Five-a-side: the questions I want answered today in Major League Soccer

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1. Will Montreal win a game?

Obviously, the expansion Impact, currently winless in five, will collect a “W” here and there this year. This looks like a great place to start. Toronto is reeling, having just been dumped like a cheating spouse in Champions League. It’s best player, Torsten Frings, remains on the injury shelf. The team traveled across North American on Thursday following Wednesday’s night beat down in Torreon, Mexico, so the physical condition of Aron Winter’s men can hardly be tip-top. This is one Montreal surely has circled, and not just because of its budding-rivalry status.

2. Will David Beckham’s absence somehow help the Galaxy shakes it funk?

Manager Bruce Arena can bang on all he wants about how Beckham’s halftime removal last week was tactical, and how he could have changed out all 11 players. But it’s difficult to conceive of how the Galaxy couldn’t have tweaked things tactically in a way that involved its captain and top player. So, clearly Arena wasn’t happy with something he saw in the first half of last week’s loss. Will Los Angeles, somehow, see improvement today against Sporting Kansas City without Beckham in the lineup?

3. Is Bobby Convey fitting at Sporting Kansas City?

Things are going so well for Peter Vermes’ side at the moment, there’s really no pressing need to ask a bunch of questions. On the other hand, every team needs to be the best it can be, so it’s fair to begin wondering if the former San Jose Earthquake can make a dent or even keep his place. While Graham Zusi keeps running the SKC attack with aplomb, Convey continues to seek his first goal or assist after four starts.

4. Will the Brandon McDonald suspension disrupt D.C. United’s momentum?

The center back’s suspension, announced in mid-week as retroactive action for a reckless tackle against FC Dallas, was a bit of a buzz kill. But will it be more? Manager Ben Olsen will probably summon Dejan Jakovic to partner with Emiliano Dudar as United hosts Seattle at RFK Stadium. Things will be going in the right direction for Olsen and Co. if they can build on last week’s big win over Dallas. On the other hand, Seattle is coming off a home loss, and Sigi Schmid’s Sounders will want to put things right without delay.

5. How many goals does Thierry Henry have in him today?

The famous Frenchman is hotter than Jose Mourinho’s head after another Barcelona beat down. Henry has five goals and two assists in his last two matches, enjoying a great relationship with Kenny Cooper, who has four goals of his own this year. The pair’s next chance to impress happens in Ohio, site of today’s contest against the quietly effective 2-1-0 Crew. While the absence of steady holding midfielder Teemu Tainio and center back Wilman Conde could dent the defensive side, New York’s attack should be none the worse for it.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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