Miller Bolanos

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Leagues Cup: Lampson leads LA; Fire out

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There’s no shame in Liga MX being a superior league to Major League Soccer, but it would be nice to get more showings of strength from the rapidly improving top flight for Canada and the United States.

The Leagues Cup provided that chance for four teams of MLS, who could make a statement with three quick victories over the next two months. In at least one of Tuesday’s cases, a side’s backups and reserves gave its club the chance to take it more seriously in the semifinals.

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The Mexican sides, by and large, spend more money deeper into their squad, and most of the clubs were established well before still relatively young MLS.

Throw in both MLS sides clearly ignoring the tournament in favor of weekend league outings, and what could’ve been a really cool tournament could’ve also wasted a lot of peoples’ time on Wednesday despite MLS having the distinct advantage of being hosts for all four quarterfinals.

Godspeed, LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul

Chicago opted to keep many of its first-choice players on the bench or out of the 18, and it showed in an easy win for away side.

Cruz Azul out-attempted the Fire by a 14-5 margin, and held 69 percent of possession. Fire backstop Richard Sanchez was forced to make six saves, but Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez scored late in each half to plug a couple of away goals onto the board.

Alvarado’s goal was simply magical.

LA Galaxy 2-2 (3-1 pens) Club Tijuana

The resilient hosts took the favored visitors to penalties, where

Servando Carrasco gave LA a lead, and Matt Lampson stopped Erick “Cubo” Torres only to see Efrain Alvarez clanked the next effort off the post. Ariel Nahuelpán then leveled the score before Gibran Lajud made a save for Tijuana

But Lampson answered the bell, and it was 1-1 after three rounds each. He made another save on Angel Sepulveda’s poor penalty, and Giancarlo Gonzalez sent the Galaxy into the semifinals.

Tijuana had most of the ball, nearly doubled LA’s passes, and out-attempted the Galaxy 20-7.

Emmanuel Boateng turned a Kai Koreniuk shot past Gibran Lajud for a 27th minute lead, but TJ tied the score within six minutes and took the lead just before halftime.

Dave Romney had an answer after halftime with a thundering header off an Efrain Alvarez corner kick, and LA was back in business with 37 minutes to play.

Tijuana’s Miller Bolanos hit the post in the 70th, but the danger was largely non-existent the rest of the way aside from wasted free kicks.

LA’s Julian Araujo was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

Reports: Minnesota United chasing Gremio, Hearts attackers

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Minnesota United’s roster didn’t look great when the season began, and many had the Loons finishing dead last in their MLS debut season.

It hasn’t been great, but United has improved after a very poor start. The club was forced to start MLS veteran Bobby Shuttleworth through injury, and acquired MLS veterans Sam Cronin and Marc Burch from Colorado. All three have helped stabilize a woeful unit.

If reports from FiftyFive.One are to believed, the Loons aren’t done and are focusing on moving from “not last” to an outside threat at a playoff spot.

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One of those targets is Miller Bolanos, who is out of contract at the end of this year and also being sought by Swansea City. The 27-year-old currently plays at Gremio after searing the score sheets with Emelec, and has 20 caps and eight goals for Ecuador.

Then there’s Sam Nicholson, the Scottish midfielder and teammate of Perry Kitchen at Hearts. The 22-year-old has 80 Scottish Premiership appearances under his belt, notching nine goals and 13 assists. He visited with Minnesota last week, and FiftyFive.One says he left with a contract offer.

Minnesota has played a 4-2-3-1 with Christian Ramirez up top and not getting the best service from his No. 10. Bolanos would push Kevin Molino wide while Nicholson would likely challenge Ibarra, Johan Venegas and Ismael Jome for playing time.

Controversial decision denies Ecuador upset of Brazil in Copa America opener (video)

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Ecuador may’ve taken it if offered before the game, but Saturday’s 0-0 draw in the Copa America Centenario won’t feel good after a major officiating mistake cost La Tricolor three points in both teams’ Group B opener.

The draw leaves Peru atop the group. Brazil and Haiti tangle on Wednesday in Orlando, while Ecuador and Peru will match up in Glendale.

[ MORE: CRC holds Paraguay | Peru tips Haiti ]

Brazil and its goalkeeper caught a major break in the 66th minute. Jefferson Montero played Miller Bolanos down the left of the box, and Bolanos lunged to keep the ball in play. The desperate striker hits Alisson at an odd angle and dribbled off the side panel and in… but the flag was wrongly up.

Bullet dodged. Lucas Moura nearly made it sting worse for Ecuador when he made a terrific run but turned his in-close header wide of the goal. Everything was in place for the upset but the official’s decision.

Older brother helps younger brother win Ecuadorian title (by cleaning him out with a brutal tackle)

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Culture tell us that older brothers have been picking on younger brothers for, presumably, about as long as older and younger brothers have been a thing (See: Cain and Abel, Heungbu and Nolbu, etc.).

Ecuador’s Primera A title was decided thanks in large part to this phenomenon. Trailing 3-1 after one leg, Barcelona midfielder Alex Bolanos received a red card for cleaning out his Emelec opponent with a two-footed tackle that borders on hockey hip check or breaking up a double play in baseball. The victim? His little brother Miller Bolanos.

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It’s hard to imagine what Alex was thinking, other than, “Hey look, my brother. Let me unload some pain on him.”

Emelec would go on to win the two-legged title by a 4-1 final score, so Miller did get the last laugh. The club has appeared in the Primera A’s last five title matches, and won the last two.

Watch the tackle below: