Let’s talk about this odd situation in San Jose vs. Vancouver

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Yes, it’s an arcane rule. And, yes, it may have tripped up a lot of teams. In fact, let’s go with “probably would have” tripped up a bunch of them.

But the bottom line on this odd situation that developed in San Jose last night – and that probably cost the Earthquakes two points – is that San Jose should have known better. It was a costly error.

The situation: Playing at home, the Quakes held a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute thanks to Chris Wondolowski’s goal. A second-half lead over a Whitecaps team that has not ever done well on the road is getting into “We got this thing done” territory.

Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez and forward Alan Gordon both elected to leave the field for a shoe change. Who thought that was a good idea? Nine on 11 for any length of time is a fiasco waiting to happen. Sure enough …

As both players waved frantically to get back onto the field, referee Fotis Bazakos allowed play to go on. Whitecaps forward Corey Hertzog capitalized on a scramble inside the San Jose penalty area (right where Bernardez, among the league’s top center backs, would have been). The equalizer in pocket, the visitors, thanks to some dandy work by goalkeeper Joe Cannon, hung on to split the points.

(MORE: Joe Cannon’s stoppage time highlight pack)

Thing is, Bazakos was 100 percent correct.

Bazakos told a pool reporter after Saturday’s 1-1 draw that players may legally return from an equipment change only during a stoppage of play. It’s in Law 4 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game (the rules dealing with player equipment).

Someone on the home team’s bench should know that, even if all the players do not. Even if we cut the Earthquakes a little slack in not knowing all their clauses, who in the world thought it was good idea to have two players changing out their shoes at the same time?

There were some circumstances that might qualify for an asterisk here. Bernardez had been waiting several minutes to change out his shoes, apparently. That’s according to this MLSSoccer.com story. Plus, the players apparently tried to sneak in an equipment change without actually leaving the field; Bazakos was having none of that.

Once they left the field, one of the clauses in ol’ Law 4 kicked in.

Earthquakes manager Frank Yallop, who has proven himself again and again to be a stand-up sort, took the blame. He acknowledged that he did not know the rule.

It was really poor on our behalf of not realizing that the rule is you can’t go back on the field [during the run of play]. There has to be a stoppage in play… It’s just one of those nights that frustrates the team and frustrates me as a head coach.”

Here was the goal; you’ll hear the match announcers talking about the players’ shouts and efforts to get back on the field as Hertzog makes the home team pay. (Even the sideline reporter says, “As soon as there is a stoppage of play, hopefully they’ll be able to get back in.”)

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Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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More midweek action is coming up in the Premier League. Let the festive fun continue.

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The full TV schedule for this weekend is below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Tuesday
2:45 p.m. ET: Burnley vs. Stoke City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM

Wednesday
2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Brom – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

(more…)

Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out: