MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 2-2 FC Dallas

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOrQq4Y4f4]

One game, 100 words (or less): A first half where the Timbers failed to get a shot on target left Portland own two at intermission, with goals by Fabián Castíllo and Blas Pérez putting FC Dallas on the verge of its second win in a row. By full-time, however, a Will Johnson penalty kick and Pa Modou Kah’s stoppage time equalizer salvaged a point for the home side. Thanks to second half red cards to Moises Hernández and Pérez, FCD finished the match with nine men, allowing the Timbers to pile up 30 shots (10 on target).

Three moments that mattered:

1. 77′ – Adi draws the whistle on Watson – Part of what made Dallas’s first half performance so remarkable? They were depleted, especially at the back. None of Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Jair Benítez, Michel, Kellyn Acosta — heck, let’s throw George John in, too — were available, leaving fullback Zach Loyd to partner Stephen Keel in the middle while Hernández and Je-Vaughn Watson started wide. On paper, this was a team that should have struggled to contain the Timbers, but it wasn’t until FCD’s more conservative approach in the second half that the back line became sitting ducks.

Fanendo Adi took advantage in the 77th. Making the most of whatever contact there was between himself and Watson, the reigning MLS Player of the Week drew a crucial penalty in the left of the box. After Johnson and Gastón Fernández bickered over who’d have the honors, the Timbers captain brought his team back into the game, taking advantage of a generous whistle.

2. 90+2′ – Pérez ties Dallas’s hands – A dangerous tackle in the 87th minute had already sent Hernández to the locker room, but five minutes later, Pérez’s tendency toward gamesmanship got the better for him, drawing a red card when he stepped on a fallen Kah. Two minutes later, against a Dallas team reduced to nine, Kah scored from close range to make FCD pay for its lack of discipline.

source: Getty Images
Fabian Castillo bumped an assistant referee after Wednesday’s match in Portland, an action that will likely raw the ire of MLS’s league office. (Photo: Getty Images)

3. 90+6′ – Castillo, Dallas assistant create more problems – It’s a shame that a team that played so well over the first 45 minutes was left rueing behavioral problems, but two incidents that happened near the final whistle helped overshadow what would otherwise be a well-earned point:

  • The first saw assistant coach Josema Bazan sent from Dallas’s technical area after an altercation with a fan behind the FCD bench.
  • Then, seconds after full-time as blown, Castillo made contact with assistant referee Fabio Tovar after spiriting from Dallas’s bench to meet him on the field.

Both incidents should draw the attention of the league office.

Three lessons going forward

1. Portland’s defense is still bad – Tonight the back line was so bad that Caleb Porter pulled Rashawn McKenzie at halftime, replacing him with the recently signed Danny O’Rourke. With former Birmingham City defender Liam Ridgewell being spotted in Portland, the Timbers may be getting reinforcements soon.

2. Castillo’s newfound finishing will be missed – For the second game in a row, Castillo proved reliable when given a chance to finish, with his first half score from the right of the area giving Dallas its first half lead. Has the talented Colombian turned a corner? It may be a while before we know for sure. That post-match bump of Tovar could draw a multi-game suspension.

3. Dallas is running out of bodies – The World Cup break couldn’t come at a better time for FCD now. In addition to the team’s injured defenders (above), Mauro Díaz and Hendry Thomas are out. Thanks to their Wednesday indiscretions, Hernández, Pérez, and Castíllo will join them. If you ever wanted to play for a Major Leaue Soccer team, go ask @fcdallas now, because they may be operating on a first come, first serve basis.

Where that leaves them

  • Portland remains in sixth at 4-4-8 but has the seventh-best points rate in the Western Conference.
  • FC Dallas sits on 22 points through 17 games, tying them for third in the West with Colorado. Unfortunately, FCD has played two more matches than every other team in the West’s top five.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”

Would a Real 3-peat be the most impressive feat in UCL history?

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When Franz Roth’s 57th minute goal gave Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne in Glasgow on May 12, 1976, it marked the last time a club won three-consecutive European Cups.

Oddly enough, Ajax turned the trick in the previous three seasons to Bayern’s run, and Real Madrid won the first five from 1955-60 when the tournament required a side of its ilk win only four ties. By 1976, the tournament began with the Round of 32.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

While there were certainly reasons the tournament was more difficult, consider that travel was far more taxing on the body and officiating far less advanced if even impartial, what Real Madrid would do this weekend would be an incredible achievement.

Winning three-straight competitions in any of the elite league is insane, and the UEFA Champions Leagues is especially bonkers.

Yes, an injury to Neymar made the PSG defeat a little less impressive, but consider that Real has advanced to the final while playing a murderer’s row (especially in relation to their opponents). Juventus was next, and then Bayern Munich. Now, Liverpool.

While no one, maybe ever, should cry for Real Madrid, this third run is more impressive than the first two in that the club simply isn’t as strong as previous iterations. That’s evidenced by their relatively poor performance in La Liga play, finishing almost 20 points back of rivals Barcelona and three behind Atleti.

Real sold nearly $100 million worth of players this offseason than it bought, with Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos the biggest names through the door while Alvaro Morata, Danilo, and James Rodriguez skipped town.

Who knows what’s in the water in Real, but its veteran squad continues to produce big results. Cristiano Ronaldo is 33. Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric 32. Marcelo and Benzema 30.

If Real holds off Liverpool, there will be some myopic notes about how it should’ve been expected to win the match, but that ignores that in a competition as deep as ever, Real took on all comers and triumphed for the third-straight year.

In doing so, they are likely achieving the most impressive feat in modern UCL history, certainly at least since Porto won the 2003-04 tournament under Jose Mourinho… and that was a one-off.

Report: Earnie Stewart in negotiations for U.S. Soccer GM job

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Philadelphia Union sporting director and USMNT centurion Earnie Stewart is reportedly in negotiations to become the United States men’s national team general manager.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

The report, from Metro NY reporter Kristian Dyer, says the Netherlands-born executive has the proverbial ball in his court.

Stewart, 49, racked up 103 caps and 18 goals for the Yanks and had a glittering playing career spent between Willem II, NAC Breda, and DC United.

He later had high-ranking positions with NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar.

Here’s Dyer, quoting a source:

The source, speaking to Metro on the condition of anonymity, said that Stewart is believed to be the frontrunner and is in negotiations for the position following an impressive showing during the interview process.

The club, when asked for a comment, told Metro that “Since Earnie’s first interview with U.S. Soccer, we have respected their process, and as such, we will decline further comment until a final decision has been made.”

Stewart scored against Colombia in the 1994 World Cup and added markers in qualifying for the 1998 and 2002 tournaments.

His familiarity with both MLS and European leagues would be a boon for the U.S., and Stewart’s Union has brought along a number of promising young players including Auston Trusty and Keegan Rosenberry (the latter drafted out of Georgetown).

Carrick: Haven’t entertained possibility of Pogba leaving Man Utd

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Michael Carrick is hammering the idea of a Paul Pogba exit from Manchester United.

Pogba’s had his problems with manager Jose Mourinho, but recently praised the boss for the season’s education.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

But is an exit is just not going to happen, says Carrick as he heads toward a coaching role at Old Trafford.

From Sky Sports:

“Of course he’s got a future, he’s a big player for us, he’s a great age, he’s got his peak years ahead of him. It’s not even something I’d give a second thought to, to be honest.”

The retired midfielder also said he’s looking forward to working under Jose Mourinho, whom he calls “the best man to learn from.”

He also said United’s trophy-less season wasn’t ideal, but it’s more about them their competition.

“We’re not looking at City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, anyone. We’re looking at ourselves to improve, we believe we’re capable of improving a lot and we’ll see where that takes us.”