Antony Lozano, Fabio De Souza, Chance Myers

Scoreless draw puts Sporting Kansas City through in CONCACAF Champions League

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The score ended 0-0, but Sporting Kansas City where firmly in control. They held almost 70 percent of the ball (68.8), allowed their opponents only 246 passes (to their 539), and limited Olimpia to 1 shot on goal. The only thing that would keep Sporting KC from claiming Group 2 was one of soccer’s spells of randomness, and on Wednesday night in Kansas City, it never came. Erik Konberg’s third shutout of the competition sent the Hondurans home empty handed, giving Sporting the group and a place in CONCACAF Champions League’s quarterfinals.

Sporting finishes group stage 2-0-2, claiming six of their eight points on the road. Olimpia, needing a win tonight to go through, finishes on seven, while Nicaraguan club Real Estelí’s only result was their 1-1 in Kansas City.

The result allows Kansas City to advance for the first time since 2002, when the competition was called the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but because of a low point total relative to the other group winners, they’re likely to get a tough quarterfinal draw. They’re currently the sixth of six qualified teams and are destined to face one of the three remaining Mexican clubs (Toluca, Cruz Azul, Tijuana) or LA Galaxy in the quarterfinals.

That’s the cost of settled for a draw, though Peter Vermes is unlikely to care. The Kansas City boss seemed to have defense on his mind in choosing a first choice back four behind Oriel Rosell and Laurence Olum in midfield.

Vermes didn’t shortchange, the attack, however, starting all of Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, and Teal Bunbury. Unfortunately, the only times Sporting found goal were called back, with goals from Bunbury and Zusi waved off after offside calls.

Ultimately, those disallowed goals couldn’t stop Kansas City from advancing, becoming the second Major League Soccer side to clinch a space in the knockout round. Despite having one match remaining, the LA Galaxy have already secured a spot in the next stage, while the San Jose Earthquakes can do the same with a win Wednesday night over Guatemalan side Heredia.

But now, with their group stage over, Sporting now shift their attention back to Major League Soccer, where they can still claim first in the Eastern Conference as well as the Supporters’ Shield. A Saturday win in Philadelphia coupled by a New York stumble against Chicago will give them both.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Pardew saves his job, says Palace owners “don’t know a lot about football”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Alan Pardew, Manager of Crystal Palace thumbs up prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park on December 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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While some may advise that keeping a low profile would best suit Alan Pardew right now, Crystal Palace’s embattled manager is of a totally different mindset.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Southampton, in which Pardew’s side saved his job (for the time being), the 55-year-old Eagles boss and former player chose the first bright moment, Palace’s first Premier League win since Sept. 24, to hit out at the club’s new American owners with a scathing assessment of the footballing prowess, or perhaps lack thereof — quotes from the Guardian:

“The chairman got a bit edgy this week, as you’d expect. We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don’t know a lot about football so the chairman has been defending me.

“I always think as a manager at any level, particularly in the modern era, expect the sack. Just expect it; it’s coming at some stage, so just do your job as best you can. Every week, that’s what I try to do.

“Sometimes it’s hard to dress up six defeats when you’re the owner of the club and you have investors. Obviously there are things he’s got no control over but he’s tried to offer me all the assistance that he could. He’s been brilliant for me and I just want to say thank you to him really.”

With various reports linking Sam Allardyce and Roberto Mancini to a job which he still holds, it’s understandable that Pardew would be slightly on edge, quick to thump his chest and restake his claim as the right man for the job, but perhaps alienating and borderline embarrassing the new investors, who are now responsible for signing your paychecks, wouldn’t have been my go-to move.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

On the other hand, as Pardew rightly stated in the above quotes, his day of reckoning will eventually arrive, so what’s he really got to lose?