MLS weekend roundup: Galaxy demolish Rapids, Union blank Toronto FC

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Below is our weekly roundup of MLS competitions.

Los Angeles Galaxy 6-0 Colorado Rapids: Braces from Landon Donovan, Baggio Husidic, and Gyasi Zardes catapulted the Galaxy past the Rapids. Review the full recap for the NBC-televised game here.

Toronto FC 0-2 Philadelphia Union: The Union wrapped up a two-game series against Toronto FC with two wins, which Philadelphia just behind the New England Revolution for points on the Eastern Conference table. Sheanon Williams assisted both goals, headers converted by Conor Casey in the 8th minute and Andrew Wenger in the 44th minute. And in the 89th minute, Michael Bradley cracked a deep left-footer off the near post to almost spur the possibility of a late comeback. The Reds have the chance to get back on track against the Chicago Fire next Saturday.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 Sporting Kansas City: It’s no surprise that Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry were the two goal scorers for NY in this match, and Dom Dwyer continues to show that he’s a top-caliber MLS player to tally Sporting’s only score of the game. Here’s the full recap.

Houston Dynamo 3-2 Montreal Impact: In a contest that remained fairly close, Ricardo Clark’s sizzling set-piece goal was the difference between a draw and win for the Houston Dynamo. Giles Barnes grabbed a brace, scoring in the 30th minute when he sped past Impact defenders looking for an offside call. His second tally arrived in the 62nd minute, a one-touch tap-in from Omar Cummings’ pass near the wing. Dilly Duka and Ignacio Piatti scored for the Impact, who remain at last place in the Eastern Conference, while Houston is battling a group of teams for a playoff spot. NBC’s Richard Farley gave us a few quick thoughts on the match.

Real Salt Lake 2-1 FC Dallas: Robbie Findley drew first blood and then Alvaro Saborio broke the 1-1 score in the 77th minute to give Real Salt Lake the victory over FC Dallas. PST has the post-match recap.

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-0 D.C. United: After D.C. United beat the New York Red Bulls on the road, a west coast trip to BC Place, which is one of the toughest places to play for Eastern Conference teams, didn’t bring forth a terrible result. Darren Mattocks had multiple opportunities at the doorstep in the 12th minute, but he ripped both chances over the goal. Fabian Espindola was the most notable man on the pitch creating scoring occasions for D.C. United. With this draw, United still has a good hold on the top spot in the East, and Vancouver continues to jostle with the Portland Timbers for the fifth-place position in the West.

Columbus Crew 3-0 Chivas USA: Columbus went up by two goals quickly. In the 52nd minute, Justin Meram confidently stepped into the box and uncorked a curling right-footer that drove into the bottom corner of the net. Seven minutes later, it was Meram who struck again. He intercepting a Chivas USA pass and made a run straight up the middle of the pitch before nailing another curled right-footed attempt. Bernardo Anor added the last goal of the match. The Crew are right in the midst of the Eastern Conference playoff race, and Chivas USA continues to exist as the second-worst team in the league.

Portland Timbers 3-3 San Jose Earthquakes: The Earthquakes jumped out to a two-goal lead by the 48th minute, but the Timbers fought their way back to rob San Jose of the victory. Chris Wondolowski buried the first score into a open net off a determined effort by Shea Salinas to penetrate the penalty area. In the 48th minute, Wondolowski’s ball deflected off Portland’s back, falling right at the feet of Cordell Cato to slot home from close-range. But goals by Alvas Powell and Liam Ridgewell tied the score at 2-2, and just when Wondolowski’s header score in the 85th minute looked to be decisive, Kalif Alhassan rolled the last goal past Jon Busch to finalize the 3-3 draw. San Jose could technically make the playoffs, although they still sit in the bottom of the West’s rankings. Portland stands at fifth place in the same conference.

New England Revolution 2-1 Chicago Fire: Jermaine Jones totaled his first MLS assist, feeding Charlie Davies to put the Revs ahead of the Fire in the 60th minute. Diego Fagundez and Sanna Nyassi also scored. Check out the PST’s MLS snapshot of this competition.

Serie A roundup: Napoli falls to Parma in debut for Gattuso (video)

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Napoli’s last-minute loss to Parma in Gennaro Gattuso’s debut highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Napoli 1-2 Parma

Napoli remains in a dark place as Gennaro Gattuso debut with Gli Azzurri ended in a last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma.

The defeat marks eight consecutive games without a win in Serie A play for Napoli, who dismissed Carlo Ancelotti earlier this week despite punching a ticket in the last 16 of the Champions League after a win over Genk.

After their fifth loss of the season, Napoli are currently eighth on the table with 21 points, seven behind sixth-placed Atalanta and 17 behind league leaders Inter Milan.

 

 

In the third minute of stoppage time, Gervinho – experienced as anyone else in tightly-contested situations – received a simple pass from Dejan Kulusevski, carefully striking it into the back of the net inside the six-yard box. The 32-year-old Ivorian has five goals in Serie A this season, and Saturday’s was his most important yet. 

For Gattuso (and hopeful Napoli supporters), Saturday was the antithesis of dreamy start, but with time and a change of mentality the situation may change.

“I don’t believe in bad luck. Right now we’re not good mentally,” the 41-year-old manager said following the match. “The team is paying for the fact that it has not won (in the league) for 50 or more days.”

“The first 10 minutes also prove it,” he added. “It’s tough as are the whistles of the fans. There’s a lot of work to do.”

The home side recorded 33 shots throughout the night, but Parma proved to be more clinical, scoring at death and opening the scoresheet just four minutes in. In the 64th minute, Napoli were able to get one go their way, as Dreis Merten’s lofting cross with force was headed home by Arkadiusz Milik. 

Gattuso and his men will be tested once as they travel to Sassuolo in a weeks time, while Parma look to trim their four-point gap with Atalanta when they host Brescia.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Brescia 3-0 Lecce

Genoa 0-1 Sampdoria

Hertha’s under-16s stop playing after alleged racist abuse

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin’s under-16 team stopped playing a game at regional rival Auerbach after its players were allegedly subjected to racist abuse from their opponents on Saturday.

The Bundesliga club says in a statement on its website that “several players from our team were racially abused by their opposing players.”

Hertha officials informed the referee of the alleged abuse and decided to stop playing in the 68th minute while leading 2-0 “because we as Hertha BSC condemn racism and discrimination in every form,” the club said.

Hertha executive board member Paul Keuter called it “the only correct decision, not to continue with the game.”

On Twitter, the club said: “There are times when football doesn’t come first. Racism has no place in our society.”

Hertha under-23 player Jessic Ngankam said he was targeted with monkey chants and called an “ape” by an opposing player during his side’s fourth division game against Lokomotive Leipzig on Dec. 6.

“Insults are unfortunately an everyday occurrence in football, and I can put up with them. But racist abuse is a no-go,” the 19-year-old Ngankam told broadcaster MDR.

Both Hertha and Lokomotive condemned the alleged abuse.

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

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

La Liga roundup: Sociedad hold leaders Barcelona to draw (video)

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A stunning draw from top-of-the-table Barcelona highlight La Liga’s Saturday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Sociedad 2-2 Barcelona

If Real Madrid manages to walk away from Mestalla with three points, they’ll dethrone nemesis Barcelona and become clear-cut leaders of La Liga.

Just days before El Clasico itself, a rare 2-2 draw from Barcelona against hosts Real Sociedad is the reason behind Los Blancos’ prime opportunity.

 

Former Borussia Dortmund starlet Alexander Isak tapped in his fourth goal of the season in the 62nd minute, leveling the score for Sociedad and sending the home fans into a frenzy.

In true Barcelona fashion, Real Sociedad, ironically hit the ground running first. 

After earning a foul inside the box from a corner kick set piece, Reala captain Mikel Oyarzabal converted from the spot, putting Sociedad, who have exceeded expectations this season under first-year manager Imanol Alguacil, up against the defending champions. 

It wouldn’t take long before the visitors responded, however.

A familiar face and experienced goalscorer at Anoeta, it was the ideal scenario for Antoine Griezmann to shake off some pressure that has been a key talking point surrounding the Frenchman lately. Darting inside the box with only Alex Remiro to beat, No. 17 – like in the old days – carefully chipped the ball over Remiro and into the back of the net the ball wandered. 

If the second half indicated anything early on it was that it was going to be difficult for Barcelona to drop points on Saturday. Unselfish as ever before, Lionel Messi laid off the ball to an unmarked Luis Suarez, who his team up 2-1 four minutes into the second half.

A lack of control of possession and, most notably, an unstable defensive line, would end up costing Barcelona two points.

Next for Barcelona is the game of the season: a league bout against Real Madrid on Wednesday, while Real Sociedad travel to Becerril in the second round of Copa del Rey. 

Elsewhere in La Liga

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Osasuna

Granada 1-2 Levante

Atheltic Bilbao 0-0 Eibar

South Florida officials seeking more international soccer

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) More than two dozen political leaders in South Florida have written letters to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors, urging them to allow top-tier international matches to take place in the Miami region.

Relevent Sports, the soccer-promoting group owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, filed suit against the USSF earlier this year saying that the sport’s governing body in this country was helping to prevent them from hosting certain matches.

The letters were released Friday to media outlets, including The Associated Press.

The USSF did not respond to a request for comment.

Ross’ group and top Spanish league La Liga have been working for some time to bring a regular-season match to Hard Rock Stadium, the facility Ross owns and is the Dolphins’ home.

The politicians – ranging from city mayors, county mayors, county commissioners and one state Senator – all essentially said the same thing, that bringing major international soccer to South Florida only will help the region’s tourist-dependent economy.

“Doing so will demonstrate a genuine commitment to our communities and the growth of the game, which you, as the United States Soccer Federation, are charged with promoting,” wrote Dean Trantalis, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale. That’s the city where David Beckham’s new MLS team, Inter Miami, will begin play next March.