MLS Preview: FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders

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This one is a biggy, there’s no getting away from it.

FC Dallas will roll into Seattle with the weight of expectation on their shoulders. How they deal with that will give a pretty good indication, as to whether or not they can remain at the summit of the Western conference until the end of the season.

We’re watching you, FCD.

As for the home side, they’re finding their feet again after early season struggles. The Sounders are still 8th in the West but with last weekends 4-0 win over San Jose still fresh, Sigi Schmid’s charges will be full of confidence heading into this one.

A packed house in Seattle will be cheering on the Rave Green as they aim to make it three wins in a row and six games unbeaten. But Dallas have only lost once all season and aren’t about to start handing out points willy-nilly.

Schellas Hyndman’s side are solid defensively, have got plenty of options going forward and, most importantly, they’re keeping everyone fit. David Ferreira is pulling the strings and Jackson, Eric Hassli, Kenny Cooper and Blas Perez will cause problems for any defense.

This match has the potential to go either way. It could be a goal-fest with both times going hell for leather and putting on a real spectacle at CenturyLink. Or it could be a damp squib. With both teams content to settle for a point and extend their unbeaten streaks. I’m hoping for the former.

(More: Best week for Seattle since… hmmmm)

With Obafemi Martins nearing full-fitness for Seattle, here we have the difference maker. He is the DP that the Sounders waited so long to get and already he’s shown glimpses of what he can bring to the table.

He is a clinical finisher and if he get’s the chance, he will score.

Meanwhile Dallas just doesn’t know who to put out there. Which is a delightful problem for Hyndman to have after the injury struggles of the past two seasons. Schellas is spoiled for choice.

While Sounders head coach Schmid certainly believes they’re up against a top team. “This is our first game with them and it becomes a really good measuring stick for us,” Schmid said. “They’re a good team, they’re an exciting team, they score goals, they’ve played a good amount of games at home at this stage, as well, so us catching them here is good for us.”

(More: A “good” three points for league-leading FC Dallas)

Dallas will be hoping to grab a win and send out yet another message to the league that they’re the team to beat this season. Can they do it? I think not.

Yes, FC Dallas have lost just once and look the real deal this season. However, only four of their 11 games have been away from home. Those have all come against struggling teams: Chivas USA, New England, Toronto and Vancouver. Saturday’s game is their first huge test on the road this season.

(More: Watch Mauro Rosales’ incredible free kick goal)

Seattle are on a roll, confidence is high and the goals are flowing. But in the past the Sounders have been prone to over confidence. That said, I expect them to record a big win against Dallas to reinforce their status as one of the best sides in the West. (Saturday, 10:30pm ET, Watch live on MLSsoccer.com via Free stream of the week)

Luan, Gremio looks to dethrone Real Madrid at Club World Cup

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“He’s a wonderful person. He’s got lots of titles, so maybe he can just leave this one to us.”

That’s Gremio youngster Luan after being told Real Madrid star and countryman Marcelo said he has a huge future in the game.

Luan and his teammates could make a lot more noise with a win in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Real.

[ MORE: Galaxy to acquire Bingham? ]

Gremio edged Pachuca in extra time of its semifinal after Real came back to beat Al Jazira, and now hopes to become just the second non-European club to win the Club World Cup since 2007.

Brazilian clubs won the first three CWCs between 2000-06, but Corinthians claimed the lone Brazilian title since when it beat Chelsea in 2012.

Spanish clubs have won the last three finals, with Real sandwiching two around Barca’s 2015 win over River Plate.

The 24-year-old Luan won Olympic gold with Brazil in 2016, and has two caps with the national team.

Still waiting for these Premier League summer transfers to hit

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They seemed like hits at the time, but some significant summer transfer buys are are struggling in the Premier League.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]

Whereas Mohamed Salah, Nemanja Matic, and Alvaro Morata have been solid pickups, and even lesser moves like Kurt Zouma to Stoke and Grzegorz Krychowiak to West Brom have hit the spot, some purchases just have not panned out at their new clubs.

Some aren’t getting playing time, while others aren’t hitting their stride, but here are some moves which just haven’t paid off (yet).

Andre Gray, Watford — The striker has two goals and two assists, but has had problems keeping hold of the ball and has the same amount of goals as defender Daryl Janmaat and midfielder Will Hughes despite playing about 300 percent of their minutes.

Marko Arnautovic, West Ham — The ex-Stoke player was a menace in a midweek draw against Arsenal, but Arnautovic has managed just one goal for the Irons this season. That’s equal to his amount of red cards.

Renato Sanches and Roque Mesa, Swansea City — Sanches hasn’t been able to get into the squad despite being one of the more talked about loans of the summer; Mesa may be coming around in recent weeks, but was an unused sub or not in the squad in 10 of Swans’ first 13.

Jese, Stoke City – The Real Madrid attacker was almost certain to take time to adjust to the Premier League, but his match-winner against Arsenal on Opening Day remains his lone marker.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool — His deadline day move to join Liverpool, supposedly to play centrally, seemed a head-scratcher. He’s only recently seen consistent minutes in a more central role despite Liverpool having loads of problems there. Maybe that’s on Jurgen Klopp, but we’re still scratching our heads.

Report: Galaxy close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper

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The LA Galaxy may be turning to its Cali Clasico rival for a new goalkeeper.

Reportedly denied in its pursuit of longtime Vancouver backstop David Ousted, the Galaxy are said to be close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper David Bingham from San Jose, according to ESPN.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]

The deal would reportedly cost LA between $200,000 and $250,000 in TAM.

Bingham, 28, lost his starting gig to Clemson product Andrew Tarbell this season, and the latter looks intent on keeping the position.

The Galaxy have not had a long-term answer in goal since Jaime Penedo left the club in 2015 (though 24-year-old Jon Kempin showed some very good things last season). Bingham would be a fine addition for a Galaxy team that hemorrhaged the second-most goals in MLS.

FIFA worried about government interference in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Concerned about the independence of the Spanish soccer federation, FIFA said Friday it will send a delegation to the country to investigate government meddling.

FIFA said in a statement written in Spanish that it had recently sent a letter to the federation “expressing our concern for the situation that the federation is going through and reminding (its officials) that, according to the Statutes of FIFA, all member federations must manage their affairs independently and assure that there is no interference by third parties.”

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported earlier Friday that the FIFA letter warned of a possible suspension because of the government’s push to hold elections following the arrest of federation president Angel Maria Villar in July on suspicion of corruption.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

According to El Pais, FIFA is concerned that the government’s interest in federation elections could be considered outside meddling and break its rules. If the national federation were to be suspended, Spain’s team would not be allowed to play at next year’s World Cup.

FIFA’s statement made no mention of a suspension or other punitive measures.

But the scare was big enough for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to say that Spain will not miss soccer’s biggest event.

“I am sure that Spain will go to the World Cup in Russia and that it will win it,” Rajoy said at a news conference in Brussels.

FIFA added in its statement that “in the coming days” it will send a delegation, which will include representatives from UEFA, to Madrid to “observe and analyze the situation” of the Spanish soccer federation.

The federation said in a separate statement that its interim president, Juan Luis Larrea, had spoken with FIFA and UEFA officials at the World Cup draw on Dec. 1 and that he had passed on their “enormous concern” to Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport.

The Spanish federation said it was waiting for the ministry to set a date for a meeting.

Spanish police arrested Villar, his son, and two other soccer officials in July on suspicion of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar was replaced by Larrea, the body’s treasurer for three decades. Critics of Villar argue that elections are needed to make a clean start for the institution that has been tarnished by the scandal.