MLS

MLS: Nani stunner inspires Orlando, Earthquakes and Dallas win big

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

Nani produced a moment of magic to help Orlando City beat FC Cincinnati 3-0 in MLS, while San Jose Earthquakes and Dallas recorded crushing victories.

Tesho Akindele scored the fastest goal in club history as Orlando got off to a quick start at home to Jaap Stam's Cincinnati on Saturday.

Akindele found the back of the net after just 33 seconds, surpassing the Orlando record set by Chris Mueller (62 seconds) in April 2018.

Nani doubled the lead in stunning fashion in the 19th minute – the former Manchester United star leaving Yuya Kubo on the floor after cutting to his right foot and then his left as he curled the ball past Przemyslaw Tyton.

After Nani hit the post minutes later and saw his shot saved by Cincinnati goalkeeper Tyton just past the hour mark, Junior Urso sealed the victory with 10 minutes remaining.

Orlando – who remain unbeaten through three games – are third in the Eastern Conference, behind leaders New England Revolution and second-placed New York City.

The Revolution edged Atlanta United 2-1 and New York City defeated reigning Supporters' Shield winners Philadelphia Union 2-0.

The Earthquakes and Dallas, meanwhile, both won 4-1 against DC United and Portland Timbers respectively.

Jackson Yueill's brace and a pair of assists from Cade Cowell fuelled the Earthquakes, who are top of the Western Conference on goal difference but level on points with Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy and Austin FC.

Dallas showed no mercy at home to the Timbers after Andres Ricaurte and Jader Obrian scored in the opening 13 minutes.

Real Salt Lake came from behind to top Sporting Kansas City 3-1 courtesy of Rubio Rubin's second-half double, while MLS newcomers Austin prevailed 1-0 against Minnesota United.

Elsewhere, New York Red Bulls were 2-0 winners over Chicago Fire, defending champions Columbus Crew were held to a goalless draw by Montreal Impact and Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles FC played out a 1-1 draw.

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    Thomas Tuchel has spoken of his admiration for Ousmane Dembele amid reports the Barcelona outcast could be a transfer target for Chelsea.

    Dembele looks to be on his way out of Barca due to a contract stand-off that has turned sour.

    The France winger warned the Catalan giants that he would not be "giving in to any blackmail" after Barca director Mateu Alemany ordered him to find a new club "immediately".

    Dembele is only under contract with the Blaugrana until the end of the season and Alemany declared he expects the 24-year-old to move on before the transfer window closes at the of this month as "we want to have players committed to the project."

    Tuchel saw Dembele's talent first-hand when he played under the Blues boss at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season before the former Rennes man joined Barca for an initial fee of €105million.

     

    The Barca contract rebel's chances created per game average of 2.36 this season is better than any of the Chelsea squad who can play in the same position, while his dribbles completed (6.69) also compares favourably.

    Dembele has also had more shots per game (4.46) and made more crosses from open play (6.69) than the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.

    And while Tuchel stopped short of declaring his interest in his former player, the Chelsea head coach is well aware of what he is capable of.

    "He is a very good player when he is at his top level," Tuchel said. "I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund.

    "It was only one year; it should have been longer. I needed to leave and he decided to leave. From there we are not in closest contact.

    "We met here and there because of his duties for the French national team and of course I was in Paris so this was more or less when they were preparing for national duties."

    Chelsea face a big Premier League derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

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    The one-legged fixture at San Mames is a repeat of last week's Supercopa de Espana final, which Madrid won 2-0 to secure the first silverware of Carlo Ancelotti's second spell.

    Madrid will now look to take advantage of record 31-time winners Barca's last-16 exit to Athletic, with Iker Muniain's extra-time penalty eliminating the holders in a 3-2 defeat. 

    Friday's draw, which was conducted by Spain legend David Villa, also pitted LaLiga high-flyers Real Sociedad and Real Betis.

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    Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann remains unsure on the progress of Manuel Neuer's contract negotiations but heaped praise on the "outstanding" goalkeeper.

    Neuer has made 300 appearances in the Bundesliga for Bayern since moving from Schalke and holds the record for the most clean sheets in the German top flight (209), having surpassed Oliver Kahn (196) in 2021.

    But the Germany international's current contract in Munich expires at the end of the next season, when he will be aged 37, leading to questions over his future.

    While Nagelsmann was unable to provide an update on the situation, he insisted that the 35-year-old can continue performing for many years to come.

    "I don't know [about negotiations] but I know that he still has a contract and is an outstanding goalkeeper," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of a trip to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

    "You could see right away that he played an outstanding game against Cologne. He will keep this quality for a few more years."

    Asked about the competition, or lack of, between Neuer and Alexander Nubel, the Bayern head coach responded: "As long as he's playing at this level, it's difficult for any player to get past him. 

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    The reigning Bundesliga champions head to Berlin six points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top after a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 win over Cologne.

    Hertha have won just one of their last 21 league meetings with the Bavarian side, while Nagelsmann has not lost any of his 12 top-flight clashes with them as a coach.

    Only Christoph Daum, against Bochum, has faced an opponent more often (20) without losing a single time but Nagelsmann downplayed the importance of his record against Sunday's opponents.

    "It's more of a coincidence," he added on his success against Hertha. "We didn't always play exceptionally well in Berlin. If you have a positive record, you should make sure that it's like that remains.

    "They play significantly more football than before, more flat balls, but still a lot of chip balls to [Ishak] Belfodil, who is one of the most under-rated strikers in the league.

    "He works well with his body, it's incredibly difficult to defend. 

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    "The rest of the defence will be very important for us. In the end, you saw against Wolfsburg that there are a lot of spaces you can attack from, but they also defend much more actively and aggressively."

    Despite Bayern's recent dominance, Nagelsmann insisted there is still potential for much improvement, though he feels their progress in Europe could depend on coronavirus.

    "I'm satisfied, but we still have a lot of potential," he added. "The processes haven't worked consistently for several weeks. Me and the players take a critical look. 

    "It's the case that the coronavirus issue is the season will affect how the teams get through. 

    "There are no longer the extreme quarantine rules. Corona is a thing that you cannot influence very well. If you want to go far in the Champions League, you also have to be a little lucky with Corona quarantines."

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