MLS roundup: Quakes down Sounders; RSL in 3-3 draw; FC Dallas rout Sporting KC

1 Comment

Wow. Week 2 of the 2015 season — at least, so far — was a little bit crazy and out of control.

First things first, refereeing controversies dominated more than half of Saturday night’s games, as questionable (read: very poor; wrong) calls greatly impacted results, and in most cases, the quality of the game.

Furthermore, just when you think you’ve figured out a team — let alone, the league — think again. Saturday’s results will leave more than a few casual and hardcore onlookers scratching their heads all week. MLSsoccer.com’s Matthew Doyle said it best:

Missed you last week, real MLS.

Chicago Fire 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Missed chances galore in the first half, particularly by Vancouver’s Pedro Morales and Kekuta Manneh, and a pair of strong performances from goalkeepers Jon Busch and David Ousted were just enough to keep things scoreless for 85 minutes.

Octavio Rivero finally showed the composure in front of goal the game had been missing and beat Busch with five minutes of regular time to play. Steven Beitashour’s overlapping run down the right and subsequent cross set up Rivero near the penalty spot and the Uruguayan hit it low, to the back post and found the back of the net.

Columbus Crew SC 2-0 Toronto FC

A first-half red card to Toronto’s Justin Morrow completely changed what was an even, back-and-forth game for 45 minutes. At their best, both of these teams look likely be at the top of the Eastern Conference come October.

Justin Meram and Kei Kamara tallied for the Crew, who pick up their first victory of the season. | FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

FC Dallas 3-1 Sporting Kansas City

FC Dallas, on the back of two Blas Perez goals, brushed aside Sporting KC at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night. Fabian Castillo provided FCD’s third goal, while Roger Espinoza was the lone SKC goalscorer.

The game, however, was tarnished by a brutal missed call from the assistant referee on the game-winning goal. | FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

Real Salt Lake 3-3 Philadelphia Union

Nothing about this game screamed “goalfest” before kickoff. RSL regularly have one of the most stable defenses in MLS and the Union were extremely poor in the final third in last week’s 0-0 draw with Colorado.

On Saturday, the RSL defense was in tatters and Philadelphia punished them at every opportunity. And then, a night of unjust refereeing decisions continued, robbing the Union of two points. RSL, down 3-2, were awarded a undeserved penalty in the 85th minute and Alvaro Saborio converted, stealing a point for the hosts.

RSL goalscorers: Morales (29′), Olave (55′), Saborio (86′) | Union goalscorers: Aristeguieta (34′, 38′), Olave (OG – 58′)

Seattle Sounders 2-3 San Jose Earthquakes

Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be, because this is MLS. It’s what MLS does.

Don’t ever forget about Chris Wondolowski, scorer of two goals. He’ll score 15 this year, easily. Not even a Clint Dempsey goal 18 seconds into the game could stop Wondo on Saturday night. | FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

Houston Dynamo 0-1 Orlando City SC (Friday night)

Kaka hounded Houston ‘keeper Tyler Deric, who was up to the tasking of turning away the 2007 World Player of the Year, all night. Unfortunately for Deric, it was his Gaffe of the Year candidate that cost Houston all three points. | FULL RECAP WITH HIGLIGHTS

Sunday’s MLS schedule

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution (5 pm ET, ESPN2)
Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy (7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

Adam Davy/PA via AP
1 Comment

Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.