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How do we feel about Dom Dwyer’s one-game loan to Orlando City? Sporting attacker will play in USL PRO title game.

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Dom Dwyer has nothing to prove in the third division, especially after scoring 15 times in 13 games with Orlando City SC earlier this year. He hasn’t been able to replicate the proficiency with Sporting KC, but the 23-year-old attacker does have a goal in 206 minutes of action. With Kei Kamara gone to Middlesbrough, the former South Florida Bull is in line for more time with his Major League Soccer team.

Regardless, Dwyer has been loaned back to Orlando City, albeit under very unique circumstances – a situation that might disappoint the Charlotte Eagles. They’re Orlando’s competition in Saturday’s USL PRO title game, and thanks to today’s agreement between Sporting and Orlando, they’ll also be the opponents for Dwyer’s curious one-game loan.

Here’s the player, from Major League Soccer’s website:

“It’s going to be fun,” Dwyer said on Wednesday, shortly after learning that he would be loaned back to Sporting’s affiliate for Saturday’s USL PRO title game against the Charlotte Eagles. “Obviously, they’ve done really well to get the game at home, and I’m excited about it, I didn’t think I was going to get to go. I thought I’d just be wishing them luck.”

Why would he think he was going to go? There was no reason to think this would happen. After all, since when to players go on one-game loans to bolster squads for a title game? Is this something we’re doing now? Because if so, it sure seems like the Eagles get screwed by the new practice.

Dwyer was with Orlando earlier this year, so from a certain point of view, you could argue he was a part of their success and deserves to further contribute to their possible title. But it’s still incredibly perverse, akin to trading away a player mid-season only to see him make a cameo in the most important game of the season. Things similar to this can happen in minor league baseball, but not quite so abruptly. Particularly given Orlando is not a Sporting KC farm team, this is weird to the point of being wrong.

Here’s Sporting’s Peter Vermes with some background:

“They called me last week after they won [in the semifinals] and said, ‘Look, we’re decimated in the forward position with injuries, and a red card on one of the players, and then one player on international duty,'” Vermes said on Wednesday. “So they’ve got one guy. They asked if there was a chance that either Dom or C.J. [Sapong] could go, and they particularly wanted Dom because he’d been there as long as he had.

“I said it probably wasn’t the greatest time for us, either, but we have options, so I just feel obligated based on our partnership and how well we’ve worked with each other.”

This just makes it even more perverse. Somehow, Orlando has been able to turn their lack of depth and the team’s misfortune into an opportunity to upgrade. Averaging over a goal a game, Dwyer is clearly beyond third-tier quality, yet thanks to players being injured, suspended, and recalled, Orlando have actually improved. They wouldn’t have called and asked about Dwyer’s availability otherwise, but thanks to those circumstances, Dwyer becomes Orlando City’s ringer for Saturday’s title game.

I’m not going to go as far as to say this will taint an Orlando title — I don’t follow USL PRO much, so I shouldn’t judge — but conceptually, this seems all wrong. Allowing teams to reload from outside their organization three days before the title game? When did this become acceptable?

Perhaps for Charlotte, it’s not.

 

AEK Athens beats Greek league leader Olympiakos 1-0

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) AEK Athens defeated Greek league leader Olympiakos 1-0 in an ill-tempered game on Sunday that saw 12 yellow cards and two dismissals.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win of season ]

Astrit Ajdarevic scored the only goal in the 34th minute with a free kick that deflected off Olympiakos defender Manuel da Costa.

Olympiakos’ athletic director Francois Modesto was sent to the stands for protesting about the lead-up to AEK’s goal. His team’s central defender Alberto Botia was dismissed after a second yellow card in the 75th for pulling an advancing AEK forward’s jersey.

Despite the defeat, its second of the season, Olympiakos has a 10-point cushion over second-place Panionios, which beat 10-man Iraklis 1-0.

PAOK, a 4-0 winner over Veria, remains in third place, one point ahead of Panathinaikos, which beat Asteras 5-0 on Saturday. AEK is joint fifth with Xanthi.

PSG drops points against Toulouse days after massive UCL win

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 14:  Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona at Parc des Princes on February 14, 2017 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Just days after its massive (and somewhat unexpected) beatdown of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain failed to close the gap on league leaders Monaco.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win ]

PSG settled for a 0-0 draw on Sunday at the Parc des Princes against eighth-place Toulouse, leaving the Parisian side three points behind Monaco through 26 rounds of action.

[ MORE: Bielsa returns to Ligue 1 with Lille ]

Despite holding the visitors to just three shots (one on target), Toulouse managed to contain a rampant PSG attack, which posted four goals midweek in their rout of the Blaugrana.

PSG’s first strong chance came in the 14th minute when Lucas Moura’s effort was saved in the bottom corner by goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani may have had the game’s best opportunity to break the deadlock when the Uruguayan attacker struck the post from inside the penalty area.

Unai Emery’s group will be back in action on Feb. 26 when PSG travels to Dimitri Payet and Marseille.

Wenger worried over Sutton’s pitch heading Monday’s clash

SUTTON, GREATER LONDON - FEBRUARY 16:  Pundits Paul Merson (4L) and Matt Le Tissier (2L) take part in a training session alongside Paul Doswell manager of Sutton United (L) and players during a Sutton United FA Cup media day on February 16, 2017 at the Borough Sports Ground in Sutton, Greater London. Sutton United are due to face Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup Fifth round on 20 February.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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The story of Monday’s encounter between Arsenal and fifth-division Sutton United will be whether the minnows can overcome the mighty Gunners.

[ MORE: Mourinho pleased with United’s “attitude” against Blackburn ]

However, Arsene Wenger already fears a bigger challenge within the game, one that concerns his players’ safety.

Sutton’s 5,000-seat Gander Green Lane features an artificial surface, which is largely uncommon for English and most European venues regardless of club standing.

“First of all the pitch. Secondly their enthusiasm. Thirdly that we are not ready mentally for a big fight and think subconsciously that it doesn’t matter,” Wenger said ahead of Monday’s FA Cup meeting in South London.

In preparation for their meeting with the U’s, Wenger had his side train on their own indoor artificial field on Friday.

“Look, ideally we would like to play on a normal pitch. Competition is as well to deal with what you face, and we’ll face an unusual pitch and we’ll have to deal with it,” he said.

“We practice inside [on Friday] because we have an artificial pitch. It’s not the same as it’s a dry pitch, and at Sutton I’ve heard that’s a wet pitch, they water it before the game. So it will be much quicker than what we have.”

Leipzig beats ‘Gladbach 2-1, cuts Bayern’s Bundesliga lead

Leipzig's scorer Willi Orban, center, and his teammates celebrate their side's 2nd goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Hertha BSC Berlin in Leipzig, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
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BERLIN (AP) Leipzig held on for a 2-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach to cut Bayern Munich’s lead in the Bundesliga to five points on Sunday.

[ MORE: Messi rescues Barca, Pescara wins second Serie A match ]

Emil Forsberg scored one and set up another for the promoted side to end its two-game losing streak and stay on course for Champions League qualification with its 14th win of the season.

[ MORE: Bielsa makes Ligue 1 return, joins Lille as new manager ]

`Gladbach `keeper Yann Sommer pulled off a brilliant fingertip save to deny Marcel Sabitzer early on, but he was powerless to stop Forsberg from breaking the deadlock after half an hour played.

Sabitzer and Timo Werner played their way through the static `Gladbach defense and Werner laid the ball off for the Sweden midfielder to fire inside the bottom left corner.

The home side was given a lifeline when Marvin Compper brought down Lars Stindl and referee Felix Zwayer pointed to the spot, but Peter Gulacsi saved Thorgan Hazard‘s penalty before the break.

More poor defending allowed Werner grab the second 10 minutes after the break, firing inside the far post after Forsberg played him through.

Jannik Vestergaard pulled one back with a powerful header from a corner to set up an exciting finale. However, six minutes of injury time were not enough for an equalizer.

Leipzig had kicked off to a chorus of whistles from the home fans, who then mostly stayed silent till the 19th minute in protest against the visiting side. Huge banners in the north stand said “Traditional club since 1900” – an apparent protest against Leipzig, founded in 2009 when Austrian energy-drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz rebranded a fifth-tier team with his company’s livery before financing its steady promotion through the lower leagues.

COLOGNE 1, SCHALKE 1

Cologne stopped Schalke’s progress but the point was enough for the visiting side to overtake `Gladbach on goal difference in 10th.

Alessandro Schoepf got the visitors off to a flying start in the second minute with the help of the left post, and Leon Goretzka hit the post after half an hour with the home side still struggling to get into the game.

But Anthony Modeste equalized before the break with a fine strike inside the far post, and might even have scored again just minutes later, when his hesitation allowed Benedikt Hoewedes get back and clear.

Guido Burgstaller came closest to a winner for Schalke in the second half, his shot just wide of the far post after beating the goalkeeper.