MLS

MLS: Earthquakes, Rapids clinch play-off spots

By Sports Desk November 05, 2020

The San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids booked their spots in the MLS play-offs on Wednesday.

The 10-man Earthquakes held on for a 3-2 win over Los Angeles FC.

Latif Blessing tapped in the opener for LAFC midway through the first half, but an Eduard Atuesta own goal from a corner brought San Jose level.

Chris Wondolowski's side-footed finish from a Cristian Espinoza cross put the Earthquakes ahead eight minutes before half-time.

However, San Jose's chances took a hit when Jackson Yueill was sent off for a rash challenge in the 61st minute.

But Espinoza delivered an excellent finish to make it 3-1 and the Earthquakes held on despite Diego Rossi's late goal.

San Jose have earned 14 points from losing positions this season, including four come-from-behind wins, and both are the most in MLS in 2020, according to Opta.

Kellyn Acosta's 83rd-minute winner saw the Rapids edge the Portland Timbers 1-0 to reach the play-offs.

Acosta produced a fine finish into the top corner from inside the area after a pass from Diego Rubio to secure three points for Colorado.

It was just the Rapids' second MLS victory at Portland, ending a nine-match winless run dating back to 2011, according to Opta.

Colorado moved into the MLS play-offs for the first time since 2016.

Nani was sent off as Orlando City recorded a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Chris Mueller had put Orlando ahead before Nani was harshly sent off for a sliding challenge.

Harrison Afful equalised for Columbus, but the 10-man Orlando found an 84th-minute winner through Benji Michel.

Orlando have won four straight matches against Columbus, the first time they have managed that against a single team in their MLS history.

Javier Hernandez scored but LA Galaxy were held to a 1-1 draw by the Seattle Sounders.

Hernandez's goal saw him end a 433-minute scoring drought dating back to July.

Elsewhere, Dallas beat Nashville 1-0 and Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire drew 2-2.

Related items

  • Ronaldo looks to break free of Porto as Haaland aims to continue hot streak - Champions League in Opta Numbers Ronaldo looks to break free of Porto as Haaland aims to continue hot streak - Champions League in Opta Numbers

    The Champions League round-of-16 second legs get underway on Tuesday, with Porto and Borussia Dortmund holding the upper hand over Juventus and Sevilla respectively.

    Juve's latest bid to bring their domestic dominance to bear on the European stage is hanging by a thread, with Sergio Conceicao's robust side arriving in Turin 2-1 to the good.

    If that tie is on a knife edge, Dortmund's task looks slightly more straightforward on paper – their 3-2 first-leg win having come on the road at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

    However, Edin Terzic's side might be wounded by their sapping Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich at the weekend and Sevilla boast formidable European pedigree. Stranger things have definitely happened.

    So, to help you navigate the potential madness, we take a closer look at both matches using Opta data.

     

    Juventus (1) v (2) Porto: Ronaldo aiming to break the shackles

    On his return to his homeland, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo found himself unusually frustrated during the first leg.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner managed just one shot – his lowest return in a Champions League knockout match since he failed to register a shot on goal during the second leg of the 2010-11 semi-final between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    However, Federico Chiesa's crucial late away goal at the Estadio do Dragao snapped a run of five consecutive clean sheets in this season's competition for Porto, who are looking to achieve three consecutive shutouts on the road for the first time since November 2012.

    Nevertheless, history is still weighted against the Primeira Liga club finishing the job.

    Porto are winless in their previous 13 away games in the Champions League knockout stages, drawing four and losing nine.

    You have to go back to a 3-2 win over Milan in 1996 for their most recent victory in Italy, with five defeats on the spin since then.

    On the other hand, Juventus have been eliminated on five of the past six occasions they lost the first leg of a Champions League tie.

    The exception came when a Ronaldo hat-trick wiped out Atletico Madrid's 2-0 advantage two seasons ago.

    Once again, the 36-year-old looks their most likely hero. Ronaldo has 10 goals in 10 Champions League games for Juve at the Allianz Stadium. Only Lionel Messi (14) has more home goals over the period from the start of the 2018-19 campaign onwards.

     

    Borussia Dortmund (3) v (2) Sevilla: Haaland at the double again?

    Erling Haaland is at the opposite end of his Champions League journey to Ronaldo but certainly seems to have designs on emulating some of the veteran's great deeds and might even breach new ground this week.

    The Dortmund striker has scored a brace in each of his past three Champions League appearances. If he nets another double against Sevilla, he will become the first player in the history of the competition to score twice in four consecutive appearances.

    Haaland has 18 goals in 13 Champions League outings overall and appears certain to surpass Harry Kane as the quickest man to 20 in terms of games. The England captain reached the landmark in his 24th appearance.

    Dortmund are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 and are unbeaten in seven Champions League matches at Signal Iduna Park (W5 D2).

    Sevilla have never gone through in Europe's top competition after losing the first leg of a knockout tie, going down to Real Madrid in 1957-58, Fenerbahce in 2007-08 and Bayern Munich in 2017-18.

    Since beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0 in 2015, the Andalusian club have lost three out of four against Bundesliga opponents.

    Head coach Julen Lopetegui has similarly unhelpful memories of Germany, having lost his only previous Champions League away match in the country 6-1 when he led Porto against Bayern Munich.

  • Cowboys sign Prescott to $160m deal & end long-running contract saga Cowboys sign Prescott to $160m deal & end long-running contract saga

    The Dallas Cowboys have signed franchise quarterback Dak Prescott to a four-year deal reportedly worth up to $160million.

    Dallas announced the deal on Monday, a day before Tuesday's deadline to place the franchise tag on impending free agents. The Cowboys tagged Prescott last offseason.

    Prescott will receive $126million guaranteed, according to multiple reports, in a deal that contains a no-trade clause.

    The agreement brings to an end one of the longest-running quarterback contract sagas in the league.

    Having failed to come to a resolution on a contract last offseason, Prescott earned $31.4m on the franchise tag.

    However, he suffered a devastating compound fracture of his right ankle in the Cowboys' Week 5 win over the New York Giants in October.

    Despite that injury, the Cowboys have finally chosen to pay one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, with the former fourth-round pick having more than justified his new contract.

    Since taking the starting role as a rookie in 2016 from an injured Tony Romo, Prescott has thrown for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.

    He has also rushed for 1,314 yards and a further 24 touchdowns.

    Though he missed most of last season, Prescott is 10th among qualifying quarterbacks in yards per attempt (7.69) and 12th in passing plays of 25 yards or more since 2016.

    The Cowboys will hold a media conference on Wednesday.

  • Havertz's 'excellent' display thrills Chelsea boss Tuchel Havertz's 'excellent' display thrills Chelsea boss Tuchel

    Thomas Tuchel was full of praise for Kai Havertz after the Germany international's star turn in Monday's 2-0 win over Everton. 

    Havertz was a big-money signing by the Premier League club prior to the start of the season, having impressed in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen in recent years. 

    However, after a solid beginning to his career at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has found it tough going in recent months, not aided by contracting coronavirus in November. 

    Prior to the win over Everton at Stamford Bridge, Havertz had scored just once and created only two assists in 20 top-flight appearances. 

    But he was instrumental as Chelsea consolidated their place in the top four.

    It was Havertz's neat first-time effort from a low cross forced Ben Godfrey into a first-half own goal, before he drew a foul from Jordan Pickford after the break, giving Jorginho the opportunity to stroke home his sixth successful spot-kick of the Premier League season.

    The display gave Chelsea fans a tantalising glimpse of what Havertz can offer and Tuchel is looking forward to more as his adaptation to English football continues. 

    "I am very happy with his performance," the former Paris Saint-Germain boss told a media conference. 

    "There is no doubt about his quality, talent and character. He needs to adapt to the Premier League and to the club where we play to win every game and have the highest standards.

    "I think he did it today excellently, he got in good positions and used his potential to accelerate our game and to increase the touches in the box responsible for assists, to take responsibility to finish himself.

    "This is what we want from him."

    The result extended Tuchel's unbeaten run as Chelsea boss to 11 matches after he took over from Frank Lampard on January 26. 

    Only Maurizio Sarri (12 with Chelsea in 2018-19) and Frank Clark (11 with Nottingham Forest in 1994-95) have begun their Premier League managerial careers with a longer unbeaten run than the German. 

    It also meant he became the first manager in Premier League history to oversee clean sheets in his first five home games in charge.

    Indeed, the Blues have now kept five consecutive home clean sheets in the league for the first time since January 2015. 

    The win cemented their position inside the Premier League's top four – two points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham – and Tuchel said his side's superb form is down to a "positive energy" around the club.

    "If you play maybe as a hobby or with friends, if you share special moments, good results, a hard fight, this is what brings you together, lifts you up to a special place and gives you energy," he explained.

    "I truly believe that this sport is about team effort. I can feel the strong bond between the players; they are not talking about it but they live it in training and this is what you see on the pitch.

    "I can feel it all the time. I can feel the support and I feel the positive energy from everybody around the team towards my staff.

    "Everybody is doing everything in a really positive atmosphere and we need this to continue."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.