Nico Estevez praises Alan Velasco following triumph over Minnesota United in the MLS Playoffs

FC Dallas is through to the conference semifinals after a panenka penalty by Alan Velasco secured the 5-4 triumph over Minnesota United. 

Despite Minnesota United taking a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute of the match through a clinical strike by Emanuel Reynoso, Dallas came back with an equalizer by Facundo Quignon to force the game into extra time. After 120 minutes of play and a persistent 1-1 draw, the teams took to penalties. 

FC Dallas triumphed 5-4, eliminating Minnesota United. 

Head coach Nico Estevez hailed his side after the victory, but pointed to youngster Alan Velasco in particular for his determination throughout the game. 

“Some players have a special gene,” Estevez said of Velasco after the game. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win, he wants to make FC Dallas big. It’s not only the quality he gave to the team, it’s the work he does. It’s amazing.”

Velasco missed a month of the 2022 MLS regular season due to injury, only making his return to the pitch on Decision Day to feature for 29 minutes. But the forward played as if nothing had happened on Monday night against Minnesota United, lasting all 120 minutes before securing a heroic win.

“I can’t believe he did it,” Estevez said of Velasco playing the entire game after injury. “I was worried, I kept asking him ‘how are you doing?’ He was mad at me that I kept asking. I said, ‘I was trying to take care of you!’ But he kept saying ‘I’m good! I’m running! Did you see that run?!’ It’s unbelievable.”

Velasco has been a key component in FC Dallas’ recent success after arriving in a club-record transfer from Independiente last winter. He managed six goals and seven assists in his first MLS campaign, adapting well to the team and Estevez’s style. 

The player will have a chance to extend his tallies as the team prepares to face Austin FC in the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday at Q2 Stadium. 

“It’s going to be tough in Austin,” Sebastian Lletget said on the field after the game. “But we’re ready.”

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Brentford confident of keeping Thomas Frank despite widespread interest

Brentford are confident that they will be able to keep hold of head coach Thomas Frank despite mounting interest in his services, 90min understands.

Frank oversaw his 200th match in charge of the Bees on Friday, beating Brighton 2-0 to maintain their good start to the 2022/23 season.

After four years in charge, Frank is firmly part of the furniture at Brentford and having led the club into the top flight for the first time in 72 years, his approval rating could hardly be higher.

90min understands that Frank has plenty of admirers elsewhere in the Premier League as well as across Europe, with several sides placing him on shortlists of potential replacements should they part ways with their current managers.

Leicester City would notably be interested in speaking to Frank in the event that they sack Brendan Rodgers, but such a job is not as attractive as it has been in recent years given the general instability surrounding the club.

It has been reported elsewhere that Brentford are ready to offer the Dane a new contract, though he stated at a press conference on Tuesday that he is happy right now with his current deal up in 2025 anyway.

“There’s a lot of rumours out there, in many ways,” Frank said of these reports.

“One thing for sure is I’m very happy here at Brentford. [There’s] a lot of things to achieve, very ambitious on behalf of the club. But I have a contract running to 2025. That’s it. Let’s see what happens in the future.

“I speak to Matthew [Benham, Brentford’s owner] and Phil [Giles, director of football] about everything, we are focusing on the Chelsea game tomorrow.”

Regardless of whether he signs a new deal in the near future or not, 90min understands that Brentford are confident of Frank sticking around in the long term.

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Motherwell vs Rangers: How to watch on TV live stream, team news, lineups & prediction

Mid-table Motherwell welcome Rangers to Fir Park in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday lunchtime.

Steven Hammell inspired the Steelmen to a strong domestic start after his appointment this summer. However, a grinding sequence of one victory from their last six matches (D1 L4) has punctured the optimism tentatively building in north Lanarkshire.

Rangers ended their 12-year wait for a Champions League goal but duly conceded seven against Liverpool in the club’s heaviest-ever home defeat on Wednesday. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are just two points off the pace set by Celtic – who remain the only Premiership side to beat the Gers this season.

Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming match.

Where can you watch Motherwell vs Rangers Highlights?

Motherwell vs Rangers H2H Results (Last Five Games)

Motherwell: 0 Wins
Rangers: 2 Wins
Draws: 3

Current Form (Last Five Games)

Motherwell: DLLWL
Rangers: WWLWL

Motherwell team news

Left-back Nathan McGinley has been laid low by a groin problem since February. The Huddersfield Town-loanee Rolando Aarons is yet to start for his new side, sitting out the previous three matches with a hamstring injury.

Jake Carroll is a long-term absentee after undergoing knee surgery. The forward Connor Shields was given his marching orders within the opening hour of Motherwell’s 1-0 defeat to Hibernian last weekend and will begin his suspension against the Gers.

Motherwell Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Kelly; McGinn, Lamie, Johansen, Penney; Goss, Slattery; Efford, Spittal, Morris; Van Veen.
Bench: Oxborough, Connelly, Mugabi, O’Donnell, Maguire, Tierney, McKinstry, Cornelius, Moult.

Rangers team news

Adding injury to the insult of defeat, Connor Goldson was forced off against Liverpool with thigh problem which could sideline the centre-back for multiple months. Ryan Jack also limped off before the humiliation really took hold in the final half-hour.

Long-term absentees Tom Lawrence, Ianis Hagi and Nnamdi Ofoborh are continuing their gradual recovery. The defenders Filip Helander and John Souttar aren’t expected to be back in time for Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off.

Rangers Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): McGregor; Tavernier, King, Davies, Barisic; Davis, Lundstram; Sakala, Arfield, Matondo; Colak.
Bench: McLaughlin, McCrorie, Yilmaz, Kent, Sands, Morelos, Wright, Tillman, Devine.

Motherwell find themselves up against a Rangers side on the ropes after a historically catastrophic performance. As Van Bronckhorst himself admitted: “The way we played the last 25 minutes [against Liverpool], you will lose against any team.”

While the Gers remain favourites, there is a genuine chance of the Steelmen taking something out of the game, although a first top-flight victory against Rangers since 2002 is unlikely.

Prediction: Motherwell 1-2 Rangers

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Antonio Rudiger could be available for Clasico despite gruesome head injury

Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger has not yet been ruled out of playing in this weekend’s Clasico against Barcelona, despite suffering a gruesome head injury in the Champions League draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.

Rudiger was involved in a sickening clash of heads with Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin that left him bleeding. He was heavily bandaged and was unable to see out of his right eye because of how much the wound swelled after being stitched up.

Marca has reported that, as of Thursday, the German international still cannot fully open his right eye. The Clasico at the Bernabeu is on Sunday and Rudiger has a chance of being available as long as he can fully open his eye by then and has no related problems with his vision.

If his eye is deemed healthy enough to take to the pitch, it is expected he would do so in a protective mask – it is said several designs will be presented to him to determine which best suits his needs.

Unsurprisingly, Rudiger is described as being keen to ‘play at all costs’.

This is Rudiger’s first season as a Real Madrid player and this would be his first Clasico.

Barcelona have struggled in the Champions League so far this season but are currently top of La Liga after dropping just two points from their eight games. The Catalans have the same number of points as Real, but a superior goal difference in the tiebreaker criteria.

Sunday’s match could see one or the other open up a three-point lead in an early title statement.

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New York Red Bulls sign MLS SuperDraft pick Matt Nocita

The New York Red Bulls have signed Matt Nocita through the end of the 2022 Major League Soccer campaign, with club options from 2023 to 2025.

He joins after being picked as the Number 7 overall by RBNY in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. The defender previously played collegiate soccer at the United States Naval Academy, earning the title of Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year three times.

“We were really impressed with Matt in his time with the Navy,” sporting director Denis Hamlet said in a release. “We are looking forward to having Matt with us and having him help us accomplish our goals on the field.”

Nocita gives Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber another option at the back, alongside USMNT’s Aaron Long, Andres Reyes and Sean Nealis. 

“We have been really happy with what Matt has shown over the last month,” head coach Gerhard Struber said in a release. “We are really excited to add him to our roster.”

The team currently sit in fourth on the Eastern Conference table, pursuing their 13th consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.

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