Surprise package of the season so far... Can the saints keep marching in?

Southampton 2-0 Crystal Palace: Saints get the job done (video)

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The first half was a rather dull affair. Morgan Schneiderlin had a chance in the eighth minute, sending his header over Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni, but a defender was there to clear the ball off the line. Other than that close chance for Southampton, the most interesting thing to happen was when Marouane Chamakh got himself behind the Saints’ defense and found himself one on one with Artur Boruc. Rather than make the most of a good opportunity, the Palace defender flopped over, hoping for the call, and instead found himself booked for diving.

The hosts put themselves in charge early in the second half, and had the result sorted out by the time the 50th minute rolled around. First Pablo Osvaldo put himself on the scoresheet, with the record signing getting his first goal for Southampton. Adam Lallana took advantage of some poor Palace defending to slot the ball over to Osvaldo, whose low shot fired past Speroni’s outstretched palm.

Rickie Lambert was not about to let himself be outdone by Southampton’s shiny new toy. The England international scored his own just two minutes after Osvaldo scored the first, his free kick from 25 yards flying into the back of the Palace goal.

From then on, Southampton were in the driver’s seat, and Mauricio Pochettino had every intention of keeping them there. The tactician made his subs with defense in mind, and after the 60th minute, the Saints found very little need to take a chance on a shot.

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Wanyama, Steven Davis (Ward-Prowse 67), Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ramirez 86); Osvaldo, Lambert (Rodriguez 77)

Subs not used: K. Davis, Cork, Chambers, Hooiveld

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bannan (Jerome 57), Kebe (Phillips 73); Gayle (Thomas 58), Chamakh.

Subs not used: Price, Parr, Campana, O’Keefe

PST’s writers predict the USA vs. Mexico score

United States v Mexico - International Friendly
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This is it. Don’t get scared now.

On Saturday the U.S. national team take on Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, as the bitter rivals square off to decide who will be going to the 2017 Confederations Cup.

[ FULL PREVIEW: USA vs. Mexico ]

The time for talking is over. Whoever wins the one-off game in California will be heading to Russia a year before the 2018 World Cup to represent the CONCACAF region.

Click on the link above for a comprehensive preview of everything you need to know heading into Saturday’s massive game, while below all five of our writers predict the score and how the game will pan out.

[ MORE: Bedoya out for USA ]

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.

Joe Prince-Wright

USA 2-2 Mexico (USA win on penalty kicks)

For some reason, I think this is going to PKs. Expect a fast, frenetic opening and if the U.S. can keep things level at the break then I think they have a great chance. I see a dramatic evening playing out in this dramatic rivalry. U.S. win. just.

Nicholas Mendola

USA 3-2 Mexico

After the game, one in which Fabian Johnson serves the game winner to Clint Dempsey, Klinsmann runs shirtless across the field with “Benny who?” painted on his chest. On the back, he’s painted, “I’m kidding, America. Benny is a wonderful midfielder and a blessing to our shores.”

Kyle Bonn

USA 0-2 Mexico

The U.S. limped its way through the Gold Cup and still doesn’t have any idea what its best 11 is. Mexico takes this one despite turmoil at the top. (Also the team I pick usually doesn’t win, so I’m all in with the reverse jinx)

Andy Edwards

USA 1-2 Mexico

Too much possession conceded to Mexico, too much pressure on the USMNT defense… just like the Gold Cup, except against even better opposition.

Kyle Lynch

USA 1-2 Mexico

The United States takes an early lead, but Mexico fights back and wins it all in Jurgen Klinsmann’s final game as USMNT manager.

Blatter, Platini both officially appeal FIFA suspension

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini look on during the Team Seminar ahead of the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Corinthia Hotel on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Suspended FIFA executives Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both officially appealed their 90-day bans through various means in attempts to clear their names.

The pair have been forced to temporarily vacate their office due to an investigation by Swiss authorities into corruption charges based on a “disloyal payment” of around $2 million from Blatter to Platini in 2011.

Blatter’s appeal was lodged within FIFA on Friday, with the president’s lawyer confirming he has “requested additional proceedings before the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee and filed an appeal with the Appeal Committee.”

Blatter’s American lawyer Richard Cullen said he is “very hopeful” the suspension will be lifted on appeal, while his lawyer team back on Thursday argued in a statement that the FIFA Ethics Committee “based its decision [to suspend Blatter] on a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge against the president.”

The New York Times obtained a copy of the appeal, in which Blatter’s lawyers demand to see the case file which the Ethics Committee reviewed upon its decision to suspend the 79-year-old. It also asks that he receive a full opportunity to argue his innocence in front of the committee; previously, he was only afforded a short interview with Swiss investigators.

Meanwhile, Platini’s appeal came through Saturday morning and is filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. His case has received official, legal backing from the French FA as his home nominating association for the upcoming presidential election. Using the French FA’s support, Platini can bypass the FIFA appeals system which he individually must exhaust before moving to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CONMEBOL has also publicly supported Platini, issuing a statement that says it “does not agree” with the decision to suspend him, calling it “untimely and disproportionate” while stating, “The presumption of innocence is a fundamental right that has to be considered. Mr. Platini has not been found guilty of any charge, therefore the provisional ban jeopardizes the integrity of the electoral process to the FIFA presidency, of which Mr. Platini is a candidate.”

Platini has not been replaced at his UEFA presidential post, with no interim leader named. “This is because the UEFA executive committee is aware that the UEFA president will immediately take all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the FIFA ethics committee to clear his name,” UEFA said in a statement. They confirmed he will not continue his duties while under punishment.

The FIFA Executive Committee has announced it will hold an emergency meeting on October 20 to discuss the situation. Among the topics that will be considered will be a decision on whether to postpone the February 26 presidential election.