MLS

MLS: Revolution, Sounders remain top of table with victories

By Sports Desk June 20, 2021

New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders remained atop the table in their respective conferences with road wins Saturday. 

Thomas McNamara's goal in the 88th minute gave New England a 3-2 victory over New York City FC, just three minutes after Ismael Tajouri-Shradi had equalised for the home side.

Gustavo Bou and Jon Bell also found the net for the Revolution, who are five points clear of Orlando City in the Eastern Conference. 

Out west, goals four minutes on either side of half-time from Yeimar Gomez and Raul Ruidiaz lifted unbeaten Seattle to a 2-1 win at LA Galaxy. 

Orlando City got early goals from Tesho Akindele and Nani before Junior Urso netted in the 84th minute to defeat Toronto FC 3-2. 

Columbus Crew got a brace from Gyasi Zardes to beat Chicago Fire 2-0, while Colorado Rapids won by the same scoreline at FC Cincinnati as Diego Rubio and Jonathan Lewis found the scoresheet. 

Ola Kamara's 72nd-minute penalty was the difference for D.C. United in a 1-0 win over Inter Miami, who saw Gregore and Ryan Shawcross shown red cards. 

Portland Timbers defeated Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on first-half goals from Dairon Asprilla and Marvin Loria. 

Ricardo Pepi's 68th-minute equaliser gave FC Dallas a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United after Franco Fragapane had given the visitors a first-half lead, while Austin FC and San Jose Earthquakes finished in a 0-0 draw. 

Houston Dynamo earned a point on the road in a 1-1 draw against Los Angeles FC as Maximiliano Urruti matched Jose Cifuentes' second-half goal.

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    Gonzalo Pineda remains confident things will turn for Atlanta United after nine MLS games without a victory, as the Five Stripes prepare to visit Inter Miami on Wednesday.

    Atlanta sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, 21 points adrift of pacesetters Miami, after failing to win any of their last nine matches since the start of April (four draws, five defeats).

    Sporting Kansas City (two) are the only team in MLS to earn fewer than the four points Atlanta have picked up in that span.

    However, Pineda believes the fact Atlanta are still creating chances is a major positive, saying Thiago Almada's return to full fitness will surely lead to an upturn.

    Speaking after Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Los Angeles FC, he said: "I'm very confident in the team, honestly. 

    "Once again I thought we created some big chances, and we didn't have Thiago available for more than 30 minutes. With that, we have our backline being stable again and we'll have our best attacking pieces together again.

    "That's the confidence I have. We're creating chances and we just need to be a little bit more clinical."

    Miami, meanwhile, continued their strong form with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last time out, despite Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets all being rested.

    While Messi's absence infuriated many of the 55,000 fans present in Vancouver, coach Gerardo Martino says it was important to give the Argentina great a breather, and he is expected to feature on Wednesday.

    "It must be stressed that he has played a lot of minutes this season, so we had to find a moment to give him a break and to rest him for a match," Martino said of Messi.

    "In this specific case, the trip to Vancouver made the most sense. We understand people's frustrations, especially because of the desire these fans have to see these players. 

    "But as coaches, we have to make these decisions that are uncomfortable and that will frustrate people. Ultimately we have to look after our players and the team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Inter Miami – Leonardo Campana

    Prior to missing last week's trip to Vancouver, Messi had gone consecutive starts without a goal contribution for the second time since joining Miami last year. 

    Fortunately for the Herons, Campana has stepped up, hitting back-to-back winners against D.C. United and the Whitecaps. He has four goals in MLS this term, despite only making six starts.

    Atlanta United – Brooks Lennon

    No Atlanta player has recorded more key passes in MLS this year than Lennon's 33, a tally only Almada can match. 

    If the Five Stripes are to end their dismal run of form, he could have a key role to play.

    MATCH PREDICTION – INTER MIAMI WIN

    Atlanta are winless in 13 straight away matches in all competitions (seven draws, six defeats), and have now managed just four wins in their last 43 road games.

    Miami, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last 10 MLS matches, winning seven of the last eight. They even showed they can cope without Messi on Saturday, recording just their third win in 14 matches without the Argentine since his arrival last July (five draws, six losses).

    Miami have never lost a home game against Atlanta, winning four and drawing two versus them, including winning each of the teams' last three clashes in Fort Lauderdale.

    The only road win in the 12-match history of the teams' series was a 2-1 victory for the Herons at Atlanta in September 2020.

    Martino's team enter Wednesday's game as big favourites, regardless of the status of their stars.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Inter Miami – 51.2%

    Atlanta United – 25.7%

    Draw – 23.1%

  • Ten Hag deserves more time after FA Cup win, says Man Utd great Yorke Ten Hag deserves more time after FA Cup win, says Man Utd great Yorke

    Erik ten Hag should be given another season by the new regime at Manchester United after masterminding their FA Cup triumph, says former Red Devils striker Dwight Yorke.

    Ten Hag's future was subject to speculation throughout a largely dismal season for United, who recorded their lowest ever Premier League finish of eighth. 

    They also exited the Champions League in the group stage, losing 19 matches and conceding 85 goals across all competitions.

    However, they finished an underwhelming campaign on a high note on Saturday, with Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo scoring in a shock 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Manchester City.

    Yorke says Ten Hag deserves credit for the way he set United up at Wembley Stadium, as the Red Devils edged City for expected goals (1.59 xG to 1.35), shots on target (five to four) and big chances (two to one) despite only having 26.4 per cent of the possession.

    "I think everybody thought this United team was never going to get the result. And for us, who have been in football for such a long time, the unthinkable can happen occasionally," Yorke told Stats Perform.

    "I have to say, Ten Hag deserves a lot of credit. There's a lot of noise coming out from the United end about whether he was going to be the manager. 

    "After the end of this game, whether he won or lost, he had the players focused. I think this could arguably be United's best performance this season. I really do. 

    "There were a lot of negatives coming out of the camp, but I truly think they were far superior tactically. The way we set up and made life very difficult for them [City]. 

    "They were in City's face, not allowing them too much space to dominate the game. I thought they were superb. The manager deserves a lot of credit and the players deserve a lot of credit for showing up on a day when no one gave them a chance to win the game."

    The likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Kieran McKenna have all been linked with United as the Jim Ratcliffe regime weighs up whether to stick with Ten Hag for 2024-25.

    But Yorke feels the Dutchman has now done enough to remain at the helm, adding: "I've been a critic of Ten Hag, I have to say that. I've gone on record and said he needed to win this game to have any chance of continuing to be manager. 

    "To win two competitions in two years, then that's quite the turnaround. I think he deserves another year, I really do. 

    "Whether he's the man taking us forward in terms of his style, that's another question, but he certainly deserves another year in my opinion."

  • Courtois omitted from Belgium squad for Euro 2024 as Witsel returns Courtois omitted from Belgium squad for Euro 2024 as Witsel returns

    Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been omitted from Belgium's 25-man squad for Euro 2024.

    Courtois suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury shortly before the start of the season in August, only returning to action against Cadiz earlier this month.

    He is seen as the favourite to start between the sticks when Los Blancos face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final on Saturday, despite Andriy Lunin impressing as Carlo Ancelotti's side overcame Manchester City and Bayern Munch in the last two rounds.

    Courtois became embroiled in a public spat with Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco last June, walking out on the squad when he was not named captain in the wake of Eden Hazard's retirement.

    That incident meant he was always unlikely to feature at this year's tournament in Germany, and his absence has now been confirmed with Koen Casteels, Thomas Kaminski and Matz Sels the three shot-stoppers named in Tedesco's 25-man party.

    There is, however, a recall for Axel Witsel, who announced his international retirement last May but has now reversed that decision.

    Belgium begin their Group E campaign against Slovakia in Frankfurt on June 17, before taking on Romania five days later and Ukraine on June 26. 

    Full 25-man squad: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thomas Kaminski (Luton Town), Matz Sels (Nottingham Forest), Timothy Castagne (Fulham), Maxim De Cuyper (Club Brugge), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Wout Faes (Leicester City), Thomas Meunier (Trabzonspor), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Arthur Theate (Stade Rennais), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Orel Mangala (Lyon), Amadou Onana (Everton), Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa), Arthur Vermeeren (Atletico Madrid), Aster Vranckx (Wolfsburg), Johan Bakayoko (PSV), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (Roma), Dodi Lukebakio (Sevilla), Lois Openda (RB Leipzig), Leandro Trossard (Arsenal).

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