Photo credit: @WhitecapsFC

MLS Snapshot: FCD lose 4-0 at home; HOU fight back to draw POR

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FC Dallas 0-4 Vancouver Whitecaps

The game in 100 words (or less): Every team in MLS has one or two games each season where absolutely everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps appears to have been the giant hiccup of FC Dallas’ 2017 season. Oscar Pareja’s side entered the contest, which they played with 10 men for the final half-hour, first in the Western Conference; they now sit second, two points back of Sporting Kansas City. Carlos Gruezo got himself sent off in the 59th minute with FCD already 2-0 down after Bernie Ibini-Isei’s opener and the first of two goals for Fredy Montero on the night. Montero added his second eight minutes after Gruezo’s dismissal, and Nicolas Mezquida delivered the dagger seven minutes from full-time. The victory sees Vancouver climb over the Seattle Sounders and into fifth in the West, now just one point back of the Portland Timbers (with three games in hand) for fourth.

[ MORE: SKC trade Dwyer to ORL | Sigi back to LA | LAFC hire Bradley ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Ibini-Isei finishes far post for 1-0 — It wasn’t the best-struck ball ever, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot. (Also, Jesse Gonzalez has to do better than this.)

49′ — Montero converts from the spot for 2-0 — Montero beats Gonzalez to score his first of the night.

67′ — Montero beats Gonzalez with ages to pick his spot — If you give a poached this kind of time inside the box, he’s going to make you pay.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Fredy Montero

Goalscorers: Ibini-Isei (18′), Montero (49′ – PK, 67′), Mezquida (83′)


Houston Dynamo 2-2 Portland Timbers

The game in 100 words (or less): The Portland Timbers led twice, on the road to the Houston Dynamo, but coughed up the lead on both occasions en route to a 2-2 draw on Saturday. It’s a common theme for Portland, who’ve been their own worst enemy when defending a lead this season. Yet again, it was set-piece defending that was their undoing and cost them what would have been two massive road points. Diego Valeri scored the Timbers’ opener and assisted on their second, but saw his contributions negated thanks to goals scored by Mauro Manotas and Juan Cabezas. The point is enough, however, to keep Portland ahead of Vancouver and the Seattle Sounders (for the time being), in fourth in the West. Houston remain third, but fail to capitalize on FCD’s defeat and go second in the West; the gap to Sporting KC is now three points.

[ MORE: SKC trade Dwyer to ORL | Sigi back to LA | LAFC hire Bradley ]

Three Four moments that mattered

13′ — Valeri sidesteps a challenge, slams home for 1-0 — The speed and fluidity with which Valeri collects the ball, evades the on-rushing defender, and explodes into space before applying the finish…

37′ — Manotas pounces on a loose ball, makes it 1-1 — Jake Gleeson didn’t get enough behind his punch, and the ball wound off free atop the six-yard box, where Manotas was waiting.

43′ — Blanco slots it past Deric for 2-1 — Valeri’s cross eluded Fanendo Adi, but Blanco arrived at the perfect moment to hit it low and hard past Tyler Deric for a 2-1 lead.

81′ — Cabezas scores with his cabeza for 2-2 — Portland struggling with set-piece defending… now, where have we heard that one before?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (13′), Manotas (37′), Blanco (43′), Cabezas (81′)

Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

AC Milan
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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]