MLS Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps at Sporting Kansas City

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  • Vancouver is 2-1-2 on the road recently
  • Sporting KC is a fairly average 4-3-2 at home, and also fell at Sporting Park recently in the U.S. Open Cup
  • Kei Kamara has three goals in SKC’s last two matches

There was a time when a Vancouver road trip was just another loss waiting to happen.

Martin Rennie’s team was 0-4-1 away from BC Place earlier this year. Stack that one top of last year’s 1-9-3 road mark after an bit of early success away from Western Canada in 2012 and it becomes clear that something was wrong with the strategic and / or tactical approaches when traveling.

But things have changed lately, and significantly so.

The sample is still a bit small, but the Whitecaps are beginning to stack up some points on the road, now 2-1-2 in recent matches away from their artificially turfed downtown ground. Just in June, the Whitecaps posted wins at D.C. United (four days ago) and at New York.

All that said, the Caps will be without some important pieces for tonight’s 9 p.m. ET kickoff. (The official league preview is here.) Gold Cup duty has scooped up Canadian international Russell Teibert (along with Carlyle Mitchell), and Vancouver will surely miss the man who has been instrumental in driving the attack from his right side.

Teibert has six assists in his last five games, putting him just one behind SKC’s Graham Zusi’s seven for the league lead.

At center back Brad Rusin is expected to replace the Trinidadian international Mitchell.

“Obviously Russell and Carlyle have done very well in the last few games,” Rennie said earlier this week. “It’s … an opportunity for someone else to come in and they have to step up when they get that opportunity.”

Zusi was back on the field after his own spell of international activity, once again in place at Sporting Park to help arrange goals for Kei Kamara (pictured, on the left), who has three goals in the team’s last two matches. Two real beauties came in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Columbus.

None of that is good news for a Whitecaps back line that is already without its three top men. Andy O’Brien’s recent injury added stress to a defense without Jay DeMerit (gone for the season.) And Y.P. Lee is being rested for this one, which means veteran EPL midfielder Nigel Reo Coker will likely be stationed at right back once again.

OTHER NOTES: The game also features two league scoring leaders in Vancouver’s Camilo (nine goals) and SKC’s Claudio Bieler (eight). Camilo had six goals and two assists in June. … Vancouver’s Kenny Miller has finally become productive with five goals in seven matches lately.

LA FC continues active offseason with addition of Laurent Ciman

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP
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It seems like Major League Soccer’s latest expansion team is taking a page out of Atlanta United’s playbook in its buildup to the 2018 season.

[ MORE: NYCFC provides stadium details for Belmont proposal ]

After selecting five players in Tuesday’s MLS Expansion Draft, Los Angeles FC announced that it will be sending two of those players to the Montreal Impact.

LA FC will be sending Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards to the Impact.

The return? Bob Bradley and LA FC will acquire Impact center back Laurent Ciman — who has proven to be one of the best defenders in MLS since arriving in 2015.

“Laurent is a top defender who provides leadership and great distribution,” Bradley said upon acquiring Ciman. “His experience in the league and with the Belgian National Team will be invaluable as we build our club.”

With the addition of Ciman now in place, LA FC has built a strong central defensive partnership after the club also brought in former FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman in a trade on Sunday.

The expansion side already made a major splash with its first Designated Player signing this year, bringing in Mexican international Carlos Vela.

Huddersfield 1-3 Chelsea: Blues bounce back on the road

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Chelsea picked up a convincing road victory on Tuesday as the Blues topped Huddersfield Town, 3-1, at the Kirklees Stadium.

[ MORE: Gremio reaches Club World Cup final ]

The Blues came out hungry following Sunday’s defeat at West Ham, and an unlikely goalscorer gave  Conte’s group the lead.

Sloppy passing at the back saw Willian with the ball at the top of the Huddersfield area, before the Brazilian brilliantly played Tiemoué Bakayoko in on goal for his second finish of the season.

Willian — who played a key role throughout the match — extended the Chelsea advantage three minutes prior to halftime when his header snuck past Terriers goalkeeper Jonas Lössl.

Chelsea was clicking on all cylinders after halftime, when Willian helped set up Pedro for his third goal of the Premier League season.

Meanwhile, Laurent Depoitre pulled a goal back late for the hosts, but it was too late to rescue a result for Huddersfield.

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford: Eagles storm back late, move up to 17th

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
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All things were pointing towards Watford’s direction on Tuesday, but a late change in fortune gave the Eagles a share of the points.

[ MORE: Burnley climbs into Premier League top four ]

A pair of late goals gave Crystal Palace a 2-1 win over Watford at Selhurst Park, and pulled Roy Hodgson’s side out of the relegation zone.

Bakary Sako and James McArthur each found the back of the net after the 87th minute to complete an important comeback for the Eagles. Now, Palace sits 17th in the PL standings on 14 points.

The big moment of the match came in the 87th minute, when Tom Cleverley was sent off after picking up his second yellow card.

Three minutes into the match, Daryl Janmaat struck for the visitors after the Dutchman headed home Richarlison‘s cross from close-range.

Burnley 1-0 Stoke City: Barnes’ late strike guides Clarets into top four

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Don’t look now, but the Clarets have climbed into the Premier League top four.

Burnley found a way Stoke City late on Tuesday, picking up a 1-0 win at the Turf Moor behind Ashley Barnes‘ late finish.

[ MORE: Gremio reaches Club World Cup final, awaits Real Madrid or Al Jazira ]

The Clarets, who have now secured 31 points over their first 17 matches this season, leapfrogged Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham with the victory. However, all three sides will be in action on Wednesday.

Steven Defour nearly put Burnley ahead on 69 minutes, when the front man tested Stoke keeper Jack Butland — who had to make a sprawling save to his right.

While Stoke mustered up several quality chances, it was Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s blast in the first half that nearly found the top left corner.

Next up for Burnley will be a date against Brighton on Saturday, while Stoke travels to Huddersfield the same day.