MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 2-3 Seattle Sounders

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwsPK6pmykU]

One game, 100 words or less: Obafemi Martins’ early dominance was derailed by his own mistake, with a hands to the face ejection sending him to the locker room after 41 minutes and two goals. By that time, former Sounder Jhon Kennedy Hurtado had seen red, too, leaving the teams to play the second half 10-on-10. A Lamar Neagle ball into the right side of goal in the 78th minute gave the Sounders a two-goal lead, providing insurance against Harry Shipp’s second – a late blast from 17 yards into Stefan Frei’s upper-right hand corner.

Three moments that mattered:

1. 37′ – Hurtado gets sent off – The Fire defender, who had played every minute this season, had to be restrained by partner Bakary Soumaré when Chris Penso show him a second yellow card. Perhaps the Colombian defender was going to argue he didn’t make contact with Martins, but attempting a two-footed tackle in the penalty area (with Martins adroitly avoiding contact), Hurtado left himself no leg to stand on. After Martins converted from the spot, making it 2-0, Chicago seemed beaten.

source: AP
Obafemi Martins scored twice and was issued a red card in Saturday’s first half against Chicago, (Source: AP)

2. 42′ – Martins evens the scales – Shipp’s clinical finish from the left of the box inside Frei’s far post restored some hope for the hosts, but it was the aftermath of the goal that truly brought Chicago back into the game. During a fracas near the center line ahead of the ensuing kickoff, Martins was deemed to have made contact with Benji Joya’s face, earning a straight red card. All of a sudden Chicago had not only halved the lead, they’d even the scales.

3. 78′ – Lamar Neagle, Insurance Agent – A beautiful finish from the right side of Seattle’s penalty area in the 82nd minute gave Shipp his second multi-goal game of the season, further bolstering his place as this season’s Rookie of the Year. By that time, however, the Sounders had put the match away. Four minutes earlier, open in the left of the box as Seattle moved in from the other flank, Neagle calmly put a ball out of Sean Johnson’s reach and into the right side of Chicago’s goal, sealing Seattle’s win.

Three lessons going forward:

1. Neagle, Pappa continue to make wide midfield spots their own – The discussion around the wide midfield spots in Seattle’s 4-4-2 is starting to die down. Both Lamar Neagle, previously a constant source of debate, and Marco Pappa, who had a slow start to his Sounder career, have started to nail down the left and right flanks. Where that would leave Brad Evans when DeAndre Yedlin returns remains to be seen, but between Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda centrally and the strong performances Sigi Schmid’s getting out wide, Seattle’s midfield four is looking less and less like something you’d want to disrupt.

2. Obafemi Martins will go the way of Clint Dempsey – If his violent conduct red card is upheld, Martins will miss the team’s first two games after the World Cup break, matches at D.C. United and Vancouver. As important as the Nigerian has been to the team, it will be difficult playing any games without him. If Clint Dempsey can’t be integrated quickly after the World Cup (or, if the U.S. advances from its group), Seattle may be without both of its key attackers for at least one match.

3. Stop if you’ve heard this before: Chicago’s defense might not be good – Soumaré allowed Martins to turn onto goal one. Hurtado’s penalty conceded goal number two. All defenses seem to have moments like those, but Chicago has collecting them at a disturbing rate. It’s not that the Fire’s allowing such a remarkable number of goals. It’s that the goals they’re allowing are so preventable.

Where that leaves them:

  • Chicago: 2-4-8, ninth place in the East, four points out of fifth place
  • Seattle: 10-3-2, seven points clear of second place Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference

El Tri star Lozano staying focusing amid Barcelona rumors

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Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was a player everyone needed to pay attention to heading into the 2018 World Cup, and through two matches, the El Tri star has been every bit the price of admission for his country.

[ MORE: Group scenarios heading into the final group stage matches ]

Mexico sits atop Group F with six points at the moment, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to Lozano’s endless motor and creative attacking vision when he finds space down the wing.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker has been linked with various big clubs, including La Liga giants Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted Lozano’s pursuit of guiding Mexico to an unprecedented run at the World Cup.

“The important thing is to focus on the next [Mexico] game, do as well as possible and go step by step,” Lozano said.

Despite winning their first two games, El Tri needs at least a point in its final Group F match to ensure qualification without any complications.

Mexico will take on Sweden on Wednesday, as Juan Carlos Osorio’s side aims to remain perfect in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Guardado — who has been a mainstay of the Mexican national team for years — only confirmed the work ethic of his teammate and hopes that a dream move becomes a reality for Lozano in the near future.

“It makes me very proud to say he is a kid that is very centered, despite everything he is going through,” said Guardado after Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea. “He is conscious that he has to continue like he’s not achieved anything.”

“He’s the same kid I met the first time he came with us,” continued Guardado. “Hopefully he stays like that and the rumors about a possible transfer to a big team become reality. It would be marvelous, he’s a great teammate.”

Video: Salah lob has Egypt off and running in first half

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Egypt’s run at the World Cup didn’t go according to plan, but the Pharaohs are looking in control on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Mohamed Salah‘s second goal of the tournament has given the Egyptians a 1-0 lead over Saudi Arabia in their Group A finale.

After a Saudi giveaway in the attacking half of the field, Salah latched onto a beautiful long ball from Abdallah Said, before lofting a shot over goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem.

Video: Suarez gives Uruguay early lead over hosts Russia

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It only took Uruguay 10 minutes to break through, and the South American side could be on its way to capturing a third consecutive victory at the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Barcelona star Luis Suarez scored his second goal of the tournament on Monday, as the veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead early on against hosts Russia.

Suarez stepped up for a free kick just outside the penalty area, and slotted the ball brilliantly past the Russia goalkeeper at his near post.

Both teams have already advanced out of Group A after winning their first two matches, however, Monday’s victor (if there is one) will likely decide who tops the group.

Argentine players likely selecting lineup for Nigeria match

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The Albiceleste entered Russia among the favorites to win the World Cup, but now Argentina is on the brink of disaster and possibly crashing out of the group stage.

Through two Group D matches, Argentina sits on one point, and needs a victory over Nigeria to have a shot at advancing to the knockout phase.

Drastic changes appear to be coming for the CONMEBOL nation, after relations with manager Jorge Sampaoli have soured significantly over the last week-and-a-half.

Rumors have suggested that Lionel Messi and the elder players in the squad will select the starting XI for Argentina’s do-or-die fixture on Tuesday, with Sampaoli simply staying on as manager to avoid further embarrassment to the federation.

Sampaoli is expected to still be on the sidelines for the match, though.

Meanwhile, Argentine television outlet TNT Sports LA revealed a potential lineup ahead of Tuesday’s Group D finale against Nigeria.

The starting XI, if true, would feature four changes from the Albiceleste’s 3-0 defeat to Croatia last Thursday, including the introduction of River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani for Chelsea’s Willy Caballero.