Twitter/@AllMySportsNow

Injuries aren’t halting Red Bulls from proving to be MLS’ top club

Leave a comment

It would have been understandable if the New York Red Bulls dropped their heads in agony last month after the club’s disappointing CONCACAF Champions League defeat to eventual tournament winners Chivas de Guadalajara.

[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira close to signing contract with Nice ]

That wasn’t the case though, and for manager Jesse Marsch and Co., the club has been rewarded in the biggest of ways for its perseverance.

Sunday night’s 3-1 win over Atlanta United proved once again in 2018 that this season’s Red Bulls are the class of MLS for a number of reasons.

The team’s 7-3-0 start is its best in modern Red Bulls history, which dates back nine seasons to when Red Bull Arena was first opened in 2010.

Marsch and his group currently ride a four-match win streak, which includes away wins over LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and Atlanta, with a 4-0 beatdown of rivals New York City FC bunched in the middle of the road trip.

It’s easy to look at wins and losses to determine which teams are serious MLS Cup contenders and others that will struggle throughout the season, but when diving deeper into this Red Bulls team, there are a lot of special qualities that make them different than previous years.

Heading into 2018, questions surrounded the team following Sacha Kljestan’s departure for Orlando City, as well as the club’s ability to defend with a back line that didn’t appear to have much depth.

The Kljestan question has not only been answered, but turned into Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra becoming a household MLS name and legitimate MVP and Newcomer of the Year candidate.

The Argentine (possibly turning Paraguayan) leads MLS in assists (9) through the Red Bulls first 10 matches, after Kljestan posted 17 for the club during the 2017 campaign.

Kaku is a spark plug that manages to find himself in the right positions on the field at any given moment, and his work rate perfectly matches what Marsch his instilled in the squad since the moment he first arrived.

Defensively, the Red Bulls have far exceeded expectations, conceding the fourth-fewest goals (12) in MLS, despite a host of injuries.

Jamaica international Kemar Lawrence went down with a scary injury on Sunday, leaving his immediate availability with the club unknown, while Homegrown player Kyle Duncan will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Tyler Adams also went down with an injury against Atlanta, however, it isn’t believed to be serious.

That’s not including outside back Connor Lade, who has battled an ankle injury early in the 2018 campaign as well.

While the addition of Kaku has paid dividends in the biggest of ways in the attack though, it was the Red Bulls ability to bring in center back Tim Parker from the Vancouver Whitecaps that has really changed the team’s outlook at the back.

Parker has formed a strong bond with fellow central defensive partner Aaron Long, and the two are easily the best center back pairing in MLS through the opening two-plus months.

The bigger test for the club in the long-term will be if Lawrence does miss significant playing time, though.

That would force Marsch to rely more on Lade, who only returned from injury on Sunday to replace Lawrence, or young outside back Ethan Kutler, unless the Red Bulls manager opts to switch to a three-back system (as he has done in the past).

The Red Bulls will have to also battle through the concerns that come with the World Cup this summer, which will likely force defenders Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar to leave the squad for their Panama national team duties.

Serie A: Ronaldo scores but Juve’s perfect start is ruined

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to net 400 goals across Europe’s top five leagues.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

It wasn’t enough on Saturday to maintain Juventus’ perfect start to the season.

Ronaldo, who has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit in the United States, scored in the 1-1 draw against Genoa. It was his fifth Serie A goal in nine matches.

Ronaldo has 311 goals in La Liga for Real Madrid, and 84 in the English Premier League for Manchester United.

Juventus won all of its previous 10 matches across Serie A and the Champions League. Though Juve’s lead in Italy was cut to four points after Napoli won at Udinese 3-0, coach Massimiliano Allegri believed this result would help his side for arguably its toughest test yet, Manchester United on Tuesday in Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford.

“We drifted out of the game after a good start to the second half and, instead of making it 2-0, we let them make it 1-1,” Allegri said. “This isn’t good, because it’s with matches like this that titles are lost. After 10 minutes of the second half we were already thinking about Manchester. We needed to have more focus.

“But it’s a draw that serves us well. It’ll get our feet back to earth and help us understand that, to win matches, you need sacrifice and hard work.”

[ WATCH: Messi scores, assists, breaks arm in first 16 minutes ]

Kathryn Mayorga filed a lawsuit last month in Nevada state claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police also reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo had last weekend off while Juventus was idle during the international break. Normally the star of his national team, he was left off Portugal’s squad.

Less than 20 minutes in on Saturday, he scored. There was a miscommunication between Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu and his defender on Joao Cancelo’s cross from the left, allowing Ronaldo a simple tap-in at the far post.

Genoa’s first goal at Juventus since January 2013 came from Daniel Bessa with a header in the 67th minute.

It was a memorable first match back in charge for Ivan Juric, who returned to Genoa for his third spell as coach.


The substitutes made the difference at Udinese.

Fabian Ruiz replaced the injured Simone Verdi in the opening minutes and the midfielder scored his first Napoli goal in the 13th, curling a stunning 20-yard strike into the top right corner.

Dries Mertens doubled Napoli’s lead from the spot eight minutes from time after Udinese substitute Nicholas Opoku handled Jose Callejon’s effort.

There was still time for Marko Rog to score, just 40 seconds after coming off the bench.

Napoli visits Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Roma fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to 10-man Spal, which won at the Stadio Olimpico for the first time in Serie A in 53 years.

Roma went into the international break with four straight wins in all competitions while Spal had lost its last four.

However, the visitors took the lead shortly before halftime when Andrea Petagna converted a penalty after Manuel Lazzari was fouled by Luca Pellegrini.

Spal doubled its advantage 11 minutes after the break as Kevin Bonifazi headed in a corner at the near post.

Spal goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic – the younger brother of Lazio midfielder Sergej – did brilliantly to fingertip Pellegrini’s effort onto the bar but swiftly went from hero to villain.

Milinkovic-Savic was booked for time-wasting and he received a second yellow card seconds later for petulantly throwing the ball away, leaving Spal with 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

However, it clung on for its first win at Roma in the top flight since 1965.

Roma hosts CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The 2 Robbies: Mourinho Muscles Up

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle on the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United headlined by Jose Mourinho’s touchline altercation with Chelsea assistant, Marco Ianni. After the deep dive on what this result means for Man United (0:20), the gents also discuss Chelsea’s title expectations (19:30), Manchester City’s dominance (24:45) and Liverpool’s ability to be different (26:15) — but is it better? Plus, a rapid recap (30:45) on Tottenham, Cardiff and Newcastle.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

PL Sunday preview: Streaking Everton host slumping Palace

Leave a comment

With only one game on the Premier League docket for Sunday, it’s a battle of mid-table teams who began the season with plans of finishing safely inside the top half of the table.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

On one side, there’s 11th-place Everton who have won back-to-back PL games for the first time this season. On the other side, there’s 14th-place Crystal Palace who enter Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park on the back of two straight league defeats.

The Toffees spent big in the summer transfer window, but a bit of patience was required before the return on their investment was realized. Following a comprehensive demolition of Fulham three weeks ago, and a late win away to Leicester City last week, first-year Everton manager Marco Silva is increasingly pleased with the progression his side is making.

“We are looking more like a team – more compact, more solid in some moments, and staying focused during the game. It is up to us to continue in this way, getting better every time, because we have different problems on Sunday with a different opponent, too. We have to be able to find solutions to score and win the match.”

[ WATCH: Messi scores, assists, injuries arm in first 16 minutes ]

The worst part about Palace’s recent slide is the opponents who have resigned them to defeat: Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers, a pair of sides likely to finish in the bottom half come the end of the season. Even worse, Palace’s do-everything superstar Wilfried Zaha faces a late fitness test in order to be available for selection after injuring his groin while on international duty for Ivory Coast this week. Palace are winless (0W-4D-3L) in their last seven games against Everton.

INJURIES: Everton — QUESTIONABLE: Idrissa Gueye (ankle); RETURNING: Yerry Mina (foot), Andre Gomes (hamstring), James McCarthy (leg) | Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee); DOUBTFUL: Wilfried Zaha (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Connor Wickham (calf)

WATCH: Messi scores, assists, breaks arm in first 16 minutes

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Leave a comment

UPDATE: It has been confirmed that Messi broke his right forearm and is expected to miss three weeks.

Lionel Messi lasted just 16 minutes of Barcelona’s La Liga clash with Sevilla on Saturday, but fans got their money’s worth as it was an eventful 16-minute shift from the indisputable greatest player of all time.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

In the end, though, it could prove an incredibly costly outing for the Argentine superstar — but even more so, for his club.

Minute no. 2: Messi sets up the game’s opening goal, scored by Philippe Coutinho, with a delightful first-time pass to play his Brazilian teammate into acres of space.

Minute no. 12: Messi scores Barca’s second goal, a not-so-easy finish made to look incredibly easy from outside the penalty area.

Minute no. 16: Messi braces his fall with his right arm, injuring it (perhaps severely) in the process (WATCH HERE).

It certainly doesn’t look good for the 31-year-old, as the lower portion of his arm appeared to go one direction while the upper portion appeared to go the complete opposite. Ousmane Dembele, who is the most likely recipient of first-team minutes should Messi missed an extended period of time, replaced the Barca captain a few minutes later.