Uhre, Gazdag extend Union lead in East as Austin claim Copa Tejas

By Sports Desk July 17, 2022

The Philadelphia Union extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference in the MLS, defeating the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday.

The best defence in the MLS had to chase the result this time after Gustavo Bou's well-taken opener for the Revolution in the 61st minute, with goals from Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag handing the Union the three points.

The Union still created little from open play but they were gifted goals to turn the result around via the dead ball. Uhre equalized in the 75th minute, heading into what was effectively an open goal after Revolution keeper Djordje Petrovic failed to claimed the ball after coming off his line at a corner.

Gazdag then scored the eventual winner in the 79th minute, converting from the penalty spot after he was clumsily shoved by Henry Kessler.

Jim Curtin's side moved to 39 points, building a four-point lead from New York City, whose derby against New York RB on Sunday is one of two games they have in hand.

CF Montreal also moved to outright fourth in the East on Saturday, with Lukas McNaughton's own-goal handing them a 1-0 win over Toronto FC.

Chad Ahston momentarily remains in charge of D.C. United until Wayne's Rooney's work visa is finalized and Minnesota United took full advantage, earning a 2-0 win at home.

The Chicago Fire claimed an upset 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, while Emerson Rodriguez's 93rd-minute goal gave Inter Miami a 3-2 victory over Charlotte FC.

Gonzalo Higuain bagged his second goal of the week for Inter, scoring the equaliser after Yordy Reina's first-half brace gave Charlotte a 2-0 load.

In the Western Conference meanwhile, Austin FC claimed the Copa Tejas with a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas, but now only hold a two-point lead over Los Angeles FC, who have two games in hand.

The race for the last playoff spot in the conference tightened up, with the Colorado Rapids defeating Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0.

Along with the Sounders' loss, only three points now separate the seventh-placed Galaxy from the Rapids, moved to 11th with the win.

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  • Rafael Leao hails hat-trick hero Ramos as president purrs over Portugal World Cup six-hitters Rafael Leao hails hat-trick hero Ramos as president purrs over Portugal World Cup six-hitters

    Rafael Leao believes the hat-trick heroics of Goncalo Ramos in Portugal's 6-1 rout of Switzerland show what quality lurks in the squad's ranks as they chase a first World Cup triumph.

    Even the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, joined in the praise of Fernando Santos' team as they sped through to the quarter-finals in Qatar.

    Ramos started Tuesday's game ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the 21-year-old Benfica forward proving far from unnerved by that prospect, hitting the first, third and fifth goals of Portugal's handsome win.

    It may mean Ramos keeps his place for the clash with surprise quarter-finalists Morocco, who upset Spain with a penalty shoot-out victory.

    Leao came off the bench in the late stages and struck the team's exquisite sixth goal, staking his own claim for place in the side to tackle the Atlas Lions.

    Asked about Ramos, Leao told Sport TV: "We have a lot of players of great quality, and he is another young man who showed a lot of quality.

    "Today he had the opportunity to be in the starting line-up, he helped the team and we are very happy for him."

    Before Ramos, the last player to hit a hat-trick on his first World Cup start went on to become the tournament's 16-goal all-time record scorer: Germany's Miroslav Klose.

    The Morocco game will take place on Saturday, so the imperative for Portugal is to move on as quickly as possible and prepare for that tussle.

    "We're going to celebrate, but calm spirits, respecting the Moroccan team," Leao said. "Now it's time to prepare for that game and for sure we'll come in strong."

    Leao has showed outstanding form for Milan in Serie A across the last 18 months, but such are the resources available to Santos he is not a certain starter for his country.

    There will be games when the coach prefers other options, but Leao has a long-term future in the team.

    "Even though I'm not the first option, when I come on I try to help the team," Leao said. "I have to respect the coach's decisions."

    President Rebelo de Sousa told television broadcaster RTP3 it had been one of Portugal's finest nights.

    There have been others that have topped it, notably their Euro 2016 title triumph, and there might yet be better days ahead in Qatar.

    "I think the selector's choices in general worked well," said Rebelo de Sousa. "The team played well in the first half and also in the second half. The substitutions happened naturally and we still had more goals.

    "It was one of the best nights in Portuguese football."

  • Match-winning Bellingham attributes have 'taken him to another level' - says Holland Match-winning Bellingham attributes have 'taken him to another level' - says Holland

    Jude Bellingham has a "match-winning ability" that is taking his game to another level, according to England assistant manager Steve Holland. 

    The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been one of the Three Lions' standout performers in their run to the World Cup quarter-finals, where they face reigning champions France on Saturday.

    Bellingham launched England's campaign with the opening goal in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran, before assisting Jordan Henderson during another impressive display in the last-16 win over Senegal.

    The 19-year-old leads his team-mates for dribbles completed (six) and possessions won (23) in Qatar, while only Luke Shaw (72) has bettered his tally of 48 passes ending in the final third.  

    Holland is well aware of the qualities and attributes possessed by top players following his time at Chelsea, where he served as assistant manager under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Rafael Benitez and Guus Hiddink, and England's number two believes those traits are evident in Bellingham.

    "He's unique. When you're categorising really top players – I was lucky enough in eight years at Chelsea to experience a few of those – there are the physical attributes, there are the technical attributes," Holland said.

    "My experience would be that what makes the top, top ones is the mentality – the self-belief, the confidence, the drive, the ambition every day to push and be competitive.

    "There were a few at Chelsea during my time that I felt were always there every time in training – [Ashley] Cole, [Frank] Lampard, [Didier] Drogba, [John] Terry.

    "There were others: players who perhaps weren't super gifted physically or even super gifted technically – although on a high level – but the mental aspect of it took them to a different level of performance.

    "Jude has those attributes. There has been an evolution physically over the last 12 months. We watch every match he plays, either live or by going over the footage.

    "We know him really well, and there has definitely been an evolution physically because he is still developing. It has taken him to another level.

    "There are only three things you can do in football: stop goals, make goals, score goals. That's how you contribute.

    "Jude can do all of those things and, recently, he has begun to score goals, which is the bit that makes the biggest players big. It's a match-winning ability that he is adding to his game."

  • Santos insists Ronaldo relationship unchanged as he hailed captain's 'great example' Santos insists Ronaldo relationship unchanged as he hailed captain's 'great example'

    Portugal coach Fernando Santos insists his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo is unchanged despite dropping the captain for Tuesday's 6-1 win over Switzerland at the World Cup.

    Ronaldo was benched after Santos expressed his disappointment with the striker's attitude following his substitution during last week's defeat to South Korea.

    Santos said on Monday the matter had been resolved internally, but Ronaldo was then dropped to the bench for the clash at Lusail Stadium, starting a major-tournament match among the substitutes for the first time since 2008 (31 games).

    A fan poll on the website of Portuguese newspaper A Bola suggested 70 per cent of Portugal fans wanted Ronaldo out of the team, and the Selecao went on to produce one of their best performances at a major tournament in years.

    Goncalo Ramos replaced Ronaldo in the attack and had a hand in four goals, including a hat-trick, but Santos did not commit to keeping faith in the Benfica prospect for the quarter-final against Morocco.

    Santos told reporters: "That's still something that has to be defined [who starts in the next game]. I already answered in yesterday's press conference [regarding Ronaldo]; there is no problem between us.

    "I have a strong relationship with him, I always have. I have known him since he was young and at Sporting [CP], and then it started to develop in the national team.

    "This relationship only developed. We've been friends for many years, things don't affect us.

    "I already explained everything was resolved. I said that and I repeat that now. This is something that's finished and resolved.

    "How he came in with a lot of will, he set an example as a great captain."

    In scoring his hat-trick, Ramos became the first player to net three times on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002.

    Similarly, it only took him 17 minutes to do what Ronaldo has never managed: score in a World Cup knockout game.

    For most, Ramos starting the quarter-final clash would be a simple decision to make, but Santos intends to keep people guessing.

    "Obviously I have my ways to observes things, I always have," he continued. "The players we have in this position obviously have many different characteristics.

    "Andre [Silva] plays more advanced, Cristiano is more fixed, he plays in a determined area. Goncalo is dynamic.

    "That's what he ended up showing us, but it was nothing new because he came on in two other games.

    "I have three players I fully trust and for each match I will use what I think is the right strategy, as I have always done in my career."

    Tuesday's success was Portugal's biggest ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, with it the first time they have scored six beyond the group stage.

    It was a truly rampant performance, though Santos was particularly pleased that his team did not get carried away with the euphoria.

    "It's exactly what I said [to the players]; when we are euphoric, I think we can go beyond what we should do in a match.

    "We can end up having a bit too much fun, to use that expression, and football is not fun. Yes, you have to play, have fun in the field, but too much fun is not appropriate.

    "In this aspect, in terms of how serious they were, they were fantastic."

    Portugal will face Morocco in their quarter-final at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.
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