Premier League TV schedule for NBC Sports Group released

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The day you’ve all been waiting for is here. Get excited.

On Monday afternoon NBC Sports released the TV schedule for coverage of the Premier League for the 2013-14 season.

Here are all the details for the opening three months of games, as England’s top league will be aired exclusively in the US by NBC Sports group.

Take a look through the detailed lists below to see when your team is playing and get the lowdown on all the big matchups coming to a TV screen near you.

Let the games begin.

Details

Unprecedented Coverage of All Premier League Matches

Debuts Saturday, August 17 at 7:00 AM ET

on NBC Sports Network

69 Live TV Game Windows through Dec. 1 Include

57 Matches on NBC Sports Network, 10 on NBC,

27 on Telemundo/mun2 & 61 on Premier League Extra Time

All 130 Matches in First 3 Months Available on

NBC Sports Live Extra

More Than 100 Distributors Nationwide to Carry Games

Via Premier League Extra Time Package and TV Everywhere

STAMFORD, Conn. – July 29, 2013 – Following the Premier League’s announcement of the first three months of the 2013-14 schedule on July 11, NBC Sports Group today released its television schedule for that time period featuring live coverage of all 130 matches, beginning Saturday, August 17 at 7:00 AM ET on NBC Sports Network with the Liverpool-Stoke matchup.

A total of 69 Premier League matches – at least five games each week in the season’s first three months – will be presented on NBC Sports Network, NBC and CNBC with all games preceded and followed by Premier League Live pre- and post-match shows from the NBC Sports Group International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.

The 61 remaining Premier League matches will be made available on Premier League Extra Time, a bonus television package available to MVPDs at no extra cost for customers who receive NBC Sports Network.

In addition, 27 matches in the season’s first three months will be telecast in Spanish by Telemundo and mun2.

All Premier League games will be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets. Games airing on NBC Sports Network will be live streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

Premier League Matches, First 3 Months, By Outlet

NBC Sports Network

57

NBC

10

CNBC

2

Telemundo/mun2

27

NBC Sports Live Extra

130

Premier League Extra Time

61

To date, AT&T U-verse®, Cablevision’s Optimum, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, DIRECTV, DISH, and Suddenlink have opted to carry the additional Premier League matches via the Premier League Extra Time package, and AT&T U-verse, Cablevision’s Optimum, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, Suddenlink and Verizon FiOS will make all Premier League games available through TV Everywhere. Additionally, over 100 NCTC partners have either signed-on to the Premier League Extra Time package or have opted-in via TV Everywhere, including Blue Ridge Communications, Buckeye CableSystem, CenturyLink Prism, and RCN.

Following are schedule highlights for the first three months of the Premier League season:

Saturday, August 17, 7:45 AM ET on NBCSN

LIVERPOOL v STOKE

NBC Sports Group’s first-ever telecast of Premier League action features the Liverpool-Stoke matchup.

Saturday, August 17, 12:30 PM ET on NBC & mun 2

SWANSEA CITY v MANCHESTER UNITED

Manager David Moyes takes the reins of the Premier League’s most decorated team – returning champions Manchester United – from their legendary manager of over 26 years, Sir Alex Ferguson.   The Red Devils’ first test comes against a fiery Swansea side.

Sunday, August 18, 11:00 AM ET on NBCSN & mun2

CHELSEA v HULL CITY

Chelsea, last season’s third-place finishers, begin their campaign against newly promoted side, Hull City. Jose Mourinho, “the Special One,” is back as the Blues manager to the delight of the Chelsea faithful.  With an all-star international line-up, Chelsea will be looking for strong showing  against the Tigers, whose quest to avoid a trip back to the Championship begins against one of the Premier League’s perennial powers.

Saturday, August 24, 10:00 AM ET on TBD

STOKE CITY v CRYSTAL PALACE

Stoke, established in 1863, are the oldest club in the Premier League and in their first home match of the campaign, they host newly promoted London-side Crystal Palace.  Stoke were known for playing an aggressive, physical style of soccer but new manager Mark Hughes is looking to change that, and playing against colorful manager Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace, that now boasts rising Spain star and exciting midfielder Jose Campana, will provide an early measuring stick for both the Stoke team in transition and Palace’s rising star.

Monday, August 26, 3:00 PM ET on NBCSN

MANCHESTER UNITED v CHELSEA

In just the second week of the campaign, last season’s first- and third-place finishers meet at the Premier League’s largest stadium, Manchester United’s Old Trafford.  Eight of the last nine Premier League titles have been won by either United or Chelsea and both clubs will be under tremendous scrutiny this season with new managers.

Sunday, September 1, 8:30 AM ET on NBSCN, Telemundo

LIVERPOOL v MANCHESTER UNITED

The two most decorated teams in English soccer history simply do not like each other.  At Liverpool’s historic Anfield, the Reds’ beloved captain and star Steven Gerrard, aka “Stevie G”, will look to help his side earn three points against United in the Premier League for the first time since March 2011.

Sunday, September 1, 11:00 AM ET on NBSCN & mun2

ARSENAL v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Arsenal host neighbors Tottenham at Emirates Stadium for the first edition of the season’s North London Derby and for a tough, early test at home for Arsenal.  The rivalry between the Gunners and Spurs dates to the early 1900s, and with Arsenal having finished directly above Tottenham in the table the last four seasons, Tottenham will be looking to make an early statement that their place in the standings belongs above Arsenal.

Saturday, September 14, 10:00 AM ET on TBD

HULL CITY v CARDIFF CITY

Hull and Cardiff, both promoted at the end of last season, meet early on in their Premier League campaigns, and as familiar foes, having faced each other the last three seasons in England’s second tier Championship, the Tigers and the Bluebirds will be eager to prove they belong in the league when the world is watching.

Sunday, September 22, 11:00 AM ET on NBCSN & Telemundo

MANCHESTER CITY v MANCHESTER UNITED

This season’s first installment of one of the league’s most riveting local rivalries, the Manchester Derby, kicks off at the Etihad on September 22.  The Manchester teams’ stadiums are just four miles apart, but their distaste for one another is huge.  City dramatically won the title on the final day of the season in 2012, leaving the Red Devils in second, while United were crowned champions in 2013 and City were runners-up.  The competitiveness and physical distance between these two sides always makes for an electric game, and this time both clubs will be playing under new managers.

Sunday, October 27, 9:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN & mun2

SUNDERLAND v NEWCASTLE UNITED

Sunderland’s Stadium of Light hosts the season’s first installment of the Tyne-Wear Derby, the name given to any match between Sunderland and Newcastle.  Just 12 miles separate the Magpies and the Black Cats, and last season, Newcastle edged out Sunderland to finish 16th, but both teams sat dangerously close to the relegation zone.  American forward Jozy Altidore, recently signed by Sunderland, will be a player to watch as he works to prove he’s a Premier League force.

Sunday, October 27, Noon ET on NBCSN & mun2

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY

Last season’s second- and third-place finishers are sure to provide an exciting match — Chelsea finished just one win behind City last season.  By the end of October, the teams’ new managers and summer signings should be settled in to their roles, so this match should offer more of a glimpse as to these teams’ chances at the coveted trophy.

Sunday November 3, 11:00 AM ET on NBCSN & mun2

CARDIFF CITY v SWANSEA CITY

The South Wales Derby between Welsh sides Cardiff City and Swansea City is one of the most widely anticipated matches of the season.  With Cardiff’s promotion at the end of last season, the Bluebirds will be playing top-flight soccer for the first time in 51 years, and two Welsh teams will be playing in England’s top flight for the first time ever.

Saturday, November 9, 10:00 AM ET on Extra Time 1

LIVERPOOL v FULHAM

This match features two American owners as Liverpool and owners Fenway Sports Group host Fulham and owner Shahid Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars.  While the Red Sox and Jaguars will have nothing to do with this match, the American influence in the Premier League will be on display as Liverpool, who need a successful season more than ever, face the Cottagers.

Sunday, November 10, 11:10 AM ET on NBCSN & Telemundo

MANCHESTER UNITED v ARSENAL

Last season’s leading scorer Dutch star Robin van Persie, aka “RVP,” welcomes his former club to Manchester United’s Old Trafford.  RVP managed a goal in both matches last season against the Gunners, and with the 2012-13 Premier League title in his back pocket as well, his news-grabbing move from the Emirates last season has paid off.  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will look for some magic from his scoring threats Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla.

Saturday, November 23, 7:45 AM ET on NBCSN & mun2

EVERTON v LIVERPOOL

The Merseyside Derby, the longest running top-flight rivalry in England (played at the highest level of English competition since 1962-63), features the Blues of Everton against the Reds of Liverpool.  The two clubs know each other well; their stadiums sit less than a mile apart, and they are playing for the 221st time.  Though Liverpool are the historically better side, Everton finished 6th, one spot ahead of Stevie G’s lads last season.  With both clubs scratching at the door to the top-5 and European play, the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park holds much meaning for both sides.

Following is the NBCUniversal schedule for the first three months of the Premier League season:

(NOTE: TBD indicates that there will be one match in that time slot on NBCSN, in some cases one match on mun2, and remaining non-NBCSN games on Premier League Extra Time. Final channel assignments for those matches will be made in the coming weeks.)

Date Time (ET) Home Away Network
Sat., Aug. 17 7:45 a.m. Liverpool Stoke NBCSN
10 a.m. Arsenal Aston Villa NBCSN
10 a.m. Norwich Everton Extra Time
10 a.m. Sunderland Fulham Extra Time
10 a.m. West Ham Cardiff Extra Time
10 a.m. West Brom Southampton Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Swansea Man United NBC, mun2
Sun., Aug. 18 8:30 a.m. Crystal Palace Tottenham NBCSN
11 a.m. Chelsea Hull NBCSN
Mon., Aug. 19 3 p.m. Man City Newcastle NBCSN
***
Wed., Aug. 21 2:30 p.m. Chelsea Aston Villa NBCSN
***
Sat., Aug. 24 7:45 a.m. Fulham Arsenal NBCSN, mun2
10 a.m. Southampton Sunderland NBCSN
10 a.m. Everton West Brom Extra Time
10 a.m. Newcastle West Ham Extra Time
10 a.m. Hull Norwich Extra Time
10 a.m. Stoke Crystal Palace Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Aston Villa Liverpool NBC
Sun., Aug. 25 11 a.m. Tottenham Swansea NBCSN
11 a.m. Cardiff Man City Extra Time
Mon., Aug 26 3 p.m. Man United Chelsea NBCSN
***
Sat., Aug. 31 7:45 a.m. Man City Hull NBCSN
10 a.m. Cardiff City Everton NBCSN
10 a.m. Newcastle Fulham Extra Time
10 a.m. West Ham Stoke Extra Time
10 a.m. Norwich Southampton Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Crystal Palace Sunderland NBC
Sun., Sept. 1 8:30 a.m. Liverpool Man United NBCSN, Telemundo
8:30 a.m. West Brom Swansea Extra Time
11 a.m. Arsenal Tottenham NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Sept. 14 7:45 a.m. Man United Crystal Palace NBCSN, mun2
10 a.m. Sunderland Arsenal NBCSN
10 a.m. Stoke Man City Extra Time
10 a.m. Tottenham Norwich Extra Time
10 a.m. Aston Villa Newcastle Extra Time
10 a.m. Fulham West Brom Extra Time
10 a.m. Hull Cardiff Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Everton Chelsea NBC, mun2
Sun., Sept. 15 11 a.m. Southampton West Ham NBCSN
Mon., Sept. 16 3 p.m. Swansea Liverpool NBCSN
***
Sat., Sept. 21 7:45 a.m. Norwich Aston Villa NBCSN
10 a.m. Liverpool Southampton NBCSN
10 a.m. West Ham Everton Extra Time
10 a.m. West Brom Sunderland Extra Time
10 a.m. Newcastle Hull Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Chelsea Fulham NBCSN, mun2
Sun., Sept. 22 8:30 a.m. Arsenal Stoke CNBC, mun2
8:30 a.m. Crystal Palace Swansea Extra Time
11 a.m. Man City Man United NBCSN, Telemundo
***  11 a.m. Cardiff City Tottenham Extra Time
Sat., Sept. 28 7:45 a.m. Tottenham Chelsea NBCSN, mun2
10 a.m. Aston Villa Man City NBCSN
10 a.m. Man United West Brom Extra Time
10 a.m. Fulham Cardiff Extra Time
10 a.m. Hull West Ham Extra Time
10 a.m. Southampton Crystal Palace Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Swansea Arsenal NBC
Sun., Sept. 29 8:30 a.m. Stoke Norwich NBCSN
11 a.m. Sunderland Liverpool NBCSN
Mon., Sept. 30 3 p.m. Everton Newcastle NBCSN
***
Sat., Oct. 5 7:45 a.m. Man City Everton NBCSN, mun2
10 a.m. Liverpool Crystal Palace NBCSN
10 a.m. Hull Aston Villa Extra Time
10 a.m. Cardiff Newcastle Extra Time
10 a.m. Fulham Stoke Extra Time
12:30 p.m. Sunderland Man United NBCSN, mun2
 Sun., Oct. 6 8:30 a.m. Norwich Chelsea NBCSN
8:30 am Southampton Swansea City Extra Time
11 a.m. West Brom Arsenal NBCSN
*** 11 a.m. Tottenham West Ham Extra Time
Sat., Oct. 19 7:45 a.m. Newcastle Liverpool NBCSN
10 a.m. Man United Southampton NBCSN
10 a.m. Arsenal Norwich Extra Time 1
10 a.m. Chelsea Cardiff Extra Time 2
10 a.m. Everton Hull Extra Time 3
10 a.m. Stoke City West Brom Extra Time 4
10 a.m. Swansea Sunderland Extra Time 5
12:30 p.m. West Ham Man City NBC
Sun., Oct. 20 11 a.m. Aston Villa Tottenham NBCSN, mun2
Mon., Oct. 21 3 p.m. Crystal Palace Fulham NBCSN
***
Sat., Oct. 26 7:45 a.m. Crystal Palace Arsenal NBCSN
10 a.m. Man United Stoke NBCSN
10 a.m. Liverpool West Brom Extra Time 1
10 a.m. Aston Villa Everton Extra Time 2
10 a.m. Norwich Cardiff Extra Time 3
12:30 p.m. Southampton Fulham NBCSN
  Sun., Oct. 27 9:30 a.m. Sunderland Newcastle NBCSN
Noon Chelsea Man City NBCSN, mun2
Noon Tottenham Hull Extra Time 1
Noon Swansea West Ham Extra Time 2
***
Sat., Nov. 2 8:45 a.m. Newcastle Chelsea NBCSN
11 a.m. Fulham Man United NBCSN
11 a.m. Man City Norwich Extra Time 1
11 a.m. Hull Sunderland Extra Time 4
11 a.m. West Ham Aston Villa Extra Time 3
11 a.m. Stoke Southampton Extra Time 2
11 a.m. West Brom Crystal Palace Extra Time 5
1:30 Arsenal Liverpool NBC, mun2
Sun., Nov. 3 8:30 a.m. Everton Tottenham CNBC
11 a.m. Cardiff Swansea NBCSN
***
Sat., Nov. 9 10 a.m. Chelsea West Brom NBCSN
10 a.m. Liverpool Fulham Extra Time 1
10 a.m. Southampton Hull Extra Time 2
10 a.m. Crystal Palace Everton Extra Time 3
10 a.m. Aston Villa Cardiff City Extra Time 4
10 a.m. Chelsea West Brom TBD
12:30 p.m. Norwich West Ham NBC
Sun., Nov. 10 7 a.m. Tottenham Newcastle NBCSN
9:05 a.m. Sunderland Man City NBCSN
11:10 a.m. Man United Arsenal NBCSN, Telemundo
11:10 a.m. Swansea City Stoke City Extra Time 1
***
Sat., Nov. 23 7:45 a.m. Everton Liverpool NBCSN, mun2
10 a.m. Arsenal Southampton NBCSN
10 a.m. Fulham Swansea Extra Time 2
10 a.m. Stoke Sunderland Extra Time 3
10 a.m. Newcastle Norwich Extra Time 1
10 a.m. Hull Crystal Palace Extra Time 4
12:30 West Ham Chelsea NBC, mun2
Sun., Nov. 24 8:30 a.m. Man City Tottenham NBCSN
11 a.m. Cardiff Man United NBCSN, mun2
Mon., Nov. 25 3 p.m. West Brom Aston Villa NBCSN
***
Sat., Nov. 30 7:45 a.m. Tottenham Man United NBCSN, Telemundo
10 a.m. Man City Swansea TBD
10 a.m. Cardiff Arsenal TBD
10 a.m. Everton Stoke TBD
10 a.m. Aston Villa Sunderland TBD
10 a.m. West Ham Fulham TBD
10 a.m. Norwich Crystal Palace TBD
12:30 p.m. Newcastle West Brom NBC
Sun., Dec. 1 8:30 a.m. Hull Liverpool NBCSN
11 a.m. Chelsea Southampton NBCSN

Benevento remains alone in Europe without a point

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ROME (AP) Benevento remained the only club in Europe’s top five leagues without a point after losing at basement rival Hellas Verona 1-0 in Serie A on Monday.

[ MORE: USA U-17s top Paraguay in convincing style ]

Romulo scored with a long volley to conclude a counterattack in the 74th minute.

Benevento center back Luca Antei was shown a direct red card for a sliding tackle late in the first half and Verona striker Giampaolo Pazzini nearly took advantage immediately when he hit the post.

With its first win of the season, Verona moved up to 16th place with six points.

Benevento has lost all eight of its matches.

All of the top-division squads in England, France, Germany and Spain have earned at least a point.

More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

Calls for exiled player to go to WCup stirs storm in Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Soon after Egypt qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1990, a hashtag began trending on social media: “Aboutrika to the World Cup.”

In a country where soccer and politics often mix, and often with explosive results, the pro-government media didn’t like that.

[ MORE: Tab Ramos confirms interest in USMNT job ]

The hashtag unleashed an intense online campaign by tens of thousands of fans calling for former star midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika, who is now living in exile in Qatar, to come out of retirement and play for Egypt at the World Cup in Russia next year.

It stirred a storm in the Arab country because of Aboutrika’s alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian Islamist group that has been outlawed and declared a terrorist organization by the government. The Brotherhood was outlawed after the military’s ouster of a freely elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.

The 38-year-old Aboutrika faces a host of charges rooted in his alleged financial support for the Brotherhood and lives in exile knowing he risks arrest if he returns home. His assets have been frozen by Egyptian authorities and his name is on a terrorism list. He now makes a living as a soccer pundit on the Qatar-based sports channel beIN.

Aboutrika turned down the call to return in a message to his supporters.

“These are kind feelings for which I thank you,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “But realism is better and I don’t steal the efforts of others. Those men (on the current team) deserve to be there alone.”

Yet that gentle refusal didn’t stop the storm around him, and the unfavorable comparisons made by some between Aboutrika and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, the team’s current star and new darling of the pro-government media.

“Mohammed Salah is the player who stood by his country, not like the other one (Aboutrika),” said Ahmed Moussa, perhaps the most ardent government supporter among TV talk show hosts. “He (Salah) is Egypt’s only star.”

The 25-year-old Salah endeared himself to fans with both goals, including an injury-time penalty, in a 2-1 win over Republic of Congo on Oct. 8 that ensured Egypt qualified for the World Cup for just the third time, and first time in nearly 30 years.

Salah has also been embraced by the government of general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and its supporters in the media as a patriot. A donation of 5 million Egyptian pounds (nearly $300,000) Salah made in December to a development fund founded by el-Sissi has gone a long way to endear him to them.

In the week since qualification, Salah has been branded “golden boy,” “legend” and “genius.”

One media commentator, Dandarawy el-Hawary of the daily “Seventh Day,” wrote of Salah’s decisive goal against Republic of Congo: “It touched off the volcanoes of patriotism, sense of belonging and love of one’s country.”

Not long ago Aboutrika was the national hero – he still is to many – after playing a central role in Egypt’s three straight African Cup of Nations titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Those triumphs made Egypt Africa’s most successful team with a record seven titles.

Now, the pro-government media refers to him as a traitor.

Another talk show host, Amr Adeeb, suggested the campaign to bring Aboutrika out of retirement was the work of government critics and berated him for his failure to lead Egypt to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Aboutrika has been labeled a mercenary, with his job with the Qatar-based beIN used as evidence of his lack of patriotism because of Egypt’s diplomatic spat with Qatar over the tiny Gulf nation’s alleged support of terrorism.

[ MORE: Mike Ashley puts Newcastle up for sale ]

Aboutrika’s supporters argue that to have him back on the team would be a just reward for his dedication to Egypt and compensation for his failed efforts to get the team to previous World Cups. They point out that Argentina great Diego Maradona and Cameroon’s Roger Milla both came out of retirement to play for their countries at the World Cup.

Responding to the criticism from government supporters, Aboutrika’s fans have also been posting videos of him scoring goals for club and country in years past, with commentators lavishly praising him for his skill and passion.

MLS playoff scenarios heading into the final weekend

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Time certainly has flown by, and just like that the MLS Cup playoffs are well within sight.

While the Eastern Conference is all locked up in terms of which teams will be in the postseason, seeding can change drastically on the final weekend.

[ MORE: Tab Ramos confirms interest in USMNT job ]

Meanwhile, the West sees three clubs vying for one final spot in what has proven to be a very intriguing battle over the last several weeks.

All eyes will be on three teams in the Western Conference as the San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake all have an opportunity to move into the sixth spot.

Below, PST takes a look at where clubs can finish in relation to the playoff race.

Eastern Conference

#1 seed: Toronto FC is locked into the top spot

#2 seed: NYCFC — clinches the two seed with a win; Chicago Fire — clinches two with win and NYCFC draw or loss; Atlanta takes two with win plus NYCFC loss/draw and Fire loss/draw

#3 seed: Fire — finishes third with win; NYCFC — takes third with loss to Crew and Fire win; Atlanta — third with win and Fire loss; Crew — finish third with win over NYCFC and don’t overtake NYCFC on GD, plus losses by Fire and Atlanta

#4 seed: NYCFC — fourth with loss to Crew and overtaken on GD, plus Fire win; Fire — finish fourth with loss and Atlanta win, plus NYCFC win or draw; Atlanta — takes fourth with loss and NYCFC/Fire wins; Crew — fourth with win over NYCFC, Fire win and Atlanta loss/draw

#5 seed: Crew — finish fifth with loss/draw; Atlanta — finishes fifth with loss and Crew win; Fire — takes fifth with loss and Atlanta/Crew victories; NYCFC — drops with loss to Crew, Atlanta win and Fire win/draw

#6 seed: New York Red Bulls are locked into sixth spot

Western Conference

#1 seed: Whitecaps — clinch top spot with win; Timbers — finish first with win and Whitecaps loss

#2 seed: Whitecaps — finish second with loss to Timbers; Timbers — second with loss/draw and Sounders/Sporting KC losses; Sounders — finish second with win and Whitecaps win

#3 seed: Timbers — third with loss and Sounders win; Sounders — loss to Rapids and Sporting KC/Dynamo losses; Sporting KC — finish third with win, Sounders loss and Whitecaps/Timbers draw; Dynamo — third with win, Sporting KC loss and Sounders loss

#4 seed: Whitecaps — finish fourth with loss to Timbers, Sounders/Sporting KC wins; Timbers — loss to Whitecaps, plus Sounders/Sporting KC victories; Sounders — finish fourth with loss/draw and Sporting KC win; Sporting KC — fourth with loss and Dynamo loss/draw; Dynamo — finish fourth with win and Sporting KC loss

#5 seed: Timbers — fifth with loss to Whitecaps and Sounders/Sporting KC/Dynamo wins; Sounders — loss to Rapids, plus Sporting KC/Dynamo victories; Dynamo — finish fifth with loss; Sporting KC — fifth place with loss and Dynamo win

#6 seed: San Jose Earthquakes clinch with win; FC Dallas takes sixth with win/draw and Earthquakes loss/draw; Real Salt Lake clinch with win/draw, Earthquakes loss and Dallas loss/draw

The next Pulisic? A 10-year-old American is heading to AS Roma

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With everything that has transpired since last week’s U.S. Men’s National Team debacle, American soccer fans can use a pick-me-up.

What better could there be than perhaps another young star-in-the-making? Dare I say, the next Christian Pulisic?

[ MORE: Bruce Arena is out as USMNT manager ]

Perhaps, but it’s way too early to say that.

His name is Alessandro Cupini, a 10-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri that is about to complete a dream that a soccer player of any age would be thrilled to achieve.

Less than two weeks ago, Cupini and his family announced that the Kansas City Fusion midfielder/striker would be accepting a spot in the AS Roma academy starting in the Spring 2018, after having trained with the club for the better part of two years off and on.

Pro Soccer Talk had the opportunity to speak with Cupini’s father, Eddie, ahead of his son’s big move to Italy.

“This is something that Alessandro has worked really hard for,” Eddie Cupini told PST. “There are times where I tell him that he needs to take a step back and be a normal kid, but he doesn’t have any of that. He’s an incredibly hard-working and driven kid that does more than most people regardless of his age.”

Alessandro — who recently turned 10 years old — isn’t the typically American youngster though, according to his father.

“There are times where I wish Alessandro would take a break and be a kid, but that’s just not in his desire,” Cupini said. “We built him a mini stadium downstairs where he trains basically every day after school. As soon as he gets home from school he’s doing work down there and always looking for other kids to come over to practice with.”

That’s where the comparisons to Pulisic can be worked into the conversation.

Pulisic followed a very similar path to the professional level when he left his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania at the age of 16 to sign with Borussia Dortmund. Now, he’s U.S. Soccer’s most promising star as the USMNT looks to rebuild.

“We’re very familiar with Christian’s story, and he’s certainly somebody that Alessandro looks up to,” Cupini said.

Cupini is already on the radar of U.S. Soccer and the Olympic Development Program (ODP), which helps identify young talent in the United States starting at the Under-12 level.

However, because of Cupini’s Italian heritage and his unique opportunity to move to Italy next year, Alessandro could potentially have the chance to represent either the USMNT or the Azzurri in the future.

“It’s a long ways away and we’re taking things slow in that regard,” Cupini said in regards to his son’s international plans. “We’d certainly be willing to explore our options, but I think it would be a real dream and his main goal to play for Italy.”

New Jersey-native and former Italy international Giuseppe Rossi made a similar career choice when it came down to choosing a national team. Despite living in the United States for much of his youth years, Rossi appeared for a number of Italy’s youth teams before holding a stint with the senior side from 2008 to 2014.

Prior to making the announcement that Roma would be where Cupini will ply his trade next year, the young American also had the opportunity to train with Italian academies Empoli and Atalanta.

“My father is from Rome, so for Alessandro to have the opportunity to play for his hometown club it was almost a no-brainer,” Cupini said. “We were very grateful to the other clubs for the chance Alessandro had to train with them, but Roma is a club that is very close to our family.