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MLS roundup: TFC blow 3-0 lead in CLB; SEA lose 3rd straight

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A roundup of, plus a few quick thoughts about, all of Saturday’s action from Week 14 of the 2018 MLS season…

[ MORE: USMNT throws away HT lead, loses 2-1 in Dublin ]

Columbus Crew SC 3-3 Toronto FC

For every instant classic ever played in sports history, there is one fanbase that will rewatch the highlights or full-game replay every time it’s on TV, and one fanbase that will never be able to stomach the sight of such a heartbreaking loss. Despite coming away with a point in the end, Toronto FC’s 3-3 draw away to Columbus Crew SC will haunt fans and players alike as the worst result of the (league) season thus far.

It was 1-0 after 17 minutes (Victor Vazquez, from the penalty spot), 2-0 after 38 minutes (Tosaint Ricketts), and 3-0 after 57 (Sebastian Giovinco’s latest piece of free-kick magic). The three-goal advantage remained intact for nearly 10 minutes, at which point it began to slip away… quickly.

Gyasi Zardes made it 3-1 with his ninth goal of the season in the 67th minute, Alex Crognale halved the remaining deficit in the 81st, and Federico Higuain converted from the penalty spot in the 90th minute to complete the improbable comeback — or, collapse from TFC’s perspective.

The gap between the defending MLS Cup champions and the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, currently occupied by Orlando City SC, is eight points. Crew SC, meanwhile, fall to third in the East due to New York City FC’s resounding win over Orlando.

Real Salt Lake 2-0 Seattle Sounders

The Sounders’ 2018 season is only 11 games old, and already the two-time defending Western Conference champions have lost seven times, including their second three-game losing skid of the year following Saturday’s 2-0 loss away to RSL.

Rookie forward Corey Baird scored his fourth goal of the season in the 57 minute before Luis Silva secure a late insurance policy in second-half stoppage time to extend RSL’s winning run to three games. It’s the first time RSL have won three straight league games since April 2016.

Following a slow start to the season, Mike Petke’s side (22 points) suddenly sits third in the Western Conference, three points behind second-place Los Angeles FC and four back of first-place Sporting Kansas City. Seattle (8 points), on the other hand, must overturn a 12-point deficit separating themselves in 11th place and the Vancouver Whitecaps in sixth.

New York City FC 3-0 Orlando City SC

From winning six in a row to losing four straight, the tide has turned squarely against Orlando. Saturday’s 3-0 thrashing at the hands of NYCFC, who were without David Villa in the starting lineup, was a far more flattering scoreline than the game itself might have deserved.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi continues to score goals, getting two more in the 35th and 79th minutes, and Maxi Moralez grabbed a third in the 87th.

Elsewhere in MLS

Atlanta United 3-1 Philadelphia Union
Portland Timbers 1-1 LA Galaxy
New England Revolution 2-1 New York Red Bulls
FC Dallas 2-1 Los Angeles FC
Montreal Impact 1-0 Houston Dynamo
Chicago Fire 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

First Leagues Cup will be an all-Liga MX affair

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Given Major League Soccer’s record against Liga MX sides when both teams are bringing their best players to the party, it’s no surprise that the former has been left out of the Leagues Cup Final.

Instead, Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL will meet on Sept. 18 for the first ever crown in the history of the competition pitting teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States top flights.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Choosing not to play Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Carlos Pavon amongst others, the LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Cruz Azul in Carson, California, getting an Emil Cuello goal but allowing the below delightful winner from Orbelin Pineda just after halftime.

The Galaxy were in the midst of a nasty four-match fortnight, and opted for this match — a tournament semifinal against a league which has bossed its league — to rest their men. Not a choice we love, but a fair choice given the Galaxy’s mere 4-point advantage on 7th place in the West.

Tigres needed penalties to get past Club America in an absolutely bonkers semifinal.

The match was level at 2 after regulation, with two own goals, a penalty, and a 90th minute red card doled out to Tigres’ Roger Martinez.

The second Tigres own goal, which came before the club outlasted America 5-3 in penalties, came deep in stoppage.

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

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

Report: Zappacosta off to Roma as Chelsea trusts youth

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Tuesday was a great day to be Reece James.

Not that it hasn’t been a good summer altogether with Frank Lampard in charge of Chelsea.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Lampard sanctioned the loan of Zappacosta to AS Roma, which puts James firmly in line for first team reps at Stamford Bridge.

The 19-year-old James has earned his place after two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, and Cesar Azpilicueta will either need rest or time at center back at some point.

As for Zappacosta, he was a curiosity buy who was serviceable during his time at Stamford Bridge. At Roma, though, he’ll… also be second choice to club captain Alessandro Florenzi.

Lampard is definitely giving the Blues’ youth a chance to shine during this transfer ban, and this may well be the best opportunity of James’ career.

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

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The United States men’s national team has just a pair of friendlies remaining before its next CONCACAF competition, the Nations’ League.

Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will meet Uruguay and Mexico in September, and the looming CNL — you know Berhalter wants some sort of crown given the Gold Cup Final loss to El Tri — certainly hints at a strong XI even with players like Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Boyd (Besitkas) and Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf, on loan from Man City) settling into new digs.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]

Before we dare to name a 23-man outfit for these matches, we should note that there’s no guarantee every big team will want to release their players in September. But this projection will act under the assumption that his best healthy men will accept invitations or that, at least, Berhalter will invite his best healthy men.

The MLS playoff push may actually force his hand in that Berhalter may respect teams in said playoff race due (though MLS does not have every team playing over the break).

We’ll assume for this exercise that DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) don’t miraculously come fit.

Now for the Big Berhalter Questions (BBQs):

  1. Since Gyasi Zardes has scored three goals and an assist in his last six MLS games and there’s no chance Berhalter ignores him, who will not get a look: Tim Weah (Lille), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas) or … wait, it’s gonna be Boyd.
  2. Wil Trapp has been poor in a USMNT jersey, but has three assists in his last six MLS matches so will he…. book his place, too.

Finally, I’m not going to say that this 23-man roster will be correct, but it will be fun.

Goalkeepers (3)

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Kasey Keller (Millwall)
Pick the guy who you think I should pick here and pretend you like it better than:
David Bingham (LA Galaxy)

Defenders (8)

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Matt Miazga (Reading)
Aaron Long (West Ham New York Red Bulls)
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (6)

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Paxtom Pomykal (FC Dallas)
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

Forwards (6)

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Timothy Weah (Lille)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Paul Arriola (DC United)
Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)