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Schmid hopeful of having the band back together for Seattle’s tussle with FC Dallas

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Three losses in a row have cast some doubt on the Sounders’ playoff fate. In all likelihood, Seattle’s going to be playing past game 34, but with San Jose surging while Sigi Schmid’s team struggles, being number six two weeks from now isn’t out of the question. And even if Seattle gets through, there’s no guarantee they’ll avoid the four-five game, mostly like against the same Colorado Rapids team who throttled them 10 days ago.

Now the good news. According to the beat guys at Starfire Sports Complex today, many question marks for Saturday’s game in Dallas could see positive answers:

[tweet https://twitter.com/donruiztnt/status/390555662796988416] [tweet https://twitter.com/joshuamayers/status/390555546006220800]

More on those lists:

  • Clint Dempsey suffered a separated shoulder in the first half Sunday against Portland but managed to play another 57 minutes. The hamstring problem that kept him out of the U.S. national team? If it’s still a concern, it’s a secondary one.
  • Eddie Johnson injured his groin while with the U.S. national team, forcing him to pull out of the team’s qualifiers. He’s arguably been Seattle’s most important player this season. Having him on the end of set pieces and long balls gives the Sounders a straight-forward way to break out of this slump.
  • Brad Evans, also called up by Jurgen Klinsmann, stayed with the team, played in Panama, but could be ready in Frisco. His presence has been missed over the last two games.
  • Obafemi Martins has been dealing with a groin problem and didn’t feature in Portland. Per the sources above, he seems less likely to play than his strike partner.
  • Steve Zakuani, coming back from sports hernia surgery, played in Portland and nearly found a late equalizer, but having suffered a setback, the winger seems unlikely to feature in Dallas.

Other question marks/issues for Seattle:

  • Marcus Hahnemann played well in goal at JELD-WEN, but as Schmid noted after the match, he didn’t have much to do. If Michael Gspurning is on the bench against Dallas, might as well consider Hahnemann the new number one.
  • Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has had three different partners in central defense during Seattle’s losing streak: Zach Scott (at Colorado), Djimi Traoré (vs. Vancouver), Pat Ianni (at Portland). As is the case in goal, Schmid’s selection in central defense for Dallas should give us a good idea of how he sees his depth chart.
  • Osvaldo Alonso is out, suspended for at least Saturday’s game. Given the absence you’d think if Brad Evans can walk, he’ll start next to Adam Moffat in the middle. Schmid favorite Andy Rose would be Plan B.
  • Without Johnson and Martins but with Dempsey back, Seattle emulated a 4-2-3-1 in Portland, with Dempsey playing behind Lamar Neagle. If all of Johnson, Martins, Dempsey and Neagle are available, it will be interesting to see how Seattle set up. That foursome have rarely been able to get in the team at the same time. It’s unclear Schmid has decided on how to use them together (or if it’s worth sacrificing Mauro Rosales to do so).

Report: Agent in China, Rooney could leave Man Utd this month

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United poses with the Premier League trophy at the start of the Premier League trophy winners parade on May 13, 2013 in Manchester, England  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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Could Wayne Rooney‘s days at Manchester United be over as soon as the end of the month?

The BBC reports that Rooney’s agent is in China in the hopes of negotiating a contract with a Chinese Super League team.

[ MORE: Leicester grabs away goal ]

The 31-year-old is said to be wanted by Jiangsu Suning and Tianjin Quanjian. The former club has ex-Chelsea standout Ramires, while the latter is coached by Fabio Cannavaro and boasts Axel Witsel and Alexandre Pato.

From the BBC:

There are no guarantees of success and it is thought a deal remains highly unlikely before the Chinese transfer window closes on 28 February.

And if he does not leave this month it seems certain he will go in the summer.

Rooney is the all-time leading scorer for both Manchester United and England. While his legacy is secure at the former and the latter, will a move to the CSL end his time under Gareth Southgate at England before another World Cup?

So many questions to unpack as one of the Premier League’s all-timers looks set to leave the country in the next six months.

Real Madrid adds intrigue to La Liga race with rare loss (video)

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, and Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez, left, react after failing to score against Valencia during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
AP Photo/Alberto Saiz
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The lone Wednesday match on La Liga’s docket injected some drama back into the chase for Spain’s crown.

Real Madrid fell 2-1 at Valencia, unable to overcome conceding twice in the first 10 minutes.

The match was one of two matches-in-hand Real held on its rivals for La Liga’s title. Now Real’s one-point lead over Barcelona and three-point advantage over Sevilla seem a bit more manageable.

[ MORE: Man Utd onto Europa Rd of 16 ]

Simone Zaza and Fabian Orellana netted for Los Che, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s 44th minute goal was the only answer the leaders could muster before full time.

Zaza’s goal was a stunner:

Real could rebuild its lead over the weekend, with Barcelona off to Atletico Madrid on Sunday and Sevilla traveling to Betis on the heels of its UCL win over Leicester City.

But for now, life’s a bit more exciting in Spain. Real hosts Barcelona on April 23, and hosts Sevilla on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Real Madrid 22 16 4 2 57 20 37 10-2-0 6-2-2 52
 Barcelona 23 15 6 2 63 19 44 7-3-1 8-3-1 51
 Sevilla 23 15 4 4 46 28 18 9-1-1 6-3-3 49
 Atlético Madrid 23 13 6 4 43 19 24 8-2-1 5-4-3 45
 Real Sociedad 23 13 2 8 36 32 4 7-2-3 6-0-5 41
 Villarreal 23 10 9 4 30 15 15 7-3-2 3-6-2 39

WATCH: Giovinco nets rain-soaked preseason beauty

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC is presented with the MLS Audi Golden Boot Award as leading scorer for the 2015 season prior to an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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We still can’t get over Sebastian Giovinco’s omission from the list of finalists for the 2016 MLS MVP Award, and the Toronto FC magician gave us another reminder of his greatness on Wednesday.

Playing a preseason match against Minnesota United on a rain-soaked pitch, Giovinco scored a brace. One of those goals came off an ankle-breaking dribble and finished with rain splashing off the net.

[ MORE: Man Utd onto Europa Rd of 16 ]

Yeah, he’s still good.

Giovinco turned 30 last month but still looks good money to dance up the statistical leaderboard this season. The Reds open at Real Salt Lake on March 4.

Leicester after one leg vs. Sevilla: “We knew they are better than us”

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri catches the ball during the Champions League round of 16 soccer match between Sevilla and Leicester City at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti)
AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti
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Sevilla probably should’ve put Leicester City to bed.

Thanks to Kasper Schmeichel, the Spanish powers couldn’t do that. Now stubborn Leicester is a 1-0 win away from progressing to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

[ MORE: UCL wrap-up ]

Credit to Jamie Vardy, too, who put away a rare Leicester chance to give the Foxes a road goal from its trip West, but Schmeichel was magnificent.

And Leicester certainly knows how to defend and hit teams on the break.

“We knew they are better than us, they have high quality in possession. We suffered. They showed their quality but we showed our heart. We showed belief and never game up. That makes me satisfied.

“At the end, if we are a little more calm on the counter-attack, we could have done more. It was very important to match them and every result is still open.”

It certainly wasn’t easy to get to the final whistle. Here’s Vardy.

“Everyone has given 110 percent and everyone has come off absolutely blowing. We knew we had to be patient and take our chances but we knew we could hurt them on the press and that’s what Danny (Drinkwater) did. He got it over to me and I slipped it in.”

Again, we wouldn’t sleep on Leicester despite Sevilla’s dominance at home. King Power Stadium will be riled up come March 14, and one moment of magic could be enough for another miraculous moment for Leicester lore.