MLS Wrap: What we learned

Leave a comment

There were many takeaways from a busy night of MLS matches. Here’s some of the biggest lessons we learned from the early slate of games.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


New England is good? New England is good

Most teams get a bump when there’s a coaching change, but few could have expected what we’re witnessing in New England over the last two months.

With a 4-1 win over a hapless Orlando City side, the New England Revolution improved to 11 games unbeaten and would qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs if the season ended today. That’s an incredible change in fortunes, considering the Revolution were dead and dusted just two months into the season under former coach Brad Friedel. For whatever reason, Friedel didn’t work out but hiring Bruce Arena has made the Krafts look like they made a brilliant decision.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt either that new signing Gustavo Bou has been terrific, Carles Gil has been outstanding in midfield and everyone has taken their games to another level. Antonio Delamea at centerback alongside Andrew Farrell have been lockdown, with Luis Caicedo and Wilfried Zahibo protecting in front of them. That’s allowed Edgar Castillo, Brandon Bye and the Revs attackers more freedom to attack.

The Revs are arguably the hottest team in MLS right now, and there’s no sign that they’ll slow down any time soon.


Union, Red Bulls miss out on chance to advance

The New York Red Bulls had a chance to stay ahead of New York City FC and even move ahead of D.C. United in the standings with a win on Saturday, yet they couldn’t capitalize in their match.

Defensive miscues led to the New York Red Bulls coughing up three goals in a surprising 3-2 win for the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena. That’s left the Red Bulls in fifth-place, just one point above the red line and in danger of potentially dropping out of the playoff picture. With razor-thin margins, this defeat at home was a big black eye for the Red Bulls.

At the same time, the Union had a chance to extend its lead atop the MLS Eastern Conference. Instead, a shell-shocked Union got crushed, 4-0 by the Montreal Impact. New Impact signing Lassi Lappalainen scored a brace in his debut with the club, while Orji Okwonkwo scored again off an Ignacio “Nacho” Piatti assist. The Union backline of Matthew Real, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott and Ray Gaddis were completely overrun by the Impact’s speedy attack.


Seattle gets 3 big points on road

With Raul Ruidiaz out injured with a concussion and other nagging injuries to star players, the Seattle Sounders would have been happy to come away with just a point from its trip to Houston.

Instead, the squad will be bringing back all three.

There weren’t many quality chances, but Jordan Morris scored a wonderful goal, first looping the ball over two defenders into a goal-mouth scramble before finishing into the far corner. In addition to Morris’ goal, U.S. youth international and 16-year-old Danny Leyva started and went the full 90 in midfield for the Sounders, and was quite clean on the ball throughout.

With the win, the Sounders move for the time being into second place, though still 11 points back of Los Angeles FC.

Liverpool equalizes, denied history by Manchester United

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Adam Lallana‘s late goal denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a statement win as Liverpool came back to take a point from Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford scored the goal, which was upheld by VAR despite a seeming foul in the build-up, while VAR also took a Liverpool goal off the board for handball.

Liverpool was bidding to move to 9-0 on the Premier League season by claiming its ninth-straight away league win and 18th consecutive win overall, but they’ll take the point.

Liverpool leads the league with 25 points, six more than Man City, while United rises 14th with 10 points.


Three stars of the match

1. Marcus Rashford — He didn’t look right over the first 20 minutes, but kept working until he found the opening goal. The effort didn’t stop there, as he managed four successful dribbles and wasn’t credited with a single time dispossessed.

2. Adam Lallana — Jurgen Klopp‘s 71st minute sub scored his first goal since May 2017, coming off the bench and slipping behind United’s defense to punish with an equalizer.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Credit where it’s due, especially when we’ve been critical of the Manchester United boss, but Liverpool never found an answer for the Red Devils’ back three. Perhaps more credit to Solskjaer for not going away from it when Axel Tuanzebe went down in warm-ups.

Honorable mention: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fabinho, Scott McTominay, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

United held the ball for much of the first 10 minutes, but didn’t bother Alisson Becker.

The Reds, on the other hand, saw a 13th minute dribble and shot from Georginio Wijnaldum turn into a David De Gea save.

Cagey and tight, the next shot on target was a 25th minute low effort from Scott McTominay to Alisson.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was probably the best player on the pitch in the opening half hour, and saw a strong cross cut out by Virgil Van Dijk in the 28th.

Joel Matip spotted a streaking Sadio Mane for a lightning counter out of nothing, but Divock Origi couldn’t make much out of Mane’s feed and De Gea collected the shot.

That’s when United took its lead with one of two first half goals to go to VAR.

Rashford got on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch. A foul if it’s called, but it wasn’t and VAR did not overrule it.

Mane then had a goal chalked off for a handball, VAR catching a touch most refs wouldn’t.

Liverpool took hold of the game shortly after halftime, but physical United continued its tight marking and heavy tackling.

Daniel James was waylaid on a 50/50 ball with Fabinho and play questionably went on as James lay on the turf with an apparent head injury.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a deflected effort go wide in the 64th, as Jurgen Klopp took off Divock Origi and tried to find an answer to United’s back three.

The next sub was Adam Lallana for Jordan Henderson, as Liverpool had 20 minutes plus stoppage to find an equalizer.

He was the difference maker, as Robertson’s cross bounded through a sea of United defenders to meet him at the back post.

VAR allows Man Utd goal, overturns Mane as Liverpool trails at half

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marcus Rashford has put Manchester United ahead at Liverpool, and the Reds are furious that VAR didn’t reverse the marker.

The English striker was on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch.

[ MORE: WATCH 2nd HALF LIVE ]

Scott McTominay picked up the ball and sent James down the right flank. Virgil Van Dijk played off the crosser, and Joel Matip couldn’t clear the effort and it reached Rashford who beat Alisson Becker.

Origi was certainly caught by Lindelof, and no one would’ve blinked had Martin Atkinson ruled it a foul, so perhaps the poor touch is what cost the Belgian his whistle?

VAR again worked against Liverpool minutes later when a long ball over the top glanced off Sadio Mane’s hand before the Senegalese scored a goal. It had a little impact on the play, but the rules are the rules when they are bad ones.

Either way, the Red Devils relish the chance to deny Liverpool its chance at history. The visitors are one win from matching PL records for consecutive wins and away wins.

Tuanzebe injured in warm-ups, Rojo now in Manchester United XI

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Well then.

Manchester United’s announced XI has changed thanks to a presumed injury to center back Axel Tuanzebe.

Marcos Rojo will take the youngster’s place in a back three with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

Liverpool and United kickoff from Old Trafford at 11:30 a.m. ET (Watch live at on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The 29-year-old Rojo has played four times this season, but just 30 minutes in the Premier League.

Phil Jones has been added to the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Rojo, Young, Fred, McTominay, Pereira, James, Rashford. Subs: Romero, Mata, Martial, Jones, Greenwood, Garner, Williams.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Mane, Origi, Firmino. Subs: Adrian, Lovren, Milner, Keita, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana.

Lukaku scores 2, celebrates with Conte as Inter Milan bounces back

Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images
Leave a comment

If this guy was still in red, Manchester United would have a lot more hope heading into today’s visit from Liverpool.

Romelu Lukaku scored his fourth and fifth Serie A goals of the season on Sunday as Inter Milan outlasted Sassuolo 4-3 at Stadio Citta del Tricolore.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch Sargent scores ]

Lautaro Martinez also scored twice in the win, as Inter rebounded from its loss to Juventus and reclaimed second place. Inter sits a point back of The Old Lady.

Lukaku caused a bit of buzz online when he raced over to manager Antonio Conte following his second goal for a fiery embrace (It’s Conte. Fiery is his thing).

From Football-Italia:

“Conte and I are both team players, so when I score a goal, I want to celebrate with everyone. I am focused only on working and giving my best in every match.”

Inter is home to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in almost a must-win given its slow start to life in the Champions League.

Lukaku, who’s also scored six goals in his last four appearances for Belgium, already has a goal in a Milan Derby and a solid strike partner in Martinez.

He ranks near the top of Inter’s performance charts on WhoScored, chipping in on the defensive end as well.