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A-League to continue behind closed doors, condensed season

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Football Federation Australia chairman James Johnson confirmed that the A-League season and W-League final will be played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two of 11 A-League clubs are currently in a 14-day isolation, as six rounds of the 2019-20 regular season have yet to be played.

“This is an unprecedented time and extremely complex for the sport and society at large,” Johnson said in a press conference on Monday (Australia time).

Following a game in New Zealand, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory, now back in Australian soil, are in self-isolation for the next 14 days. Neither team will be able to train during the mandatory quarantine period. The FFA confirmed that games involving both sides in Round 24 and 25 will be rescheduled for a later time.

“The decision to play the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, and the Westfield W-League 2020 Grand Final behind closed doors was made in consultation with the clubs and in accordance with the latest Federal Government advice,” Johnson added.

“The health and safety of all members of the football community, including players, coaches, referees, volunteers, administrators and fans continues to be of paramount importance. We will continue to work with the Government and seek advice as the situation changes.”

Despite only having six rounds left (30 games) in the season, the FFA decided against suspending the league all together. Instead, the six remaining regular season rounds will be packed into a three or four week period.

“We have got 30 matches left, six competition rounds to go, it is our intent to compress the rest of that season,” FFA’s head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said. “We have spoken to the clubs. And we’re now speaking to the venues to see whether or not it’s possible for us to complete those six rounds in three to four weeks.

“We will also have all our games behind closed doors,” he added.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

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.

Mexicans Abroad

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As MLS-based players finish up their preseason, a hand full of El Tri players in Europe continue to make a big impact.

Raul Jimenez scored again for Wolves, his 12th of the Premier League season, leaving him just one goal shy of his record set last year. Last year it took him 38 games to score 13 goals. So far, he’s scored 12 goals in 27 games. Elsewhere, Andres Guardado was back for Betis, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona continues to start for Porto, and Nestor Araujo put in another terrific performance for Celta Vigo.

Meanwhile, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Rodolfo Pizarro, and Alan Pulido all one week away from the start of the MLS season.

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, played 72 minutes, and scored the final goal in a 3-0 rout of Norwich City. He also picked up a first half yellow card.

La Liga

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid —  Herrera was not in the squad for the second straight week as Atletico Madrid defeated Villarreal, 3-1.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado started and played 87 minutes in Betis’ wild 3-3 draw with Mallorca.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old is out after undergoing appendicitis surgery.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo secured another huge result for his club as ten-man Celta Vigo beat Mexican coach Javier Aguirre and Leganes. With the win and Araujo’s 90-minute performance, Celta is now out of the relegation zone.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano, Napoli’s most expensive player in team history, made the bench but did not see action in Napoli’s 2-1 win over Brescia. The 24-year-old and the Italian manager seem to be on different pages, and the situation doesn’t appear to be getting better with time. It might be time to panic for Lozano’s development in Italy.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played the full 90 minutes in Porto’s 1-0 win over Portimonense on Sunday.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez entered the match in the first half after teammate Jorrit Hendrix was injured. Gutierrez finished with 56 minutes in PSV’s 2-1 win at Vitesse

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez was back on the bench and didn’t appear in Ajax’s 1-0 defeat to Heracles

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea made the bench but did not appear in Zulte’s 1-1 draw on Saturday with Oostende.

Major League Soccer

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LA Galaxy – In the Galaxy’s final preseason showdown, Chicharito Hernandez provided the assist for Sacha Kljestan’s lone goal of the match as the LA Galaxy drew 1-1 with the Chicago Fire. The Galaxy open the MLS season against Houston Dynamo on February 29.

Carlos Vela, LAFC – Vela and LAFC weren’t in action this weekend as the club were recovering from a 2-0 defeat in CONCACAF Champions League at Club Leon.

Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami – Pizarro was officially announced as a Designated Player signing for Inter Miami last week, but it doesn’t appear he played (he at least didn’t start) in Inter Miami’s 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Alan Pulido, Sporting Kansas City – Pulido played 76 minutes in Sporting KC’s final preseason match of the year, helping contribute to a goal scored by Gadi Kinda.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Ulises Davila, Wellington Phoenix – Davila played all 90 minutes in Phoenix’s 2-0 victory over Western United. Davila recorded an assist on the first goal and sent Wellington into a tie for fourth place.

Marco Fabian, Al-Sadd – Fabian played all 90 minutes for Al-Sadd in it’s 2-2 draw at Umm Salal

Hector Moreno, Al-Gharafa – Moreno and Al-Gharafa were inactive this weekend.

Mexicans Abroad: Rodolfo Pizarro’s goalscoring start headlines handful of debuts

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A handful of Mexicans abroad debuted with their respective clubs over the weekend, but none were at par with Rodolfo Pizarro’s.

The 26-year-old attacking midfielder scored on his fourth touch as an Inter Miami player, two minutes after coming off the bench. Pizarro’s right-footed strike proved to be historic, as it became the first official goal in club history.

Also on Saturday, in different regions of the United States, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Alan Pulido, respectively, made their debuts. Chicharito played 78 minutes in Los Angeles Galaxy’s 2-1 preseason loss to Toronto FC, while Pulido logged 61 minutes in Sporting Kansas City’s scoreless bout.

Qatar’s new marquee star, Marco Fabian, debuted in Al-Sadd’s hard-earned cup win.

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 Leicester City. The forward registered four shots off target and one blocked.

La Liga

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid —  Herrera was not called up by Diego Simeone for Atletico Madrid’s draw against Valencia on Friday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado dressed but didn’t take the field on Sunday.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old was is out after undergoing appendicitis surgery.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo played a vital part in La Liga’s most surprising outcome of the matchweek – Celta’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid. The defender recorded eight clearances, one interceptions and two tackles throughout the 90 minutes.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano, Napoli’s most expensive player in team history, was not called up by Gennaro Gattuso on Sunday. The 24-year-old and the Italian manager seem to be on different pages, and the situation doesn’t appear to be getting better with time. It might be time to panic for Lozano’s development in Italy.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played 84 minutes in Porto’s 2-1 victory over Vitoria, which was marred by racist abuse towards Moussa Marega by Vitoria supporters.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez played the final five minutes of PSV’s 3-0 thumping of AOD Den Haag.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — After several weeks of little activity, Alvarez seems to be making his way back into Ajax’s starting lineup. On Sunday, the Mexican defender played his second set of 90 minutes in four days.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea played 76 minutes in Zulte’s 2-1 loss on Sunday.

Major League Soccer

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LA Galaxy – In front of a semi-full Dignity Sports Park, Chicharito made his Los Angeles Galaxy debut. The storied forward, however, failed to score despite seeing a decent amount of chances. Galaxy open the MLS season against Houston Dynamo on February 29.

Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami – It took two minutes for an Rodolfo Pizarro to score on his unofficial Inter Miami debut. Ironically, the brand-new MLS franchise has yet to announce the signing of the 26-year-old from Monterrey.

Alan Pulido, Sporting Kansas City – Pulido played 61 minutes in SKC’s scoreless, preseason draw against Real Salt Lake.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Ulises Davila, Wellington Phoenix – Davila played all 90 minutes in Phoenix’s 1-0 victory over Melbourne City. The attacker also managed to pick up a yellow card throughout the match.

Marco Fabian, Al-Sadd – Fabian debuted for Xavi’s Al-Sadd on Saturday, playing all 120 minutes in his team’s win via penalties.

Hector Moreno, Al-Gharafa – Moreno and Al-Gharafa were inactive this weekend.

Mexicans Abroad: Tecatito draws eyes in flashy performance against Benfica

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He didn’t score, nor did he assist, but Jesus “Tecatito” Corona skills captivated the eyes of many over the weekend.

The skillful 27-year-old Porto winger pulled off his best imitation of Neymar on Saturday, toying Benfica’s Rafa Silva with his fancy footwork. Tecatito wound up playing all 90 minutes, but failed to register a goal or assists against the rivals.

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 and Wolves were inactive this weekend but return to action on Friday as they host Leicester City.

La Liga

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Herrera was not called up by Atletico, who won 1-0 over Granada on Saturday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado, who is injured, did not feature for Real Betis on Sunday against Barcelona. 

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old was not called up by Betis on Sunday.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and played 90 minutes in Celta’s 2-1 win over Sevilla on Sunday. The defender recorded two clearances, one blocked shot and one tackle.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  After a three-game absence, Lozano featured for Gennaro Gattuso’s side, recording 14 minutes of playing time in Napoli’s 3-2 loss to Lecce on Sunday. Chucky registered one shot on target.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played all 90 minutes in Porto’s 3-2 victory over Benfica on Saturday. During the match, he did this:

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez was left on the bench in PSV’s 3-0 win over Willem II Tilburg on Saturday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Ajax’s match against FC Utrecht this weekend was postponed.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea and Zulte loss 4-0 to Charleroi on Saturday.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Ulises Davila, Wellington Phoenix – On Friday, Davila started and played all 90 minutes in Wellington’s 4-2 loss to Perth Glory.