MLS

Fagundez sends Austin top in West with win over LAFC

By Sports Desk May 19, 2022

Austin FC moved to the top of the Western Conference in MLS on Wednesday, securing a gritty 2-1 win over Los Angeles FC.

Goals from Ruben Gabrielsen and Diego Fagundez gave Austin the vital three points, with Carlos Vela's response from the penalty spot in the 86th minute providing mere consolation for LAFC.

Gabrielsen put the home side in front in the 13th minute after Fagundez zipped a dangerous corner in, coolly finishing when the ball fell his way.

Josh Wolff's side looked to absorb pressure from LAFC, and Fagundez was able to double their advantage in the 80th minute after he was played through by Sebastian Driussi.

Vela's goal, which made him the third-fastest player to 100 MLS goal involvements (98 games), was not enough for a largely passive LAFC, who could not translate possession into chances of substance. They accumulated a non-penalty expected goals total of 1.12 from the 17 shots aside from Vela's spot-kick.

Austin lead LAFC on goal difference atop the West on 23 points, with FC Dallas remaining on 22 points after the Vancouver Whitecaps came from behind to defeat them 2-1 late on.

The LA Galaxy missed their chance to make up ground, only managing a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United despite Sacha Kljestan putting them ahead in the 83rd minute.

Elsewhere in the West, the Seattle Sounders continued their recovery from a slow start to the season, defeating the Houston Dynamo 1-0, while Sporting Kansas City beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 in a game that saw four red cards in stoppage time.

A Jamiro Monteiro brace helped the San Jose Earthquakes defeat the Portland Timbers 3-2, as Nashville's strong start at GEODIS Park continued with a 2-1 victory over CF Montreal.

New York City gained ground on the Philadelphia Union with a 2-0 win over DC United, scoring twice in the first half to move within a point of the Eastern Conference leaders, who were held to a goalless draw by Inter Miami.

In Wednesday's early result, Xherdan Shaqiri scored what he thought was a late winner for the Chicago Fire, only for the New York Red Bulls' Patryk Klimala to score in the first minute of stoppage time to secure a 3-3 draw.

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  • Liberta faces possible expulsion from Antigua and Barbuda's Premier Division in standoff with football association Liberta faces possible expulsion from Antigua and Barbuda's Premier Division in standoff with football association

    Liberta Sports Club could be facing expulsion from Antigua and Barbuda’s Premier Division after failing to turn up for its first two matches this season in protest over concerns about the administration of that country’s football association.

    The league resumed two weeks ago after a Covid-19 enforced two-and-a-half-year hiatus but the Rowan Benjamin-managed club has yet to show up for any of their two games against All Stars United and Ottos Rangers FC, respectively, which leaves it at the mercy of the ABFA Disciplinary Committee that will meet in the coming days.

    According to Rohan Hector, the ABFA General Secretary, the teams that Liberta was scheduled to play will likely be awarded points and the club could face expulsion from the competition.

    “Rule 5.11; if a team does not report for a match except in the case of force majeure recognized by the executive committee or if it refused to continue to play or leave the ground before the end of the match the team will be considered having lost the match and three points awarded to the opponent 3-0,” he said.

    He added that the guilty team shall, as a general rule, be subjected to disciplinary action as recommended by the disciplinary committee, which may include exclusion from further participation in the competition.

    Liberta, meanwhile, is sticking to its guns while expressing concern over issues which they say the administration has not addressed leading up to the start of the competition.

    Among those issues of concern is the appointment of an interim president after the incumbent Everton Gonzales fell ill shortly after he was elected in April 2022. In a letter dated, November 6, 2022, obtained by Sportsmax.TV, President of Liberta Sports Club Kenny Benjamin raised the issue regarding Gonzales’ absence.

    “On April 25th 2022 the Antigua and Barbuda FA held its elections where Mr Everton Gonzales was elected as president,” Benjamin stated in the letter.

    “Within the same week it was learnt via a radio talk show host that the president had left the country to seek medical assistance. Even at this time of penning this letter there has not been any communique’ from the ABFA to member clubs as to the president’s illness or his whereabouts, the person deputizing for the president as stipulated in the constitution.

    “This can be seen as gross disrespect to the clubs and largely, the general public.”

    According to the former West Indies bowler, seeing that President Gonzales has been out of office for the last six months, the constitution dictates that if the president is absent or unavailable, the longest serving vice-president available shall deputize.

    He continued stating that according to the constitution, if the president is permanently or temporarily prevented from performing his official functions, the longest serving vice-president shall represent him/her until the next Congress.

    According to the Benjamin brothers, up to early last week, this matter has not been addressed and there has been no communication informing the clubs of the situation.

    However, Hector explained that while President Gonzales is ailing, he is still functioning  in that capacity.

    “The president, upon on recognizing his illness and was going away for treatment, issued instruction to his executive on how they were to proceed in his absence,” Hector said.

    “So, the president was not incapacitated to the point where he is not aware or has not been involved or been in touch or nor kept apprised of things going on. He is constantly in contact.

    “Secondly, there was an update that was sent out to the membership yesterday (Sunday, December 4), that completely deals with that issue has been addressed.”

    Player insurance was another issue raised by the Liberta manager.

    In a letter dated November 22, Liberta President Kenny Benjamin fired off a letter to the FA inquiring about insurance for players for the coming season.

    “Liberta Sports Club is concerned about its members participating in the ABFA’s Premier Division and not been clear about insurance of the players,” the letter stated.

    “We are therefore requesting all information and details about the insurance be available to the team manager Mrs. Diane Anthony before our team PIC Black Hawks participation.”

    The club manager cited an incident from 2019 when a Liberta player lost a tooth during a match and the club was forced to spend approximately EC$12,000 or about USD$4000 in medical expenses, funds that took the FA some time to refund.

    Hector debunked those assertions, stating that the FA paid directly for the cost of getting the player’s tooth repaired. In fact, the general secretary said, the invoice for the player’s dental care was generated on February 26, 2019 and the cheque for said amount was paid on March 3, 2019, less than a week later.

    “The ABFA paid the dental surgeon directly to repair the young man’s injuries so this notion there was a reimbursement was completely untrue,” Hector said.

    Regarding the wider issue of insurance for the players for the season, Hector explained that the FA has engaged a new insurance company that will provide even more robust coverage for players, coaches and team personnel for the 2022/2023 season.

    In response, the FA sent out a form requesting individual  player contact information in a bid to speed up the process of getting everyone insured, Hector explained.

    He said what would usually happen is that each club would forward each player’s name using their club’s contact information. However, with the new insurer, the coverage required contact information for each individual player. As such, the FA sent out forms to the clubs requesting said information for each individual player.

    “We did not want to slow down the process,” said Hector, who noted that of 43 club teams playing football in Antigua, Liberta was the only club holding out at the start of the new season.

    “I want to take this opportunity to thank the other 42 teams for returning Antigua and Barbuda football after a lay-off of two and a half years, to not wonderful support from not only the clubs but also the fans who have turned out in massive numbers to support football in 2022/2023.”

  • Vinicius sends 'a strong hug' to Pele and says Brazil can 'keep dancing until the final' Vinicius sends 'a strong hug' to Pele and says Brazil can 'keep dancing until the final'

    Vinicius Junior sent "a strong hug" to Pele and says Brazil can keep "dancing until the final" after helping the Selecao beat South Korea 4-1 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

    Three-time World Cup winner Pele has been receiving treatment in Sao Paulo, though his family have denied reports that he is receiving palliative care.

    On social media, the Selecao legend confirmed he would be watching Brazil's knockout clash with South Korea and will have enjoyed the performance as Vinicius opened the scoring before a Neymar penalty put him one short of Pele's all-time scoring record for his nation.

    Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta rounded off the scoring to give Brazil a four-goal advantage at the break, with Paik Seung-ho's effort in the second half merely being a consolation.

    Asked what message the victory sends, Vinicius told Globo Esporte: "That we can keep dancing until the final.

    "And send a strong hug to Pele, who is in need of strength. This victory goes to him, so that he can get out of this situation.

    "[It says that] we can be champion for him."

    Brazil's performance against Croatia was their stand-out display of the competition so far, having shown flashes of their brilliance during the group stages, and Vinicius feels there is more to come.

    "As time went by, we were growing up in the competition. Every game that passes we are more confident and intertwined," he added.

    "Today we play against a team that gives space, and when it gives space to us it is very complicated for the opponent. We have a lot of moves and personality to make a great game."

    Brazil will clash with Croatia in the quarter-final, who defeated Japan on penalties earlier on Monday after a 1-1 draw.

  • Germany national team director Bierhoff leaves role after World Cup exit Germany national team director Bierhoff leaves role after World Cup exit

    Germany's national team director Oliver Bierhoff has left his role in the aftermath of the side's dismal World Cup campaign.

    Bierhoff, who was a Euro 1996 winner and a runner-up at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea as a player, first assumed his role with the German Football Association (DFB) in 2004.

    The former Milan forward oversaw Germany's fourth World Cup triumph in Brazil eight years ago, but the team have since suffered consecutive group-stage exits at the tournament, finishing behind Japan and Spain in Group E at this year's competition.

    The likes of Philipp Lahm and Dietmar Hamann reacted to the team's elimination in Qatar by calling for significant changes in German football, and the first of those will see Bierhoff depart. 

    DFB president Bernd Neuendorf said: "Oliver Bierhoff has rendered great services to the DFB. Even if the last tournaments fell short of the sporting goals, he stands for great moments. 

    "His work will always be linked to the World Cup success in Brazil. Even in turbulent times, he always pursued his goals and visions and left a lasting mark on the DFB. 

    "On behalf of the DFB employees, I would like to thank Oliver Bierhoff for everything he has done for us and for football in Germany."

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