All posts by Jonathan Abraham

From Northern Italy to South Beach: Blaise Matuidi departs Juventus for Inter Miami

Through the first five games of the season, David Beckham-owned Inter Miami failed to register a single point. For a team with such high expectations, it did not look well and desperation started to kick in. The South Beach side promised to bring in big name players to the club, and they finally we are able to achieve it by landing Beckham’s former PSG teammate, midfielder Blaise Matuidi from Juventus.

 

The 33-year old has won every trophy imaginable for club and country. As a member of PSG, he was able to win four Ligue 1 titles, three Coupe de France’s, four Coupe de la Ligue’s, and five Trophée des Champions as he played an important role in the rise of the Parisians in world football. Meanwhile, for Juventus, he has won three Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia (2017-18) and a Supercoppa Italiana (2018). 

Representing the French national team, Matuidi was a member of the 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning side. He has not the only the only World Cup winner to take his talents to the MLS, which includes fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry (won the 1998 FIFA World Cup), who was a member of the New York Red Bulls and now the head coach of the Montreal Impact.

Fans of Inter Miami were nervous that the third and final Designated Player spot was being used for Matuidi, as they felt that the spot could have been better occupied. However, it was later revealed that The Herons signed him with Target Allocation Money, meaning it is a hefty pay cut from what he was earning over in Europe. Once Matuidi makes the move to South Beach, he will have to quarantine for 10 days.

Although there is no way for the Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale to be packed for Matuidi’s arrival due to the country’s ongoing issue with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a much anticipated move that was needed for the fans and the team who were desperate to find help in any way possible.

Portland Timbers defeat Orlando City SC in MLS is Back final

When the World Cup-style tournament began on July 8, no one was quite sure how it would turn out. With FC Dallas and Nashville SC withdrawing due to several COVID-19 results, there was uncertainty if there would ever be an end result. 

However, one month and three days later, the Portland Timbers were crowned the champions of the MLS is Back Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The victory by the Timbers not only gave them the chance to hoist the coveted trophy but it also guaranteed them a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League as well as $300,000 in prize money.

Portland, who were in their third cup final in six years, were able to get on the board first in the 27th-minute. After left-back Jorge Villafaña won a free kick in the attacking half, club legend Diego Valeri delivered a perfect ball to Larrys Mabiala, who was able to head it in past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

 

Moments later, however, the Lions were able to equalise when Mauricio Pereyra found the back of the net after receiving a cross from former Manchester United player Dani.

 

In the 66th-minute, the Timbers were able to score what turned out to be the winner after the ball magically landed in front of Dario Zuparic, who poked it into the net.

 

It was a Cinderella story for Orlando, who were not even supposed to do well in their group, much less make the final. However, after winning their group and getting some impressive victories in the knockout stage, including an upset over tournament favourite Los Angeles FC, head coach Oscar Pareja has a lot to look forward to in the future.

For Portland, their experience in title matches showed as they remained cool, calm, and collected in winning their first piece of silverware since they won the 2015 MLS Cup. It was also an impressive feat because they were able to defeat a team who play approximately 20 miles away from where the matches were being held for this tournament.

 

The MLS is resuming its regular season play today, when FC Dallas host Nashville SC after both teams were disqualified from the tournament in the Sunshine State.

On August 23, the Portland Timbers will return to action as they host rival Seattle Sounders in a much-anticipated matchup. Orlando City, meanwhile, will travel to Fort Lauderdale, where they will take on in-state rival Inter Miami on August 22.

Walt Disney World is known as the place “Where Dreams Come True,” and the Portland Timbers were able to experience that feeling as they are on top of the MLS.

Aubameyang double sees Arsenal secure their fourteenth FA Cup against Chelsea

This season was not the easiest for Arsenal as they struggled with manager Unai Emery, before making the change and bringing in former player and Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta. After an improvement in their form since the restart, The Gunners were able to win the London Derby FA Cup matchup against Chelsea, 2-1.

The Blues were able to capitalise first after Christian Pulisic received the ball from Olivier Giroud and found the back of the net just five minutes into the game.

 

Twenty-minutes later, however, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from the penalty spot after drawing a foul from César Azpilicueta, who was shown a yellow card for his actions.

 

In the beginning parts of the first half, Chelsea were looking dominant and it seemed like Pulisic’s goal was going to be the start of a great match. However, the latter half of the half was all Arsenal. Overall, it was not a great first 45 minutes for either of the defences.

After both teams had their fair share of chances to score, it was Arsenal who took the lead in the 67th minute. Captain Aubameyang was once again able to punish Chelsea, who felt that the goal should have been disallowed after an incident between Andreas Christensen and Héctor Bellerín.

 

Things went from bad to worse for Chelsea as Mateo Kovacic was shown a controversial second yellow card of the game by referee Anthony Taylor for his challenge on Granit Xhaka.

Ultimately, the fourth-place finishers of the Premier League were down to nine men when Pedro, who is set to depart London for AS Roma, needed to receive oxygen before being stretchered off the field to put the cherry on the top of what was already a horrendous match for The Blues.

Although Chelsea were able to have 60 percent of the possession throughout the match, it was Arsenal who were able to finish their chances. The eye-opening statistic was that The Blues committed 14 fouls compared to two for The Gunners. 

The North London-side were subsequently able to their 14th FA Cup in the competition’s history, which has helped them clinch a spot in next season’s Europa League, while also knocking out Wolverhampton from the competition.

 For Arsenal, they will start its preparations for the next Premier a League season, which is set to start on September 12. Chelsea, meanwhile, will face off against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena next Saturday, but are currently trailing 3-0 on aggregate.

Houston Dash defeat Chicago Red Stars in NWSL Challenge Cup final

After being the first professional sports league to return in the United States, the NWSL concluded the Challenge Cup today with the Houston Dash defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2-0.

The Dash got off to quick start when Kristie Mewie drew a penalty after being fouled by Kayla Sharples in the fourth minute. Sophie Schmidt capitalised from the spot to help them take an early lead. That would end up being the only goal in the first half.

 

For much of the second half, both teams were not able to add to the scoresheet. However, in the first minute of extra-time, the Dash were on a breakaway and Shea Groom received a through ball from Rachel Daly, where she was able to put the ball past U.S. national team goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The goal would end up clinching the title for Houston.

 

The club is owned by several prominent athletes such as boxer Oscar de la Hoya and NBA superstar James Harden  but the Dash have never been able to compete in the NWSL. In fact, since the club was founded on December 11, 2013, they have never qualified for the playoffs. This makes the Challenge Cup the franchise’s first piece of silverware in its history.

 

On the other side, the Chicago Red Stars lost a key player in Sam Kerr. The Australian international departed the NWSL for Chelsea after winning the Golden Boot three years in a row. However, they were able to succeed without the goal-scoring machine and were able to finish up as runners-up in the tournament. 

These two teams were not supposed to make the finals. The fourth and sixth place finishers were not considered to be serious threats for the tournament, compare to favourites such as the North Carolina Courage or the Washington Spirit. However, both of these clubs ignored where the critics and made some noise in Utah.

The NWSL had the privilege of being the first pro sports league to return in America, and the tournament featured many great stories from upsets to underdog stories. This tournament was a great kickstart to sports in the country and should be a catalyst in the expanding coverage in not only women’s soccer but sports in general.

Chelsea maintain Champions League spot with much-needed victory against Wolverhampton

Win or draw, keep your spot in the Champions League. Lose and you will be playing in the Europa League next season. Chelsea were ultimately able to rise to the occasion, defeating Wolverhampton 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

After the first 45 minutes, it looked like this match was heading towards a scoreless first half. That was until Marcos Alonso was fouled in the attacking half by Pedro Neto. Mason Mount would eventually score the free kick to help Chelsea keep its Champions League spot.

 

In the fourth minute of extra-time in the first half, The Blues doubled their lead over Wolves following a fast break by the South London-side, where Mount found Olivier Giroud, who got past goalkeeper Rui Patricio and found the back of the net.

 

The two clubs had chances to score in the second half but both were unable to capitalise as the game ended at 2-0.

Overall, Chelsea dominated with 63 percent of the possession throughout the game, while taking 11 shots (three on target). However, Wolverhampton struggled with five shots in the game, only one which was on target (easily saved by Willy Caballero).

At the end of the Premier League season, Chelsea will finish in fourth place with 66 points after Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Leicester City. On the other side, Wolverhampton slipped down to seventh place after Tottenham’s 1-1 result at Crystal Palace.

This season was unlike any other from Liverpool winning their first ever Premier League title to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying matches until June. It was not ideal but it was still a fantastic season filled with trials and tribulations for the 20 clubs in the league. 

Chelsea will prepare for their FA Cup final matchup on Sunday against crosstown rivals Arsenal. Wolverhampton, meanwhile, have a Europa League match at home against on August 6 Olympiakos, where they are tied at one on aggregate.

See the final Premier League table in link below:

https://247-football.com/2020/06/25/premier-league-table/