The game in 100 words (or less): Where have the Seattle Sounders — you know, the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup contenders and/or favorites from six months ago — gone? And who thought it was a good idea to replace them with this slow, old and disinterested bunch we’ve been watching sleepwalk through the last three months of the 2015 season. With everything to play for on Sunday — a chance for a top-two seed in the playoffs, or the right to host their knockout round playoff game, at the very least — Sigi Schmid’s Sounders laid their latest egg, in the form of a 1-1 draw away to the Houston Dynamo. With one game left to play — at home vs. Real Salt Lake — Seattle need lots of help (two losses by the LA Galaxy, for starters) to finish top-two in the West, and no longer control their own destiny in terms of hosting the knockout round at CenturyLink Field.
[ MORE: East playoff scenarios | West | TFC 0-2 CLB | NE 0-1 MTL ]
Three moments that mattered
48′ — Deric out quickly to deny Dempsey — Clint Dempsey and Erik Friberg worked a clever give-and-go at the top of the 18-yard box to spring the former into a one-on-one chance against Tyler Deric. Unfortunately for the Sounders, Deric was up to the challenge, as has been the case all season.
65′ — Clark hammers home on the counter — Everyone in the world, including the Sounders defense, was convinced Brad Davis was about to cross the ball to the far post. Instead, the veteran winger waited for acres of space to open up at the top of the 18-yard box and cut the ball back to a late-arriving Ricardo Clark, who finished low and precise for a deserved lead.
81′ — Martins with another late equalizer — Obafemi Martins is making a habit of scoring late equalizers to make up for otherwise extremely poor Sounders performances (remember this one?). Andreas Ivanschitz whipped the ball into the box, the Dynamo didn’t deal with it, made the in excusable of letting the ball bounce inside the box, and Martins made them pay.
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Man of the match: Ricardo Clark
Goalscorers: Clark (65′), Martins (82′)
It’s been a pretty solid week and year for Josh Sargent.
[ MORE: Spurs injury update ]
The USMNT striker played against Colombia and Peru, scoring against the latter on Thursday, and now his coach is ticketing him for first team soccer at Werder Bremen.
Boss Florian Kohfeldt had previously mentioned that Sargent would get a first team chance this season, but the 18-year-old looks set to be a fixture amongst those competing for playing time in the Bundesliga.
“This period in which [Sargent] plays exclusively in the U23s is over,” said Kohfeldt of the player who now has two goals in just five senior international caps. “He looks to be a long way beyond that now.”
Sargent had six goals and two assists in 10 matches for Werder Bremen II, and could make his first appearance for the first team on Saturday at Schalke.
West Ham United man Jack Wilshere knows a thing or two about working out contracts with Arsenal, and has issued a stern warning to the Gunners when it comes to Aaron Ramsey.
Wilshere says Ramsey should be a “future captain” for Unai Emery, and that allowing the Welsh player to leave — for free, no less — is a head-scratcher.
[ MORE: Spurs injury update ]
Given the players’ long-term friendship, it’s fair to say Wilshere knows his stuff when he intimates that Ramsey would appreciate more time in North London, and he poses this question.
From The Islington Gazette:
“I think you’ve got to look at the situation and ask: ‘How many top teams in the Premier League and elsewhere could he get in?’ And you’d have to say them all – and that speaks volumes about the type of player he is.”
This is pretty true, aside from Man City. And you’d have to give Ramsey a shot of making his presence felt there as well.
Emery is trying to forge a new identity for Arsenal, and Ramsey’s had his fair share of injury issues, but allowing Ramsey to walk does seem a bit silly.
Gonzalo Higuain is off and running at AC Milan, even if the club hasn’t been finding the wins it needs to contend in Serie A.
The 30-year-old forward has six goals in seven games for Milan after his surprising summer move from Juventus, which came after Cristiano Ronaldo arrived from Real Madrid.
[ MORE: Spurs injury update ]
Rather than feel slighted just two seasons after a $106 million move from Napoli to Juve, though, Higuain is feeling reborn.
Apparently, you can’t feel disillusioned about soccer when Gennaro Gattuso gives you those football eyes.
“I feel rejuvenated,” Higuain said. “I love Gattuso. He looks at you and sends you his love for football.”
Higuain admitted he had no desires to leave Juve, saying the club didn’t give him an option and he still is fond of The Old Lady.
“Mine is a feeling of affection because they treated me very well; team-mates and supporters have given me huge affection,” he said in the interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian link). “But I did not ask to leave. Basically, everyone says it, they kicked me out. At Milan I immediately had a great love and so they convinced me.”
Higuain scored 55 goals in 105 appearances for Juventus, adding 12 assists in winning two scudetto and matching Coppa Italia crowns.
Tottenham Hotspur has weathered an injury crisis to stay in the thick of the Premier League title race, and is getting some of its men back in the fold.
Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele have been boosted by the international break, Mauricio Pochettino revealed on Thursday.
[ MLS: New 2nd youngest goal scorer ]
Dele Alli, Danny Rose, and Jan Vertonghen are going to require a bit more healing, though, via the BBC:
“Still maybe 10 days more for Dele Alli and Danny Rose is the same, one week more. Jan Vertonghen is a little bit longer. But the most important thing is that we start to recover players. It will be a tough month of competition for us.”
Spurs are two points back of the trio leading the Premier League ahead of a tricky month for all contenders.
Tottenham visits improving West Ham United on Saturday before heading to PSV Eindhoven and hosting Manchester City. A League Cup date with West Ham follows before a visit to Wolves and a return date with PSV. Then Palace, and another international break.
Get well soon, right?