MLS

MLS: Nani's Orlando clinch first play-off berth, Galaxy end skid

By Sports Desk October 18, 2020

Orlando City reached the MLS play-offs for the first time in their history, while Columbus Crew also clinched a spot in the post-season.

A last-gasp 1-1 draw against New York Red Bulls was enough for Orlando to secure a place in the MLS Cup play-offs on Sunday.

Orlando were stunned in stoppage time – Brian White's 95th-minute equaliser cancelling out Nani's 56th-minute penalty at Red Bull Arena.

But after Toronto edged Atlanta United 1-0, Orlando were assured of their first trip to the play-offs, having entered the league in 2015.

"We've put ourselves in a good position," Orlando forward Daryl Dike said. "Obviously we just made the play-offs today, but I think we're going to carry on. The goal wasn't just playoffs. We're not done now. We just keep going and keep going.

"We want three points every single game and we want to finish the highest in the table. That's the main goal."

Orlando – fourth in the Eastern Conference – are in the midst of a club-record 12-game unbeaten streak, per Stats Perform.

The Crew's 3-1 win over New York City, coupled with Toronto's triumph, sent the team back to the play-offs after missing out last season.

Columbus also snapped a four-match winless streak to move third in the east, two points ahead of Orlando and a point behind second-placed Philadelphia Union.

Elsewhere, LA Galaxy ended a six-game losing skid by topping Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 thanks to substitute Kai Koreniuk's late winner.

Koreniuk became the first substitute to score for the Galaxy this season – the Los Angeles club were the only team without a goal from a substitute in 2020.

Los Angeles FC's Christian Torres (16 years, six months and three days) became the youngest player to score in MLS since Sporting Kansas City's Gianluca Busio (16 years, four months and 20 days) in 2018, according to Stats Perform.

Torres' last-gasp equaliser earned LAFC a 1-1 draw at Western Conference high-flyers Portland Timbers.

Seattle Sounders drew 0-0 with San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo played out a 2-2 draw against Minnesota United and DC United beat FC Cincinnati 2-1.

Related items

  • Conte not interested in discussing Inter future amid Serie A title push Conte not interested in discussing Inter future amid Serie A title push

    Antonio Conte is focused only on this season with Inter, rather than his long-term future at the club, as the Serie A leaders prepare to host Atalanta.  

    Inter's 2-1 triumph at Parma on Thursday – sealed thanks to a brace from Alexis Sanchez – made it four league wins on the spin, though Conte acknowledges there is still a long way to go yet in their bid for a first Scudetto since 2010.  

    The former Juventus and Chelsea boss is in his second year in charge of the Nerazzurri, his current deal running until the end of the 2021-22 campaign.  

    It remains to be seen if he will sign an extension to extend his tenure beyond then, though his primary concern right now is staying clear of the chasing pack in the title race.  

    "The fact is I have another year to run on the contract. At this moment, all of us – me, the coaches, the players – must focus on the present," Conte said.

    "We cannot be distracted by other factors, we must be concentrated because we can influence the present, from here to the end of the season.  

    "What will happen externally, I do not know. We have no influence over that. We can influence the present and our job.  

    "I know that people want to talk about other factors, but we must stay concentrated. We need continuity and consistency. We want to show that Inter are back to the levels it deserves. 

    "We cannot get carried away and think about the future – we must stay focused and think about the here and now. Our objective is playing matters and doing well for the club." 

    Conte will come up against one of his former clubs on Monday, though Atalanta are a far different proposition now to when he was in charge in 2009-10.

    Gian Piero Gasperini's side are once again fighting for a top-four finish, their total of 49 points a club-record tally after 25 games in a top-flight campaign.

    Inter have triumphed only once in their last six matches against Atalanta in Serie A, with Conte full of praise for his opposite number ahead of the game at San Siro.

    "We are facing a team that creates big problems for everyone, in the Champions League and in the league, where they have won several times against the big names," Conte said. 

    "Atalanta have consolidated, aware of their means and have strong players, both the starters and those who enter during the match – I think of [Luis] Muriel, who has taken over many times and has solved complicated games. 

    "Gasperini is doing an extraordinary job, the group is following his ideas and I'm happy for him and for Atalanta, who I coached for a while."

  • Luis Enrique hopes for Barcelona bright future as Spain coach votes in club election Luis Enrique hopes for Barcelona bright future as Spain coach votes in club election

    Spain head coach Luis Enrique cast his vote in the Barcelona presidential election on Sunday and kept his fingers crossed for a positive outcome.

    The former Barcelona player, who coached the team to treble glory in the 2014-15 season, was one of thousands who turned out to Camp Nou to vote in person.

    Barcelona said 20,663 club members had already voted by post for their choice of the president to lead the club forward.

    Luis Enrique was among a host of big names who arrived at the club's stadium to have their say in the election, with current players including Lionel Messi also exercising their right.

    "It is an opportunity to choose the president of Barca and with joy. I hope that the one who comes out on top, the one picked by all the members, will be the best for the club," Luis Enrique said, quoted by Mundo Deportivo.

    He was pictured wearing a face mask as he submitted his voting card, with the elections taking place while COVID-19 remains a major global crisis.

    "Everything is strange in these times and what we have clearly demonstrated is the ability that we have to adapt," Luis Enrique said. "We will prepare and look for the positive side of things."

    Xavi, a former Barcelona midfield talisman, urged members to come out and vote, to take their chance to influence the club's future direction.

    Former president Joan Laporta is favourite to return for a second term in charge, with Victor Font and Toni Freixa the other men in the running.

    Xavi, who Font has pledged to bring back to the club as head coach if he wins, had a major distraction on Sunday as his Al Sadd team attempted to wrap up the Qatar Stars League against Umm Salal.

    But the 41-year-old wrote on Instagram: "From Doha I encourage all members to vote in the elections of the best club in the world. Long live Barca!"

  • Rangers crowned champions as Gerrard denies Celtic 10 in a row Rangers crowned champions as Gerrard denies Celtic 10 in a row

    Rangers have been crowned Scottish Premiership champions for the first time in a decade after Celtic slipped up at Dundee United on Sunday.  

    Steven Gerrard's side had moved to the brink of glory on Saturday, a 3-0 home win over St Mirren leaving them needing just one more point to get over the line – provided Celtic triumphed at Tannadice less than 24 hours later.  

    However, with their Old Firm rivals only able to draw 0-0 on the road, Rangers were able to celebrate a first top-flight title in Scotland since the 2010-11 season, in the process ending Celtic's run of success in the competition.  

    Securing the league also gives Gerrard the first trophy of his managerial career in his third season in charge at Ibrox. They had finished second in the previous campaigns under the former England international, as well as losing the 2020 League Cup final. 

    Gerrard said after the victory over St Mirren that the club had been "to hell and back over the past 10 years", having been forced to start afresh in the fourth tier of Scottish football following major financial problems, including liquidation. 

    The Gers eventually completed the journey back to the Premiership in 2016, though had been unable to end the dominance of their Glasgow neighbours in recent years.   

    Celtic were bidding to win a 10th consecutive league crown this term, a feat neither club had previously managed to achieve. However, while the defending champions have stuttered, eventually leading to the departure of Neil Lennon, Gerrard's Rangers have dominated. 

    They are yet to lose a league game in the 2020-21 season, recording 28 wins and four draws in 32 outings so far, meaning an average of 2.8 points per game.  

    A total of 77 goals averages out at 2.4 per game. Full-back James Tavernier – the team's penalty taker – is leading scorer with 11, but forwards Kemar Roofe (10) and Alfredo Morelos (10) have also reached double figures.  

    However, it is an outstanding defensive record that has underpinned their charge: Rangers have conceded just nine goals, which works out at a ridiculously low 0.3 per outing.   

    The clean sheet against St Mirren was their 24th in the league, while they have not committed a defensive error that has led to an opposing team scoring so far, per Opta data.  

    Rangers have scored first in 28 of their 32 league outings and only once have they failed to triumph after breaking the deadlock, while just four points have been dropped all season from a winning position. 

    There remains the possibility of further silverware before the season is over, too. Rangers are still in the Europa League, with Slavia Prague their opponents in the last 16. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.