Ordinarily, Saturday’s emotional happening inside CenturyLink Field would be the league’s national headline maker.
But MLS Round 6 is overloaded with sweet storylines. There’s Real Salt Lake’s meeting with Sporting Kansas City, a clash of teams with just one loss between them. And there’s New York’s meeting with San Jose, a match that features three of the league’s top four scorers.
But a meeting Saturday in Seattle runs deep in history and a certain amount of emotional scarring – plus actual physical scarring.
This marks the first time Brian Mullan has played in Seattle since one of the most notorious incidents in the league’s 17 years. Last April, Mullan shattered Steve Zakuani’s leg with a menacing tackle. Seattle’s promising young winger has yet to get back on the field in a competitive match.
Mullan, who was deeply affected by the incident, isn’t speaking publicly about it this week, although he did issue a statement through his club earlier this week. Sounders manager Sigi Schmid says both players must deal with this in their own way.
Zakuani, meanwhile, sounds like a man ready to forgive and move on. From the story on MLSSoccer.com:
I spoke to him already,” Zakuani said. “I’ve known he was remorseful. The only thing I didn’t like was his initial comment after the game and to be fair, he said he didn’t know the injury was that bad. Other than that, I think he understands what it cost me. I have a massive scar on my leg.”
There’s more from Zakuani and his prolonged quest to return here, from the Seattle Times.
Seattle’s passionate fans? Tough to say how they’ll react.
Jamie Vardy has joined several Leicester City voices in refuting claims that he helped usher in the dismissal of championship-winning manager Claudio Ranieri.
Vardy led the Foxes in scoring during last season’s run to the Premier League title, but has struggled to follow that success this season. He has five goals in 22 matches.
[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died” ]
Ranieri was fired this week with Leicester on the verge of dipping into the relegation zone, where they now sit ahead of Monday’s match against Liverpool.
Vardy wants the world to know this wasn’t his preference, saying, “There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this is completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful!”
Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.
Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.
[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]
His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.
The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.
Here are the first and third, too:
The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.
[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]
That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).
Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.
The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.
The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.
The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.
Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.
Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.