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May 12, 2019

New Look Red Bulls Rebound with 3-1 Win At FC Dallas

Peter Nolan May 12, 2019

Change is good, they said. Squad rotation is important they said. Well, Chris Armas was listening.

Coming off of a deflating 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Impact and facing a quick Wednesday to Saturday turnaround, the New York Red Bulls boss heard the advise and changed out an astonishing 10 members of his starting 11 for Sunday’s match in suburban Dallas.

Armas’ bold play worked a charm as the Red Bulls topped FC Dallas with a 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon at a sparsely populated Toyota Stadium.

Rotated squad rumbles to victory

Aaron Long figured to miss out after picking a hamstring injury of so-far indeterminate severity and Bradley Wright-Phillips has been day-to-day all along, but it was a surprise that Armas also left mainstays Luis Robles, Daniel Royer, and Marc Rzatkowski off the matchday 18 and back in the New York/New Jersey area.

The makeup of the Red Bulls bench was equally surprising, with the likes of Kemar Lawrence, Sean Davis, and Tim Parker cooling their heels alongside the surprise Red Bulls backup keeper Evan Lauro.

Dallas held the statistical edge in most categories against the Red Bulls on the night, but the visitors claimed an 11th minute lead when 19 – year old midfielder Cristian Casseres finished from Andreas Ivan the Red Bulls were on the way to winning the only statistical battle that matters, goals scored vs goals allowed.

That Red Bulls lead stood up for the first 45 minutes but the home team managed an equalizer before the halftime break, when Jesus Ferreira slipped away from Sean Nealis and found himself wide open in the Red Bulls box to head past Ryan Meara, deputizing for Luis Robles in the New York goal.

The goal is the fourth of this break out season for the 18 year old Ferreira, the son of former Dallas star, 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira. The younger Ferreira was widely tipped to earn a spot on the U.S. U20 World Cup side, but the citizenship papers for the Colombian born, Texas raised teenager apparently didn’t beat the FIFA clock.

So Ferreira will stay with FC Dallas while three of his teammates, Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania, and this year’s Cinderella story Edwin Cerrillo all head to Poland where the U.S will kick off on May 24th against Ukraine, followed by Group D matches versus Nigeria, May 27th, and finally Qatar on May 30.

With the match level heading to the final 45, Ferreira’s goal gave the home team a solid platform to press for the win. However, led by Meara, Armas’ band of backups first re-took and then added to the lead.

Michael Murillo, who just a couple of weeks ago would have been a member of the “A” team before some shoddy play saw the Panamanian international banished to the bench, thought he had the go-ahead goal. Replays showed that the ball skipped off of Nealis’ head for the 58th-minute tally.

Meara made that slim lead hold up, earning Man of the Match honors, with his standout moment coming in the 71st minute with spectactular diving save from Zdenek Ondrasek.

Brian White ended Dallas’ comeback hopes when he finished a nice one-two with Omir Fernandez in the 85th minute to ensure Dallas’s first home loss of the season.

For fifth place Dallas this game was a missed opportunity to make up ground on fourth place Houston, who dropped a 1-0 decision to Seattle on Saturday, while the Red Bulls resilience gets them back on track, just two points below the Eastern Conference playoff line.

Premier League Golden Boot Winners: Salah, Mane and Aubameyang End with 22

High Press 10 May 12, 2019

The 2018-19 Premier League season ended with three deserving Golden Boot winners.

Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Sadio Mane (thanks to a final day brace) ended with 22 goals, a tally Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tied on Sunday as well. 

Chelsea’s soon-to-be-departing-for-Real-Madrid (sorry, truth) Eden Hazard led all Premier League players with 31 accounted for scores (16 goals, 15 assists). Mo Salah followed him with 30 (but yeah, what an off-year he had).

Raheem Sterling, who finished second in the PFA Player of the Year voting and earned a PFA starting XI spot over Salah, was five goals and three total scores accounted for behind the Egyptian King. 🤷‍♀️

Final Golden Boot Tallies 

Here are the top 8 goal scorers this year:

  1. Mohamed Salah: 22 goals, 8 assists
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 22 goals, 5 assists
  3. Sadio Mane: 22 goals, 1 assist
  4. Sergio Aguero: 21 goals, 8 assists
  5. Jamie Vardy: 18 goals, 4 assists
  6. Raheem Sterling: 17 goals, 10 assists
  7. Harry Kane: 17 goals, 4 assists
  8. Eden Hazard: 16 goals, 15 assists

Manchester City Claim Back-to-Back Premier League Titles with Second Highest Point Total Ever

High Press 10 May 12, 2019

Manchester City are 2018-19 Premier League champions.

City entered their final match of the season as heavy favorites against 17th place Brighton Hove & Albion. FanDuel Sportsbook NJ had them priced at -650 to win (Brighton was +1300, Draw +700). They were -750 at the start of the match to be outright champions to Liverpool’s +550. It would take a miracle on par with last week’s Champions League clashes for Liverpool to hoist their first ever Premier League trophy.

That miracle almost happened. City went down 1-0 on a Glenn Murray header in the 27th minute. Then…

City went on to cruise to a 4-1 win. They won 14 in a row to capture the title. That’s the second best run in EPL history.

As we detailed on our Liverpool vs Wolves player ratings, the title odds on sportsbook like FanDuel NJ and DraftKings NJ swung wildly all day:

Liverpool Mane goal City +340Liverpool -390
Brighton goal City -115Liverpool +110
City Aguero goal (83 seconds later)City -450Liverpool +300
City Laporte goalCity -1350Liverpool +900
City Mahrez goalCity -4000Liverpool +1600
City Gundogan goalOdds off the board

Despite only losing one the entire Premier League campaign, Reds fans will have to wait another year. At least there’s the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final to look forward to on June 1st.

How City got here

City end the campaign with a 32-2-4 record and a 72-point goal differential. Last year they finished with 100 points and a goal differential of 79.

City led the Premier League in xG, xGA and xPts.

A few key matches propelled City to the title:

  • The first and most obvious was their January 3rd win over Liverpool. City started the day 7 points behind Liverpool. Ultimately, the 11 millimeters the ball didn’t travel on Sadio Mane’s attempt won City the Premier League.
  • While both teams secured key victories in the closing minutes of games, City’s previous match against Leicester was among the most important crucial. Suffice to say, Vincent Kompany has never hit a more perfect strike from that distance and likely never will again.
  • Let’s not forget the Anfield 0-0 draw on October 7th last year. A billion people tuned in to watch both sides not really try to win. Had Jurgen Klopp not opted for such a conservative game plan, Liverpool might be hoisting the trophy instead of City.

This was a race for the ages and one that won’t soon be forgotten. These were without question the two best teams in the world this year.

Liverpool Player Ratings vs Wolves (May 12, 2019) – Finish with 97 Points, Third Highest Total in Premier League History

Chops May 12, 2019

Well, it all came down to the final day.

The Premier League title rarely is decided on the final matchday of the season. It’s only fitting that two squads with the most memorable final matchday deciders in recent history, Liverpool (1989 vs Arsenal) and Manchester City (2012 with Sergio Aguerooooo’s 94th minute goal) had their title hopes hinge on the outcomes of Matchday 38.

Will Liverpool really finish with 97 points–third best total ever in EPL history–and miss out on a trophy? And should their fans care, given their epic comeback over Barcelona and trip to the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final?

The answers: Yes. And probably not. About those fans:

What an amazing group.

Anyway, the back and forth live futures during the game were bonkers. Liverpool started at +550 to win the title to Manchester City’s -750. From there:

Liverpool Mane goal City +340Liverpool -390
Brighton goal City -115Liverpool +110
City Aguero goal (83 seconds later)City -450Liverpool +300
City Laporte goalCity -1350Liverpool +900
City Mahrez goalCity -4000Liverpool +1600
City Gundogan goalOdds off the board

Huge credit to Anfield. They were supportive throughout, closing the match with a full-throated “We shall not be moved.” 🙌🙌🙌🙌

Liverpool end the season with a 2-0 win, one loss for the season, and 97 points.

Liverpool Player Ratings

Manager

Jurgen Klopp (8) – Got the line-up selection right, as the most in-form / deserving players got starts. Made the right decision by subbing out Origi (who was having a fine enough game) and bringing in Milner to crowd the midfield with a 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper

Alisson (8.5) – While under attack, not necessarily challenged until the 69th minute, coming off his line for an important save. Another big save in the 73rd. Finished the year with an EPL leading 21 clean sheets.

Defenders

Trent Alexander-Arnold (8) – All TAA does is fire beautiful crosses. Gets the assist for Mane’s opener (UPDATE: actually wasn’t credited for the assist after a halftime examination…whatever…deserved it). Great deflection to close out and block a shot in the 55th. Got his assist though on the second Mane goal.

Virgil van Dijk (6.5) – Typical monster self on aerials, but saw himself under attack often after Liverpool went up 1-0.

Joel Matip (7) – A deserved final matchday start. Towards end of second half, was getting gashed, though headed away danger in the 45th. Utterly leveled Jota in the second half in a display of strength you don’t associate with Matip.

Andy Robertson (6.5) – Back in the line-up after a minor injury scare, great touch to the near-Salah goal. Another wonderful cross that Gini almost converted. Still, not his best all around game. Save that energy for the UCL finals.

Midfielders

Jordan Henderson (7) – So good closing the season. Henderson earns the hockey assist on Mane’s opener with a brilliant ball to TAA. Tracked back well in the 52nd minute to clear a dangerous cross.

Fabinho (8) – Is just a magnet for the ball. Always in the right spot. Some key tackles. It’s not just that Fabinho is a fulcrum of attack in his distribution, it’s the accuracy of his passes that stands out (over 90%).

Georginio Wijnaldum (6.5) – Finds his way back into the starting XI after his heroics on Tuesday. Was more noticeable / active early, with a key interception to stifle an attack in the 16th. Subbed off late for Ox.

Forwards

DIVOCK ORIGI (6.5) – Divvy gets a well-deserved start in place of injured Roberto Firmino. Looked confident early, solid distribution and good runs. We’ve written it before, but Origi is just so damn strong. Where Firmino is solid on the ball due to superior balance, Origi’s simply solid. Wonderful pass to Mane and goal attempt in the 63rd before being subbed out for Milner.

Sadio Mane (9) – Clinical finish on the opening goal. Earned a brace with another header, tying him for the Golden Boot lead with Salah and Aubameyang.

Mohamed Salah (7) – Welcome back, Mo. After missing the Champions League semifinal match at Anfield with a concussion, Salah got to trade in his “Never Give Up” shirt for his red New Balance jersey today. Showed no ill-effects early. Cheeky and aware back flick in the 7th minute. Robbed of a goal in the 25th off a great strike and feed from Robbo. Kept fighting (for that Golden Boot) until the end of the game.

Substitutions

James Milner (7) – Came on for Origi to help control the Wolves attack, as Klopp shifted to a 4-4-2 with four midfielders. It worked.

Joe Gomez (NR) – Came on late to spell Andy Robertson.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (NR) – Came on late to rousing cheers for Gini.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Would’ve been Fabinho if not for the second Mane goal. Mane ties for the Golden Boot title with a brace, he earns it.

2019 UEFA Champions League Final Predictions

Chops May 12, 2019

It’s going to be really, really hard for the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final to match the excitement and unpredictability of the semis. We still can’t believe what we watched this past week. Congratulations to Liverpool and Tottenham, you certainly earned your spots.

While yes, an Ajax vs Liverpool final might’ve been more captivating with more compelling narratives (still bitter we had to change that post at the last minute), these two teams didn’t fluke their way into the championship. Consider this:

  • Liverpool: Survived the “Group of Death” that included Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. Then defeated the Bundesliga champs (Bayern Munich) in the Round of 16. Then defeated the Primera champs/runner-up (Porto) in the Quarters. THEN defeated La Liga champs Barcelona by overcoming a 3-0 aggregate deficit. They did this while competing in the most grueling Premier League title race EVER. They haven’t lost domestically since January 3rd and will finish with the third highest point total in the history of English football.
  • Tottenham: They survived arguably the second most difficult group in the Champions League, with Barcelona, Inter Milan (3rd in Serie A) and PSV Eindhoven (2nd in Eredivisie). In the Round of 16, they walloped an (at the time) surging Borussia Dortmund who were (again at the time) first in the Bundesliga. The quarters saw Tottenham only beat the best team in the world, Manchester City. And as you know, in the semis, they overcame a 3-0 aggregate–all in the closing 45 minutes of Leg 2–to defeat presumptive Eredivisie champs Ajax.

On to the predictions! We bring back the same cast of characters as our previous two rounds. Read our previous round here.

Champions League Final Predictions

Chops:

I’m writing this on Friday. I still haven’t come down from the high of Tuesday. What even compares? Maybe I was still this amped four days after my daughter was born–but then again, she was colicy and I didn’t sleep for 3 months so maybe not.

Anyway–all of my YNWA friends are thrilled about this match-up. Liverpool beat Spurs both times they played in the Premier League and are 24(!!!) points ahead of them domestically.

I’m not so overly optimistic. This won’t be a cake walk.

Yes, Liverpool will get Mo Salah back and will presumably have a fully fit team.

Yes, Liverpool has perhaps the all-time greatest striker in the world in DIVOCK ORIGI–who is averaging a goal per every 98 minutes this year–better than Robert Lewandowski, Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero. And he’ll just be coming off the bench! Oh, the luxury!

In all seriousness, this Spurs team is not “Spursy.” They’re the opposite of being Spursy. They’ll be rested. They’ll also likely be healthier. These two teams are familiar with each other. This will be a chess match. It will feature Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino in starring roles.

I see this game going similarly to how a lot of their games have gone this year. They’ll feel each other out early on. Liverpool will likely go up a goal in the first half. Both Klopp and Poch have been expert all year in making in-game and half-time adjustments and substitutions. Poch will have Spurs coming out the gate strong in the second half. Klopp will wait just a bit too long to adjust / sub, and Spurs tie it 1-1.

However, Liverpool have more overall talent and fitness, and they’ll find a way just like they have all year to pull out a win. Liverpool grinds out a 2-1 victory.

Katya:

Well, I’ve come to realize that betting is not my forte.

My predictions have rarely held up (except Liverpool last round, and even that was questionable after the first leg).  What this says to me is that any logic at this point is out the door.

Here we have two teams that clearly deserve to be in the Champions League Final.

Logically, it would make sense for Liverpool to win.  They are statistically stronger than Tottenham. But Tottenham have proved their worth.  I see this match being more of a tactical battle between two brilliant minds – Klopp and Pochettino.  Each will be looking to outwit the other and you better believe that they will both be prepared for the other’s rebuttal.

With all this being said, I am still pulling for Liverpool.  They seem to be more well-rounded with goals in the last 4 games coming from: Origi, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino, and Keita. Meanwhile, Spurs have been heavily relying on Son and Moura (ok Llorente scored one as well).  Klopp has a deeper bench of players to rely on. Players, all of which, who have proved themselves on the pitch this year.

And yes, technically, Liverpool will be more rested but I don’t see that really playing a part when both teams will still have 2 weeks of recovery time after this Sunday’s EPL matches.

Either way, this will be a close match.  I don’t see either team pulling away with a big lead (unless, we continue with the theme of one player having an insane game and scoring 2-3 goals).  I’m going to follow Chop’s lead (afterall, he does know Liverpool pretty well) and say Liverpool “grinds out” a 2-1 win.

Tyler:
Liverpool was incredibly impressive in knocking off Barcelona despite losing Leg 1 3-0. How on earth do you climb out of a hole like that with a line-up missing two of its top pieces in Salah and Firmino? With both those players back, and with nearly three weeks’ rest between the EPL finale on Sunday and the final on June 1, the Reds will be fresh and at full strength for the first time in a long time.

I also think what happened last year in the UCL final vs. Real Madrid works in Liverpool’s favor: this team has been on this stage before and knows what it will take, and also doesn’t have to worry about Sergio Ramos.

The only “negative” I can think of for Klopp’s team is that it will be a long way from Anfield, and it’s last trip to Spain (Leg 1 against Barcelona) did not go well.
What to say about Spurs? I didn’t like their chances at all against City, and I didn’t think they’d beat Ajax, either. Still can’t comprehend what we saw Wednesday, by the way. This team needs the rest it will get between now and June 1 more than anyone, and it could have Harry Kane back as well. They have been gritty as hell, and from a motivation standpoint, having lost to Liverpool twice already works in their favor in that they’ll be determined not to go 0-for-3 against the Reds, but it won’t be enough. I think this will be tight for 45-60 minutes or so, but Liverpool will pull away late. I’ll stick with what I said this week on the High Press Pod (and continue to show Spurs no respect):

Liverpool 3, Tottenham 1.

Carl:
What we all witnessed in both semi finals was what the Premier League is all about. That never say die attitude.

Without taking credit away from Liverpool and Spurs achievements, Barca went into Anfield with a philosophy to contain, which is the total opposite to their identity.

Ajax showed signs of complacency in the second half of the first leg and that complacency showed up again in the second half of the second leg due to inexperience. Both Liverpool and Spurs took advantage of their situations.

Yes we’re used to these two teams playing against each other, but what they’re playing for changes the dynamic in every way. We won’t see one team containing or the other fading due to inexperience in the second half. It’ll be a fast and furious 90 minutes of football and as much as I admire what Spurs have achieved — and proving myself and I’m sure many others wrong throughout the CL campaign– I called it from the beginning that this was Liverpool’s year. I believe they have the best manager and crop of players best equipped for lifting the trophy which should’ve been theirs last season.

Liverpool 3
Spurs 1

Our predictions team consist of former Russian national team member Katya Gokhman. Joining her are site-runner Chops, contributing writer and La Liga expert Tyler Everett, and former Premier League striker Carl Cort. After a stint in the US with the NASL, Carl now conducts Las Vegas private soccer training and clinics.

NYCFC Stay Hot–Shut-Down Zlatan and Slumping LA Galaxy 2-0

Peter Nolan May 12, 2019

New York City FC continued its impressive climb up the Eastern Conference table with a comfortable 2-0 road victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy Saturday afternoon in Carson, California.

New York was the better team from the jump, building a well deserved 2-0 lead with goals from Heber in the 44th minute and from a penalty kick from Maxi Moralez six minutes into first-half stoppage time.

NYCFC takes advantage of tired Galaxy

Playing their third game in seven days, the Galaxy looked lethargic, in particular, L.A’s 37-year superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who would finish the match in feisty form after a sluggish first hour or so.

L.A. came into this game looking for a little home cooking on the heels of a disappointing road trip that saw the Galaxy fall 3-2 at the New York Red Bulls and 3-1 at Columbus.

New York, on the other hand, appears to be a side that is finding itself thanks largely to the arrival of striker Hebert and the introduction of a three-back formation featuring James Sands, Alexander Callens, and Maxime Chanot.

With Sands back in the team sheet after missing the City’s 2-0 win last Saturday in Montreal, both elements were in place against the Galaxy in front of an announced attendance of 22,806 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Sands rebounds from U20 disappointment

Sands was playing with the disappointment of being passed over for the United States U20 World Cup team still fresh, as was L.A.’s 17-year-old wingback/fullback Julian Araujo and both players got the start.

High Press Soccer spoke to Sands about his U20 World aspirations following NYCFC’s 1-0 win over Chicago in late April at Yankee Stadium and the mature youngster was straightforward with his reply.

“Yeah, it’s in the back of my mind,” Sands conceded at the time, “but I haven’t really been part of that group.” “I’m trying to make a strong case for it,” Sands said, “but it’s not my decision.”

The man who made the decision, U20 coach Tab Ramos, told reporters in Manhattan on Friday, “I think Julian was a strong consideration, because in theory, when you look at the right back position where (Sergino) Dest is, there’s a possibility that if there’s an injury there, that’s the one position, probably out of the whole field, in which we have the weakest spot.”

As to Sands, Ramos has confidence in the players he selected, leaving Sands out of the picture despite his status as a regular senior player, a rarity among the central defenders on the U.S. U20 World Cup roster.

Moralez makes good after misses

After NYCFC dominated the first half, Heber broke the deadlock when he followed an Anton Tinnerholm blast that had been saved David Bingham in the L.A. net, beating the stationary Galaxy defense in the process.

Tinnerholm was at the heart of things again when his cross was handled in the box to set up a NYCFC penalty. Up stepped Maxi Moralez, despite having missed twice from the spot already this season, but this time Moralez got it right and the goal would be enough to secure a third win on the trot for the Pigeons.

L.A. would eventually get untracked when they began to rely on a simple game plan of pumping crosses into their big striker. Of course, Zlatan being Zlatan, he did get a couple of chances.

First Ibrahimovic was robbed by Callens with NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson in no man’s land, then in the 80th minute, the Galaxy striker rattled the crossbar.

Things got physical late, with Ibrahimovic lucky to stay on the field when he and Johnson got into a wrestling match in the New York goalmouth.

Each player received a yellow card but some – this writer for instance- would say that Ibrahimovic deserved the harsher penalty for some sort of choking, pinching move on Johnson’s neck.

Johnson was still unhappy with Ibrahimovic after the match, trying to get at him after the final whistle. In true villain style, Zlatan seemed to laugh off Johnson’s outrage but when all cools down Johnson and his teammates will be delighted with the three points while the Galaxy needs to figure out how to get back on track.

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