MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Sporting Kansas City

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One game, 100 words (or less): Sporting’s ongoing problems at the back nearly cost them early, giving up a penalty kick along with good chances for Lloyd Sam and Thierry Henry. By halftime, however, the visitors were starting to build some momentum, albeit while trailing 1-0.

Early in the second half, a spectacular strike from Thierry Henry doubled New York’s lead, but with Dom Dwyer’s 18th goal of the season two minutes later, Sporting stayed in the match. Over the game’s final 36 minutes, however, Kansas City was unable replicate the chance Dwyer converted, the 2-1 result at Red Bull Arena handing the defending champions their fourth straight loss.

Goals

New York: Bradley Wright-Phillips 11′, Thierry Henry 52′
Sporting Kansas City: Dom Dwyer 54′

Three moments that mattered:

10′ – Should Besler have been sent off? – On a Luis Robles kick out of New York’s end, Bradley Wright-Phillips is allowed to run onto a ball bouncing between Sporting’s center backs, to the left of Andy Gruenebaum’s goal. Going down for a challenge just outside the 18-yard box, Matt Besler’s slide ends up making contact with Wright-Phillips as the players enter the penalty area. Perhaps more controversial, Wright-Phillips’s first touch has gone toward goal, where, if he can get past Besler, he’ll have a chance on Greuenebaum.

Ultimately, Besler’s foul draws a penalty but no card, let alone a red. As Wright-Phillips buries his 21st of the season, fans are still debating whether Besler denied an obvious goal scoring chance.

52′ – Forgot about Henry – Lloyd Sam did a good job is attracting attention, given the ball on the right during a New York counter, but if there’s one person Sporting should never lose track of, it’s Thierry Henry. As Sam brought the ball toward the middle of the part, Sporting had done just that, allowing Henry to gain possession just outside the penalty area. When Paulo Nagamura tried to close him down, Henry cut onto his right foot and, from just beyond the 18-yard mark, finished into Greuebaums’ upper-right corner to double New York’s lead.

54′ – KC’s quick response – Henry’s goal threatened the thwart momentum Sporting had built since the end of the first half, but with a quick response from their leading scorer, the visitors were able to respond to Henry’s insurance. Off a restart from the right flank, Seth Sinovic headed a ball down at the far post, finding Dom Dwyer at the edge of the New York six-yard box. A quick reaction from the league’s second-leading scorer allowed Dwyer to get his left foot behind the ball, elevated to volley Sporting’s opener past Robles and into the middle of goal.

Lineups

New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Chris Duvall, Jámison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya (Armando 65′), Roy Miller; Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Péguy Luyindula, Eric Alexander; Thierry Henry (Ruben Bover Izquierdo 90′), Bradley Wright-Phillips
Sporting Kansas City: Andy Gruenebaum; Igor Juliao, Aurèlien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; Lawrence Olum (Jorge Claros 70′), Paulo Nagamura (C.J. Sapong 85′), Benny Feilhaber; Toni (Sal Zizzo 58′), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi

Three lessons going forward:

1. The thin margins of MLS – Lose Jimmy Neilsen, Chance Myers and Oriol Rosell, see a slight downturn in from from Matt Besler and Aurèlien Collin, and all of a sudden the league’s best defense looks bad. It illustrates how thin the margins are in MLS. Not only is the league designed with parity in mind, but the nature of the league’s rosters means there isn’t a wealth of talent in reserve when things go wrong.

Downgrade at a couple of places, and you may not have the resources to recover. We’ll see if this holds true for Kansas City.

2. The confusion of DOGSO – You hear about The 4 Ds when judging denial of obvious goal scoring scenarios: Direction of the ball; number of Defenders; Distance from goal; Direction of play. From a certain point of view, a perfectly reasonable one, Bradley Wright-Phillips had all of those factors in his favor in the 10th minute. From another point of view, Besler was just going in for a ball that wasn’t fully in Wright-Phillips’ possession, yet.

Does that even matter? You can imagine a scenario where a player is in on goal, gets fouled, and has yet to touch the ball. You can also imagine situations where players making a valid play for the ball commit a foul that’s less an attempt to prevent a chance than an attempt to win possession. When, during the course of establishing possession, do The 4 Ds become relevant?

But again, does that even matter? DOGSO is a strange, controversial place, often one that’s best left to the professionals. Tonight, one of those professionals decided Besler’s infraction was a somewhat benign foul, one that happened to be committed in the 18-yard box.

3. Big result for both sides – Sporting didn’t seem to be taken by surprise in this one (D.C. United loss). They weren’t undone by set pieces (Houston). They weren’t trying to stop one of the league’s hottest midfielders (New England). The defending champions seemed focused on Saturday, had chances to end their slide, yet they still lost.

With every result, this is looking like more than a slump. The team may only go as far as that struggling defense will take them.

For New York, it was the game Mike Petke wanted. The attack could have done more with its changes. At times, the defense gave Sporting too much control (particularly at the end of the first half). Through all that, the Red Bulls got three points.

Like their coach said yesterday, no excuses. The team got it done.

Where this leaves them:

  • The win vaults New York fifth in the East, the team’s 34 point pushing Toronto into out of the conference’s top five.
  • Sporting is still six points clear of third in the East, but the team has lost four in a row for the first time since 2011.

UEFA wants to “wage war on racists”

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has reacted strongly to the racist abuse of England’s players in Bulgaria on Monday.

[ MORE: England’s players react ]

During the EURO 2020 qualifier monkey chants were heard from sections of the home crowds at Sofia’s Vasil Levski stadium, while Nazi salutes were also made and the officials stopped the game twice in the first half and then followed step one of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol as a message was broadcast over the speakers that the game was in danger of being abandoned.

A section of home supporters were seen leaving their seats just before half time, covering their faces with hoods and some had shirts which said “UEFA No Respect” written on them.

UEFA will investigate the incidents in Sofia after England made a formal complaint, and this comes after section of the stadium in Sofia was shut on Monday due to the racist abuse of players from both Kosovo and the Czech Republic during previous EURO 2020 qualifiers.

Ceferin called on governments and other organizations to work with them to “wage war” on racists as incidents continue to crop up across Europe.

“There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory. The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent. The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.

“As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark. UEFA, in close cooperation with the FARE network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

“UEFA’s sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches. The minimum sanction is a partial closure of the stadium – a move which costs the hosts at least hundreds of thousands in lost revenue and attaches a stigma to their supporters.

“UEFA is the only football body to ban a player for ten matches for racist behaviour – the most severe punishment level in the game. Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football. We cannot afford to be content with this; we must always strive to strengthen our resolve.

“More broadly, the football family – everyone from administrators to players, coaches and fans – needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalise their abhorrent views to the fringes of society. Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress.”

Turkish players defy UEFA with another military salute

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PARIS (AP) Turkish players defied UEFA with another military salute in Turkey’s 1-1 draw with France in their European Championship qualifier on Monday.

UEFA was already looking into Turkish players’ salutes from during and after Friday’s 1-0 win over Albania. The European soccer federation prohibits political statements in stadiums.

But Turkish players lined up again to show a military salute after Kaan Ayhan’s late equalizer in Paris. Captain Burak Yilmaz was joined by goalkeeper Mert Gunok and several other outfield players in giving the salute toward the crowd – in apparent support of the Turkish forces involved in the country’s invasion of Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria.

Defender Merih Demiral urged Ayhan to salute, too, leading to what looked like a heated discussion between the two, but the goal-scorer desisted and made his way back to the pitch.

Ayhan and Turkey striker Kenan Karaman both play for German side Fortuna Dusseldorf, which had issued a statement after Friday’s game to distance itself from “politically motivated acts.”

“Both players stand for values that the club lives by,” Dusseldorf sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel said.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bulgarian prime minister intervenes, Bulgaria FA chief resigns

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Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked for the president of their football association, Borislav Mihaylov, to resign following the racist abuse of England’s players in Sofia’s Vasil Levski stadium on Monday.

And on Tuesday Mihaylov stepped down and handed in his resignation.

During the EURO 2020 qualifier monkey chants were heard from sections of the home crowds, while Nazi salutes were also made and the officials stopped the game twice in the first half and then followed step one of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol as a message was broadcast over the speakers that the game was in danger of being abandoned.

The Bulgarian sport minister, Krasen Kralev, released a statement on the incident and said that Mihaylov, who had previously complained to UEFA about Gareth Southgate‘s concerns over potential racist abuse in Bulgaria, should resign.

“The prime minister called me urgently a short time ago,”  said. “You know that the government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years. But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night’s incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov.”

UEFA is opening a full investigation into the disgusting scenes inside the stadium, as England’s players and staff have been applauded for the way they handled themselves in their 6-0 win.

Southgate, Tyrone Mings and other England players have reacted to the abuse and say they have made a statement on and off the pitch for UEFA having to use their anti-racism protocol.

“We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation,” Southgate said. “The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.