Are things about to get better or worse around Red Bull Arena with the return of Rafa Marquez from his three-game suspension?
Hans Backe’s team is doing OK lately, after all, having hung on in difficult circumstances two weeks ago against New England (and watching leading scorer Thierry Henry limp off with a pulled hamstring) and were tactically perfect in a huge 1-0 win at Los Angeles.
But Marquez is, indeed available for selection Wednesday against Houston. So is left back Roy Miller, who will probably come regain his left back spot ahead of rookie Conor Lade.
Lade has often looked like a rookie out there. That’s not to say he did badly, because he didn’t. But you got the feeling he was just hanging on sometimes, stretched just to get the job done.
Not so with midfielder Dax McCarty. What Backe told MLSSoccer.com:
I always said and thought that [McCarty’s] strength was from the halfway line and forward. But now perhaps playing a little bit deeper he has the whole picture of the field in front of him. … His passing, he only had two, three unforced errors in this game [against LA]. Overall, defending phenomenal, so let’s see if that is perhaps his position for the future.”
So, do you remove that guy for Marquez, who simply won’t have the range or the energy to get into passing lanes and harass attackers as McCarty has?
The X factor here is scheduling. Specifically, the Red Bulls put a lot into Saturday’s win, and then flew across country to get home. So, even if Marquez can’t improve on the McCarty-Joel Lindpere-Mehdi Ballouchy central triangle, there may be some value in his presence.
Here he comes.
When Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed for Manchester United in the summer big things were expected.
It’s taken him a while to settle but now the Armenian playmaker has scored his first goal for United with a stunning superb solo effort against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League.
Watch the video below to see Mkhitaryan put United 1-0 up.
What a goal.
You truly have to see this a few times to believe it is possible.
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Stunning footage from a game between National Vatera and Makedonikos Kozanis in Greece’s four-tier last weekend has emerged as Kozanis striker Thanasis Takidis goes clean through on goal, gets one yard out but then somehow delays his shot and is blocked on the line by a defender, then the ball gets away from him.
Watch the clip above to see probably the worst miss you will ever see.
I mean, come on man…
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) Japanese champion Kashima Antlers beat Auckland City of New Zealand 2-1 in the opening game of the Club World Cup on Thursday.
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Kim Dae-wook headed Auckland ahead five minutes after half time, but substitute Shuhei Akasaki equalized for the J-League champions in the 67th minute.
Fellow sub Mu Kanazaki then completed the comeback in the 88th, heading home from close range after Shoma Doi nodded a deep Shuto Yamamoto cross from the left back.
Kashima advanced to a quarterfinal against African champion Mamelodi Sundowns in Osaka on Sunday.
The winner of that game will face Copa Libertadores winner Atletico Nacional in the semifinal Wednesday. European powerhouse Real Madrid also enters the tournament from the semifinal stage.
The use of video replays was available during the match but there were no official reviews. The technology is there to be used only for correcting clear errors in game-changing decisions.
Week 15 of the Premier League season has arrived with Manchester United hosting Tottenham, Liverpool welcoming West Ham and Leicester City and Manchester City clashing at the King Power Stadium.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live, here ]
With some intense relegation battles between Swansea City and Sunderland and Hull City and Crystal Palace, there is plenty on the line as the festive season really starts to heat up.
Below are previews, score predictions and everything else you need to know about all 10 games this weekend.
Chelsea vs. West Brom
Leicester City vs. Manchester City
Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool vs. West Ham
Arsenal vs. Stoke City
Southampton vs. Middlesbrough
Swansea City vs. Sunderland
Watford vs. Everton
Hull vs. Crystal Palace
Burnley vs. Bournemouth