XI: The Weekend of September 14th

-If you slept in, you missed the best Premier League game of the weekend. Arsenal and Manchester City played to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates. Arsenal’s early control of the game wasn’t rewarded, and they went into halftime trailing 1-0. But the Gunners came back strong in the second half, taking the lead with goals from Jack Wilshire and Alexis Sanchez. City equalized on a Martin Demichelis header, and had multiple chances to take the three points late.

-Liverpool stumbled against Aston Villa, who surprisingly find themselves in second after four weeks. Gabby Agbonlahor scored in the 9th minute, and that proved to be enough. Liverpool found it difficult to break down a staunch Villa defense, and rarely challenged American keeper Brad Guzan. Daniel Sturridge did not play, resting in advance of Liverpool’s Tuesday return to Champions League action. Perhaps his absence was telling.

-QPR is not good. But given that Manchester United lost at MK Dons and couldn’t score at Burnley, it won’t be so easy to explain away their 4-0 victory on Sunday. United looked like a changed team, with Angel Di Maria pulling all the strings. The Argentine winger had a goal and an assist in his first match for United at Old Trafford. Ander Herrera also scored his first goal for the club.

-Di Maria was not the only newcomer who left his mark on the Premier League. Diego Costa had a hat trick in Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Swansea, giving him six goals in his first four games. His countryman Cesc Fabregas assisted on two of those goals, and has an assist in each of Chelsea’s games so far this year. Alexis Sanchez scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal. It speaks to the dominance of the top clubs in Spain that their unwanted parts have stepped right in with ease in the Premier League.

-Elsewhere in the Premier League, Sunderland managed to squeeze two goals out of one shot on target in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham. Spurs controlled much of the game, but let two leads slip away. Southampton demolished Newcastle, 4-0, and calls for Alan Pardew’s job have risen once again. Leicester got their first win back in the Premier League at Stoke.

-Julian Green got his first Bundesliga start for Hamburg on Sunday, but he went off at halftime in a 2-0 loss to Hannover 96. Hamburg haven’t scored yet in three games this season. Green was not the only American teenager to see playing time in Europe; Emerson Hyndman started once again in Fullham’s midfield. The Cottagers lost 3-0 at Reading as their terrible start continues.

-If you stayed up on Friday night to watch Seattle face Real Salt Lake, your dedication was rewarded. The Sounders won 3-2 in the best MLS game of the weekend, thanks to a 94th minute goal from Andy Rose. Seattle’s week was improved further by a pair of LA Galaxy draws. The Sounders now lead the Supporters’ Shield race by three points with a match in hand. On Tuesday, they’ll play the Union for the U.S. Open Cup. It could be the first of multiple trophies.

-The race for fifth in the Western Conference has turned into a Cascadia duel. Vancouver broke a goalless stretch with a win over San Jose in the midweek but lost 2-1 at Dallas on Saturday. As a result, FC Dallas now holds a very comfortable eight-point edge on 4th place. With the slip-up, Portland could have taken over 5th by beating Colorado. The Rapids, however, held on for a 2-2 draw, their first point in seven matches. Vancouver holds a one-point lead over the Timbers, but the two will meet in Portland this Saturday on NBCSN. The Whitecaps won 4-3 at Providence Park earlier in the year, but Portland won 3-0 in Vancouver just a couple weeks back.

-New England keep rolling along. The Revolution won their fifth straight game on Saturday night, 2-1 at home over the Montreal Impact. Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, and Charlie Davies combined on a very pretty winning goal for the Revs, who won despite conceding the first goal for the third game in a row. 19,665 were in attendance at Foxboro, by far the largest crowd since the Jones signing. In a bit of bad news, however, Jones had to go off at halftime, and was seen later in a walking boot. Official reports say he suffered a contusion, and was merely taken off as a precaution.

-The Philadelphia Union used a makeshift lineup as they prepare for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final, but they managed a 2-2 draw against New York anyway. New York struck first, with Peguy Luyindula’s penalty followed up by a Thierry Henry goal three minutes later, late in the first half. Pedro Ribiero quickly cut the lead in half, but Philly had to wait until stoppage time to equalize on a Sebastien Le Toux penalty. The game was played on a sloppy pitch after being delayed an hour due to rain and poor drainage, but players adjusted as the game went on.

-With the Union and Red Bulls drawing, the door was left ajar for Columbus and Toronto to gain ground in the playoff hunt. Neither quite capitalized. The Crew recovered from a 2-0 halftime deficit to grab a point in Houston, thanks in part to Wil Trapp’s first MLS goal. The point keeps them above Philly and in 5th place on the basis of goal differential (+4 vs. +2). TFC’s downward spiral appeared to be continuing in Chicago on Saturday night, but Joe Bendik saved a penalty and Dwayne De Rosario found an equalizer in the 89th minute. Gilberto then had a possible winner controversially called back by referee David Gantar, who was fiercely criticized by Michael Bradley in the aftermath. You be the judge.

 

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