.

What they’re saying

Union boss John Hackworth after the defeat to Houston: “This is a tough league; you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, especially when you play in these kinds of conditions with our third game in eight days. I thought our team put out a fantastic effort. It just wasn’t there tonight. I think it was a great opportunity for some of our younger guys. I had no problem with how they played. I think they all did great.”

Chivas’ interim manager Jose Luis Real after the Montreal tie: “In my opinion, this game was the most important, the best for our team. Because Montreal is at the top of the teams and our team was always at the top today.”

Chivas USA captain Dan Kennedy: “Every point is important in this league. We’re at a stage where we’re growing up under our new coach. There’s been a lot of change, so you can see each game we’re growing a little bit.”

Prediction

Everything is pointing towards a Union win, and a big one. But Chivas have been solid, yet unspectacular in recent weeks. They are fighting for their new manager and for their own pride. But after long road trips for both teams prior to this, energy levels will be low. I fancy Philadelphia to snatch all three points but it will be tight and tense.

Kane scores early and late, England narrowly top Tunisia

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England’s 2018 World Cup debut began brilliantly, then appeared headed for a disappointingly familiar outcome, but was ultimately saved by Harry Kane who scored both goals in the Three Lions’ 2-1 victory over Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday.

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England came sprinting out of the starting blocks — so quickly they nearly took flight — and taking an early lead through Harry Kane in the 11th minute (WATCH HERE). John Stones‘ header was spectacularly saved by Mouez Hassen, but Kane was in the right place at the right time and swept home the rebound for his first World Cup goal (on his World Cup debut).

The opening half-hour was all England, with the likes of Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling cutting through the Tunisian midfield and defense with very little resistance and creating a half-dozen golden scoring chances. Unfortunately for Gareth Southgate‘s side, they couldn’t capitalize, and they were made to pay for it.

Kyle Walker caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with a raised arm as an innocuous cross came into the box, prompting referee Wilmar Roldan to blow his whistle and point to the penalty spot immediately. Ferjani Sassi stepped up and converted, just out of reach of Jordan Pickford, who perhaps got a fingertip on the ball (WATCH HERE), to make it 1-1 and negate an otherwise dominant first-half performance by England. It would be Tunisia’s only shot on goal for the game.

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England’s best chance to re-establish a lead came during a six-yard-box scramble just seconds before halftime. Alli’s header hit the crossbar and Stones badly scuffed — nearly whiffed — on the follow-up. Kane was dragged to the ground during the rest of the commotion, to no interest of Roldan.

It took far longer than anyone back home in England would have liked, but Kane grabbed the winner in the 91st minute, heading home from acres of space at the back post. Jordan Henderson got the first crack at heading the corner kick, but it was blocked and bound high into the air. Somehow, some way, Kane was unmarked and snuck his redirect just inside the post.

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Up next for England is a meeting with Panama on Sunday, a day after Tunisia take on Belgium, who thrashed the Panamanians, 3-0, on Monday.

VIDEO: Tunisia equalizes on controversial penalty kick

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England centerback Kyle Walker put his arm up to halt the forward progress of Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Unfortunately for Walker, Ben Youssef was in the box and Walker’s elbow caught Ben Youssef’s face.

Referee Wilmar Roldan quickly whistled for a penalty kick and despite the protests from a half-dozen of England players and a check from the VAR, the called stood. Ferjani Sassi’stepped up to the spot and found the lower-left corner, just barely beating Jordan Pickford to tie the game in the 35th minute.

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How will England respond?

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

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After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

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But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.