MLS

MLS: Beckham's Inter Miami eliminated from play-off contention as NYC clinch, Cade Cowell wows

By Sports Desk October 30, 2021

Inter Miami have been eliminated from the MLS play-off race following a 3-1 defeat to New York City, while San Jose Earthquakes teenager Cade Cowell produced a stunning moment of individual brilliance.

David Beckham's Inter Miami were looking to keep their fading play-off hopes alive on Saturday, however, second-half goals from New York City pair Valentin Castellanos and Talles Magno dashed that dream.

Inter Miami had never taken a point against New York City in their three previous meetings, losing all three. New York City were one of two teams Inter Miami had faced more than once without claiming a point, along with DC United.

That drought continued despite Inter Miami defender Jorge Figal initially cancelling out Castellanos' 33rd-minute opener at DRV PNK Stadium, where co-owner Beckham was in attendance.

But New York City – third in the Eastern Conference – hit back via Castellanos and Magno to clinch a play-off spot thanks to results elsewhere as Inter Miami were left to pick up the pieces in Phil Neville's first season as head coach.

Cade Cowell, meanwhile, scored a memorable solo goal as the Earthquakes outlasted Real Salt Lake 4-3 in a wild showdown.

The 18-year-old collected the ball in his own half with 21 minutes remaining before barging down the right flank, cutting in between two RSL defenders and finishing past David Ochoa with the outside of his boot.

Elsewhere, Fabio netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner as New York Red Bulls edged Montreal 1-0 to move into the seventh and final play-off spot in the east.

Defending champions Columbus Crew kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a 3-1 win over DC United, Toronto and Atlanta United drew 1-1 and 10-man Dallas edged Austin 2-1.

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  • Xhaka in shirt controversy as Switzerland advance Xhaka in shirt controversy as Switzerland advance

    Granit Xhaka found himself at the centre of another controversy involving Serbia after donning a shirt with 'Jashari' on the back following Switzerland’s 3-2 win in Doha on Friday.

    Xhaka produced a man of the match display as the Swiss hit back from 2-1 down to secure second place in Group G and advance to a last-16 clash with Portugal on Tuesday.

    But his actions after the final whistle could attract the attention of FIFA.

    In the post-match celebrations, Xhaka put on a shirt carrying the name 'Jashari'. Asked afterwards what it meant, the Arsenal midfielder claimed it was for Switzerland squad member Ardon Jashari.

    However, the name carries significance in other ways with Adem Jashari a late founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Kosovo Albanian separatist group that fought for independence from the former Yugoslavia.

    Xhaka is of ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 but has not been recognised by Serbia. 

    Asked about the shirt afterwards, Xhaka said: "There’s no political background to it whatsoever.

    "Ardon is part of our squad and we spend a lot of time together. I told him if we won I would wear his shirt."

    Xhaka was a key figure throughout a feisty encounter. He also prompted a second-half melee that saw the Serbia bench encroach on to the pitch after making a crude gesture, thought to be in the direction of substitute goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, whose personal life has been the subject of speculation this week.

    Switzerland boss Murat Yakin said he will "wait and see" if action is taken against Xhaka.

    "We will enjoy this moment, it cost us a lot of emotions and energy. It was a fair match," he said.

    "Before the game a lot of people were talking about the situation but we were able to face that challenge.

    "We are happy we are moving on. Everything else is speculation and we will wait and see."

    On the incident involving Rajkovic, Yakin added: "What I saw was a Granit Xhaka who was focused fully on football and performed very well. I saw the players from Serbia crossing the line, and others trying to calm them down. It was a normal exchange."

    It is not the first time Xhaka has been embroiled in controversy against Serbia. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he and Xherdan Shaqiri were fined after crossing their hands to mimic the eagle displayed on the Albanian flag in Switzerland’s 2-1 win.

    Shaqiri also played his part in Switzerland's victory here, scoring the opening goal at Stadium 974, but appeared annoyed to be taken off after 69 minutes.

    "No-one likes to be subbed," Yakin said. "Every player wants to play the whole game, but it’s part of my responsibility to protect players. He scored his goal and had a great assist.

    "The substitutes brought great energy and I thought they did well."

    The flashpoints overshadowed a wonderful game with Switzerland’s greater composure at key moments proving decisive.

    Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic praised his players but lamented the fact so many were struggling for fitness throughout their time in Qatar. He also insisted he had no intention of resigning.

    He said: "We are not happy with the result but, given the problems we faced from our arrival here and the injuries we had to contend with, it was too much for us to cope with.

    "The guys put up a fight but at this level that is not enough.

    "As for my future, in March we start the qualifiers for the European Championship and we have a great desire to qualify."

    Stojkovic claimed not to hear any of the chants that prompted an announcement over the public address system asking fans to refrain from discriminatory songs or gestures, thought to originate from sections housing Serbian supporters.

  • Brazil waiting on Neymar news as Tite dismisses idea of 'easy' draw Brazil waiting on Neymar news as Tite dismisses idea of 'easy' draw

    Tite warned Brazil must be "very careful" in the knockout stage of the World Cup, when they will hope to have Neymar back from injury.

    The Selecao lost 1-0 to Cameroon on Friday but still topped Group G, meaning they will face South Korea in the second round, rather than Portugal.

    Spain's defeat the previous day appeared to open up the draw further for Brazil, who would now play the winner of Japan's clash with Croatia in the quarter-finals.

    Regardless of their opponents, Brazil will feel more comfortable once Neymar is back in action, but he has not yet trained with a ball following his matchday one injury.

    Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar added: "With 72 hours before the next match, we have time on our side. We still have possibilities."

    With or without his star man, coach Tite certainly will not become complacent, explaining: "Brazil lost to Cameroon. Portugal lost to South Korea. France lost to Tunisia. Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia. I think the results speak for themselves.

    "I think these are very strong, very tough matches. I don't think we can think any prior situation makes it easy. We need to be very careful.

    "We were very careful with the match against Cameroon. We were. We had all of those cares, we took them. They had their merits, played vertically very well. They have merit for the victory like Tunisia and the others.

    "We can't say it's easier and we have an advantage. We can't say that."

    Tite had made nine changes to his Brazil team, selecting an entirely different XI to that which started their finals opener.

    But he said: "Who lost? All of us. Our preparation is joint preparation, our wins are joint wins, our losses are also joint losses."

    The coach called on Brazil to "feel the loss", saying: "The World Cup doesn't give you a second chance, but this time it did.

    "We have to concentrate for 24 hours, suffer for 24 hours, and tomorrow we start getting ready."

    Besides Neymar's progress, there was mixed news on the injury front, with Alex Sandro still recovering alongside the forward but Danilo set to train normally on Saturday.

    That is a timely boost as Alex Telles and Gabriel Jesus are set for scans on knee injuries sustained against Cameroon.

  • Stones rates Kane in Haaland class as England back leader at World Cup crunch point Stones rates Kane in Haaland class as England back leader at World Cup crunch point

    John Stones rates Harry Kane as a striker in the class of Erling Haaland as he backed the England captain to break his Qatar World Cup scoring duck.

    England have reached the last-16 stage without needing a goal from their skipper, taking seven points from their group games and scoring nine times in the process, with both totals unsurpassed at this tournament.

    For Kane not to have netted any of those goals is a surprise, but he has three assists to his name, more than any other player across the group stage, and is contributing in important ways without putting the ball in the net.

    Four years ago in Russia, Kane's six goals made him the Golden Boot winner, and he may yet hit a hot streak of form in the coming fortnight.

    Whether he does or not, Stones is in no doubt as to the quality of England's number nine.

    Asked whether Kane is a player of the same calibre as Haaland, who is a club-mate of Stones at Manchester City, the England defender suggested they were of comparable quality.

    "Definitely yeah, it's difficult to obviously say. Erling's so new to our league and Harry has been playing in it all his life pretty much," Stones said.

    "Players like those two, their quality always shines through. Maybe they do say 'does he need a rest or not?', [but] we never think like that.

    "I think players that usually are scoring like Harry and want to score, you all saw his assist the other day was incredible, but those sort of players are a massive team player as well.

    "The things that don't get spoken about, the positioning, the headers from corners that us as defenders appreciate massively, and what he brings to the team as a leader and as a person, as a presence, can outweigh sometimes what happens or the outcome of things."

    That reckoning of Kane's diverse qualities is why England's players are not getting at the captain to find his scoring touch, ahead of Sunday's last-16 tussle with Senegal. All in good time, appears to be the message.

     

    Haaland and Kane have both been prolific already in the Premier League this season, netting 18 and 12 goals so far for City and Tottenham respectively to sit first and second in the scoring charts.

    While Haaland is missing out on the World Cup action because Norway failed to qualify, Kane has the chance to guide England to glory, a year after they finished runners-up at the European Championship.

    Again looking at Haaland and Kane, Stones said: "They are both incredible players and incredible within their own rights as well.

    "Harry's always been incredible with me, incredible to play with, and I'm sure he will get on the scoresheet soon."

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