Los Angeles Galaxy v Portland Timbers

Are we headed for the most unpredictable MLS season yet?


First Kick is on Saturday, and I have no idea what’s going to happen during the 2013 campaign. I mean, sure, I have some ideas, some vague notions that I feel reasonably confident might come off, but it’s a lot of grasping around in the dark. And you know what? Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

Think about it: How many teams are dramatically different from the end of last season? The New York Red Bulls turned over basically its entire roster, save Thierry Henry who is already complaining about losing Kenny Cooper. (Oh, the irony.) Chivas USA went further, jettisoning pretty much anyone without Mexican heritage. (For the record, I love the idea — as Alexi Lalas says, a plan, even a bad one, is better than no plan at all — but it makes the club remarkably unpredictable.) Real Salt Lake, one of the perennial fixtures at the top of the Western Conference, is working through some issues. The Columbus Crew should be fun with Frederico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta, but who knows how the duo will hold up through the rigors of the long season. Caleb Porter showed up, went to town on the Timbers roster, and isn’t done. (Playoffs, yo. Mark it down.)

(MORE: full roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

The Vancouver Whitecaps will only go as far as Jay DeMerit takes them, and his injury concerns are, well, concerning. Toronto FC is playing Where in the World Is Our Coach, but could be surprising when Ryan Nelsen arrives. (Or, of course, they could be terrible.) The Seattle Sounders find themselves without Fredy Montero and needing a performance in the playoffs. That will certainly add pressure. The Los Angeles Galaxy, well, who the heck knows. We know the team will be good — definitely, maybe — but how good is up in the air and largely on Mr. Cambodia. And then there’s Freddy Adu, Chris Wondolowski, and Carlos Ruiz, all with things to prove or not prove or whatever have you.

And that paragraph above is what makes MLS great. Sure, the quality of play could be better, and the referees could improve, and you wonderful readers could think of one hundred and one things to improve in the next five minutes, but you gotta love the league for the fun of it. Anything could happen. That’s something worth celebrating, I think.

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]

Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.

Men in Blazers podcast: The Leicester fairytale goes on

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Pellegrini updates status of Joe Hart’s hamstring injury

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.

Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).