MLS Snapshot: Sporting KC 4-0 FC Dallas

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One game in 100 words: Many will point to a critical juncture–the red card against Zach Loyd–as the event that propelled Sporting Kansas City to victory. However, for the majority of the first half, Sporting had clearly outplayed the Toros, and if this effort persisted into the second half, an SKC win would have been likely anyway. Once Dallas got down to 10 men, their hopes of winning vanished. KC didn’t look back and Peter Vermes watched his attack cruise with another top-notch performance from Krisztian Nemeth, among a host of other notables. At third place in the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City is presently tied with FC Dallas on points (21), two points behind league leader Seattle Sounders.

 

Goals

KC: Krisztian Nemeth 19′, Benny Feilhaber 51′, Kevin Ellis 57′, Graham Zusi 63′

Dallas: None

 

Three moments that mattered

19’ — Nemeth opens it up — Off a set piece yards from the right side, midfielder Graham Zusi wound up and sent a swift curving ball to the far post for Kevin Ellis, who was caught off balance trying to meet the pass with his head. But in miraculous fashion, his attempt looped to the correct spot, at the other post for Krisztian Nemeth. The former Liverpool reserve team member, mere inches away from the goal line, buried it into the back of the net.

43’ — Red card to Loyd — FC Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy blasted a goal kick to the middle of the pitch, and you couldn’t sense the impending noteworthy sequence. Graham Zusi headed the ball to Nemeth approaching the sideline behind defender Zach Loyd, already on his first yellow card. Nemeth battled to corral the ball, and possibly sensing he got beat, Loyd dove into the forward’s legs. It was the right call in this case, even if the former North Carolina Tar Heel did it by mistake.

63’ — Fourth goal finalizes it — Benny Feilhaber and Kevin Ellis had notched the previous two goals for SKC up to this point, and Graham Zusi officially cemented the result with this goal. Rookie Connor Hallisey received a through ball that afforded him an expanse of open space down the right flank and cutting inside to his left foot, slipped a crafty back heel to Zusi running in from behind. The USMNT regular slotted it home. Down four goals and a man, Dallas was finished.

 

Lineups

KC: Graham Zusi (Saad Abdul-Salaam 83′), Krisztian Nemeth, Conor Hallisey (Marcel de Jong 65′); Tim Melia; Jalil Anibaba, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia; Benny Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza (Servando Carrasco 71′)

Dallas: Blas Perez (Rolando Escobar HT); Dan Kennedy; Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, Moises Hernandez; Victor Ulloa, Kyle Bekker, Tesho Akindele (David Texeira 74′), Mauro Diaz (Michel 72′), Ryan Hollingshead

 

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

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In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.

MLS Notes: Shea out for season with torn ACL, and more

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It appeared Brek Shea had finally gotten his career back on track, only for a serious injury to end his season prematurely.

Atlanta United announced on Tuesday that Shea had suffered a “right knee injury” that will involve season-ending surgery. An earlier report from the Athletic stated it was a torn ACL, which could leave Shea sidelined into the start of next season.

[READ: de Ligt arrives in Turin]

Shea has made 10 starts out of 19 appearances so far this season for Atlanta, where he’s often played as a left wing back or left midfielder, offering speed down the flank and a deeper starting position to connect with Atlanta’s talented attackers. A good season from Shea could have propelled him back into the USMNT conversation, especially if he took part in next season’s January camp. Now, that option is off the table.

Here’s some more MLS news and notes:

(more…)

De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of proposed Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s recruiting tactics with Matthijs de Ligt during the UEFA Nations League final appears to have worked.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Juventus posted a video on the club’s social media accounts that shows de Ligt arriving in Turin, Italy on a private jet, likely to sign his contract and get started with the club. It’s a huge precursor to an announcement for one of the top targets of this summer’s transfer market, and it represents a huge coup for Juventus.

Just a month ago or so, Juventus were on the outside looking in, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and even Manchester United and Manchester City all mentioned in the race to sign the Netherlands and Ajax star centerback. And yet, PSG, which appeared in the lead at one point, lost ground to Juventus, and de Ligt now gets to compete alongside Ronaldo after facing him twice over the past season.

It’s the latest move in the incredible rise of de Ligt over the past three years. De Ligt was promoted to Ajax’s first team as a 17-year-old, and pretty quickly established himself as a huge talent for the Netherlands. Then Netherlands National Team coach Danny Blind called up de Ligt to start in a crunch World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, with the Netherlands desperate for some defensive answers.

It’s didn’t exactly go well.

And yet, de Ligt has overcome those experiences and raised his game to new levels each of the last two years. Alongside Davinson Sanchez, Ajax made it to the Europa League final, and last year, de Ligt scored as Ajax defeated Juventus on the way to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Ajax was just a few minutes away from the finals before Tottenham’s late winner.

At the same time, along with Virgil Van Dijk, they form one of the strongest centerback partnerships in Europe, and look set to lead the Netherlands to UEFA Euro 2020.

As mentioned before, it’s a massive get for de Ligt, assuming that the soon-to-be 20-year-old can settle in Turin. Juventus’ defensive corps continues to grow older, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini both well into their 30s. De Ligt’s arrival can help give some stability at the back and allow Juventus to transition to the next generation of centerbacks.

Cameroon fire Seedorf, Kluivert

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Upset with how the national team was bounced from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the Cameroon Football Federation has taken a drastic and surprising measure.

[READ: Reports: Trippier set to join Atletico Madrid]

The Cameroon FF (FECAFOOT) announced on Tuesday that it had dismissed head coach Clarence Seedorf and his coaching staff, which includes Seedorf’s former Netherlands and Ajax teammate Patrick Kluivert. Seedorf and Cameroon were defeated 3-2 by Nigeria in the Round of 16, knocking The Indomitable Lions out of the tournament.

Cameroon had won the last AFCON tournament and were set to host again, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) removed the tournament from Cameroon due to the anglophone political crisis.

Seedorf signed a four-year contract last August, bringing Kluivert along with him in his first attempt to coach international soccer. However, it appears that the bosses in FECAFOOT expected more from Cameroon at the AFCON, and the results have embarrassed the federation enough to sack a promising coach.

The news should be a boost to club teams across Europe, which could pick up two of the top young coaches with a ton of playing experience, both of whom are free agents.