So much seemed to be falling Sporting Kansas City’s way coming into 2012. But for those into picking nits – and journalists who don’t pick nits aren’t really worth their weight in nits, whatever those are – always recognized one soft underbelly. It was central defensive depth.
So when Matt Besler fell earlier this month to injury we watched and waited, because Aurelien Collin always seemed to need a governor, a stable element to check his substantial wild and impulsive side. Besler always seemed to provide that stabilizing element.
After a couple of respectable outings with fill-in center back Lawrence Olum, the SKC defense fell to pieces early and often in last week’s 4-0 loss at Philadelphia (a team that wasn’t scoring before this week’s eruption at PPL Park).
Besler got back on the field three nights later as Sporting executed professionally in a 3-0 U.S. Open Cup win over the Dayton Dutch Lions. He played 68 minutes, during which the home team’s defense was rarely tested by the lower tier Lions.
Tonight should be a while different jar of barbecue sauce. Besler, Collin and the rest of the Livestrong Sporting Park outfit will get a tougher test when Chicago visits Livestrong Sporting Park (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) – assuming they play, that is.
One or both could be on the sideline to being this one. Besler reported recovering nicely from his first post-injury run-out, but a hamstring injury to Collin is complicating things. If the Frenchman does line up, he could be severely stretched to contain the speedy Dominic Oduro. Chasing Oduro, one of Major League Soccer’s fastest strikers, is a pulled hammy waiting to happen even when healthy.
Sebastien Grazzini is out for Chicago, which is good news for SKC, but Chris Rolfe should be available to provide the visitors some extra offensive umph.
FA Cup slate set as Liverpool, Newcastle, Saints win
The field is set for the fourth round of the FA Cup, as Newcastle United, Liverpool, and Southampton joined 29 other teams in the fourth round.
Newcastle United 2-1 Birmingham City
Matt Ritchie scored twice and Yoan Gouffran also scored as the Magpies clinched a trip to third-tier side Oxford United. David Cotterill scored in the 71st minute to provide an interesting finish, but Newcastle weathered the storm.
Jurgen Klopp chose another youth-heavy lineup, but a pair of Premier League vets got the job done for the winner. Philippe Coutinho assisted Lucas Leiva‘s 18th mintue goal to give the Reds a home date with Wolverhampton.
Divock Origi had a late penalty saved by Luke McCormick, but it didn’t come back to haunt the Reds.
Southampton 1-0 Norwich City
Saints got a much-needed albeit ugly win when Shane Long won a tussle in the box to score a stoppage time winner. Southampton will host Arsenal in the fourth round.
Derby County vs. Leicester City
January 28 Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wycombe Wanderers
Oxford United vs. Newcastle United
Lincoln City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs. Brentford
Rochdale vs. Huddersfield Town
Burnley vs. Bristol City
Blackburn vs. Blackpool
Middlesbrough vs. Accrington Stanley
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City
Southampton vs. Arsenal
Millwall vs. Watford
Fulham vs. Hull City
Sutton United vs. Leeds United
“Jermaine is a winner who has experience in MLS and playing against the highest competition in the world,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach Curt Onalfo. “He has a relentless engine on the field and we are confident that he will strengthen our midfield. We look forward to him joining the Galaxy as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
When healthy, Jones remains a game changer at the MLS level. He was not healthy often during his season in Colorado, but the Rapids did not lose a regular season game in which he hit the pitch.
Given the amount of buzz surrounding Lyon’s supposed interest in Memphis Depay, it’s no surprise this one got done.
The Ligue 1 side has agreed to buy the Manchester United winger for a fee that will range between $20 and $27 million. Reports claim the Red Devils have both buy back and sell-on clauses inserted in the deal.
Memphis was purchased for approximately $30 million from PSV Eindhoven in May 2015. That was hot on the heels of a 22-goal season that paced the Eredivisie.
After scoring two goals for United in his second appearance for the club, Memphis managed just 7 in 45 appearances. He hasn’t scored in seven matches this season.
Memphis has 27 caps with five goals for the Netherlands, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t reinforce his status with a prolific spell in France.
Lyon is fourth in the Ligue 1 table, eight behind third place PSG and 11 points back of leaders Monaco and Nice. The club is in the Round of 32 for the French Cup, and meets AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League.