Fulham 1-2 Swansea: Coaching change yet to work miracles at Fulham (video)

Leave a comment

Swansea take temporary possession of tenth place thanks to their win at Craven Cottage, and reminded themselves of what it feels like to win on the road, after six games without. Fulham, meanwhile, find themselves even more miserable, with the loss marking their fourth straight. Despite the addition of Rene Meulensteen alongside Martin Jol, the Cottagers remain in the relegation zone, and still looked, for the majority of the match, rather hapless.

The first half may have been goalless, but at least both sides had one or two decent chances. Swansea came out slightly on top, with ten shots, forcing some quick blocks on many of them. Just before the break, Nathan Dyer was cruelly denied a chance to put the visitors ahead, when Maarten Stekelenburg blocked his shot with his leg.

Fulham, meanwhile, were a bit more cautious, perhaps bargaining on the fact that one point would be better than none at all. Their best chance came around the half-hour mark, when Darren Bent smacked the woodwork with his sharp shot. But if Bent wants to establish himself as a regular starter, he’s going to have to do a bit better.

Swansea started the second half quite lively, building into their attacks and getting in shots. Wilfried Bony and Roland Lamah both went wide. Dyer saw another shot denied, this time by a perfectly timed tackle by Kieran Richardson. Stekelenburg saved an attempt from Jonathan De Guzman, while Ben Davies saw two shots blocked — all within the opening ten minutes of the second half.

And so there was little surprise when that pressure resulted in the Swans taking the lead. The goal came courtesy of Fulham, however. Aaron Hughes attempted to clean up a cross from De Guzman and, in so doing, legged the ball into the back of his own net. You could just see Martin Jol’s blood pressure rise.

Fortunately, the Fulham manager’s health was spared less than ten minutes later, when his side put the ball in the back of the correct net. The goal by Scott Parker didn’t look entirely intentional — it was a chipped ball off a corner from Bryan Ruiz, that somehow evaded Michel Vorm and ended up in the top corner. It was a fantastic goal to watch, but it also seemed a touch unbelievable.

Intentional or not, Fulham sure wouldn’t have minded a repeat. Instead, it was Swansea that took the lead once more, ten minutes before the whistle. Jonjo Shelvey, who replaced Dyer at the hour mark, weaved his way through the Fulham defense and sent in his shot from just outside the area. The sharp shot flew past an outstretched Stekelenburg to nestle into the top right corner.

Fulham: Stekelenburg; Zverotic, Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson; Parker (Taarabt 86), Kasami, Boateng (Sidwell 60), Ruiz (Kačaniklić 77); Berbatov, Bent

Subs not used: Stockdale, Senderos, Dejagah, Dembele

Goals: Parker 64′

Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Canas, de Guzman, Dyer (Shelvey 59), Lamah (Tiendalli 86), Pozuelo (Alvaro), Bony.

Subs not used: Tremmel, Amat, Taylor, Britton

Goals: Hughes o.g. 56′; Shelvey 80′

Study: MLS improves racial hiring, slides in gender hiring

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

A diversity report shows improved racial hiring practices for Major League Soccer but also highlighted a continuing decline in gender hiring efforts.

The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida on Wednesday gave MLS an A with 93.9 points for racial hiring in 2019 for its highest score in 15 years.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

But the gender score of 72 points for a C grade fell for the third straight time, down from 76.8 points in 2018 and 81 points as recently as 2016.

The overall grade for MLS was a B at 82.9 points, falling from a B-plus and 85 points in 2018.

TIDES director Richard Lapchick, the lead report author, called lower gender hiring numbers across men’s professional sports a “systemic problem.”

Online: http://tidesport.org/

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

Medel: Chile players decline friendly over civil unrest

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chile had already canceled a home friendly with Bolivia this international break, and now the players will not play Tuesday in Peru either due to unrest in their country.’

A nationwide strike and protests against the government, spurred by a rise in metro fares, have Chile on edge.

[ MORE: USMNT-Canada preview ]

La Roja stars Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal both posted lengthy messages on their Instagram accounts, saying that the decision was made “in response to the social moment in our country.”

They urged both protestors and law enforcement to turn away from violence.

From Mega.CL:

“We are soccer players, but above all people and citizens. We know that we represent a complete country and today Chile has other priorities much more important than next Tuesday’s game.”

Chile is ranked No. 17 by FIFA and 22 in Elo Ratings.

Slumping USMNT big favorites v. Canada

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Let’s start with two statements which might be a bit controversial given the tone and tenor of the United States men’s national team program.

  1. The CONCACAF Nations League very much matters to Gregg Berhalter’s era and the program in general, even if the coach’s job is not in jeopardy and the tournament is in its infancy.
  2. The USMNT are the oddsmakers’ heavy favorites to win (nearly +500), even given the current injury problems, and it will be shocking but not surprising if they lose to the Canadians.

Point No. 1 might be a bit surprising, but this is a competition with silverware and Berhalter hasn’t won any of it yet in his tenure as USMNT boss. It’s also relevant because losing to Canada twice in a month after not losing to them since the Billboard No. 1 single was the sensual “One More Night” by Phil Collins.

And even without Christian Pulisic and a raft of injury excuses, plus taking into account Canada’s sincere re-emergence on the CONCACAF scene, the USMNT has no business losing a meaningful match at home to a team that, while improved, has far more holes than the hosts.

If you remember from October, Berhalter didn’t call upon his men to press an inexperienced Canadian back line (I just realized I’m still angry about this). There is literally no way he’ll do that at home.

If John Herdman keeps his backs the same as the one that shut out the Yanks at BMO last month, he’ll have Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Steven Vitoria, and Richie Laryea out there. Three of the four aren’t full-time starters for their MLS clubs (Vitoria is an every week man in Portugal’s top flight). Goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) is capable of stealing a result, but shouldn’t have the chance if the Yanks pressure the ball on Friday.

The midfield and attackers are where the U.S. will have its hands full. Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David beg speedy and/or smart defenders. John Brooks being in the mix should help in both counts, plus he’s the best passing back in the pool right now.

Whether the match is cagey or comfortable will come down to the midfield. Scott Arfield is going to make it difficult on the Yanks, but Alfredo Morales plays with a nasty streak and will not be as bullied as his peers were in Toronto.

The one thing to fear is how bamboozled Berhalter was by Herdman’s plan in Ontario. This isn’t to pile on the coach, who is known for his tactics but hasn’t seen them deliver against too many opponents of quality. Herdman may be the novice in terms of overall club experience, but he’s got a better handle on the international game.

If the Yanks look out-foxed and unprepared on Friday, that’s a big problem.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

TIM VIZER/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

No Christian Pulisic.

No Tyler Adams.

No Timothy Weah.

No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.

Ugh.

[ MORE: NYCFC teen signs for Gladbach ]

Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.

How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.

After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.

Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola