MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 1-2 Columbus Crew SC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less more): New York City FC’s struggles in their debut season of Major League Soccer have been well-documented thus far, and on Saturday it got a little bit worse for Jason Kreis’ men, as the expansion side dropped a 2-1 result at home against Columbus Crew SC, a side that had won just twice on the road all season ahead of Saturday’s game. For just the second time since Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo arrive last month, Kreis elected to start the duo together in central midfield, alongside Mix Diskerud. In practice, the results were just as bad as they looked on paper. Pirlo continued to struggle in his first full month of MLS action, as he was almost solely responsible for Crew SC’s opening goal in the 10th minute (video below). Lampard, who was coming back from a calf injury, was gassed after 60 minutes and subbed off. NYCFC’s playoff hopes look bleak, as they’re only level with sixth-place Montreal, who have four games in hand. As for Crew SC, they leapfrog New York Red Bulls for second place in the Eastern Conference.

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Three moments that mattered

10′ — Pirlo falls asleep, Higuain heads home — Earth to Pirlo. Your team needs you to do something when the other team has a dangerous set piece. On this occasion, Pirlo fell asleep — glass of red in hand — and let Federico Higuain — all 5-foot-8 of him — head home from a corner kick.

29′ — Jacobson hammers one home from distance to equalize — Andrew Jacobson got a hold of this one after Patrick Mullins chested the ball down and laid it off for NYCFC’s only non-Designated Player midfielder on the day. Heck of a strike for his first goal since June 22, 2013.

83′ — Meram cuts inside, rolls one past Saunders —  The winner, which seemed fairly inevitable from Crew SC, finally arrived in the 83rd minute, when Justin Meram cut inside from the left wing, avoid a pair of defenders and hit a slow roller past Josh Saunders and just inside the far post. In truth, a decent microcosm of NYCFC’s entire season.

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Man of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Higuain (10′), Jacobson (29′), Meram (83′)

Bob Bradley, Stabaek’s strong Norwegian Cup run ends in semis

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Bob Bradley and Stabaek’s surprising run through the Norwegian Cup has come up two games short after the club fell 1-0 to Molde in the semifinals.

The finish was the club’s best since 2008, when Stabaek won the tournament.

Still, Bradley’s been on a roll with the small club, pulling them up to ninth place with a 9W-3D-12L record and American midfielders Michael Stephens and Andrew Jacobson have played a big role in the success, and both played in the semifinal (Jacobson for 90, Stephens for 63).

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And the manager has also received the sort of compliments that American fans will find quite fitting given his gruff demeanor. From Grant Wahl’s piece:

“Bob is fantastic,” says Inge Andre Olsen, the Stabaek sporting director who hired Bradley. “I’m always saying he’s a mix between a Mafia boss and a Navy SEAL. He’s tough and he’s honest, but still he’s competitive and works really hard to achieve what he wants.”

A mix of a Mafia boss and a Navy SEAL? Is he going to be playing a guest role on Lillehammer next season?

New York City FC sign Jacobson from Dallas, linked with Alberto Aquilani


New York City FC are continuing to build their squad ahead of their entry to Major League Soccer in March 2015.

With four players already signed by director of football Claudio Reyna and head coach Jason Kreis so far, they now have a fifth player after acquiring FC Dallas midfielder Andrew Jacobson. The 28-year-old Californian joins Frank Lampard as New York’s second midfielder in club history.

[RELATED: Lampard signs for NYCFC]

Jacobson arrives in the Big Apple in exchange for NYCFC’s highest pick in the third round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. The versatile American has previously played for Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and FC Dallas in MLS and he will immediately go on loan to Bob Bradley’s Stabaek in the Norwegian Tippeligaen to prepare for his new time with NYCFC.

New York now have Designated Players Lampard and David Villa on board, while goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender Jeb Brovsky have also joined the new expansion franchise. Jacobson will add depth across midfield and is a player who has vast knowledge of the league after playing in the North American top flight for six seasons after a brief spell with French side Lorient.

So, Jacobson is definitely joining NYCFC. What about Italian international Alberto Aquilani?

Reports from Italian outlet Sportsmediaset reported over the weekend that Aquilani could be heading to New York City FC as his contract with Serie A side Fiorentina runs out in June 2015. That would slot in quite well with New York’s inaugural MLS season and the creative midfielder would be a real coup for Kreis’ side. Over the last two campaigns he has regained the form he’s shown in patches for Italy as the Roman has scored 14 goals in 71 games.

Aquilani, 30, has played for Roma, Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina in Italy, while also playing for Liverpool in an unsuccessful spell back in 2009.  His quality is undoubted and if NYCFC were in for him, he would likely arrive in a DP slot which would mean in Villa, Lampard and Aquilani they’d have three star players from three of the biggest soccer nations in Europe.

Right now the Aquilani talk is pure speculation but it will be interesting to see where Kreis and co. use their third and final DP slot between now and next May. At the moment they only have five players, but NYCFC could put out a pretty decent five-a-side team. It’s a start.

Red for Sapong sees FC Dallas make up 2-goal deficit late


With just two points in their last three matches, the season of FC Dallas hung in the balance as they found themselves down 2-0 at home to Sporting KC.

They’d conceded a penalty – converted by Kei Kamara – and then an own goal from Je-Vaughn Watson.

Then, striker CJ Sapong was sent off for kicking a soccer ball at a prone Andrew Jacobson – a bit of a soft sending off – and the hosts found their opening.

Dallas got two goals in the final three minutes from Jacobson and rookie Walker Zimmerman as they salvaged a point and kept themselves near the top of the Western Conference table, and remain undefeated at home on the season.

The red hurt, and many could argue it should only have been yellow as David Beckham saw years ago for kicking the ball at Sam Cronin. However, with the referee standing right there, it was still a massive lapse in judgement by Sapong.

A loss would have opened the door for both Real Salt Lake and Portland to pull away at the top, with Dallas set to take on the up and down Philadelphia Union.

It’s the first red card for Sapong in his MLS career, and a real chance goes wasted for Sporting KC who could have drawn with New York Red Bulls for second in the Eastern Conference. Instead, it’s Houston who hold Toronto to a scoreless draw to even up with KC on points.

It’s been a tough go for the for the 24-year-old striker this year. After 9 goals last year, Sapong has just one score this season in 13 matches – a garbage-time goal in their 4-0 thrashing of Chivas USA.

FC Dallas enjoying the luxury of personnel options

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Among the many rewards of starting the way FC Dallas has in 2013: the luxury of options.

Just 11 rounds into a 34-game season, Schellas Hyndman’s team has about half the points needed for a playoff spot. Clearly, the Red Stripes have bigger ambition – but that’s another story.

The point is, by gobbling up the points so early, as FC Dallas has, they have a cushion. And that creates the luxury of looking at matches without the burden of panic or desperation. More to the point here, it means having some additional options when it comes to personnel.

Last night in North Texas, Hyndman knew he could probably have pressed playmaker David Ferreira into action. At the very least, he could have put the team’s top creator, who is recovering from a hamstring strain, on the bench.

But he knew the temptation to go to Ferreira in certain situations – like the one that developed last night, for instance, as Dallas pressed United for the go-ahead goal that finally did come – might be too much to overcome. A long, hot Texas summer is ahead. And there are Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches to consider; that’s a tournament named after a man for which Hyndman has tremendous regard, the patriarch of the family that still owns the club, so FC Dallas likes to take it seriously.

Prudence (and that swell cushion) dictated that Ferreira not dress for Saturday’s match against down-and-out United.

This was more of prevention. … Instead of putting him out there, and possible hurting him,  because this is a game that I probably would have went to him, I think we we’re protecting him. And, again, it goes back to the depth of the team.

Central midfielder Andrew Jacobson and center back George John, who has been nothing short of outstanding all year, were in similar situations.

If things looked a little differently, Hyndman may have pressed any or all of them into service. As it is, the gap between first-place Dallas and second-place Real Salt Lake currently stands at seven points. A “comfortable” seven points, in fact.

So young London Woodbery was at center back in place of John, sitting alongside Matt Hedges, who remains quite young.

And then backup Je-Vaughn Watson could be entrusted to Jacobson’s spot, alongside Brazilian holding mid Michel.

Again, these choices might look a lot different if FC Dallas had not built such a cushion. But it’s nice to have the luxury of options.

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