AP Photo/Alex Brandon

MLS roundup: Rooney, Audi Field debut and DCU win

Leave a comment

It was a wild night in MLS action — even by Major League Soccer’s lofty standards of weirdness — headlined by the debuts of Wayne Rooney and Audi Field in Washington, D.C., Orlando City SC winning a game, and Sporting Kansas City’s ongoing slide down the Western Conference standings.

[ MORE: World Cup final preview — France vs. Croatia ]

D.C. United 3-1 Vancouver WhitecapsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Rooney and Audi Field were meant to be the stars of the night, and they will ultimately be remember as such, but Alphonso Davies did everything in his power to steal the headlines. Despite the fact his Whitecaps were 3-0 down late in second-half stoppage time, Davies scored one of the goals of the season after taking on a trio of United defenders at the corner of the penalty area.

Yamil Asad’s opening goal, the first in the history of Audi Field, wasn’t half-bad either, and at some point on Saturday, United morphed into Barcelona (Lite) and shredded the Vancouver defense with a pair of tiki-taka sequences for a second and third goal.

As for Rooney, he was quite good. The 32-year-old notched an assist on goal no. 3 (Paul Arriola) and was pretty clearly the sharpest, quickest-thinking player on the field. His speed of play — receiving the ball, reading the field and getting rid of the ball — was phenomenal and he stood out as the best player on the field during his 32-minute shift.

New York Red Bulls 3-2 Sporting Kansas CityFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Sporting KC, without the like of Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Felipe Gutierrez (in the starting lineup) or a natural left back, were in a strong position to secure a quality result away from home, but came away empty handed after conceding a pair of late goals at Red Bull Arena.

Bradley Wright-Phillips put the home side ahead after just four minutes, but the lead last only as long as it took to establish it, as Johnny Russell scored for a second game in a row to make it 1-1.

Six minutes into the second half, Roger Espinoza smashed his own Goal of the Week nominee past Luis Robles to put Peter Vermes’ side ahead and, it appeared briefly, in position to snap a three-game winless skid.

It wasn’t to be, though, as Marc Rzatkowski scored twice in quick succession — in the 72nd and 79th minutes — to punish Sporting’s shorthanded defensive unit and give the Red Bulls a much-needed boost and first victory under new head coach Chris Armas. The win sends New York to 35 points, five clear of fourth-place Columbus in the East, and keeps them within touching distance (five points back) of both Atlanta and New York City with a pair of games in hand. Sporting, meanwhile, remain third in the West, five points back of first-place FC Dallas.

Orlando City SC 2-1 Toronto FCFULL HIGHLIGHTS

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Orlando, who won six straight games between the end of March and the start or May, then lost nine straight immediately thereafter. Jason Kreis was fired as a result, and now — after more than two months without a win, or a point — the Lions are winners again. Somehow, some way, they are only five points out of sixth place in the East.

Toronto, on the other hand, are 11 points back and with each passing game and draw/defeat, they must overcome an even taller task just to return to the playoffs a year after winning MLS Cup.

Chris Schuler scored the opener in the 34th minute and Dom Dwyer made it 2-0, which turned out to be the game-winning goal, three minutes into the second half. Nick Hagglund’s 94th-minute tally was merely a footnote on a relief-filled night at Orlando City Stadium.

New England Revolution 2-3 LA GalaxyFULL HIGHLIGHTS

In a battle of two teams about which no one understands anything after more than half of the season, the LA Galaxy made the most of the 67 minutes playing with a man advantage… by scoring in the 92nd and 93rd minutes to overcome a 2-1 deficit and win 3-2 at Gillette Stadium.

Cristian Penilla was sent off after 23 minutes, but Diego Fagundez and Luis Caicedo had Brad Friedel‘s side 2-1 ahead at halftime (Chris Pontius made it 1-1 at one point). No more goals were scored until Dave Romney made it 2-2 in the 92nd and Pontius completed the scoring in the 93rd. Just like Sigi Schmid drew it up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic not making the trip to Foxborough.

Minnesota United 3-2 Real Salt LakeFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Darwin Quintero has singlehandedly made Minnesota not only watchable, but downright delightful to watch. At some point, MLS goalkeepers are going to remember that he’ll go for the chip, and he’ll probably beat them with it.

After the game, RSL head coach Mike Petke delivered another all-time great MLS rant. Speaking about the inconsistencies with video-assistant review (VAR), Petke hit every high note in perfect pitch (watch until the very end, please, we beg of you).

Elsewhere in MLS action

Montreal Impact 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes
New York City FC 2-0 Columbus Crew SC
FC Dallas 3-1 Chicago Fire
Colorado Rapids 0-0 Houston Dynamo

Lopetegui, Casemiro, Marcelo react to Super Cup loss

AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
Leave a comment

Real Madrid fell apart in extra time of the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday, losing 4-2 at the hands of cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid.

And new manager Julen Lopetegui says it was not down to desire, even considering how many trophies Real has lifted in recent seasons.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

“These players have won a lot of titles but I do not think that their hunger for titles was missing tonight,” he said. “Last year in La Liga things did not go right for them. We want to get the best out of the team and start picking ourselves up after losing this title. We were all excited for this trophy.”

Losing his first serious match doesn’t bode well for Lopetegui, though his club sold Cristiano Ronaldo, didn’t start Luka Modric, and still came close on Wednesday.

Marcelo didn’t want to talk about transfers.

‘”We need to change our mindset because we have a whole season ahead of us,” he said. “I don’t make the signings. The squad looks good to me. We are united as a group. We played a good game until extra time.”

Casemiro has his coach’s back.

“Any team is bound to miss Ronaldo,” he said. “He is a great player, but he left and we cannot talk about him now, the same with Zidane. We have to talk about the coach, Lopetegui, he is doing a great job. We did good things and we must improve other aspects. The players here are trying to do our best to win titles for Real Madrid.”

Rooney bags two more, including free kick (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
Leave a comment

Wazza has done it again.

The 32-year-old DC United forward scored for his MLS side against the Portland Timbers, days after producing the tackle/cross heard ’round the world (or at least England and MLS).

Rooney’s perfect run met a terrific ball from Yamil Asad and restored a deadlock between the two sides.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

And this one, well, it doesn’t need much explanation (except to ask if the walls and goalkeeping in MLS are that substandard?

Report: NISA to join USL D-III in applying for USSF sanctioning

@NISALeague
Leave a comment

The National Independent Soccer Association will join the USL D-III in applying for Division III sanction from United States Soccer Federation sanctioning by the Sept. 1 deadline for Fall 2019 play, according to Soc Takes.

The nascent league has been quiet since founder Peter Wilt left his post in order to run the new USL D-III side in Madison, Wisconsin.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

The report says there will be as many 10 clubs, and that the league will utilize the European soccer calendar.

Where will the teams be, Soc Takes has some clues:

Soc Takes was previously provided a list of eight cities with their identities embargoed. Three of those cities were in California, while the other five were spread across the country. NISA may have “As many as 10” teams in their application. The source remains confident of a submitting a successful application.

Soccer in America is going to be a complicated follow soon, as NISA is one of at least three groups attempting to compete against the very strong MLS-USL-USL3-PDL alliance. Get your proverbial popcorn ready.

Porter: I should be “in the mix” for USMNT job after Vermes

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Caleb Porter is feeling recharged after a season away from soccer, and would be interested in the United States men’s national team job if the federation is interested in hiring him.

The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio spoke with Porter about leaving Portland, his decision to decline the Orlando City job, and the vacant USMNT.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

As for his level of interest, the canny operator only put the thinnest veneer on it. Look no further than his endorsing Peter Vermes, who has signed a new Sporting KC deal since the American job opened up. From The Athletic:

“If you’re going American, Peter Vermes, for me, he is the guy that deserves the shot,” Porter says. “I believe that. That guy deserves to carry the torch of our national team. Peter Vermes, in my opinion, based on what he’s done in our league, he’s proven it as an American coach. If you don’t go with Peter Vermes, I think, based on what I’ve proven, I’m in the mix with another two or three guys who deserve consideration and I’d be open to talking.”

Porter says he doesn’t know what his next job is, though he’s assumed it will be in club soccer, and used some salty language to say there’s only job he wouldn’t take: Portland’s Cascadian rival, the Seattle Sounders.

The club that lands the MLS Cup and NCAA College Cup winner will have a fantastic and inspired coach, but let’s hope that USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart goes in a different direction. Porter may ultimately succeed in such a role, but already carries USSF baggage after failing to lead the U.S. U-23s into the Olympics before he took the Portland job.