Champions League Round of 16 (Day 7)

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Well this one hurt, if you’re a fan of English clubs in the Champions, or especially of Manchester United. And relief if you’re a AS Roma fan for finishing the job when called upon, something Manchester couldn’t quite figure out.

Manchester United 1-2 Sevilla FC (1-2)

Sevilla deserved this game, no doubt about it, but United clearly set themselves up for limited success from the start. As you can tell from the line-up United fielded Mourinho went with a 4-2-3-1 with Matic and Fellani as the holding midfielders. While Matic is a game changer, this was the first start for Fellani since he returned from injury and also shows the style of play that Mourinho wanted to proceed with. He went with the “kick long balls at the big guy to get forward,” which credit to him was somewhat effective since passing on the ground was made difficult with Sevilla locking down the passing lanes on the ground.

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It was a rather negative approach, but a Mourinho approach, and the offense never looked quite dangerous. Lukaku was doing great at the holdup play and Rashford kept bringing great runs down the wing, while Lingard was actually a bit quiet. I will note, starting Rashford was a great idea, and Lingard was somewhat in form so these were understandable.

Here’s where my criticism of the line-up comes in, Sanchez has been mostly unimpressive in league play and still doesn’t look fully settled, Mata had a much greater impact off the bench, or even Martial would’ve been a better option. The most egregious decision overall was Fellani in for Pogba, how many managers would dare leave their record transfer back from injury for FELLANI back from an injury. There was no excuse for Mourinho. As the line-up sheet shows, Mourinho threw everything into attack after the late goals from Sevilla with 15 minutes to go. It was too little too late, those players should’ve started and this one will be primarily on Mourinho. The players were also to blame as well because they had multiple missed opportunities.

As enjoyable as this might be for the rivals of United, once again English football will be poorly represented in the latter stages of the Champions League, which isn’t really great for any Premier League fans.

Oh and last note on this game, I don’t want to be too thick about the reasoning for the outcome of this game, but credit to Sevilla’s manager, Vincenzo Montella. Montella managed the game well, Sevilla came with a purpose and his substitute Ben Yedder completely changed the game. The criticism of United was just so strong because the last 15 minutes when they were playing catch up was the most inspired football they played all night making it very obvious they were capable of pressing the Sevilla defense, but it was much too late.

AS Roma 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (2-2) [Roma goes through on away goal advantage]

The second game of the night where Roma went home on the second leg and took care of business. Dzeko was great on the night, he played his game well playing on the backs of the center backs waiting for a ball to put him through.

Shakhtar had the majority possession during the game but really didn’t do much meaningful with it. They had zero shots on goal. Roma easily neutralized them but let them have the ball to not get caught on a break.

Great Champions League games, that were close throughout the match, but each victor earned their right to the quarterfinals. Tomorrow will be the last round of Champions League before the break, stay here for the review!

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MLS Week 2 Review!

It’s Monday, and blues are in full force, Manchester City is playing at Stoke and that’s all we get. However, America’s most beloved ugly duckling of professional leagues is most certainly back and boy did Atlanta let everyone know.

Atlanta United 3-1 DC United

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Of course the lead is Atlanta United. Not only did they break the MLS attendance record, their own record, at 72,035. In addition, they totally took the game by the horns and never really let go. And on top of all that, they finally get the win which eluded them all last season against DC. While the score line will suggest a much greater gap in ability between the two, DC United again had a mostly good performance, it was within reach most of the game until a breakdown that led to two quick goals late in the second half. The attack for Atlanta came out very strong testing the resolve of the DC defense.

Despite the defense playing very well overall it was in the 25th minute when the first goal would drop in Atlanta’s favor. Josef Martinez makes a tap in at the far post after Villalba put a laser guided ball through the corridor of uncertainty, between the keeper and the defense.

This was not at all the type of movement or formation seen in the first week when Atlanta was demolished 4-0 at Houston. To give a somewhat quick summary, Tata Martino decided to play a 5 in the back, with Larentowicz as a holding midfielder in front of the defense. The important note here is the wing backs (Garza and Gressel) were very free to push down the wings to overload the defense and keep possession better. It wasn’t just attacking power, the formation was very flexible to turn into a solid block that could defend the DC United counter attack.

One major reason for the change may be Parkhurst was back at match fitness which was not much of an option last game and he could help strengthen that back line.

Overall, Atlanta played a fantastic game of catching DC United in retreat after losing the ball and capitalizing on their mistakes. It was a positive bounce back from a terrible first game, against a team that is looking to have potential this season.

Around the league: 

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NYCFC beat the LA Galaxy 2-1 on their way to a great home opener on their trademark mini sized field. The Galaxy looked much better at home last week and Lletget still looked a threat, but the offense overall still looked lackluster. One of the Dos Santos brothers scored, but not the one you think, which kind of sums up Gio’s contribution.

Columbus beats Montreal at home 3-2, and overall a good game for the Crew and the Impact. Note on this game Zardes keeps on scoring, two in this game, was it really the change of environment or just the system?

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Brad Friedel and his New England Revs get their first win of the season, and his coaching career, over a not great Colorado team. Good on them, but is Nguyen going to leave after all, and how would that impact an already sub-par team, hard times to come.

LAFC continues their great start to their MLS tenure with another win, this time 1-5 at Real Salt Lake. In strong contrast to the Galaxy this offense is firing on all cylinders. 5 goals in any away match is a huge accomplishment. Bob Bradley is looking to showcase what he can do in this league with some talent. Exciting future for LAFC if things stay this trajectory.

Quickfire: 

The Timbers looking rough against a young inexperienced New York Red Bulls, losing 0-4 away, things might not be so rosy this year in Portland.

Minnesota pulls of an impressive win in another amazing MLS atmosphere when they arrived at Orlando, Ethan Finlay is looking to lead this team to greener pastures. Score 1-2 Minnesota.

Dynamo surprisingly fall to a Whitecaps team, after dismantling the talented Atlanta squad. Whitecaps have been under the radar, bad game for Dynamo or great game from Whitecaps?

Shootout in Chicago, Kansas City pulls through 4-3, Chicago’s home opener is in disappointment, not that it was very well attended to begin with, they still have Nikolic and Schweinsteiger, too early to fear for Chicago.

Sorry for the long post, but a lot of things to establish, future posts most likely will be shorter,  Thanks for reading if you stayed through!

Premier League Rundown 3/10/18

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Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool FC

The most exciting derby of the past few encounters between these two teams. As you may have heard Rashford was unstoppable. In front of goal he was deadly. However, for a broader look at the game, United came out attacking with great offensive play from the attacking players Mata, Sanchez, Rashford and Lukaku. The biggest miss from the squad was most notably Pogba. However, it was no problem for Jose’s men. The hot start was not what Liverpool expected and caught them off, also Rashford murdered Alexander-Arnold when they were 1 on 1.

Klopp looked beside himself, he took a cool sip of his water after that second goal went in and accepted this was his life now. Meanwhile, Mourinho was happy to sit back and absorb the attack while just breaking after a turnover in possession. The game plan worked perfectly in Mourinho’s favor, the possession was 32-68 in Liverpool’s favor, and they didn’t manage a shot on goal in the whole second half. The only goal which would come was a back heel by Bailly into the back of his own net.

Overall, this puts United further cemented in second place, and now they’ll be prepared to receive Sevilla.

Highlights from the rest of the league:

Everton and Big Sam get a big win at home (2-0) and Brighton will be disappointed to not have done better here. They are in more than good position to stay midtable regardless.

Swansea and Huddersfield tied at 0-0 and it was a bad result for both, Huddersfield continue sputtering and Swansea did not get attainable points to move further from the relegation zone.

Newcastle United win 3-0 against Southampton who will probably sack their manager, and Newcastle keeps on churning on their march to stay in the Prem with this solid performance.

Speaking of managers to be sacked Pulis and his team West Brom lost four to one at home against Leicester City. Leicester would’ve been dismayed to not have gotten a result here.

Burnley beat West Ham United away 3 goals to nil. Burnley continue playing on fire and West Ham are back in the dumps after an almost promising run.

Lastly, Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-1. Cheslea despite their fair share of injuries and Crystal Palace’s inspired form they clearly dominate this one.

That’s a wrap for today’s fixture’s, tomorrow we’re back, and maybe some MLS review/preview tonight?

Champions League Round of 16 (Day 6)

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It’s a late post but here, and it’s time to cover the thrilling finale to Champions League action until next week.

Manchester City 1-2 FC Basel (5-2)

City jumped on to the #playyourkids movement this game. They lost this leg, but overwhelmingly won on aggregate. Gabriel Jesus continues his blazing form by notching in the first goal after some great team play. Basel responded with a fumbled ball in the box, Elyounoussi would then put into the back of the net. Lang would put another in at the 71st minute, but it was all they would muster up against City.

Statview of the game: Manchester City controlled the possession as they normally do, 78-22 in their favor. However, the shots on goal were even at three a piece. Lastly, Basel definitely had the edge at fouls, getting called on 11.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Juventus (3-4) 

Spurs’ fans everywhere are gonna be up late thinking of what could’ve been in the next round. It all looked so promising and in true Spur’s fashion, that’s when it all went downhill. Son scored to put them ahead at home, and 3-2 on aggregate. Then the second half came around and Higuain took it upon himself to lead the comeback putting them level after a great cross, and a defense of statues. But things at this point are still okay, Spurs would still go through on the away goals.

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Spur’s fans at Wembley

Then bombing down the left side comes Paulo Dybala, the Argentine, Juventus forward. His finishing was great and put them even on away goals and ahead on aggregate. After this Allegri was content to trust his world class experienced defense to see the result out, and they did. Spurs still looked dangerous on the attack and were literally inches from scoring the equalizer which would send them to overtime, but it was not meant to be.

This one goes out to the Spurs’ fans, but Gigi Buffon fans will be happy to see the chance at a Champions League trophy is not completely gone yet. Next week, more Champions action, its gonna be great, come back here and be entertained. Thanks for reading!

 

Champions League: Round of 16 (Day 5)

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The most exciting time of the round of 16 is here! Day 5 took its fair share of victims, most notably today however, Unai Emery..

Liverpool 0-0 FC Porto (5-0)

Salah and Van Dijk are the notable names that started the game on the bench. This is understandable since Liverpool are coming into this game five goals ahead on aggregate and they will have a crucial derby game this Saturday against Manchester United. There was plenty of chances for Mane and he just kept narrowly missing. Unfortunate for Porto and Liverpool fans as well, as it ended a scoreless affair.

Paris St-Germain 1-2 Real Madrid (2-5)

While PSG showed signs of life in the first half, none of their attacking players could get it done. It’s somewhat understandable missing Neymar and being behind already by two goals, but they have so much talent Emery is still to blame here. After the offense finally started getting real chances the whistle was blown for the end of the first half and Real Madrid was able to regroup.

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the second half by putting away Vazquez’s cross with his head. It felt like a demoralizing blow. Matters only got worse with a Verratti red card. Not until Cavani scored an equalizer did they seem to regain the faintest hope. Which was quickly stomped out a small while later with Casemiro’s shot taking a nasty deflection past Areola. The rest of the game was just a training exercise for Real Madrid. Zidane lives to fight another day as Real manager and has kept showing his skill for managing the game.

The quarterfinals are next and the draw should be announced this Friday, stick around here to read about it.

MLS Opening Weekend Recap!

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America’s take on professional soccer has returned, and not without drama. MLS has proven again why you should never trust a favorite. Unfortunately, we’re gonna do most but not every game this week.

Toronto FC 0-2 Columbus Crew SC

Toronto, last years’ most successful team, hosted Columbus Crew, a team that it took down last year in the post season. Of course it wasn’t crazy to expect them to get a win in the season opener. The Columbus counter attack proved too much and they did not get a win. Toronto overall had the most possession and several shots on goal, they could’ve definitely put at least a few on the scoreboard. Understandably, you could tell that Toronto was holding off on some moves because of the upcoming Champions League game against Tigres this Wednesday. Some takeaways, Zack Steffen is a great goalkeeper, Zardes can score now? and Higuain is still class.

Houston Dynamo 4-0 Atlanta United FC

Another favorite absolutely demolished. From the start Atlanta’s defense was shaky but masked by the open offensive play. The first half was just back to back goals destroying the Atlanta morale. The second half Houston was content with sitting back and absorbing. The defense did an outstanding job, and despite Atlanta missing golden opportunities that would’ve put them closer, the Dynamo earned this one. Many questions are already being asked about whether they made the right moves in the off season acquiring Barco instead of a defensive midfielder or another solidification of the back.

Orlando City SC 1-1 DC United

Once again Orlando does it, for the third time in the last four years, they end their home opener in dramatic fashion to secure some points. Before we get to that, this new DC United team is something else, it completely looks like a much better squad with Arriola, Mattocks, and Asad all proving to be smart moves from the off season. While not securing the win over a 10 man Orlando City squad might look bad, they still generated a lot of offense and were away to one of the best atmospheres MLS has to offer. Great goal for Pinho to be welcomed to the league, both of these teams are gonna be a force to be reckoned with.

Seattle Sounders FC 0-1 Los Angeles FC

An amazing opener for the LAFC franchise, a win away to Seattle and keeping a clean sheet. The talent on the defense really showed, Ciman, the former Impact defender had quite the impact on the game, if you get my drift. Anyways, they truly stood up Will Bruin and Nico Lodeiro. Despite still being fairly recently put together, LAFC looked like it was gelling right of the bat. The first goal was an amazing strike from the young DP Diego Rossi, after receiving a great through ball from Carlos Vela. After that however, LAFC also decided to cool down its offensive jets and let that back line shine. Seattle will be disappointed in the result of course, but it’s clear Schmetzer is trying to save some legs for the opening leg against Chivas in the Champions League.

LA Galaxy 2-1 Portland Timbers

The other LA team also got off to a great start to the season. Ola Kamara keeps proving to be a savvy trade, and overall great for both teams involved. Alessandrini also is continuing his form from last year, and hopefully that hamstring injury isn’t something to be worried about because he is the spark they need in offense. Another positive sign for Galaxy fans will be the appearance late in the game of Sebastian Lletget. Da Boy has returned from his long term injury which he suffered while on national team duty with the United States. He proved to still be the play maker he made his name on. Now to give Portland fans love, the offense was doing the right things but the pieces wouldn’t fall into place, Bingham made mostly the saves he had to, and the defense held strong. With the help of Perry Kitchen and Jonathan dos Santos in the midfield, it was gonna be an uphill battle. The core of this Timbers team is still there and there’s no reason it shouldn’t make the playoffs, don’t sweat it Timbers’ fans.

That was the MLS review, next week I’m going to try and do some previews and CONCACAF Champions League coverage, hope you stick around for it!

Premier League Rundown 3/4/18

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Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Arsenal

The Arsenal depression keeps on growing, and Brighton & Hove Albion is the next to steal some points from Wenger’s men. It was a dominant performance possession wise for Arsenal and Aubameyang scored one. However, the defense is still woeful for Arsenal, Brighton’s players had too much time in the box and of course were gonna put that those chances away.

Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea

Chelsea lose again, but to be fair they’ve had a very tough schedule, and it definitely won’t make their fans feel better. City are just head and shoulders better than its closest competitors. Chelsea didn’t even achieve a shot on goal, they didn’t exactly challenge City when it comes to the attack. Both will have a chance to get a win next week, Chelsea plays Crystal Palace and City will go up against Stoke. Also, not to be forgotten, Chelsea still have the second leg against Barcelona to be played, they have to pick up some form to win that one.

Not a crazy week for Premier League I know, but the Champions League action coming up should make up for it, also the return of MLS. Those reviews will be up here by the end of the weekend.