MLS Preview: D.C. United at Seattle Sounders

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Which version of the Seattle Sounders is the true representation of 2013? Is it the team that rallied forcefully past a slow start to go 4-0-2 between late April and late May? Or the lesser version that did go into things with such languid launch, and the same tame outfit that fell meekly in recent losses at Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake?

Seattle sits seventh in the West, although the position is a bit harsh since Sigi Schmid’s team has played three or four matches less than everyone else. But after a slow June they’ll start catching up on the field with five league matches in July and five more in August.

So at some point, Schmid’s team will need to make a move and get on a run to climb in a Western Conference that looks to be the stronger of the two.  (The West was 3-0-2 in cross-conference contests against the East last week). Real Salt Lake and Portland are the league’s hottest teams. FC Dallas keeps grinding out results. The Vancouver Whitecaps have learned how to produce points on the road. Colorado keeps getting healthier and even San Jose is showing signs of life under an interim coach.

All of this is to say: if Seattle is going to make a move, there will never be a better opportunity to start than a home match against the league’s worst team – and that’s exactly what the Sounders have Wednesday. Kickoff at CenturyLink Field is 10 p.m. ET.

D.C. United is terrible. In fact, we’ve already spent a lot of time beating on Ben Olsen’s team this week. Check it out here to see for yourself. And here, too.

United is last in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly rankings, winless on the road this year (0-5-2) with just one goal scored away from RFK. Extrapolated over an entire season, that’s somewhere between two and three road goals, which would be an all-time league low.

Suffice to say, United is a mess. Bright spots? Perry Kitchen is still doing OK and veteran John Thorrington has been a reliable two-way midfield presence since he got back on the field. And … well … no, that’s about it.

What’s worse for the cross country travelers, playmaker Dwayne De Rosario, promising young outside attacker Nick DeLeon and center back Dejan Jakovic appear to be out.

Young center back Ethan White (promising, although not quite there yet) will probably be in the middle of United back line again.

But neither will Seattle be at full strength, with Osvaldo Alonso perhaps not quite ready to get back into the Sounders starting 11. That’s significant hit, because Seattle’s midfield suffers mightily on both sides of the ball when the league’s top tackler is out. We saw it last week when the loss to Real Salt Lake turned into men-against-boys stuff in the center third.

One to watch Wednesday, if he plays, is Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin, a very exciting young prospect at right back. Nursing a shoulder injury, the 20-year-old home grown Sounders product may not be available.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.

Report: Bayern Munich scouted Walker, Alexis this weekend

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German publication Kicker says Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke attended both of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinals and had his eye on two players in particular.

Reschke apparently wants to bring players from both North London Derby rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the Allianz Arena.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s Top Four plight ]

In the case of Spurs, that man is right back Kyle Walker. The 26-year-old has also played right mid in 8 of his 35 matches for Tottenham this season, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. It’s hard to believe Spurs would have interest in selling Walker, who would help fill the role of retiring Philipp Lahm.

On the other side is Alexis Sanchez, the embattled but electric Arsenal attacker who Arsene Wenger described as an “animal” and “always ready to kill the opponent” this weekend. Wenger says Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, but Bayern does boast Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal and former Barca mate Thiago Alcantara.

Walker is signed at Spurs through 2021, while Sanchez’s contract ends after next season.

Roma lands sporting director Monchi, a reported Arsenal target

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AS Roma has found its new sporting director, and it’s a man with a keen eye for talent.

Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez Verdejo, 48, has spent the last 18 years as the sporting director at Sevilla, which won five UEFA Europa League titles under his watch.

Monchi was discussed in the media as a target for the same job at Arsenal and was a target for other Premier League clubs, but Roma sealed the deal with the former goalkeeper.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

He is considered to have a big role in discovering and developing Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Dani Alves.

Read more from ASRoma.com.

Liverpool’s murky Top Four path depends on Manchester United

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Liverpool is a historic club with incredible presence. Jurgen Klopp is a celebrated manager with a strong reputation as a players’ coach.

Those two facets will always make the club attractive to players. Missing out on the UEFA Champions League is another thing altogether and would put a huge dent in Klopp’s ambitious recruitment goals.

And right now, the Reds look destined to drop out of the Top Four.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Chelsea 32 24 3 5 65 27 38 13-0-2 11-3-3 75
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 21 8 3 68 22 46 15-2-0 6-6-3 71
 Liverpool 34 19 9 6 70 42 28 11-4-2 8-5-4 66
 Manchester City 32 19 7 6 63 35 28 8-6-1 11-1-5 64
 Manchester United 32 17 12 3 50 24 26 7-9-1 10-3-2 63
 Everton 34 16 10 8 60 37 23 12-4-1 4-6-7 58
 Arsenal 31 17 6 8 63 40 23 10-3-2 7-3-6 57

Even if Manchester United and Manchester City draw Thursday’s derby, both will be poised to pass the Reds by winning the match-in-hand.

Injury-ravaged United is bothered by UEFA Europa League duty against Celta Vigo, and has a brutal run-in that includes Spurs and Arsenal in addition to City. Liverpool has to hope United falls off, because Man City is likely going to walk over the Top Four line even with a draw in the derby.

The worst case scenario for Liverpool, aside from continuing to flail against clubs outside the Top Seven, is United toppling City on Thursday.

As an aside, it’s extremely unlikely that Arsenal leaps into the fray but if the Gunners did it would come at the expense of United.

Really, Liverpool’s run-in is perfectly built for two of its supporters’ favorite things: Winning matches and rooting against Manchester United. Here’s how they finish:

May 1 — at Watford
May 7 — vs. Southampton
May 14 — at West Ham United
May 21 — vs. Middlesbrough

Liverpool battered Watford 6-1 at Anfield and Boro 3-0 at the Riverside Stadium, but drew both Saints and West Ham earlier this season in addition to losing to Southampton in an EFL Cup semifinal.

Say the Reds nab a perfect 12 points to finish with 78; They’ll need City to take less than 14 from six remaining matches and United to earn less than 15 from six. The latter is far more likely than the former, but will matter very little if Klopp can’t motivate and organize his men in the final four matches.