Three things we learned from LAFC-Seattle (video)

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
1 Comment

The game in 200 words (or less): The Seattle Sounders are headed back to MLS Cup for the third time in four years after knocking off the best regular-season team in MLS history, Los Angeles FC, Tuesday night in the Western Conference final. The Sounders went into Banc of California Stadium and shocked the world with a stellar team performance, most notably from their backline and center forward Raul Ruidiaz, who scored twice on the night. Midfield maestro Nicolas Lodeiro bagged Seattle’s other goal as the Sounders scored three unanswered after Eduard Atuesta opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Should Atlanta United advance past Toronto FC in Wednesday’s Eastern Conference final, Seattle will play for MLS Cup away from home for the third time during their stellar run.

[ VIDEO: Every touch from Christian Pulisic v. Burnley ]

Three things we learned

1. Time to recognize Ruidiaz among elites: Josef Martinez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (rightly) have each received plenty of plaudits for their prolific goal-scoring records as center forwards, but Ruidiaz should be mentioned in the same breath as some of the best to ever do it in MLS. He’s not even two seasons into his time in Seattle, but the Peruvian international has displayed a ruthless nose for goal while also contributing to the Sounders’ attack in ways the aforementioned no. 9s rarely do.

If you watch the below clip, you’ll see Joevin Jones picking up the assist and Lodeiro finishing with pinpoint precision, but what you won’t see is Ruidiaz’s turn out of trouble on the other side of midfield and his subsequent dribbling into the final third before laying the ball off to Jones. The Sounders defense was set up to absorb lots of pressure, but providing them these moments of respite, let alone getting the goal, were so important to Brian Schmetzer’s gameplan.

Then there’s the other part of his no. 9 duties — the lethal finishing touch — that makes him a potential game-winner every time he steps on the field.

2. LAFC start slow again. This time, they never recovered: LAFC needed a good 10 minutes to wake up before putting five past the LA Galaxy last week. Again on Tuesday, Bob Bradley‘s side started sluggishly and found itself on the back foot for the opening 15 minutes. Then, almost as if on cue, the Black and Gold sprang to life with Eduard Atuesta’s stunning free kick.

Only this time, unlike when they faced the Galaxy, LAFC’s period of control was short-lived. Seattle, a group that’s been through the rigors of the playoffs together, stuck to their low defensive block and soaked up the pressure in low-leverage areas of the field and got out on the counter-attack at every opportunity. It paid immediate dividends.

LAFC’s greatest strengths lie in their forward and midfield lines, which makes it hugely important to pick the right pass immediately after winning the ball back. Fortunately for Seattle, Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson are two of the smartest players in the league and they make the right decision nine times out of 10. This gives the likes of Ruidiaz, Lodeiro and Jordan Morris a few extra looks every game. Once you bypass the first wave of pressure from the LAFC midfield, their defense is highly suspect.

3. Rossi moved to the left too late: For 45 minutes, Diego Rossi — and Carlos Vela, to a large extent — were anonymous, inconsequential figures. Brad Smith customarily tore up and down the left side of Seattle’s attack, pinning Rossi deeper and deeper as the first half wore on. Bradley switched the Uruguayan to the other side of the field at halftime, and his impact was immediate.

The knock-on effect with Vela is obvious, as each of LAFC’s attacking stars operates best when linking directly or indirectly with one another. Whether playing on the right or through the middle, Rossi frees up Vela, either with their combined movement and passing or the attention he commands as a goal threat himself.

Schmetzer got his tactics spot-on, while Bradley whiffed with a thoroughly curious decision to deviate from something that worked to devastating effect for seven months.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Raul Ruidiaz

Goalscorers: Atuesta (17′), Ruidiaz (22′, 64′), Lodeiro (26′)

Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest, League Cup semifinal 2nd leg: How to watch

0 Comments

The mission for Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford in Wednesday’s League Cup semifinal second leg is pretty simple: Don’t mess it up.

Manchester United are in firm control after leg 1 after securing a 3-0 victory at the City Ground on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea trying to secure record Enzo Fernandez deal ]

United last won the League Cup in 2017, the Red Devils’ fifth title in the competition. Forest won the last of its four League Cup titles when it completed back-to-back titles in 1990.


How to watch Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: ESPN+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest players to watch 

The injury lists for both teams mean we won’t see some serious talents including Morgan Gibbs-White and Christian Eriksen.

It will be interesting to see how Erik ten Hag lines up United without Eriksen and perhaps Scott McTominay, but we know we’ll see Marcus Rashford. The English forward is back ton his best.

Forest will hope to have Taiwo Awoniyi back in the fold, but young Brazilian center midfielder Danilo has been promising through his first two matches roaming the heart of the pitch after moving from Palmeiras.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Jadon Sancho (undisclosed), Luke Shaw (illness), Scott McTominay (undisclosed). OUT: Donny van de Beek (knee), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Diogo Dalot (thigh), Axel Tuanzebe (lower back), Anthony Martial (thigh).

Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Chris Wood (illness), Jack Colback (illness), Ryan Yates (illness),  OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Dean Henderson (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Cheikhou Kouyate (thigh), Morgan Gibbs-White (ankle).

Newcastle vs Southampton, live, in League Cup semifinal: Score, updates, link, lineups

0 Comments

Newcastle lead Southampton 1-0 ahead of the sides’ League Cup semifinal second leg at St. James’ Park on Tuesday (watch live, 3 pm ET). 

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After securing their narrow advantage down on the south coast last week, Newcastle are firm favorites to reach a major cup final for the first time since the 1998-99 FA Cup, when the Magpies were beaten by the famed, treble-winning Manchester United side.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle vs Southampton

[ MORE: Weston McKennie joins Leeds: Is this a good move for the USMNT star? ]


How to watch Newcastle vs Southampton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3 pm ET, Tuesday
Online: Stream via ESPN+


Key storylines & star players

Eddie Howe’s side has performed well above expectations this season, mounting a serious top-four challenge one or two years ahead of reasonable expectations. Getting to — and winning — a final in the same season would merely be icing on the cake for Howe, who took over the Premier League’s 19th-place side (5 points from 11 games) from Steve Bruce in November 2021.

Saints reached the League Cup final in 2017, but were somewhat controversially beaten by Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. Southampton have won more cup ties (6 of 7) than PL fixtures (4 of 20), which goes a long way toward explaining why Nathan Jones’ side sits rock-bottom of the PL table with just 15 points.


Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Jonjo Shelvey (calf), Matt Targett (foot), Emil Krafth (knee)

Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Juan Larios (adductor), Duje Caleta-Car (suspension), Moussa Djenepo (head), Alex McCarthy (ankle)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Chelsea in Portugal for Enzo Fernandez medical ahead of record deal

0 Comments

Chelsea is ready to trigger Enzo Fernandez’s $129 million release clause and is in Portugal to conduct a Deadline Day medical on the World Cup winner.

The fee would break the British record set by Manchester City when it purchased Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.

Fernandez, 21, has been chased by Chelsea for some time and wants to make the move to Stamford Bridge from Benfica.

[ MORE: Weston McKennie moves to Leeds United ]

The Argentina star has a goal and six assists in 22 matches across all competitions, but his skills as an elite ball progressor are what most attracts the Blues.

Fernandez ranks in the 99th percentile of midfielders in progressive passes per 90 at 9.47 and in the 95th percentile in shot-creating actions per 90 (FBref.com).

Chelsea’s revolutionized its squad since the club was purchased by Todd Boehly’s consortium last year, with Wesley Fofana, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, and many more.

Follow Peacock’s Sky Sports News simulstream from Noon-7pm ET Tuesday, and join ProSoccerTalk’s Deadline Day Show at 5pm ET.

Enzo Fernandez
fotmob.com

Transfer Deadline Day, live! Join our show, send questions, analysis

0 Comments

Transfer deadline day is here for January 2023, as the winter window shuts at 6pm ET on Jan. 31 for Premier League clubs.

[ LIVE: Every Premier League transfer deal as it happens ]

The clock is ticking late in the window and we will have all angles covered for you here at Pro Soccer Talk.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United | Arsenal ]

From clicking on the links above to read the latest reports and analysis, having Sky Sports News live on Peacock all day long and to our own Pro Soccer Talk live deadline day show which starts at 5:30pm ET on Jan. 31, you won’t miss a thing.

WATCH: Sky Sports News live on Transfer deadline day on Peacock

Click on the video below to send in your questions for the PST crew for our deadline day chat where we will round up all of the deals happening late in the window, dish out grades to Premier League teams based on their business and give our analysis on the best signings of the January window.