Getty Images

Liverpool confident of challenging for title

Leave a comment

Adam Lallana believes “the signs are really good” for Liverpool to “get to the next step” and win a trophy under Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool have reached three major finals since Klopp took charge in October 2015 and although they’ve lost all three they’ve made major strides forward over the past 12 months with back-to-back top four finishes in the Premier League and finishing runners up in the UEFA Champions League in 2017/18.

So what’s the goal for this season? Lallana was asked if Liverpool are the biggest contenders to reigning champs Manchester City for the PL crown in 2018/19.

“That’s not for us to say, that’s for other people to speculate. But, of course, we are going to be in the pack who want to chase down City,” Lallana said. “Hopefully, Liverpool and three or four of the other top teams can squeeze a few more points out of City this year. That would make it more interesting.”

Lallana’s optimism is certainly shared by neutrals, pundits and supporters of the Anfield club, with Liverpool’s impressive summer spending set to give them a whole new dimension this season.

With Alisson arriving in goal, Fabinho in holding midfield, Naby Keita in central midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri as a back-up attacking midfielder, Klopp has upgraded in key areas and added plenty of strength in-depth.

Sure, it’s cost him $325 million over the past 12 months (if you count Virgil Van Dijk‘s $100 million arrival in January) but Liverpool now look like genuine title contenders and they certainly gave Man City plenty of problems in their record-breaking title campaign last season.

The pressing and pace of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino totally threw off City in a 4-3 defeat at Anfield in the league, while Liverpool beat them 5-1 on aggregate over two legs in the UCL quarterfinals to assert their dominance.

Although Lallana is correct to hope for help from the other title contenders in taking points off City, Liverpool must take care of business against bottom feeders in the PL. Last season they lost against Swansea and drew with fellow-relegated teams West Brom (twice) and Stoke.

For all of their high-pressing and speedy forward play, Liverpool must develop a Plan B this season if they’re going to chase down City. With Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho on board, their options in midfield have been bolstered and with Alisson (the most expensive goalkeeper in history) in goal they should eradicate costly errors.

USOC wrap: Saint Louis, New Mexico knock out MLS sides (video)

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

USL sides delivered the drama on Wednesday night and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup got five more quarterfinalists to join Atlanta United and Minnesota United.

Still to come Thursday, LAFC and San Jose will decide the eighth slot and a date with Portland Timbers.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]


DC United 1-2 New York City FC

Wayne Rooney‘s 32nd minute goal gave the hosts a lead which would only last six minutes, as Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made it 2-1 before halftime on the way to an away win at Audi Field.

Portland Timbers 4-0 LA Galaxy

Three goals in nine first half minutes helped spring Portland to an easy win over disinterested LA. Guillermo Barros Schelotto didn’t bring the majority of his first choice stars to Oregon, and the Timbers routed their Western Conference opposition to the tune of a 19-7 edge in shots.

Saint Louis FC 1-0 FC Cincinnati

They won’t be forgetting this any time soon; Saint Louis got a stoppage time goal from Sam Fink against their old USL rivals to book a place in the USOC quarterfinals.

Orlando City 2-1 New England Revolution

What began with stars on the bench and a 0-0 score line through 90 minutes really escalated quickly in extra time. Benji Michel and Tesho Akindele gave Orlando a 2-0 lead through 15 minutes of extra time, but Carles Gil set up Justin Rennecks early in the second frame to up the drama. Ultimately, Nani‘s men had enough despite New England’s 22 shots.

FC Dallas 1-2 New Mexico United

FC Dallas took the lead through U-20 World Cup star Brandon Servania, but Kevaughn Frater scored again, and ex-Colorado Rapids draft pick Sam Hamilton added the match winner.

Copa America: Messi penalty saves Argentina point, Colombia wins

Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2019 Copa America isn’t going much better for Argentina than the 2018 World Cup, with a slow defense and a lack of playmakers in the middle of the park keeping the Albiceleste from making a real difference in the tournament.

Argentina followed up its 2-0 defeat to Colombia with a 1-1 draw against Paraguay, Wednesday evening at the Estadio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. Lionel Messi scored the lone goal for Argentina on a penalty kick after the referee had consulted with the video assistant referees on a potential handball on a shot from Messi that was deflected wide by a flailing arm.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]

That means Argentina though still hasn’t scored a goal in open play after 180 minutes with the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Giovanni Lo Celso on the field.

Paraguay looked dangerous throughout the night, with speedy wingers like Almiron and attacker Derlis Gonzalez making life oh so difficult for Nicolas Otamendi, who ended up having to take a yellow card in the second half after being beaten for pace and not wanting to give up a breakaway.

It was one of those attacks in transition which led to the first goal. Miguel Almiron picked up a pass in his own half and went on a bursting, marauding run down the left wing all the way to the byline. Almiron then crossed into the middle where Richard Sanchez arrived and sliced a strike home.

Argentina was given a lifeline early in the second half after an attack that nearly produced a goal. Sergio Aguero chipped a ball into the middle where Lautaro Martinez had a shot go off the crossbar. Messi corralled a rebound, turned and fired in the 50th minute but his show went wide.

A VAR check though showed that it was deflected off the arm of Paraguay defender Ivan Piris, leading to an Argentina penalty kick, one Messi blasted home to tie the game.

Two minutes later, Paraguay could have taken the lead as Otamendi lost Gonzalez and tackled him from behind, making it an easy decision for the referee. However, Gonzalez produced a poor penalty and it was easily saved by Argentina’s Franco Armani.

Argentina now heads into basically a must-win game against Qatar if it wants to advance.

Earlier, Colombia topped Qatar, 1-0, in a pretty evenly-played game. However, it was the world class passing of James Rodriguez that made the difference.

The Colombian’s delightful chip into the box found the head of big-bodied Duvan Zapata, who powered a header home in the 86th minute to give Colombia the win, and earn it a place in the knockout round.

PGMOL: No goalkeeper VAR review on Premier League penalties

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thank you, PGMOL.

Professional Games Match Officials Limited will not, and we repeat not, use Video Assistant Referee to review goalkeeper positioning on penalty kicks in the Premier League.

We may bake a cake.

There’s a new FIFA law which states that at least one foot must be on the goal line during penalty kicks, which has caused delays, controversy, and frankly nothing positive during the Women’s World Cup amongst other summer events.

According to Sky Sports, PGMOL says VAR is “an ongoing process and will continue to be looked at during the season.”

The rule will be enforced by on-field officials.

Scotland’s World Cup hopes were dashed by a blown 3-goal lead against Argentina which included a VAR-awarded penalty. That kick was retaken after a Lee Alexander save because she left her line.

Nigeria suffered the same fate earlier in the tournament, and the U-20 World Cup has also experienced such fun.

Gold Cup: Mexico secures place in knockout round with win over Canada; Martinique over Cuba

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Mexico National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup has been very focused on introducing inexperienced players into the squad, and yet, it was a veteran on Wednesday that reminded everyone how much he still has left in the tank.

Mexico captain Andres Guardado, who came off the bench for the injured Erick Gutierrez in the first half, scored a brace as Mexico held off a surging Canada late in the match. Guardado’s first goal was an absolute golazo from 30-yards out, while his second showcased his poise and calm in the box.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Mexico – as is custom for El Tri – controlled possession and looked very confident on the ball, zipping it around midfield and at times, playing on a faster speed than Canada, it seemed. However, with Canada sitting in a low defensive block, it took until the 40th minute for Mexico to get on the board through Roberto Alvarado finishing into an empty net after a big save from Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada pushed higher up the field in the second half and seemed to be turning the tide before Guardado picked up a loose ball – and there may have been a foul on Canada – and el Principito unleashed a rocket that Borjan had no chance to keep out.

Canada made six changes in the starting lineup from its first game and it was the introductions of Scott Arfield, Jonathan Osorio and Jonathan David in the second half that began to get Canada back into the game. A mistake by centerback Nestor Araujo in the 75th minute, trying to be fancy with a Cruyff turn allowed David to advance down the Mexico goal on a breakaway. After a cutback, David played Luca Cavallini in the box and Cavallini scored to cut it to 2-1.

However, Guardado, and LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna, put the game away for good two minutes later. Antuna got around his defender and centered to Guardado. The wily midfielder took three Canada defenders out of the play with a quick touch to his right, before scoring a deflected goal off the post and in.

Earlier in the evening, Martinique recorded a dominant 3-0 victory over ten-man Cuba. Star striker Kevin Parsemain didn’t score, though he did play a role in Martinique’s third goal with an outstanding back-heel pass.