Match analysis: Dempsey goal gives Seattle 1-0 win over Chivas

Seattle Sounders FC put in a complete performance against Chivas de Guadalajara as they thrilled the home crowd with a 1-0 win. Both sides played aggressively and the game became an end-to-end affair for much of the second half. A strong defensive performance from Chad Marshall and Stefan Frei helped Seattle keep a clean sheet while it was Clint Dempsey who would score the winner in the 78th minute.

Chivas opened the match with intense pressure on the ball, forcing Seattle into mistakes early on. Eleven minutes into the match Alejandro Mayorga slipped into the box in front of the Seattle defense to register the first shot of the match. Stefan Frei had to make himself big to make the save and then paw away the rebound and keep a clean sheet.

In the 33rd minute a slip by Roman Torres gave Alan Pulido a one-on-one opportunity versus Frei and it looked like Chivas would take the lead. Pulido’s final touch was too strong and allowed Frei enough time to close down on the ball an deny Pulido from finding the net.

Seattle seemed to wake up after the Pulido chance as they began to gain more possession and create chances although the chances were further from goal and didn’t trouble keeper Rodolfo Cota.

Don’t miss: In pictures – Seattle Sounders 1-0 Chivas Guadalajara

The second half seemed the exact opposite as Seattle came out as the team pressuring the ball and forcing the issue looking to take the match in their control. Seattle did well to cut down passing lanes and frustrate Guadalajara when in possession to force turnovers. They attacked Chivas down the wings, stretching the defence and creating gaps in the box that would eventually give them the opening goal.

Henry Wingo came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute for Handwalla Bwana, who had an impressive performance in his first start, and made an immediate impact on the wing. Wingo was able to consistently get dangerous balls into the box from out wide and pick out players in open space. In the 78th minute Wingo makes a run towards the corner flag into space and receives a pass from Jordan McCrary. He lets the ball run until about five yards from the endline before whipping in a low cross right in between four Guadalajara players to the feet of Dempsey for a first-time strike past Cota.

Through much of the second half, Guadalajara left space open around the top of the box and were beat to crosses as Sounders began to take control of the match. Dempsey had two other chances that looked similar to the play he was able to score on, where a cross from a wide area pulled Chivas out of position and allowed Seattle to find Dempsey for a scoring opportunity. The third of these chances came in the 82nd minute and it looked as though Dempsey would have a wide open goal to target but his shot was skied over the bar.

Seattle will hope the missed opportunities do not come back to haunt them in the second leg as they travel to Guadalajara Wednesday March 14th looking for a result that will send them to the CCL semifinals for the second time in club history.

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STATS: Will Brad Davis be a success at Sporting Kansas City?

When the Houston Dynamo announced they had agreed to trade Brad Davis to Sporting Kansas City last week in return for two draft picks, it’s safe to say that plenty of eyebrows were raised.

Davis has spent the last ten seasons with the Dynamo, becoming the club’s all-time leader in games, starts and assists, so his departure will certainly leave a void.

He will undoubtedly strengthen Sporting Kansas City’s squad, even at the age of 34, and will hope to put his previous clashes with the SKC fanbase behind him as he prepares for his 14th consecutive campaign in the league.

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Getting the Sporting KC fans to sing his name will be one of Davis’ first challenges and he will only be able to do that with positive performances on the field.

The 17-time capped USMNT midfielder has registered 122 assists in MLS over the past 13 years – the third-highest total by any player in league history – and is now just 14 behind Landon Donovan’s all-time mark of 136.

He registered ten assists over the course of a mixed 2015 campaign with Houston, making double figures for the seventh time in ten years, and proved he still has a lot to offer in MLS.

Table: Brad Davis' MLS Regular Season statistics with the Houston Dynamo over the past five years (via MLSSoccer.com)

Table: Brad Davis’ MLS Regular Season statistics with the Houston Dynamo over the past five years (via MLSSoccer.com)

As the table above shows, Davis has been a consistently good performer over the past five years. He has scored four goals in four of his last five campaigns and has averaged more than 45 shots per season.

His position has changed over the past couple of years as his legs have lost a yard or two of pace, with Owen Coyle deploying him in an attacking midfield role instead of in his traditional spot out wide, but his production hasn’t dipped.

It will be intriguing to see how Peter Vermes uses him in Kansas City. Davis is unlikely to slot back into a winger role for 25+ games, while slotting in behind Dom Dwyer is also unlikely given Benny Feilhaber’s dominant 2015 campaign in that position.

Table: Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis' 2015 MLS Regular Season Stats compared. (Stats via WhoScored.com)

Table: Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis’ 2015 MLS Regular Season Stats compared. (Stats via WhoScored.com)

As a result of Feilhaber’s fine performances last term, Davis may face a battle to cement a regular starting place in Vermes’ side.

There is a chance that Davis will become a prestigious option off the bench for SKC, with his versatility in the final third a major plus for the 2013 MLS Cup winners, but it is difficult to envisage him being given anywhere near the amount of minutes he has received at Houston over the past decade.

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Regardless of how much of a chance he is given, Davis will strengthen SKC’s roster for the 2016 campaign and he brings wealths of MLS experience with him.

But being able to measure his success will depend on the number of starts he is given. Getting a first MLS Cup Playoff appearance for three years is something Davis will expect to get with a Sporting side that has made the postseason for five straight seasons, while a third ever MLS Cup title for Davis is definitely not out of reach.

Do you think Brad Davis will be a success with Sporting Kansas City? 

STATS: Analysing Reece Oxford’s impressive West Ham debut in win over Arsenal

West Ham provided the biggest shock in the Premier League on the opening weekend of the 2015/16 season as they beat London rivals Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates in Slaven Bilic’s first league game in charge of the Hammers.

The Croatian would have been forgiven for making ‘safe’ managerial decisions in what was a very tricky looking opening fixture, but instead he handed Reece Oxford his first ever Premier League start in midfield.

At just 16 years and 237 days, Oxford became the second-youngest player to start a Premier League game in history. But that clearly didn’t play on his mind as he put in an incredibly mature performance to nullify Arsenal’s attacking midfield unit of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla.

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The Hammers were excellent all afternoon, as they defended excellently and prevented Arsenal from creating any real clear cut chances for much of the game. But it was Oxford who shone most, not least because of his age and circumstances.

The 16-year-old lasted 78 minutes before being replaced by Kevin Nolan, and West Ham fans will be excited about the prospect of seeing Oxford play this season after a thoroughly encouraging debut.

Stats: Reece Oxford's key statistics from Premier League debut against Arsenal (via WhoScored)

Stats: Reece Oxford’s key statistics from Premier League debut against Arsenal (via WhoScored)

Bilic referred to the young star as a “cool guy” after the game, and he certainly showed no signs of fear as he completed more passes than anyone else on the field on Sunday.

On top of that, Oxford made two interceptions, made the highest number of blocks of all those on the field and won more tackles than Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny, Francis Coquelin, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy combined.

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He made a total of 32 appearances, which was the fewest of all those who started the game on either side, but he demonstrated excellent positioning and kept Ozil quiet throughout with some fine marking.

Oxford can play in the heart of defence as well as in the defensive midfield role he was given on Sunday and he looks set for a huge season at just 16 under Slaven Bilic this season.

How impressed were you with Reece Oxford’s performance against Arsenal on Sunday?

STATS: Should Aston Villa fans be excited about new signing Jordan Amavi?

Much of the focus on Aston Villa this transfer window has been on outgoings as Fabian Delph has already joined Manchester City, with Christian Benteke expected to complete a £32.5 million move to Liverpool this week.

But while those two losses will undoubtedly worry Villa supporters, they have reason for optimism ahead of Tim Sherwood’s first full season in management.

Scott Sinclair has joined on a permanent deal, while Idrissa Gueye, Mark Bunn and Micah Richards have also arrived. But the most exciting addition to the Villa squad so far looks to be Jordan Amavi after the French left-back joined on a five-year contract from OGC Nice for a fee believed to be around £9 million.

Jordan Amavi Statistics Graph

Graph: Jordan Amavi’s statistics over the past two league campaigns with Nice

Amavi is only 21, but has already shown bundles of promise playing in Ligue 1 over the past two season and progressed enormously last season as he missed just two league games. Arsenal were linked with his signature before his move to Villa was confirmed, so he is clearly held in high esteem.

The France Under-21 international netted four goals and created 32 chances for teammates (via Squawka) in what was an impressive campaign that saw him ranked as the second best player in the division behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to WhoScored.

Left-back has been a position that several Villa managers have tried to fix over the past seven seasons since Wilfred Bouma suffered an ankle injury that ended his Villa career in July 2008.

Amavi will look to be the ideal man to occupy the role over the course of the 2015/16 season and beyond, with that five-year contract something Villains supporters will be excited about.

His age could be a concerning factor as he is still inexperienced, especially for a defender stepping into the Premier League for the first time, while he will also need to ensure he remains disciplined after he picked up the joint second-highest number of yellow cards in Ligue 1 last term with 11.

Aston Villa have a relatively easy start to the season with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Leicester and West Brom in five of their opening six games, though Manchester United travel to Villa Park in the second week of the campaign in what will be a real test.

Will Jordan Amavi prove a hit at Aston Villa? 

Stats: Swansea better than Manchester City since they sold Wilfried Bony

Swansea City have accumulated more points in the Premier League than reigning champions Manchester City since they sold them star striker Wilfried Bony.

Man City signed Bony in the January transfer window for a fee of around £25 million in the hope that the Ivorian would help fire them to another Premier League title but Manuel Pellegrini‘s side have only won four out of 11 games since his arrival (D2, L5).

Those four wins and two draws have earned City 14 points, while Swansea have won five, drawn two and lost four of their 11 games since Bony left giving them a total of 17 points in that time.

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Bony has only appeared in five league games for Man City, scoring just once so far in a 3-0 win against West Brom and his old club Swansea have fared better than his new club.

The man who has taken over from Bony’s mantle at Swansea is Bafetimbi Gomis – the Frenchman has notched four goals in nine games since Bony left.

The stats show that Swansea have also had a better win percentage and points-per-game ratio since Bony headed to Manchester proving that their is definitely life in the Welsh side following his exit.

Swansea stats before and after Bony

Garry Monk will certainly be delighted with how his team have coped since suffering the blow of losing such an integral part of their squad and Swansea equalled their best ever points tally in the Premier League with a 1-1 draw against Everton at the weekend.

The Swans are currently in eight position on 47 points and one more to that tally would see them officially mark their best ever season in the club’s history in terms of points accumulated – a remarkable effort for a team plying their trade in League Two just ten years ago.

Should Wilfried Bony have left Swansea City?

Analysis: Owen Coyle’s Dynamo proving to be effective without the ball

Owen Coyle has started life with the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer fairly well, with two wins, two draws and two defeats so far, and Saturday’s 3-0 win against the Montreal Impact saw Houston put in their most effective display yet.

Heading into the game, many expected Montreal to prove tough opposition, especially given their CONCACAF Champions League success in midweek but the Dynamo put in a highly effective performance to record their second victory of the season.

Coyle watched his side have just 34.6% of possession against Montreal and the Dynamo have now recorded the lowest average possession statistic in MLS this season after six weeks (44.2%).

Houston Dynamo statistics after six weeks (via WhoScored.com)

Houston Dynamo statistics after six weeks (via WhoScored.com)

They scored three times against the Impact from four shots on target and managed to keep a third clean sheet of the season despite allowing Montreal to five shots on target.

Their effectiveness without the ball is improving with each week as Coyle’s tactical approach is starting to shine through on the pitch.

English forward Giles Barnes is leading the attack well and has registered more than twice the number of shots than any other Houston player so far (16). He scored his second of the season against Montreal and the Dynamo have won both of the matches in which he has scored this season.

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Coyle sets his team up to absorb pressure before hitting opponents on the counter-attack and that approach worked perfectly against Montreal.

It is still very much a work in progress as the Dynamo continue to adapt to the Scottish coach’s philosophies but they have picked up eight points from six games and have only lost one of their last four now.

They travel to DC United next before three consecutive home games and Coyle will see those as matches Houston need to pick up points in, especially with all three against Western Conference opposition.

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The aim will be to make the playoffs at the end of the campaign, and although that will be a tough task in a highly competitive Western Conference, Coyle will be confident as his team should improve as the season progresses.

Designated Player signing, Erick Torres will join up with the squad in the summer, and his arrival should bring plenty of goals.

What have you made of Houston Dynamo under Owen Coyle so far? Will they make the MLS Playoffs this season?

Chelsea star running out of time to break Arsenal legend’s record

Cesc Fabregas couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to life with Chelsea as his first ten Premier League games with the club saw him rack up an impressive nine assists.

Despite being quick out of the blocks this season, Fabregas has tailed off slightly and the assists have dried up with just two in his last seven league appearances.

The Spanish playmaker is now currently on 16 assists for the whole season and after his blistering start, Fabregas was tipped to break the all-time Premier League record for most assists in a campaign – a record currently held by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

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Henry laid on a monumental 20 goals for his teammates in the 2002/03 campaign and the closest anyone has come since was when Frank Lampard set-up 18 in the 2004/05 season while playing for Chelsea – Fabregas himself also recorded 17 assists in the 2007/08 season for Arsenal.

Most assists in a Premier League season:

  • 2002/03: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 20
  • 2004/05: Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – 18
  • 2007/08: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) – 17
  • 1992/93: Eric Cantona (Manchester United) – 16
  • 2014/15: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) – 16*

With nine games remaining, Fabregas has got a little bit more work to do if he is to break the record and he’ll certainly need to pick up the pace once again.

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The 27 year old had already set-up six goals in his first four Premier League games, so if he can replicate that kind of form, then he certainly stands a great chance of becoming the record holder.

Chelsea’s remaining fixtures:

  • 04 April – Stoke City (home)
  • 12 April – QPR (away)
  • 18 April – Manchester United (home)
  • 26 April – Arsenal (away)
  • 29 April – Leicester City (away)
  • 02 May – Crystal Palace (home)
  • 09 May – Liverpool (home)
  • 16 May – West Brom (away)
  • 24 May – Sunderland (home)

Stats: How important is Mesut Ozil to Arsenal?

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is coming towards the end of his second season with the club now, yet many are still unconvinced with his performances and believe that perhaps he hasn’t lived up to his £42.5m price tag.

The German international helped the Gunners to their first trophy for nine years last season as they went on to lift the FA Cup and they’re currently third in the Premier League this time around, as well as having booked their place in the semi-final of the FA Cup once again.

Ozil has been hampered by injury throughout this campaign, which has meant the Gunners have played a large amount of fixtures without the services of a man who played in every game at Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph.

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Arsenal have played 14 Premier League games with Ozil in the side (W8, D4, L2) at a ratio of two points-gained-per-game, compared to 16 league games without him (W10, D2, L4) and they amount to exactly the same amount of points-gained-per-game – two.

So in that regard, Arsene Wenger‘s side are neither better off nor worse off when Ozil plays, but how does he compare statistically to the other attack-minded midfield players in the Arsenal team? Here is an average-per-game breakdown of numbers:

Arsenal midfielders in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

Arsenal midfielders performance per-game in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

The numbers show that Ozil has the most number of assists, chances created and key passes per-game out of any player, while only Santi Cazorla has a better pass completion rate with 88% compared to Ozil’s 87% – a miniscule difference.

Alexis Sanchez plays in a slightly more advanced role and has been prolific this season so he tops the goals-per-game charts. Only Santi Cazorla has scored more goals-per-game than Ozil.

At the beginning of March, it was also revealed that Mesut Ozil had covered more ground than any other Arsenal player since returning to the side in January, according to the telegraph.

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The criticism aimed at the 26-year-old often comes from his relaxed style of play, combined with the way he moves across the pitch and he certainly creates a divide in opinion.

It’s likely that some may never agree on what to make of Ozil and his hefty transfer fee is probably one of the main reasons that some aren’t entirely happy.

Man City, Arsenal & Tottenham the masters in late Premier League goals

Manchester City and Arsenal are the two sides that have scored the most goals in the last ten minutes of Premier League games so far this season.

Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger have both seen their sides score 13 times in the 80th minute and onwards – some of which have had a crucial impact on where they sit in the league table as it stands.

Tottenham are the next best team when it comes to grabbing late goals, while Aston Villa are the least likely to score in the dying embers of a game as this table shows:

Premier League goals scored in the last 10 minutes (2014/15 season)

Goals in last 10 minutes (2014/15 PL season)

Crucial late goals for Arsenal this season:

  • 16 August – Aaron Ramsey vs. Crystal Palace (91st minute) to make it 2-1
  • 23 August – Olivier Giroud vs. Everton (90th minute) to make it 2-2
  • 18 October – Danny Welbeck vs. Hull City (91st minute) to make it 2-2
  • 03 December – Alexis Sanchez vs. Southampton (89th minute) to make it 1-0
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Crucial late goals for Manchester City this season:

  • 13 September – Martin Demichelis vs. Arsenal (83rd minute) to make it 2-2
  • 21 September – Frank Lampard vs. Chelsea (85th minute) to make it 1-1
  • 08 November – Sergio Aguero vs. QPR (83rd minute) to make it 2-2
  • 07 February – James Milner vs. Hull City (92nd minute) to make it 1-1

Despite Man City and Arsenal having scored more late goals than any other team, neither of them have rescued as many points as Tottenham have in the last few minutes of a game.

Spurs have made a habit of leaving it late to break the hearts of their opponents and have done so on seven occasions.

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Crucial late goals for Tottenham Hotspur this season:

  • 16 August – Eric Dier vs. West Ham (93rd minute) to make it 1-0
  • 02 November – Harry Kane vs. Aston Villa (90th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 23 November – Christian Eriksen vs. Hull City (90th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 14 December – Christian Eriksen vs. Swansea (89th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 17 January – Christian Eriksen vs. Sunderland (88th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 07 February – Harry Kane vs. Arsenal (86th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 22 February – Harry Kane vs. West Ham (96th minute) to make it 2-2
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Without these late goals, Tottenham would be a staggering 13 points worse off than their current overall tally of 53 which would see them down in 11th place with just 40 points – so the late saviours have been essential to Mauricio Pochettino‘s side this season.

Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane have both scored three times in the final moments of matches and it goes to show not only how unforgiving the Premier League can be, but also how entertaining it is with a remarkable 122 goals scored in the final ten minutes of all games.

It also begs the question of how many fans will have missed vital goals by leaving a game early?

Robbie Keane: The goal machine

The playoffs are now fast approaching and other than their defeat last weekend, LA Galaxy have been in a superb run of form going in to it, so they will be full of confidence.

They have lost just 3 of their last 24 games and went on a 10-game unbeaten run from 29th July to 5th October.

LA Galaxy’s last 24 games: Played 24 – Won 15 – Drawn 6 – Lost 3

Much of the attention for their achievements so far this season have focused on club legend, Landon Donovan, and rightly so.

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But with all eyes on Donovan, it’s allowed forward, Robbie Keane, to go about his business quietly but extremely efficiently.

He is the Galaxy’s top goalscorer with 19 and is the third highest across the entire MLS this season, behind only Red Bulls record-chaser Bradley Wright-Phillips (25 goals) and Dom Dwyer (21 goals) of Sporting Kansas City.

The Irishman has contributed an almost record-breaking 33 goals this season (19 scored – 14 assisted).

The record for most goals contributed in one MLS season is currently held by Chris Wondolowski when he notched 27 goals and 7 assists for San Jose Earthquakes in 2012, making it 34 in total.

Other notable efforts were that of Jason Kreis – he contributed 33 goals (18 scored – 15 assisted) for FC Dallas in 1999.

Cobi Jones, also of LA Galaxy, contributed 32 goals (19 scored – 13 assisted) in the 1998 season.

Most goals contributed in an MLS season

  • 34 – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 2012
  • 33 Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) 2014
  • 33 – Jason Kreis (FC Dallas) – 1999
  • 32 – Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) – 1998
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It all means that if Robbie Keane can either assist or score one more goal in his last two games, he will equal the record for most goals contributed in any MLS season – two more goals would see him set the record.

It comes as no coincidence as his maiden voyage in Major League Soccer saw him play a hand in 25 goals when he scored 16 and set-up 9 in the 2012 season.

The 2013 season saw him involved in 27 goals with 16 scored and 11 assisted, so he has been very consistent for three years running now and it certainly deserves a mention.

Will Robbie Keane set the record for most goals contributed in an MLS season?