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August 19, 2019

Preview: DC United vs New York Red Bulls

Peter Nolan August 19, 2019
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Who: DC United vs Columbus Crew
When: Wednesday, August 21st @ 7:00 pm ET 
LineDCU +143 | Draw +255 | New York Red Bulls +170

Three days ahead of facing NYCFC in the Hudson River Derby, the New York Red Bulls kick off their own Rivalry Week with old foes DC United in the latest edition of the Atlantic Cup.

DC sits fourth in the Eastern Conference, one position and one slim point ahead of their fellow MLS originals. However, DCU has played one additional match. New York has had a stuttering season, where they just cannot seem to put it all together.

There is, of course, a lot going on with Ben Olsen’s DC side. There is the Wayne Rooney to Derby drama. There’s the ongoing, where and when is Lucho Acosta going saga. And now Ola Kamara has been acquired and he needs to play.

Kamara just returned from an unproductive stint, goal-wise, in China. He has been a force in his MLS career, scoring 48 goals in 90 MLS appearances for Columbus and the LA Galaxy. The Norwegian striker made a 16-minute debut off of the bench in United’s 1-0 loss Saturday night in Vancouver.

Olsen left Acosta on the bench from the beginning but we can expect to see the dynamic attacker, who put in a 32-minute shift versus Vancouver, from the start on Wednesday.

And anyone wondering if Rooney is playing with one eye on Derby got their answer Saturday. Rooney blasted the officials on the sideline when he was subbed out of the match, and again later on Twitter.

Meanwhile, DC has added former Red Bulls stalworth Felipe to fill a gap in the center of the park, caused by the absences of defensive midfielder Russell Canouse and his expected replacement Chris Durkin.

Felipe figures to be a good fit, even if United fans have never been overly fond of the combative midfielder, going back to his Red Bull days.

NYRB Preview vs DC United

New York continues to attempt to right its defense, a struggle only exasperated by a transfer saga of its own involving 2018 MLS Defender of the Year Aaron Long. Long was “unsettled” as they say in the British tabloids by a series of offers from West Ham that his New York employers rejected as insufficient.

Long and his defensive mates hadn’t been quite as sharp this season as in 2018. Now with the playoff stretch coming, New York coach Chris Armas will be looking for his defense to solidify in front of goalkeeper Luis Robles.

That defense suffered a let down when it couldn’t protect a 1-0 lead Saturday night at home to resurgent New England. Of course, Armas might have expected more from his attack, which was unable to add to Marc Rzatkowski’s 18th-minute opener.

New York’s attack was hampered by the 29th-minute loss through injury of forward Brian White. White was tabbed to phase in as the replacement to Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Ironically, BWP now has to pick up the slack for the previously unheralded White, who leads the Red Bulls with nine goals this season. Armas will need count on Wright-Phillips to play starter minutes and to lead the line if New York is to have any hope of ending its MLS Cup drought.

Oddsmakers view this as an even match-up for the Red Bulls, even though it’s at DC. Rooney and co. are only slight favorites, +143 to NYRB’s +170.

Manchester United Player Ratings vs Wolverhampton Matchday 2

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Manchester United entered Monday’s fixture against Wolverhampton with a chance to end the day atop the Premier League table. 

United took full control of the game early on, keeping the lion’s share of possession and looking undaunted in a volatile environment. After not creating anything early on, Anthony Martial scored an absolute thunderbolt to give them the lead in the 27th minute. 

Wolves equalized proceedings with a beautiful curler from Ruben Neves in the 56th minute, before Paul Pogba wasted an opportunity to retake the lead by missing a penalty he earned. One point dropped, but conceding United lost on both visits last season, maybe one gained?

Manchester United Player Ratings

Manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (6.0) –

Solskjaer made the correct decision in swapping Pereira for James, who not only added more pace but also aided defensively. He set up the side perfectly to control the game and also protect themselves from Wolves’ dangerous counter-attacks.

Perhaps needs to time his substitutions better as he took things too late when it came to bringing on Greenwood. Needs to elect the leaders in his side and provide fine-tuning to defensive as well as attacking set-ups.

Goalkeeper

David de Gea (6.0) –

DDG was mostly untested. but almost had his heart sink when a 54th minute Jimenez header struck the post and hit him, but went out. However, his luck ran out with Neves’ brilliant strike two minutes later.

Defenders

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (7.0) –

AWB’s fine touch continues despite Wolves’ reliance on attacking through his side. Made some promising tackles early on. Put in a beautiful cross for Lingard in the 49th minute that should’ve gone in!

Almost picks him out again with a wonderful through-ball in the 52nd! Booked for a necessary hand-block late into the game. However, another solid defensive outing in which his attacking movement displayed further encouraging signs.

Harry Maguire (7.0) –

Maguire’s made great use of that big head of his to clear out danger in the first few minutes. Looks very comfortable moving around the ball from defense to offense and has added a protective layer with his impressive positional sense and clearing ability.

Victor Lindelof (6.5)-

The Swedish Iceman looks cool as ever in possession. Won a header affirmatively early on to overpower Jota. Lindelof almost embarrassed himself with a botched header in the 25th, but lucky to pass it on to De Gea. Did well to keep Jota neutralized from the game and surged through on goal in the dying moments to no avail.

Luke Shaw (6.0) –

Defensively more stable than last week. Shaw’s cleared danger a number of times and delivered a decent corner in the 10th minute. Made a decent run breaking Wolves’ defensive line for the goal. Won an uncountable number of recovery headers in the first half.

Looks a bit rattled by the pacy Adama Traore. Molineux remains a bogey ground for him.

Midfielders

Paul Pogba (5.5) –

PP looks more comfortable in a deeper role dictating the play. Flung in some exquisite long-balls early on. Conceded a silly free-kick in the 15th. He was relatively quiet dictating pace from deep, but produced a moment of inspiration with a fantastic one-two with Martial and earning a penalty for his side. Took it himself, but ended up scuffing it! What an anticlimax!

Perhaps needs to train on improving his penalty-taking!

Scott McTominay (6.0) –

Bravely won the ball despite being cramped out in the 11th minute. The Scotsman’s done his defensive duties well in regaining possession, but still uninspiring going forward

Jesse Lingard (5.0) –

Lingard is really not finding his mark in this attacking role. Struggling to create chances or put enough pressure on the opposition. A liability so far. Had two glorious chances to score early in the second half, but wasted both! Another frustrating outing.

Forwards

Marcus Rashford (6.0) – 

Displayed some brilliant skill in the 18th to put a peachy cross for Martial. Cleverly found Martial inside the box for the opener. Tried his moments of magic with ambitious shots or bursts of pace, but was relatively ineffective with his final delivery on the day.

Daniel James (5.5) –

Looks packed with energy in his starting debut. Tracked back to stop a Wolves counter-attack in the 4th. Earned a silly booking with an unnecessary dive outside the penalty area in the 24th.

Lucky to not get booked for a mistaken stamp in the 47th. Tried his heroic moment in the 70th by stealing the ball, but failed to deliver. Wore off towards the end.

Anthony Martial (7.0)

Gave away promising chances with too many loose touches early on. Needs improvement in that department. Failed to tap in Rashford’s cross in the 18th. Made up emphatically with a thunderous strike to get the lead in the 27th. That’s what numbers 9’s should do!

AM9 looks extremely confident and more menacing moving towards the goal. Should’ve capitalized on Wolves’ error when through on goal just before the break! His performance should maintain optimism towards his transformation as a complete striker.

Substitutions

Juan Mata (N/A) –

Tried an unnecessary late cross which did no good whatsoever. Failed to complete a through-ball for Martial who was through on goal in added time.

Mason Greenwood (N/A) –

Brought on too late to make an impact, even though he looked impressive in fleeting moments.

Andreas Pereira (N/A)

Barely stitched a few passes together.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Anthony Martial’s still a tad bit frustrating with his showboating or losing possession too many times, but he effectively earned United the point today. Also growing as a clinical goal-scorer once again.

Preview: NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

Peter Nolan August 19, 2019

Who: NYCFC vs Columbus Crew
When: Wednesday, August 21st @ 7:00 pm ET
LineNYCFC -186 | Draw +330 | Columbus Crew +450

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Fresh off a palette cleansing 4-1 win at Cincinnati, NYCFC will be looking to add three more points when they play host to the Columbus Crew Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

NYCFC will do this without James Sands, the 19-year-old center back/midfielder who has been a key part of the team’s success so far in 2019. Sands faces an extended time on the sidelines after suffering a broken collarbone versus Cincinnati.

Sands had previously sustained a broken arm against the Ohioans, so don’t expect NYCFC’s first-ever Homegrown signing to be vacationing in the Buckeye State anytime soon.

NYCFC vs Columbus preview

New York will be welcoming a Crew side that has begun to make the adjustment to Caleb Porter from longtime leader Gregg Berhalter. They are undefeated in over a month, having drawn their three previous matches.

The peculiar streak has not exactly rocketed the Crew up the standings. Columbus sits in 11th place in the MLS Eastern Conference, just one point above their in-state rival, Cincinnati.

New York will need to keep a particular eye on Pedro Santos, their 31-year-old Portuguese DP who has racked up nine goals this season in 26 games. Santos’ production, which includes three assists, has helped get the Crew on track after their leader and playmaker Federico Higuain went down to an ACL injury late in May. Columbus was already struggling but an indication of Pipa’s importance to this team is that Higuain is still the team leader with five assists.

NYC come into the match still trying to take advantage of the team’s games in hand over its division rivals. The Pigeons having lined out 24 times in 2019 as compared to 26 matches played by division-leading Atlanta, NYRB, and New England. Second-place Philadelphia Union and fourth place DC United sandwich NYC in the Eastern Conference standings having played 27 times this campaign.

New York’s win over Cincinnati was a badly needed one. It came on the heels of a top of the table battle in Atlanta that went to United in straight sets, with the gulf in class between the 2019 champions and New York making NYC look like pretenders.

New York was dominated by Atlanta to such an extent that NYC boss Dome Torrent called out the courage of several of his players. Those same players showed resilience against last-place Cincinnati, running out a 4-1 winner after falling behind early at Nippert Stadium.

His squad already formation fluid, Dome Torrent ran out a 4-3-3 that managed to get both of his center forwards, Valentin Castellanos and Heber, on the pitch at the same time, and it worked a charm with the two strikers each bagging a brace versus Cincinnati.

With Alexandru Mitria filling out the attacking trio. all-important Maxi Moralez drops back into the midfield role that best suit his playmaking skills. This leaves captain Alex Ring and reinstated Keaton Parks to do the midfield dirty work after Torrent dropped Parks for the Atlanta match to deleterious effect.

The good news, however, does not continue to NYC’s defensive wall directly in front of goalkeeper Sean Johnson. With Sands set to miss considerable time, and the status of likely replacement Alexander Callens and All-Star caliber fullback Anton Tinnerholm up in the air.

Ben Sweat and Eric Miller are on hand to fill in but Johnson may need to be extra sharp in order to keep Santos, Gyasi Zardes and company at bay Wednesday night in the Bronx.

European Soccer Futures: Why Isn’t Teemu Pukki a Golden Boot Favorite? And Atlético Madrid Finally Getting Respect

High Press 10 August 19, 2019
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It’d be easy to make some hot takes after this weekend of European soccer. PSG is in trouble! Borussia Dortmund will win the Bundesliga! Barcelona can’t win without Messi!

Ok the last one might be true.

Regardless, here’s a look at how futures markets shifted after a weekend of surprising results.

Premier League Golden Boot Winner Teemu Pukki?

Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki led the Championship division last season with 29 goals. Teemu Pukki is tied with Raheem Sterling for Premier League Golden Boot honors right now with four scores. Maybe Teemu Pukki knows how to get goals?

Pukki now has the 8th best odds to finish the year as the Premier League’s top goal scorer at +2200. Sterling, who we noted was mis-priced at +1600 before the season, has catapulted to second favorite at +500.

So much about this is health and opportunity. The English Championship division is a grueling 46 matches. Pukki played in 43 of them last season. Recent history shows he’ll be healthy. Where Sterling has approximately 47 other teammates capable of scoring on any given day, Pukki will be carrying Norwich’s offensive load.

Sterling may also be rested occasionally domestically if City actually don’t bottle again in the Champions League and make a run. Norwich will be relegated if they rest Pukki.

Also worth noting: Sadio Mane has that look about him this season. That +1400 is interesting as well.

Harry Kane +350Aubameyang +500Raheem Sterling +500Mo Salah +550
Sergio Aguero +800Sadio Mane +1400Marcus Rashford +1400Teemu Pukki +2200

Atlético Madrid was so underrated that they’re now overrated?

Atlético Madrid at +1400 to win La Liga last week seemed like the absolute best value bet in Europe. Yes, Barcelona should’ve been favorites. But Atleti had a chance to make noise.

Then Barcelona went and lost their opener. Atleti won theirs. And the odds shifted.

While Barca only moved from -225 to -150 after the loss, Atleti vaulted from +1400 to +700. The value was there at the old price. Little less value now. However, if you like Diego Simeone’s side, those odds will only get shorter if there’s another stumble at Camp Nou.

Bundesliga battle?

Bayern Munich started their 2019-20 campaign with a lackluster draw to Hertha. Borussia Dortmund looked like world-beaters.

However, very little line movement in Germany. Maybe it’s because Bayern added some potential key pieces (if you think Philippe Coutinho counts). Or maybe it’s because Bayern simply always ends up winning their domestic title.

We liked BVB before the season, and we like them more now. They moved from +400 to +300 after matchday 1. That’s still good value.

Ligue Ugh

If you’re one of those masochists who enjoys Ligue 1, then maybe you’re excited about Lyon’s potential. PSG lost their second match and tumbled from -1250 to -715. at DraftKings Sportsbook NJ. Lyon is now +400. Lille is now third at +5000.

PSG is still winning. Avert your eyes.

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What about Manchester City?

Yeah, Manchester City dropped points to Tottenham on Saturday. Nobody walked away after watching that match though thinking, “You know, Spurs are right at City’s level!”

Minimal movement over in England. City will need to faceplant before their November trip to Anfield for any notable line changes to occur.

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