Houston Dynamo v Columbus Crew

Pros and cons of the Robbie Rogers arrival into L.A.

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First things first as we analyze the Galaxy’s side of Friday’s talker of a trade, the MLS swap that brings winger Robbie Rogers to the Galaxy in exchange for Mike Magee, an unlikely league scoring leader in 2013:

The question that most needs asking is whether the Galaxy get a version of Rogers that looked more like the fleet left winger who worked the touchlines to good effect for most of his time in Columbus? Or do they get the deflated version, the one whose personal struggles came so close to driving him out of the professional game?

For now, we’ll assume Rogers is going to find his way and once again make good use of the speed and technique that made him a U.S. international. (Don’t forget, he will always be the answer to the trivia query, “Who scored the very first U.S. goal under Jurgen Klinsmann?”)

Rogers will not replace the goals that Magee takes with him to Chicago. Just not going to happen. He scored just four goals in his last three seasons at Crew Stadium.

Rogers was always a set-up man in Columbus, someone who could run at defenders and create space for others by occupying the outside backs, forcing them to respect his speed and thereby stretching defenses horizontally and vertically.

Rogers’ crossing was always just so-so, but the threat he posed was always useful – all of which is why Leeds was happy to bring him over in January of 2012, even though things just didn’t work out for Rogers with the famed English club.

The Galaxy, good as Bruce Arena’s team has done this year, are missing something in 2013: minus David Beckham’s pinpoint passing over distance, defenses have figured out that they can compact the field to greater effect. Without the threat of Beckham pinging balls so accurately in behind the back line, they can cheat forward more aggressively, closing passing lanes and limited midfield space as they do.

(MORE: Mike Magee’s arrival can only help in Chicago)

Other than Landon Donovan, who is still getting his legs beneath him, the Galaxy does miss some pace in the attacking positions.

Well, Rogers has pace. Always has.

His presence on the left could force defenders to retreat a bit, to back out of the midfield faster, all of which creates operating space for Juninho or Donovan or whomever has the ball in L.A.’s midfield.

Plus, Rogers’ speed adds to the Galaxy’s counter-attack, among the champions’ top weapons when they get into the flow of it.

The other side, the “con” aspect of it looks like this: Donovan and Keane will miss matches this summer, no doubt. Both will be on international duty at some point, Donovan for the United States and Keane for Ireland.

Simply put, Arena’s team will sorely miss Magee’s ability near goal. Rogers may be around to stretch defenses and to shape some crosses from the left, but who will be there to get on the end of them?

(MORE: Galaxy trades Magee for Rogers’ rights)

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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