MLS Preview: New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo

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Ah, the stretch run.  Five matches to go, and the playoffs are anybody’s for the taking. This is what you live for, right?

Ok fine, the playoffs are what you live for.  But you have to get there first.

For Houston and New England, they’ve secured a pole position, now they have to hold onto it. These final games are no longer about amassing as many points as possible – it’s now about getting more points than those below you (thanks, John).

The results couldn’t get more mind-boggling in New England right now. Can anybody figure out where the Revs fit? Right in the middle seems to work.  In their last 8 matches, they lost 1-0 at home to a bad team, got trounced 3-0, won 2-0, stomped 5-1, drew 1-1, lost 4-2 and 3-2, and won 2-1.

What?

Unfortunately there’s more bad than good in that list, and with their fifth and final playoff spot dangling by a hair, they can’t afford any more slip-ups.  They know it, too.

“We all said that it’s a must-win game” said Revolution teen Diego Fagundez after their win over D.C. United last week. “We’re in the playoffs right now. This game was part of our playoff games, so it was very important.”  Those playoffs are starting now for the Revolution, and a few others as well.

The Houston Dynamo are in the same boat.  They have a four-point cushion above the Line of Death, but it’s still precarious enough that each result is vastly important.  They’ve taken that to heart, responding well from a rough patch by winning their last three matches.  The Dynamo have been streaky all season, but just like last year they’re arranging the streaks to finish strong.

“I think the way we responded says a lot about this team,” Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “It’s something we hadn’t done earlier and the middle part of this season and it’s something we’re doing now.”

They’ve carried their success over to the CONCACAF Champions League as well, defeating W Connection FC 2-0 midweek.

Juan Aguedelo and Brad Davis are out for their respective teams according to Goal.com, but for this late in the season, both squads are outstandingly fit.

The previous few matches between these two sides have been barnburners, with goals, red cards, goals, drama, upsets, oh and goals.  So this should be a fun watch from Gillette, with Houston looking for revenge from earlier in the year.

When so much is on the line, the play is always amped to a new level.  Consider this the beginning of the playoffs.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

[ MORE: Making sense of table in Man City’s world ]

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.

Leon Bailey stars but Bayer Leverkusen held 4-4 by Hannover

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BERLIN (AP) Jamaica striker Leon Bailey scored twice after coming on as a substitute but Bayer Leverkusen failed to hang on as Hannover grabbed a 4-4 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to move fourth ]

Bailey, who came on at the break, needed only two minutes to equalize after Hannover had gone 3-2 ahead, and he scored again 20 minutes later to put Leverkusen 4-3 in front.

But the 20-year-old missed another chance to complete a hat trick and Julian Korb scored late for Hannover to draw.

“I had a third chance, and I just know if I had taken that chance it would have been over for them. It’s just unlucky. But that’s football,” said Bailey. “A wise man learns from his mistakes. But a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes.”

Both teams traded goals on an afternoon to forget for the goalkeepers.

“It was worth the entrance price for the spectators,” Korb said.

Julian Brandt fired Leverkusen into an early lead with a brilliant volley but Ihlas Bebou replied straight away with a header for Hannover.

Niclas Fuellkrug put the home side ahead with a penalty, only for Admir Mehmedi to equalize four minutes later for Leverkusen.

Hannover went ahead again after Fuellkrug set up Felix Klaus with his heel before the break, when Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich reacted with two substitutions.

One of them was Bailey, who raced forward to reach Kai Havertz’s through ball and kept his cool to beat Hannover `keeper Philipp Tschauner.

Bailey claimed his sixth goal of the season after the game’s longest stretch without a goal when Mehmedi played him through on a counterattack after a Hannover corner.

But there was further drama to come as Bebou eluded three Leverkusen defenders to set up Korb for Hannover’s equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Leipzig, level on points with Leverkusen, had the chance to go second again with a win at home against Hertha Berlin later Sunday.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Liverpool dominates, selling Coutinho discussed

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start off today’s show by discussing Man United’s win at The Hawthorns as Lukaku scores for the second straight match with Juan Mata impressing with his link up play. The guys also look at Alan Pardew’s influence on the Baggies. Liverpool net four in a dominating victory over Bournemouth and with Mo Salah continuing to dominate, the Robbies ask: can Liverpool now afford to sell Coutinho? And finally, the guys discuss Bournemouth’s recent struggles.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Report: PSV likely to land Man City, USMNT’s Palmer-Brown on loan

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A number of well-known American players have completed moves to Europe over the years, and a former Sporting KC defender is about to embark on his own journey abroad.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to go fourth ]

U.S. youth national team centerback Erik Palmer-Brown is headed to Premier League side Manchester City, who currently leads the English top flight, after signing a pre-contract with the club back in September.

It is now believed though that the young player will go on loan once he arrives with the English side.

Metro is reporting is that Palmer-Brown is likely to complete a move to Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Palmer-Brown helped the U.S. Under-20 national team reach the quarterfinals at this year’s U-20 World Cup in South Korea, after previously representing several other U.S. youth national teams.