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Liga MX roundup: Jesus Corona hands Cruz Azul untraditional win with last-second penalty save (video)

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Liga MX’s last set of games for the foreseeable future took place on Sunday, with Atlas, Santos and Cruz Azul taking home three points. There’s no timeline on Mexico’s top-flight’s suspension due to the coronavirus, but its last impression was one worth witnessing. Here’s a closer look into some of Sunday’s closed-door action.

Club America 0-1 Cruz Azul

It’s nearly impossible to think of a time in which Cruz Azul didn’t get the short end of the stick against America, specifically with Jesus Corona in goal. There’s a reason why there’s a verb based around La Maquina’s miseries (most of which have come at inopportune times with Corona between the sticks): cruzazulear. For a second, it seemed like history was going to repeat itself on Sunday in front of an uninhabited Estadio Azteca.

Then, Corona delivered this:

In a night in which Guillermo Ochoa made case after case that he was the better goalkeeper between the two, 39-year-old Corona delivered one of his best acts against the rivals, blocking Emanuel Aguilera’s shot from the spot seconds before time expired.
The first half was all blue, as La Maquina heavily emphasized going forward, resulting in a handful of chances at goal that were denied by Ochoa. Santiago Gimenez, less than a minute into the game, saw his driving cross travel inches from America’s goal.
America, inspired by Ochoa’s heroics, recouped their shape in the second half, dominating possession and the tempo of the game. Even so, the league’s leading scorer, Jonathan Rodriguez, was able to find room inside the box and deliver a trademark strike past America’s No. 6, increasing his goal count to nine.
Cruz Azul were the superior team, and the scoreboard was finally showing it.
But in a way, Corona’s save gave Roberto Siboldi’s side – once again leaders of the league with 22 points – perhaps their biggest win of the season, and proved that things don’t always go bad for Cruz Azul.
Elsewhere in Liga MX
Toluca 2-3 Atlas
Santos Laguna 2-1 Necaxa

Kreis names USYNT 2020 Olympic qualifying roster

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U.S. youth national team head coach Jason Kreis has released his roster for the upcoming Olympic qualification, and while there are some big-name absentees, there is also plenty of exciting young talent ready to take the field in the hopes of seeing the United States reach the main event for the first time since 2008.

Kreis was forced to work around a significant number of hurdles while constructing his roster, with a number of top American young talent abroad in Europe and unavailable, while some domestic clubs blocked selection as well. Clubs are not required to release players for youth international tournaments, and some took advantage of that.

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic was never going to be released by Chelsea and is injured to boot, as is RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams. Schalke did not make regular starter Weston McKennie available, while Werder Bremen has Josh Sargent playing a role as the backup striker. Borussia Dortmund also did not make 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna available for selection, with the young attacker earning a valuable substitute role for the club in both league and European play. Sergino Dest is just 19 but playing a key role for Ajax having started each of the last six Eredivisie games.

PSV Eindhoven bucked the European trend and allowed both Richie Ledezma and Chris Gloster to take part, although neither plays a role for the senior squad. The same is said for Wolfsburg’s Ulysses Llanez, while Ajax youth player Alex Mendez is not part of the squad.

Domestically, Atlanta United blocked Miles Robinson and Brooks Lennon from selection, leaving a hole in defense. FC Dallas came through and allowed rising star Paxton Pomykal to be selected alongside teammates Reggie Cannon and Jesus Ferreira. The San Jose Earthquakes will allow Jackson Yueill to take part, while the Philadelphia Union released Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie and the Colorado Rapids conceded to Jonathan Lewis.

The United States begins group stage play on March 20, drawn alongside Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The top two from the group advance to the knockout phase where teams just have to win a semifinal game to qualify for the Olympics. The final is scheduled for April 1.

“With a lot of games in a short amount of time, we will need the contributions of all 20 players on this roster to achieve our ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo,” Kreis said in the official team release. “This is our sixth time together with this U-23 group, so I think we have a real firm understanding of how we want to play and who we want to be.”

GK: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake).
 
DEF: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien).
MID: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes).
FWD: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas).

Mexicans Abroad: Pizarro, Pulido show off goalscoring talents in MLS

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During the winter, there was an unprecedented influx of Mexican talent to MLS. Two weeks into the new season, a couple of them are already making recognizable differences for their respective teams.

The Liga MX 2019 Apertura scoring winner, Alan Pulido doesn’t lack any knowledge as it pertains to scoring goals. The 29-year-old showcased exactly that against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, introducing himself to the Blue Hell with a goal and assist. That’s two goals in two games for the former Chivas striker.

Rodolfo Pizarro, too, wrote his name in Week 2’s stats sheet, scoring Inter Miami’s first-ever MLS goal in the nation’s capital.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in Spain, Andres Guardado put together a laudable performance against Real Madrid. Real Betis shocked Zinedine Zidane’s men 2-1 on Sunday.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Jimenez started and played all 90 minutes in Wolves’ 0-0 draw against Brighton. The forward registered a lone shot on target.

La Liga

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid —  After not appearing on Atletico’s bench in February, Herrera was called up by Diego Simeone for Los Colchoneros’ draw against Sevilla. Herrera was left on the bench, however.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado played all 90 minutes against Real Madrid on Sunday. In addition, the midfielder contributed an assist, but saw a yellow card in the 74th minute.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old did not make the bench in Betis’ win on Sunday.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Despite drawing a yellow card, Araujo registered eight clearances, one blocked shot, four interception and two tackles throughout 90 minutes in Celta’s 0-0 draw.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano and Napoli were inactive this weekend.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played 90 minutes in Porto’s 1-1 draw with Rio Ave.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez was left on the bench in PSV’s 1-0 win over Groningen on Sunday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez featured for the final eight minutes of Ajax’s win on Saturday. 

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea played 90 minutes in Zulte’s 7-0 loss to Anderlecht on Saturday.

Major League Soccer

Carlos Vela, LAFC – LAFC and Vela host the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LA Galaxy – In his first MLS regular season game at Dignity Health Sports Park, Chicharito went missing – both on and off the field. The 31-year-old failed to registered a shot on goal, and after Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to the Whitecaps, was a no-show at the team’s press conference. A very slow start for MLS blockbuster signing.

Jonathan dos Santos, LA Galaxy – Recently back from injury, Galaxy’s captain was limited to 45 minutes on the field.

Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami – It took two, whole minutes for Pizarro to score Miami’s first-ever MLS goal. The 26-year-old followed up with a solid 88 minutes against D.C. United, who took all three points when the final whistle blew.

Alan Pulido, Sporting Kansas City – Pulido played 90 minutes and scored a goal in SKC’s 4-0 trouncing of the Houston Dynamo.

Oswaldo Alanis, San Jose Earthquakes – Alanis played all 90 minutes in the Earthquakes’ shambolic 5-2 loss to Minnesota United on Saturday night. Not the best night for the defender, who was coming off a stellar debut.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Ulises Davila, Wellington Phoenix – Davila played all 90 minutes and provided and assist in Phoenix’s 3-1 win over Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Marco Fabian, Al-Sadd – Fabian played in Al-Sadd’s 1-0 loss to Al Rayyan.

Hector Moreno, Al-Gharafa – Moreno played all 90 minutes and was awarded a yellow card in Al-Gharafa’s win on Thursday.

Sloppy Liverpool edge past Bournemouth

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Liverpool beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s men recovered from an early setback to secure another victory and bounce back from a tough week.

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After losing at Watford last weekend to see their hopes of an unbeaten season end, Klopp’s side were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea in midweek and they fell behind early on to Callum Wilson’s controversial goal. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both scored in quick succession in the first half to put Liverpool ahead and the rest of the game was a fairly tight encounter as Bournemouth kept battling and almost levelled late on.

Liverpool have now won 22-straight top-flight games at home, setting a new club and top-flight record, and they are 55 Premier League games unbeaten at home, stretching back to April 2017.

With the win they now need just three more victories from to secure their first-ever Premier League title and are 25 points clear atop the table. Bournemouth remain in the relegation zone on 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. VAR sets the precedent: There’s no doubt Callum Wilson pushed Joe Gomez in the build-up to Bournemouth’s early goal but the contact looked pretty natural and the referee waved play on. VAR intervened to check the call but didn’t think it was a clear and obvious error and that set the precedent for the rest of the game. Similar tussles were not called as fouls and whatever you think about Wilson not being penalized, there was consistency in the decisions. In the end it didn’t matter but Wilson’s goal was certainly controversial.

2. Ruthless Liverpool three wins away: It is fair to say Liverpool is limping over the line in their quest to win a first league title in 30 years. A lackluster display mimicked the atmosphere at Anfield as there as an air of expectancy now as everybody just wants to get the job done. Mane and Salah finished off their big chances and even though Liverpool were a little sloppy defensively, they ground out another one-goal win, their 14th of an amazing season.

3. Bournemouth cause their own problems: The Cherries did not play badly at all and had chances late on to grab a point at Anfield. It wouldn’t have been undeserved. Eddie Howe‘s side created their own problems on Saturday as Jack Simpson and Jefferson Lerma gave the ball away in the first half and they were punished. If Bournemouth keep playing like this they will drag themselves out of the relegation zone but the big problem is, they have a very tough schedule remaining.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah – A superb goal and wonderful trickery all game long, Salah stepped it up when Liverpool needed it. The Egyptian King has now scored 20 goals in all competitions in all three of his seasons as a Liverpool player. A special mention to Nathan Ake too, who was superb for Bournemouth.


Bournemouth got off to a perfect start as they stunned Anfield with an early goal. Wilson was involved in a tussle with Joe Gomez and play continued with Bournemouth attacking down the right and Jefferson Lerma crossed for Wilson to tap home.

VAR was used but it was deemed that Wilson’s push on Gomez wasn’t a clear and obvious error as Bournemouth were 1-0 up. Soon after they were almost 2-0 up as Nathan Ake towered above a crowd of players from a corner and his superb header was fortuitously pushed onto the bar by Adrian.

Liverpool’s first big chance of the game then arrived as Trent Alexander-Arnold played in Roberto Firmino and his powerful effort was well-saved by Aaron Ramsdale who stood tall. Soon after the game turned on its head.

Jack Simpson, who had come on to replace the injured Steve Cook moments earlier, was caught in possession and Salah kept his composure to equalize with a cheeky finish. Moments later Mane put Liverpool 2-1 up as Virgil Van Dijk found the Senegalese forward who finished calmly as Jurgen Klopp went wild on the sidelines.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Bournemouth hung in there in the second half and almost levelled things up as Ryan Fraser got in over the top and lobbed the ball over Adrian but James Milner appeared from nowhere to hook the ball off the line superbly.

Adrian continued to look uncertain in goal as Bournemouth pushed for an equalizer, while at the other end Virgil van Dijk’s header was saved well by Ramsdale.

Mane then curled an audacious effort off the crossbar late on as Liverpool aimed to see out the game in style, with Roberto Firmino also firing an effort over the bar. Ake almost scored a late winner but was flagged offside as Liverpool held on with minimum fuss, in the end.

Canadian winger David linked with host of top European clubs

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Jonathan David
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Is Gent winger Jonathan David the next North American headed for a top five European league?

The Canadian playmaker is currently leading the Belgian First Division in goals, and his agent is saying this summer means the next step for the 20-year-old.

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David has 18 goals and eight assists in league play for Gent, adding five goals and two helpers in Europa League play.

Football.London says that David prefers a move to Bayern Munich, but this his agent prefers an interim club over a leap to a UCL club like the Bavarian side or Arsenal.

David has 11 goals in 12 caps for Canada, providing the Canucks with a flyer on the other side of Alphonso Davies (who’s with that aforementioned Bayern side, if you haven’t heard).

The gossip pages have also linked him with Lazio, Porto, Ajax, Lyon, Everton, and Leicester City.

Where’s the best spot for him? Well, it depends on how badly the biggest clubs want him, but a “second-tier” slot that still brings UEL would be dynamite for his growth.