Jay Simpson

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Philadelphia 2-0 Sporting KC: Simpson double gives hosts playoff boost

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Jay Simpson was a monster from start to finish as the Philadelphia Union took a huge step towards securing a playoff spot by beating Sporting KC 2-0 at home.

Simpson was active early and often, forcing Tim Melia into a point-blank save right on the doorstep one-on-one in just the 10th minute. He took a curling David Maccam ball over the defense but Melia came out of net to smother the attempt.

[ MORE: Arsenal tops Everton ]

In the 36th minute, Melia was put to test again as Borek Dockal smashed a howitzer off a KC defender and against the crossbar, which came back into play and Melia kicked away from net. The rebound came to Simpson, but his effort was weak enough for Seth Sinovic to clear off the line with Melia outstretched on the turf.

As halftime passed without an opener, Simpson was there to provide the eventual breakthrough. A long ball pumped into the box found the head of substitute Alejandro Bedoya under pressure, and the USMNT veteran found Simpson alone near the top of the penalty area. The 29-year-old London product volleyed it into the bottom-left corner for the lead.

Philadelphia held just 38% possession throughout the match, but they matched KC in shots 14-13, 5-6 on target. Simpson would grab a second as the Sporting KC defense again botched the offside trap. Substitute Fabrice Picault floated in a cross, and it fell to Bedoya who beat the back line as the flag stayed down. Bedoya headed it to Simpson also through on net, and he finished off the fingertips of Melia.

The win puts Philadelphia six points clear of the cutoff line,

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Chicago on Fire; TFC lose Giovinco to injury

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The second MLS Saturday of 2017 is just about about halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Chicago Fire 2-0 Real Salt Lake

Two weeks into an MLS season is absolutely too early to make bold predictions based off of 180 minutes of soccer, but since I said it before the season started, I’m going to ride this pony until it keels over: Chicago’s going to the playoffs. Last week, they came from behind to rescue a point on the road against Columbus Crew SC. On Saturday, the blitzed RSL in the opening 15 minutes, took care of business defensively, saw out a mostly comfortable 2-0 win in their 2017 home opener.

Nemanja Nikolic bagged his first MLS goal to opening the scoring, only 11 minutes on the clock, and Arturo Alvarez made it 2-0 barely four minutes later.

The final score would have been extremely lopsided if not for the (typical) heroics of Nick Rimando. With four points from their first two games of the season, Veljko Paunovic’s side has already matched its haul from the first month of 2016 (four games).

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Toronto FC

Philadelphia and Toronto drew 2-2 but — who are we kidding? — the real story here is the health and well-being of Sebastian Giovinco. The tiny Italian was subbed off in the 45th minute, after Oguchi Onyewu destroyed the 2015 MLS MVP in a collision of knees at midfield. The official diagnosis from TFC was a “leg contusion.”

As for the other 89 minutes, 55 seconds: Jozy Altidore is off the mark for 2017, converting a penalty kick moments after Giovinco left the field after Jay Simpson scored his first MLS goal to put Philadelphia ahead in the 11th minute. TFC took the lead — ever so briefly as it was — in the 71st minute, as Justin Morrow fired past Andre Blake. Two minutes later, C.J. Sapong rounded Clint Irwin and made it 2-2, which is how the game would end.

New York Red Bulls 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Tim Howard played out-of-his-mind amazing on his 2017 debut (WATCH HERE), but Colorado were ultimately undone by an own goal, scored by Eric Miller, in the 45th minute. On the plus side, Colorado haven’t conceded a goal scored by their opponents through two games. They’re equally stingy, and annoying to watch and play against, this year as they were in 2016, which is to say, they’ll be involved in lots of 1-0 games these next eight months. Through two games: a 1-0 win, and a 1-0 loss.

Union sign ex-Arsenal, West Brom, Hull striker Simpson

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Former Arsenal prospect Jay Simpson is landing on the shores of the U.S.A.

In a move that Philadelphia hopes will replicated Bradley Wright-Phillips’ arrival in New York, the Union have landed the 28-year-old striker from Lleyton Orient.

[ MORE: Arsenal’s Zelalem on the move? ]

Simpson was Arsenal property from 1997-2010, but only managed three League Cup appearances and two goals. He went on loan to West Brom in 2008-09, accumulating his only 13 Premier League appearances and scoring once.

The bulk of his experience has been in the Football League Championship with Hull City. He nabbed 12 goals in 78 appearances. He also played for QPR, Millwall, and most recently Leyton Orient.

From PhiladelphiaUnion.com:

“Jay brings goal-scoring prowess to our team, in addition to a valuable veteran presence, as he has demonstrated with multiple clubs in England,” said Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart. “He has played at the highest levels of club soccer, including in the Premier League, and we are excited to add a forward of his quality to our squad.”

The signing comes hot on the heels of defender Giliano Wijnaldum, the brother of Liverpool attacker Georginio Wijnaldum.

Follow @NicholasMendola