Lineups and discussion: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

Leave a comment

The only way this game could have been scheduled worse is if it kicked off this Saturday at 10:00 a.m Eastern. Chelsea’s annual visit to Manchester United is normally be one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season, but scheduled far too early, the stakes are low-to-non-existent. At least if it was on opening weekend we could have had the months of insane buildup, people like us driving a ‘Moyes debuts against Chelsea narrative’ six feet deep. Doesn’t that sound fun?

I guess we’re just going to have to content ourselves with 22 elite soccer players starting for two iconic clubs playing in front of a 75,000 people at one of the best venues on Earth. As for stakes — beyond these being two of the three major contenders for this year’s title — we’ll have to supplant them with the uncertainty that we’re still not very sure if United will fall off of Chelsea has truly made up the gap. If either side manages three points, it will be as huge of a result as you can muster 10 days into a season.

Chelsea comes into the match at the top of the Premier League, with first week wins over Hull City and Aston Villa putting them on a perfect six points through two matches. Today’s game, however, will be their first way from Stamford Bridge. It will also be their first against a side that’s expected to compete for Europe.

Manchester United faced both of those things in week one, going to the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to post a 4-1 win on Michael Laudrup’s Swans. Doubles by Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck got the David Moyes era off to a surprisingly strong start.

For United, there is one notable change from Monday’s game: Wayne Rooney starts. The recalcitrant star began on the bench against Swansea yet came on to record two assists. Against the club he’s rumored to be moving to before the transfer deadline, Rooney may make one of his final Manchester United starts. He comes into the team for Ryan Giggs.

Chelsea’s wrinkle is the lack of an obvious number nine. Against Hull they used Fernando Torres. Demba Ba started against Aston Villa. Today, José Mourinho’s going with an attacking four of Kevin De Bruyne, Oscar, Eden Hazard, and Andre Schurrle. Amazingly, Chelsea has named a striker-less team that doesn’t contain Juan Mata.

Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, on NBCSN. If you’re away from your television, head over to NBC Sports Live Extra, where you’ll be able to stream today’s match.

Starting Lineups

Manchester United: David de Gea; Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Wayne Rooney; Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck

Chelsea: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Ramires, Frank Lampard; Kevin De Bruyne, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle

Moyes: Chicharito could miss two weeks with hamstring strain

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Leave a comment

David Moyes has given Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez assurances that he’ll have the opportunity to compete for a starting role with the Hammers, but the Mexican international will have to wait a bit for a chance.

[ MORE: North London Derby takes center stage Saturday morning ]

Hernandez, 29, is currently nursing a hamstring strain, leaving his status for this weekend against Watford in doubt.

“I think everyone knows he [Chicharito] has got a hamstring injury,” Moyes said during Friday’s press conference. “It could take a week, it could take two weeks.”

Moyes didn’t mince words recently when speaking about Chicharito and other players within the squad, essentially pointing out that no player will be awarded a starting role simply because of their stardom.

Hernandez has scored four goals in 13 matches this season for West Ham, who currently sits 18th in the Premier League. The Hammers have won just two matches to start the 2017/18 campaign and sit on nine points.

Alessandro Nesta steps down with NASL side Miami FC

Twitter/@LemonCityLive
Leave a comment

Miami FC quickly put itself on the U.S. soccer map in two short seasons, and much of the club’s success can be attributed to manager Alessandro Nesta.

[ MORE: Chris Coleman steps down with Wales, expected to take Sunderland job ]

The former Serie A defender has managed the club in its first two years of existence, but Nesta’s time in South Beach is coming to an end.

Nesta revealed on Friday that he won’t be returning to the NASL club in 2018, as he prepares to fnd a “new challenge” in his managerial career.

With NASL’s future as a league very much up in the air, Nesta could be seeking a more stable position entering 2018, especially given that his name has been thrown around with several MLS jobs over the last few months.

Orlando City raised over $300,000 in friendly for Puerto Rico hurricane relief

Twitter/@OrlandoCitySC
Leave a comment

It isn’t always the score at the end of the match that matters, and Orlando City proved that with its recent friendly to benefit those affected by hurricanes in Puerto Rico.

[ MORE: Whitecaps announce USL affiliation with expansion side Fresno FC ]

Orlando City faced off with the Puerto Rico national team on Nov. 4, which the Lions won 6-1, but it was the club’s humanitarian efforts that proved to be the real story from the event.

The club announced that it raised $327,530 from the match, with all proceeds from the event going directly to the Puerto Rican people.

“I’m very proud of what our Club and our partners were able to accomplish,” Orlando City SC owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said in a team statement. “What we did meant more than just raising funds for Puerto Rico. Once again, we came together as a community to rally behind something bigger than us all.”

Whitecaps announce USL affiliation with expansion side Fresno FC

Twitter/@FresnoFC2018
Leave a comment

The Vancouver Whitecaps will continue their stake in USL next season, but it won’t be with their current affiliate.

[ MORE: Caleb Porter out with the Portland Timbers ]

The Western Conference side announced on Friday that it will bring a new affiliate into USL in 2018 as Fresno FC makes its debut in the Division II league.

In the wake of this decision by the Whitecaps, the club’s current USL side, Vancouver Whitecaps 2, won’t be returning to the league in the near future.

“First of all, we would like to thank every person who has worked tirelessly with Whitecaps FC 2 over the past three seasons,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “With both the USL and Canadian soccer landscapes evolving, now is the right time to make this change for our club. We are delighted to be working with Fresno FC, where the USL will provide the opportunity for high-level competition that will benefit our first team in MLS in the future. We expect that the internal competition for playing time at Fresno FC will provide a tremendous and challenging environment for our top young players.”

The relationship between Vancouver and Fresno will operate similarly to the club’s former status with Whitecaps 2, which allows the senior team to send players down and sign them to MLS contracts when seen fit by the club.

Former MLS manager Frank Yallop serves as general manager for the new USL side, while Adam Smith has been named Fresno’s first head coach.