CONCACAF Champions League schedule announced for five MLS teams

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Sides from Major League Soccer and Liga MX are about to lock horns once more.

Get excited.

With just over a month until the CONCACAF Champions League group stages begin — yes, you heard that right — the schedule for the five MLS sides in CCL action this year have been announced.

And plenty of focus will be on the all-MLS ties between the San Jose Earthquakes and Montreal Impact.

That tie is in fact the opener on August 7, as the Impact host San Jose at Stade Saputo. With the Earthquakes staying put in Canada for an extended period, as they play against Vancouver in MLS action three days later.

Like I said, get excited.

In seasons gone by, MLS fans have often sneered upon CCL matches. For a variety of reasons the continental cup competition hasn’t quite captured the imagination of US and Canadian fans. For the most part. We all remember Real Salt Lake’s fairytale run to the final back in 2010.

But with so many MLS teams involved this year, hopefully that tide of optimism will return. Major League Soccer should definitely focus on success in CCL before thinking about entering competitions such as the Copa Libertadores.

Some people think MLS should jump straight into South America’s premiere club competition. But until MLS conquers the CONCACAF Champions League, those plans should be placed well and truly on the back burner.

So here they are, check out the schedule and plan your CCL trips accordingly.

Sporting Kansas City

  • 8/7 at Real Estelí FC; 10 pm ET, Estadio Independcia, Estelí, Nicaragua
  • 8/27 at CD Olimpia; 10 pm ET, Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • 9/17 vs. Real Estelí FC; 8 pm ET, Sporting Park
  • 10/23 vs. CD Olimpia; 8 pm ET, Sporting Park

Houston Dynamo

  • 8/20 at W Connection; 8 pm ET, in Trinidad and Tobago
  • 8/27 vs. Árabe Unido; 8 pm ET, BBVA Compass Stadium
  • 9/25 vs. W Connection; 8 pm ET, BBVA Compass Stadium
  • 10/24 at Árabe Unido; 8 pm ET, in Panama

Montreal Impact

  • 8/7 vs. San Jose Earthquakes; 8 pm ET, Stade Saputo
  • 8/21 at CD Heredia; 10 pm ET, in Guatemala
  • 9/17 at San Jose Earthquakes; 10 pm ET, Buck Shaw Stadium
  • 9/25 vs. CD Heredia; 8 pm ET, Stade Saputo

San Jose Earthquakes

  • 8/7 at Montreal Impact; 8 pm ET, Stade Saputo
  • 8/28 at CD Heredia; 10 pm ET, in Guatemala
  • 9/17 vs. Montreal Impact; 10 pm ET, Buck Shaw Stadium
  • 10/23 vs. CD Heredia; 10 pm ET, Buck Shaw Stadium

LA Galaxy

  • 8/20 vs. Cartaginés; 10 pm ET, StubHub Center
  • 9/18 vs. Isidro Metapán; 10 pm ET, StubHub Center
  • 9/25 at Cartaginés; 10 pm ET, in Costa Rica
  • 10/24 at Isidro Metapán; 10 pm ET, in El Salvador

VIDEO: Chelsea score stunning team goal

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Take a bow, Chelsea.

Willian put the Blues 2-0 up at Brighton early on Saturday and the goal was a thing of beauty.

Latching onto an error from Brighton, Chelsea surged forward through Willian who played the ball into Eden Hazard.

The Belgian played a delicious back heel to Michy Batshuayi and the forward then followed suit to flick the ball into Willian’s path who fired home.

Take a look at the stunning goal in the video above.

Watch Live: Brighton v. Chelsea

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Brighton & Hove Albion host Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With just one win in their last 12 games, Brighton are being dragged into a relegation battle, while Chelsea aren’t in glittering form with five draws on the spin in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

In team news, Brighton start with Tomer Hemed up top and have top scorer Glenn Murray on the bench. New club-record signing Jurgen Locadia isn’t illegible to make his Brighton debut after his signing was only confirmed late Friday, plus the former PSV Eindhoven forward is struggling with an injury..

Chelsea are without star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who has suffered an ankle injury in training, with Willy Caballero coming in to replace him. Alvaro Morata and Pedro are suspended, while Ross Barkley is on the bench and he could make his Chelsea debut.


LINEUPS

Brighton: Ryan; Goldson, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner, Schelotto; Stephens, Propper; March, Gross, Hemed. Subs: Hunemeier, Kayal, Baldock, Murray, Izquierdo, Rosenior, Krul

Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Hazard. SubsEduardo, David Luiz, Zappacosta, Sterling, Ampadu, Barkley, Musonda

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.

PL Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

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  • Burnley has 1 win vs. Man United in last 23 meetings
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal in 2018
  • Paul Pogba is joint-top of the league with 9 assists

A critical top of the table battle comes our way from Turf Moor (!!) on Saturday as Manchester United travels to Burnley live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing at Chelsea back in early November, Manchester United in unbeaten away from home and has won four of the five road matches. Burnley, meanwhile, has lost three matches in a row to start the new year and has not won in Premier League play since December 12th against Stoke City.

The goalscoring form of each team is also in stark contrast. Manchester United has not allowed a goal in any competition in 2018, and last conceded back on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw with this Burnley side. The Clarets, meanwhile, have just one goal in their last three Premier League games and just three goals in their last six.

INJURIES: Burnley – OUT: Chris Wood (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Chris Taylor (ribs). Manchester United – OUT: Daley Blind (undisclosed), Eric Bailly (ankle), Michael Carrick (heart), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on the gap in riches between clubs: “I don’t think any of us are surprised by the gap in the Premier League – I think it’s been there a long time and it’s getting harder year on year since the business model of football has changed.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on focusing despite transfer rumors: “In this moment, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan our player, [Alexis] Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow, I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”

Prediction

Burnley may be coming back down to Earth, but they are still a formidable team with great organization, and Manchester United will be once again held to a draw, this time 1-1.