Johan Venegas

Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Three MLS Expansion Draft selections moved to new teams

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At least 30 percent of Major League Soccer’s 2016 Expansion Draft class won’t play in Atlanta or Minnesota.

Ten picks were made in Tuesday’s draft, as Atlanta United and Minnesota United selected unprotected players off of MLS rosters.

[ MORE: Expansion Draft recap ]

— Montreal left back Donny Toia was picked first by Atlanta, and then shipped to Orlando City for the No. 8 pick in this year’s SuperDraft.

— Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin was also claimed by the Georgian side, then traded back to TFC for Georgia native Mark Bloom and General Allocation Money (GAM).

— Minnesota picked Red Bulls right back Chris Duvall, then sent him and some GAM packing to Montreal in exchange for Johan Venegas.

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AT HALF: Costa Rica holds deserved 1-0 lead over USMNT

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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The home side has a deserved 1-0 lead through Johan Venegas, and Costa Rica has the USMNT on the ropes Tuesday in the second matchday of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps) found Venegas (Montreal Impact) for an all-MLS opener just before halftime.

Costa Rica had a bevy of dangerous chances thanks to a wet pitch, questionable USMNT back play, and a lot of room given by the American center midfielders.

[ WATCH LIVE: USMNT-Costa Rica (Spanish) ]

Johan Venegas and John Brooks gave the game its first life after a spell of mostly American possession, as Venegas plowed into Brooks and stepped on his foot after an early long ball.

After a minute’s worth of chatter with the referees, the Yanks won a corner through Timmy Chandler. Brooks’ header wasn’t on goal, and Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas claimed the next cross.

Brad Guzan received his first test when Venegas megged Brooks and tried to toe poke a shot past the keeper, but Guzan made the save and Brooks dealt with the ensuing corner.

Johnny Acosta held up Jozy Altidore, and the U.S. had a free kick from the left side, about 8 yards beyond the 18. Kendall Waston took Fabian Johnson’s free kick right in the face, and went down but stayed in the game.

Chandler scooped up a yellow card in the 11th minute, giving each side a caution. He won’t play against Honduras in March.

[ MORE: Messi, Argentina team to boycott media ]

Costa Rica was on the doorstep minutes later, as Guzan stopped Ruiz’s close-range bicycle kick with his face.

Waston then dropped Pulisic on the left edge of the 18, and Johnson’s right peg was in a very promising spot. His rip beat the two-man wall but curled over the goal.

Jones and Pulisic did pretty work down the left, and Navas gobbled up Wood’s slight deflection of Pulisic’s pass.

Jones will also miss Honduras after picking up a yellow in the 38th minute.

The Yanks could’ve led against the run of play when Wood torched the Costa Rican back line and sent a ball through the six that was absent receiver.

Then came the goal, as Omar Gonzalez allowed Bolanos to race onto a long pass and cross into the heart of the 18. That’s where Venegas headed past Guzan.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Montreal Impact 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact, the hottest team in Major League Soccer to finish the 2015 regular season, took a large step toward advancing to the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, as they held serve at home and outlasted Columbus Crew SC in the first leg of the conference semifinals. Federico Higuain put the visitors ahead just past the half-hour mark, a vital away goal or so it seemed, but L’Impact hit back with goals scored by Patrice Bernier and Johan Venegas to take a slim lead into next Sunday’s second leg at MAPFRE Stadium. Didier Drogba appeared to have scored the game’s opening goal in the 15th minute, but his tally was ultimately ruled out on a rather suspect handball decision by referee Chris Penso and crew.

[ MORE: MLS playoff predictions | Preseason predictions revisited ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Higuain finishes to grab an away goal — This probably isn’t where Drogba intended for his headed clearance to go, straight to the right foot of Higuain, a clinical finisher on most occasions. Alas, that’s exactly where it went and the Argentine did not disappoint with his strike.

37′ — Bernier heads home for the equalizer — Crew SC struggled with defending set pieces. No, like, they really struggle with it. It was their biggest issue all year long, and it’s apparently not been solved ahead of the playoffs. Bernier got lost among the tall trees’ zonal marking and headed past Steve Clark for the quick equalizer.

77′ — Venegas finishes on the breakaway for 2-1 — Venegas had Drogba to his right, a simple square pass away from walking the ball into Crew SC’s net, but the Costa Rican opted to go it alone and finish far post past Clark to send the Stade Saputo crowd into raptures once again. For his own well being, it’s a good thing he scored.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Patrice Bernier

Goalscorers: Higuain (33′), Bernier (37′), Venegas (77′)

No. 1 seed DC United out of CONCACAF Champions League despite win vs Alajuelense


A 2-1 Wednesday win over Alajuelense still knocked No. 1 seed DC United out of the CONCACAF Champions League 6-4 on aggregate.

Jairo Arrieta’s first-half goal gave DC hope of overcoming its 5-2 first leg defeat in Costa Rica, but Johan Venegas netted in the 71st minute to dampen the spirits of the RFK hopeful. Fabian Espindola’s 89th minute penalty conversion was just a consolation prize.

[ MORE: MLS avoids work stoppage ]

DC had more than 60 percent possession for most of the night, but couldn’t break through aside from Arrieta’s early goal, seen here:

The aggregate loss leaves the Montreal Impact as the lone Major League Soccer hope in the CCL semifinals. They needed every minute of their quarterfinal match to oust Pachuca via this gorgeous goal.