Carles Gil

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MLS Wrap: Atlanta United, Revolution thrash opponents

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It was a night of routs in MLS as both Atlanta United and the New England Revolution came away as huge winners.

Atlanta United thrashed ten-man Houston Dynamo, 5-0, while the Revs took out the Vancouver Whitecaps, 4-0. Toronto FC outlasted the New York Red Bulls with a 3-1 victory at home, while Columbus earned a point thanks to a 90th minute goal.

Here’s a rundown of today’s action, and what we learned from it.


Atlanta United 5-0 Houston Dynamo

Atlanta United dominated the match on Wednesday, but they got an assist from a poor decision from Alberth Elis. The Honduran forward, while arguing with the referee after being shown a yellow card, appeared to bump into the referee. Immediately, the referee reached into his back pocket and pulled out a red card, just six minutes into the match.

That really put Houston on the back foot and led to relentless pressure from Atlanta. First it was Darlington Nagbe and Brandon Vasquez scoring in the box. Then Josef Martinez scored a brace before Julian Gressel, who’s cross set up the opener, put the finishing touches on the match.

It was a rare bright spot for Atlanta United fans in what’s been an up and down season. However, it seems that Frank De Boer has figured this team out, and is starting to get some strong results.


New England Revolution 4-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

What once seemed impossible – the Revolution making the playoffs in 2019 – now seems like it could happen.

Bruce Arena’s Midas touch continued on Wednesday as the Revolution routed the Whitecaps, 4-0. Revs new signing Gustavo Bou opened the scoring, but it was Carles Gill, Teal Bunburry and Diego Fagundez who all found the scoresheet.

Since Arena’s arrival in New England, the Revolution has lost just once. The club’s current form is what’s keeping them alive in the playoff picture.

Other MLS scores

Toronto FC 3-1 New York Red Bulls

Chicago Fire 2-2 New York Red Bulls

Arena’s Revs blow two-goal lead, split points with DCU (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): The good news for D.C. United: they came back from 2-0 down to rescue a point in Friday’s 2-2 draw with New England Revolution, even if that’s a mostly disappointing home result. The bad news: a draw does them very little good, as it’s the sixth time they’ve split the points in their last nine games. Ben Olsen’s side now has just one win from its last nine games. The gap between the Red and Black, who currently sit second in the Eastern Conference, and first-place Philadelphia Union is four points. The good news for the Revs: for much of the first half, they were dominant and raced out to a 2-0 lead; Bruce Arena’s pragmatic tactics are producing results. The bad news: after going up 2-0, they let United back into the game much too easily, and that’s before Wilfried Zahibo’s boneheaded red card just after the hour mark. The point takes them above Toronto FC (for now) for the seventh and final playoff place in the East, but they should have taken so much more from this game.

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Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Teal Bunbury wins the foot race, beats Hamid early — Route 1 soccer is hardly easy on the eyes, but it’s still effective when applied properly.

32′ — Carles Gil slots home the rebound for 2-0 — Again, Route 1 soccer starts it for the Revs, and though Bill Hamid makes a nice save on the initial chance, there’s no one home on the follow-up.

43′ — Jara gets free at the back post to halve the deficit — Paul Arriola’s breakout 2019 campaign (on the back of an equally strong 2018) rumbles on, as it was his cross to the back post that found Leo Jara for a tough, but manageable, finish to make it 2-1.

63′ — Zahibo picks up a second yellow — On the road, lead already cut in half, increasingly under pressure… not hardly an ideal time to get sent off and leave your team with just 10 men, but that didn’t stop Zahibo from making a needless, poorly timed challenge at midfield and picking up his second yellow of the game.

86′ — DCU makes the most of their advantage, Amarikwa equalizes — Lo and behold, the Revs couldn’t withstand that much pressure, for that long, down a man. Wayne Rooney‘s free kick landed in the heart of no man’s land and Quincy Amarikwa made the most of his chance.

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Man of the match: Carles Gil

Goalscorers: Bunbury (4′), Gil (32′), Jara (43′)

Toronto FC trades Hamilton for Mullins, Revs sign Bou as DP

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A pair of moves took place on Wednesday in Major League Soccer, with immediate impact likely on both ends.

First, the New England Revolution officially announced the signing of Argentinian striker Gustavo Bou on a Designated Player contract, occupying New England’s second DP slot next to Carles Gil. According to Goal.com reporter Ives Galarcep, Bou cost somewhere around $6-7 million, while the Boston Globe’s Frank Dell’Apa reports that number rises to $12 million guaranteed cost when factoring in his salary, with the potential to rise as high as $16 million.

Bou, a 29-year-old attacker who has played for Argentinian clubs River Plate and Racing Club before most recently arriving from Liga MX side Club Tijuana, comes to New England in good form. He blitzed the most recent Liga MX Clausura, scoring eight goals in 14 matches, finishing with five goals in his last four regular-season matches before grabbing two in his two playoff appearances.

“Gustavo is a versatile, creative forward with a proven history of success who will bring a high level of experience and leadership to the roster,” Revolution head coach Bruce Arena said in the official club release. “We have followed him for a number of years and have confidence he will be an integral part of our success this year and moving forward. We look forward to welcoming him to New England.”

Aside from the big-money Revs signing, there was a significant trade that took place Wednesday, although not yet official. According to The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal, Toronto FC sent 23-year-old academy product Jordan Hamilton to the Columbus Crew in exchange for journeyman striker Patrick Mullins. The deal is significant as Hamilton, a Canadian international, had spent his entire career with Toronto, never truly gaining a consistent foothold in the starting lineup. He is acquired by former Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko who now serves as Columbus Crew president.

With Hamilton leaving his boyhood club with four goals in 14 appearances – including seven starts – this season, the 27-year-old Mullins heads in the opposite direction to join his fifth MLS club. He has yet to score in nine appearances this season – seven of those off the bench – but comes in as an experienced bench option to back up injury-prone Jozy Altidore.

MLS Wrap: What We Learned

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It was another busy evening of MLS action on Saturday. There were upsets,

Here’s a look back at what we learned from Week 17

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


Earthquakes continue hot form in rout of Galaxy

There weren’t any last minute heroics needed on Saturday evening in the first edition of the Cali Classico.

The San Jose Earthquakes routed the LA Galaxy, 3-0, in front of nearly 51,000 fans at Stanford Stadium in a battle of not only Argentine managers but also more strategic Designated Players v. the Galactico method. It was the Earthquakes fourth win in their last six MLS games, with the other two being draws as the Earthquakes are suddenly in playoff contention.

It took the ‘Quakes some time to get used to Matias Almeyda’s methods, but it’s paying dividends. Vako, who scored a brace on Wednesday in a win over the Houston Dynamo, bagged the first of the night against the Galaxy after a planned free kick routine bounced back to him at the top of the box. Vako’s curling effort in the 11th minute proved to be the difference in the match.

In the final ten minutes, Shea Salinas fired a cracking goal that bounced off the far post and in, while Tommy Thompson dribbled past three Galaxy defenders before his shot took a wicked deflection, leaving David Bingham helpless in goal.

Of course, the Earthquakes wouldn’t have won without their goalkeeper. Daniel Vega made a couple of world-class saves, one on a dipping, curling effort from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another from Fabian Alvarez. The Galaxy controlled the match, especially in the second half, but thanks to last-ditch defending from the Earthquakes and saves by Vega, they didn’t score.

To add insult to injury, Sebastian Lletget, who continues to battle muscle injuries this season, suffered a right thigh injury, per the club, and was subbed off at halftime.


More drama in Atlanta? 

Thanks to recent acquisition Justin Meram, Atlanta United bounced back from a disappointing defeat at Toronto FC to knock off the Montreal Impact, 2-1. However, the game is partially overshadowed by the substitution of Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez.

The most expensive transfer in MLS history has found life difficult playing for a different coach than Martinez probably expected when he agreed to come to the U.S. (Frank De Boer instead of Gerardo “Tata” Martino) and the MLS style is different than what Martinez experienced in Argentina.

On Saturday, Martinez was subbed off in the 68th minute, well before Meram scored the winner and after the Impact had leveled the score in the 50th minute. Martinez had initially set up Meram’s first goal, but according to de Boer, Martinez wasn’t at his best as the game wore on.

“In the beginning,there was nothing wrong,” de Boer said after the match. “I think he played quite well. He was setting up the first goal, cutting inside, playing it to Justin (Meram), moves through to make the space for Justin to come inside, so I have no problem with that. But in the second half, especially around the 60th to 65th minute,he was making too many mistakes and then it’s a danger to the team in that moment. Then it is my choice to make a decision,and overall against Toronto, I think he played one of his best games. It was short notice that he’d play again and maybe he was tired, but he has to make those plays.”

Martinez spurned European offers to come to the U.S., but one may wonder if he’s regretting that now, midway through his first season here. Of course, this could just be a blip as well. Martinez went the full 90 and could have saved a point with a penalty kick in the eighth minute of stoppage time, but he failed to score.


Are the Revolution turning it around? 

Bruce Arena’s first match on the sideline came in a surprise 2-1 win on the road at his former home, the LA Galaxy. Since then, the New England Revolution has only lost once, which came in the U.S. Open Cup, without a full-strength squad.

In MLS play though, the team is unbeaten under Arena, and the Revolution picked up yet another win on Saturday, as Teal Bunbury’s second half stoppage time goal was the winner in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo.

Everyone seems to be enjoying a new lease on their soccer lives. Carles Gil looks like the dangerous Designated Player he was supposed to be, Justin Rennicks made his first MLS start and Andrew Ferrell looks like a lock-down defender yet again. Arena also went with Matt Turner in goal instead of Cody Cropper, who had been preferred under former coach Brad Friedel.

Interestingly, Arena credited a tactical switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 as the reason the Revolution came back from being a goal down at halftime.

“I think I probably screwed them up in the first half a little bit,” Arena said. “I don’t think that formation they were
comfortable enough in, and not bad, as much as it was more favorable for Houston to play against. We
wanted to see [Justin] Rennicks up top with [Juan Fernando] Caicedo. So, we got that opportunity. I think
the second half, switching our formation a little bit helped. But at the end of the day, it’s still 11 against 11.
I don’t get entirely consumed with the discussion of formations. Of course, if the players know how to
move and work together, any formation you play can work.”

With the win, the Revs sit just three points outside of the playoffs. We’re not saying that they can win the whole thing, but a late-season surge to make the playoffs? We’ve seen weirder things happen.

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

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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.