VIDEO: Loss at Chelsea allows Monk to assess Swansea’s progress

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Swansea has been one of the best stories of the young season, but during Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, that story took a turn, with the Blues handing the Swans their first loss of the season.

Despite the 4-2 result, Monk took a number of positives out of his team’s performance at the Premier League’s leaders. Lauding a first half-hour when he saw “some of the best [soccer Swansea’s] played this season,” Monk saw the loss as a measuring stick – a chance to see how his team compares to one of the title favorites.

“I talk to the boys a lot about game management, in terms of where we are as a group right now and how we’re trying to work right now,” Monk explained, post-game. “This is part of the process.

“The good thing is that when you play these type of teams — the top teams — is you kind of gauge where you’re at and what you need to work on. It highlights that a lot, which is great for us.”

What the result highlighted as the obvious: Swansea just isn’t on Chelsea’s level, right now.

“It just showed us the world class quality that they have,” Monk said. “The second half, it took its toll on us, a little bit. Their power and strength were just a little bit too much for us to handle. Although our effort and commitment was very much there until the very end, their quality just told, in the end.”

Monk’s full post-game comments cane be seen, above.

Galaxy’s DeLaGarza set to return Sunday against San Jose

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Ten days after the passing for his newborn son, AJ DeLaGarza will return to the field. According to today’s report on Major League Soccer’s website, the LA Galaxy defender will be available for the team’s game on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., against the San Jose Earthquakes.

DeLaGarza has missed the team’s last four games after the birth and passing of his son Luca, who was born with the congenital heart condition Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. After six days on life support, Luca passed away in preparation for surgery on Sept. 4.

According to the league’s website, AJ and his wife, Megan, have spent the past week in their native Maryland, where they put Luca to rest and grieved with family. The child was the couple’s first.

DeLaGarza, a highly respected sixth-year player, has made 22 league appearances this season (21 starts). Since coming out of Maryland in 2009, the Guam international has made 149 appearances for the Galaxy, scoring two goals while winning two MLS Cups.

Without DeLaGarza, the Galaxy went 3-0-1, though over the last two games, Bruce Arena’s team has been forced to utilize a three-man defense, with injuries at fullback preventing LA from playing its normal 4-4-2 formation.

With the return of one of its core pieces, the defense can return to its normal alignment as the Galaxy try to track down first place Seattle in the Western Conference.

VIDEO: Sean Dyche supportive of Scott Arfield after Burnley’s missed chance at Crystal Palace

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One penalty kick. That’s how close Sean Dyche was to his first Premier League victory. Had Scott Arfield converted in the 85th minute, he and his team would be into the win column, with Burnley earning its first victory since returning to the Premier League.

Instead, the Clarets’ boss was left answering questions about the close call.

“Scott was brave enough to take it. You have to be brave enough to score or miss it, and he was brave enough to take it,” Dyche said after his team’s 0-0 at Crystal Palace. “I’ve got no problem with that whatsoever.”

But what of the opportunity? Instead of being on four points through four rounds and sitting mid-table, Burnley’s record is 0-2-2. With just over one-tenth of the season gone, Dyche’s team is in 18th place.

“I’ve got friends in the Premier League, been there a number of years, and they say a point away from home and a clean sheet, you always take that,” Dyche explained. “We worked very hard today for it. You can see the believe is growing in the players.”

Dyche’s full comments from Selhurst Park can be seen, above.


MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 2-2 New York Red Bulls

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One game, 100 words (or less): Delayed over an hour by a soggy field, Philadelphia and New York saw a chance-free first half blown open when Ethan White pulled down Peguy Luyindula in the penalty area. The conversion sparked a minor explosion, with goals from Thierry Henry and Pedro Ribeiro turning a sleepy affair into a 2-1 game at intermission.

As Jim Curtin began putting his regulars on the field, the Union were able to generate point blank chances for Ribeiro and Maurice Edu. While big stops from Jamison Olave and Luis Robles preserved New York’s lead, a stoppage time whistle from Allen Chapman allowed Sebastian Le Toux to equalize from the spot.

Coming back from two one-goal deficits, a Philadelphia team already looking toward Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final was able to preserve a point at home. New York missed its chance to take full points from a half-strength Union lineup.


Philadelphia: Ribeiro 41′, Le Toux 92′
New York: Luyindula 36′, Henry 40′

Three moments that mattered:

-64′ – The big pause – When Philadelphia announced a lineup that had five changes from the team that won in Toronto a week ago, U.S. Open Cup prep looked like the big pre-match story. Instead, it was the condition of PPL Park’s field, deemed too waterlogged to allowed for the game’s 3:21 p.m. ET kickoff. Just over an hour later, after the grounds crew had alleviated most of the puddles, the game finally began, albeit with areas of the pitch nearly stopping the ball.

36′ – Floodgates open – Allen Chapman’s 35th minute call on White was a generous one, but even though the foul is often overlooked, the official felt White’s infringement was enough to justify the whistle. Over the next five minutes, after Luyindula’s conversion, Henry’s 19-yard one-timer, and Ribeiro’s close range poke, the dour game that reached the half’s last 10 minutes scoreless had given us three goals. Puddles or not, this game was going to have goals.

90+1′ -One whistle shall save them – New York was minutes from seeing out its victory when a ball over the top, between Robles and defender Ibrahim Sekagya, became a chance for Ribeiro’s second. Yet as the Union forward went to strike his shot from seven yards out, Sekagya made a stab for the ball, either making contact with Ribeiro or blocking the potential equalizer. From Chapman’s point of view, it was the former, allowing Le Toux’s conversion into the left of goal to preserve a point for the Union.


Philadelphia: MacMath; Gaddis, White, Edu, Fabinho; Okugo, Carroll (Nogueira 70′); Cruz (Le Toux 48′), Fred (Maidana 61′), Wenger, Ribeiro
New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Armando; Alexander, McCarty; Sam, Luyindula, Henry (Bover 55′); Cahill (Sene 75′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Silverware is important – Obviously, but today gave us a measure of that perspective. From one point of view, today’s game was a playoff six-pointer, with New York and Philadelphia straddling theline at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. From another (apparently, Jim Curtin’s) point of view, it was just the game before a cup final.

2. Cahill up top – A hamstring ailment meant Bradley Wright-Phillips wasn’t in Mike Petke’s 18, leaving Tim Cahill to start up top in New York’s new 4-2-3-1 – a similar role to how he’s employed for Australia. For New York, however, he’s always been better in a deeper role, meaning Luyindula’s time may be at stake when the team’s at full strength. On Saturday, Cahill was largely a non-factor, though some moments of excitement on the counter brought him back into the game.

3. Olave stepping up – The veteran center back earned plaudits for his performance last week against Sporting, but he was even more active today. Although he (along with Chris Duvall) played a part on a Maurice Edu chance that nearly evened the match, Olave’s more noteworthy contributions were ranging back toward his goal, using his speed to deny chances as Philadelphia tried to play over the New York defense. At the right time, the former Best XI defender is recapturing his 2013 form, with his second half stop on Ribeiro at the edge of his six-yard box helping New York preserve its result.

Where this leaves them:

  • On 34 points, Philadelphia inches into fifth place, though a Columbus result at Houston means the Union will relinquish that spot.
  • Though New York had a chance to move into third (albeit temporarily), the Red Bulls are up to 38 points, guaranteeing they’ll stay in the East’s top five through the weekend.

VIDEO: Pellegrini happy with Manchester City’s point in North London

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When Manchester City dropped points to Stoke, manager Manuel Pellegrini mitigated his disappointment with perspective. The same principles applied today. Though the Citizens took the lead at Arsenal, they also were in a position to drop points. Ultimately, and thanks in part to Martin Demichelis’s late goal, Pellegrini could see City’s results as a good one, the defending champions having earned a 2-2 in North London.

As Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger implied in his post-match interview, these were ultimately points dropped by the Gunners. Even then, it’s very early in the season – too early to read too much into more result. Whatever setbacks were dealt at the Emirates, both teams have 34 games to overcome them.

Pellegrini’s full post-match interview is above.