MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders at Colorado Rapids

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How wacky and backward things seem to be in MLS right now.  Who would have thought just a month ago that Colorado and Seattle would have switched places in this Freaky Friday-like way?

Oscar Pareja’s Colorado Rapids remain seriously depleted through injury to key figures, including its inspirational former U.S. international Pablo Mastroeni, it’s starting goalkeeper and its two top midfield creators. And yet the Rapids have a modest two-game winning streak.

Meanwhile, Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders look absolutely nothing like the Western Conference contenders so many of us expected them to be. The Sounders, alarming in their inability to score goals, have just two of a possible 15 points and lie meekly as the league’s last winless team.

(MORE: Sigi Schmid finds himself list in PST’s Panic Quotient)

Saturday’s match at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City (6 p.m. ET) is one of seven matches Saturday as Round 8 in league play continues. (The full MLS match preview is here.)

The Rapids have a brilliant opportunity to win three games in a row for the first time since 2011.  “It’s very important to us,” Rapids midfielder Anthony Wallace said. “We are looking to build on that. It gives us momentum going in the future. Coming in here, where Chivas has had a great start to the season and to get a win, or at least a tie, would have been great. But to get a win, that is great for us.”

Seattle would be happy enough for just one drink of victory champagne. Schmid guaranteed it would happen last week in a home match with New England, but a scoreless draw at CenturyLink just added misery to a week that also saw his Sounders eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League play.

Injuries in Seattle have not been as extensive, although having its top pair of strikers missing games lately has certainly impacted the club’s ability to score goals. Brad Evans (calf) and Eddie Johnson (hamstring) have returned to training and should be available for selection.  Obafemi Martins (knee) remains limited in Seattle practices.

Whoever starts up front for Seattle, the will face rookie Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who has posted two consecutive shutouts in ongoing fill-in duty for longtime starter Matt Pickens, who broke his arm last month.

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire

Late action (10:30 p.m. ET kick off)

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.