Tranmere Rovers v Stoke City - Capital One Cup Third Round

Mark Hughes fumes, as Stoke denied “two stonewall penalties” in Fulham loss

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LONDON — Stoke City manager Mark Hughes wasn’t happy with the officiating in his teams 1-0 loss at Fulham on Saturday, but he was more than happy with the Potters display.

Post-game, Hughes lambasted the officials for not giving Stoke two first half penalties and felt that his side didn’t deserve to lose the game.

“I think in terms of the team most likely to win the game, I thought that was us,” Hughes said. “I think we had a lot of control on the game, we tried to create opportunities for ourselves. We had some clear opportunities on set plays and good opportunities to pick the right pass but never quite did it. But in terms of the team more likely to win the game, I felt it was totally us.”

(MORE: Fulham 1-0 Stoke City: Bent’s late goal seals win for Cottagers)

But it wasn’t to be.

Hughes believes those two early penalty decisions, as Philippe Senderos took down Stephen Ireland and Fernando Amorebieta appeared to have hauled down Johnathan Walters in the box, were pivotal.

The latter was given for a foul outside the box, when it looked like a penalty, and Hughes wasn’t happy with Fulham winger Pajtim Kasami pushing Erik Pieters, either.

source: Getty Images
Mark Hughes shows his disappointment, as decisions went against his side.

“We should have had two penalties and the boy Kasami should have been sent off in my view,” Hughes said. “Those are key moments that shape the outcome of the game. Those are the ones you want the referee and his officials to get right. Unfortunately it affected us in a negative way. Given the time of those incidents, it would have swung the game totally in our direction.”

Stoke have only scored four goals in their opening seven Premier League games this season, so Hughes mixed things up a little by playing Marco Arnautovic up top with Stephen Ireland supporting him. But the Potters only came close through set pieces, as Robert Huth twice had headers cleared off the line by Sascha Riether, and Stoke’s central defender also headed over in a purple patch of chances in the second half.

Hughes is concerned with the lack of goals, but admits it’s a problem that’s plagued Stoke even when Tony Pulis was their manager in the past.

“I wasn’t disappointed with the performance today,” Hughes said. “It was a much better level. I’ve been more than happy with what we’re trying to produce. The end product is something we need to address because we’re not getting on the end of things and not taking chances when we do create them. But that’s been the bug bear of the team for quite some time, even before I came.”

And staying with the theme of his post-match conference, Hughes thinks his side were hard done by, and that Fulham got lucky to grab all three points.

“Over the course of the 90 minutes I think we deserved to get something,” Hughes said. “They got a break, a misplaced pace from ourselves, and were able to play a ball into the box. A couple of ricochets and it lands at Darren Bent’s feet. He is the one guy you don’t want in those situations.”

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.

Whitecaps acquire U.S. defender Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City

Toronto FC v Orlando City SC
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With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.

[ MORE: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018 ]

The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.

“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”

Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.

Report: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.

Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.

Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.

ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.

In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.