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MLS Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls

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  • The New York Red Bulls, currently tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, have never won away at Houston in league play.
  • The Houston Dynamo are even on points with the New England Revolution, but with the Revs having scored more goals, Houston have now slipped down to sixth place and out of the playoff positions.
  • Houston will have to fare without Boniek García (Honduras) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica), both whom are likely pleased with their teams’ performances in the Hex on Friday evening. New York, meanwhile, miss Tim Cahill, injured in last week’s match, and Ibrahim Sekagya, who is suspended.

The Houston Dynamo are probably just happy to be coming home, hosting the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at 5 p.m. Houston haven’t had much fun on their three game road trip, starting off with a humiliating 5-0 loss to leaders Montreal Impact. After that beating, the Dynamo must’ve felt rather good about their 1-1 tie with the Chicago Fire, but Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew likely sunk their spirits even further. That’s just one point (and one goal) from three games, pulling the Dynamo down to sixth place in the East and out of the playoff spots.

New York, too, have faded a bit. The Red Bulls picked up just one point from their last three matches prior to beating D.C. United 2-1 last weekend. Now NYRB are in a three way tie for the top of the Eastern Conference. Like New York, Sporting Kansas City has 42 points from 27 games, but Montreal has an advantage, also with 42 points but with two less games played.

However, the Red Bulls pulled out an impressive performance last Saturday. New York took an early lead through an 8th minute goal by Lloyd Sam, handed his first start since late June. United then equalized in the 36th minute, but the home side gave them little time to celebrate, with Tim Cahill putting his side back on top two minutes later. Then, in the 72nd minute, Ibrahim Sekagya was shown the red card for obstruction, but Luis Robles managed to save the penalty. Despite being down a man, New York hung on for the next twenty minutes and came away with all three points.

What they’re saying

Red Bulls coach Mike Petke on the win over D.C. United:  “It was a gritty, gutsy performance and we had some quality mixed in there for a lot of the game. When we went down a man, it was difficult on these guys but a gutsy performance. They really put everything they had out there.”


A point for each. New York have yet to win on the road this season, but Houston seem to be slipping further and further into a slump. Still, if you’re demanding to know which side has a slight edge, tip your hat to the Dynamo. But put no money on it — that’s a gut feeling only, nothing more. Maybe it’s the gut acknowledging that Houston have never lost at home to the Red Bulls?

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.