MLS roundup: Last-place beats 1st-place; Toronto FC top Timbers; Revs, D.C. split points

Leave a comment

Another week, another friendly reminder from Major League Soccer that none of us know anything about MLS. In what other league on this planet do the country’s bottom teams beat the top teams with such regularity? To the point where it’s not even a surprise when it happens? You simply think, “That makes absolutely no sense, so of course it happened.” Just look at those smiling Impact faces.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 12 ]

If you missed out on any of Saturday night’s MLS action, don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered with a roundup of all the night’s games.

Montreal Impact 2-1 FC Dallas

Coming into the night, the Impact ranked 20th of 20 teams in MLS, while FC Dallas sat atop the league in first place. It only makes sense that the former knocked off the latter, and for much of the night, actually looked the better team in doing so.

Some might say “MLS is crazy” because of what transpired at Stade Saputo. To them, I say, “It makes perfect sense, it’s MLS.” | FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

Toronto FC 1-0 Portland Timbers

Sebastian Giovinco is the most talented, biggest difference-making player currently doing his thing in MLS. With Jozy Altidore likely unavailable for the next two months (injury, followed by Gold Cup), Giovinco’s going to have play that way every week until he’s back.

On Saturday, Giovinco scored a peach of a long-range blast to give the Reds a much-needed home victory. Meanwhile, it is no long “early, still plenty of time left” for the Timbers, who by the grace of tiebreakers, are one spot out of dead last in the Western Conference| FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

[ MORE: Latest MLS transfer gossip: Del Piero, Cisse, De Rossi | Dani Osvaldo ]

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United

One red card = bad/diminishes your chances of winning a fair amount. Two red cards = disaster/you’re probably not going to win. Before the Revolution saw a pair of reds on Saturday night, they were vastly superior to D.C. United and held a 1-0 lead.

Following the sendings-off of Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen (both deservedly so), they were probably still the better teams (blame D.C. for that one), but saw their slim lead dissipate late.| FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

Seattle Sounders 0-0 Sporting Kansas City

An extremely shorthanded Sporting KC ground out a 0-0 road draw against the red-hot Sounders, which is a fantastic result for them. As for the Sounders, the words “uninspiring,” “apathetic” and “indifferent” come to mind. | FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Real Salt Lake 2-0 New York City FC

The return of Jason Kreis to Rio Tinto Stadium was anything but kind for the former RSL head coach, as New York City FC lost for the seventh time in nine games.

John Stertzer and Alvaro Saborio provided the goals for RSL, who now find themselves in seventh place in the Western Conference, on the outside looking in only on the basis of disciplinary points, MLS’s fourth standings tiebreaker (who know?). As for NYCFC, they now find themselves 20th of 20 teams in the league with just 7 points from 12 games.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Well, I’ll be…you know how this one ends. Two of the league’s “worst” teams beat two of the league’s “best” on Saturday night. As I said already, just another night in MLS, hence the facetious quotes around “worst” and “best.”

Lucas Pittinari scored the game’s only goal, a finish from close range, to give the Rapids just their second victory of the season. Coincidentally, those two wins? They’ve come against FC Dallas and Vancouver, the Western Conference’s top two teams coming into the night. MLS makes no sense.

VIDEO: Lo Celso escapes red card via VAR after horror challenge

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Giovani Lo Celso can count himself a lucky man after his horror challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta wasn’t deemed worthy of a red card by VAR.

What on earth is going on.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Lo Celso stamped on Azpilicueta’s leg as the Chelsea skipper slid in to get the ball and even though the Spanish defender was on the floor, Spurs’ Argentine playmaker had enough time to pull out of the challenge.

After a lengthy VAR check no red card was given as Chelsea’s fans, players and coaches looked on in bemusement after Olivier Giroud’s early goal gave them the lead.

Check out the video of the incident below and let us know what you think in the comments section below.


VIDEO: Giroud delivers for Chelsea v. Spurs

Leave a comment

Olivier Giroud delivered a stunning finish to put Chelsea ahead against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.

Giroud, starting for the first time since November, used all of his experience to run the Spurs defense ragged and provide a threatening focal point for the Chelsea attack.

The Frenchman, 33, jumped off the bench and had a goal disallowed by VAR in the 2-0 defeat against Man United on Monday but even after a VAR check for offside against Spurs, this time his goal stood.

Click play on the video above to watch the clinical finish.

It was a good job Giroud didn’t leave Chelsea in the January transfer window (as a move to Spurs seemed highly likely) after all.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Tottenham

Leave a comment

Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur in a massive London derby on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at Stamford Bridge.

With Frank Lampard‘s slumping Chelsea in fourth and just one point ahead of Jose Mourinho’s fifth-place Tottenham, this is a massive game in the battle for Champions League qualification.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Injuries are piling up for both sides but Chelsea’s lack of clinical finishing has hurt them for several months as they’ve won just four of their last 14 Premier League games. Mourinho knows this is a good time for him to take his team to Stamford Bridge, even with his own injury crisis to deal with.

Not only does the Mourinho storyline carry significant weight ahead of Saturday’s showdown at the Bridge, so too does the two sides’ increasingly tight battle for a top-four finish. As recently as Jan. 17, Chelsea enjoyed a nine-point lead on Tottenham, but the Blues’ current run of just one win from their last six PL games has seen that advantage shrink to a single point with the very real possibility of flipping two points in the opposite direction once the full-time whistle blows.

On the other hand, Spurs would already be miles clear if not for dropping a combined seven points from three games against the current 12th-, 19th- and 20th-place sides in recent weeks.

In team news Chelsea are without N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi who are all out injured. Olivier Giroud starts up front with Tammy Abraham only fit enough for the bench, while Chelsea have three center backs and Ross Barkley and Mason Mount come into the starting lineup.

Tottenham must do without Heung-Min Son for potentially the rest of the season after he suffered a broken arm. Mourinho must turn to other attacking options with Harry Kane also out until April. Dele Alli has been left on the bench as Spurs go with what also looks like a back five.


LINEUPS

Hodgson vows to sign new Crystal Palace contract

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Roy Hodgson has revealed that he has been offered a contract extension to remain at Crystal Palace beyond the 2020-21 Premier League season, and also hinted that he is highly likely to accept it.

[ MORE: Mourinho: Top-four without Kane, Son would be “something incredible” ]

Following a period of turmoil and instability which saw them drop dangerously close to the relegation zone prior to his arrival in 2017, Hodgson has steadied the ship and guided the Eagles to 11th- and 12th-place finishes in his first two seasons and has them sitting just a point out of 12th with a dozen games to go this season. At no point in his tenure has Palace flirted with relegation, and that’s apparently enough to earn a new deal to remain in charge — quotes from Sky Sports:

“The club have presented me with a contract and although the chairman has been away this week I’ve had a cursory glance through it. It all looks fine to me so I am pretty certain that at some point soon we’ll sit down and get it signed.

“If I am going to stay, it will be because I believe funds will be made available because we’ve had the intention to improve the squad and the team for a while now.

“We all realize you can’t make improvements to the actual team without spending some money. But I would never make those type of demands, because you can’t make any guarantees in the transfer market.

“All you can do is have good intention and if I signed for another year, I would sign because I believed the intentions are true and that something will happen going into the next season.”

As for the transfer situation, that’s something that’ll need to be sorted out in very short order if Palace plan to maintain their current place in the PL’s hierarchy, otherwise they’ll learn a harsh — and quick — lesson about standing still while everyone else is moving forward.