MLS: Earthquakes unbeaten in last eight after Whitecaps draw

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

San Jose Earthquakes extended their unbeaten streak to eight matches after a 0-0 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps.

The match was as even as the score indicates, with the teams essentially splitting possession and San Jose holding a 12-11 edge in shots with each side putting three on goal.

The best chance came from San Jose's Jeremy Ebobisse in the 62nd minute after Oswaldo Alanis collected a loose ball at midfield.

The former Mexico international sent the ball to Ebobisse on the right and the forward cut back inside before firing a left-footed shot that a diving Maxime Crepeau redirected off the post for the save.

It was the first clean sheet in the last eight MLS games for Crepeau, while JT Marcinkowski turned in his third clean sheet of the season for San Jose. 

The result left San Jose on 22 points and in eighth place in the MLS Western Conference table, one point clear of Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas though the latter have a game in hand and Salt Lake have two. 

The visitors from Canada remain winless on the road (4L, 6D) but are out of the cellar with a one-point edge on Austin. 

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    Real Madrid president Florentino Perez predicted Luka Modric could win the Ballon d'Or for a second time after his masterclass in the Supercopa de Espana final.

    Croatian playmaker Modric scooped France Football's prestigious prize for world player of the year after his dazzling performances at the 2018 World Cup.

    He will turn 37 before the Qatar World Cup in November, but Modric's goal and overall display in the 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday showed he remains a force.

    Thibaut Courtois saved a late penalty from Raul Garcia as Madrid made sure of a first trophy since Carlo Ancelotti returned to the club for a second spell as coach.

    Asked about Courtois and Modric, Perez said after the game: "Without wanting to brag, they are the two best in their position. The best goalkeeper and Modric in enviable form, worthy of winning the Ballon d'Or again."

    Modric's passing accuracy this season is an outstanding 90.41 per cent, and even in the opposition half it is 89.03 per cent, which are impressive numbers given he plays a lot of high-tariff balls.

    He has created eight big chances for others this season already and has five assists, while the shot he sent arcing past Unai Simon in the 38th minute at the King Fahd Stadium gave Modric a first goal of the season. He took away the most valuable player award from Sunday's game.

    Perez is still probably getting excited too soon, given the Ballon d'Or is an end-of-year prize, but Modric was excellent, and midfield colleague Toni Kroos had a 95 per cent accuracy rate from his game-high 100 passes, helping ensure Madrid had the game tied up before withstanding a late flurry of attacks from Athletic.

    Former Barcelona captain Lionel Messi took the Ballon d'Or for a record seventh time last year, with even Robert Lewandowski's Bayern Munich goalscoring feats not enough to knock the Argentine great off his accustomed top spot in the vote.

    Madrid should win more silverware this season. They lead LaLiga, have a Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Elche on Thursday, and remain in the Champions League, albeit with a tough tie against Paris Saint-Germain coming up next in that competition.

    Perez enthused about the prospects for this Ancelotti stint, saying of Madrid's early success: "It means a lot."

    Quoted in Marca, Perez said: "We always want to win everything, they taught us that since we were little. This year it was 60 years since I became a member, and that's how we were educated. I work along the lines that Santiago Bernabeu set for us, and I am happy because we have won the first title."

    Courtois did not particularly guess right for Garcia's penalty, as much as guess late, meaning his outstretched leg could reach the ball down the middle as the rest of his body lurched to the right.

    "I was hesitating between going to the right or staying in the middle," the Belgian goalkeeper told #Vamos, "and that's why I kept my foot there and I was able to stop it. If not, we would have had a heart-stopping final few minutes."

  • Benitez sacked by Everton: The data behind a dismal managerial tenure Benitez sacked by Everton: The data behind a dismal managerial tenure

    Rafael Benitez's dismal tenure as Everton manager was brought to an end on Sunday after a run of just two wins in 14 games across all competitions.

    Former Liverpool boss Benitez was a divisive appointment at Everton when he was drafted in to replace Carlo Ancelotti in July after the Italian left for Real Madrid.

    Everton started the season well, winning three of their first four league matches, yet injuries to key players and a dreadful loss of form has seen them slide down the table.

    A win over Hull City in the FA Cup third round offered Benitez a reprieve, but defeat to lowly Norwich City on Saturday marked a new nadir, and Everton have decided to make a change.

    Here, Stats Perform looks at the data behind Benitez's miserable spell at Goodison Park.

    A torrid tenure cut short

    Despite not being a popular appointment, Benitez's success at the likes of Valencia and Liverpool at least gave sceptical fans hope that he might be able to reverse the recent fortunes of the club.

    To say it did not turn out that way would be something of an understatement.

    He left the club after a mere 200 days, giving him the third-shortest reign of any Toffees manager in the Premier League with 40 or more days in charge. Only Sam Allardyce (167) and Dave Watson (60) were at the helm for fewer days.

    Top of the pile by a comfortable distance is David Moyes, who oversaw the team for a whopping 4101 days between 2002 and 2013.

    Wins hard to come by

    Everton was Benitez's fourth time at the helm of a Premier League club and he departed with comfortably the worst win percentage ratio during his time in England.

    He won just seven of his 22 games in charge, leaving him with a win ratio of 31.8 per cent – significantly behind his records at Liverpool (55.4 per cent), Chelsea (58.3) and Newcastle United (42.5).

    Surprisingly, it is only the fourth-lowest win ratio in his managerial career, with his spells at Real Valladolid (17.2), Osasuna (27.3) and Dalian (31.6) all bringing about worse records in that department. 

    The best win ratio in his career? That came during a 25-game stint as Real Madrid boss when he won 68 per cent of his games in charge.

  • Klopp thrilled to see Liverpool 'full of desire' Klopp thrilled to see Liverpool 'full of desire'

    Jurgen Klopp saluted the patience and desire demonstrated by Liverpool during their 3-0 win over Brentford.

    Goals from Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino lifted the Reds above Chelsea to reach second place in the Premier League table.

    Despite enjoying 74 per cent of possession and registering 12 shots before the break, Klopp's side had to be patient for the breakthrough against stubborn opponents at Anfield.

    It arrived just before half-time as Fabinho headed in from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner, and they pressed home their advantage after the break with two goals in eight minutes sealing the points.

    Klopp was pleased by the way his players were able to adapt to the challenges posed by the Bees.

    "It's extremely uncomfortable to play against Brentford, to be honest," Klopp told BBC Sport. "They usually play differently, but the way they play against us is really difficult.

    "There were so many moments where the ball was in the air and the moment it was on the ground, we had to start playing football.

    "It was not always fluent, but that's how it is very often – the set-pieces can be the opener. That was the case today. We could have scored maybe before, but then the next two goals were outstanding.

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    Fabinho got the ball rolling with his third goal in as many games, having netted twice in the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town last weekend.

    "We needed these three points and a good performance, so it was nice to do it in front of our fans," the Brazilian midfielder said. "It will be good to grow our confidence.

    "It's always nice to score here at Anfield. When I can help the team in the offensive part of the pitch, it's always important for me as well.

    "The team played really well with the ball. We created a lot of opportunities to score. It is a chance for everybody to show their quality and step up. We did that today."

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