Drilling down on: at FC Dallas 3, Colorado 2

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Man of the Match: The knock on Fabian Castillo is that for all his speed, his faulty decision making leaves the ultimate productivity wanting. Not Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium. His brutally accurate shot from 25 yards became the early equalizer. The young Colombian was fouled to set up Jair Benitez’s free kick goal, and then Castillo assisted on the second-half game-winner.

Packaged for take-away

  • This is the kind of year Brek Shea is having for Dallas: In the 6th minute, Ruben Luna delivered a nearly perfect ball across goal, one with just a smidge too much zip on it, though. Still, if Shea sticks out his right foot, he’s quickly hugging his teammates over in the corner after supplying that killer, early lead. Instead, he sticks out his left leg (for a ball coming in from the left) and the chance gets away.
  • At least twice in the first half, Dallas center backs were forward to hunt for set piece deliveries. Rather than playing balls toward then, Dallas went for something short and then watched as their center backs needed to sprint back. Curious.
  • The Rapids’ early goal was more or less something from nothing, but it was typical Brian Mullan, who has been putting in the hard work in MLS for a dozen years now. Julian de Guzman’s failure to match Mullan’s aggressiveness near the end line meant that the Rapids’ midfielder got on the ground and around the passive challenge to put a dangerous ball near goal. Jamie Castrillon made it count.
  • Mullan apparently wasn’t doing enough of that stuff. Or enough of something. He was off at halftime, although apparently not injured.
  • David Ferreira is a wonderful player, ever so skillful at holding off challenges and retaining possession under duress. On the other hand, since returning from injury, he’s sometimes looking for the foul too often rather than working out of the challenge. He does get kicked and fouled a lot, but still …
  • Colorado was doing such an outstanding job with its midfield shape, Joseph Nane and Jeff Larentowicz working in well-synched tandem as holders in the 4-2-3-1. They were constantly up Ferreira’s backside, and the Dallas creator was having trouble getting turned. When he did, young striker Luna was too static to become a target. That’s an element of sophistication Luna must add, because Ferreira will reward clever runs.
  • The Rapids got a little too concerned with Ferreira, perhaps, and got stretched late in the first half trying to deal with him along Dallas’ left side. Fabian Castillo exploited the vulnerable space in the middle, running into the space to sneak a ball just inside the post from about 25 yards. You wonder if maybe Matt Pickens should have gotten to the ball, which was a very good shot but maybe not a fantastic one.
  • Jair Benitez needed 87MLS matches to score his first goal, but it really was a sweet free kick.
  • Kevin Hartman’s double stop in the 34th minute sure helped the home team, but so did Omar Cummings missing an open goal from about 40 yards when Hartman inaccurately adjudged he could get to a ball far, far out of goal.
  • Castillo supplied the assist on Dallas’ third goal, but it was the hustle-bustle work of Hernan Pertuz, charging in to win a loose second ball, that made it all happen.
  • Yellow cards inside the first 51 minutes to two Rapids defenders and to Nane meant the visitors couldn’t be as physical, which meant Luna had an easier time receiving balls as a target and then laying off for Castillo and Ferreira.
  • A game that was progressively more open became even moreso when Castrillon decided it was a good idea to kick out at George John’s face when the FCD defender was on the turf. Referee Armando Villarreal, in just his fifth MLS match, was right to send the Rapids’ midfielder off.
  • Dallas clearly hasn’t had much work on seeing out the late leads. Even a man down the Rapids were finding space in Dallas’ end. Larentowicz, a never-quit type, kept finding ways to create a little something here or there. And too many times, Dallas was caught in the final 10 minutes defending with just five. Just five!

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

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BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) Benevento fired Marco Baroni and named Roberto De Zerbi its new coach after becoming the first squad in Serie A history to lose its first nine matches of the season.

The southern Italian club is the only team in Europe’s five major leagues without a point.

[ MORE: Ronaldo wins Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Benevento also announced it fired sporting director Salvatore Di Somma.

The moves on Monday came a day after a 3-0 home loss to Fiorentina.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Benevento will have to pay Baroni 800,000 euros (nearly $1 million) as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.

Baroni guided Benevento up from Serie B last season.

De Zerbi last coached Palermo nearly a year ago before being fired by the Sicilian club.

It’s the second coaching change in Serie A this season, after Diego Lopez replaced Massimo Rastelli at Cagliari last week.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Atlanta hosts Crew, Whitecaps take on Earthquakes

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34 rounds of MLS action are in the books, and now the real fun is set to begin this week.

The MLS Cup Playoffs have arrived, and 12 teams are firmly in the running to hoist a trophy in December.

[ MORE: PST talks to Justin Meram ahead of the Crew’s playoff run ]

While Toronto FC, New York City FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers will each have the opportunity to watch the first round from their homes, the action all starts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Here’s a look at what to expect when the knockout round begins.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Fire were one of the most intriguing stories for much of the regular season, but Veljko Paunovic’s side enters the postseason limping. Lucky for them, the Red Bulls have been just as inconsistent throughout the course of 2017 — which already saw Jesse Marsch’s club lose in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Paunovic and Co. have lost eight of their last 15 matches, which doesn’t bode well entering the home stretch of the schedule. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have won just two of their last 10 matches. The Harrison side should be well-rested though for Wednesday’s encounter after starting a mostly second-tier squad in Sunday’s season finale against D.C. United.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Whitecaps looked to be a sure-fire club destined for a bye in the first round, but things didn’t fall their way on Decision Day. Now, Carl Robinson’s side faces an Earthquakes side that is simply unpredictable.

The Quakes have the second-worst road record in the Western Conference when it comes to acquiring points — holding eight in points 17 matches. However, Chris Leitch has instilled a new-found belief amongst the squad that gives the California side a puncher’s chance.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew — Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

These two sides haven’t met since July 1, so all bets are off about these teams knowing one another. Since that point, Atlanta and Columbus have been two of the hottest sides in MLS and the former moved into a new stadium — which has given opposing sides quite the difficult time.

In their last 10 matches combined, the clubs boast just one loss, which Atlanta suffered at home against Minnesota United. There’s no reason not to expect a great one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC — Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Peter Vermes’ Sporting KC side enters the playoffs winless in their last five, while their counterparts are unbeaten in six. The MLS postseason is often about which team is in the best form at the right particular moment, and right now, it doesn’t look like Sporting KC has luck on their side.

It’s also hard to not pay attention to the fact that the Dynamo have lost just once at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017, which came on September 9 against the Colorado Rapids.

Carabao Cup preview: Man City hosts Wolves, Chelsea meets Everton

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All eyes will remain on the 11 Premier League sides left in this season’s Carabao Cup, but could a potential upset(s) shake the balance of power in the competition?

Norwich City and Leeds United will be among the teams seeking an upset in the tournament as they take on Arsenal and Leicester City, respectively, on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Meanwhile, fresh off of Ronald Koeman‘s sacking, Everton must regroup quickly when they head to Stamford Bridge to take on Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea. The Toffees have taken just eight points in their first nine PL matches, leaving the Merseyside club in the relegation zone.

The Blues are aiming for their sixth League Cup title this season, while Manchester United could also achieve the same feat with the crown.

Here’s the slate of matches for the Carabao Cup Round of 16.

Tuesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Leicester City vs. Leeds United
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wednesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Chelsea vs. Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in dual nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.