Inside Look: New England Revolution flirt with disaster, will their way into 2014 MLS Cup final


The New England Revolution held off the New York Red Bulls, 4-3 on aggregate (highlights above), and are 2014 champions of the Eastern Conference. They’re headed to next Sunday’s MLS Cup final in either Los Angeles or Seattle (3 pm ET).

Following a 2-1 away win in the first leg, the Revolution had put themselves in perfect position to see out the series with a controlled, low-scoring affair at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

What transpired, instead, was a wide open final 70 minutes with the Revolution midfield stretched all over the place and the Red Bulls matching the high-powered Revs attack shot-for-shot (11 shots, four on target for each side).

Not to use any hyperbole at all, because the following statement is 100 percent true: Saturday’s game was an all-time playoff classic.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs coverage | PST on Twitter ]

First things first, Tim Cahill was an absolute nuisance to the Revolution defense in his first extended actions as a striker in months and months. Not only did he score a classic all-effort Cahill goal early in the first half, but he had a golden chance that would have put the Red Bulls through — one he’ll no doubt look back on and wish he’d done better with — midway through the second half.

But the Australian was involved in the game and dangerous throughout, a far cry from his recent shifts as a deep-lying midfielder. The shackles of responsibility were off as center forward and Cahill reminded us all that he’s still got a ton left in the tank, when used correctly.

In the whole of 180 minutes, it’s not crazy to say the Red Bulls outplayed the Revs in this series. Whether statistically (57 percent possession, to 43; 29 shots, to 19; 11 on target, to 8; 832 passes, to 623) or by the eye-test, they did everything better than the Revs, except one thing: take their chances. That is, of course, the big one.

[ WATCH: Charlie Davies scores the series-winning goal, sends Revs to MLS Cup ]

As for the Revs, head coach Jay Heaps may have been their best performer on Saturday. His lineup swap of left back Kevin Alston for midfielder Kelyn Rowe, thus pushing Chris Tierney up into the midfield, played out near perfectly.

Not only did Tierney provide the excellent left-footed service on both of the Revs’ goals, but Alston managed to corral Lloyd Sam far better than Tierney was able to do for 60 minutes in leg one. Only when the Red Bulls won the ball near midfield, which is an extremely rare thing to do against the Revs, was Sam able to get a jump on Alston and get in behind.

Tierney’s deployment as a wide midfielder did a number of detrimental things to the Red Bulls’ backline. First, it meant Richard Eckersley was stuck out wide, on an island, against arguably the best left foot in MLS. Second, that often created a huge gap between Eckersley and right-side center back Jamison Olave, a space through which Charlie Davies ran into dangerous areas all game long.

Tierney was almost certainly the Revs’ best player on Saturday, and while he’s consistently an extremely underrated player, that’s strange to fathom in a team with Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen, both of whom were distinctly average upon being neutralized.

[ LISTEN: Jay Heaps praises his team moments after advancing to MLS Cup ]

Thierry Henry. What’s there to say? What can be said that’s not already been spoken of the French legend? In short, nothing.

So we’ll leave it at this: if — and that’s still a big if — Saturday was the final game of his MLS and/or overall career, we are all better for having watched another vintage, dominant display. And if this is indeed the end, thank you, from everyone around the world.

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.