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Mexicans Abroad: Vela equals MLS record, Lozano left on Napoli bench

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Carlos Vela equalled the MLS single-season goalscoring mark of 31 and can break the record next time out in the season’s final match. Otherwise, it was mostly a struggle for Mexican players overseas, many of whom were left to the substitutes’ bench.

While Lozano rode the bench, Raul Jimenez was starting but failed to find the back of the net for the third straight match, while Chicharito, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado, and Diego Lainez were all also left among the substitutes, and only Lainez of the bunch even saw the field.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — For the first time since making his Napoli debut, Chucky Lozano was left on the bench as Napoli topped Brescia 2-1. Dries Mertens scored a goal and Fernando Llorente started up front as Carlo Ancelotti went with a flat 4-4-2 with Piotr Zilinski starting on the left flank.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez’s stunning summer form seems to be waning. He played 80 minutes and did not score as Wolves topped struggling Watford 2-0 on Saturday. He was withdrawn in favor of Patrick Cutrone for the final 10 minutes and has not played a full 90 minutes since he last scored against Everton on September 1. He was rested for the League Cup match midweek which Wolves won on penalties over Reading. Wolves returns to Europa League group stage action with a big match against Besiktas on the road.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito was left on the bench for the second straight match as Sevilla topped in-form Real Sociedad 3-2. Luuk De Jong was favored over the Mexican as the lone striker this time, although he did not score in the game. Nolito and Lucas Ocampos provided the early goals while Franco Vazquez came off the bench to score the eventual winner. Fellow striker Munir El Haddidi was once again not in the squad, so Chicharito can at least say he’s ahead of the 24-year-old in the pecking order.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — The defender was left on the bench as an unused substitute for the fifth time in six league matches this season, with Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic preferred in central defense as the Madrid derby ended 0-0.

Andres Guardado and Diego Lainez, Real Betis —  Guardado was also left on the bench as an unused substitute, and Real Betis fell to a heavy 5-1 defeat at Villareal. Betis instead started William Carvalho and Sergio Canales in midfield, leaving Guardado left out of action for the third time this season. Betis has seven points in four matches with Guardado on the field, and does not have a win in three without him. Lainez was also left on the bench, but came on for the final 10 minutes for his third appearance of the season, all as a substitute.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — The central defender has started every league match for Celta Vigo thus far, and he again completed the full 90 minutes as his side fell 2-0 at Eibar. He has partnered with Joseph Aidoo for most games this season and while the club has just one win, the defense hasn’t really been the issue, conceding just six goals in six games, while the attack has scored just three goals in that span.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez made his first appearance since September 1, coming off the bench for the final 11 minutes of a 4-0 win over PEC Zwolle. He picked up a goal during his short stint on the field, scoring the final goal of the match. It is a promising return for Gutierrez who had been in the starting lineup for the first four games of the year before falling out of the side. PSV remains unbeaten in league play this season.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — The 21-year-old was left as an unused substitute as Ajax beat FC Groningen 2-0. Donny van de Beek partnered with 21-year-old Argentine Lisandro Martinez in midfield, leaving Alvarez and Razvan Marin as the odd men out.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito continued as Porto’s starting right-back, making it 60 minutes in the 1-0 win over Rio Ave. Moussa Marega headed Porto in front 12 minutes in and that was all they needed. Corona was yanked after an hour in favor of Wilson Manafa, marking the third time this season in seven starts that Corona did not complete the 90 minutes.

MLS

Carlos Vela, LAFC – Vela bagged the all important 31st goal of the season on the road against Minnesota United, and while the hosts equalized five minutes later to earn a 1-1 draw, it didn’t matter with LAFC already locked in to the #1 seed in the Western Conference. The goal tied Vela for the MLS single-season lead, and can break the record in the season’s final match against the Colorado Rapids next weekend.

Carlos Fierro, San Jose Earthquakes – Fierro came off the bench for the final 10 minutes, but was not able to turn San Jose’s Fortune as the Quakes were stunned by a Jordan Morris winner deep in stoppage time to keep them from moving into a playoff position ahead of Deadline Day. Fierro has started just twice since joining the Earthquakes, otherwise planted on the bench for late substitute appearances. The club has lost six matches in a row.

Jonathan Dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, LA Galaxy – JDS completed his third full 90 minute performance in a row and Antuna started on the wing, but the Galaxy were beaten in a wild match 4-3 by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Dos Santos picked up an assist in the game, feeding Antuna who scored the club’s second goal. The teams traded goals the whole way through, with Vancouver having the last laugh with a 93rd minute winner.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — The 23-year-old completed 59 minutes as Zulte Waregem drew 2-2 with Mouscron to remain eighth in the Belgian league. He played at the bottom of a diamond midfield, withdrawn just before the hour mark for young Abdoulaye Sissako with the club down 2-0, and they completed the comeback without his presence on the field.

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   Moreno continues to start for the Qatari side in central defense, but they were downed by visiting Al Sailiya 3-1. After scoring just six minutes in to go in front, Al Gharafa capitulated to the tune of three goals, including two after halftime with the score level at the break. They sit fourth in the Qatar Stars League table.

Juan Gerardo Ramirez Alosno, Roda JC — Alonso was left as an unused substitute for the fifth match in a row as Roda drew with De Graafschap 2-2. It seems Alonso is second fiddle to 28-year-old Timothy Durwael in the left-back position despite having started the first three games of the Dutch second tier season.

Serie A roundup: Napoli falls to Parma in debut for Gattuso (video)

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Napoli’s last-minute loss to Parma in Gennaro Gattuso’s debut highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Napoli 1-2 Parma

Napoli remains in a dark place as Gennaro Gattuso debut with Gli Azzurri ended in a last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma.

The defeat marks eight consecutive games without a win in Serie A play for Napoli, who dismissed Carlo Ancelotti earlier this week despite punching a ticket in the last 16 of the Champions League after a win over Genk.

After their fifth loss of the season, Napoli are currently eighth on the table with 21 points, seven behind sixth-placed Atalanta and 17 behind league leaders Inter Milan.

 

 

In the third minute of stoppage time, Gervinho – experienced as anyone else in tightly-contested situations – received a simple pass from Dejan Kulusevski, carefully striking it into the back of the net inside the six-yard box. The 32-year-old Ivorian has five goals in Serie A this season, and Saturday’s was his most important yet. 

For Gattuso (and hopeful Napoli supporters), Saturday was the antithesis of dreamy start, but with time and a change of mentality the situation may change.

“I don’t believe in bad luck. Right now we’re not good mentally,” the 41-year-old manager said following the match. “The team is paying for the fact that it has not won (in the league) for 50 or more days.”

“The first 10 minutes also prove it,” he added. “It’s tough as are the whistles of the fans. There’s a lot of work to do.”

The home side recorded 33 shots throughout the night, but Parma proved to be more clinical, scoring at death and opening the scoresheet just four minutes in. In the 64th minute, Napoli were able to get one go their way, as Dreis Merten’s lofting cross with force was headed home by Arkadiusz Milik. 

Gattuso and his men will be tested once as they travel to Sassuolo in a weeks time, while Parma look to trim their four-point gap with Atalanta when they host Brescia.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Brescia 3-0 Lecce

Genoa 0-1 Sampdoria

Hertha’s under-16s stop playing after alleged racist abuse

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin’s under-16 team stopped playing a game at regional rival Auerbach after its players were allegedly subjected to racist abuse from their opponents on Saturday.

The Bundesliga club says in a statement on its website that “several players from our team were racially abused by their opposing players.”

Hertha officials informed the referee of the alleged abuse and decided to stop playing in the 68th minute while leading 2-0 “because we as Hertha BSC condemn racism and discrimination in every form,” the club said.

Hertha executive board member Paul Keuter called it “the only correct decision, not to continue with the game.”

On Twitter, the club said: “There are times when football doesn’t come first. Racism has no place in our society.”

Hertha under-23 player Jessic Ngankam said he was targeted with monkey chants and called an “ape” by an opposing player during his side’s fourth division game against Lokomotive Leipzig on Dec. 6.

“Insults are unfortunately an everyday occurrence in football, and I can put up with them. But racist abuse is a no-go,” the 19-year-old Ngankam told broadcaster MDR.

Both Hertha and Lokomotive condemned the alleged abuse.

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

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

La Liga roundup: Sociedad hold leaders Barcelona to draw (video)

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A stunning draw from top-of-the-table Barcelona highlight La Liga’s Saturday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Sociedad 2-2 Barcelona

If Real Madrid manages to walk away from Mestalla with three points, they’ll dethrone nemesis Barcelona and become clear-cut leaders of La Liga.

Just days before El Clasico itself, a rare 2-2 draw from Barcelona against hosts Real Sociedad is the reason behind Los Blancos’ prime opportunity.

 

Former Borussia Dortmund starlet Alexander Isak tapped in his fourth goal of the season in the 62nd minute, leveling the score for Sociedad and sending the home fans into a frenzy.

In true Barcelona fashion, Real Sociedad, ironically hit the ground running first. 

After earning a foul inside the box from a corner kick set piece, Reala captain Mikel Oyarzabal converted from the spot, putting Sociedad, who have exceeded expectations this season under first-year manager Imanol Alguacil, up against the defending champions. 

It wouldn’t take long before the visitors responded, however.

A familiar face and experienced goalscorer at Anoeta, it was the ideal scenario for Antoine Griezmann to shake off some pressure that has been a key talking point surrounding the Frenchman lately. Darting inside the box with only Alex Remiro to beat, No. 17 – like in the old days – carefully chipped the ball over Remiro and into the back of the net the ball wandered. 

If the second half indicated anything early on it was that it was going to be difficult for Barcelona to drop points on Saturday. Unselfish as ever before, Lionel Messi laid off the ball to an unmarked Luis Suarez, who his team up 2-1 four minutes into the second half.

A lack of control of possession and, most notably, an unstable defensive line, would end up costing Barcelona two points.

Next for Barcelona is the game of the season: a league bout against Real Madrid on Wednesday, while Real Sociedad travel to Becerril in the second round of Copa del Rey. 

Elsewhere in La Liga

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Osasuna

Granada 1-2 Levante

Atheltic Bilbao 0-0 Eibar

South Florida officials seeking more international soccer

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) More than two dozen political leaders in South Florida have written letters to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors, urging them to allow top-tier international matches to take place in the Miami region.

Relevent Sports, the soccer-promoting group owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, filed suit against the USSF earlier this year saying that the sport’s governing body in this country was helping to prevent them from hosting certain matches.

The letters were released Friday to media outlets, including The Associated Press.

The USSF did not respond to a request for comment.

Ross’ group and top Spanish league La Liga have been working for some time to bring a regular-season match to Hard Rock Stadium, the facility Ross owns and is the Dolphins’ home.

The politicians – ranging from city mayors, county mayors, county commissioners and one state Senator – all essentially said the same thing, that bringing major international soccer to South Florida only will help the region’s tourist-dependent economy.

“Doing so will demonstrate a genuine commitment to our communities and the growth of the game, which you, as the United States Soccer Federation, are charged with promoting,” wrote Dean Trantalis, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale. That’s the city where David Beckham’s new MLS team, Inter Miami, will begin play next March.