MLS Cup: Looking at Real Salt Lake’s tactics, style

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KANSAS CITY – Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis has allowed himself just a little more tactical breathing room in 2013, now more comfortable that his team (and he, himself) know how to manage a slightly different set-up and still fulfill the tenets that have made his bunch so successful.

Still, the only starting point in a discussion of Real Salt Lake tactics and style is that signature diamond midfield, which we are almost sue to see Saturday at Sporting Park.

For Real Salt Lake on the attack, it is all about Javier Morales (pictured), the team’s highly skilled and very wise Argentine playmaker. Morales, who has been in such splendid form in the playoffs, places himself nominally at the top of the midfield diamond — but it is really just a starting point.

Morales can drift around, comfortable that outside midfielders Luis Gil and Ned Grabavoy will position themselves accordingly in the event RSL loses the ball. So Morales will drift, frequently all the way to the touchlines to pick up balls from Kyle Beckerman and the RSL defenders.

Drifting into these disparate starting spots serves another purpose: SKC’s penchant for tactical fouling becomes more difficult. Sporting KC is quite wise in its exploitation of some naivete that still prevails in MLS refereeing circles. If Kansas City center back Aurelien Collin or holding midfielder Oriol Rosell adjudge that RSL is about to catch their team in a numerical disadvantage, they will foul quickly so that the team can organize defensively.

They will, that is, if they can find Morales and get to him in time. Morales will be well aware of what’s coming, and he’ll try to find Robbie Findley in advanced spaces, quickly so.

Findley’s speed, his ability to get behind defenses – and therefore to stretch those defenses vertically, adding more space in the midfield – has been a huge difference in RSL from 2012 to this year. Adding space in the midfield allows a bit more operating room for the swell, passing interchange we’ll see from Morales, holding man Kyle Beckerman and the outer midfield edges, occupied by Ned Grabavoy and Luis Gil.

Their ability to retain possession in the midfield – when they aren’t looking to use that deadly Morales-to-Findley combo on the counter, that is – will tell much of the story Saturday. It won’t be easy against SKC’s 4-3-3 and high press, but all four RSL midfielders have the technical ability to work out of tight spots.

RSL’s outside backs – it will be Tony Beltran on the right and either Chris Wingert or Lovel Palmer on the left – will get  forward, although surely not as much as their opposite numbers for the home team.

Kreis knows his team must be dialed in early; sucking some life out of the Sporting Park bunch – sure to be “hot” even if the weather is ridiculously frigid – would mean so much. That would force SKC outside backs Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic to cheat forward even more, to risk those gaps in behind.

Betting men should rush to Vegas with fists full of cash to wager that Aurelien Collin will be the first man booked at Sporting Park. In fact, the visitors should make every effort to provoke it.

An early booking would require Collin to completely alter his game, being less physical and less confrontational. When stripped of his best asset, that ability to create contact and look to win balls with maximum intensity, Collin becomes a very average defender, and one far more vulnerable to Findley’s speed.

Defensively, RSL center backs Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler can probably contain SKC’s crop of workaday forwards. The danger will be in the midfield, where Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber can crush with their creativity.

Under Kreis, RSL is one of the league’s top teams at minding its positioning on the attack, always aware of where the pieces find themselves in case they lose the ball. RSL will lose possession in bad spots here and there; it’s all but inevitable against SKC. If the visitors can maintain that positional discipline, they have a good chance of handling SKC’s attack, leaving the home to create mostly off set pieces.

MORE ProSoccerTalk MLS CUP COVERAGE

  • Real Salt Lake

Report says Jason Kreis on sure track to take NYCFC job; the RSL manager just frowns

Looking back on RSL’s top moment as a club, the 2009 MLS Cup

Real Salt Lake in 2013: the “not-so-rebuilding” year

Looking back on 2013: Talking through Real Salt Lake’s path to MLS Cup

Real Salt Lake’s key men

  • Sporting Kansas City

What we learned as SKC dispatched Houston in the Eastern finals

Sporting KC’s new way; the team is far more versatile today

MLS Cup 2000 flashback: Meola, Molnar and the SKC heroes

The Benny Feilhaber conundrum; has Peter Vermes finally cracked the code?

Notes from Sporting Kansas City’s Thursday press conference

Sporting Kansas City’s key players

  • Team versus team

MLS Cup positional edges: Goalkeepers

MLS Cup positional edges: Defenses

MLS Cup positional edges: Midfields

MLS Cup positional edges: Forwards

  • MLS Cup general

MLS Cup will close banner 2013 season for Sporting Park

MLS Cup first: manager who are both former players in the league

Debunking the myth of Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake as bitter rivals

MLS Cup history: the three best finals yet

Looking at how the playoff format worked in 2013

NBC Sports Premier League schedule

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The new NBC Sports Premier League schedule for the 2019-20 season has been released, with time and dates for the upcoming matchweeks confirmed and here’s how you can watch it all live on TV in the USA.

[ WATCH: Premier League video ] 

With games spread out across multiple days and many in separate time slots, there are lots of changes to your regular schedule as the league returns on June 17 after being suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be played in empty stadiums and at home venues.

The full TV schedule for the games this month are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com, the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold and the new Peacock streaming service from NBC.

Below is the new schedule for the Premier League on NBC Sports from June 17 to July 22 , as we will release the dates and times for the final matchweek of the 2019-20 season when they become available and how to watch them in the USA.


Premier League: How to watch, schedule in USA (all times EST)

Matchday 29

Wednesday, June 17: Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 17: Man City 3-0 Arsenal

Matchday 30

Friday, June 19: Norwich 0-3 Southampton
Friday, June 19: Tottenham 1-1 Man United
Saturday, June 20: Watford 1-1 Leicester
Saturday, June 20: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Saturday, June 20: West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Saturday, June 20: Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 21: Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United
Sunday, June 21: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Sunday, June 21: Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Monday, June 22: Man City 5-0 Burnley

Matchday 31

Tuesday, June 23: Leicester 0-0 Brighton
Tuesday, June 23: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham
Wednesday, June 24: Man United 3-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 24: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa
Wednesday, June 24: Norwich 0-1 Everton
Wednesday, June 24: Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth
Wednesday, June 24: Liverpool 4-0 Palace
Thursday, June 25: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
Thursday, June 25: Burnley 1-0 Watford
Thursday, June 25: Chelsea 2-1 Man City

Matchday 32

Saturday, June 27: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Sunday, June 28: Watford 1-3 Southampton
Monday, June 29: Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
Tuesday, June 30: Brighton 0-3 Man United
Wednesday, July 1: Everton 2-1 Leicester
Wednesday, July 1: Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 1: Arsenal 4-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 1: West Ham 3-2 Chelsea
Thursday, July 2: Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham
Thursday, July 2: Man City 4-0 Liverpool

Matchday 33

Saturday, July 4: Norwich City 0-1 Brighton
Saturday, July 4: Leicester 3-0 Crystal Palace
Saturday, July 4: Man United 5-2 Bournemouth
Saturday, July 4: Wolves 0-2 Arsenal
Saturday, July 4: Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Sunday, July 5: Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United
Sunday, July 5: Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham
Sunday, July 5: Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
Sunday, July 5: Southampton 1-0 Man City
Monday, July 6: Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Matchday 34

Tuesday, July 7: Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
Tuesday, July 7: Watford 2-1 Norwich City
Tuesday, July 7: Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City
Wednesday, July 8: Man City 5-0 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 8: Sheffield United 1-0 Wolves
Wednesday, July 8: West Ham 0-1 Burnley
Wednesday, July 8: Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
Thursday, July 9: Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham
Thursday, July 9: Everton 1-1 Southampton
Thursday, July 9: Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

Matchday 35

Saturday, July 11: Norwich City 0-4 West Ham
Saturday, July 11: Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Saturday, July 11: Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Saturday, July 11: Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
Saturday, July 11: Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
Sunday, July 12: Wolves 3-0 Everton
Sunday, July 12: Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace
Sunday, July 12: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Sunday, July 12: Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City
Monday, July 13: Man United v. Southampton, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Matchday 36

Tuesday, July 14: Chelsea v. Norwich, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Burnley v. Wolves, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Man City v. Bournemouth, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Newcastle v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Arsenal v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Everton v. Aston Villa, 1 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Leicester v Sheffield United, 1 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Crystal Palace v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Southampton v. Brighton, 3:15 p.m. ET
Friday, July 17: West Ham v. Watford, 3 p.m. ET

Matchday 37

Saturday, July 18: Norwich City v. Burnley, 12:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Bournemouth v. Southampton, 9 a.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Tottenham v. Leicester, 11 a.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Brighton v. Newcastle, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Sheffield United v. Everton, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Wolves v. Crystal Palace, 3:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Watford v. Man City, 1 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Aston Villa v. Arsenal, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Man United v. West Ham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Liverpool v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. ET

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With three matchweeks remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We may know whether fifth is a Champions League place after scheduled June 8-10 meetings to hear Man City’s appeal over its European ban.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With between nine and 10 matches left for everyone and eighth potentially being a Europa League spot, all the teams between fourth and 11th still have European hopes in the balance. That would change should Norwich City or Newcastle win the FA Cup, so call it 13 clubs.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 35 30 3 2 76 27 49 17-1-0 13-2-2 93
 Manchester City 35 23 3 9 91 34 57 13-2-2 10-1-7 72
 Chelsea 35 18 6 11 63 49 14 9-3-5 9-3-6 60
 Leicester City 35 17 8 10 65 36 29 10-4-3 7-4-7 59
 Manchester United 34 16 10 8 59 33 26 10-5-2 6-5-6 58
 Wolves 35 14 13 8 48 37 11 7-7-4 7-6-4 55
 Sheffield United 35 14 12 9 38 33 5 10-3-5 4-9-4 54
 Tottenham Hotspur 35 14 10 11 54 45 9 11-3-4 3-7-7 52
 Arsenal 35 12 14 9 51 44 7 8-6-3 4-8-6 50
 Burnley 35 14 8 13 39 47 -8 8-3-6 6-5-7 50
 Everton 35 12 9 14 41 52 -11 8-6-3 4-3-11 45
 Southampton 34 13 5 16 43 56 -13 5-2-10 8-3-6 44
 Newcastle United 35 11 10 14 36 52 -16 6-8-3 5-2-11 43
 Crystal Palace 35 11 9 15 30 45 -15 6-4-7 5-5-8 42
 Brighton & Hove Albion 35 8 12 15 36 52 -16 5-6-7 3-6-8 36
 West Ham United 35 9 7 19 44 59 -15 5-3-9 4-4-10 34
 Watford 35 8 10 17 33 54 -21 6-6-6 2-4-11 34

 Bournemouth 35 8 7 20 36 60 -24 5-6-7 3-1-13 31
 Aston Villa 35 8 6 21 38 65 -27 6-3-9 2-3-12 30
 Norwich City 35 5 6 24 26 67 -41 4-3-11 1-3-13 21

Leicester ‘too soft, lacked courage’ after stunning collapse at Bournemouth

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Leicester ‘lacked courage’ according to reaction from their manager and captain as an inquest was held in the aftermath of their stunning collapse at Bournemouth on Sunday.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

The Foxes led 1-0 at half time but a few minutes of madness saw them make huge errors, have Caglar Soyuncu sent off and concede four goals as they lost 4-1 at relegation-threatened Bournemouth and are now in real danger of not qualifying for the Champions League.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game in an interview, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers shared his reaction lambasted his side for their unbelievable collapse at Bournemouth

“We lacked courage in the second half, to take the ball,” Rodgers said. “We had good opportunities and decent control in the first half. They changed their shape a little bit. For the first 15 minutes you’ve got to grind it out. They’ve got nothing to lose and have to come after the game. You’ve got to grind it out in football sometimes. You can always play fantastic football. That first 15 minutes we did that but we weren’t making quick enough angles, weren’t taking responsibility on the ball. We concede the penalty, which is then, okay, we get to 1-1. But we still have to show a greater mentality in the game. It is something that surprised me, to be honest. In all the time I’ve been here I mentioned in the week about the strength of mentality in this team. But second half we were too soft in too many ways. That was the big disappointment. To end up losing 4-1, it was a big surprise, especially after the first half.”

Leicester captain and goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, made a huge error for the first goal as he smashed the ball against Wilfred Ndidi from a goal kick and that set off the entire collapse.

“It is obviously not good enough from us. It is a good wake up call for us and hopefully it’s there in time,” Schmeichel said. “We’re accountable. I’m very, very sorry to our fans for that second half particularly. It starts with me on that goal kick because it changes the game.”

Schmeichel then went on to say that the collapse shouldn’t happen and questioned the focus and work ethic of his teammates.

“This is football. These things can happen. They shouldn’t but they can do. We are going to have to reflect on that and make a positive out of it. We are going to have to work a hell of a lot harder than we did second half if we want to achieve anything this season. It is an eye-opener. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against in the Premier League, if you don’t run, track your runners, if you don’t win your tackles or have the courage to have the ball, like we didn’t have second half, then anyone can beat you.”

With Sheffield United, Tottenham and Chelsea left to play, Leicester finish the season by playing three teams around them in the table.

Rodgers admits he has learned a lot about his team from this defeat and it is a big opportunity missed in their hunt for the Champions League.

“I think it is a great learning game for me and looking at the team because I think everyone is classifying us being up there and we have shown great talent to be up there but we still have much to do. In terms of being up there consistently and showing again that you need to see the likes of that through,” Rodgers said. “It was a big opportunity. The door was wide open to jump up into third place. To have that level of performance in the second half, it shows we have a lot of work to do.”

Bournemouth stun self-destructing Leicester

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Bournemouth stunned Leicester City to secure a remarkable 4-1 comeback win as Brendan Rodgers’ side led at half time but hit the self-destruct button in the second half.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester the lead but a few minutes of madness cost Leicester dear. Kasper Schmeichel gave away a penalty kick which Junior Stanislas scored to make it 1-1 and 60 seconds later Bournemouth went 2-1 up as Dominic Solanke slotted home as Schmeichel should have done better. Stanislas deflected effort made it 3-1 and then Solanke made it 4-1 as Bournemouth ran riot and Leicester totally unravelled.

The win moves Bournemouth on to 31 points, three points from safety with three games to go, while Leicester sit in fourth on 59 points.


Three things we learned, Bournemouth – Leicester

1. Bournemouth up for the fight: This was the first time in two years Bournemouth came from behind to win a Premier League game and boy did they time it to perfection. Howe’s young side made the most of awful errors from Leicester and you could see them grow in confidence throughout the second half. This is a huge result for Bournemouth in their relegation scrap as they now face Man City, Southampton and Everton in their final three games of the Premier League season. Two wins from those three games should keep them up as they battle with Watford, West Ham and Aston Villa to try and stay up. At half time they looked relegated. At full time they looked anything but.

2. Leicester implode to leave Champions League dream in tatters: Brendan Rodgers watched on in disbelief as his side collapsed in the second half to leave their Champions League dream. Three minutes of madness saw a mistake from Schmeichel led to a penalty kick, then Soyuncu got himself sent off for lashing out as the Foxes just lost the plot. This has been coming. They haven’t played well for months and both Man United and Chelsea look better set to finish third and fourth. If Leicester don’t qualify for the Champions League it will be one of the biggest collapses in PL history. After 24 games of the season, they were 14 points ahead of Man United. Tomorrow they could fall two points behind Man United. Leicester face Sheffield United, Tottenham and Man United in their final three games and the way they are playing, and now without the suspended Soyuncu, they could easily lose all three.

3. Bournemouth have belief: Sure, they were given this win by Leicester but Bournemouth grabbed the opportunity with both hands. This is a massive boost in their relegation battle. They have to get at least six points from their last three games but that is doable. West Ham and Watford square off on Friday and ahead of their big South Coast derby against Southampton on Sunday, there is huge belief Bournemouth can drag themselves out of trouble.

Man of the Match


Early on Bournemouth whipped in some good crosses but Callum Wilson just couldn’t connect in the box as the hosts started well.

Ayoze Perez and Kelechi Iheanacho went close as Leicester woke up and a mistake from Dan Gosling then allowed Leicester to open the scoring.

Iheanacho’s effort was flicked off the line but Vardy was waiting to pounce and tap home his 23rd goal of the season, as the ultimate fox in the box put the Foxes 1-0 up.

Danjuma with a terrible ball back and set up Vardy as Nathan Ake deflected his shot over the bar. Ake injured himself with that block as Steve Cook replaced him, while at the other end Kasper Schmeichel kept out David Brooks’ fine effort.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Bournemouth put pressure on Leicester and Cook clipped a low ball to the back post which just evaded Wilson.

Out of nothing, Kasper Schmeichel smashed the ball against Wilfred Ndidi from a goal kick and the ball bounced to Wilson who was brought down by Ndidi and a penalty kick was awarded. Stanislas slotted home to make it 1-1 and moments later Bournemouth were ahead.

Solanke was played in and his low shot squirmed under Schemeichel and just over the line, as Bournemouth’s players went wild and in the aftermath it got even better as Caglar Soyuncu was sent off after a mad moment which saw him kick Callum Wilson while he was on the floor in the net.

Late on Bournemouth went 3-1 up as Stanislas’ shot deflected off two Leicester defenders and in, then it got even better as Solanke poked home his second and Bournemouth’s fourth to complete a truly remarkable comeback.

Sub Sam Surridge could have scored twice as he hit the bar and headed over as Leicester totally gave up.