Hull City 0-1 Southampton: Fonte’s second half winner pushes Saints up the table (video)

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Extending their unbeaten run to six games, Southampton took full points from the KC Stadium on Tuesday, a result that temporarily moves the team eighth in the Premier League. On the back of a second half goal from Jose Fonte, Mauricio Pochettino’s team claimed a 1-0 victory over Hull City, a result that completed their season’s double over the Tigers.

Although Southampton had beaten Hull 4-1 earlier this season at St. Mary’s, the team would find things slightly more difficult further north. Despite two early chances for Rickie Lambert, the Saints were taken to halftime scoreless, having nearly opened the scoring when Jay Rodriguez hit the crossbar in the 31st minute.

In the second half, a steady stream of Southampton pressure finally paid off in the 69th minute, with a barrage of chances from in front of Steve Harper’s goal final producing the game’s only score.

The result prevents Hull from vaulting into the table’s top half while blunting the momentum the Tigers took from this weekend’s win at Sunderland. Now, having lost at home, Hull remain four points above the drop, the team still in danger of slipping back into a fight against relegation

Hull nearly conceded within the first five minutes when an attack down the right ended with a ball falling for Lambert near the spot. As Hull’s defense turned to face the ball, the England international had all the time he needed to find Harper’s upper-left corner. Pushing the ball just wide, Lambert missed an easy chance to make it 1-0.

Two minutes later, after a Steve Davis through ball put Lambert in on Harper, the Saints striker couldn’t lift his shot above an oncoming keeper, missing a second chance to put his team in front.

In the 14th minute, against the run of play, a speculative shot from Tom Huddlestone was glanced toward Artur Boruc’s far post by a Shane Long header, forcing the Southampton keeper to dive to keep the shot outt. The resulting rebound went off the post and off Boruc before finding early substitute  George Boyd, who volleyed the bouncing ball order the bar from just outside the six-yard box.

By the mid-point of the first half, the match had reached its equilibrium. Southampton was controlling play while seeing their advances halted just before Hull’s penalty area, while the Tigers were living off the counter, generating two threats down Ahmed Elmohamady’s flank. The closest the visitors came to an opener was Jay Rodriguez’s arching curler from 26 yards that went off the top of the crossbar in the 31st minute. Hull’s best chance saw a cross from Elmohamady find Nikica Jelavic before the Croatian international stabbed a shot to Boruc. The game went into halftime 0-0.

In addition to resuming control after halftime, Southampton increased their intensity, pinning the Tigers deep in their end soon after the game’s second kickoff. In the 69th minute, that intensity finally paid off after a series of chances, Harper saves, and goal line clearances gave way to a Jose Fonte goal. From just outside the six-yard box, the Saints defender make it 1-0.

Late match changes saw Hull mount more pressure over the game’s final half-hour, but with Southampton having made its own adjustments, the Tigers were left rolling the dice with half-chances and long distance speculation. As stoppage time arrived, Jack Cock slammed a 24-yard shot off Harper’s left upright, reminding Hull the result could have been worse.

LINEUPS

Hull City: Harper;  McShane (Boyd 12′), Davies, Bruce, Figueroa (Brady 76); Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler (Aluko 75′); Long, Jelavic

Southampton: Boruc; Chambers, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw; Schneiderlein, Cork; Lallana (Ward-Prowse 88′), S. Davis, Rodriguez; Lambert (Guly 77′)

Goals: Fonte 69′

Study: MLS improves racial hiring, slides in gender hiring

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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

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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

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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?

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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