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Houston coach Dominic Kinnear: “The cheaters are being rewarded”

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FRISCO, Texas – Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear has a big problem with something he says is going on in MLS this year – and it came to full boil after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to FC Dallas.

Kinnear is upset about what he calls an epidemic of diving and cheating, and says “the cheaters are being rewarded.”

He was most upset about the foul on Kenny Cooper – Kinnear insists it was a dive – that led to FC Dallas’ first goal Sunday.

“I thought the first few minutes looked really good,” Kinnear said of his team. “And then a big guy out in the field threw himself to the ground and gets a free kick. And they got a goal out of it.

“I’ve watched this league for three weeks now and it saddens me that we have people who have no problem diving, and looking for fouls and then looking to the heavens. It’s a sickening epidemic that’s going on in our league and hopefully it cancels itself out here pretty soon. Because some teams play hard, some guys cheat. Sometimes the cheaters win. When you have guys that don’t even get looked at, don’t get touched, falling on the ground looking for fouls, it makes me want to throw up.

“Hopefully, the players look at themselves and realize that they are cheaters, first, and putting the game into total disrespect. And hopefully that’s something that we, as coaches and players and as a league, can stop. Because it makes me not want to watch the game. And I can understand why people don’t want to watch when [players] do that stuff.”

Kinnear said he was speaking not just about Dallas and Cooper, saying he had watched other examples over the first three rounds of MLS play. And he allowed that his team needed to be better at defending set pieces – which it certainly did.

But he was clearly upset about perceptions of diving Sunday and said he hopes the league’s disciplinary committee more aggressively reviews the issue.

“It makes me sad that American soccer accepts that,” Kinnear said.

(MORE: Does Kinnear have a point with his comments?)

FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman took the high road when informed of Kinnear’s comments. He said he respects Kinnear too much to say something negative and said Kinnear was “a perfect gentleman” after the match.

He said the Texas Derby was an emotional series and he understands that Kinnear was upset about a close loss.

When I asked Hyndman again if he had any comment about an opposition manager accusing his players of diving and cheating, Hyndman kept the course: “I’m not going to drop to that. I’m gonna let that go.”

(MORE: Cooper and John the difference in FCD win)

WATCH LIVE: Vardy PK has Leicester leading Arsenal at the half

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  N'Golo Kante of Leicester City battles for the ball with Francis Coquelin of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on February 14, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
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An end-to-end match at the Emirates Stadium has seen both Arsenal and Leicester City effectively playing their styles, with a Jamie Vardy penalty putting the Foxes ahead 1-0 at halftime

Leicester City currently leads the league by five points, and could see its lead grow depending on what Man City and Spurs do later Sunday. Arsenal would finish the weekend third at-best.

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Arsenal earned a quick corner to open the action, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s hard, curling offering was headed just wide by Alexis Sanchez.

The quarter-hour mark was big on action, as Aaron Ramsey found himself racing for a loose ball with Leicester keeper Kaspar Schmeichel, who won the race with a sliding clearance. At the other end, Petr Cech slid to keep Jamie Vardy’s header from crossing the goal line.

And then, just before halftime, Martin Atkinson booked Nacho Monreal for blocking the completion of a Jamie Vardy run in the box.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Flamini, Elneny, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez, Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy. Subs:Subs: Schwarzer, King, Gray, Ulloa, Dyer, Wasilewski, Chilwell

Goal: Vardy (45′)

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Report: Milan says Nocerino sale to Orlando City to be formalized Monday

REGGIO NELL'EMILIA, ITALY - AUGUST 12:  Antonio Nocerino of Milan celebrates after scoring the goal 4-3 during the TIM pre-season tournament match between AC Milan and US Sassuolo Calcio at Mapei Stadium - Città del Tricolore on August 12, 2015 in Reggio nell'Emilia, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
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Football Italia says the sale of Antonio Nocerino to Orlando City will be completed on Monday

The 30-year-old was first whispered as a target for DC United before Orlando emerged as a destination, a move that caused some consternation due to Major League Soccer’s controversial Discovery Process.

[ SERIE A: Juventus wins 15th-straight to replace Napoli at No. 1 ]

Capped 15 times between 2007-2012, Nocerino has spent his entire career in Italy with the exception of a loan to West Ham United in 2014.

From Football Italia:

“Tomorrow we will terminate our rapport with Nocerino, who will go to play in Orlando,” Galliani told Mediaset Premium. “With that move, our transfer activity will be finished for this session.”

“Football has changed so much, until a few years ago nobody went to China or the United States. The sport is becoming more globalised.”

The reunion with Kaka obviously helps strengthen Orlando City’s midfield, and the Lions will be daydreaming of the impact Sebastian Giovinco made coming from Serie A to MLS.

Watch Live: Arsenal vs. Leicester City (Lineups, Live Stream)

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, center, scores their third goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (Paul Harding/PA via AP)     UNITED KINGDOM OUT       -     NO SALES      -      NO ARCHIVES
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Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 7a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) in a huge clash between two title contenders.

First-place Leicester have a five-point lead over third-place Arsenal going into this one and the Foxes have won three on the spin, including a huge win at Man City last weekend.

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As for the Gunners, they won for the first time in five last week and their offensive stars seem to be purring once again.

In team news Arsenal have Danny Welbeck on the bench after his long spell out through injury, while Leicester is unchanged.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Flamini, Elneny, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez, Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy. Subs:Subs: Schwarzer, King, Gray, Ulloa, Dyer, Wasilewski, Chilwell

La Liga: Ronaldo scores twice, Neville gets 1st win as a manager

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring a goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Athtletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals to lead Real Madrid to a 4-2 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, provisionally lifting it into second place in the Spanish league.

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the third minute before Javier Eraso quickly leveled for the Basques in a back-and-forth first half at the Santiago Bernabeu that finished with James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos giving Madrid a 3-1 lead at halftime.

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Madrid defender Raphael Varane, whose error led to Eraso’s goal, was sent off in the 83rd after earning identical bookings for twice thrusting his forearm into Aritz Aduriz’s head while contesting a high ball.

Despite being a man down, Ronaldo found the net again in the 87th to move past Barcelona’s Luis Suarez as the competition’s leading scorer with 21 goals this season.

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Gorka Elustondo headed in Bilbao’s second goal in the 90th.

Madrid’s fourth win in as many home matches under coach Zinedine Zidane – by a combined score of 20-3 – lifted it two points ahead of Atletico Madrid before it visits Getafe on Sunday.

Leader Barcelona is one point ahead of Madrid with two matches to play: against Celta on Sunday and at Sporting Gijon on Wednesday.

Zidane will make his European coaching debut on Wednesday when Madrid visits Roma in the Champions League’s round of 16.

Ronaldo’s goals were his 31st and 32nd in 30 games across all competitions this campaign, a season in which he has been criticized by some for failing to score against important rivals.

“About Cristiano, what can I say?” Zidane said before employing an expletive in Spanish to describe how good he considers the forward’s form.

“We are ready for the match against Roma. We are in shape, playing well, and very pleased with how we played today against a very good rival. We are prepared for Wednesday.”

Also Saturday, Villarreal strengthened its hold on fourth place and the last Champions League spot with a 1-0 win at home over Malaga thanks to striker Roberto Soldado‘s 18th-minute goal.

Ronaldo gave Madrid a brilliant start when he received a pass from Karim Benzema, used a deft dribble to wrong-foot Xabier Etxeita and fired a right-footed strike just under the crossbar.

But Bilbao was undaunted and quickly leveled in the 10th when Eraso pounced on Varane’s poor backpass that goalkeeper Keylor Navas did well to stop from becoming an own goal but left for Eraso to finish off.

Aduriz went close twice to putting the visitors ahead with a header saved by Navas before the striker hit the bar.

Rodriguez turned the flow back in Madrid’s favor with an excellent strike with his left foot from outside the area that curled around outstretched goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz in the 37th.

Kroos put Madrid in full control heading into the break when he took a pass from Ronaldo in the area and sent a shot that deflected off a defender past Iraizoz in first-half injury time.

“We leave with the feeling that we had a good first half. Maybe we missed a great opportunity today,” said Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde, impressed by Madrid’s “extraordinary firepower.”

Ronaldo hit the upright before finally getting his second goal from a pass by substitute Lucas Vazquez.

Valencia hosts Espanyol later, while Real Betis visits Deportivo La Coruna.