MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 2-2 New York Red Bulls

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One game, 100 words (or less): Delayed over an hour by a soggy field, Philadelphia and New York saw a chance-free first half blown open when Ethan White pulled down Peguy Luyindula in the penalty area. The conversion sparked a minor explosion, with goals from Thierry Henry and Pedro Ribeiro turning a sleepy affair into a 2-1 game at intermission.

As Jim Curtin began putting his regulars on the field, the Union were able to generate point blank chances for Ribeiro and Maurice Edu. While big stops from Jamison Olave and Luis Robles preserved New York’s lead, a stoppage time whistle from Allen Chapman allowed Sebastian Le Toux to equalize from the spot.

Coming back from two one-goal deficits, a Philadelphia team already looking toward Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final was able to preserve a point at home. New York missed its chance to take full points from a half-strength Union lineup.

Goals

Philadelphia: Ribeiro 41′, Le Toux 92′
New York: Luyindula 36′, Henry 40′

Three moments that mattered:

-64′ – The big pause – When Philadelphia announced a lineup that had five changes from the team that won in Toronto a week ago, U.S. Open Cup prep looked like the big pre-match story. Instead, it was the condition of PPL Park’s field, deemed too waterlogged to allowed for the game’s 3:21 p.m. ET kickoff. Just over an hour later, after the grounds crew had alleviated most of the puddles, the game finally began, albeit with areas of the pitch nearly stopping the ball.

36′ – Floodgates open – Allen Chapman’s 35th minute call on White was a generous one, but even though the foul is often overlooked, the official felt White’s infringement was enough to justify the whistle. Over the next five minutes, after Luyindula’s conversion, Henry’s 19-yard one-timer, and Ribeiro’s close range poke, the dour game that reached the half’s last 10 minutes scoreless had given us three goals. Puddles or not, this game was going to have goals.

90+1′ -One whistle shall save them – New York was minutes from seeing out its victory when a ball over the top, between Robles and defender Ibrahim Sekagya, became a chance for Ribeiro’s second. Yet as the Union forward went to strike his shot from seven yards out, Sekagya made a stab for the ball, either making contact with Ribeiro or blocking the potential equalizer. From Chapman’s point of view, it was the former, allowing Le Toux’s conversion into the left of goal to preserve a point for the Union.

Lineups:

Philadelphia: MacMath; Gaddis, White, Edu, Fabinho; Okugo, Carroll (Nogueira 70′); Cruz (Le Toux 48′), Fred (Maidana 61′), Wenger, Ribeiro
New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Armando; Alexander, McCarty; Sam, Luyindula, Henry (Bover 55′); Cahill (Sene 75′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Silverware is important – Obviously, but today gave us a measure of that perspective. From one point of view, today’s game was a playoff six-pointer, with New York and Philadelphia straddling theline at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. From another (apparently, Jim Curtin’s) point of view, it was just the game before a cup final.

2. Cahill up top – A hamstring ailment meant Bradley Wright-Phillips wasn’t in Mike Petke’s 18, leaving Tim Cahill to start up top in New York’s new 4-2-3-1 – a similar role to how he’s employed for Australia. For New York, however, he’s always been better in a deeper role, meaning Luyindula’s time may be at stake when the team’s at full strength. On Saturday, Cahill was largely a non-factor, though some moments of excitement on the counter brought him back into the game.

3. Olave stepping up – The veteran center back earned plaudits for his performance last week against Sporting, but he was even more active today. Although he (along with Chris Duvall) played a part on a Maurice Edu chance that nearly evened the match, Olave’s more noteworthy contributions were ranging back toward his goal, using his speed to deny chances as Philadelphia tried to play over the New York defense. At the right time, the former Best XI defender is recapturing his 2013 form, with his second half stop on Ribeiro at the edge of his six-yard box helping New York preserve its result.

Where this leaves them:

  • On 34 points, Philadelphia inches into fifth place, though a Columbus result at Houston means the Union will relinquish that spot.
  • Though New York had a chance to move into third (albeit temporarily), the Red Bulls are up to 38 points, guaranteeing they’ll stay in the East’s top five through the weekend.

Lodeiro brace gives Seattle’s faint playoff hopes a lifeline

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In Major League Soccer’s forgiving playoff structure, there’s almost always a way back into the mix.

When your team has a talent like Nicolas Lodeiro, your chances get magnified quite a bit.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez bags 3 more ]

Lodeiro scored twice, once from the spot, and Seattle debuted its new Designated Player in a 2-0 Cascadia Cup win over Vancouver on Saturday.

Seattle is now eight points back of the West’s final playoff spot with 15 to play in its season. And the Sounders join Portland on three Cascadia Cup points, with the Timbers beating Seattle in the other cup match of the season.

Raul Ruidiaz came off the bench for the Sounders, and showed early glimpses of why Seattle wanted the World Cup participant from Peru.

The ‘Caps finished the match with 10 men thanks to a red card on Efrain Juarez, who saw yellow and then made contact with the referee.

The second goal took a vicious turn on its way to making goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic look capital-A awkward.

MLS 3 Things: Unstoppable Martinez grills DC in surge toward record

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Josef Martinez bagged his MLS record sixth career hat trick, and moved to within five goals of the single season goal record as Atlanta United battered DC United 3-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Caps’ Davies nears Bayern move ]

1) The MLS record book better get used to his name: Martinez now has 22 goals in 22 matches this season, and he’s going to break the Major League Soccer single season goal record if he’s at least half as productive over the final 12 matches.

Martinez has goals in nine of his last 10 matches. He got luck to set up his third, but look at this composed finish.

2) Another American milestone: 18-year-old USMNT prospect Andrew Carleton made his first MLS start and helped set-up Martinez’s second goal, which gave Atlanta United its first lead.

3) Rooney fails to find score sheet: England hero Wayne Rooney couldn’t find a goal or assist after picking up one of the latter in his debut. This time it was a start for Rooney, who went 66 minutes and earned a yellow card to go with his second shot.

Premier League friendlies: Saints undone by Lampard’s Rams

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Nine Premier League clubs were in action Saturday, none of them at home.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

An ex-PL star, however, thrilled his home fans in a Pride Park debut, facing top flight competition.


Derby County 3-0 Southampton

Frank Lampard is the new Rams’ boss, and his first home match was a win over Premier League competition.

“Lamps” got two goals from Tom Lawrence, and another from Mason Bennett as Saints fell by three. It was Southampton’s first match since returning from a China trip which saw a draw with Schalke and a defeat of Jiangu Suning.

Notts County 1-4 Leicester City

The visitors went down 1-0 before rebounding with vigor to hammer the Magpies behind four different scorers: Demarai Gray, Wes Morgan, Islam Slimani, and Hamza Choudhury.

AFC Wimbledon 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

The Gulls slipped to defeat, going down two before Ollie Norwood converted an Aaron Connelly-won penalty

Oxford United 1-3 Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha, Jeffrey Schlupp and Sullay Kaikai scored as Roy Hodgson‘s men collected an easy enough win away from home.

Real Betis 2-0 Huddersfield Town /  Roy-Weiss Essen 1-0 Huddersfield Town

The Terriers lost a pair of 45-minute friendlies in Belgium.

Elsewhere

Lille 0-0 (4-2, PKs) Everton
Lyon 4-0 Fulham
Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-3 Watford
Preston North End 2-2 West Ham United

Neymar: I get the diving jokes but “you will never understand”

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Neymar proved himself not above a laugh at his own expense this week when he posted a video regarding the Neymar Challenge, the phenomenon in which people writhe around in agony at the slightest touch.

The 26-year-old wants the world to understand his reasons for play-acting — or at least his perceived exaggerations — following some fouls, and the keyword here is apparently “some.”

[ MORE: Neymar staying at PSG ]

Neymar is consistently fouled by teams, and there’s little doubt that the majority of Brazil’s World Cup opponents were aiming to disrupt his love of the game if not outright injure the magnificent talent.

He implies, frankly enough, that he’s extra sore and feels injuries more closely than the next guy.

There’s no question Neymar made some ridiculous theater in Russia with his rolling and grimacing, but take a look at his logic and let us know if you buy the “complications” of his antics.

From Sky Sports:

“Do you think I want to suffer tackles all of the time? No, it is painful, it hurts. After the games I stay back for four or five hours putting on ice, it’s complicated but if you haven’t experienced that you will never understand. I saw [the jokes], but I took them with a humor. Even yesterday I posted on Instagram a joke with the children about it.”