MLS Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution

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The New York Red Bulls can be the first MLS club to clinch a playoff spot as they return home from Portland with a point.

For the Revolution, they need to find ways to pick up points, and it won’t be easy.

New York hasn’t lost at home since June 1st to Vancouver, and with New England’s playoff hopes clinging on by a thread, the Revolution must act now.

They’re making strides with four points in their last two matches, but they remain in a race against the clock. With only third-place Montreal and a double with a surging Columbus remaining in the season, the chances to pick up points are slimming.

Revs forward Saër Sène has turned on the afterburners for the stretch run.  Having netted just three times in his first 18 appearances this season, the last four matches for Sène have seen him grab two goals and three assists.

Sène scored last weekend against Houston, but the Dynamo soon equalized.  The Revolution need to figure out their back four, as they haven’t kept a clean sheet since August 18.

For the Red Bulls, life provides a little more room to breathe.  They need just a single point to clinch a playoff spot, and could the prospects of that happening Saturday are good – New England haven’t won a match at Red Bull Arena in six years.

The season has been a massive success (so far) for New York, and the club are feeling massively confident.  Tim Cahill stated “The only way we lose games is when we give them away.”

Hard to argue with that.

Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips are again both unavailable, so most likely Fabian Espindola and Peguy Luyindula will play up front as they did last week.

New York can survive on that in the short-term, but logic would say they will need Wright-Phillips back for the playoffs to really make noise.  Coach Mike Petke didn’t sound too confident though: “His prognosis is more of wait until the hamstring feels better and then we get him out doing the light training and stuff, so that could be the next week, it could be the week after.”

Will the Revolution pull a rabbit out of the hat and rebuild their playoffs hope? Or will the Red Bulls be the kings at home again and lock up the postseason?

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter
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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz
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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.