Bob Bradley

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So far, so great for American coach Marsch with Red Bull Salzburg

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The American manager has had an interesting ride in recent seasons. Bob Bradley got short-shrift at Swansea City and is bossing MLS with LAFC. Gregg Berhalter serially overachieved at Columbus and is now taking his lumps with the USMNT.

There’s something to be said about David Wagner at Huddersfield Town and Schalke, but the former USMNT striker’s background is almost exclusively German (there’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes for a lousy case study).

So we’ve made a note to keep an eye on Jesse Marsch’s early season as the ex-New York Red Bulls coach takes the reigns at Red Bull Salzburg.

After all, the perennial Austrian contenders sold five players with eight-figure price tags, including Israel’s Munas Dabbur and a quartet of Germany-bound players.

Marsch did not leave the U.S. as a player or coach, aside from international duty and one year with Montreal, until he left RBNY for an assistant’s job with RB Leipzig last season with a view to this gig.

The Austrian league sits just below the Netherlands in UEFA coefficient, and Salzburg is a rich club in the league but the situation was far from a, “Hey kid, here are the keys. Don’t drive into a lake.”

So far, so great.

Salzburg is 6-0 to start the league campaign, and has scored 27 goals while conceding just four.

He’s been helped by 19-year-old Molde transfer Erling Braut Håland, who has scored a remarkable 11 goals with three assists in seven games. Haland made his Norwegian national team debut on Thursday.

Marsch will manage against Genk, Liverpool, and Napoli in the UEFA Champions League this season and, at 45, could be on the pathway to an even bigger gig.

Galaxy-LAFC rivalry captures Los Angeles’ passion for soccer

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Although the wordless billboards went up quietly this week on the streets around Los Angeles FC’s Banc of California Stadium, their message to the city is loud and clear.

Some of the huge signs show imperious LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic running into LAFC’s Latif Blessing, sending the smaller man flying. In others, Zlatan is making a saucy gesture toward LAFC’s Carlos Vela, or perhaps celebrating in his fellow superstar’s face.

Each of the photos captured a triumphant moment for Zlatan and the Galaxy during the first four editions of El Trafico, the increasingly outstanding rivalry series between Major League Soccer’s two Los Angeles clubs. LAFC’s fans have the best team in the league this season, but it has never beaten the Galaxy – and those fans will have to walk past these trolling provocations around their home ground before the latest edition of the LA derby Sunday night.

“I thought it was funny,” Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget said after he saw the billboards on social media. “That stuff gets us going. It’s just good for the city, man. Even though they’re probably a little bitter about it.”

A rivalry that didn’t exist 18 months ago has grown into one of the highest-profile matchups in the league, drawing rowdy crowds and attracting international attention for the intensity and quality of the first four games.

The Galaxy are the only five-time champions in MLS history, while their crosstown foes are a model expansion franchise with a lavish new stadium near downtown LA. Multicultural Los Angeles has loved and embraced soccer for decades, but having two successful professional franchises has amplified that passion, turning each of these rivalry games into something special.

“Ever since the first game, this rivalry has grown so organically,” Lletget said. “You’ll see on Sunday, the intensity is as if you’re in a derby in Europe. It’s pretty crazy.”

Although the Galaxy (13-11-2) are in third place in the Western Conference, they’re a whopping 20 points behind LAFC (19-3-4), which is running away with MLS’ best record during a spectacular second season.

But LAFC is 0-2-2 against its biggest rivals, making this final regular-season meeting even more urgent for the newcomers in black and gold.

“It’s the derby,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “It means more. So far, with all the things we’ve done, we haven’t beat them.”

Thrilling finishes, spectacular goals and bad-tempered play have been in abundance ever since this rivalry began with Zlatan’s electrifying two-goal MLS debut during the Galaxy’s comeback victory in March 2018.

Ibrahimovic and Vela have scored a whopping six goals apiece in the four El Trafico games, doing everything that’s expected from arguably the league’s two best players. Their last meeting was dominated by the superstars, with Ibrahimovic’s hat trick besting Vela’s brace in a 3-2 victory for the Galaxy on July 19.

“When you play against the other team of the city, you always want to do your best,” said Vela, who already has 26 goals and 15 assists in a historically prolific season. “You want to win. You want to show you are better than the other team of the city, and it’s a good chance to show how good we are this season. I hope we can finally get the three points.”

The rivalry is new, but the fan bases’ animus is older.

Galaxy supporters look down at LAFC for its brief history and an empty trophy case, but also because LAFC’s fan base includes many hard-core supporters who switched allegiances from Chivas USA, which dissolved in 2014 after a dismal decade sharing the Galaxy’s stadium.

But LAFC fans love to point out the Galaxy technically aren’t from Los Angeles, and never have been. They’ve been based in Carson, a suburb due south of downtown LA, since 2003 after spending their first nine years of existence at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

“The intensity comes by itself, because it’s two teams from the same city,” Ibrahimovic said. “Rivals. I think it comes automatic, the intensity of this game.”

Banc of California Stadium will be intense from the moment LAFC’s 3252 supporters union starts rocking the North End a couple of hours before kickoff. Ticket prices on the secondary market for Sunday’s game skyrocketed in recent days, with few single seats under $200 and the high-end tickets topping $1,500.

Along with a national television broadcast, fans at home can watch a streaming comedic commentary program synced to the match by Funny or Die, the comedy website co-founded by LAFC minority owner Will Ferrell.

What’s more, both sides of this derby are getting serious reinforcements before this edition.

Sunday’s game will be the first El Trafico for Cristian Pavon, the speedy Argentine forward who arrived earlier this month and immediately took a major role in the Galaxy’s attack. It could also mark the LAFC debut of Brian Rodriguez, the promising Uruguayan designated player whose paperwork cleared just in time to make him available to Bradley this weekend.

“Games with the Galaxy take on an extra dimension,” Bradley said. “We know that. We’ve had really good moments against them, but we haven’t won yet, and so that’s something that doesn’t need discussing inside our team. Everybody knows.”

More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Vela makes history in LAFC’s victory over Red Bulls (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less):  A new king has been crowned. Following a two-assist, one-goal performance against the New York Red Bulls, there is no Mexican-born player in league history with more goals than Carlos Vela. With 37 goals in 51 games, the 30-year-old Cancun native surpassed Erick “Cubo” Torres, who tallied 36 goals throughout five seasons. Overall, it was a special night for Vela and LAFC. Despite giving up two goals right before halftime, the Supporter’s Shield contender took control of the game in the second half, dominating the Red Bulls in practically every department except yellow cards. Bob Bradley‘s side, like Vela, are riding high.

Three moments that mattered

23′ — Harvey’s first goal in over 720 days  — A bit surprising that with those abilities inside the box it took Jordan Harvey so long to score.

61′ — Vela clinches the record books —  Record-breaking goal for Vela.

72′ — Segura ends it once and for all — Goal no. 1 for Eddie Segura in MLS. Assist no. 14 for Vela this season.

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

Unstoppable LAFC end Revs’ 11-game unbeaten run (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Coming into the weekend’s premier matchup in MLS, Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution found itself above the playoff cut line on the back of an 11-game unbeaten run that began all the way back on May 11. In that time, the Revs took down the likes of San Jose, LA Galaxy, Houston and Orlando, to name a few, but they had face no one on par with runaway Supporters’ Shield leaders Los Angeles FC. All of the above changed on Saturday, when Bob Bradley‘s men walked out of Gillette Stadium with a 2-0 victory. Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing scored the goals — one in each half — and LAFC ran their modest recent run of results to five wins in their last six games. Their lead in the Shield race walkover is 13 points with 11 games left to play.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Three moments that mattered

8′ — Rossi loops it high and back down for the opener — How many players in MLS even see the 10-foot-high looping finish as an option in this scenario, let alone have the technical wherewithal to pull it off? The answer is a small number, but it includes Rossi.

41′ — Farrell saves his own embarrassing blemish on the goal line — Andrew Farrell almost scored an embarrassing, if unlucky, own goal, but managed to sprint to the goal line and clear the ball away in the nick of time.

72′ — Blessing finishes a fantastic team goal for 2-0 — Champagne football from LAFC, innit? There should be about five secondary assists handed out on this one.

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

Man of the match: Jordan Harvey

Goalscorers: Rossi (8′), Blessing (72′)

Chicago adds 2010 World Cup qualifying hero Bornstein

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There’s probably part of you who thinks Jonathan Bornstein is on an MLS staff somewhere, that he’s about 46 years old, and the news that he’s joined the Chicago Fire means he’s taken a coaching role like Josh Wolff (who is only 42. Don’t age shame).

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

And we’ll admit that “Chicago adds Jonathan Bornstein” gave us similar vibes, because, hey, didn’t this cat score an amazing, World Cup berth-clinching goal against Costa Rica at RFK in 2009? Yes! He was! I was there with my sister and a couple of buddies, and it was awesome.

Bornstein was, however, just 25 then and a member of Chivas USA (That was an MLS team, young bucks). Bob Bradley drafted him out of UCLA and turned him into a left back.

Now 34 and still a left back, Bornstein spent 2010-present outside of the United States. He’s played in Mexico for Queretaro, Tigres, and Atlante, as well as Israel last season with Maccabi Netanya. He won a Copa MX, a Supercopa MX, and an Apertura title while south of the border.

From Chicago-Fire.com:

“We began pursuing Jonathan back in January but, unfortunately, his insertion into the lineup made him too invaluable to his former club,” said Chicago Fire President and General Manager Nelson Rodrίguez. “In addition to providing a steady presence and competition on the field, we believe Jonathan will be an excellent mentor for our younger players.”

As a returning USMNT international, even no caps since 2011, Chicago had to send $50,000 to Columbus for the top spot in the allocation order.

Bornstein will hope to help Chicago turn around a miserable season which began with such promise. Chicago has been extremely unlucky this season, with a difference of minus-11.7 between expected goals and goals scored.

And I will continue to remember nearly throwing my beverage miles into the air from the upper deck at RFK. Thanks for the memories, Jonathan.