MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 2-1 FC Dallas

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One game, 100 words (or less): Dallas weathered LA’s dominant opening half to reach halftime even, eventually taking the lead through Blas Perez early in the second half. Though Robbie Keane quickly responded, the Galaxy had fallen victim to Oscar Pareja’s trap, failing to put Dallas away before the Toros came into the match.

In the 84th minute, the home side wriggled out of it. After Keane beat Adam Moffat just outside the left-side of the penalty box, a far post cross for Alan Gordon found the former Earthquake open at the far post. Heading down and across goal, the second half sub gave the Galaxy a 2-1 win, allowing LA to move even with Seattle atop the Western Conference.

Goals

LA Galaxy: Keane 62′, Gordon 84′
FC Dallas: Perez 54′

Three Four moments that mattered:

45′ – It’s still scoreless? – FC Dallas failed to test Jaime Penedo over the first 45 minutes. They were outshot 10-3 and saw Gyasi Zardes miss a 26th minute sitter. Playing without Fabian Castillo, Matt Hedges, and Diaz (starting on the bench), the team was dominated. The scoresheet, however, remained blank as the teams walked down StubHub Center’s tunnel.

54′ – That’s so Dallas – Keep FCD close, they’ll find a goal like this, even if they’ve been dominated for the first 54 minutes. They’ve become so good at it, any advantage implied by the run of play becomes irrelevant. Be it on the counter or via dead balls, FC Dallas has too many ways to render open play irrelevant.

Open play, however, was Dallas’s friend on Saturday, with play built down the Toros’ right allowing Blas Perez to drift wide and isolate Dan Gargan. On Andres Escobar’s floated cross, the Panamanian international was able to elevate over the LA fullback, giving the Toros a lead with their first shot on target.

62′ – Clear that, Victor – Victor Ulloa has been asked to carry a big load in his first full MLS campaign, and for most of the season, he’s played beyond the nine minutes’ experience he brought into the 2014 season. On a Gargan ball into the box, however, the 22-year-old midfielder took one touch too many, allowing Gyasi Zardes to win the ball off him to set up Keane to LA’s quick response.

84 ‘ – Patented move – It seems like we see this once per game from Keane. Matched up one-on-one with a defender, he’ll move the ball onto his right before dragging it across the defender, onto his left.

Usually Keane’s at such close range that this immediately leads to a shot, but on Saturday, it gave him a chance to chip a far post cross to Alan Gordon. Having creating room against Zach Lloyd, Gordon had an easy finish into the left of goal, one that gave LA full points on the night.

Lineups

LA Galaxy: Penedo; Gargan, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Rogers; Husidic (Ishizaki 62′), Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Zardes (Gordon 75′)
FC Dallas: Fernandez; Acosta, Watson, Loyd, Hernandez; Escober, Michel, Ulloa, Hollingshead (Diaz 55′, Benitez 83′); Perez, Akindele (Moffat 75′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Looks will be deceiving with Dallas – The Dallas team that used Mauro Diaz’s through balls to climb to the top of the Western Conference this spring is unlikely to return. Instead, Oscar Pareja seems content to lean on a resolute defense, his counter attacking threat, and Michel’s set piece magic to carry them into the postseason.

The beauty of those strengths is the ability to win games without playing well; at least, play well by normal standards. Shots, possession, territorial measures are unlikely to go Dallas’s way, but as long as the Toros can adjust at halftime, find a way to win some corners, and lean in their strengths, they’ll be able to “steal”some results.

The only draw back, and it is a minor one: Nobody will consider them a real threat. Dallas will never look as good as LA, Real Salt Lake or Seattle, even though they’re capable to earning these types of results. If they want to win hearts and minds (and hopefully, they don’t care), this isn’t going to do it.

2. Gordo > Friendo – Bruce Arena brought in Rob Friend to do this. Instead, the former Canadian international seemed more interested in drawing theatrical endeavors than scoring goals. LA’s first hope of acquiring a big target man didn’t come off.

Alan Gordon, however, has been a gift. He’s fit in perfectly since migrating south from San Jose. Given the salary cap, the team’s needs, and Arena’s success with veteran players, LA couldn’t have asked for a better solution.

It’s become a bit of a lark around LA to say “I don’t know what San Jose let him go.” The reasons are clear enough. But just because Gordon no longer fit with the Earthquakes doesn’t mean he can’t be a difference-maker in Carson.

3. Dallas needs its stars – Mauro Diaz came and went tonight, being subbed off later after his introduction after halftime. Even if he’s fully fit at some point this season, the team has moved beyond being built around him. Dallas is claiming its points in different ways.

Those different ways almost require Matt Hedges and Fabian Castillo to be in the team. Hedges, the team’s new captain, is the key to a defense that has to support Pareja’s counter attacking approach. And the key to executing that approach? Castillo.

Where this leaves them:

  • Though Seattle has a game in hand, LA is not even on point with the Sounders. The duo sit atop the West and the league, with their season-ending, home-and-home series looming larger by the week. The Galaxy also clinched a playoff spot.
  • FC Dallas is settling into the number four spot. Four points back of Real Salt Lake, five points up on Portland, FCD seems destined to host the West’s four-five game.

Premier League games in March to be rearranged

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The FA Cup results over the week mean that six Premier League games will be moved from Matchweek 31.

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With Brighton, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Watford and Wolves all confirmed quarterfinalists in the FA Cup and one of Chelsea or Man United also going through, there are plenty of games which cannot be played on the weekend of March 16.

The Manchester derby between Man City and Man United is the most notable game that will have to be switched, while Spurs’ home game against Crystal Palace (which could have been their first game at the new White Hart Lane) now has to be rearranged.

New dates will have to be arranged and that isn’t easy at this time of the season as UEFA regulations state that Premier League games cannot be played on the same night as Champions League or Europa League matches.

Below is a list of the PL games impacted, and their date is TBA.

Expect a few of these games to take place in midweek in late April or May and they could be pivotal in the relegation, top four and title battles.


Premier League fixtures to be rearranged
Brighton v. Cardiff
Brighton v. Chelsea
Man United v. Man City
Tottenham Hotspur v. Crystal Palace
Watford v. Southampton
Wolves v. Arsenal

Nani arrives in MLS, signs for Orlando City

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Nani has arrived in Major League Soccer.

Orlando City SC announced the Portugal national team star has arrived from Sporting Lisbon on a free transfer and has signed a three-year deal as a Designated Player.

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Nani, 32, will be a huge draw for Orlando as they look to get things back on track after a rough few years in MLS.

Speaking about Nani’s move to MLS with Orlando, EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi was delighted to welcome the experienced attacker.

“This is an exciting day for our organization,” said O. “Nani brings tremendous experience to our roster. He’s a dynamic winger with quality abilities to move and cross the ball, impact games and lead the offensive play.”

The former Manchester United, Fenerbache, Valencia and Lazio winger won the 2016 European Championships with Portugal and appeared at the 2014 World Cup for his national team. USMNT fans will remember his goal against the U.S. in Manaus…

Nani has scored 24 goals in 112 games for Portugal and although his arrival isn’t as big as Kaka leading Orlando in their first three seasons as a franchise, he is a huge get for a team which hasn’t made the playoffs in their four MLS campaigns and finished way off the pace in each of the last two years in the Eastern Conference.

Manager James O’Connor has a mix of youth and experience in this Orlando squad but he must make a fast start in 2019 after winning just two of his 17 games after arriving midway through the 2018 campaign.

Orlando need a total rebuild and Nani’s arrival should shake things up a little, even if a veteran winger may only solve a few of their problems for a few seasons.

New development in David de Gea contract situation

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It seemed like David De Gea‘s future at Manchester United was up in the air, with the Spanish goalkeeper having just over a year left on his current deal and some reports suggesting an impasse had been reached.

But it appears that United are willing to pull out all of the stops to keep DDG around.

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De Gea, 28, has been named United’s Player of the Season in four of the last five campaigns and since Sir Alex Ferguson retired he has bailed United out of sticky situations time and time again.

It has been reported that De Gea would be handed a new five-year deal which would see him pick up the largest basic salary of any current player in the Premier League, and therefore any PL player in history.

Our colleagues from Sky Sports News in the UK have more on the situation regarding De Gea:

United have been surprised at reports they rejected wage demands of £350,000-per-week, as Sky Sports News understands they would be prepared to pay that amount, but agent demands may be driving the price higher still.

In the past few months Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay have all signed new contracts with the Red Devils and Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors in a call last week that he wants to “finish off the final few as rapidly as we possibly can.”

It is expected De Gea’s deal is at the top of that list, with Ander Herrera and Juan Mata (both out of contract this summer) the other top priorities to tie down to new deals.

De Gea’s importance to United is clear and just as star strikers and attacking players are rewarded handsomely, the value of having a star goalkeeper should not be understated. Even if, historically, they haven’t earned quite as much as outfield players.

The Spaniard has played 347 times for United in all competitions since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League.

After almost leaving in the summer of 2015 (United’s staff must do a daily salute to Real Madrid’s dodgy fax machine which scuppered the deal at  the eleventh hour) it is clear he is their most important player. Wonderful displays recently against Tottenham Hotspur and at Arsenal have proven De Gea’s worth, if anyone ever doubted it.

Lovren, Firmino huge doubts for Liverpool v. Bayern Munich

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Liverpool could be seriously shorthanded for their massive UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg against Bayern Munich at Anfield on Tuesday.

[ MORE: PL or UCL priority for LFC? ]

Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino did not take part in Liverpool’s final training session before their game against Bayern to give Jurgen Klopp more selection worries.

It has been reported that Firmino has a virus, while Lovren has been struggling with a hamstring problem and was always going to be a last-minute decision for the clash against the German giants.

Fabinho now looks certain to start alongside Joel Matip in central defense for Liverpool on Tuesday, as Virgil Van Dijk is suspended and Joe Gomez is injured.

As for up top, the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge could be placed in Firmino’s spot but it is likely Xherdan Shaqiri (if he is fully fit) will come into the team and Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane will switch to a central position in the front three.

Either way, not ideal for Liverpool as they have a huge week with this game against Bayern followed by a massive Premier League game at bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

In terms of Bayern’s injury news, Kingsley Coman has recovered from a knock in Friday’s win at Augsburg but Jerome Boateng is out through illness. Arjen Robben is recovering from injury and did not travel with the squad, while Franck Ribery will arrive in Liverpool separate from the team after becoming a father late on Sunday.