Kenny Cooper, George John the difference for FCD

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FRISCO, Texas – Two men made the difference for FC Dallas in Sunday’s Texas Derby – and the men from North Texas will need more of this while they get some other issues sorted out.

Center back George John was huge in Dallas’ defense. Again. And he scored a goal.

And Kenny Cooper (pictured) did exactly what he needed, finding that little something extra to score his first goal in a second run-out in FCD colors. His late game-winner gave the home team a 3-2 win over Houston in the Texas Derby as Major League Soccer’s rivalry weekend continues.

Dallas has some midfield issues to sort out. Well, and some in the back, too, mostly in communication between the back line and new goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who absolutely must provide better information to his defenders if this MLS things is going to work out for him.

Dallas took a 2-0 halftime lead on two set-piece strikes. One came from John, who continues to be the rock of stability on a back line where more than a few things keep going wrong.

It was like this late in 2012, too, as rookie Matt Hedges was pressed into starter’s duty due to Ugo Ihemelu’s ongoing concussion-related issues.

John’s afternoon battle with young Dynamo striker Will Bruin was among the afternoon highlights at FC Dallas Stadium. John more than held his own in the feisty set of clashes. (Unfortunately, Bruin left with an apparent knee injury in the second half; we’ll hope for the best on that one.)

Cooper was the Bruin of a few years ago. His first two games back in Dallas produced little, and the questions were surely coming about how much of the man’s 18-goal season last year in New York was about playing alongside Thierry Henry.

He needed to make a difference – which he did with Sunday’s late game-winner.

The rest of Dallas on Sunday. Meh?

Blas Perez, debuting for the year after serving a two-game suspension, won a lot of balls as a target striker. And Dallas midfielder Jackson did give the Dynamo back line some trouble.

Otherwise, David Ferreira was disappointing. Michel and Hedges made their share of mistakes. The 4-2-3-1 was OK in defending, but moving the ball from front to back was an absolute adventure.

More on this one later at ProSoccerTalk.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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