New York Red Bulls, DC United finish scoreless

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HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls and DC United played to a 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena on Saturday in a game the home side dominated everywhere but the scoreboard.

New York dictated large stretches of the match, out-shooting DC 24-4 and controlling 57 percent of the game’s possession. Fabian Espindola hit the bar twice and DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid scooped the ball of the line in stoppage time to keep the Red Bulls off the board, but New York never found a breakthrough.

“I think we deserved to win, no disrespect to DC,” Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said. “I think they fought hard for that point. Like I said, if we were playing a game of statistics we got three points today. Unfortunately it’s not a game of statistics and the ball didn’t fall in the net for us.”

The Red Bulls looked like they had won the game in stoppage time, but Hamid saved Brandon Barklage’s header off the line as he fell into the goal. After the game Hamid insisted the ball never crossed the line; replays proved inconclusive.

It was a frantic ending to a match that took a while to get going. A contentious opening few minutes gave way to a tame first half. New York forward Thierry Henry exchanged off-ball fouls with DC forward Lionard Pajoy, but there was little heat to follow in the opening 45 minutes.

Espindola’s 27th minute header hit the crossbar from 12 yards out, but that was the main chance for a Red Bulls team that played well in the middle third but offered little finishing quality around the net. Espindola was effective drifting wide and providing service from the left wing, where most of New York’s efforts came from in the first half.

For its part, United stayed compact and thwarted off New York’s forays forward. DC mustered up next to nothing offensively, though, even with the return of attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who made his season debut after serving a two-game suspension for a preseason altercation.

“We pissed the ball away so many times when we didn’t need to,” DC United coach Ben Olsen said. “We are missing that in our game right now. We know that, I know that, the players know. We’ll continue to work on it; we’ll continue to do better with the ball.”

DC produced even less after halftime, outside a 59th minute chance that Chris Pontius had denied by goalkeeper Luis Robles. New York’s pressure increased throughout the second half, but so too did the Red Bulls’ frustrations.

Hamid denied Tim Cahill on a tap-in from three yards out and Eric Alexander’s header two minutes later was cleared off the line by Chris Korb.

“I came in and told the boys I should have stuck it in the back of the net,” Cahill said. “But that’s what you do – you’ve got to pick yourself up and go again.”

Cahill thought Barklage’s stoppage time header crossed the line, but admitted nobody — including him — had a good angle to see it.

“It looked like it went over – it looked – it’s hard for the referee’s and officials to see it,” he said. “Sometimes they give it, sometimes they don’t. We felt it was in, but you’re always going to when you’re shooting on their goal.”

(MORE: Further analysis on the Red Bulls-DCU match)

Coming away with no goals and one point in such a lopsided affair, Red Bulls players were surprisingly upbeat about the match. The finish was an upgrade from New York’s first two games of the year, a 3-3 draw in the opener in Portland and a 2-1 loss at San Jose last weekend. In both those games, the Red Bulls watched leads evaporate in the final minutes.

Jamison Olave’s own goal in the 83rd minute of the March 3 opener gave Portland a share of the points and New York followed that up by conceding another 83rd minute equalizer to San Jose on March 10, followed by a stoppage time game-winning penalty kick from Chris Wondolowski (which he got a second chance on thanks to Roy Miller, remember).

So while Saturday’s result left points on the table yet again, Red Bulls players, including midfielder Dax McCarty, were pleased with the effort.

“It’s disappointing but at the same time you can see the confidence that we played with today,” McCarty said. “Mike [Petke] instilled that in us before the game and we were ready. I think they had absolutely nothing. That was a complete performance; we haven’t had many since I’ve been here. That was a complete 90-minute performance top to bottom.”

New York (0-1-2, 2 pts.) heads north to face Montreal next Saturday in search of its first win, while DC United (1-1-1, 4 pts.) hosts Columbus next Saturday.

Match highlights:

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Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Liverpool

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  • Leicester City has won 2 straight home PL games vs Liverpool
  • Jamie Vardy has 5 goals in 3 PL games vs Liverpool
  • Liverpool leads the PL with 40 shots on target this season

Jamie Vardy is good to go for the Foxes as they welcome Liverpool to the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 a.m. ET on NBC or live online via NBCSports.com).

These two teams matched up midweek in League Cup play, with Leicester City winning 2-0, and they did so without Vardy who missed out with a groin strain. He’s since recovered, and will likely play a part. Christian Fuchs and Leonardo Ulloa are also ready to go, with Fuchs back after an eye injury in training, while Ulloa took a knock to the head midweek but is ready to go.

The Foxes need a win in the worst way, as a loss would leave them with their joint-worst point total through the first six matches of a top flight season since 1994/95, the year they were relegated.

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Liverpool, meanwhile, has issues of its own to sort out. They are winless in all competitions since August 27th, and on a larger scale, Jurgen Klopp is taking heat for having less points than Brendan Rodgers did through his first 73 league games of his Liverpool tenure.

The Reds are also facing a bit of injury trouble, with Dejan Lovren still out with back problems, while Joel Matip and Emre Can both suffered slight injuries in the midweek loss and are questionable for Saturday. Should all those miss out, the already leaky defense would prove even more porous.

What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool chasing the ball: “We come too close together in the situation where the first ball is going after a throw-in and it means for the second ball we don’t have a good formation. We need to get more natural in these things because it’s not that difficult to be honest but it happens too often. Now we have to work and then it will be even more difficult to create something against us.”

Craig Shakespeare on Jamie Vardy vs. Liverpool: “Is he a bogeyman? I am hoping so. Sometimes strikers will have good memories of playing against certain teams. Centre forwards go through these purple patches and everybody would like one who can get you 20 goals a season.”

Prediction

If anything is certain in a Liverpool match, it’s that the first goal doesn’t matter. Since the start of last season, the Reds are tops in the league with 20 points from losing positions. However, they’re also fifth in the league in that same timeframe with 20 points lost from winning positions. With that in mind, a wild game is likely in store, but with the inconsistent form for either side of late, it’s tough to pick a winner. A 2-2 draw is a likely result.

Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 17 of its last 23 Premier League games
  • Alvaro Morata has 3 goals and 2 assists, all with his head
  • Stoke has lost just 1 of its past 7 home games vs defending champions

Eden Hazard is back and at full strength as Chelsea travels to the Britannia to take on Stoke City Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

With Hazard back and Diego Costa finally shed to Atletico Madrid, the Blues have positioned themselves to make a run at the Premier League’s top spot. Chelsea has not lost since their Opening Day misstep against Burnley, and despite firing a blank in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with the Gunners, Chelsea is still just three points off the top spot, and will look to put pressure on the Manchester clubs.

In addition to Hazard, the Blues also get Temoue Bakayoko and Pedro back in the lineup as well, although David Luiz is suspended after his late red card last weekend.

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This season has been a roller coaster ride for Stoke City, having picked up four points against Arsenal and Manchester United, but also losing to Newcastle and Everton, plus a very disappointing defeat midweek to Bristol City in the Cup. The Potters are missing a host of defenders, with Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross both injured, plus Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club. Kevin Wimmer is also touch and go with a hamstring injury, not expected to be available.

What they’re saying

Mark Hughes on Chelsea’s discipline issues: “Chelsea at the moment look like they are getting yellow and red cards more frequently, but that might be just an anomaly, something happening in the moment. I don’t think it is prevalent in their team. They are just strong when they need to be. It is not going to be tactic we are going to irritate them with, to step over the line, because if I’m honest I don’t think I’ll have the players to do that.”

Antonio Conte on Stoke: “The most important thing for us is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be a really tough game. We must prepare very well this game in all the situations, tactically, physically, to be disciplined. Stoke won against Arsenal and then drew against Manchester United. It means Stoke is a really good team.”

Prediction

Stoke City has given tough teams trouble, and could again if Maxim Chupo-Moting shows up at his best again, but it’s much more likely that Chelsea will ease by in this game. The Potters have fallen off slightly this season, and while their draw against Manchester United shows they pack some punch, it won’t be enough to see off a Chelsea side buoyed by the return of Eden Hazard. Chelsea could win their opening three Premier League away matches for the first time since 2009…their third away fixture of that campaign was a 2-1 victory at Stoke, so we’ll go for the same scoreline here.

Hope Solo says she has settled grievance with US Soccer

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Hope Solo has settled a grievance with U.S. Soccer over her suspension from the women’s national team following comments she made at the Rio Olympics.

The settlement was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 35-year-old goalkeeper was suspended for six months and her contract with the federation was terminated after she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S. team’s quarterfinal loss.

Details about the settlement, reached last month, were not released. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Association filed the grievance on Solo’s behalf.

In a statement provided Friday to The Associated Press, Solo reiterated her regret over the comments.

“As I expressed in my apology to the Swedish captain immediately following the match, I have tremendous respect for the Swedish team, and in describing the style of play, I used a choice of words that was both offensive and not at all what I had intended to convey,” she said.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

“We have amicably resolved the matter and are moving forward in a positive way,” she added.

U.S. Soccer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Women’s Soccer Team Players Association declined to comment.

Solo anchored the team in goal for the 2015 Women’s World Cup victory, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament – earning her a second straight Golden Glove Award.

For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.

The defending champion U.S. women were ousted from the Olympics last summer when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.

Solo’s “cowards” quote came immediately following the loss. Sweden went on to play in the gold-medal match against Germany.

Solo told the AP in an interview late last year that she spoke to coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati following the loss, and felt that the issue was put to rest. After she returned to the United States, she said she was blindsided by the announcement about her suspension.

She said she believes U.S. Soccer wanted her off negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Solo has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay and was among the players who filed a complaint against the federation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.

“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing,” Solo told AP then. “It was a termination of my contract effective immediately with severance. That is a firing. It wasn’t a suspension, that’s what they told the media because it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was using the word `cowards’ but in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay.”

U.S. Soccer said at the time that Solo was suspended following a culmination of actions, and separately her contract was also terminated with the team.

Awful goalkeeping howler dooms Bayern to draw

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Bayern fans are already counting down the days until Manuel Neuer’s return in goal.

In his absence, Sven Ulreich has earned a pair of starts in Bundesliga play, and the most recent has not ended well. With Bayern leading Wolfsburg 2-0, Ulreich completely botched a simple save leading to Wolfsburg’s first goal, sparking a comeback from the visitors.

As Max Arnold delivered a free-kick 10 minutes after halftime, the ball sailed just over the wall and directly at Ulreich’s head. Instead of catching the attempt or using both hands to parry the shot, Ulreich raised just his right hand and failed to connect fully. The ball glanced off the side of his palm and into the back of the net to bring Wolfsburg a goal back.

The free-kick had decent pace, and it didn’t help that Sebastian Rudy made a poor attempt to block the delivery, but Ulreich won’t want to see a replay of that chance, as he made a hideous attempt to stop the shot. Wolfsburg would eventually equalize with just seven minutes remaining in the match as Daniel Didavi scored a pinpoint header in off the post. Ruddy let Didavi sneak behind him, and Paul Verhaegh delivered a fantastic long ball into the box for the 27-year-old to redirect in. The final whistle marked the first time since March 2004 that Bayern had blown a two-goal halftime lead at home.

The draw means Bayern has failed to put pressure on Borussia Dortmund this weekend, leaving Die Roten level with their Dortmund rivals on 13 points with the latter still to host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

Neuer likely won’t be back until January thanks to yet another foot injury, leaving Bayern to either continue along with Ulreich and hope he improves, or look for other options either in-house or on the free agent market. Ulreich came over from Stuttgart in the summer of 2015 and has backed up Neuer since.