MLS Opening Weekend Recap!

MLS11

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

plrundown3418

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.

Premier League Rundown 3/3/18

plrundown3318t2

Happy March everybody, so we’re back with our review of Premier League action. Also, today is the return of MLS, I know that many aren’t a fan but as an American I try and support the league. I’ll have a review of that action at the end of the day on another review post, stick around for that!

Burnley 2-1 Everton

There was some beautiful football at Turf Moor today, amazing saves from Pickford, self guided through balls, and flying elbows at the very end. Pickford kept Everton in the game much longer than they deserved with how Burnley were playing, something out of De Gea’s playbook. Overall, great control of the game by Burnley, could’ve notched more goals, but Everton’s back line needs help, and now that Williams has a red card for his elbow, they have another unnecessary issue.

Leicester City 1-1 AFC Bournemouth

Leicester were saved at the death by their superstar, Riyad Mahrez. After conceding a clumsy penalty in the first half, Leicester spent the whole game playing catch up at home. The result in my opinion was fair, and didn’t necessarily ruin anything for either team, so that’s that.

Southampton 0-0 Stoke City

Nothing too crazy this game, and definitely no goals. However, the one development here is the great goalkeeping from Butland, Stoke City, and England international. It should make for a great competition between Pickford and Butland for England’s starting spot this World Cup.

Swansea City 4-1 West Ham United

Swansea dominate this still struggling West Ham side, they’ve only won one in the past six games. Notable move here is Swansea are out of the relegation zone again, and maybe we can hear some Carvalhal quotes again about having their heads above water.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Huddersfield Town

Son scores a brace, and another game that wasn’t in any doubt all the way through, also didn’t place Huddersfield in the relegation zone. A very fortunate match up for Spurs because they need some rest coming up to the final leg against Juventus in a few days.

Watford 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

Watford receives West Brom to have their own wack at the bottom of the Premier League. Nothing has gotten better for West Brom and Watford still has Deeney scoring winners, so everything went as planned.

Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United

Salah continues his scoring ways, he gets a nice pass from the Ox and megs the keeper for the go ahead goal. Then later Sane seals home some great team passing that just dismantles Newcastle. Karius made an amazing save as well, it looks like his new strategy of attempting to look like De Gea to play like De Gea is working. Even though Newcastle had some dangerous chances, Liverpool were the better side, and are in second place for at least the next couple days.

Still many more games to be played tomorrow and Monday, but City isn’t in any danger if you’re interested in the title race.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea Review

Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

plrundown22518

Our indepth match of the week is here! And it was a great game, really important points to keep pace in this cutthroat league.

Chelsea started out the stronger team, and Marcos Alonso made a great cross to Morata who hit the crossbar, they easily could’ve been up in the first few minutes. Credit to United though, they felt the strength of Chelsea’s attacking options and decided to settle the ball by keeping possession. This was helped by Mourinho finally freeing Pogba further up top instead of attempting to partner him with Matic in a more defensive role. Pogba’s ability to use his size to protect the ball, but still have the technical ability to get past whoever’s up against him. Still there wasn’t much bravery to go forward, it definitely felt like Mourinho’s pragmatic game plan.

Chelsea’s game plan was doing much better to start this game, the defense was solid and always were dangerous on the attack. They were also quick to be prepared for the counterattack, and hardly let United even get a shot on goal. To be fair not too hard when Manchester’s game plan mostly consisted of going down the wing and aiming at Lukaku’s head for a lot of the half. Fittingly enough that’s how the first Chelsea goal went in, on the counterattack from a well defended cross. Willian slotted it home at Da Gea’s near post. The argument can be made De Gea could’ve done better to defend the near post but regardless a great shot by Willian. The rest of the half was looking like Chelsea would score again but instead United scored late in the half thanks a great play between Sanchez, Martial, and Lukaku.

The second half started much better for United. Chelsea let off the gas quite a bit and let United keep the ball for awhile, which of course slowed it down by a lot. Eventually, this lead to a great cross that Lingard redirects into the goal. A great sight towards the end of the game for Manchester fans to see Bailly back on the pitch, of course he did well to help close the game out and neutralize Chelsea’s attack.

Individual Performances:

Pogba did great in his role this game, great passes overall and maintaining of possession.

McTominay and Matic dominated the back half of the pitch and did a great job controlling the tempo of the game.

Willian is by far one of the best creative players in the Premier League, he’s continued to be the spark in Chelsea’s game, not rated enough by many fans (excluding Chelsea fans).

Morata definitely needs to improve. He’s been a decent signing for Chelsea but he had many chances to change the game, whether it was in front of goal or on the build up, he just failed to make an impact.

Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Spurs

This post has been long enough, but just a quick nod to this game. Yes Spurs dominated the whole game and could’ve scored earlier, but Crystal Palace did really well to hold them off and it’s not a great look it took so long to break through the defense. A win is a win though and it’s one of the toughest leagues in the world, so good job Tottenham for getting a win when it was very much expected of you.

Thanks for reading if you stuck around all the way down here. We’ll be back this week with more all around coverage starting Tuesday, hope to see you all then!

Premier League Rundown 2/24/18

plrundown22418

We’re back! The English Premier League has returned from the FA Cup break which had some magical moments (like Manchester City falling to Wigan), but now Manchester City will probably also resume playing the way they did before the break. Without further ado, this Saturday’s rundown.

Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City

Stoke escape with a draw, and it was really all on Leicester. Shaqiri stays being class, putting the Potters up one goal early on and extending his scoring streak. The second half was just all Leicester scoring chances, it was a miracle they didn’t score on a couple occasions. However, the only goal for the Foxes was on the mistake of the goalkeeper, Jack Butland, but he later made some great saves to keep them in the game.

AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United

Missed opportunity, that’s the best way to describe this game for Newcastle. When you are only a point above the relegation zone and your team is up by two goals, you just can’t give it up in the last 10 minutes. The Magpies got seriously outplayed those last 10 minutes, but before then they were in cruise control with nothing looking to change. They won’t survive the season in the EPL like that, but fair play to a resilient Bournemouth side that kept pushing.

Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 Swansea City

A second half of the table smack down. Swansea was starting to look much more improved under Carvalhal, and this might just be a hiccup, but they were thoroughly dismantled by this Brighton team. And they are now underwater once again, they’re next match is against West Ham, that should be a tight game.

Burnley 1-1 Southampton

Burnley are continuing their sputtering form, but it was a still a solid game from both teams. Good goal from Gabbiadini to equalize, but they’re still locked in a three way tie with Crystal Palace and Swansea for the top relegation spot. Burnley have Everton next, an even match up where nothing is sure for either side.

Liverpool 4-1 West Ham United

Not even Chicharito could save West Ham from Liverpool’s flourishing offense. They netted four goals, and made sure to distribute them evenly among the offense. While West Ham’s defense was holding on for awhile, they did not have enough to keep up. Liverpool were up by three goals before West Ham even could get anything on the score sheet.

West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Huddersfield Town

West Brom woes continue, a tale that hasn’t changed all season, and won’t change today. Huddersfield have a decent team and are putting up better performances again, they weren’t gonna drop this one.

Watford 1-0 Everton

While this match seemed well on its way to being a simple 0-0 draw. Deeney, the Watford legend, banged a goal in the top corner putting them ahead. Leading up to this goal Watford was bombarding Everton with chance after chance on goal. Everton looked content to defend the draw, but after that goal they were quick to make some attacking substitutions that ultimately fell short. Watford still managed to keep the ball for most of the remaining minutes and could’ve easily made it 2-0 had Pickford not denied Deeney’s late shot on goal. Pickford wasn’t done quite yet, on the last corner he actually got his head on the ball and putting it in a very dangerous position, Everton almost steal the draw at the end.

That’s our Saturday summary, but tomorrow some much more interesting matches, especially Manchester United vs. Chelsea, our deep dive of the weekend, stay tuned!

Champions League: Round of 16 (Day 4)

uclr16d4

No blowouts today! In a change of pace from what the normal has been the last couple match days. The last day of Champions League action for a few weeks ended in some dramatic fashion.

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 AS Roma

What a game. The first leg of this draw had it all; some heroic defending and goalkeeping, great goals and individual play-making. Roma drew first blood after some great passing that left Cengiz √únder right in front of goal alone to finish the shot. The second half was not a good one for Roma though. Ferreyra, the Shakhtar Donetsk player, opened the scoring with a fast break in which he just had to beat one defender to have a cool calm finish. That’s a nice result right? Well Donetsk was not gonna let it be, they continued pushing, and on a free kick, Fred, channeled his inner Messi and banged the winner off the crossbar. While there was plenty of time after the goal for Roma to equalize, their efforts fell short and now they will have plenty of ground to make up.

Sevilla 0-0 Manchester United

The headlines on this game are already how Manchester United escaped with a draw, and rightfully so.

Yes, the only reason Manchester United is leaving Spain with a scoreless draw is David de Gea, who time and time again has continued to prove himself as the top goalkeeper currently playing. If we look closer though we can see that Sevilla just dominated this game, the possession stats were overwhelmingly theirs. Shots on goal were 8-1 in favor of Sevilla. Point blank saves were just a norm for de Gea this game, it quite literally felt like nothing was gonna beat the brick wall that is David de Gea.

Sevilla will definitely be regretting not having put a couple on United to have a better chance away but they certainly did their part. There is the argument that it is simply the Mourinho way to sit back and defend, absorb the pressure. Surely conceding so many shots on goal could not be part of the process, if David de Gea does not have an outstanding game, this draw is over before it even gets to the second leg.

This United squad needs to start playing better. The amount of talent available on the squad and the lack of results being delivered is terrible. Even after this match though Manchester United have to be the favorite to go through.

The return legs for both of these matches will be March 13. Will Roma come back? Can United depend on their players, not just their keeper?

Champions League: Round of 16 (Day 3)

clr16d3

Week two of the round of 16 is here. A big question this week is whether the English clubs can maintain their good results in the Champions League. Also, whether the favorites would be upset, and today at least, it didn’t.

Bayern Munich 5-0 Besiktas

The most one sided affair of all the matches this week got even more one sided with a early red card to Domagoj Vida, a Besiktas player. This was just the beginning of what would be a five goal rout. Muller and Lewandowski netted a brace each and Coman got a goal as well. The match was one way traffic the whole 90 minutes. The possession stats were 69-31 in Bayern’s favor, and 35 shots (12 on goal), compared to 6 shots (1 on goal) for Besiktas. The second leg will be a hard one to watch, but hopefully with better defense from the Besiktas side.

Chelsea 1-1 FC Barcelona

Barcelona decided to field the same starting lineup against Chelsea as the one they had against Eibar on the weekend, which was bound to have fatigue. The match was tight the whole entire way, however Chelsea looked dangerous to score, or more specifically Willian. Willian hit the post twice. However, Chelsea finally broke through on the 62nd minute with a goal by Willian himself. His shot totally fooled Ter Stegen, it looked like it would be outside the post, but quickly curled back in.

It didn’t take Barcelona long to strike back, 13 minutes later after a great pass to the top of the box Lionel Messi gets a goal of his own. David Azpilicueta also attempted a diving tackle to prevent the pass, but it did not quite work out. After that goal both sides seemed to be very protective of their score and defended well. Conte attempted to bring on Morata for a different attacking strategy, but he felt invisible. He then paired that substitution with taking Fabregas off for Drinkwater, which was still playing it safe.

This result is definitely in Barcelona’s favor, they will receive Chelsea at home with an away goal in hand. They should be the clear favorites to go through to the next round.

The return leg for both of these matches will be on March 14. Bayern Munich will probably field youth, but Chelsea will be at the Camp Nou, and honestly it’s gonna be a hard win to pull out.

Champions League: Round of 16 (Day 2)

uclr16d2t2

The last day of this week’s Champions League match ups has finally come to an end. And the most anticipated round of 16 match between PSG and Real Madrid did not disappoint.

FC Porto 0-5 Liverpool

Liverpool took care of business on the road just like Manchester City did yesterday. The goals kept falling to this dangerous offense, Mane bagged the hat trick, while Salah and Bobby Firmino got one each as well. Liverpool took the wheel and never let go, the goals kept coming and the defense held strong with a clean sheet. With this help Liverpool will be able to focus much less on the return leg and focus more on the league.

Real Madrid 3-1 Paris Saint-Germaine

Real Madrid gets the win at home, and what a way to do it. This round of 16 draw is gonna be a big decider for the fate of each manager, with each team having so much pressure to perform in this tournament. Both teams started the game quite aggressively, not always characteristic of the first leg of a draw. Leading to the first half ending in a tie, with PSG netting that crucial away goal.

There’s a couple things that Unai Emery is going to think here at the half time, this Real Madrid team hasn’t been in the best goal scoring form, and you already have the away goal, a 1-1 result would be great to take home. So at the 66th minute he takes out Cavani and puts in Meunier, a very defensive minded substitution. In my opinion, as soon as you make the decision that attacking isn’t a priority, you’re at a huge disadvantage, you cannot trust a team with the quality of Real Madrid to not have multiple great chances for 20 minutes.

Now here’s where Zidane made the right choice, between the 68th and 79th minute, he makes three key offensive substitutes bringing in Vazquez, Bale and Asensio. Instead of being complacent he pushed for another goal knowing the return leg at PSG was going to be as challenging as it gets. Asensio makes an instant impact, and passes the ball into the corridor of uncertainty where Ronaldo hits it home off his knee. To put the icing on top Marcelo scores one more time to make it three, his work rate this game was nothing short of incredible.

The whole entire defense of Real Madrid shined this game, Varane made multiple great clearances, and Ramos made many goal saving blocks maybe preventing some goals that could’ve thrown the momentum of this match the other way.

PSG’s goal keeper Areola was having a great game right up until those last goals, and Emery’s attempt to salvage the game with the Draxler substitution was too little too late.

Real Madrid is in a great position to go through now, but it would be a mistake to count out a team with as much talent as PSG, it’s gonna be a nail biter.

Both return legs for these fixtures will be played on March 6th.

 

Champions League: Round of 16

uefaclr16t2.jpg

The first matches of the round of 16 finally were played today. If you wanted goals then you definitely got your money’s worth.

Juventus 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Juve got off to a flying start thanks to a quick set piece goal by Higuain. Quickly after, Juve put another one in from the spot after earning a well deserved penalty.

Tottenham’s attack couldn’t be counted out and as soon as the second goal went in Kane looked dangerous to score. Allegri’s men sat back and just tried to absorb the pressure and it didn’t work out at all. Kane beat Buffon after receiving a great pass and put it in the back of the empty net. The onslaught wouldn’t stop until Spurs gave up another penalty, this one would give Higuain the hat trick, and he hit the crossbar. Spurs went into the half only one down, but surely Juve’s defense can hold at home. It didn’t. Eriksen scored from a free kick by blasting a shot on the ground to Buffon’s right, he’s gonna want that one back.

The game ended 2-2, a truly great result for Spurs, being 2-0 down away. They never stopped fighting and you have to give them credit for that. The draw isn’t over of course, there’s still another leg, but if they play like this again it’s hard to see them not passing.

FC Basel 0-4 Manchester City

The match that never quite looked it would go any other way, and actually ended much worse than expected. Basel, the same giants that took down Manchester United just a season ago looked to try and repeat. However, this City squad is still on fire and it seems everyone in the lineup has a burning itch to score screamers. Gundogan, Silva, and Aguero all got on the score sheet with great goals. They utterly dominated the match with Basel only getting one or two real chances.

Next leg will be at Manchester City’s home and it seems this draw is done and dusted. It would truly take a miracle to have Basel even get close.

The second leg for both matches will take place March 6th.

Thanks for reading, tomorrow will be day 2 of round of 16, it should be another great day of football.

Premier League Rundown (Part 2)

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League

Well, nothing crazy really happened. Southampton lost to Liverpool, Huddersfield beat a skidding Bournemouth, and United lost to Newcastle exactly the way everyone expected. So without further ado let’s get into it.

Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United

The Magpies really needed a win and they were at home, but it came at the expense of Manchester United player’s dignity. Martial couldn’t finish to save his life, mind you the whole United team couldn’t. The build up play was good, but the saves by Newcastle were better. In my opinion, we weren’t in the race to win the league anyway. To keep pace however United needs to win these games. Mourinho may also have made some comments about a certain team being lucky, whether you agree or not that’s a huge moment for Newcastle and their fans, no need to stir the pot for no reason.

Huddersfield Town 4-1 AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth is struggling, and it seems that Huddersfield is on the up and up. They absolutely dominated a poor Bournemouth side that just wanted to get by the weekend with at least a point. Next Bournemouth plays Newcastle and will likely continue their losing, while Huddersfield plays United and will have a chance to continue their winning ways.

Southampton 0-2 Liverpool

Salah & co. had a great outing at Southampton’s stadium. In only six minutes Bobby Firmino cracked through Southampton back line and after that it was smooth cruising. Salah put the game away and made it 2-0 with great team-play. The defense held their ground and saw the game out, a clean sheet for Liverpool is much appreciated but is this the end of their defensive woes? They play FC Porto next in the Champions League, that will be a better decider of whether they really are a reformed team.

Only one more game of the week, and that’s Chelsea. They go up against a terrible West Brom side, but even Conte’s men should be able to put this team away right? I’d hope so, catch the review here, thanks for reading.