ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient

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ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient (®) takes the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer.

FC Dallas: Now it’s Brek Shea, too? Seriously, did they extend the boundaries recently at FC Dallas’ stadium complex and build over ancient burial grounds? Somebody needs to call a witchdoctor or shaman of bruja or something. At this point, due to injuries or suspensions, seven first-choice starters are out ahead of tonight’s visit by Seattle. Schellas Hyndman’s team has done an admirable job of hanging in there, but this is the West we’re talking about, where things aren’t as forgiving as along the right side of the MLS map. If the turf toe for Shea turns into something lengthy, they’ll be flying the flag of panic, for sure.

Panic quotient: “Hey, dad, thanks for letting me borrow the car last night. Say, tell me again how ‘insurance’ works?”

U.S. Soccer referee assigners: Ricardo Salazar hasn’t been on top of his game, lately. So the federation assigners could give him a little time to clear his head. Maybe Mark Geiger, too, who appears to have blown it on the red card to Blas Perez. Officially speaking, David Gantar did, too, as the one red card he issued to New England that has been rescinded. But if you take these guys out of the rotation, that means more games for guys like Jair Marrufo or Baldemero Toledo, who haven’t seem to catch the new vibe and spirit at times this year, still sometimes defaulting back into old habits and failing to read the riot act to thugs and bad actors. Or it means falling back on guys like Abbey Okulaja, Michael Kennedy or Terry Vaughn, the likes of whom we haven’t seen so much this year. So, really, what’s left to do?

Panic quotient: Sleeping bag in the desert. Nice calm night. Wait a minute! Is something moving down at my feet – inside the sleeping bag?!

David Beckham: There’s no hiding it: the timing of Stuart Pearce’s visit to sunny So Cal really put Beckham in a pinch. According to some reports the Great Britain coach was here to watch two matches. Beckham didn’t play in one, which is revealing on its own. If Beckham can’t play in two league matches stitched closely together, how will those 37-year-old legs perform over back-to-back contests against teams chalk full of young bucks? Then the Galaxy stunk up the joint in the match Pearce did see. And surely the GB manager saw Beckham chucking desperately to get back into position on New York’s goal in that one? Blek. If Pearce liked what he saw, then his scale might just be busted. None of this means Becks won’t be selected after all, politics being what they are. Still, the man is desperate to be part of these London games, and he can’t be feeling peachy about things at the moment.

Panic quotient: See the doctor about a minor skin rash, but Doc wants to show a couple of more docs. Pretty soon: “We’d really like to make this a full-blown case study. Darned if we’ve never seen one like this!”  

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.