MLS

MLS: Chicharito nets as Galaxy snap winless run to boost playoffs hopes, leaders New England stumble

By Sports Desk October 17, 2021

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez got on the scoresheet as LA Galaxy breathed life in their MLS playoffs aspirations with a 2-1 home win over Portland Timbers on Saturday.

Sacha Kljestan netted a stoppage-time penalty to clinch all three points for Galaxy, who had been in a freefall with a winless nine-game span.

Chicharito poked in at the back post for the opening goal in the 62nd minute, pouncing on Larrys Mabiala's defensive error from Victor Vazquez's ball into the box.

The Timbers equalized 10 minutes later when Sebastian Blanco's cross-cum-shot drifted over Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and in off the post.

Blanco hit the upright from a long-range effort, before LA won a penalty when substitute Efrain Alvarez was brought down inside the box by Josecarlos Van Rankin.

Kljestan fired low to Timbers keeper Steve Clark's right for the winner which moves Galaxy up to 42 points, retaining their grip on sixth spot in the Western Conference.

Supporters Shield-leading New England Revolution conceded late as they drew 2-2 at home with Chicago Fire.

The sides traded four goals in the second half, with Wilfred Kaptoum drilling in a low opener in the 47th minute before Alvaro Medran equalized instantly with a classy volley.

Gustavo Bou netted his 13th goal of the season to restore Revolution's lead with a deft lob from Carles Gil's lofted pass in behind the defence in the 76th minute.

Bou was denied by Chicago keeper Gabriel Slonina before Brian Gutierrez danced forward for the visitors, finding Ignacio Aliseda who fired home an angled 88th minute leveller.

Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders missed the chance to close on New England after going down 2-1 at Houston Dynamo.

Maxi Urruti scored a spectacular volley to put Houston ahead on the quarter hour, with Darwin Quintero doubling their lead with a fine solo left-foot strike in the 20th minute.

Jimmy Medranda halved the deficit with a rifled 41st minute shot after recycling an over-hit corner, although Houston came closest to a second-half goal, hitting the woodwork four times, before Seattle's Joao Paulo had a stoppage-time free-kick cannon into the crossbar.

Real Salt Lake solidified their grip on a playoffs spot with a 3-1 home victory over Colorado Rapids, who are third in the Western Conference.

Minnesota United remained ahead of RSL by two points with a 1-0 triumph at lowly Austin thanks to Franco Frangapane's 16th-minute strike.

US international Gyasi Zardes netted a double as Columbus Crew thrashed Inter Miami 4-0, condemning them to their sixth straight defeat, during which they have scored one goal and conceded 16 times.

Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno both netted late in each half as 10-man Atlanta United triumphed 2-0 at Toronto.

Junior Urso netted early as Orlando City eased past struggling Cincinnati 1-0, while DC United and Nashville drew 0-0 with the visitors recorded a draw for the fourth successive game.

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    Los Angeles FC kept rivals LA Galaxy within touching distance as they got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

    Denis Bouanga scored in both halves, either side of Mateusz Bogusz's strike, to earn a resounding win at Lumen Field.

    The hosts got off to a terrible start as Nouhou Tolo was penalised for a handball during a scramble in the box, with a spot-kick being awarded to LAFC.

    Bouanga made no mistake from 12 yards, giving Stefan Frei no chance as he rifled a powerful effort high down the middle.

    LAFC doubled their lead 10 minutes later, with Seattle failing to clear their lines following a free-kick before Bogusz volleyed brilliantly across goal.

    Despite a flurry of chances in the second half, the Sounders failed to test their opponents and were caught on the break when Bouanga neatly turned two defenders before beating Frei for power.

    He could have had a hat-trick late on as he got one-on-one with Frei, but the goalkeeper stood his ground, saving brilliantly to deny him.

    Seattle finally found their fight in the dying moments, with Hugo Lloris called into three huge saves to keep his clean sheet and ensure LAFC go into the Leagues Cup break just two points behind the Galaxy in the Western Conference with two games in hand. 

    Data Debrief: Bouanga closing in

    Bouanga's second goal of the match was his 16th this season, the most of any LAFC player. It also moves him just one behind Real Salt Lake's Chicho Arango in the race for the Golden Boot. 

    At the other end of the pitch, Lloris' impressive late show saw him earn a ninth clean sheet of the season in 24 games. No team has had more shutouts in MLS this campaign than LAFC.

  • Inter Miami 2-1 Chicago Fire: Alba scores late to keep Herons on top Inter Miami 2-1 Chicago Fire: Alba scores late to keep Herons on top

    Jordi Alba scored the winner for Inter Miami in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire as they moved five points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.

    Matias Rojas had given the Herons an early lead before being pegged back by Rafael Czichos, but Alba's winner ensured Miami made it back-to-back wins.

    FC Cincinnati's third defeat in a row, a 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, means Miami now have some breathing space at the summit of the table.

    The hosts were still without Lionel Messi, who watched on from the sidelines with an ankle injury, but made a quick start without their talisman.

    Robert Taylor's bursting run opened up the space in behind Chicago for him to pull it back into the middle, and Rojas fired his shot across goal to pick out the bottom-right corner.

    Moments later, Hugo Cuypers almost pegged them back when he benefitted from Drake Callendar's spill, but the goalkeeper recovered well to deny him.

    Julian Gressel then fired a brilliant chance wide, not realising he had more time, but almost made up for it on the stroke of half-time, only to fire a powerful shot against the crossbar.

    The Fire improved after the break and got their reward in the 73rd minute, with Czichos pushing out from defence before nestling a shot into the bottom-left corner.

    Their joy was short-lived though, as just two minutes later, Alba made the most of a mix-up at the back and slotted into an empty net to seal the three points.

    Data Debrief: Miami on target once more

    Miami have scored in each of their last 11 games in MLS, their longest streak this season. In fact, they have only failed to score in two of their 25 matches in the league so far.

    Alba's last strike here ensured they ended a four-match winless streak against the Fire (drawing one, losing three), having failed to beat them since August 2021. 

  • Alexander-Arnold says Lineker's Euro 2024 criticism of England was warranted Alexander-Arnold says Lineker's Euro 2024 criticism of England was warranted

    Trent Alexander-Arnold admits England's players agreed with Gary Lineker's controversial description of the Three Lions' Euro 2024 performances as "s***".

    Lineker hit out at England's display in a 1-1 group-stage draw with Denmark on his podcast, The Rest is Football, in comments that attracted a fierce response from captain Harry Kane.

    Kane responded by saying former England players in the media had a "responsibility" when it came to discussing the national team, calling on them to be more supportive.

    Alexander-Arnold, however, says many in the camp agreed with Lineker's criticism and feels some used it as motivation as the Three Lions grew into the tournament, finishing as runners-up to Spain.

    "We had all seen it and heard it and felt it," the Liverpool ace told The Daily Mirror. "We all knew that we could be playing and performing better. 

    "It is never nice for someone to point that out but everyone deep down knew it within ourselves, too.

    "It was something we were already thinking about, we knew we needed to be better. We had to add that to our performances, some players may have used that as motivation."

    England created chances worth just 6.15 expected goals (xG) in their seven games in Germany, with only Scotland (0.32), Serbia (0.7), Slovenia (0.81), Albania (0.82) and Italy (0.84) averaging a lower xG figure per game than their 0.88.

    The Three Lions needed a stoppage-time overhead kick from Jude Bellingham to overcome Slovakia in the last 16, a penalty shoot-out to advance against Switzerland in the quarter-finals and a last-minute Ollie Watkins winner to beat the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

    After England's dramatic run ended with a 2-1 final loss to Spain, manager Gareth Southgate announced his resignation following eight years at the helm.

    Alexander-Arnold believes the Three Lions' aim for the 2026 World Cup must be to finally get over the line, promising the squad will give their all for Southgate's successor.

    "Everyone has a high expectation with England now and rightly so, it is true of us as players," he added.

    "We feel we should be winning tournaments, that is the goal and standard we have set ourselves. That will be there for the new manager."

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