MLS

MLS: Toronto record impressive win, Galaxy's struggles continue

By Sports Desk October 04, 2020

Toronto recorded an impressive win in MLS on Saturday, while the LA Galaxy's struggles continued.

Alejandro Pozuelo's fine run of form continued as Toronto came from behind to beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in Connecticut.

Sergio Santos' delicate chip had put Philadelphia ahead in the fifth minute, but Toronto fought back in the second half.

Ayo Akinola headed in a Tony Gallacher cross from the left approaching the hour-mark to bring Greg Vanney's side level.

Pozuelo scored what proved to be the winner in the 76th minute, heading in at the back post following a corner.

As Toronto won for the 10th time in their past 13 meetings with the Union, Pozuelo has been directly involved in 10 goals since the MLS regular season resumed in August, as per Opta.

Toronto joined Columbus on 31 points atop the Eastern Conference after the Crew were held to a 2-2 draw by Dallas.

LA Galaxy are bottom of the Western Conference after slumping to a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in the California Clasico.

The Galaxy seemed on track when Sebastian Lletget put away the opener after Javier Hernandez hit the post, and goalkeeper David Bingham saved Chris Wondolowski's 12th-minute penalty.

But Marcos Lopez drilled in a wonderful equaliser before half-time, and Andres Rios made no mistake with San Jose's second spot-kick of the game in the 82nd minute.

Orlando City continued their fine season with a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls.

The club's tally of 29 points from their first 15 matches is five more than they have ever had through the same number of games in any previous campaign, according to Opta.

Gonzalo Higuain's Inter Miami fell to a 3-2 loss to New York City, while Atlanta United crushed DC United 4-0.

Montreal Impact and Chicago Fire drew 2-2, Alan Pulido scored a brace as Sporting Kansas City edged Houston Dynamo 2-1 and Minnesota United enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Cincinnati.

Western Conference leaders the Seattle Sounders beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1, while the clash between the New England Revolution and Nashville finished goalless.

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    A letter released on behalf of Jamaica’s national football players has described recent information circulating in the media, regarding specifics of ongoing negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), as ‘inaccurate’ but were unable to set the record straight due to contractual obligations.

    The details of the report caused bulging eyeballs, with claims the national team’s representatives had requested a few eye-watering sums for the upcoming campaigns.  Among the standout details was a US$7000 ($1,053,791.20) per player, per match request, in addition to a US$1,000 (150,541.60) win bonus, for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. 

    With an assumed squad of 22 players, at that rate, excluding the bonus, the JFF could be forced to fork out US$154,000 ($23,183,406) per match for the 14 match qualifiers.  In total, the bill would amount to US$2,156,000 ($324,567,689) for the period and that would be the wage bill, exclusive of other expenses like travel and accommodation.  If the reports are accurate, the parties remain miles apart as the JFF has insisted the most it can offer is US$2000 ($301,083) per match.

    In addition, the information released claimed the players have requested US$5,000 ($752,708), for an international friendly, which includes a US$1,000 dollar win bonus.  For the CONCACAF Nations League, that amount would fall to US$3,000 ($451,624.80).

    According to the release issued by the players’ attorney, negotiations remained ongoing and it was premature to offer details on the issue.

    “The players have indicated that it would be premature to make comments on an ongoing negotiation of such national importance,” the release read.

     “The players, upon request by the JFF through their attorney, were asked to keep details of the current negotiations confidential. The players are therefore exercising this responsibility and will not dishonour that request.

    The players consider qualification to the World Cup and maintaining Jamaica's top 50 rankings as an important responsibility and remain committed to an amicable resolution with the JFF.

     They look forward to continuing meaningful discussions with the JFF around a number of outstanding issues, including, but not limited to, match remuneration.”

     

     

  • Chicago Bears: Nagy and Pace desperate for quarterback solution Chicago Bears: Nagy and Pace desperate for quarterback solution

    The Chicago Bears need a new quarterback.

    One of the better all-round rosters in the NFL once again suffered frustration in 2020.

    A second consecutive 8-8 season was enough to creep into the expanded playoffs, but a tame 21-9 Wild Card defeat to the New Orleans Saints soon followed.

    Mitchell Trubisky started the season at QB, and later regained his place after being benched in place of trade arrival Nick Foles, who also underwhelmed.

    Ultimately, despite a late flurry from Trubisky, neither QB could propel the Bears into contention in the NFC North, which was dominated by the Green Bay Packers. A meaningful postseason run never looked likely because of those limitations under center.

    Head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace know their jobs likely hang in the balance based on how they fare in 2021, with their ability to find a solution at the game's most important position crucial to the Bears’ prospects of success next season.

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    Offense

    Despite being a playoff team, only six teams had a worse yards per game total than the Bears on offense (331.4), while 23.3 points per game was better than just nine franchises.

    The Bears’ rushing offense was 25th in the NFL (102.9 yards per game), while 228.4 net passing yards per game was good for the 22nd best mark and 5.62 yards per passing play had them ranked 26th.

    Continuing the trend of bottom-half offensive statistics, Chicago averaged 27.4 yards in their big passing plays of 20+ yards – the worst in the NFL - and only seven teams produced fewer than their 42 in that category.

    Any struggles in the passing game cannot really be put on the two quarterbacks’ supporting cast. Bears receivers only dropped 12 of 414 catchable passes this season, an impressive rate second only to the Arizona Cardinals (nine from 296) in the league.

    Fifth-round draft pick Darnell Mooney looked a steal as he registered 61 catches in 631 yards in support of Allen Robinson, who passed 100 catches (102) for the first time in his NFL career.

    But generally this was an offense lacking dynamism despite the past success of Nagy offenses.

    Aside from their passing problems, more could have been expected from the rushing game and a once dominant offensive line.

    Running back David Montgomery had the fourth-most rushing attempts in the NFL (247) but just the 14th-most rushes of 10+ yards (24) and the 46th highest yards per carry (4.33) average.

    Montgomery had a steady but unspectacular 1.8 yards after first contact, 34th in the league among rushers who had at least 50 attempts.

    He also had 11 broken tackles, breaking a tackle on 4.4 per cent of plays (the 15th highest percentage in the league), though he did add 54 catches through the air. 

    As a team, the 40 rushes of 10+ yards was only 25th in the league, so not much was working on this side of the ball.

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    They ranked 11th in yardage (344.9), 14th in points allowed (23.1) and 12th in scoring efficiency, allowing 68 scoring drives out of 179.

    Opponents tallied 5.41 yards per play (11th), while 18 takeaways put them in a tie for 15th, so they were in the top half of the league in all key metrics.

    A sack total of 35, though, was 17th in the NFL.

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    But that is a reflection of the Bears front seven looking like it needs an infusion of youth, rather than an alarming drop off from Mack. Robert Quinn (2.0 sacks, 6 QB hits) had a quiet year rushing the passer opposite Mack.

    The secondary, led by Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson, allowed 10 big play TDs (tied for 14th) and 59 total big plays (16th).

    Offseason

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    Potential trade options Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have already found new teams. With the Bears picking in the bottom half of the draft and the cupboard relatively bare in terms of remaining free agent options, Pace is going to have to pull something special out of the bag at QB.

    Beyond that critical position, number one wide receiver Robinson is set to hit free agency and is among the NFL's most interesting names to watch after racking up 200 catches and 2,397 receiving yards over the past two years.

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    Chicago enter the offseason approximately $2million over the estimated cap ($185m), putting them around the middle of the league.

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    Having not picked in the first round since 2018, several areas of the roster are in need of attention in addition to the drama at QB. Despite the stellar play of Mack, trading for him has not produced the desired results.

    With those issues to overcome at a time when Aaron Rodgers' play is putting divisional rivals Green Bay up there with the NFC's best, the Bears find themselves in an undesirable position.

  • PSG prepared to tackle first of '11 finals' without suspended Mbappe PSG prepared to tackle first of '11 finals' without suspended Mbappe

    Mauricio Pochettino insists Paris Saint-Germain have the quality to beat Bordeaux even without suspended superstar Kylian Mbappe in the first of "11 finals in Ligue 1".

    With Neymar still recovering from an injury that has limited him to 18 appearances across all competitions, Mbappe has been PSG's key man this season.

    The World Cup winner has been involved in 32 goals (23 goals, nine assists) in 31 games, 15 more than the next-best PSG total (Neymar, 17) and 10 clear of his nearest Ligue 1 rival (Memphis Depay, 22).

    Absent this time due to yellow card accumulation, Mbappe has missed five previous matches for PSG this term, of which they have lost three, scoring only five goals across these encounters.

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    "[Mbappe] is one of the most important players on our team," the coach said. "It will not be easy to replace him.

    "But we have good players in our group and the collective has the tools to win games.

    "Against Bordeaux, we also have the opportunity to show that we are a great team."

    PSG enter the midweek round of fixtures in second, two points behind Ligue 1 leaders Lille, although a run of four wins in five matches has closed the gap.

    There remains work to do in the title race, but PSG have reached the stage of the season where important games are on the horizon across all competitions.

    Describing the "11 finals" in the league to the club's media channels, Pochettino similarly emphasised the importance of beating Brest in the Coupe de France and capitalising on their Champions League advantage against Barcelona in his news conference.

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