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SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

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Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

MLS: Higuain extends with Crew, Royer gets new deal with Red Bulls

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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.

The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.

Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.

Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Crew’s Higuain: “I think it’s the finish” of his time in Columbus

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Federico Higuain probably doesn’t want to hear that he’s turned back the clock, or that he’s defying time, but the Columbus Crew midfielder is having a decent year in Ohio.

Higuain has nine goals and two assists in 18 matches this season, and it turns out his sixth MLS season might just be his final one.

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The 32-year-old Argentine, older brother of Juventus star Gonzalo Higuain, feels he’s nearing the end of his Crew career. The 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year is two goals away from his top season in the U.S. and sits at 150 matches, 50 goals and 33 assists since arriving from Argentine club CA Colon.

From The Columbus Dispatch:

“I don’t know what will happen, but I think it’s the finish of the cycle, you know? I’m sure the Columbus Crew will not lose too much without me — but maybe another team in or out of the United States will win something.”

He said the decision whether to walk away is his, and that “it’s tough.” Coach Gregg Berhalter doesn’t see it as the end of the road and says now’s not the time for that talk. Convincing Higuain could become easier depending on what the Crew do in the transfer window, or how the season shakes out, but for now “Pipa” is ready to leave the black and gold come November.

MLS Snapshots: Manneh inspires Crew SC; Philly, Atlanta win at home

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Columbus Crew SC 4-1 Montreal Impact

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Higuain’s free kick beats Bush — Aided by a slight deflection off the top of the wall, Higuain put a free kick past Evan Bush to give the home side an early lead.

70′ — Manneh makes an immediate impact — The initial ball from Higuain is what you came here for, but the elementary defending by three Montreal defenders is what’ll keep you glued until the very end.

72′ — Manneh sets up Kamara for 3-1 — Kekuta Manneh had been on the field for all of three minutes, and he put a goal and an assist to his name. Most importantly, three points to that of Crew SC.

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Man of the match: Federico Higuain

Goalscorers: Higuain (17′, 88′), Jackson-Hamel (19′), Manneh (70′), Kamara (72′)


 

Philadelphia Union 1-0 D.C. United

Three moments that mattered

28′ — Blake gets down to deny Harkes from distance — Ian Harkes had picked out a spot just inside the far post, but Andre Blake was well up to the task of denying DCU’s homegrown rookie.

31′ — Picault slams Bedoya’s cross — Alejandro Bedoya’s cross has some serious loft on it, which it makes it so tough to keep the ensuing shot low and to hit it with such power. Fantastic finish from Picault.

70′ — Blake stone-walls Neagle from the spot — It’s a pretty poor penalty from Lamar Neagle, but it’s a massive moment so badly needed by Andre Blake who’s been well off his own standard this season. Don’t be surprised if it’s a season-turning save for the talented Jamaican.

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Man of the match: Andre Blake

Goalscorers: Picault (31′)


 

Atlanta United 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Three One moment that mattered

67′ — Martinez turns and beats Howard for the game’s only goal — You can’t give Josef Martinez this kind of space, and this kind of time, around the six-yard box. He’s shown us seven times already this season (in just seven games) how deadly he is from there.

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Man of the match: Josef Martinez

Goalscorers: Martinez (67′)

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta 3-1 Crew | Revolution 1-2 Fire (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Is there any doubt that Atlanta’s Designated Player signings have paid off? They certainly did on Saturday with all three of the club’s DPs notching goals in the win for Tata Martino’s group. It was a brilliant return for Josef Martinez, who scored his sixth goal of the season with a blast from a tight angle, while Miguel Almiron continues to impress up front for Atlanta. Yamil Asad is quietly becoming one of the top playmaker’s in MLS as well, adding his eighth assist of the year. The victory puts Atlanta into the sixth and final playoff spot in the East.

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Villalba fires hosts in front — The defensive miscues continue for the Crew and Hector Villalba made the visitors pay big time. Side note: That’s Yamil Asad’s EIGHTH assist of the season…

26′ — Crew equalize through Higuain — Scrappy does it sometimes and Federico Higuain was in the right place at the right time for this one.

67′ — Almiron puts Atlanta back on top — So cool. So casual. Miguel Almiron makes everything look way too easy.

88′ — Martinez with an absolute scorcher — It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a goal from this man, but wow! Just wow!

Man of the match: Miguel Almiron

Goalscorers: Hector Villalba (16′), Federico Higuain (26′), Miguel Almiron (67′), Josef Martinez (88′)


Twitter/@ChicagoFire

The game in 100 words (or less): The Chicago Fire are the hottest team in MLS and Nemanja Nikolic is looking like a legitimate MVP candidate. The Fire striker has 13 goals on the season now after adding another on Saturday, while also tallying the game-winning assist with just under a half hour remaining. For the Revs, it’s the club’s first loss at home of the season, snapping a seven-game perfect run to start 2017.

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Nikolic just keeps on scoring — Is there a better signing this winter than Nemanja Nikolic? I’ll wait… That’s 13 goals now for the Fire striker.

61′ — Solignac doubles the lead — That’s some touch from Nikolic to get it into his partner’s path for the finish. 2-0 Fire.

70′ — Delamea gives the Revs a glimmer of hope — He took a shot winning this header but still gave the Revs a chance at a point with 20 minutes left.

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Man of the match: Nemanja Nikolic

Goalscorers: Nemanja Nikolic (18′), Luis Solignac (61′), Antonio Mlinar Delamea (70′)