New England Revolution v Seattle Sounders

MLS preview: San Jose Earthquakes at New England

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  • San Jose is playing on the road for the second time in four nights
  • Temperatures in the area will climb into the 90s, so conditions on the artificial turf could be downright brutal at kickoff
  • New England must replace injured striker Juan Agudelo

After that soft opening to 2013, when goals were so doggone hard to come by, New England has stabilized and pulled into mid-pack status in the East.

Riding the offensive surge of young Diego Fagundez and the tight defense of Jose Goncalves (starting to pick up some mentions as possible MLS Defender of the Year), Jay Heaps’ team is 3-1-3 in MLS matches since mid-May.

San Jose’s mini-revival of late is more humble, still. But it is a mini-revival. Two wins in four tries under interim manager Mark Watson (especially considering the other two contests were one-goal setbacks on the road) have breathed some fresh life into the bunch from Buck Shaw.

The timing, on the other hand, cannot be to San Jose’s liking. When the kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Gillette Stadium, it will be the Earthquakes second road date in four nights.

Considering temperatures expected to climb into the 90s in the Boston area on Saturday, conditions on the artificial turf at Gillette could be brutal – especially for the team that traveled in on Thursday.

While San Jose copes with potential fatigue, New England has been idle since last week’s 1-1 draw at Chivas USA.

The Revs will, however, deal with the business of replacing injured striker Juan Agudelo. Heaps’ choices to oppose big San Jose center back Victor Bernardez include Chad Barrett, Dimitry Imbongo and Jerry Bengtson.  Heaps could also move Saer Sene further ahead in the formation; he has been playing along the outside.

Barrett has been a nice addition on the bench lately, making a strong case for the start. Then again, by doing so Heaps would remove his top option for a striker who can clearly be effective off the bench. The MLS journeyman has two goals in four games since returning from a hamstring injury.

Watson’s striker pairing should be well-rested, at least. Alan Gordon and Adam Jahn played up front in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Toyota Park, leaving Steven Lenhart fresh for Saturday. Shea Salinas also returns from suspension.

MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski and speedy winger Marvin Chavez are not available, away on Gold Cup duty.

“Any time we set off on a road trip and are missing five starters from the match before, you are behind the 8-ball already,” ‘Quakes center back Jason Hernandez said. “We are lucky we have a good team that has guys that can fill those holes. But it’s a battle.  It’s going to take another strong effort mentally and physically in Boston and we’re going to have to keep grinding and push for a win because time is running short.”

We’ve already mentioned the pair to watch in particular for the Revs: Fagundez, just 18, is already in his third MLS season. He has five goals and four assists this year from that outside attacking spot in the Revs’ 4-1-4-1 preferred system, continuing to improve while brimming with even greater potential.

On the other hand, he can be thoughtlessly sloppy and inconsistent at times – or, exactly what you’d expect from an 18-year-old still learning the tricks of mental focus.

And then there is Goncalves, a big reason the Revs are 2-0-1 lately at Gillette without allowing a goal in that time.

The official league preview, stacked with facts, is here.

Coutinho, Kaka headline preliminary Brazil roster for Copa America

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It appears that Neymar won’t be the only big name missing from Brazil’s star-studded squad this summer at the Copa America Centenario.

[ VIDEO: Previewing every Week 36 match around the Premier League ]

The Selecao revealed their preliminary 40-man roster for this summer’s competition, and it includes Orlando City midfielder Kaka, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Douglas Costa of Bayern Munich.

[ MORE: PST discusses how Leicester has gotten to the verge of an epic title ]

Chelsea pair Willian and Oscar also made the initial cut, in addition to Liverpool midfielder Roberto Firminho, who is coming off of a stellar season for Liverpool.

Among the biggest snubs for Brazil are a trio of defenders. Paris Saint-Germain duo Thiago Silva and David Luiz were each left off, while Real Madrid wing back Marcelo was also left out of the side.

Head coach Dunga will be forced to cut his roster down to 23 before the tournament starts for the Brazilians on June 4. The Selecao will take on Ecuador, Haiti and Peru in Group B play.

You can view the entire roster below:

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Freiburg promoted, returns to Bundesliga after 1 season away

SEVILLE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 03:  Mike Hanke of SC Freiburg controls the ball during the UEFA Europa League group H match between Sevilla FC and SC Freiburg at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on October 3, 2013 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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BERLIN (AP) Freiburg secured an immediate return to the Bundesliga, one season after relegation to the second division, with a 2-1 win at Paderborn on Friday.

Goals from Mike Frantz and Nils Petersen, both set up by Maximilian Philipp in a three-minute spell just after the break, ensured Freiburg will finish at least second, earning automatic promotion.

“It still has to sink in,” Petersen said.

With two rounds remaining, Freiburg has 69 points, five more than Leipzig, and 10 more than third-placed Nuremberg, which has a game in hand.

Even if Nuremberg, which is all but certain of at least a promotion/relegation playoff following St. Pauli’s 2-0 defeat at 1860 Munich, wins its remaining three games, it cannot catch Freiburg.

It is Freiburg’s fifth promotion to the top flight after 1993, 1998 and 2003 – all under Volker Finke – and then 2009 under Robin Dutt.

“I’m quite calm,” said current coach Christian Streich, who was relegated with the side last season. “There were a lot of ups and downs over the year. I’m simply happy we managed it, no more.”

With 72 goals in 32 games, Streich’s side has the best offense in the second division. A run of 10 wins and one draw from its last 11 games helped clinch its return to the top flight.

Video: Ranieri gets emotional after seeing Leicester fans tribute

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Claudio Ranieri in on the verge of leading Leicester City to the most improbable feat in Premier League history.

[ MORE: Pochettino verbally agrees to return to Tottenham ]

While the Foxes have given the club’s supporters the greatest ride they’ve ever seen, the fans put together a tribute video describing what the 2015-16 season has meant to them.

[ MORE: Previewing every Premier League match for Week 36 ]

Fans of all ages put in their two cents regarding the team’s quirky manager, and the 64-year old Italian began to shed tears.

We likely won’t ever see a team like Leicester again, not only in the Premier League, but any sports league. The club’s assembly of players and Ranieri have coincided perfectly and the Foxes faithful are clearly grateful for what they’ve witnessed at the King Power Stadium this season.

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Premier League Preview: Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Georginio Wijnaldum of Newcastle United and Joel Ward of Crystal Palace compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United at Selhurst Park on November 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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  • Newcastle has won one of their previous 10 PL matches
  • Palace is unbeaten in five of last six
  • Benitez is 1-3-3 since taking over Magpies

Newcastle host Crystal Palace on Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) with the Magpies among the three sides battling to stay in the Premier League for the 2016-17 season.

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Crystal Palace isn’t mathematically out of the woods in the relegation battle, but they’re more than likely to remain in the PL next season. Palace has been in decent form of late, securing a win over Watford and draws against Arsenal and Everton. Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham are among the dangerous attackers that Newcastle will need to be wary of, each scoring five PL goals on the season.

[ MORE: Arsenal can put a damper on Norwich’s season with a win Saturday ]

A 5-1 drubbing towards the end of November gave Palace bragging rights, but at this stage of the season Newcastle must forget what happened in the past. While draws against Manchester City and Liverpool were certainly encouraging, the Magpies need wins. Anything else simply won’t do, particularly with Sunderland and Norwich each holding a game in hand.

The two-headed monster of Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic will be crucial if Newcastle is to pick up a vital three points at home for the sixth time this season.

What they’re saying…

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez: “I don’t bet. Obviously, I agree we have to win. In my experience, it’s the players who make the difference, not the managers. I can prepare for the game, but to talk about mind games, I don’t take too much notice.”

Palace boss Alan Pardew: “I’ve always encouraged other coaches and managers to be involved, with comments from them. I asked a bit of advice at the weekend from a couple of people which was very sound. I expect, as I do on occasion, to get calls from some of the players I’ve coached to ring me. You have to keep your network big.”

Prediction

Newcastle needs this game, or at the very least a point. Given the team’s poor goal differential though, this isn’t something Rafa Benitez and company will want to leave up to fate. Palace has dropped plenty of points this season, leaving Newcastle in an opportune position to gain ground on the coveted 17th place. The Magpies will push hard and I think they’ll be able to pull this one out at home, 2-1.

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