Highlights: Win over Colorado provides glimpse of what a healthy Dallas can do

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt78FsyoKt0]

It will be easy to look at tonight’s final stats and say FC Dallas’s 3-1 result exaggerated its edge on Colorado, but by the time the team was up 2-0 (12th minute), the Rapids, had yet to force a save from FCD goalkeeper Raul Fernández. When Fabián Castillo increased that lead in the 55th minute, Colorado had only tested the Peruvian twice. Pablo Mastroeni’s team may have ended the night with a 24-7 edge in shots (5-4, on target), but the visitors were unable to break through before Gabrial Torres’s 86th minute penalty conversion. The Rapids never gave its hosts a reason to change approach.

It’s the second game tonight a game’s gone that way – the second where focusing on possession (62 pct. for Colorado, in this case) or shots provides a deceiving view. Much as we saw from the United States in this summer’s World Cup, game state matters, and when you have a defense you trust, sometimes the low-risk approach is the best one. It may lead to some lopsided numbers, but there’s a key to understanding those statistics: a one-goal game, at any point in the match, is a lot different than one that rests on even footing.

Particularly for a team like Dallas, who saw Mauro Díaz return to the starting lineup tonight, playing on the back foot is no disadvantage. With Díaz and Fabián Castillo, Pareja has two of the best counterattacking players in the league, and with a defense that lacks stars, it makes sense for FCD to eschew risk for organization. Dallas blocked eight shots tonight (including big stops from Hedges and Michel), a product of their willingness to set up behind the ball.

The formula that worked tonight isn’t always going to be there. Matt Hedges, of all people, put them up early, while Michel, another returning part, converted moments later from the spot. But with Walker Zimmerman also returning to the Dallas lineup , the Toros had the personnel to sit on that edge. When Castillo took advantage of a Rapids mistake early in the second half, Dallas could take its foot off the pedal.

The team still has some room to improve. Once Jair Benítez comes back, Zach Loyd may be shifted from left to right back, pushing Je-Vaughn Watson forward. Then again, Pareja could have done that tonight, had he elected to start Adam Moffat and push Michel out of midfield. Regardless, the FC Dallas is getting its weapons in uniform, talents that allow the team to see out results like tonight’s.

It was reminiscent of the team that burst out of the gates this spring, only instead of feasting on the East and scraping by against the West (as they’ve done though most of their eight-game unbeaten run), Dallas put up a decisive line against a fellow playoff contender. As the team continues to get healthy, there’s the potential for more to come.

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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