Seattle’s Brad Evans talks about Sounders struggles

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FRISCO, Texas – Results later this evening will help show how much trouble Seattle is in as the Sounders work desperately to arrest this late-season spiral … one that is threatening to erase the team’s chances of even appearing in the post-season.

Here’s the thing with Evans … he’s one of the real smart guys of MLS, terrific at assessing this and that, what’s right and wrong.

And he says he can’t figure this thing out.

He knows the Sounders personnel losses are hurting. Some of that is down to injury, some down to worse, like Osvaldo Alonso, who was suspended for Saturday’s loss in Dallas after elbowing Portland’s Will Johnson off the ball last week. And considering the team’s struggles in possession and putting together enough offensive push at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, the team badly missed its top midfielder.

Here’s what Evans had to say as he struggled to deal with it all:

“Next week is the championship game for us. Next week is MLS Cup for us.”

I asked Evans if the locker room is ready for a contest like that, considering a level of confidence that must be at low ebb.

“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a good question.  The fight and the desire is there. It’s just execution, front to back. Like me, I had two good chances … and if I can slip those in … It’s just little things like that. It’s inches and inches.”

I also asked about Clint Dempsey, who is surely desperate to demonstrate his value (and what a handsome value that is) to his new club and to the rest of Major League Soccer. The U.S. international is still looking for his first Sounders goal or assist.

On the one hand, Dempsey would love to be the guy to rally everyone, to stand up and shake up the locker room with words and then do it on the field with performance. On the other hand, it’s hard when you’re hurt, as he’s been. And it’s even harder when you’re new, perhaps not feeling empowered – not just because you’re new, but because you’ve also been hurt.

“He wants that role,” Evans said. “But it is difficult to come in and be a contributor right away, no matter who you are.”

Evans also had this to say:

“If we have everybody healthy and on the field, I think we’re unstoppable. But it’s about getting everyone on the field at the same time. And maybe next week [against Los Angeles in Seattle] is the perfect storm next week maybe it happens next Sunday, we get everyone healthy and we get the results we need and get into the playoffs, and then we take off.”

VIDEO: Pedro scores stunning goal for Chelsea

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Not a bad way to start the Premier League weekend…

12 minutes into the first game of Matchweek 9, Chelsea’s Pedro curled home a stunning effort into the far corner and off the far post after a corner was played short to him.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A simply stunning goal from the Spaniard which you can watch in the video above.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Watford in top five clash

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Chelsea host Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as fifth and fourth clash.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea are without a win in three games in all competitions and some pressure is starting to build on the Blues as they’ve fallen further behind the two Manchester clubs atop the PL table.

As for Watford, Marco Silva‘s men are in fourth place and aiming to keep up their impressive away form in the PL this season with three of their four wins coming on the road.

In team news Chelsea’s injuries are piling up with Victor Moses and N'Golo Kante missing but Alvaro Morata does start after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Watford start Troy Deeney up top after his impressive cameo against Arsenal last week.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Courtois; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Ampadu, Zappacosta, Musonda, Willian, Batshuayi

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Holebas; Pereyra, Deeney, Richarlison. Subs:

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

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CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!