Real Salt Lake v DC United

John Thorrington’s injury a setback for D.C. United

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There were good performances all over the park last night for D.C. United, which managed its home opener well enough to opportunistically find a second-half game-winner against Real Salt Lake and take all the points in a 1-0 win.

Outside back Chris Korb looked spry along the left. Dejan Jaković was quite good in the center and Perry Kitchen was effective on attack and defense from his central spot.

Kitchen played a little higher up the field than usual. He was able to because of veteran John Thorrington. With Thorrington positioned slightly deeper, young Kitchen was freer to show that he’s no one-trick pony, that his abilities go beyond destroy-and-distribute.

And this is exactly what Thorrington can be when he healthy. He’s smart enough to know what a game needs, skillful enough to provide it. He’s a far better fit than Marcelo Saragosa in this way. Again, all of that applies only when Thorrington is healthy.

Of course, there’s the rub. Since a couple of reasonably healthy years in Chicago, Thorrington started just 28 matches over the next three seasons (9.3 stars a year during the that time.)

It looked like a great addition for Ben Olsen and United – but with that significant health history caveat.

(MORE: United signs Thorrington, a man so close to greatness)

Sure enough, it was a shame to see Thorrington taken off last night, injured. What Olsen had to say about it afterward:

We don’t think it’s anything season ending, but there’s probably something in there, maybe an MCL, but we’ll wait. We’ll wait until we hear what’s going on. I thought he had a great night. He calms us down. I thought Dejan [Jakovic] was pretty sharp tonight, and [Brandon McDonald] and the back four were very connected. We weren’t connected and we didn’t look out for each other in Houston and the back four did a great job of that tonight.”

(MORE: Highlights of United’s win Saturday)

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.