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MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Chicago Fire

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• The Chicago Fire is 0-4-3 all-time in Major League Soccer matches against Seattle Sounders FC, including a 0-2-1 record in the Northwest.

• The Sounders are 7-1-3 at home this season, while the Fire is 2-6-3 on the road.

• Chicago’s Joel Lindpere (Estonia) and Arévalo Ríos (Uruguay) and Seattle’s Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson (United States) will be on international duty. Meanwhile, Seattle’s Brad Evans and Obafemi Martins are fighting through injuries.

The upstart Seattle Sounders FC, in the quest for Major League Soccer’s Supporters’ Shield with six wins in seven games, hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday (10 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Chicago is just two points behind the playoff field in the Eastern Conference after conceding a 90th-minute goal to the Houston Dynamo last week in a disappointing 1-1 tie.

Meanwhile, Seattle went away to Columbus last Saturday, and despite losing defender Leo González to a seventh-minute red card, the Sounders beat the Crew 1-0. Then on Wednesday, they found another narrow 1-0 win, at home over Chivas USA.

Seattle is starting to look like a team that can get a result every time it steps on the field, in stark contrast to earlier in the season, when it would seemingly alternate between dominant 4-0 and 4-2 wins over the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas and 4-0 and 2-0 losses to the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.

Despite Obafemi Martins missing Wednesday due to injury and Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson on international duty, the Sounders got a solid showing from goal-scorer Lamar Neagle (pictured). It was the Sounders’ 10th straight match unbeaten at home, a run that started after a surprising opening-day 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact.

With its 2013 road woes, Chicago will likely find it difficult to snap the streak. The last time the Fire won on the road before Aug. 3 at Philadelphia Union was June 22 at Columbus, and those are the only two away wins on the season for Chicago.

In a long MLS season, experienced teams and coaches often put their emphasis on peaking at the right times. The Houston Dynamo made a late push into the 2012 playoffs and ended up making it to the MLS Cup final. The Los Angeles Galaxy won the competition after making it as a No. 4 seed in the West.

Both Chicago and Seattle are heating up, but one is hotter than the other. A Chicago win on Saturday would even the situation out a bit, but Seattle still has two games in hand on the first-place RSL in the West.

What they’re saying

Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid on what he expects out of the Fire: “They’re a team that is in desperate need for points. They want to stay in the hunt in the East. So for them, it’s a very important game. I think it’s a team that’s going to play pretty tight to the vest in terms of opening themselves up defensively. … You have to be sharp and alert and be prepared for a lot of place changing [among players].”

Prediction

Seattle is on a roll, especially at home, and Chicago is still struggling to find consistent results on the road. Even though the Sounders are missing a few national team players, Chicago will likely feel its two losses more, and Seattle has enough quality and depth to step up and beat the Fire at home.

Omar Gonzalez, Pachuca win Liga MX final in stoppage time, down a man

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Victor Guzman used Pachuca’s first shot on target of the game to score the deciding goal in stoppage time, and Tuzos are champions of Liga MX after a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s second leg of the Liga MX Liguilla final versus Monterrey.

[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed by police ]

Pachuca entered the game with a 1-0 lead, but found things level early before going down a man. But Guzman out-jumped USMNT left back Edgar Castillo for the title-winning goal, giving fellow U.S. back Omar Gonzalez his first Liga MX crown.

Here’s the goal:

Gonzalez was left out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Friday against Colombia. Castillo was, too, but was called into replace injured Timmy Chandler.

We doubt Gonzalez is thinking about that much right now. He’s more likely thinking about dancing some more:

Kidnapped Mexico player Pulido freed by police rescue operation

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 02:  Alan Pulido #11 of Mexico handles the ball during the International Friendly against USA at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 2, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico and USA played to a 2-2 tie.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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There’s been a quick resolution to the kidnapping of Olympiacos and Mexico striker Alan Pulido, who has been freed by police after a “rescue operation”.

Pulido was kidnapped early Sunday while leaving a party with his girlfriend. Their car was blocked from advancing by the kidnappers, and his girlfriend was let go.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s El Tri coverage ]

The kidnapping lasted for several hours, as police organized quickly to find the 25-year-old striker.

From the BBC:

Pulido, 25, appeared with a bandaged hand and told reporters he was “very well”.

Officials said the rescue operation was carried out on Sunday night, without giving more details.

The high profile case clearly took priority, and tracking down this kidnapping victim was apparently fairly simple. Good to see.

PSG defender Aurier arrested in Paris after police incident

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 03:  Serge Aurier of Paris Saint-Germain in action during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Madrid CF and Paris Saint-Germain at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 3, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier has been arrested following an argument with police after a night out in a Paris, a police official told The Associated Press on Monday.

The official said Aurier was arrested at 5:50 a.m. local time after he spent the night at a club with friends near the Champs-Elysees. The official said Aurier was put in a holding cell for “using violence on a police officer.”

The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly of the case.

[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed after police operation]

PSG officials said the club will wait until receiving further information before making any comment on the incident, “which did not take place during a competition period.”

Aurier was suspended for six weeks in February after a video emerged on social media showing him making derogatory comments about PSG coach Laurent Blanc, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other players.

The Ivory Coast defender is widely regarded as one of the best right backs in Europe.

Germany GK Zieler in Leicester for medical with Premier League champs

SANTO ANDRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 11:  Goalkeeper Ron Robert Zieler makes a save during the German National team training session at  Campo Bahia on June 11, 2014 in Santo Andre, Brazil.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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Kasper Schmeichel is a Premier League-winning goalkeeper, just like his even-more-famous father, Peter, and no one can ever take that away from him.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

What can always be taken from the big Danish shot-stopper, though, is his starting job at Leicester City. That’s where Ron-Robert Zieler, a six-times-capped goalkeeper and 2014 World Cup winner with Germany, comes into play.

27 years old and out of contract after the expiration of his deal with Hannover, Zieler is set to become the Foxes’ first signing of the summer as Claudio Ranieri and Co. prepare to defend their PL title next season. (It’s still weird to say that, in case you were wondering.)

[ MORE: Rashford to be handsomely rewarded for breakout season ]

Zieler arrived in Leicester on Sunday, according to Hannover’s official website, and was set to undergo a medical examination before signing a long-term contract. An established Bundesliga starter since the age of 22 (started all 34 league games each of the last five seasons), Zieler will arrive at the King Power Stadium with expectations far loftier than those of the man he’ll battle for the starting job next season, if not comparable name recognition.

With neither ‘keeper north of 30 years old as of yet (Schmeichel will turn 30 in November), it would seem that Ranieri can do no wrong in choosing either one of the combatants his no. 1 ahead of the 2016-17 season.