AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

MLS roundup: Orlando’s streak ends; TFC lose again; Golden Boot Gyasi

Leave a comment

A roundup of, plus a few quick thoughts about, all of the weekend’s action from Week 11 of the 2018 MLS season…

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

Orlando City SC 1-2 Atlanta United

Orlando City SC’s winning streak ended at six, thanks to goals scored by Josef Martinez (penalty kick) and Ezequiel Barco (his second of the season, both in the last three games), and a late-game meltdown from the people in purple — both on the field and in the stands.

Uri Rosell is yet to start a game for Orlando, but his introduction at halftime of Sunday’s game made exactly the impact for which he was signed: after chasing Atlanta, and the ball, around the field like chickens with their heads cut off — and falling 2-0 behind after 31 minutes — Rosell brought a sense of control to the Lions.

As for Atlanta, Tata Martino’s side took six points from three games in the span of eight days this week and sit atop the Supporters’ Shield standings after 11 games as a result. They’ve dropped all of five points from their last 10 games and, back in their customary 3-4-3 system, appear capable of scoring three or four against anyone in the league.

Los Angeles FC 2-2 New York City FC

If you’ve got 20 or so minutes of free time to fill over the next 24 or 48 hours, do yourself a favor and watch the condensed replay of LAFC’s thrilling, end-to-end, chance-filled draw with NYCFC on Sunday. While there were four goals scored in the end, it could have just as well finished 0-0 and made its case as the most entertaining game this season.

LAFC are yet to truly establish a central midfield capable of anything other than chance creation — which they’re really good at — so there’s a better than great chance most of their games will have you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes.

NYCFC, on the other hand, are tactically effective chameleons in just about any type of game, but they’re undoubtedly most comfortable with David Villa front and center on countless counter-attacks. Patrick Vieira will be pleased to have seen his side come back to rescue a late road point after suffering an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls last week.

New England Revolution 3-2 Toronto FC

We’re not talking about TFC missing the playoffs — we’re still three or four months away from that feeling like a distinct possibility — but at what point is the hole out of which they must climb simply too deep to even pretend the likes of Atlanta, NYCFC and RBNY are within reach? The no. 4 seed feels like their new best-case scenario.

Saturday’s loss to New England was not only a gut-punch of three points dropped, but Sebastian Giovinco was sent off for this very dumb decision mere seconds after bringing the Reds back to 3-2.

Again, it’s still May, and Jozy Altidore will be back before July rolls around (don’t forget, he scored zero goals before July 31 two seasons ago before finishing the regular season with 10 and helping TFC to their first MLS Cup final appearance), but other key injuries (Drew Moor, Justin Morrow, Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta) have forced Greg Vanney into playing Michael Bradley and Jason Hernandez at center back the last few games.

Something just feels… off after their oh-so-close run through CONCACAF Champions League.

Columbus Crew SC 3-0 Chicago Fire

A picture is worth a thousand words…

(Photo credit: WhoScored.com)

Elsewhere in MLS

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Houston Dynamo (Friday) — HIGHLIGHTS
Minnesota United 1-3 San Jose Earthquakes — HIGHLIGHTS
Montreal Impact 0-2 Philadelphia Union — HIGHLIGHTS
FC Dallas 3-2 LA Galaxy — HIGHLIGHTS
Colorado Rapids 1-2 New York Red Bulls — HIGHLIGHTS
Real Salt Lake 3-2 D.C. United — HIGHLIGHTS
Portland Timbers 1-0 Seattle Sounders — HIGHLIGHTS

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
Leave a comment

Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

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

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow