Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

FA Cup wrap: A day for the underdogs, though Man City, Chelsea cruise

Leave a comment

Lower league sides Oxford United, and Lincoln City joined Wolverhampton Wanderers as clubs to earn memorable FA Cup wins during Saturday’s fourth round.

[ MORE: West Ham players not thinking of Payet ]

Wycombe Wanderers nearly made the headline of the day when they led Spurs 2-0 and 3-2 at White Hart Lane, but Heung-Min Son took advantage of a baffling amount of stoppage time to earn a 4-3 win for Spurs.

Liverpool had fallen to Wolves earlier, setting the tone for the day. One more Saturday match remains: Southampton vs. Arsenal.

Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 Wycombe Wanderers

Paul Hayes scored twice in the first half, the second on a questionable penalty given away by USMNT prospect Cameron Carter-Vickers, as Wycombe built a shock 2-0 lead at White Hart Lane. Yet a Heung-Min Son 60th minute goal and a Vincent Janssen penalty four minutes later knotted the tie.

All set, right? Wrong. Garry Thompson scored with just minutes to spare, only to see Spurs substitute Dele Alli knock in an equalizer. Son scored again in the sixth minute of stoppage time to set Tottenham up for the fifth round, and save Spurs a trip to Buckinghamshire.

Crystal Palace 0-3 Manchester City

Selhurst Park again found little joy, as Sam Allardyce‘s reign refuses to turn over. Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, and Yaya Toure scored for City.

Chelsea 4-0 Brentford

Brentford has moments for the visiting crowd, but never looked like it would force a replay. Willian, Pedro, and Branislav Ivanovic scored as the Blues cruised into the fifth round. Michy Batshuayi converted a late penalty to provide the final score line.

Oxford United 3-0 Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez‘s Magpies trotted out a variety of young prospects and second-choice players, and the League One hosts relished the spoils. Kane Hemmings and Curtis Nelson scored for the U’s.

Kane Hemmings (bottom) of Oxford United celebrates scoring the opening goal  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Full schedule

Friday
Derby County 2-2 Leicester City — RECAP

Saturday
Liverpool 1-2 Wolverhampton — RECAP
Middlesbrough 1-0 Accrington Stanley
Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Blackpool
Burnley 2-0 Bristol City
Rochdale 0-4 Huddersfield Town
Lincoln City 3-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

12:30 p.m. EDT
Southampton 0-5 ArsenalWelbeck goes off

Sunday
Millwall vs. Watford — 7 a.m. EDT
Fulham vs. Hull City — 7:30 a.m. EDT
Sutton United vs. Leeds United — 9 a.m. EDT
Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic — 11 a.m. EDT

Mohamed Salah starts for Egypt despite int’l retirement talks

OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mohamed Salah is coming off of his best season as a professional, but reports suggest that his time with the Egyptian national team could soon be coming to an end for reasons that extend beyond soccer.

Salah will however be included in Egypt’s Group A finale against Saudi Arabia on Monday, though, after the team sheet was revealed by the Pharaohs ahead of the match.

CNN reported over the weekend that Salah believes he is being used by Egypt as a political symbol to represent Chechnya, which has sparked talks of the talented Liverpool winger ending his international career.

Egypt has already been eliminated from reaching the Round of 16 after losing its first two matches at the World Cup.

The tides have turned significantly for Toronto FC

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
Leave a comment

2017 gave Toronto FC its first MLS Cup, as well as significant notoriety for the club’s historic season, but Greg Vanney and his side are in a world of trouble in 2018 for reasons that are still unfathomable.

[ MORE: NYCFC tops TFC in come-from-behind victory ]

A deep run in the CONCACAF Champions League (which ended in heartbeat at the hands of Chivas) and a number of injuries have plagued Toronto this season, and for that, the defending champions find themselves in unchartered MLS waters.

Over the course of Major League Soccer’s 22 previous seasons, only three defending champions have gone on to miss the playoffs the next year (D.C. United in 2000, LA Galaxy in 2006 & Portland Timbers in 2016).

So, how poor has TFC been through nearly half the season?

The Canadian side has acquired 15 points in as many matches, which puts the club on pace to finish with 34 points in 2018.

That total would leave TFC well below the average points needed for a club to get into the playoffs. It varies on a year-to-year basis, but teams typically need somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 points to finish above the red line in their respective conferences.

Last season, three teams in MLS finished with less than 34 points (D.C. United, LA Galaxy & Colorado Rapids), and none of the clubs finished within striking distance of the postseason.

While Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to show signs of struggles in the first half of the season and then proceed to turn things around over the second portion, there are definite concerns for Vanney and Co.

In 2018, the Reds haven’t earned back-to-back victories in MLS play, leaving the club in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The talent within the squad remains there, and if TFC gets the rest of its squad healthy there could be a run made by the team, but as things stand, the club’s historic run a season ago looks to be crumbling in 2018.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

Twitter/@fanly_timbers
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.