Every MLS match over the next few weeks that doesn’t pit some combination of D.C. United, Toronto FC and Chivas USA will have something to say about the sensational pileup of a playoff race that has developed.
Some will be a little more influential than others, naturally. Here three tonight and what they will mean:
Vancouver at FC Dallas: As we are in Round 28, some of these will start to look like “elimination matches.” We aren’t quite there yet, but this one is darn close. Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps and Schellas Hyndman’s FC Dallas are dead even in matches played and points (37), tied for sixth in the West. That’s one spot out of the playoffs. FC Dallas simply must get the points at home against a Whitecaps side that isn’t nearly as strong as it was earlier this summer; the Caps are 1-4-2 since mid-July.
Columbus at Sporting Kansas City: Sporting KC is one of the East’s best teams on the road, but if things go sideways from here and Peter Vermes’ team falls out of the playoff picture (or hangs in there but suffers in the positioning), blame a humdrum 7-4-3 record at home. Facing a Columbus team tonight whose playoff fate hangs in the balance, and who are once again without suspended offensive leader Federico Higuain, SKC cannot miss this opportunity for three points. It won’t be easy, however: SKC is without Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, not to mention just-transferred winger Kei Kamara. Time for DP striker Claudio Bieler (pictured left) to step up.
Colorado Rapids at LA Galaxy: The Galaxy will make the playoffs. Book it. Too many of the pursuers have too many issues, and Bruce Arena’s team has that look once again. But Arena and crew don’t just want to make the playoffs; they want Supporters Shield and that top spot in the West, for best chances of hosting a third consecutive MLS Cup. Greedy, perhaps … but thems the rules. Colorado, meanwhile, is in the pack of the hard-trying flawed. Oscar Pareja’s ridiculously young team has to show it can stand the playoff stretch heat; no better place to do so than the StubHub Center against the two-time defending champs (who are without four key men.)
(MORE: Galaxy-Rapids preview from ProSoccerTalk)
It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.
Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.
[ MORE: Champions League scores ]
Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.
Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.
Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.
Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:
Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)
FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)
FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)
CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)
In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.
Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.
[ MORE: Live Europa League scores ]
[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ]
ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.
The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.
FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.
CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.
FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”
Tottenham reportedly broke the bank for its first transfer of the summer.
The North London club confirmed that it had completed a transfer with Ajax for defender Davinson Sanchez after the Colombian international passed a medical. According to The Telegraph, the deal is worth around $54 million, a club record. The deal is subject to acquisition of Sanchez’s work permit but given the transfer fee and him being in Colombia’s squad, it’s likely a mere formality at this point.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
The 21-year-old defender brings speed and strength to Tottenham’s backline as well as a year of seasoning in the Eredivisie, which features plenty of attacking talent. Sanchez will battle with Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen for a place in Spurs’ three-man backline.
It’s a risk moving to a new club a year ahead of the World Cup, but Sanchez is hoping that with appearances in the UEFA Champions League and Premier League up for grabs, he can do well enough to keep his place in the Colombia National Team squad.
Here’s some more transfer news from across England: