Record again eludes Landon Donovan as Galaxy down Vancouver (video)

Leave a comment

This may be the most apt way for Landon Donovan to set the Major League Soccer goal scoring mark, because the guy has never been the league’s most efficient goal-scorer. That’s weird to say about a man who, already the U.S.’s all-time leading scorer, will soon hold the same honor in MLS, but it’s true. Donovan’s goal scoring has been more about quantity of chances than quality finishes;* prolonged, all-around greatness rather than dominant, individual seasons.

(*Please, analytics guys: Not now.)

Tonight was no different, with Donovan engaging in what is starting to become a weekly ritual: Teasing  those editors who have stories, videos, slide shows in the can, waiting for goal number 135 to hit the back of the net. “Donovan sets MLS career mark” has become the celebrity obituary saved to use at a moment’s notice.

Tonight’s big moment came in the 40th minute when a Dan Gargan cross found Donovan just above the six-yard box, waiting to head it inside the left post. When his attempt went wide, we instinctively knew: It wasn’t happening tonight, part of the reason his 43rd minute miss off a Stefan Ishizaki pass seemed to carry less drama.

What did happen was LA’s second win of the season, with Robbie Keane breaking through two minutes after halftime. The goal stood up, giving LA a 1-0 win, leaving the team 2-1-1 on the season. Against non-Real Salt Lake opposition, Bruce Arena’s team is now 2-0-0.

source: Getty ImagesDespite those results, the story from here forward is likely to be Donovan. Now eight games without a goal, the chase for 135 has not begun to overshadow his otherwise strong performances, it’s starting to overshadow his team’s results. Donovan’s quest for history is just more interesting than what the Galaxy’s doing in April.

That may sound dramatic, but most records are, especially when the buildup goes on for this long. Not only did Donovan give us the offseason to think it, but this eight-game stretch is his longest drought since 2011, when he went 11 games without a goal.

If people are allowing No. 135 to overshadow results, it’s not only because the record is in view. It’s because the record is in view while Donovan’s in a slump.

At least his team’s results haven’t suffered. Up to seven points through four games, the Galaxy now have better points-per-game rate than Real Salt Lake and Seattle, and while that’s only good for sixth place in the West, it does provide a different context for LA’s start. The only things keeping them from a higher place in their conference are their bye weeks, not their results.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

Twitter/@Futbolestodo
Leave a comment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

Epsilon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]