Shootout win in Dallas gives Philadelphia home field for U.S. Open Cup final

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It’s the first final in the franchise’s short history, but one the team will wage in front of its home crowd. Thanks to a four straight conversions in Tuesday’s penalty kick shutout, the Philadelphia Union is into the final of the U.S. Open Cup, eliminating FC Dallas after a 1-1 draw in Frisco, Tex.

Philadelphia’s goal came in the 47th minute, with an attack led by Sebastien Le Toux culminating in a ball rolled across the Dallas penalty area. Coming forward from midfield, Amobi Okugo beat Raúl Fernández, whose left-to-right path across his goal left the Peruvian unable to stop the game’s opening goal.

Late in the second half, Fabián Castillo’s fourth goal of the competition gave Dallas its equalizer, with the two semifinalists playing out the final 39 minutes at 1-1. Once there, a fifth round save by Zac MacMath on Victor Ulloa sending their hosts out of the competition.

With the win, Philadelphia’s within 90 minutes of the club’s first major honor, with the Union scheduled to host the winner of tomorrow’s semifinal between Seattle and Chicago in Tukwila, Wash. That match will be held at PPL Park on Sept. 16.

An even first half that left the best chance with Philadelphia saw the injury problems that have plagued Dallas throughout the season resurface. In the 37th minute, defender Walter Zimmerman appeared to aggravate a groin injury, forcing head coach Óscar Pareja to call on Je-Vaughn Watson. Coming out of halftime, injuries to Mauro Díaz and Adam Moffat saw Ryan Hollingshead and Stephen Keel brought on in their place, with Pareja out of substitutions by the time Mark Geiger blew the second half’s whistle.

Before those new faces had time to adjust, Vincent Nogueira had found Le Toux down Philadelphia’s right, giving the veteran attacker a chance to tee-up a chance in the middle of Dallas’s penalty area. Trailing the play, Okugo ran onto a one-timed shot, opening his foot onto the game’s first goal.

A short time later, Blas Pérez had a chance to pull his team even, lofting a shot over MacMath, wide of an open net. Near the 70th minute, Dallas starting used Castillo’s speed to beat the Union defense, with two through balls in a minute’s time testing MacMath’s willingness to come off his line. Both times, the Philadelphia keeper was up to the challenge, with the Union regaining some control of the game after the close calls.

In the 81st minute, that control came back to haunt them, with Dallas able to catch their guests on the counter. Again, it was Castillo put in behind the defense, only this time, MacMath was late. Poking the ball past the oncoming keeper, the Colombian attacker was left with an empty net, pull his team even, 1-1.

Castillo had another chance to win the game before full-time, as did Matt Hedges, whose shot through the chaos after a corner kick forced Ethan White to save a potential winner off the line. In extra time, Pérez and Hollingsworth had their chances, while Nogueira became the second Union player to hit the upright (Andrew Wenger did the same in second half).

Penalty kicks, however, couldn’t be avoided, with a depleted Dallas given its reprieve in the 120th minute. After both teams converted their first two kicks, MacMath saved a Pérez chance headed into the left side of goal. Conversions by Cristian Maidana and Maurice Edu meant Dallas’s fifth kick was a must-make, but when MacMath guessed correctly and dove for his left post, Philadelphia had it tiebreaker, one that vaulted the team into its first cup final.

New Zealand women footballers rebel against national coach

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Only weeks after New Zealand Football made headlines by signing a revolutionary equal pay deal with its female players, the organization is facing a mutiny by members of its women’s team against the national coach.

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New Zealand Football confirmed on Tuesday it had received a letter signed by a number of New Zealand players complaining about the methods and tactics employed by Austria-born coach Andreas Heraf.

The complaints follow the New Zealand team’s recent 3-1 loss at home to Japan. Heraf angered his players, and fans of the Football Ferns national team, by taking an entirely defensive game plan into the rare home international.

Heraf then further angered his players with comments defending his approach.

He said there was “a big difference in quality” between the New Zealand and Japanese players and that New Zealand “will never have that quality” to compete with top teams like Japan. He said the scoreline might have been 8-0 if New Zealand had not adopted a defensive approach.

One of New Zealand’s leading players, United States-based Abby Erceg, retired after playing 132 matches for New Zealand, citing Heraf’s approach in previous international matches.

She later told New Zealand media: “I couldn’t stand to wear that (national symbol) on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much.”

New Zealand Football defended Heraf against the media and public criticism but admitted his comments were “strange” and “wrong” and did not accurately reflect his views. Heraf later apologized and said he had not expressed himself clearly.

But efforts to dampen the controversy have failed. New Zealand Football said in a statement it had “received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) last night with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns.”

The mutiny comes only weeks after New Zealand gained international headlines for a deal which gives female pay parity with their male counterparts.

New Zealand Football signed the deal which provided female players with equal match payments, travel arrangements and prize money.

At the time, New Zealand women’s captain Ali Riley said the deal meant New Zealand would “be able to compete against the top teams, to be able to do well at a World Cup and the Olympics – this is what we needed.”

VIDEO: Colombia sees red, Japan takes early lead

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The first red card of the World Cup came just moments after fans took their seats in Saransk.

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After David Ospina blocked a breakaway opportunity from Yuya Osako in the third minute of the match, Japan star and former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa fired the rebound on goal. But his shot was blocked by the arm of Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez, which earned him a straight red card from referee Damir Skomina and an early trip to the locker room.

Kagawa then stepped up to the spot and calmly sent Ospina the wrong way to give Japan the shock early lead.

Colombia will play the rest of the match with ten men and no James Rodriguez, who was named to the bench for this match as he recovers from a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez out of Colombia starting XI

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Taking a page out of Egypt’s book, Colombia will be without its talismanic playmaker for its first match, Tuesday morning against Japan.

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Juan Fernando Quintero replaced James Rodriguez in Colombia’s starting Xi to take on Japan in Saransk as Colombia coach Jose Pekerman clearly hopes a few extra days of recovery for the injured Rodriguez will help him return to 100 percent fitness. Rodriguez is battling a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez scored six goals and had two assists in five games at the last World Cup in Brazil, helping guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarterfinals appearance.

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

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“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.