MLS

Cifuentes leads LAFC to 5-0 thrashing of Charlotte, Philadelphia Union extend lead atop the East

By Sports Desk August 14, 2022

Los Angeles FC showed why they are the MLS' best team this season as they hammered Charlotte 5-0 to move six points clear atop the Western Conference, with a game in hand.

LAFC controlled the first half, creating 12 shots to Charlotte's four, but after 45 minutes the sides went into the half-time break locked at 0-0 as the home side's attacks continued to falter in the final third.

Whatever the advice was during the break seemed to work a treat, with Jesus Murillo finding the breakthrough in the 49th minute when he headed home a stylish lofted through ball from Diego Palacios. That opened the floodgates, with Jose Cifuentes making it 2-0 10 minutes later, and Cifuentes then turned distributor in the 73rd minute to set up Carlos Vela for 3-0.

Cristian Arango got in on the fun to put home LAFC's fourth in the 76th minute, and an own goal in stoppage time from Charlotte captain Anton Walkes completed the rout.

Earlier in the day, it was Orlando City jumping up into the Eastern Conference's top-six with a 1-0 upset win away from home against New York Red Bulls.

Uruguay's Facundo Torres netted the game's only goal in the 17th minute to make it five matches without a win for the Red Bulls, who still sit fourth in the East.

In a back-and-forth contest, Cincinnati came back from an early 1-0 deficit to lead 2-1 at half-time through goals to Brandon Vasquez and Brenner, only to be denied the three points by an Andrew Gutman equaliser in the 83rd minute.

The East's bottom side DC United continued to struggle on their way to a 1-0 away loss against the New England Revolution, while the top side in the East, the Philadelphia Union, made it look easy as they treated their home fans to a 4-1 pummelling of the Chicago Fire.

Inter Miami held onto the seventh and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with their 3-2 win against New York City, thanks in large part to Alejandro Pozuelo's brace, with one assist coming from Gonzalo Higuain.

Austin FC came back from 3-1 down at half-time to steal a 4-3 win against Sporting Kansas City, with Sebastian Driussi netting the winner in the 94th minute, while Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne injected some Italian flavour with a goal each to help Toronto FC defeat the Portland Timbers 3-1.

The struggling Colorado Rapids will be the more pleased of the two sides after a 1-1 draw against the Colombus Crew, and a first-half double from FC Dallas' Jesus Ferreira was the catalyst in a 4-1 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes.

CF Montreal's Romell Quioto scored a penalty and missed a penalty in a 3-2 win against the Houston Dynamo to strengthen their second-placed position in the East, and a four-goal first half from Los Angeles Galaxy – including a goal and an assist for Chicharito – was more than enough to prevail 5-2 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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    The Seattle Sounders kept their playoff hopes alive by salvaging an important point in their 1-1 draw against Cincinnati on Tuesday.

    Cincinnati were the better of the two sides based on expected goal data, tallying 1.98 expected goals compared to just 0.36 for Seattle in front of their home fans.

    The visiting side took the lead in the 24th minute when Brandon Vasquez was able to take advantage of the Sounders' high defensive line, slipping a ball through for Brenner to run onto and he made no mistake with his one-on-one, calmly side-footing it inside the far post.

    Seattle nearly equalised through a set-piece in the 35th minute, with Will Bruin rising well to send his header towards the bottom-left corner, only for Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano to deny him with a terrific save.

    When the hosts did find the leveler, it was worth the wait, with a searing ball from Kelyn Rowe out of defense being controlled by Fredy Montero near the corner of the penalty box, before he unleashed a rocket high into the near-post corner.

    With the result, Seattle remain five points away from the seventh and final Western Conference playoff spot, which is currently occupied by Minnesota. Cincinnati are much more comfortable, fifth in the Eastern Conference and four points clear of chasers.

  • Argentina 3-0 Jamaica: Super sub Messi nets brace to extend unbeaten streak to 35 matches Argentina 3-0 Jamaica: Super sub Messi nets brace to extend unbeaten streak to 35 matches

    Argentina were never in any danger during their 3-0 friendly win against Jamaica on Tuesday, played at a neutral site in the United States' Red Bull Arena.

    Alvarez opened the scoring in the 13th minute thanks to some terrific work from Lautaro Martinez, who was able to snake his way into the box, beating multiple defenders to get to the touchline and drag one back along the edge of the six-yard box for a simple tap-in.

    Argentina continued to create half-chances throughout the remainder of the first half, and it was more of the same to begin the second 45, with Martinez going close after a slick one-touch pass from Alexis Mac Allister gave him some space inside the box, but he pushed his shot wide of the far-post.

    Lionel Messi was subbed on in the 56th minute, and just 10 minutes later he had his first chance after a one-two on the edge of the area allowed him to break into the left-hand side of the box, but his shot from a sharp angle was easily thwarted at the near post.

    But fans in attendance would get what they came for in the 87th minute, when Messi picked up a deflected pass just outside the penalty area and fired his left-foot shot hard and low across his body into the bottom-right corner.

    Just two minutes later Argentina were awarded a free kick in the same spot, and Messi again converted, this time around the wall into the bottom-left corner.

    What does it mean? Argentina now two games away from history

    With this result, Argentina are now unbeaten in their past 35 games dating back to their loss in the 2019 Copa America semi-final against Brazil. 

    Italy holds the record at 37 games without a loss – which they set just last year. Argentina's next two games will be in the World Cup against Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and if they make it through unscathed, they will play Poland for the new record.

    Messi the super sub

    Despite only playing 35 minutes, Messi led all players with five shots, four shots on target and three successful dribbles. Only Alvarez (three) created more chances than Messi's two, and he scored two goals for his second consecutive international fixture after also netting a double against Honduras this past weekend.

    Reid struggles with Argentinian physicality

    Bobby Reid had a difficult outing down the left-hand side, being credited with only two duels won from 11 tries – the lowest percentage on the pitch. He also had a passing accuracy of 77 per cent, which was one of the lowest marks from either side, while attempting no shots and creating no chances.

    What's next? 

    Argentina will take their unbeaten streak into the World Cup, where they will play Saudi Arabia first up. Jamaica do not have any fixtures scheduled until March's CONCACAF Nations League.

  • 'We just need to put things together' - Bailey, Antonio start for Reggae Boyz against Argentina 'We just need to put things together' - Bailey, Antonio start for Reggae Boyz against Argentina

     Jamaica Reggae Boy forward Leon Bailey is convinced the unit can produce plenty of quality once they get things right, but admittedly expects a tough outing against Argentina.

    The Jamaicans will clash with Argentina, at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, for only the fourth time in the team’s history and the debut outing for new head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who officially took over the post last week.

    The Reggae Boyz have lost all three previous encounters but performed creditably in the team’s last meeting at the 2015 Copa America Centenario, where they narrowly lost 1-0 to the Lionel Messi-led outfit.  Bailey is looking forward to his first taste of the high-profile fixture.

    “There are a lot of quality players in the team, we just need to put together, obviously it’s a system that the coach will be improvising but we should be able to do good things and hopefully come away with a result,” Bailey said.

    “It’s going to be a good game, the first game for the manager as well, but it should be exciting for everybody playing against a good opponent and I think we just have to be focused and work hard for the whole game.”

    Reggae Boyz starting line-up

    Andre Blake

    Leon Bailey

    Daniel Johnson

    Ravel Morrison

    Shamar Nicholson

    Bobby Reid

    Damion Lowe

    Michael Antonio

    Adrian Mariappa

    Javain Brown

    Amari'i Bell

     

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