Late Martins goal gives Seattle full points at Chivas USA (video)

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I imagine Obafemi Martins, tablet between outstretched arms, preparing for each match while barricaded between his Beats. Swiping at pictures of the day’s opponent — a slide show of tendencies the coaches prepared — he begins to become impatient before a hand falls flat on the screen.

“Hey,” Clint Dempsey says, looking down at a partner buried against the back of his locker. “You don’t need any of this.

“Last 10 minutes, we’re just gonna outplay them. That’s all you need to know about MLS.”

It worked two weeks ago against Portland, where two late Dempsey goals took a point out of Providence Park. It also worked in Frisco, where Dempsey’s late goal gave Dallas its first loss. And tonight in Carson, against a 10-man Chivas USA, it worked again, with Martins’ late chip over an onrushing Dan Kennedy giving Seattle a 2-1 win.

The teams had traded first half goals, with mistakes by Osvaldo Alonso and Kennedy gifting each side a goal. But for nearly an hour after Lamar Neagle pulled back Erick Torres’s opener, the teams looked on track for a draw. Chivas USA, out-fouling Seattle 26-7, frustrated its high-powered guests, leaving Seattle with only two shots on target. Even after Marco Delgado’s 73rd minute red card, Wilmer Cabrera’s team looked capable of preserving a draw.

Then came that 80th minute, when Dempsey and Martins added to a growing feeling the duo may be unstoppable. With his back to goal 30 yards out, Martins played a one-touch pass to a nearby Dempsey, who began carrying the ball toward the Chivas penalty area. As he moved toward goal, his partner made a run through the defense, eventually creating a foot race with Bobby Burling. As three Chivas players collapsed on Dempsey, “Deuce” let go of a pass, releasing “Oba” on goal. Having pulled away from Burling, Martins beat Kennedy to a ball in the middle of the area, chipping the Chivas keeper for the game-winning goal.

It was Seattle’s best chance of the might, producing the only goal that wasn’t gifted, but as they’ve done throughout the month, Martins and Dempsey showed the game’s opening 80 minutes may only matter so much. When the duo turns it on (which, over the last three weeks, has been the game’s closing moments), MLS has yet to show they can be stopped.

With one leading the league in goals (Dempsey, six), the other in assists (Martins, four), Seattle’s getting a return on its considerable investment. That striker tandem the team’s paying $8.4 million-per-year? It’s produced the most dangerous attack in Major League Soccer.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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