MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 0-2 New York Red Bulls (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Orlando City SC’s recent struggles continued on Saturday — as did the good fortune of the New York Red Bulls — as the Lions fell to a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of the Red Bulls. Sacha Kljestan scored the game’s opening goal, a stunning strike from nearly 25 yards out (video below), to give Jesse Marsch’s side its fourth victory in five games and reclaim second place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, OCSC slip to sixth place in the East with their latest defeat (second straight) and the New England Revolution’s 1-0 victory over New York City FC. Cyle Larin was shown a controversial red card (video below) 10 minutes after going a goal down, doubling the troubles for Adrian Heath’s side. Despite out-shooting the visitors by a total of 14 to 10, the Red Bulls’ man advantage proved too much to overcome.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 20 ]

Three moments that mattered

21′ — Kljestan unleashes a bomb to make it 1-0 — Kljestan has to be one of the most well-rounded midfielders in the US national team’s player pool — strong defensively after five years as a defensive midfielder in Belgium, and always capable of creating and scoring goals in the attacking half of the field. This blast from nearly 25 yards out will likely win a few Goal of the Week votes.

32′ — Larin goes in studs up, sees red — Here’s the thing about fouls and cards: you don’t have to actually make contact for the referee to whistle you for an infraction. If you go in studs up, shin-high, recklessly and completely miss the ball, you’re still endangering the safety of an opponent, which can carry a sentence up to a red card.

90+1′ — Grella takes it himself, provides the insurance — Mike Grella weaved his way through the heart of the (thoroughly exhausted) Orlando City midfield and past the defense to double the lead and secure all three points with two minutes of stoppage time left to be played.

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Man of the match: Sacha Kljestan — Not only scored what would eventually go down as the game-winning goal, but his…embellishment skills, we’ll call them…played a big part in Larin seeing red rather than yellow or nothing at all.

LINEUPS

Orlando City SC: Hall, Ashe (Ribeiro 88′), St Ledger, Collin, Ramos, Higuita, Ceren, Rivas, Kaka, Neal (Rochez 77′), Larin

New York Red Bulls: Robles, Wallace, Perrinelle, Miazga, Lade, Felipe, McCarty, Grella, Kljestan (Ouimette 81′), Sam (Abang 58′), Wright-Phillips (Zizzo 70′)

Goals: Kljestan (21′), Grella (90+1′)

First Leagues Cup will be an all-Liga MX affair

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Given Major League Soccer’s record against Liga MX sides when both teams are bringing their best players to the party, it’s no surprise that the former has been left out of the Leagues Cup Final.

Instead, Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL will meet on Sept. 18 for the first ever crown in the history of the competition pitting teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States top flights.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Choosing not to play Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Carlos Pavon amongst others, the LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Cruz Azul in Carson, California, getting an Emil Cuello goal but allowing the below delightful winner from Orbelin Pineda just after halftime.

The Galaxy were in the midst of a nasty four-match fortnight, and opted for this match — a tournament semifinal against a league which has bossed its league — to rest their men. Not a choice we love, but a fair choice given the Galaxy’s mere 4-point advantage on 7th place in the West.

Tigres needed penalties to get past Club America in an absolutely bonkers semifinal.

The match was level at 2 after regulation, with two own goals, a penalty, and a 90th minute red card doled out to Tigres’ Roger Martinez.

The second Tigres own goal, which came before the club outlasted America 5-3 in penalties, came deep in stoppage.

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Zappacosta off to Roma as Chelsea trusts youth

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Tuesday was a great day to be Reece James.

Not that it hasn’t been a good summer altogether with Frank Lampard in charge of Chelsea.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Lampard sanctioned the loan of Zappacosta to AS Roma, which puts James firmly in line for first team reps at Stamford Bridge.

The 19-year-old James has earned his place after two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, and Cesar Azpilicueta will either need rest or time at center back at some point.

As for Zappacosta, he was a curiosity buy who was serviceable during his time at Stamford Bridge. At Roma, though, he’ll… also be second choice to club captain Alessandro Florenzi.

Lampard is definitely giving the Blues’ youth a chance to shine during this transfer ban, and this may well be the best opportunity of James’ career.

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

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The United States men’s national team has just a pair of friendlies remaining before its next CONCACAF competition, the Nations’ League.

Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will meet Uruguay and Mexico in September, and the looming CNL — you know Berhalter wants some sort of crown given the Gold Cup Final loss to El Tri — certainly hints at a strong XI even with players like Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Boyd (Besitkas) and Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf, on loan from Man City) settling into new digs.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]

Before we dare to name a 23-man outfit for these matches, we should note that there’s no guarantee every big team will want to release their players in September. But this projection will act under the assumption that his best healthy men will accept invitations or that, at least, Berhalter will invite his best healthy men.

The MLS playoff push may actually force his hand in that Berhalter may respect teams in said playoff race due (though MLS does not have every team playing over the break).

We’ll assume for this exercise that DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) don’t miraculously come fit.

Now for the Big Berhalter Questions (BBQs):

  1. Since Gyasi Zardes has scored three goals and an assist in his last six MLS games and there’s no chance Berhalter ignores him, who will not get a look: Tim Weah (Lille), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas) or … wait, it’s gonna be Boyd.
  2. Wil Trapp has been poor in a USMNT jersey, but has three assists in his last six MLS matches so will he…. book his place, too.

Finally, I’m not going to say that this 23-man roster will be correct, but it will be fun.

Goalkeepers (3)

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Kasey Keller (Millwall)
Pick the guy who you think I should pick here and pretend you like it better than:
David Bingham (LA Galaxy)

Defenders (8)

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Matt Miazga (Reading)
Aaron Long (West Ham New York Red Bulls)
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (6)

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Paxtom Pomykal (FC Dallas)
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

Forwards (6)

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Timothy Weah (Lille)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Paul Arriola (DC United)
Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)