MLS

MLS: Gil fuels fifth straight Revs win, Chicharito scores and Sounders extend club-record unbeaten start

By Sports Desk June 24, 2021

New England Revolution claimed their fifth consecutive MLS victory after staving off a late scare to win 3-2 over New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

The Revolution raced to a three-goal lead but were forced to hold on in the final quarter of an hour after strikes from Patryk Klimala and Andres Reyes midweek.

Carles Gil provided the assist for all three Revolution goals, taking his season tally to an MLS-high 10, stabbing through to Canadian forward Tajon Buchanan for the 26th-minute opener.

Spanish midfielder Gil laid off for DeJuan Jones' 32nd-minute strike, before pumping the ball forward for Gustavo Bou to make it 3-0 six minutes into the second half before the Red Bulls rallied.

The win moved New England five points clear in the Eastern Conference, sitting ahead of Orlando City – who have a game in hand – and Philadelphia Union who are both on 18 points.

Jamiro Monteiro scored the only goal of the game as Philadelphia kept up their good form with a 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew.

Seattle Sounders remain unbeaten after Raul Ruidiaz's 88th-minute penalty clinched a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake, extending their club-record unbeaten start to 10 matches.

Cristian Roldan had put Seattle ahead five minutes into the second half, reacting fastest to score from a rebound inside the box.

RSL levelled with 12 minutes to go, when they won a penalty which was converted by Slovakian Albert Rusnak.

Ruidiaz had the final say netting his eighth goal of the season with a cool Panenka finish from the spot for the Western Conference-leading Sounders.

New York City continued their rollercoaster run with a 1-0 triumph over Atlanta United via Ismael Tajouri's 69th-minute winner.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez got on the scoresheet before late drama as LA Galaxy won 2-1 at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward Chicharito opened the scoring, sliding home in the 47th minute with Galaxy appearing destined to claim all three points before a 90th-minute equaliser from Janio Bikel.

There would be another late twist, when the Galaxy's Efrain Alvarez scored in the third minute of stoppage – his stunning strike finding the back of the net after hopeful ball into the box.

Mexico international Carlos Vela also netted along with providing an assist as Los Angeles FC won 2-0 over Dallas.

Elsewhere, Sporting Kansas City defeated Colorado Rapids 3-1, Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo drew 2-2, Nashville outlasted Toronto 3-2 courtesy of a 92nd-minute winner, Cincinnati edged Chicago Fire 1-0, Minnesota United beat Austin 2-0, while 10-man Montreal and DC United played out a goalless stalemate.

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    Messi claimed the coveted award for a record-extending seventh time on Monday, while Bayern Munich forward Lewandowski won the inaugural Striker of the Year award and finished second in the Ballon d'Or voting.

    The Paris Saint-Germain superstar has enjoyed a superb but bittersweet calendar year, highlighted by finally leading Argentina to success on the international stage with a Copa America victory in which he was both the tournament's top scorer and top assister.

    He then returned to Barcelona expecting to sign a new deal, but the club's financial situation made it impossible.

    In 40 club appearances this year between both Barca and PSG, Messi has managed an impressive 32 goals and 12 assists and was handed the gong by former team-mate Luis Suarez.

    Lewandowski, meanwhile, continued the magnificent form he had displayed across 2020, when he led Bayern to a treble only for last year's edition of the award to be cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The 33-year-old scored 41 Bundesliga goals to break Gerd Muller's 49-year-old record while, so far in 2021, Lewandowski has netted 53 times in 42 appearances, the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues across all competitions. 

    Erling Haaland, his nearest challenger, is 15 back on 38. Lewandowski has averaged a goal every 67 minutes. Among those with 10 goals or more, club-mate Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is the next most regular scorer, netting every 84 minutes.

    "[Lewandowski], you deserve your Ballon d'Or," Messi said upon receiving the award. "Last year, everyone was in agreement to say that you were the big winner.

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    Lewandowski sent his congratulations to the Ballon d'Or winners and nominees on social media, while thanking his teammates and fans for their support in helping him claim the Striker of the Year award.

    "Congratulations Leo Messi and [Women's Ballon d'Or winner] Alexia Putellas, winners of the Ballon d'Or 2021, congratulations also to all nominated players," Lewandowski wrote on social media.

    "I won [the] Striker of the Year Award and no player can win an individual award without [the] strongest team and loyal fans behind him. Thank you for your support."

    Messi indicated in his acceptance speech a desire to keep playing, with retirement not on the 34-year-old's agenda in the near future.

    "I don't know how many years I have left, but I hope there will still be many because I am having enormous fun," Messi added.

  • Lionel Messi wins historic seventh Ballon d'Or Lionel Messi wins historic seventh Ballon d'Or

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    The Paris Saint-Germain star may have endured a somewhat slow start to life in France this season, but before that he was electric for Barcelona and Argentina.

    It was surely his long-awaited first trophy success with La Albiceleste that gave Messi the edge over Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski. 

    Messi captained Argentina to Copa America success in July, ending their 28-year drought in major international competitions.

     

    At the Maracana – the scene of Argentina's 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany – Messi helped Lionel Scaloni's men to a 1-0 win over bitter rivals and Copa hosts Brazil.

    He had previously lost Copa finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016, briefly retiring after missing his penalty in the shootout that saw the trophy slip from their grasp in the latter.

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    Lewandowski had been considered the favourite before then, partly due to breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

    The Poland striker looked likely to have won the award in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    But Messi's success in Brazil seemed to tip the scales in his favour, with the 34-year-old increasing his lead over Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or stakes, the Manchester United forward now two back on five after finishing sixth in the voting this time around.

    Lewandowski did, however, win the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

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    It is the first time the Portugal forward, who was not in attendance at the ceremony in Paris on Monday, has not been named in the top three since 2010, when Messi – who won his second prize that year – was joined by then Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

    Ronaldo managed 30 goals at club level in 2021 for Juventus and Manchester United, while also becoming the all-time top scorer in men's international football.

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    Salah and Mbappe both outscored Ronaldo at club level this calendar year, scoring 32 and 37 goals across all competitions, but finished seventh and ninth respectively.

    Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema claimed the fifth and fourth spots, with Ronaldo's former team-mate enjoying a prolific year, managing 34 goals and 12 assists for Los Blancos in all competitions.

    Jorginho, who won the Euros with Italy and claimed the Champions League with Chelsea, makes it into the top three behind Messi and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who finished second but won the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

    Lewandowski had been considered the favourite before then, partly due to breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season, while he has netted 53 times in 2021.

    The Poland striker looked likely to have won the award in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ballon d'Or top 10:

    1. Lionel Messi (PSG and Argentina)
    2. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland)
    3. Jorginho (Chelsea and Italy)
    4. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid and France)
    5. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea and France)
    6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United and Portugal)
    7. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
    8. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
    9. Kylian Mbappe (PSG and France)
    10. Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG and Italy)

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