At what point does Jay DeMerit’s ongoing heel issues move into a higher level of concern for Vancouver Whitecaps fans?
We can talk a lot about Darren Mattocks’ seemingly unlimited potential, about other attacking options at BC Place for manager Martin Rennie, about new personnel and returning personnel and how it all fits for a Pacific Northwest club that wants to rival Seattle’s accomplishments while staying ahead of a Portland club that lost its way last season.
But it’s possible that none of that will matter if the team’s captain, defensive leader and emotional heart and soul cannot keep himself healthy. This team needs DeMerit.
What looked like a fairly benign ailment, a sore Achilles, has kept the former U.S. international off the field since Feb. 2.
DeMerit was on the sidelines once again Sunday as the Whitecaps beat the College of Charleston, 2-0.
Will the All-Star center back be ready for Vancouver’s March 2 opener against Canadian rival Toronto FC? It’s a good question, but it’s not the main point.
Rather, the concern should be over DeMerit’s long-term health. He’s 33. He’s been a little injury prone in recent years. And heel issues tend to be something that, once you have them, never quite seem to go away.
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.
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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.
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
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.
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Man of the match: David Villa
Goalscorers: David Villa (52′, 90′)
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.
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.