MLS roundup: Dempsey scores two more; RSL the last of the unbeatens

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Major League Soccer is down to one unbeaten team, though in a month-and-a-half full of ties, it’s only right that the last undefeated side is riddled with draws. After a 2-2 result today in Philadelphia, Real Salt Lake’s left with only two wins in six, its 2-0-4 record as indicative of its difficult opening schedule as the team’s quality.

Thanks to Seattle’s performance in Frisco, Tex., FC Dallas can no longer count itself among the unbeatens, with another headlining performance from one of the league’s biggest stars finally sinking Óscar Pareja’s upstart side. FCD does, however, maintain its place at the top of the Western Conference, with a surprise win from Colorado at BMO Field leaving a trio of clubs three points behind the leaders.

Here’s what happened on the sixth Saturday of the Major League Soccer season:

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Real Salt Lake

Oh, look what we have here: The good Philadelphia Union. We thought we lost you guys, but the way you played against Real Salt Lake? You obviously just had an off week against Chicago. Maybe that potential you flashed against Portland, New England, and Columbus wasn’t a more than a hot start.

Coming back from two different deficits, the Union got their fourth draw of the season, seeing their new striker (Andrew Wenger) score in the process. Real Salt Lake also so a “4” going into their tie column, though the Western Conference champions are the league’s last unbeaten team.

Toronto FC 0-1 Colorado Rapids

Without Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe, Toronto still had a number of chances to claim their second home win of the season, but after a well-built chance that saw Dillons Serna and Powers create a close-range opportunity for Edson Buddle, the Reds were made to rue their inability to find an opening goal. With their second loss of the year, TFC remains tied at the top of the East with Columbus, while Colorado moves to within three points of first place Dallas in the Western Conference.

Montréal Impact 1-1 Chicago Fire

Jack McInerney scored in his first game with Montréal, but much like the rest of his team, the new Impact striker was kept quiet throughout the rest of the afternoon. When Chicago got an early second half equalizer from Quincy Amarikwa, Frank Yallop’s team appeared to be building toward its first win of the season, but unable to find a winner from a match it controlled, the Fire had to settle for its fourth straight draw.

New England Revolution 2-0 Houston Dynamo

Carrying some kind of hangover from their 4-1 loss to Dallas last weekend, Houston failed to put a shot on goal at Gillette Stadium, allowing Kevin Alston’s first MLS goal to carry New England into stoppage time. Jerry Bengston’s goal after a Tally Hall error doubled the Revolution lead as well as Houston’s losing streak, with New England rebounding from its loss at D.C. to hand the Dynamo their second straight loss.

D.C. United 1-0 New York Red Bulls

A fourth minute goal from Davy Arnaud along with another surprisingly poor performance from New York gave Ben Olsen’s team its second straight win, with United now one win short of its 2013 season total. With Thierry Henry back in the team, the Red Bulls were able to take more control than they did last week in Montréal, but an inability to put more than three of their 19 shots on target leaves the Supporters’ Shield holders winless this season.

FC Dallas 2-3 Seattle Sounders

Clint Dempsey made his case for a second straight Player of the Week honor, with a Goal of the Year candidate and a late match-winner giving “Deuce” his second straight multi-goal night. Knocking Dallas from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Sounders claimed their third win of the campaign, with their biggest star taking his spot atop the league’s scoring charts with six goals.

Portland Timbers 1-1 Chivas USA

What New York is to the East, Portland is to the Western Conference. Now six games without a win, the Timbers again saw a defensive failing cost them points, with Erick Torres’s late goal giving the visiting Goats a surprise result. With his fifth goal of the year, “Cubo” joins Dempsey as the only players to net five times though six rounds (though Dempsey has played two fewer games).

LA Galaxy 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Robbie Keane’s third goal in four games keeps LA in the win column, with the Galaxy’s second straight shutout giving fans reason to think Bruce Arena has found a solution for the team’s biggest weakness. After starting the season with a loss and draw against Real Salt Lake, LA’s up to seven points in four games, though Landon Donovan remains in pursuit of goal No. 135.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kluivert junior leaves Ajax for Roma in $21m transfer

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ROME (AP) — Roma signed Justin Kluivert, the son of former Milan and Barcelona forward Patrick, from Ajax on Friday for a fee that could rise to 18.75 million euros ($21.8 million).

The 19-year-old Dutch international forward has agreed a five-year contract with Roma.

“I’m very happy. I’m at an incredible club,” Kluivert said. “I cannot wait to start. I believe that Roma is the ideal team for my growth, which will allow me to play at the highest levels.”

Kluivert junior made 56 appearances and scored 13 goals for Ajax. He has one cap for the Netherlands.

He joins Roma for an initial 17.25 million euros ($20.1 million) and performance-related clauses could see the price rise by 1.5 million euros.

Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, interested in purchasing AC Milan

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The Ricketts family, who purchased a controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs back in 2009, have interest in further pursuing ownership in financially troubled Italian club AC Milan.

According to a family statement, “The Ricketts family brought a championship to the Chicago Cubs through long-term investment and being great stewards of the team … They would bring this same approach to AC Milan.”

First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the news of the Tom Ricketts’ interest in the team comes on the heels of news that current owner Li Yonghong had failed to meet a Friday deadline for a $37 million loan payment. According to reports, the missed payment means that Li will cede control of the club to Elliott Management, who loaned the Chinese businessman the money to complete his initial purchase of the club last April.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported the family’s interest in the club, and quoted their source as saying, “The Ricketts put together the management team, resources and training facilities [for the Cubs]. [They did] everything you need top to bottom to be successful.”

Ricketts has plenty of history in soccer ownership, having previously been a part of the group that owned English club Derby County before selling back in 2015. This May, Ricketts also announced he was leading an investment group that is looking to bring a USL expansion team to Chicago.

Forbes values AC Milan at $612 million – a massive 26% 1-year decline – and ranks them the 17th most valuable soccer club in the world. That valuation could be further on the decline, as the storied club missed out on Champions League qualification for the fifth straight year, although they qualified for their second straight Europa League appearance with 6th place finish in last year’s Serie A table, eight points behind Lazio in fifth.

AC Milan also faces heavy sanctions from UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play, although those fears could be eased with the financially-troubled Li selling the club.

The Ricketts family’s wealth comes largely from investment banking, with Tom’s father J. Joseph Ricketts having founded Ameritrade back in 1975. Tom is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, while his father has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.

Xhaka, Shaqiri display controversial goal celebrations in win over Serbia

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A seemingly innocuous goal celebration performed by both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri has thinly veiled, politically charged undertones and could potentially land the pair in FIFA disciplinary proceedings following Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Serbia.

Both displayed a bird hand signal as they celebrated scoring goals, and considering their pre-match comments, post-match social media posts, and ethnic backgrounds, those were clearly meant to represent the double-eagle symbol in the middle of the Albanian flag.

This is a complicated political scenario, but it could be considered by FIFA to be politically provocative. Shaqiri is Albanian, born in Kosovo before moving to Switzerland with his parents and three siblings when he was just a year old. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia. Xhaka is of Albanian descent, and his father previously participated in a demonstration against the communist Yugoslavian rule in Kosovo that landed him a lengthy jail sentence. Albania and Serbia have a particularly tumultuous relationship, with their leaders meeting for the first time in over 60 years in 2014, which caused tempers to flare.

Following the match, Xhaka posted a picture of his celebration on his Instagram story, with the caption in Albanian roughly translated to, “Here you go Serbia, this is why they call me Granit Kosovo!” He deleted the post, and replaced it with an image of his celebration side-by-side with Shaqiri’s, with the slightly more cryptic caption, “We did it, bro!” in English.

FIFA is wildly against any type of political demonstration or involvement in the world of soccer. The governing body has punished individual nation federations in the past for government involvement, while political demonstrations on the field are fiercely frowned upon.

Switzerland captain and new Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner came to the defense of his two teammates after the match. When asked about the celebrations, he said to Goal.com, “We had a lot of pressure, it was not an easy game for us. We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It was a very tough game for them mentally.”

“It was good. Why not? This is the history for them,” Lichtsteiner continued. “The war between them was so difficult. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. This is more than football. This is more than football because they have this period, this war that gave them both big problems. I understand them. I think it’s normal, it’s part of their life. There was also big provocation ahead of the game from them [Serbia], so I think it’s normal.”

Shaqiri could be in especially hot water. The Stoke City midfielder wore boots with the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo. He has made it clear in the past that he values his roots, saying, “I was born in Kosovo, but I grew up in Switzerland. I live both mentalities, it’s not a big difference.”

Switzerland finishes its World Cup group stage round with a match against Costa Rica on Wednesday in which a win would secure a spot in the knockout stage.