MLS

MLS: Ruidiaz double downs Galaxy as Sounders maintain bright start

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

Raul Ruidiaz scored a brace as Seattle Sounders continued their strong start to the MLS season with a 3-0 home win over previously unbeaten LA Galaxy on Sunday.

Australian full-back Brad Smith provided an assist for Ruidiaz's 20th-minute opener, before scoring a goal himself three minutes later, forcing home a rebound.

Ruidiaz settled the contest in second-half stoppage time when he fired home on his left foot from substitute Jimmy Medranda's low cross.

The Sounders dulled the threat of Galaxy forward Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez – who had scored five goals in his opening two games – in a strong display, where they marginally lost possession but had nine to two shots on target.

The win moves Seattle to seven points from three games to start the new campaign, while the Galaxy suffered their first blemish of the campaign after scoring six goals in their opening two games.

Inter Miami drew a blank in the absence of the Higuain brothers with a 0-0 draw away to Nashville.

Former Juventus and Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain and brother Federico were unavailable for the match after flying back to their native Argentina following the death of their mother to cancer.

The Higuain brothers' team-mates offered a wonderful sign of support ahead of the game.

Inter Miami – co-owned by former Manchester United, Madrid and England star David Beckham – have four points from three games, while Nashville are still winless but have drawn all three matches this season.

Diego Rubio's incredible free-kick helped Colorado Rapids to a 1-0 victory away to Vancouver Whitecaps.

Rubio struck in the 26th minute with a curling right-foot shot that found the top corner, going in off the post and crossbar.

The spectacular strike earned the Rapids their first three points of the season, while condemning the Whitecaps to their first defeat.

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  • No fans injured as away stand collapses after NEC Nijmegen v Vitesse No fans injured as away stand collapses after NEC Nijmegen v Vitesse

    A section of a stand at Eredivisie side NEC Nijmegen's stadium, the Goffertstadion, collapsed as Vitesse fans celebrated their side's 1-0 win, but there were no injuries.

    Nikolai Baden Frederiksen's 16th-minute goal separated the two rivals at the final whistle and the Vitesse players went over to celebrate with their travelling supporters, who were jumping in unison when the stand gave way beneath them.

    However, no fans appeared to be hurt in the incident and, after a brief pause, the festivities resumed as the away fans enjoyed their side's positive result.

    Nijmegen Mayor Hubert Bruls demanded an inquiry into why the stand collapsed, but said he was relieved that there were no casualties.

    “I am very shocked by what happened," Bruls told De Telegraaf. "Fortunately, as far as is known, no one was injured. I want an investigation into what happened here as soon as possible.”

    A Vitesse fan present at the game explained that, despite the shock of the event, the mood among the supporters remained positive and reassured that no injuries were sustained.

    “Everyone is now back on the bus, fortunately without injuries," Vitesse fan Danny said to Omroep Gelderland. "But it was a shock. The atmosphere is no less. Everyone is safe on the way back home. We won and that's the most important thing."

    Just over two years ago, there was a similar incident as the roof of AZ's home ground - the AFAS Stadion - collapsed during a heavy storm, but nobody was present at the stadium at the time.

  • Nagelsmann feels Bayern deserved even more goals in thumping Leverkusen win Nagelsmann feels Bayern deserved even more goals in thumping Leverkusen win

    Julian Nagelsmann was pleased with Bayern Munich's display in their 5-1 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen but felt his side should have added even more goals to their tally.

    The reigning champions responded to their first defeat of Nagelsmann's tenure two weeks ago against Eintracht Frankfurt with a superb attacking display at BayArena on Sunday.

    Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry each scored a first-half double and Thomas Muller was also on target in between those braces, all in the space of 37 minutes.

    It marked the first time Bayern have scored five goals away from home in the first half of a Bundesliga match as they reclaimed top spot from Borussia Dortmund.

    Bayern also hit the post through Leroy Sane, whose eight shots was the most of any player in a game this campaign in the German top flight.

    And with Patrik Schick getting a consolation for Leverkusen in the second half, Nagelsmann does not believe the scoreline was a true reflection come full-time.

    "We had an incredible number of closing situations and an outstanding structure," he told DAZN. 

    "It sounds strange at 5-0, but we also had a chance of scoring sixth, seventh and eighth goals in the first half. We could have scored more.

    "The second half was more calm and that's completely normal from both teams' point of view. 

    "A lot of things we didn't do well against Frankfurt worked out today. In the end we are very happy to win the game."

     

    Only twice before in Bundesliga history has an away side scored five goals in a quicker time from kick-off – Dortmund against Schalke (23 minutes) and Karlsruhe versus Frankfurt (30 minutes), both in 1964.

    There have been 10 occasions when teams have scored five or more goals in the first half of a Bundesliga game this century, with Bayern responsible for six of those 45-minute thrashings, including when they put five past Dortmund before the break in March 2018 on the way to a 6-0 win.

    Leverkusen are no strangers to one-sided first halves, meanwhile, as they are the only team to have scored six goals in the opening 45 minutes of a match in the division since the turn of the millennium, doing so in their 6-1 win over Frankfurt in 2018-19.

    "It was a terrible beginning," Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky added. "We have to ask ourselves whether we gave it our all. There was something missing from everyone today."

    Lewandowski's two goals came from three shots as the Poland international brought an end to his mini drought.

    His run of scoring in 15 successive league games was ended prior to the international break when failing to net against Greuther Furth and then Frankfurt, before also going scoreless in Poland's double-header of October fixtures.

    The 33-year-old has now scored two or more goals in 73 different Bundesliga games – a tally bettered only by late Bayern great Gerd Muller (87) – and was happy to joke about his short-lived scoreless run after getting back on the scoresheet.

    "Four games without a goal... which four games? Do you mean training? I scored in the Champions League game before the Frankfurt match," Lewandowski pointed out.

    "Personally, I'm happy when people ask when I'll score my next goal. That shows what expectations they have of me.

    "Sometimes there are phases when the ball doesn't fall to you, you have to be patient. Today it worked out twice.

    "We scored five goals in 45 minutes. At the break it was clear we would take all three points with us to Munich. We can be satisfied with the performance."

    The 29 goals scored by Bayern in their opening eight Bundesliga matches equals their previous highest tally at this stage in a campaign from the 1976-77 season.

  • Jamaica’s WWC qualification “A triumph for the Caribbean” Jamaica’s WWC qualification “A triumph for the Caribbean”

    The day Jamaica created history and qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the axis of the women’s game in CONCACAF shifted in a seismic way.

    Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz’s qualification to France 2019 signified in part an unprecedented growth and development leap for the Caribbean.

    Importantly, too, the fairytale success story was of monumental historical proportion, as the island became the first from the region to be catapulted into the stratosphere of the global game and its greatest stage, the World Cup.

    On October 17, 2018, at the Concacaf Women’s Championship inside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Jamaica achieved the unthinkable.

    In the third-place match, the Girlz defeated Panama in an epic match, which ended 2-2 after regulation and extra time. And the two, with the scent of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in scope, had to be separated by the dreaded penalties. As it turned out, Jamaica triumphed 4-2, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    On that magical journey, was assistant coach Andrew Price and he recalled the momentous occasion as if it happened yesterday.

    “The emotions were like a roller-coaster on the bench in that final qualifying game [against Panama]. We took the lead on two occasions and lost it twice. We deliberately saved our changes late in the game to ensure that we would have been prepared for extra time.

    “But the masterstroke was when we decided to replace goalkeeper Sydney Schneider with Nicole McClure. We had practised penalties the day before and Nicole was amazing in goal, so when we saw the clock winding down, it was important that we put her on the pitch before time expired,” said Price.

    As part of a technical team led by Head Coach Hue Menzies, the assistant coach revelled in the tactical astuteness of the coaches, for he thought the off-the-field decisions had a positive impact on the outcome of the match.

    “In practising the penalty kicks, we made the players make the long walk from half-line to the penalty box to take each kick, so for that match day the players would be prepared for the scenario, and everything worked to perfection. As you know, Nicole saved two penalties and we scored all our penalties,” Price re-collected.       

    The experienced tactician said there was self-belief in the camp that the World Cup dream was reachable as the team went through the layers of qualification.

    “The confidence and self-belief came after the first round of the Caribbean World Cup Qualifying held in Haiti. It was a difficult tournament in terms of the conditions and environment that the young ladies had to face.

    “The real test was the final game of the round, between ourselves and the host Haiti, as we battled for the one qualifying spot. We went into the game on similar points, but we had a superior goal difference of two goals. All we needed was to draw to advance. In front of a partisan and sometimes hostile crowd of 15,000 Haitian supporters, we trailed 2-0 in the first half.

    “But we showed our real strength by pulling a goal back before halftime. During the halftime talk, we told the Girlz to relax and play their normal game. They went out, and in a stirring performance, silenced the crowd with the equalizing goal. For the remainder of the match, we fought tooth and nail to ensure we advanced to the next round,” Price reminisced.

    As the qualifying journey took its twists and turns, the Girlz saw themselves more than just competitors but real contenders for a spot at France 2019.

    “With each passing round of the qualification, the confidence of the Girlz grew. They believed they were on a mission to accomplish something great. They grew into a closely-knit family -- all for one and one for all. They were willing to be patient and trust the process, and they did so one game at a time. They took obstacles as inspiration to work that much harder,” said Price.

    He said when the final whistle went in the decisive match against Panama, there was a feeling of euphoria that swept through the team and all the support staff.

    “We were just overcome with joy. The immediate reaction was to scream, ‘We did it’. We were so elated. We jumped and hugged each other. Then our next reaction was to get on the pitch and celebrate with the Girlz. The moment was surreal. It was as if time stopped for the moment,” Price said.

    Jamaica’s success, said Price, was a signature moment for the entire Caribbean, a rallying cry that anything is possible if one dares to dream.

    “Most definitely it was a triumph for the entire Caribbean. No different from when Haiti qualified for their first Men's World Cup in 1974. It inspired nations like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago that it could be done. Similarly, our historic qualification will inspire other Caribbean countries. The gap is closing between the world powers in football and the others, as a global village has made the catching up achievable,” he reasoned.

    “Previously in Concacaf, the automatic teams would be the USA, Canada and Mexico. But now you have Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, Trinidad and others knocking at the door. This comes as a result of FIFA and Concacaf assisting significantly in the development of the Women's game,” Price added.

    In France, the Girlz lost all their Group C matches, but even in defeat against significantly stronger opponents, the learning experience was priceless.

    “From the draw, we were quite aware we were in the ‘Group of Death’, with top-ranked teams such as Brazil, Australia and Italy. It was always going to be difficult against these teams. But we made up our minds that we were going to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves. The experience we gained was all a part of the learning curve. It is the experience you can only get by playing against the best,” Price noted.

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