MLS

Playoffs debutants Cincinnati stun Red Bulls, Galaxy advance past Nashville

By Sports Desk October 15, 2022

New York Red Bulls blew a lead to be bundled out of the MLS playoffs by first-time participants Cincinnati 2-1 with Brandon Vasquez netting an 86th-minute winner on Saturday.

Lewis Morgan, who scored 14 goals in the regular season, had put the Red Bulls ahead with a rifled strike from outside the box in the 48th minute at Red Bull Arena.

But Cincinnati replied with two goals in the final 15 minutes to secure their spot in the Conference Semifinals where they will face top seed Philadelphia Union. Fourth-year franchise Cincy had finished last in the Eastern Conference during its previous three campaigns.

Cincy thought they had an equalizer in the 60th minute when the Red Bulls failed to clear a long throw and Junior Moreno's strike was deflected in, but that was by an offside Jeff Cameron.

But the visitors found an avenue back when Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes clumsily brought down Alvaro Barreal, with Luciano Acosta stepping up to send Carlos Coronel the wrong way with the 74th-minute penalty.

New York were stunned when Cincy took the lead with less than five minutes of regulation time left as Vasquez sidefooted home substitute Sergio Santos' left-flank pass.

Cincy goalkeeper Roman Celentano denied Aaron Long's 88th-minute header, while Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis headed over in stoppage time.

LA Galaxy moved into the Conference Semifinals where they will face LAFC after a 1-0 home victory over Nashville at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead in the 50th minute when they raced forward in a four-on-two situation with Riqui Puig laying off for Javier Hernandez to fire home but the goal was disallowed on review after a Ronald Araujo foul in the build-up.

Pink-haired Araujo, who hit the post with a wayward 60th-minute cross, made amends when he headed in Samuel Grandsir's cross from the byline on the right side.

Galaxy could have added another but Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis made saves from Riqui Puig and Kevin Cabral late.

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  • Nashville SC v New York City: Munthali's hosts in a good spot Nashville SC v New York City: Munthali's hosts in a good spot

    Rumba Munthali believes his Nashville SC side are in a good spot ahead of Saturday's clash with New York City, having continued their climb up the standings by beating Toronto FC 2-1 in midweek.

    Sam Surridge's 90th-minute strike handed Nashville their second win in their last four MLS matches on Wednesday, and they now sit eighth in the Eastern Conference.

    Interim boss Munthali has overseen a resurgence since taking over from the fired Gary Smith last month, and he is excited by the chance to keep it going against NYCFC.

    "It's really good to pick up more points and move up the standings," Munthali said. 

    "I thought the guys showed some heart and had a good second half and deserved to win.

    "Now we just have to talk to our staff, make sure the guys are in a good place for Saturday in the space we have and hopefully again have good performances."

    Nick Cushing's visitors sit six points clear of Nashville in fourth place, though they have lost ground on those above them by recording back-to-back losses.

    Having gone down 3-2 at home to the Columbus Crew last week, they were beaten 2-0 at the LA Galaxy on Wednesday.

    Cushing knows acclimatising to different conditions on their travels is somewhere his team can improve, saying: "We made changes, but we've got a squad that allows us to make changes.

    "If you want to be a consistently winning team, a team that is successful in MLS, you have to cope with travel and time zones and all of those things, the heavy schedule too."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Nashville SC – Sam Surridge

    Surridge scored both of Nashville's goals in their midweek victory over Toronto, his third match with two or more goals in MLS.

    Of Surridge's nine MLS goals, seven have arrived in the three matches where he scored more than once (one hat-trick, two braces).

    New York City – Santiago Rodriguez

    Rodriguez led NYCFC on Wednesday with five shot involvements (two chances created, three shots attempted), extending his team-leading shot involvements tally to 95 for the season. 

    If he maintains his lead, he will have led the team for shot involvements in each of the last three seasons, joining David Villa (2015 to 2017) as the only NYCFC players to do so in three straight campaigns.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NASHVILLE SC WIN

    The home team has not lost any of the four all-time meetings between these teams, with Nashville winning both of their home games and NYCFC recording a win and a draw on their own turf.

    New York's 2-0 defeat to the Galaxy last time out was their fifth shutout defeat of the year, tied with the New England Revolution and Orlando City for the joint-most in MLS.

    Nashville, meanwhile, have only lost one of their last seven regular-season games (three wins, three draws), and are chasing their first pair of consecutive wins since May-June 2023.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Nashville SC – 44%

    New York City – 29.2%

    Draw – 26.8%

  • New York Red Bulls v Toronto FC: Herdman says big changes needed for Reds New York Red Bulls v Toronto FC: Herdman says big changes needed for Reds

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    New York Red Bulls – Dante Vanzeir

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    Toronto FC – Federico Bernardeschi

    Bernardeschi has been involved in 12 goals in his last seven MLS matches dating back to late April (seven goals, five assists). 

    Only Sebastian Giovinco (14 between July and August 2016) has recorded more goal contributions in a span of seven matches in Toronto's MLS history.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEW YORK RED BULLS WIN

    Toronto have only won one of their last 29 regular-season away matches dating back to late 2022, though they have taken a point from their last two road trips.

    The Red Bulls, meanwhile, are unbeaten in 11 home matches in all competitions dating back to the end of last season (seven wins, four draws), their longest home unbeaten streak since a 16-match stretch in 2016.

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

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    Toronto FC – 17%

    Draw – 19.4%

  • Euro 2024 data dive: Griezmann matches Thuram but goals finally dry up Euro 2024 data dive: Griezmann matches Thuram but goals finally dry up

    Friday's action at Euro 2024 was headlined by a heavyweight Group D clash which did not quite live up to its billing, as France and the Netherlands played out a goalless draw.

    While France misfired in the absence of Kylian Mbappe, who was an unused substitute after breaking his nose in Les Bleus' opener, it was VAR that frustrated the Dutch as Xavi Simons saw a potential winner chalked off for an offside call against Denzel Dumfries.  

    Fortunately, there was plenty of entertainment to be had in the day's early games, as Ukraine fought back to beat Slovakia 2-1 and Austria dumped Poland out of the tournament with a 3-1 success in Berlin.

    Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

    Slovakia 1-2 Ukraine: Shaparenko follows in Shevchenko's footsteps

    The first game of the day was an emotional one for Ukraine, as they fought back from 1-0 down to clinch a 2-1 victory over Slovakia and blow Group E wide open.

    Ivan Schranz's goal had put Slovakia on course for a second win in two games, as he became just the second player to net multiple goals at Euro 2024 after Germany's Jamal Musiala.

    He is also just the second Slovakian player to score more than one goal at a major tournament, after Robert Vittek struck four times at the 2010 World Cup.

    It was, in many ways, a case of experience versus youth in this match, as 37-year-olds Peter Pekarík and Juraj Kucka both made their 12th major tournament appearances for Slovakia (World Cup/Euros), overtaking Marek Hamsik (11) for the most in the nation's history.

    Ukraine, meanwhile, named a starting lineup with an average age of just 25 years and 259 days – the youngest at this year's tournament so far and the first to come in under the 26 mark.

    Youthful exuberance won the day as Ukraine came on strong in the second half, Mykola Shaparenko levelling after 54 minutes.

    He became the first Dynamo Kyiv player to score at the Euros since the legendary Andriy Shevchenko did so on home soil at the 2012 tournament.

    Roman Yaremchuk then came off the bench to decide the contest with a composed touch and finish in the 80th minute, becoming just the second Ukrainian substitute to net at a major tournament, after Artem Dovbyk did so against Sweden at Euro 2020.

    It was also Yaremchuk's third major tournament goal, with only Shevchenko (four) boasting more for Ukraine.

    Poland 1-3 Austria: Veteran Arnautovic on the spot

    Austria won plenty of plaudits for their display against France on matchday one, but it did not translate into points.

    That was not the case on Friday, though, as second-half goals from Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic downed Poland, who had seen Krzysztof Piatek cancel out Gernot Trauner's early opener.

    Trauner's ninth-minute header, his first competitive goal for Austria, made him just the second player to score on his first Euros start for the country, after Stefan Lainer versus North Macedonia three years ago.

    It was also the fastest goal Austria have scored at the Euros, and their earliest in any tournament match since they netted twice in the first four minutes versus Czechoslovakia at the 1954 World Cup.

    Ralf Rangnick's high-pressing side could not hold their lead until the interval, though, as Piatek levelled, becoming the seventh Poland player to net at the Euros and the fifth to do so on his competition debut, after Robert Lewandowski (2012), Arkadiusz Milik (2016), Karol Linetty (2020) and Adam Buksa (2024).

    Lewandowski was later introduced from the bench after missing Poland's opener due to injury, as the striker (35 years, 305 days) became his nation's oldest player to feature at the Euros. That record lasted all of 15 minutes, with fellow substitute Kamil Grosicki coming on at the age of 36 years and 13 days.

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    Netherlands 0-0 France: Long wait for goalless draw over

    Poland later became the first team to be officially eliminated from Euro 2024, courtesy of a goalless draw between the Netherlands and France in Leipzig.

    Much of the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would play after suffering a broken nose in Les Blues' 1-0 win over Austria on Monday. He had been fitted with a protective mask ahead of kick-off, yet was relegated to the bench, where he stayed throughout. 

    France struggled in attack without their talisman, with Antoine Griezmann guilty of spurning several good chances. 

    Griezmann did gain a slice of history, though, as his 32nd major tournament appearance equalled Lilian Thuram's record for the most by any outfield France player.

    The Atletico Madrid man has also started each of France's last 11 games at the Euros, with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) the only outfielders currently on longer such streaks for their nation.

    France's failure to find the breakthrough means they have failed to win any of their last seven games when Mbappe has not been in their starting lineup, drawing five and losing two such matches since the start of June 2022.

    In fact, it was the Netherlands who went closest to victory as Simons saw a potential winner controversially chalked off in the second half, ensuring we got the first goalless draw of this year's tournament.

    In fact, the result ended a run of 50 European Championship games without a 0-0 draw dating back to the group stages at the delayed 2020 tournament, when there was nothing to separate England and Scotland.

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