We hope you cleared your calendar and situated yourself on your couch in time for kickoff of the 2015 MLS Cup final, because if you didn’t, you missed a whole lot of action early on in Sunday’s final between Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers.
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Diego Valeri put the visitors from Portland ahead after 27 seconds (fastest in MLS Cup history – WATCH HERE), when Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark made the howler to end all howlers inside his own penalty area. Valeri pounced and made him pay.
The Timbers took a 2-0 lead through Rodney Wallace six minutes later, though the entire build-up to the goal should have never taken place, thus the goal never should have been scored.
That’s a shocking missed call by the assistant referee, who was positioned very well and not that far from the ball when it so clearly crossed the line and went out of play. Darlington Nagbe picked up the ball immediately thereafter, weaved his way through midfield, played it out wide Lucas Melano and he crossed for Wallace at the back post, where he headed past Clark.
[ MORE: MLS Cup 2015 roundtable — storylines, keys and predictions ]
Crew SC pulled one back not long after that, though, through — who else? — Kei Kamara, scorer of 22 goals during the regular season and three more in the MLS Cup Playoffs en route to Sunday’s final. This is far from textbook goalkeeping by Adam Kwarasey, but goals count all the same.
The first two quarterfinal berths in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were earned Tuesday with 3-2 away wins.
Columbus Crew 2-3 Atlanta United
A pair of goals from Brandon Vazquez helped Atlanta United overcome both the Columbus Crew and a 48-minute weather delay.
Miles Robinson also scored for Atlanta, while David Accam bagged a goal for the hosts.
A 71st minute Brad Guzan own goal set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the Five Stripes, but they navigated the obstacles and emerged into the quarterfinals
Atlanta will play the winner of FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC.
Houston Dynamo 2-3 Minnesota United
The Houston Dynamo thought they were cruising to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and instead just waltzed right out of the tournament.
Up 2-0 at home and at halftime, the Dynamo conceded three times in the final 24 minutes to bow out of the USOC.
The victor, who deserves full marks, is Minnesota United. Darwin Quintero struck twice and Mason Toye scored in the 89th minute as the Loons advanced to play the winner of New Mexico United and FC Dallas. No Texas Derby in the cup this year.
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Michael Bradley all start as the United States men’s national team will look a bit more like its best for Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Guyana.
The 10 p.m. ET kickoff in Minnesota will see the Yanks without injured Tyler Adams, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Sebastian Lletget, but Jozy Altidore has been relegated to the bench — perhaps not fully fit — behind Gyasi Zardes.
[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores, stats, lineups ]
The back line will see Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and Tim Ream, while Bradley, McKennie work atop them.
Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd will be out wide, with Christian Pulisic central underneath Zardes.
The substitutes are Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Omar Gonzalez, Wil Trapp, Jordan Morris, Reggie Cannon, Cristian Roldan, Daniel Lovitz, Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Lewis, Matt Miazga, Djordje Mihailovic.
[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]
It would be peak Newcastle United of recent seasons to lose their coach to a squabble over the sort of players the manager wants to sign.
Rafa Benitez‘s contract expires at the end of this month, and he makes decent money at St. James’ Park, but his $6 million pales in comparison the money being offered by a Chinese Super League club.
[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]
Benitez wants to stay at Newcastle, but his concerns aren’t about his wages as much as being allowed to build a contender under stingy owner Mike Ashley. With the team possibly getting a takeover, Benitez is not guaranteed the chance to improve his roster. Not to mention Newcastle operates under club-wide restrictions.
Sky Sports says, “the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia boss wants to be given the green light to sign players over the age of 26, which has been against club policy in previous years.”
Sky Sports reports that Benitez is mulling a $15 million offer from Dalian Yifang, the CSL team currently sitting in 11th place under former South Korea national team manager Kang-hee Choi.
Dalian Yifang currently employs transfer rumor mainstay Yannick Carrasco, as well as Marek Hamsik and young Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Boateng.
If Newcastle allows Benitez to leave and the takeover is not completed, it would be the most embarrassing thing for the club since Joe Kinnear couldn’t pronounce half of his players’ names. That’s saying something.
Gregg Berhalter’s shaky USMNT welcomes several of its star players into the fold when it kicks off its 2019 Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on Tuesday.
[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]
The match comes 2.5 hours after one between the two sides which conspired to keep the Yanks out of the 2018 World Cup.
While the USMNT played the biggest role in that monumental failure, Trinidad and Tobago is the team that beat the Yanks in Couva on the same night that Panama scored a ghost goal to push the U.S. into fifth in the Hex.
Guyana has lost to Haiti, Bermuda, and French Guiana in the last eight months, and it would be stunning if the U.S. didn’t post a generous amount of goals on the scoreboard even after miserable efforts against Jamaica’s B team and Venezuela.
Panama and T&T, on the other hand, should be a beauty, with Los Canaleros getting a bit older in the tooth and the Soca Warriors maturing a bit as a side.
Panama and T&T kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the USMNT expected to kickoff with Guyana a little after 10 p.m.