Sporting Kansas City’s Teal Bunbury working way to health – but his national team place keeps slipping

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U.S. under-23 international Teal Bunbury is making good progress in his recovery bid following major knee surgery last August.

This story says he’s about halfway through the long road back from sustaining ACL and LCL damage. The Sporting Kansas City striker, a starter and the spear of his team’s three-forward setup at the time of his injury, does not want a specific timetable for his recovery. But if he is more or less halfway to health, Bunbury will get on the field in March, probably not quite in time for SKC’s early March kickoff to the 2013 season but training with the team, at least.

Bunbury could conceivably return in time to make little run for Jurgen Klinsmann’s “B” team that will make an appearance this summer; the national team’s second unit will be summoned for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, leaving the “A” side to the more critical business of World Cup qualifying.

The trouble for Bunbury is what has happened in the U.S. forward pool in the meantime.

Remember, Bunbury was tiptoeing the edges of the striker pool anyway. So, he has surely slipped further in the order. Specifically, here is what has gone on over the last six months or so to alter the order.

  • Seattle Sounder Eddie Johnson has re-emerged, showing Klinsmann a little something in those two final World Cup qualifiers in the semifinal stage.
  • Jozy Altidore has reinforced his position after that notorious October exclusion.

(MORE: Klinsmann talks about Altidore’s omission)

  • Young German-American Terrance Boyd keeps progressing nicely at Rapid Vienna, stacking the “good” ever higher in his quest to break into the upper echelon or U.S. strikers.
  • Chris Wondolowski has kept a low profile on the national team, but his record-breaking scoring in MLS and continued good attitude during time in Klinsmann’s team has kept the Earthquakes man in the picture.
  • Wondolowski’s San Jose teammate Alan Gordon has established himself as some part of this multi-layered equation.
  • Juan Agudelo, still just 20 years old, has fought past the Chivas USA clutter to remind everyone that he is still worth mentioning in this conversation.
  • D.C. United’s Chris Pontius, circling the outer markers of this busy national team “airport,” keeps pressing his case; Klinsmann says he is well aware of D.C. United’s splendid, versatile attacker.

And all that is not mentioning Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez, who have done little to damage their places at the top of the order.

MORE: Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team depth chart (from October)

EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

(more…)

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)