MLS

MLS Review: Vela ties record, Martinez makes history

By Sports Desk August 11, 2019

Carlos Vela tied the record for most combined goals and assists in a single MLS season as Los Angeles FC prevailed 4-2 against New York Red Bulls, while Atlanta United's Josef Martinez made history.

Vela scored and set up two others as Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC overcame the Red Bulls in a six-goal thriller on Sunday.

The Mexico international took his season tally to 23 goals and 15 assists – matching Sebastian Giovinco's feat with 10 matches remaining in the regular season.

Vela teed up Jordan Harvey for the 23rd-minute opener before Latif Blessing doubled LAFC's lead two minutes later, however, the Red Bulls rallied from 2-0 down to level in a stunning end to the first half.

Ex-Real Sociedad winger Vela converted a penalty just past the hour to put him on track to eclipse Martinez's single-season record of 31 goals set last term.

Vela then assisted Eddie Segura 18 minutes from the end as LAFC won their third successive game to move 16 points clear of Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference and 10 ahead of Philadelphia Union in the race for the Supporters' Shield.

Meanwhile, Martinez broke an MLS record by scoring in a 10th consecutive game for Atlanta – who edged New York City 2-1.

Reigning Golden Boot winner Martinez made history with his 42nd-minute header at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Venezuelan also scored from the penalty spot in the second half.

Heber pulled a goal back for visiting New York, however, defending champions Atlanta were not to be denied as they consolidated second spot in the Eastern Conference.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic attempted 15 shots – the most a player has taken in an MLS game this decade – as LA Galaxy lost 2-1 to a Wayne Rooney-less DC United.

In Sunday's other match, the high-flying Union were too good for Houston Dynamo 2-1.

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    After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

    David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

    The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

     

    TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

    Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

    The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

    LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

    “For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

    "And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

    ROUND-UP

    - Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

    - United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

    - Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

    - PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

    - Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

  • I thought VAR helped a referee – Pioli fumes at Fiorentina penalty call I thought VAR helped a referee – Pioli fumes at Fiorentina penalty call

    Milan must take responsibility for their draw against 10-man Fiorentina, says Stefano Pioli, but the coach was convinced his side should not have had a late penalty awarded against them.

    Ante Rebic's goal put Milan ahead after 56 minutes in Saturday's Serie A clash, with Fiorentina's chances diminished further when Dalbert was sent off after a VAR check.

    But Fiorentina rallied late on and were given a penalty when Alessio Romagnoli was deemed to have fouled ex-Rossoneri striker Patrick Cutrone, even though the defender seemed to have got the ball.

    Erick Pulgar converted beyond Asmir Begovic – who had replaced the injured Gianluigi Donnarumma early in the second half – and Milan were ultimately fortunate to come away with a point after Martin Caceres and Dusan Vlahovic missed late chances.

    Though Pioli acknowledged his side had slipped up in failing to retain their lead, he was sure Romagnoli was unfairly penalised.

    "We have to take full responsibility, as we had the game in hand, did everything we needed to do, but then stopped playing once Fiorentina went down to 10 men and assumed the game was over," he told DAZN.

    "There are regrets, we certainly shoulder responsibility, because we made errors.

    "As for the penalty, there are no doubts, it was not a penalty. You could tell from the bench that the ball moved when Romagnoli went in.

    "I do not understand why technology is not used in these situations. I do not understand it. I thought and had taken it for granted that VAR helped a referee change an incorrect decision, but apparently that is not the case.

    "It's difficult to accept, because we've had some strange incidents going against us. We shoulder a lot of the responsibility, because we made mistakes, but on the other situation, there's nothing we can do to control that."

    While Milan will leave Florence feeling hard done by, Cutrone – who clapped the travelling support after the game – insisted he had no intention to celebrate if he had been on spot-kick duties.

    "Milan will never be an opponent for me. I thank them for all they gave me and the applause at the end," Cutrone told DAZN.

    "I am happy with the point, I thank the Viola fans for their support and the Milan fans for their salute. If I had taken the penalty, I never would have celebrated because I respect Milan so much and I would never do that to them.

    "I have to thank Fiorentina for believing in me. I have to repay the club with performances and I hope many goals."

  • Levante 1-0 Real Madrid: Morales stuns Los Blancos as Hazard is hurt before crucial week Levante 1-0 Real Madrid: Morales stuns Los Blancos as Hazard is hurt before crucial week

    Real Madrid slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante thanks to Jose Luis Morales' stunning late winner, as Los Blancos produced a toothless display and lost Eden Hazard to injury ahead of a pivotal week.

    Zinedine Zidane's men created the better chances in Valencia but were wasteful in front of goal, and Morales' glorious strike means Madrid head into next weekend's Clasico trailing leaders Barcelona – who thrashed Eibar 5-0 earlier on Saturday – by two points and possibly without the injured Hazard.

    Karim Benzema was particularly culpable in the first 45 minutes, spurning a glorious opportunity early on, while Hazard – who was withdraw with what appeared to be a calf issue in the second period – also squandered a presentable chance after half-time.

    Levante became a more prominent threat going forward following the interval and ultimately sealed an unlikely win through Morales' fierce effort 11 minutes from time, with Madrid heading into the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter against Manchester City on the back of a woeful result.

    Madrid rarely looked worried at the back in the first half, though going forward they lacked a killer instinct.

    That was clearest in the 11th minute when Benzema should have put them in front, but he shot straight at Aitor Fernandez with only the goalkeeper to beat.

    Fernandez was alert again just before half-time, this time parrying Luka Modric's stinging drive.

    It was the same story after the break.

    The previously ineffective Hazard had the opportunity to make a decisive impact in the 53rd minute when released through on goal, but he could not get the bouncing ball fully under control and his eventual effort was scuffed harmlessly at the approaching Fernandez.

    Hazard had to be withdrawn in the 67th minute due to an apparent calf strain seemingly suffered while attempting a backheel, and Levante netted soon after.

    Morales chased a long ball down the left flank on the break and caught it sweetly as it bounced up, beating Thibaut Courtois at his near post with the venomous strike as Madrid dropped points for a second successive LaLiga game after last weekend's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo.

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