MLS Western Conference Championship - Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles Galaxy

Looking at Major League Soccer’s longest defensive streaks

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At 519 minutes, Sporting Kansas City has constructed the 7th longest defensive scoreless streak in MLS history.

They’ll need just three scoreless minutes Saturday against the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy to climb into the sixth spot. And then Peter Vermes’ side needs just 10 more minutes past that to become a Top Five member on this list of big defensive doings.

Here are six scoreless streaks still in front of SKC:

6. LA Galaxy, 521 minutes in 2006:

A tough pair of central defenders (Ugo Ihemelu and Tyrone Marshall) were given a lot of protection by Paulo Nagamura on this team of worker bees – where defense was clearly valued, but which didn’t make the playoffs because it couldn’t score.

5. FC Dallas, 531 minutes in 2011:

Ihemelu was front and center on this defense, as well. Protection in this case was provided from Daniel Hernandez, who patrolled with a certain menace just in front of the back line. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was also exceptional that year for FCD.

4. Real Salt Lake, 567 minutes in 2010:

The streak actually stretched over three difference months, beginning in late May and extending into mid-July. This one was all about center backs Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave (pictured above), backstopped more than capably by Nick Rimando and protected by U.S. international Kyle Beckerman.

3. Real Salt Lake, 568 minutes in 2010:

A second record-making streak is exactly why RSL absolutely hated last fall to trade away Olave, whose speed and anticipation covered for most defensive miscues from the team’s younger outside backs. Jason Kreis’ team allowed an all-time league low 20 goals that season.

2. Kansas City Wizards, 681 minutes in 2000:

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All you need to know about this streak is that goalkeeper Tony Meola (pictured at right)  is the only non-attacker to ever win an MLS Most Valuable Player award. He was that good in 2000 in guiding the franchise (now called Sporting Kansas City, of course) to its only MLS Cup championship. Players of that team were also acutely aware of their roles, expectations and limitations.

1. Houston Dynamo, 727 minutes in 2007:

Like the Wizards of 2000, Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo went on to win MLS Cup in this season. That bunch of defensive bruisers was tough as Kevlar … but look at the attackers and midfielders on the roster: It included Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching, Brad Davis, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Moreno, Chris Wondolowski, Ricardo Clark, Brian Mullan and Corey Ashe (then a midfielder). Teams were too busy on defense to attack! The Dynamo allowed just 23 goals that year, second lowest MLS total yet.

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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