SEATTLE (AP) — Jordan Morris fell awkwardly on an already sore ankle during the first half on Sunday. At halftime the Seattle Sounders team doctor suggested subbing him out and letting him rest with matches for the U.S. national team upcoming.
Morris argued with the doctor — his father Michael — to stay in the match. An argument the younger Morris eventually won.
“We were going to go out there and try for 10 minutes and see and it felt fine. A little bit of pain but nothing too bad,” Morris said. “I always want to be playing.”
Morris drew a penalty to set up Seattle’s opening goal in the first half, scored on a header in the 66th minute to retake the lead, and the Sounders celebrated last year’s MLS Cup title with a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
More than 45,000 turned out for Seattle’s home opener and were rewarded by goals from Clint Dempsey on a penalty kick, Morris’ finish off a beautiful buildup and Harry Shipp’s redirected goal off Joevin Jones’ shot in the 79th minute.
Morris was a constant threat throughout but the knock on his ankle is not good news for U.S. coach Bruce Arena ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. The U.S. already ruled out forward Bobby Wood due to a back injury. Morris was flying to join the national team Sunday night and didn’t think the ankle was going to be a major issue.
“I sprained it in preseason a little bit and it’s the same ankle but I could play 60 minutes on it or whatever so that’s promising,” Morris said. “I’ll get it looked at down there but I think it will be fine.”
Morris drew the penalty that led to Dempsey’s second goal of the season when he was tripped in the box in the 27th minute by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. Bradley Wright-Phillips pulled New York even in the 57th minute with a header off the inside of the far post, but Morris’ first goal of the year proved to be the game-winner.
Shipp’s goal was his first since joining Seattle in the offseason, a deft redirection of Jones’ shot from distance that curled just inside the post for a late two-goal advantage.
The loss snapped New York’s 18-match unbeaten streak in the regular season dating back to last season. The Red Bulls had not lost an MLS regular season match since July 3, a 2-0 loss against New York City FC. Wright-Phillips’ goal was his first of the season after leading the league in goals last year.
“It was going to end sometime, but in this fashion, I’m not happy with that,” Wright-Phillips said of the streak. “We could have kept going. But the performance today wasn’t good enough.”
Eight years to the day Seattle made its MLS debut with a victory over the Red Bulls, the Sounders celebrated their first MLS Cup title with New York again playing the complementary role.
The championship trophy was paraded through the streets of downtown Seattle before the match, then across the field by retired defender Zach Scott and injured captain Brad Evans just before kickoff. The Sounders unveiled their green championship banner in the rafters of CenturyLink Field as well after spending the first two weeks of the MLS season on the road.
Seattle was staked to the early advantage because of a mistake by New York defender Damien Perrinelle. His poor back-pass to Robles allowed Morris an opportunity to pressure the Red Bulls’ goalkeeper and created the trip that led to the penalty kick.
Jones, who finished with two assists, also got the better of New York defender Sal Zizzo on Morris’ goal. Jones’ dribble split Zizzo’s legs along the end line. Nicolas Lodeiro was open in the penalty area but instead of shooting his one-touch cross found Morris alone at the back post for the header.
“It was a proper start to what I know is going to be a great home season,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — With their top strikers absent, there were concerns that Manchester United and Tottenham could stumble in their push for Champions League qualification from the English Premier League.
No need to worry.
United defied the absence of the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic — and fatigue because of its hectic fixture schedule — to beat relegation-threatened Middlesbrough 3-1 away in a match that ended with player bust-ups on and off the field.
Tottenham has lost top scorer Harry Kane for up to five weeks because of injury and the team’s attacking midfielders stepped up to fill the void, with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli scoring in a 2-1 win over Southampton. It was Spurs’ 10th straight victory at home in the league.
With Manchester City and Liverpool drawing 1-1 in an end-to-end game of numerous chances at Etihad Stadium, the race to finish in the top four behind likely champion Chelsea is too close to call.
Tottenham is in second place, 10 points behind Chelsea and two points ahead of City. Liverpool is a point further back in fourth and four clear of fifth-placed United, which has two games in hand.
United has finished each of the last 19 weeks in sixth place in the Premier League, but finally climbed a spot with its win at the Riverside Stadium. Arsenal, which lost 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, has slipped to sixth place.
Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s three games:
MIDDLESBROUGH 1, MANCHESTER UNITED 3
There were two noteworthy goals from United — Jesse Lingard’s spectacular 25-meter strike and Antonio Valencia’s injury-time walk-in after a slip from Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes — but they were overshadowed by bust-ups on and off the field around the final whistle.
In stoppage time, just before Valencia settled the result, tempers flared when Middlesbrough’s Rudy Gestede and United’s Eric Bailly grappled with each other. Players from both teams piled in. The pushing and shoving continued in the tunnel after the match, with Bailly and teammate Ashley Young looking particularly aggrieved.
Marouane Fellaini opened the scoring for United, which won despite Jose Mourinho fielding a weakened team missing Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and playing after competing in the Europa League on Thursday night.
After weeks of chasing, the top four is suddenly in sight for United, although Mourinho said he would prefer to secure Champions League qualification by winning the Europa League.
“The Europa League gives us the same, gives us Champions League football, but gives us a trophy, gives us prestige, gives us a European Super Cup,” Mourinho said.
TOTTENHAM 2, SOUTHAMPTON 1
Son Heung-min started up front in place of Kane but it was Eriksen and Alli who delivered.
Eriksen drove home the opening goal from the edge of the area in the 14th minute and Alli converted a penalty in the 33rd after he tumbled under Steven Davis’ challenge following a series of poor clearances by Southampton.
James Ward-Prowse celebrated his call-up to the England squad with a 52nd-minute reply for Southampton.
MANCHESTER CITY 1, LIVERPOOL 1
City coach Pep Guardiola said it was “one of the happiest days of my career as a manager” after seeing his team fight back to salvage a point against a direct rival for the top four.
Guardiola said his players had been “so, so sad” in training this week after City’s elimination from the Champions League by Monaco on Wednesday. A defeat to Liverpool four days later would have been particularly damaging to morale.
City needed a 69th-minute equalizer from Sergio Aguero to prevent Liverpool from collecting a sixth win this season over a rival from the top six.
James Milner, a former City player, put Liverpool ahead from the penalty spot in the 51st and both teams spurned great chances in a riveting final 20 minutes as they went on all-out attack.
World Scores: Courtesy of Livescore.com