Quick-hit review of Week 7 in Major League Soccer

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Not many goals, lots of draw, one bizarre incident, one awful choice of words and lots more in a quick look back at Round 7 in MLS:

Low goals and lots of draws: Week 7 wasn’t exactly a sizzler in terms of goals … or even results. Just 14 goals scored in nine matches (1.55 goals a game, about a full goal fewer than historic average) made for the lightest scoring round of play yet. Meanwhile, four of the nine matches were draws, with four others claimed by just one goal.

Only one match finished with more than two goals, Houston’s 2-1 result over Chicago in South Texas.

Record established: That very win inside Houston’s thus-far impenetrable BBVA Compass Stadium extended the Dynamo’s unbeaten streak at home in all competitions to 35 matches, surpassing Real Salt Lake’s previous MLS record.

Club with most trouble afoot: Let’s go with D.C. United, where the stunning lack of offense around RFK Stadium has Ben Olsen’s boys for RFK stuck in the mud. Something’s got to give here, because the numbers are awful: From six matches, the Black and Red have just four points, just two goals … and a place at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Center backs scoring: Strangely, even though there weren’t a ton of goals the center backs were providing their share of them. Jamison Olave recorded his third goal this year for the Red Bulls, adding to his team-leading total.  Yes, “team-leading” total! (And also helping to heap some of that above-mentioned misery on D.C. United.) And Dallas’ George John supplied the important, late game-winner as FC Dallas took down the champs in Texas. John is tied for FCD’s team-lead.

Most bizarre incident: Right after John nailed the critical game winner, he got nailed by a beer bottle. Thrown by one of Dallas’ supporters! John took the whole wacky thing in great humor.

Unfortunate incident: That one had a happy ending at least, with John bloodied but otherwise unhurt and the perpetrator arrested. (Yay, video evidence!) But Alan Gordon’s choice of homophobic words late last night in Portland won’t be so easily laughed off. The San Jose striker has apologized, and good on him – but a suspension will definitely be arriving soon form Major League Soccer.

Penalty kick blues: Saturday night’s match in Texas also featured the rare double penalty kick miss. FC Dallas’ Kenny Cooper and the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan each missed a spot shot. Ironically, these are two of Major League Soccer’s last three 18-goal scorers. (Chris Wondolowski is the other one.) Penalty kick shooters are 8-of-12 in converting spot shots in MLS this year. (Donovan is 34 of 37 in his MLS career, so failure from the 12-yard spot is rare indeed for the Galaxy star.)

Week’s big upset: I raise a right hand of honesty on this one: I told a fellow NBC Sports colleague before Saturday that I had a funny feeling about Chivas USA’s contest against injury depleted Colorado out in Los Angeles. Reason: it’s easier to perform when media and supporters don’t expect much out of you. Now everyone is aware that Chivas USA is no doormat. As such, the going will get a little tougher in Goats Valley, just as Colorado’s surprising 1-0 win in Southern California clearly demonstrates.

Rookie watch: Speaking of Colorado’s huge three points, Saturday’s penalty kick game winner came off the right foot of talented rookie Deshorn Brown. He and fellow first-year man Dillon Powers are among the beneficiaries of Colorado’s grim litany of injuries through the season’s first seven weeks. Keep an eye on this kid out of the University of Central Florida. He’s got something.

Best goal: Will Johnson’s precision free kick late, the game-winner in Portland’s 1-0 win Sunday over San Jose. Here ‘tis:

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Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.