Delon Armitage: Unrepentant Former England full-back Delon Armitage has become embroiled in row with past and present players after taunting an opponent while scoring the match-winning try for Toulon in their Heineken Cup triumph.
Armitage’s try set up the chance for Jonny Wilkinson to kick the conversion that saw Toulon overcome Clermont Auvergne 16-15 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
But the way in which Armitage waved at Brock James as he raced away from the Clermont fly-half to score the try, has drawn criticism from former England hooker Brian Moore as well as Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans and Scotland pair Chris Cusiter and Max Evans.
Just after Armitage had touched down, Moore tweeted: “If a player did to me what Armitage has just done I’d have to chin him after the touchdown.” Armitage later sent a sharp and strong riposte to Moore on twitter.
Other players had their say on twitter with Nick Evans tweeting: “Delon Armitage better hope Toulon win after that.
#noclass#” Cusiter tweeted: “Since when did the values of rugby include taunting an opponent in the act of scoring a try? Disgraceful.” While Max Evans wrote: “Surprised Armitage hasn’t learnt a few things from such a class act in @JonnyWilkinson.” Armitage is not unaccustomed to controversy having previously been arrested over an assault in a Torquay nightclub, banned for pushing and verbally abusing a doping officer as well as suspensions for punching Northampton’s Stephen Myler and Bath’s Dave Attwood in on-field incidents.
Leeds Rhinos will be without both Jamie Peacock and Carl Ablett for the visit of St Helens on Monday night – a game that will be shown live on Sky Sports .
Prop Peacock and centre Ablett are facing up to eight weeks on the sidelines after sustaining knee and hand injuries respectively.
However, there is better news of another centre, Brett Delaney, who has overcome a shoulder problem sustained in the Challenge Cup defeat to Huddersfield last week to make Brian McDermott’s squad for the Saints clash.
Also in the 19-man squad is teenager Liam Sutcliffe who could get the chance to make his Rhinos debut, but Stevie Ward and Ben Jones-Bishop remain unavailable.
“There’s a couple of chances for young fellas to come in and stake a claim, but the team that takes the field on Monday will be more than capable,” stated McDermott.
Wilkin back for Saints St Helens welcome back Jon Wilkin and Sia Soliola from suspension and injury respectively for the trip to Headingley.
Having had last week off having already been knocked out of the Challenge Cup, Saints coach Nathan Brown insists his team and fresh and raring to ahead of Monday’s game.
“The players have come back energetic.
We have been able to train together and do things as a squad.
We haven’t been able to do that for a long time and now we can as we have people healthy enough to do things,” stated Brown, whose team will be looking to snap a run of five straight defeats in all competitions.
“We don’t want to be out of the cup but you have to try and take the positives.
To freshen players up who have played a lot of footy and get players back is a good thing and now we can look at the second half of the season.” Leeds squad : 1.
Zak Hardaker 3.
Kallum Watkins 4.
Joel Moon 5.
Ryan Hall 6.
Danny McGuire 7.
Rob Burrow 8.
Kylie Leuluai 9.
Paul McShane 11.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan 13.
Kevin Sinfield (c) 15.
Brett Delaney 16.
Ryan Bailey 17.
Ian Kirke 18.
Chris Clarkson 19.
Mitch Achurch 21.
Richard Moore 23.Brad Singleton 25.
Joe Vickery 26.
Liam Sutcliffe St Helens squad : 1.
Paul Wellens, 2.
Ade Gardner, 3.
Jordan Turner, 4.
Sia Soliola, 6.
Lance Hohaia, 8.
Josh Perry, 10.
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11.
Tony Puletua, 12.
Jon Wilkin, 13.
Willie Manu, 14.
Anthony Laffranchi, 19.
Josh Jones, 21.
Tom Makinson, 23.
Nathan Ashe, 24.
Joe Greenwood, 25.
Alex Walmsley, 30.
Mark Percival, 33.
Luke Thompson, 36.
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Arsene Wenger s Arsenal side travel to St James Park in search of that all important top four spot.
Click link below for Newcastle United vs Arsenal live streaming.
Arsene Wenger insists he would have been happy to see Arsenal s Champions League hopes go to the final day when his side appeared out of the race for a top four finish earlier this season.
Wenger s side trailed Tottenham by seven points in March, but now play their final fixture at Newcastle on Sunday knowing victory will guarantee they finish at least fourth and secure a spot in the Champions League qualification rounds.
Should Chelsea fail to beat Everton, they could yet finish third, possibly via a play-off if the two clubs finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored.
The uncertainty ensures there will be some nerves at St James Park.
But Gunners boss Wenger said: I know for a long time that for us, when we were seven points behind, we would all be happy that it goes to the last day.
We are in a position where nobody expected us to be. We have our destiny in our hands, our fate in our hands and that s what you fight for in the game.
It is a game that we will now want to win but at least we fought back to be in a position where we master our own fate.
Asked about the prospect of a play-off with Chelsea, he added: I would fancy that. A play-off exists only if win our game, so let s win the game and see what happens.
The biggest task is to win the game and not speculate too much on what happens after because the first compulsory thing we face is to win the game on Sunday.
Wenger also revealed he is close to signing Auxerre forward Yaya Sanogo.
We are advanced with him, but it is not done, he said.
I am very confident.
He is a young striker who is promising, and has a big talent.
Arsenal s Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta is set to miss the game with a calf problem suffered against Wigan in midweek, while Wenger remains unsure whether Jack Wislhere is ready to complete a full 90 minutes, with the England midfielder due to have an ankle operation at the end of the season.
However, French striker Olivier Giroud returns for the Gunners after serving a three-match suspension.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has challenged his players to end a turbulent season on a high by playing a part in frustrating Arsenal s Champions League hopes.
Pardew s side have conceded nine goals in their last two home games, and were humbled 7-3 at the Emirates Stadium in December.
They only sealed their Premier League future with victory last weekend at QPR, but could finish as high as 10th if they inflict the Gunners first defeat on Tyneside since 2006.
It s very important to go out by putting in a good performance for our fans, Pardew said.
The last couple of home games have been tough for us, and there s something riding on the game for Arsenal which I think is good for us.
Pardew was forced to clarify his comments after suggesting tongue in cheek this week that he didn t mind if his side suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Wenger s men.
I ve had a few Tottenham fans remind me about that comment, but it was made purely out of relief after the victory at QPR, and was definitely tongue in cheek, he added.
Steve Harper, the 38-year-old goalkeeper who will leave in the summer, plays his 199th and final game for Newcastle as he brings the curtain down on a near two-decade spell at the club.
He s been a great servant of this club and an absolutely superb professional, Pardew said.
Venue St James Park, Sunday 4pm
Last season Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0
Referee Howard Webb
This season s matches 29 Y106, R4, 3.79 cards per game
Subs from Alnwick, Santon, Amalfitano, Perch, Williamson, Bigirimana, Anita, Campbell, Sammy Ameobi, Marveaux
Doubtful Marveaux (groin), Santon (hamstring), Tiot (hamstring)
Injured Shola Ameobi (knee, Aug), Vuckic (knee, Aug), Ha dara (hamstring, Aug), Krul (shoulder, Aug), Sissoko (knee, Aug), R Taylor (knee, Aug 2013)
Suspended Elliot (one match)
Form guide WDLDLW
Disciplinary record Y72 R4
Leading scorer Ciss 8
Subs from Fabianski, Mannone, Mart nez, Jenkinson, Monreal, Yennaris, Miquel, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Coquelin, Gnabry, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Arshavin, Giroud, Arteta
Doubtful Arteta (calf), Wilshere (ankle)
Injured Miyaichi (ankle, Aug), Diaby (knee, Dec)
Form guide WWDWDW
Disciplinary record Y42 R5
Leading scorer Walcott 14
Arsenal won the reverse fixture at the Emirates 7-3 in December, with Theo Walcott scoring a hat-trick.
Two seasons ago, the Magpies were 4-0 down after 26 minutes. They were still 4-0 down with 22 minutes left but then staged an incredible fightback to earn a 4-4 draw.
Newcastle have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games against Arsenal (W1, D5, L5).
Four of the last five league meetings at St James s Park have been draws, with Arsenal winning the other.
Only relegated Reading and Wigan have conceded more goals than Newcastle s 67 this season.
Newcastle have failed to score in two successive Premier League home games. They last failed to score in three in a row back in August 2007 (six games).
The Magpies have won only one of their games on the final day of a Premier League season in their previous 10 campaigns (W1, D5, L4).
Newcastle have earned 10 fewer points at home this season compared to last season (28:38).
They have lost eight home games so far in 2012-13, compared to three in their 19 home games in the last league campaign.
Alan Pardew s side have won just three of the 19 games they have played against teams in the top half (W3, D4 L12).
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last nine league matches, winning seven of them.
Arsenal have won four successive Premier League away games.
The last time that the Gunners won five in a row away in the league was back in September 2004.
Four Arsenal players have scored 10 or more league goals this season, more than any other top-flight club it s only the fourth time in the Premier League era that four players from one club have reached doubles figures.
Just four players have reached double figures in both goal and assist categories in the Premier League this season, with two of these Arsenal players (Theo Walcott has 14 goals, 10 assists, and Santi Cazorla has 12 goals, 11 assists).
If only the second half of games counted, Arsenal would already have been crowned Premier League champions.
Valtteri Filppula of the Detroit Red Wings collides with Michal Handzus of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 18, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photograph: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Damien Brunner and Brendan Smith scored in the second period as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 Saturday in Game 2 to even their Western Conference semifinal series.
It was a strong response by the Red Wings after Chicago handled them easily in the series opener, 4-1.
Just as the Blackhawks did in Game 1, Detroit took control in the second period and put the game away in the third.
Now, the Red Wings have a chance to take the lead when this series between Original Six rivals shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Monday.
Patrick Kane gave Chicago a 1-0 lead late in the first, but Brunner tied it when he deflected a wrist shot by Jakub Kindl early in the second, and Smith gave the Red Wings the lead when he scored off a feed from Henrik Zetterberg on a 3-on-1 late in the second.
Johan Franzen made it 3-1 in the third when he fired a rising shot past Crawford after a perfect pass from Jonathan Ericsson in the Detroit zone.
And Valtteri Filppula closed out the scoring with 7:57 left in the game.
The San Jose Sharks were fined $100,000 for public comments made by general manager Doug Wilson over the suspension of forward Raffi Torres, the NHL said on Saturday.
Torres was suspended for the remainder of the Western Conference semi-final series against the Los Angeles Kings for his hit against Jarret Stoll in Game One of the best-of-seven series.
It is the fourth career suspension for Torres, who is considered a repeat offender.
Wilson later issued a statement saying the team disagreed with the suspension.
The NHL said in its statement on Saturday that the fine was issued for violation of league rules that prohibit formal team statements to the media during the 48-hour period following a disciplinary decision.
The rule calls for an automatic fine of $25,000.
The Sharks were fined an additional $75,000 under Article 6 of the League’s Constitution due to the inappropriate nature of the comments.
The Kings lead the series 2-0 with Game Three scheduled for later on Saturday.
Manchester City legend Tueart defends Roberto Mancini’s sacking after their season turned into a ‘disaster’
Manchester City great Dennis Tueart believes the club were right to get the decision to sack Roberto Mancini out of the way this week.
On Monday City axed the manager who memorably brought them Premier League success last year and FA Cup victory in 2011 after a disappointing campaign.
With the club still second in the table and runners-up in the FA Cup it seemed a brutal decision but Mancini’s position was always likely to be reviewed at the end of the season.
Out: Roberto Mancini and David Platt failed to live up to Manchester City’s expectations After three days of intense speculation and defeat by Wigan at Wembley that decision was brought forward and results were not the only factor considered.
Tueart, who had two spells at City in the 1970s and 1980s and later served as a director, feels if the club wanted to remove Mancini, it was better done sooner rather than later.
Tueart said: ‘Obviously we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes but the owners have decided that is the move they want to make.
‘ If you are going to make the decision, because of what was happening in the press with things coming out, it was best to make a break.
‘ If you are going to do it, do it without dragging your feet.
‘ We couldn’t improve our position in the league, we were guaranteed a Champions League place, had virtually guaranteed second position and didn’t have anything else to play for.
‘ So, after losing the FA Cup final, let’s just get things in the past and plan for the future as soon as we can.
‘ The more time you have to plan for the future the better.’ Correct: Dennis Tueart says that the timing of Mancini’s dismissal was justified In relieving Mancini of his duties, the club referred to a desire to develop a ‘holistic approach’ to all their football matters.
There have also been claims that Mancini’s sometimes brusque nature may have counted against him.
But whatever the full reasons, Tueart believes this season’s underwhelming title defence and the failure in the Champions League must be the prime ones.
City never threatened to reel in Manchester United at the top of the table and the title race effectively ended as a contest in February.
By then City were also out of Europe’s elite competition having failed to get beyond the group stage for a second successive season.
Tueart said: ‘Losing the Premier League so early – not so much losing it to Man Utd – was bad and the big disappointment was the European performance.
‘ It was disastrous from start to finish, being knocked out at the group stage and not even qualifying for the Europa League.
‘ That was a disaster and that will be the element people will consider for going forward.’ New man: Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini is being lined up as Mancini’s replacement Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is the firm favourite to take charge at the Etihad Stadium.
The Chilean has indicated he could leave the Spanish club after their season concludes on June 1 but City have not commented.
City also have strong reported interest in Malaga’s playmaker Isco, Sevilla winger Jesus Navas and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fernandinho.
With the future of a number of their own players uncertain, it could be a busy summer of comings and goings at Eastlands.
Tueart said: ‘I think you can expect change every year.
‘ I love the word evolution and that is what will continue to happen at Manchester City.
‘ Sir Alex Ferguson was the master – there were always two or three players coming in no matter how well he did.
‘ You have got to keep going and going and keep evolving the team.
‘ Players get older, contracts get to the end, you have got to consider the squad for the following season based on all those elements.’ City wrap up their season at home to Norwich this weekend with nothing but pride at stake having secured second spot by beating Reading on Tuesday.
Defender Kolo Toure and striker Sergio Aguero are the chief injury doubts after limping off in midweek but Pablo Zabaleta returns from suspension.
Tueart said: “You’ve now got to look forward very quickly and finish the season on a high.
‘I think you have to be respectful to the City supporters who will turn up in their thousands on Sunday.
‘ I’ll be there myself and I am sure it will be a great occasion.
‘ I’m pleased Norwich have avoided relegation and everybody will want to finish the season with a flourish.’
Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Illinois Fighting Illini have dismissed both wide receiver Darius Millines and defensive end Darrius Caldwell off their football program, citing unspecified program violations. The team announced the dismissals earlier in the week3 and the fallout is being felt this morning.
Caldwell was a redshirt freshman last season and registered 17 tackles with 2.5 sacks for Illinois. But the real loss is in wide receiver Darius Millines, as he was the Illini s second best wideout during the 2012 season.
Go ahead and insert your joke here about how Millines being the second best receiver on the Illini last season isn t saying much.
He did only register 319 yards and no touchdowns, but those are astronomical stats for a team as offensively challenged as the Illini were last season.
The school has yet to offer up an explanation as to why Tim Beckman ultimately decided to end the football careers of the two young men, but Millines was already on an indefinite suspension at the time of his dismissal from the team.
Things were not easy for Illinois last season and they just made things a whole lot harder by letting go of two players that could have budded into stars had they gotten their acts together in time.
Russell Anderson will miss the final game of the season.
Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet Aberdeen will be without Russell Anderson and Ryan Jack for their final Clydesdale Bank Premier League game of the season at home to Hearts on Saturday.
Jack has picked up a knock while the club will not risk Anderson, because he has a tight hamstring and is also one booking away from a suspension.
Rory Fallon and Peter Pawlett will be absent as well because they are serving bans at the moment.
Hearts team news to follow …
Say what you like about Landon Donovan, he knows how to time a run.
When he was alerted that Jurgen Klinsmann’s reluctance to put him straight back into the US squad had become public knowledge, the Galaxy number 10 chose that moment to send his rather stuttering comeback into overdrive, with two assists and a goal in a second half display in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
It was a display that saw him saunter back into the US squad at least put the ball back into Klinsmann’s court regarding what he might have to offer in World Cup qualification.
Klinsmann’s squad was announced on Thursday, without Donovan, who now moves onto LA’s Sunday lunchtime clash with New York in what’s probably being billed as the Super Media Market Clasico or some such right as we speak.
The team that LA beat, Philadelphia, can feel a little aggrieved at the lopsided nature of the scoreline having created a lot of chances and seen a lot of signs that DP Kleberson may slot into the team very nicely to supply Jack McInerney.
Their defensive movement in the last quarter of the game was pretty poor though, but the good news is that they have a chance to put things right immediately when they host Chicago on Saturday afternoon, as they try to stay on the heels of the leading four in the East.
Two of the teams around that pair meet earlier in the evening, as Toronto, replete with more new signings for the Nelsen era, attempt to kickstart yet another revival against a Crew team whose end of season highlights may currently feature that opening day road win against Chivas, a couple of wins against DC and not much else.
They need some inspiration from somewhere.
Will a rivalry game provide the impetus? Speaking of rivalry games, there’ll be Cascadia Cup action on Saturday afternoon as Vancouver take on Portland, attempting to end the Timbers nine game unbeaten run.
The Whitecaps got an eye-catching and unexpected victory over an LA side who’ve always had their measure last week, and are also a home victory away from a place in the Champions League, having drawn at Montreal in the Canadian Championship in midweek.
This game may be more competitive than it looked even a week ago.
Another team more competitive than they looked just a few short weeks ago Seattle, who had a breakout win over San Jose last week and who are slowly rising from the floor of the West with the leaders in their sights.
Perhaps the visit of Western Conference leaders Dallas will confirm just how real their recent resurgence is.
And if San Jose thought they could bounce straight back with a straightforward victory they may want to be wary of the recent form of visiting conference rivals Colorado, who’ve ignored a raft of injuries to pile up the points in recent games.
They haven’t always been pretty in how they do it, but they’ve been effective a trait that might find find an appreciative crowd in San Jose.
Equally functional was Sporting KC’s performance in ending Houston’s record-breaking undefeated home stand last week.
Sporting might be a little more expressive when they visit a D.C.
United team who made wholesale changes last week against Dallas, but who still lost.
They may be headed for an unwanted winless record of their own.
Houston start their new home-is-not-a-fortress era with the visit of New England on Saturday evening.
The final game of the weekend sees RSL go to Chivas USA on Sunday night, presumably with their pointed barbs about the quality of life in Carson locked and loaded.
Never shy of pointed barbs our army of fan reps, beat writers, podcasters and general ne’er do wells representing each of this weekend’s competing teams.
See what they have to say about the main stories concerning their teams this week, have your own say in the comments, and join myself and Richard Whittall on Monday morning for Five Things we Learned.
And if you need something to read in the meantime, you could read this story on ESPN’s coverage of US soccer, or if you’re not that patient, there might be a couple of lines knocking around the website about David Beckham retiring.
He’s retired you know.
All game times listed are ET Sat 5:00PM, BMO Field(TSN, Univision Dep.) Duncan Fletcher , Waking the Red, Toronto: Toronto FC are coming off a merciful bye week, after losing 3 straight league games via allowing late goals, and crashing out of the Canadian championship with a 6-2 aggregate defeat to Montreal.
Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen have spent the time trying to improve the squad, in what seems like a more and more haphazard fashion.
After selling everyone on the idea of starting a proper rebuild, building a foundation for future success, they now appear to be going in the exact opposite direction, focussing on winning now, or at least somehow stopping the bleeding.
That means Steven Caldwell (yes, that one) was brought in on loan, with an eye to a permanent move, to solidify the defence.
Tal Ben Haim (yes, that one) was announced as well – “one of the top defenders in the epl for nearly a decade” the press release breathlessly proclaimed – but he seems reluctant to play without a long term commitment, so there was a sheepish backtrack on that one.
Jeremy Brockie, a New Zealand international midfielder/striker is in, again on loan, and then on Thursday they announced a trade with Sporting Kansas City.
A 2014 supplemental draft pick for Bobby Convey, US international, formerly of Reading but who hasn’t really done much at all since moving back to MLS.
A couple of supplemental draftees were released to make room, though more moves are needed to fit in the roster limits.
Big off season acquisition Danny Califf might be one of those as he seems very much out of favour right now.
Much like how a decent start on the pitch has given way to an increasingly desperate and chaotic losing streak, things off the pitch appear to be spiralling out of control as well.
The familiar feelings of frustration and resignation are very much back for TFC fans.
Ben Hoelzel , Crew Union, Columbus Crew: Talk around Columbus continues to focus on the Crew’s poor play.
The only victories seen so far this season have come against the last place team in the East, D.C.
United (twice), and the last place team in West, Chivas USA.
Most fans continue to believe that the current squad is talented, but that the strategy and personnel choices of Coach Warzycha represents a misuse of that talent.
Basically, the Crew can’t get the offense going as teams have learned to just focus on Federico Higuian.
Without space for the Argentine playmaker to work, the Crew have gotten nowhere.
This week as the team heads to Toronto, the Crew will also be without their captain and defensive rock, Chad Marshall.
There is no obvious choice at who will start at center back in his absence, but with a defense that gave up two soft goals last week, they better be prepared for Toronto to attack.
The other big news is that Columbus’ favorite Kiwi, Duncan Oughton, has left the Crew to join his friend and fellow New Zealand international, Ryan Nelsen, in Toronto.
Nelsen left QPR early this year to assume the head coaching role.
Oughton will be his assistant.
A fan favorite, Oughton has been part of the Columbus Crew since 2001.
After a 10 year playing career he had taken on multiple roles in the front office and coaching staff.
He will be very, very missed.
But not this week.
Not in Toronto.
This week, he’s dead to us.
Sat 7:00PM, BC Place Brenton Walters , @CapsOffside: Silverware.
We’re dreaming of silverware.
A lucky win against LA may have papered over cracks in the squad, but a winning gamble in Montreal is distraction enough from our generally poor league form.
A visit from Portland should bring it back into sharp focus.
No matter, though.
A smart if dull draw in Montreal has us back in the final of the Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup.
A home win (and our home record is still quite good) means a cup.
I’ll gladly sacrifice a loss to Portland if it means a better chance at the cup.
It’s hard to believe that just a short while ago there were calls for Rennie’s head.
We could hear them again if we collapse against Portland AND Montreal.
But for now, give us our dreams of silverware.
Michael Orr , Mao Football, host of Soccer made in PDX podcast: The Cascadia Cup returns to the fore as the Portland Timbers look to extend an MLS-era best nine-game unbeaten streak.
With a sizable Timbers Army contingent traveling north and an undefeated road record in 2013, Caleb Porter’s Timbers face a difficult task against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Reinforcements have arrived in central defense for Portland as former Norwegian international Pa-Modou Kah has his visa sorted and has joined the team.
The Timbers have played twice this month without another center back on the bench so Kah’s presence will provide rare depth for a defense so badly hit by major injuries.
Yet the story for Portland is in the attack that came alive again in last weekend’s thrashing of Chivas USA.
Diego Valeri is back at the top of his game while Rodney Wallace continues to thrill previously skeptical Timbers fans.
With a record of success in BC Place, despite all the other woes surrounding the club over the past two seasons, Porter’s offense will expect nothing less than a continuation of what has made the Timbers the highest scoring team in MLS.
Portland won only once on the road in 2012.
They can double for 2013 that with a win in Vancouver, where it just so happens they won last year.
Sat 7:30PM, PPL Park Dan Walsh , Philly Soccer Page, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Union won ugly and then lost even uglier.
The one thing in common? Ugly.
Add to the mix a surprise trade of the marginalized but often impressive Gabriel Farfan and the first start for designated player Jose Kleberson, and it was an eventful few days.
Start with the Union getting outplayed but stealing a 1-0 win Saturday in Chicago on Jack McInerney’s second half goal off a beautiful Sebastien Le Toux free kick.
Then Farfan gets traded Tuesday, dividing a fan base as some question the trade of a young, dynamic, and versatile player who had been a regular starter for two years, while others praise the return of a first round draft pick and allocation money.
Wednesday rolls around and brings the Los Angeles Galaxy to town.
Kleberson starts and plays well for 70 minutes before running out of steam, but he stays in.
Unfortunately, he’s not the only Union player to hit the wall, and a 1-1 match at the 70-minute mark becomes a 4-1 home loss to the Galaxy.
Philadelphia fans have a reputation for being very passionate and negative, and the current widespread fan frustration with a mid-table team could be seen in that light.
But there’s a vein that goes deeper here, tracing back to former manager Peter Nowak’s controversial last days, an oft-stated sentiment that there’s a lack of direction and efficient management at the club.
True or not, it’s not a pretty product the Union are putting on the field.
Stephen Piggott , Fuego de mi Vida, Whiskey Brothers Aught Five, Chicago: The biggest story from the Fire camp this week has been the club’s public pledge to take the US Open Cup seriously and “provide our club with as big a competitive advantage as possible” by promising to play at home when the team wins the hosting rights.
The tournament can certainly serve as a big distraction from league play where the club isn’t enjoying the best of starts.
The Fire are four time winners of the tournament and a fifth title would mean an invitation to the CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament the club hasn’t played in for many years.
The Fire will either play Seattle Sounders U23′s at Toyota Park or the Charlotte Eagles in North Carolina in the 3rd round of the competition.
On the field, coach Klopas dropped DP striker Sherjill MacDonald and moved Patrick Nyarko up front for last weeks loss against Philly.
It was a brilliant tactical move that would’ve been vindicated if the Fire had found the net.
I expect the same formation for this week’s match against the same opponent.
Philly collapsed in the second half against LA on Wednesday and if the Fire target the Union’s left-back Gaddis, it could be a good night for the Men in Red.
Another loss would start to put some real pressure on Klopas, especially considering the Fires next match is away to RSL, a daunting prospect.
Sat 8:30PM, BBVA Compass Stadium Stephen Eastepp , Dynamo Theory, Houston: The Houston Dynamo finally lost at home, that’s what has been the hot topic in Houston this week.
Obviously it was bound to happen and we all knew the streak would not last forever, but nonetheless it was tough to leave BBVA Compass Stadium knowing it was over.
Having it happen at the hands of Sporting Kansas City just added to the already exciting rivalry that’s growing between the two clubs.
It will be interesting to see how the Dynamo respond in two weeks when they visit SKC.
I know all the fans are looking forward to that.
The Dynamo aren’t looking past this coming Saturday’s matchup though, and will face a New England Revolution team that they should take care of rather easily.
Houston’s challenges in recent years have been focused on road points and taking care of opponents who they should beat.
In order for Houston to solidify their position as a contender, they must handle teams like the Revs.
Fans are hopeful for the return of Giles Barnes and Warren Creavalle from injury, since both have been sparks for the Dynamo in 2013.
If all goes as planned, the Dynamo will kick off another home unbeaten streak on Saturday.
Christopher Camille , Midnight Riders, author of NE tactics blog Soccer Theory: The need for change must have been apparent to General Manager Mike Burns as he made another aggressive move by trading for Chivas USA and US National Team striker Juan Agudelo.
Burns has seemed to finally figure out how to express some urgency and interest in improving the squad over the last two seasons.
He has spent much of his time with the Revs as much maligned figure as his lack of success or even action in the transfer market has left many calling for his ousting.
Even the past off-season saw many hoping that owner Robert Kraft would wake from his soccer slumber and call for a change amongst the major decisions makers at the club.
That obviously didn’t happen but Burns seems like a liberated man since Sunil Gulati was taken out of the equation as a special advisor to the Revs (or whatever his job really was).
Burns traded for Juan Agudelo as an attempt to solve the club’s scoring woes, traded up for the impressive Andrew Farrell, signed the imposing center back Jose Goncalves who is now the team captain, and even sought out Jerry Bengston as the potential answer to the Revs scoring woes.
What is lacking is any ability by Heaps to make a change during the match to change the momentum.
His substitutions are often as baffling as his poor fitting sweater vest.
Hopefully Juan Agudelo will prove the difference as he has an ability to create for himself but will Heaps give him the platform to express himself? Just add it to the mountain of questions hovering around that big empty stadium.
Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Sat 10:30PM, CenturyLink Field Dave Clark , Sounder at Heart, Seattle: Seattle rescued their early season with a strong road trip and a four goal pasting of another historically strong Western Conference side.
Snatching a win against the league’s best team would send notice around MLS.
Working in the Sounders’ favor is that they will be as healthy as they’ve been so far on 2013.
The Obefemi/Eddie pairing may finally get an extended look up top.
There is another significant change in Seattle as well.
Sigi Schmid shifted to asymmetrical wide mids.
One will be a nearly pure attacker (Rosales, Zakuani, Martinez) while the other operates going both ways (Evans, Caskey).
The Sounders have not lost since the change and their normally stingy defense is even better.
Attacking play has not suffered due to the transition point starting higher on the pitch.
Dallas being weakened in the center without John should allow EJ to romp centrally while Obafemi gets through balls springing him.
March and April were quite poor but it is time for May flowers in the Puget Sound.
Gina Zippilli , The Inferno, Dallas: The main story is probably the line up changes we saw last week and this week, and the glimpses they gave us for what the rest of the season might be like.
We experimented with Hassli up front with Perez and brought Cooper off the bench.
Hassli just looks really hungry for goal and when all three were on the field at once we looked great.
I’d like to see more of what those three can do when they get the time together on the field, though I’d also like that not to be at the expense of Castillo.
The other big development was starting Chris Seitz over Raul Fernandez in goal.
We weren’t sure why it was happening but with talk of a minor injury and international break coming up, it wasn’t such a dramatic switch.
But it was good to see Seitz play and do well.
They’re different styles of goalkeepers who offer something different, though Fernandez can make certain types of saves you can’t imagine Seitz making.
His reactions are better.
Speaking of changes, we’ll still be without the rather fragile George John for the Seattle game, which I get no sense risking him for one game when he’s so vital to the team in the long run.
Ferreira and Jacobson are likely to travel.
There is a slight worry about the fact that Seattle are beginning to find form and John’s replacement Woodberry is a rookie.
He’ll get a tough workout against that Seattle attack.
I hope we go for it though and play an attacking line up.
Seattle’s where last year’s play off hopes died in really meek fashion and we’re due a more positive display.
Sat 10:30PM, Buck Shaw Stadium Robert Jonas , Center Line Soccer, San Jose: The Earthquakes beat the odds this week, not on the field, but with the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
Midfield catalyst Marvin Chavez, who late last week was handed a two match suspension for violent conduct against Toronto FC defender Logan Emory, enlisted the players union to file an appeal on his behalf challenging the severity of the suspension.
While such appeals typically are turned down — only twice in the past eight seasons has MLS overturned a DisCo decision — Commissioner Don Garber sided with Chavez and cut his suspension in half.
Given that San Jose is unbeaten this season when Chavez is in the line-up, the Earthquakes could not have received better news ahead of Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids.
With Chavez back in the fold, and 2012 regular starters Steven Lenhart and Jason Hernandez available for selection, head coach Frank Yallop can for the first time this season field a squad made up entirely of first-choice starters.
Inconsistency in the Starting XI from week to week — 12 different line-ups in 12 matches to open the season — has led to a frustrating level of inconsistency in the Quakes performances.
Add in the newest member of the squad, dynamic Honduran midfielder Walter Martinez, and San Jose will hope to ameliorate their early season struggles.
Sure, Simon Dawkins would be great to see back in an Earthquakes uniform, but so far Martinez has filled in nicely.
The match against Colorado on Saturday will be their last at Buck Shaw Stadium until the middle of July, so securing the full three points is a top priority.
The players believe they are ready to round the corner back to respectability.
Getting past the Rapids will help them along on that path.
Richard Bamber , Centennial 38 Supporters, Colorado Rapids: There’s no massive news.
We’re at that stage of the season where people settle in for the marathon.
We’ve quietly won our last few games, but this weekend will be no different from any other game we’ve played recently we’ll go on with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised if we get anything.
The injuries are starting to abate and the players and coach are reaching a kind of accommodation with each other.
So Brian Mullan’s not a natural fit for the flat centered back four Pareja wants to play he wants to keep getting forward on the right wing and he’s always last to line up in the back four at restarts, but the manager seems to be tolerating it for what he brings to the side and to be honest, given the results I have no complaints.
Pareja gets criticism from one set of the fans who think his formation, coaching and tactics are at odds with the “possession orientated attacking soccer” we were promised when Gary Smith left.
Others point out that while it’s a little bit ugly right now we’re winning games and that having criticized the front office for results last season, we should likewise give credit for the better results of late.
I’m no big fan of Pareja’s but my attitude tends to be “three points is three points”.
That said, we’re going to get crushed this weekend (unless we don’t).
Sun 1:00PM, Red Bull Arena (ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes) Dave Martinez , Empire of Soccer, co-presenter of Seeing Red podcast: The New York Red Bulls have a difficult, but enviable dilemma on their hands.
And no, I am not talking about beating a short-rested LA Galaxy.
Central midfield leaders Dax McCarty and Juninho have overcome recent injury and suspension issues and are ready to rejoin red-hot teammate Tim Cahill on the field.
It will be the first time since April 17th against Sporting KC (a 1-0 loss) that the trio could potentially reunite in the midfield (a late game Juninho red card began the thinning of New York’s middle late in the aforementioned encounter).
Interestingly enough, their absence did little to hurt the team’s fortunes.
Role players Eric Alexander, Jonny Steele and Lloyd Sam did an admirable job of filling their shoes, helping lead the team to their current, and only, unbeaten run (4-0-1) of the season.
To put that feat into perspective, the team was a woeful 2-4-2 prior to these five matches.
Now in first place, Red Bulls boss Mike Petke faces an interesting conundrum.
With only four spots in the midfield to fill, New York will have to find the right balance between their returning starters and their deserving bench players in the starting eleven.
Both Petke and Cahill spoke of a possible rotation amongst their star trio to alleviate their unique problem of riches.
Who sits? Who starts? That is what people will be contemplating as New York hosts the LA Galaxy this weekend.
How the team performs against the reigning MLS Champions will offer a telling benchmark for this surging side who will once again be forced to shoehorn their talent into a successful strategy.
Josie Becker , Editor, LAG Confidential, Los Angeles: The LA Galaxy had the luxury of a midweek match this week in which they successfully turned their story around.
A Saturday match in Vancouver had fans wondering how far Landon Donovan was from returning to full strength.
That combined with shaky play from a rookie defender had folk hoping the return of Robbie Keane and Todd Dunivant could reverse the fortunes of this three match road trip.
It worked, as Keane’s return opened up passing lanes that hadn’t been there recently which Dunivant’s return shored things up in the back.
Shoring things up in the back brought the return of the Galaxy fast break.
Really, it was just good benefits all around.
With the early week leak that Donovan wouldn’t be called up for the USMNT next slate of matches, it was clear that he needed to step up his form if he hoped to rejoin Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad at some point.
Wednesday in Philadelphia was just that statement, with a goal and two assists on his ledger.
He even deserves credit on the Galaxy’s first goal, sending in the corner kick that bounced off the young Philadelphia goalkeeper’s face and into the back of the net.
Suddenly, a team that looked to be in a bit of a slump with two straight loses is now rejuvenated heading into New Jersey.
If Sean Franklin is good to go, LA could have their first full strength squad in weeks.
As Beckham announces his retirement, the Galaxy are picking up steam.
DC United vs Sporting Kansas City Sun 5:00PM, RFK Stadium (Univision Dep.) Kim Kolb , Screaming Eagles: Rock bottom surely must be around here somewhere.
Ben Olsen came through on his comments of shaking up the lineup.
Joe Willis, Ethan White, and Casey Townsend all made their first starts of the year for United.
The team played with a bit more purpose and energy, but couldn’t overcome a powerful Dallas side in the second half.
The team brought in a couple of trialists this week: defender Frankie Simek, and forward Akpo Sodje.
Simek seemed to be a strange potential addition until right back Robbie Russell announced his retirement and his pursuit of career #2: doctor.
The team also lost the services of midfielder Marcelo Saragosa for 6 weeks or so as he had some cleanup in a knee.
Hopefully, United signed up for a bulk discount with their medical staff this year, then again maybe Robbie Russell sees that the way to get big money and action from DCU is to be on the medical staff.
The other interesting news is that Bill Hamid may get a call into the USMNT camp for the upcoming friendlies (including Germany at RFK).
On the surface it seems a strange call up as Hamid hasn’t been his sharpest, but he’s also been a victim of the team’s shaky play.
He’s been at USMNT camps before so the staff should know what they’re getting.
Malena Barajas , co-founder, Women United FC, Sporting Kansas City: Coming off of three road points that ended Houston Dynamo’s 36-game unbeaten streak at home, Sporting Kansas City is prepared to crush DC United this Sunday at RFK Stadium.
After a nail-biting second half for SKC supporters, the team kept it together defensively to keep the Dynamo from equalizing after defender Aurelien Collin scored in the 72nd minute.
Paulo Nagamura made a calculated save off the line just before the 80th minute.
Much of the last ten minutes were spent in that last third warding off Dynamo threats.
Collin and Oriol Rosell saw yellow, which will keep both out against DC United on accumulation.
Given DC United’s to put it kindly poor form (7 game losing streak, 12 goals conceded in the last four matches), don’t expect Collin and Rosell’s absence to hurt Sporting KC much.
Matt Besler, who missed three matches as a precaution due to a minor knee injury, may be available to play.
Ike Opara has been filling in well, and Josh Gardner will remain an option for Coach Peter Vermes.
Interesting, but welcomed, Sporting KC announced Thursday that midfielder Bobby Convey will move to Toronto in exchange for a third round draft pick.
This move clears salary space for Sporting KC as CEO Rob Heineman teases on Twitter about “foreign interest in SKC.” Also announced Thursday, Besler and Graham Zusi will join the USMNT ahead of two international friendlies and three World Cup qualifiers.
The two will miss the first Sporting KC match of this year’s Open Cup campaign and a regular season match against Montreal.
Sun 10:30PM, The Home Depot Center Alicia Ratterree , The Goat Parade, Chivas USA: It’s been a week of ups and downs for Chivas USA, and we’re only at the midway point.
Chivas USA lost another game, this time 3-0 to the Portland Timbers, and for me the main talking point was that there wasn’t any offense to speak of for the Goats.
Although the defense gave up several goals once again, it was primarily because there was no attack, so the pressure increased on the defense until it was untenable.
With Juan Agudelo gone, there is a major question now as to who will be the player or players who can step up to score the goals for the team.
If this problem isn’t solved soon, it is going to get ugly in Chivatown.
On the other hand, perhaps the team management has heard the complaints about Chivas’ trades this season and the lack of returning players in most of the deals, as they traded for Philadelphia’s Gabriel Farfan Tuesday.
Despite having a fair amount of MLS experience (which Chivas USA needs), he’s still a bit of a mystery as a player, as he was overshadowed by his twin brother on the Union, and was frequently played out of position.
Chivas USA did well to get a player who had largely disappointed previously in his MLS career in Eric Avila, so if Farfan can really show his stuff, that could bode well for him and for the team.
But we’ll have to wait and see on that front, starting with this week’s match against Real Salt Lake.
Denzel Eslinger , RSL Perspective: Real Salt Lake will have an extra day to try to get the salt out of the wounds left in their pride and ego after a 3-2 defeat at Montreal last weekend, a match in which they twice surrendered the lead.
Sunday, the team will take on Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center the last of a 3 match road trip, a result of any kind and you have to consider the road trip a bit of a success.
Chivas are 0-3-1 in their last four matches, which started with them losing 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium back on April 20th.
They have given up 7 goals in their last two matches and failed to get a goal for themselves, and with the potential return of either/both Alvaro Saborio and Robbie Findley, they are facing a RSL side that has scored 4 road goals in their last two matches.
Real Salt Lake will have no excuses not to pick up a win on Sunday, a 2-0 or 3-0 results should be within reach for the Claret and Cobalt as their combination of young players and returning veterans should provide a very sound squad for Jason Kreis.
Ars ne Wenger described Yaya Sanogo as “a young striker who is promising, and has a big talent.” Photograph: Alex Morton/Action Images Ars ne Wenger has revealed Arsenal are close to signing striker Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre.
The France Under-21 international is out of contract with Auxerre but Arsenal would need to pay compensation under the Bosman ruling.
“We are advanced with him, but it is not done,” said Wenger.
“I am very confident.
He is a young striker who is promising, and has a big talent.” Arsenal are expected to strengthen the squad during the summer, with a reported 100m to spend in the transfer market.
It has been suggested that Wenger is considering a move for Wayne Rooney, but the manager refused to be drawn on whether Arsenal would be moving for the Manchester United striker, who has put in a transfer request.
Asked if his club could afford Rooney, Wenger said: “That is not even a question at the moment.
We have not gone into that.
At the moment we have no interest in anybody, we have only one interest and that is of course Sunday’s game.” Arsenal knowing victory at Newcastle United will secure qualification for Champions League next season and leave Tottenham in the Europa League.
“I know for a long time that for us, when we were seven points behind, we would all be happy that it goes to the last day,” Wenger said.
“We are in a position where nobody expected us to be.
We have our destiny in our hands, our fate in our hands and that’s what you fight for in the game.
It is a game that we will now want to win but at least we fought back to be in a position where we master our own fate.” Arsenal look set to be without the midfielder Mikel Arteta, who is struggling with a calf injury.
Jack Wilshere, the England international set for summer surgery to clear up a niggling ankle problem, is on stand-by.
“I have a few options.
I’ve not made a decision yet because I have to see how everybody responds in training,” Wenger said.
“I will make a very late decision on that problem.
First I have to wait if Arteta is completely out and after that I will decide how I build the team certainly very late.” The striker Olivier Giroud will return for selection following his three-match suspension.