Three things we learned from Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton

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LONDON — Following Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Everton at White Hart Lane on Saturday, we learned plenty about both teams as they aim to set a top four challenge in motion. On this showing, top six seems more attainable for both this season.

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With John Stones getting booed by both sets of fans and the subject of chants surrounding his transfer request amid interest from Chelsea, it was a lively encounter which saw Harry Kane continue to struggle in front of goal and Tim Howard pull off a heroic performance.

Here are three things we learned from the Lane.

KANE’S FRUSTRATION CONTINUES

As Kane raced through on goal, one-on-one with goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 23rd minute, home fans at White Hart Lane rose to their feet as one. After Kane’s heroics last season, everyone expected to see the net ripple and Spurs to be 1-0 up. Wrong. Kane hesitated, looked across at the linesman, then fluffed his shot and Howard saved superbly down low.

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He looked frustrated. Was snapping at shots and his aerial knockdowns were not finding the feet of his teammates. In the first half Kane continued to drop deep, twice hitting long-range efforts from distance which sailed harmlessly over Howard’s crossbar. After four games this season, Kane has failed to score a single goal and although he did have the ball in the back of the net in the second half, a quick glance to the linesman showed he was offside.

The England international scored 21 times in the PL last season, 31 times in 51 games total, but remember, Kane did not score his first PL goal of the 2014-15 campaign until Nov. 2. He still has plenty of time to turn things around this season but one thing is for sure, Spurs’ main man is in a slump and its now 22 shots without a goal this season.

HOWARD MORE THAN READY FOR USMNT RECALL

Just in case anybody had any concerns about Tim Howard returning to the U.S. national team fold for the first time in over a year next week when the U.S. face Peru and Brazil in friendlies, you needn’t worry.

Howard, 36, pulled off a highlight reel performance at White Hart Lane on Saturday, excelling in the first half with a string of fines saves just to give Jurgen Klinsmann a friendly reminder of what he’s capable of.

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First came his best, as Kane raced through on goal Howard stood his ground and saved superbly with his feet as Tottenham’s leading goalscorer from last year hesitated with the finish. In the 27th minute he saved well again down low from Ryan Mason after he broke into the box. Soon after Howard dove down to his left to stop a shot from Nabil Bentaleb and nobody from Spurs’ reacted to the loose ball.

In the 32nd minute he made a fine fingertip stop from Toby Alderweireld’s header from a corner and Howard’s heroics helped continued in the second half as he denied Mason with a low shot. Last week Howard was criticized by some when he was beaten at his near post by Kolarov in Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, but the New Jersey native was Man of the Match this time out.

“I am man of the match this week and last week I was the goat. That is football.”

Klinsmann recently stated that Howard is his No. 2 behind Brad Guzan for the upcoming friendlies and will be for a while longer. After taking a self-imposed sabbatical from USMNT action, that’s to be expected. But if Howard keeps playing like this, he will be the USA’s No. 1 again before you know it.

ERIKSEN INTEGRAL; DEMBELE, CLEVERLEY GO DOWN

Without the injured Christian Eriksen, Tottenham’s creativity and spark in the final third took a big hit. Ryan Mason was tasked with playing just behind Kane in the first half but despite his endless running, he failed to unlock Everton’s defense and squandered multiple chances to score. The writing was on the wall nine minutes in as Mason was set free down the right but his ball into the box was high and wide. With Mason playing a more advanced role in Eriksen’s absence, he had another chance in the 17th minute after Danny Rose’s cross but finished poorly as he arrived late in the box. Delle Alli was brought on early in the second half to replace the injured Moussa Dembele but the 19-year-old didn’t fare much better. It’s clear that Kane is going through a tough time and that’s inhibiting Tottenham, but without their chief playmaker Eriksen, Spurs’ offense is struggling as they’ve scored three times in their opening four games.

Two players are also struggling with fitness after this game as both Tom Cleverly and Dembele were stretchered off. Cleverley’s right leg was caught in-between a sliding tackle from Dier, and while many claim it was a foul from Spurs’ central midfielder, there were no complaints from Everton’s players. Yes, Dier’s trailing leg caught Cleverley and caused the injury, but when sliding in to make a tackle sometimes this happens. There was no malice in that challenge but Cleverley was very unfortunate and could well be spending a long time out on the sidelines. At the start of the second half Dembele went down right on the touchline as he clipped a ball back across the box and it looked as if he injured his Achilles by clipping one leg with another. Again, another lengthy spell on the sidelines beckons.

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Report: Edinson Cavani set to join Inter Miami next summer

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Edinson Cavani is reportedly set to make a big splash in Florida.

According to Uruguayan journalist Alvaro Izquierdo, Cavani, 32, is set to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami next summer. The club will make their MLS debut next season.

The specifics of the supposed move are not know, but per the report from Izquierdo, Cavani will join Miami on a free transfer after his contract with PSG expires in June. Since joining in 2013, El Matador has been irreplaceable for the French giants, scoring over 160 goals and becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. This season, Cavani is off to a perfect start -scoring in the first two games of the Ligue 1 season.

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The striker is one of the first superstars linked to Miami, but the general vibe given off by owners Jorge Mas and Beckham is that the club will look to spend big – similar to Atlanta United, LAFC and LA Galaxy.

Miami has signed three players so far ahead of their 2020 MLS debut – Christian Makoun, Julian Carranza, and Matias Pellegrini all currently makeup the squad.

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.

Vela scores 24th, LAFC clinches playoff berth

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SANDY, Utah (AP) – Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake’s Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.

Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco’s had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.

Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.

Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.

Salt Lake (12-10-4) had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.