International Champions Cup: Three things we learned from Chelsea’s loss to New York Red Bulls

1 Comment

HARRISON, N.J. — Tonight’s International Champions Cup match between Chelsea and New York Red Bulls pitted the defending Premier League champions against a team of kids getting their chance on the big stage.

The kids got the last laugh.

[ RECAP: New York Red Bulls 4-2 Chelsea ]

Trailing 1-0 at the break, the Red Bulls scored four times in the second half to stun Chelsea in the Blues’ first game of their preseason summer tour. It was just a friendly, but considering Chelsea only gave up four or more goals once in the Premier League last season, this was not a good start to their 2015-16 campaign.

So what did we learn at Red Bull Arena?

THE STRIKER POSITION COULD STILL BE AN ISSUE

Diego Costa played the second half for Chelsea, and while he didn’t score, he looked dangerous and had a few really good chances. There’s no debate that Costa is one of the top strikers in the Premier League. The question is, if Costa goes down injured or finds himself suspended, who can fill the void?

Loic Remy started the match and despite scoring a goal, he had a relatively poor 45 minutes. He took too many touches around the box and often got the ball stuck in his feet before having it stolen by a Red Bulls defender. A striker that has plenty of top-flight experience and has played in a World Cup for France, Remy lacked the pace to get in behind a defense made up of no-name youngsters. It may just be the first match of the preseason, but can Blues’ supporters really count on Remy to handle a big work-load should Costa be unavailable?

Radamel Falcao is Chelsea’s other option at striker, but was given a rest tonight after playing for Colombia in the Copa America tournament. Jose Mourinho is hoping Falcao will find his form at Stamford Bridge, but after his disappointing loan-spell at Manchester United last season, Falcao is far from a sure-thing.

International Champions Cup 2015 - Chelsea v New York Red Bulls
Victor Moses has spent the past two seasons away on loan.

VICTOR MOSES WANTS TO BE A BLUE

Victor Moses came to Chelsea from Wigan in 2012, and after making 23 Premier League appearances in his first season at Stamford Bridge, he has yet to play another league game for the Blues.

Moses spent the past two seasons on loan at Liverpool and Stoke City, and his name has been floated around this summer for another possible loan move as well. However, he got the start tonight for Chelsea and was arguably their best player in the first half.

The Nigerian international is very versatile, but played today in his preferred winger role. He used his speed to breeze past the Red Bulls defense and nearly scored on a clever chip, but was rejected by the post. He showed confidence on the ball, and moved well without it. After the match, Mourinho said Moses has “had an evolution over the past couple years,” and I would expect him to stay at Chelsea this season.

DON’T EXPECT TO SEE CHELSEA’S YOUNGSTERS IN THE PL

After Chelsea won the Premier League last season, many thought the 2015-16 season could see an influx of youth players into Mourinho’s squad, as the Blues have been stockpiling top talent over the past few years. While a few of those young stars are in the preseason team and saw minutes tonight, don’t expect to see see them lining up in England.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek saw some minutes towards the end of the Premier League campaign last season, but after the match today, Mourinho said the 19-year-old is far from ready to play with Chelsea full-time. 18-year-old Ola Aina played the second half tonight on the back line, but if Mourinho is going to be playing a young defender, his name will probably be John Stones.

The most impressive youngster today for Chelsea was Bertrand Traore, a 19-year-old from Burkina Faso. Traore started up top and showed great pace both on and off the ball. He spent last season at loan at Dutch-side Vitesse, but still needs a bit of time to develop his raw skill-set.

LAFC’s Adama Diomande voluntarily enters MLS’s health program

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande has entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

MLS announced Diomande’s voluntary decision Friday.

Diomande won’t play for LAFC at least until the program’s doctors complete their evaluation and he is cleared by program officials.

The 29-year-old Norwegian scorer has eight goals and seven assists in 25 appearances this season, including 15 starts. He has played a valuable complementary offensive role alongside MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Sergiño Dest ]

Diomande is in his second MLS season after joining LAFC from Hull City. He also previously played under LAFC coach Bob Bradley in Norway.

LAFC (19-4-7) has clinched the Western Conference title, and it leads the overall MLS table by seven points despite a four-game winless streak.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Brighton

Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Early-season relegation battlers meet on Saturday
  • 18th-place Newcastle to host 16th-place Brighton
  • Brighton won at Newcastle, drew at home last season

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, a pair of Premier League sides with just two wins from the first five weeks of the season between them, will meet at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) for what could prove to be a retrospective relegation six-pointer when May rolls around.

Each side replaced its manager — Steve Bruce for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle; Graham Potter for Chris Hughton at Bright — in the summer and neither of the new bosses has had a particularly enjoyable start to the 2019-20 campaign. Brighton won on the opening day of the season, but have taken just two points from the following four games. Newcastle lost their first two games, won their third, and have drawn and lost again since. It’s the kind of form that’ll see both sides stuck in the high-teens of the PL table if they don’t find their footing in the coming weeks.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Things are particularly worrying for Newcastle, who didn’t they’d be without Benitez until the end of June and didn’t appoint Bruce until mid-July. Key players had already left the club and reinforcements for few and far between. Forward Joelinton joined for $50 million and is one of four players with a single goal scored thus far.

Last week was nearly fruitful for the Seagulls, until the conceded a stoppage-time equalizer and settle for a point at home against Burnley. Summer signing Neal Maupay bagged his second goal for Brighton earlier in the game, giving Potter a potential trump card over a handful of other relegation-threatened sides without a consistent goalscorer.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeune (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – DeAndre Yedlin (groin)

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Ezequiel Schelotto (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Joelinton

Brighton: Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Webster – March, Stephens, Propper, Burn – Gross, Maupay, Murray


What they’re saying

Joelinton, on Andy Carroll: “It’s always great to have experienced players in the group, and he’s one of them. He can help the club, he can help the young players. Andy Carroll has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League, and it’s great to be playing alongside him. He’s a calm guy. I still haven’t spoken to him a lot because my English isn’t great! But every day he’s trying to help. He’ll help me before the games, he’ll give me positional advice and suggest what I’ve done both good and bad.”

Graham Potter, on the trip to Newcastle: “Newcastle away is a tough game just like all the others. We don’t target particular matches — it’s about what we need to do to get a positive result. They have an experienced manager who I came across last year and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. They have good quality players and we know it can be a hostile environment, it’s a big club and we know we have to play well to get something.  Steve has a lot of games under his belt – he’s had a lot of success and he’ll understand the challenge that lies ahead.


Prediction

Newcastle haven’t scored multiple goals in a game yet this season, and they’ve conceded twice as many as they’ve scored (four). It’s hard to trust them to be anything resembling consistent from game to game. It wouldn’t be surprising if they battled to a boring 0-0 draw, or conceding three times before halftime. It’ll probably be closer to the former, a 1-1 stalemate.

AC Milan announces internal anti-racism task force

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) AC Milan has announced it will establish an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

The club says the task force will be supported by “an external consultancy” and “develop a program of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behavior on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”

The move comes after reports of racist chants directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who is black, during a match at Hellas Verona last weekend.

Milan says the anti-racism initiative will be launched during Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule ]

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari this month.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, who is South African, says: “Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviors. AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. . We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.