Chicago Fire v New York Red Bulls

Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 31

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Goalkeeper:

  • FC Dallas’ Kevin Hartman

Rationale, motive and intent: Hartman contributed seven huge saves, each as valuable as the other (and a couple to be stamped “spectacular”) as he single-handedly kept a little playoff breath going in the FC Dallas body. They are just barely in the hunt – but he did his part and then some.

Back line:

  • Real Salt Lake’s Nat Borchers
  • Chicago’s Arne Friedrich (pictured)
  • Philadelphia’s Carlos Valdes

Rationale, motive and intent:

Borchers helped settle things down and then forcefully lock things down for Real Salt Lake after the visitors were nearly overrun in the first 20 minutes by the sizzling Galaxy.

Friedrich delivered when its team had to have it, keeping things tidy in the back against Thierry Henry and the offensively stacked Red Bulls. Friedrich also made an impact on the Fire attack with his selective bursts forward.

Valdes was his steady self, delivering the goods in two wins while keeping young, continually emerging center back Amobi Okugo pointed in the right direction.

Midfield:

  • Vancouver’s Dane Richards
  • San Jose Marvin Chavez
  • Seattle’s Christian Tiffert

Rationale, motive and intent: Richards was nearly unstoppable as the Whitecaps finally looked like a playoff team in a resounding 4-0 win over Chivas USA.

Chavez had a goal and an assist as the Earthquakes went into Denver and picked apart the home side.  And Tiffert was a force in the wide areas for Seattle in the 3-0 crusher over Portland, one witnessed by quite a few folks.

Forwards:

  • Chicaco’s Sherjill MacDonald
  • San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski
  • Real Salt Lake’s Fabian Espindola
  • Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney

Rationale, motive and intent: We covered MacDonald’s two-goal night in the Player of the Week post from about an hour ago.

Wondolowski moved closer to the single-season goal mark with his 23rd, 24th and 25th goals this year, those in a 4-1 destruction of the Colorado Rapids outside Denver. Two more games to catch Roy Lassiter’s all-time MLS mark.

Espindola hit twice as the visitors upset David Beckham and the Galaxy outside L.A.

McInerney, barely 20 years old now, had two goals and an assists as the Union won twice last week. Too bad more of this didn’t happen around PPL Park earlier this year – the winning that is, not necessarily McInerney’s late-season exploits.

Watch Live: Swansea vs. Liverpool (Lineups, Stream)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores their fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield on September 24, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Struggling Swansea City host high-flying Liverpool (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports) at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Swansea haven’t won since the opening day of the season with manager Francesco Guidolin under intense pressure, while Liverpool has won three-straight games in the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp‘s methods are blowing opponents away.

In team news striker Borja Baston makes his first start for Swansea, while Liverpool bring back Dejan Lovren.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Rangel, van der Horn, Amat, Naughton; Britton, Cork, Fer; Routledge, Borja, Sigurdsson. Subs: Nordfeldt, Mawson, Taylor, Fulton, Ki, Barrow, McBurnie

Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Mane, Coutinho; Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Sturridge, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Origi

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 0-2 New York City FC (video)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: David Villa #7 of New York City FC celebrates his first half goal with teamate Andrea Pirlo #21 againd the Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium on March 13, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): With one goal already accomplished for New York City FC this season, Patrick Vieira’s group made positive strides in capturing another on Friday night in Houston. David Villa’s 20th and 21st tallies of the season gave the visitors the lead after halftime and NYCFC managed to hold onto the points from there. With just two matches remaining following the win over the Dynamo, NYCFC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference on 51 points. Meanwhile, the Dynamo remain nine points out of the final spot in the West with four matches to play.

[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira gets big praise from Dynamo counterpart ]

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Harrison tests Willis from distance — Chances were at a minimum in the opening stanza, but Joe Willis had to get down quickly here to deny Jack Harrison on this blast.

52′ — Villa hits his 20th on the season — The Dynamo defense won’t be pleased when they watch this one again, but in his typical fashion, David Villa found his way in on goal.

73′ — Saunders watches as Rodriguez hits post — It can be a game of inches at times and the Dynamo were certainly on the wrong end of this one as Raul Rodriguez’s effort struck the post and stayed out.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: David Villa (52′, 90′)

SKorean soccer club loses points over corruption scandal

JEONJU, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 24:  Besart Berisha action during the AFC Champions League Round Of 16 match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Melbourne Victory at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on May 24, 2016 in Jeonju, South Korea.  (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The South Korean soccer league deducted nine points from league leader Jeonbuk Hyundai on Friday after one of the club’s employees was convicted of bribing referees in 2013.

The K-League also fined Jeonbuk 100 million won ($90,600). The club, which saw its 14-point lead over second-place FC Seoul reduced to a five-point margin, issued an apology and vowed to take measures to prevent it from happening again.

A court in Busan on Wednesday sentenced a Jeonbuk scout to a suspended prison term of two years for paying referees in exchange for favorable decisions in several league matches in 2013.

An official from Jeonbuk said the scout has been suspended by the team and it will soon make a decision whether to terminate his employment. He refused to be named, citing office rules.

The K-League had vowed reforms after being rocked by a massive match-fixing scandal in 2011, when 52 players were indicted for taking bribes in return for trying to manipulate the outcome of matches or betting their own money on the games.

Mangala replaces Mathieu in France squad

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03:  Kolbeinn Sigthorsson of Iceland and Eliaquim Mangala of France compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has been removed from the France squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for an unspecified reason.

[ MORE: What’s Arsenal’s best XI in the Arsene Wenger era? ]

The French football federation gave no explanation for coach Didier Deschamps’s decision to replace Mathieu with Eliaquim Mangala, only saying he made the move “following a discussion” with the Barcelona player. Mangala is currently on a season-long loan at Valencia from Manchester City.

France takes on Bulgaria on Oct. 7 at the Stade de France before traveling to Amsterdam to play the Netherlands three days later in Group A.