MLS Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City

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• For Sporting Kansas City to win the Supporters’ Shield, it has to defeat the Philadelphia Union on Saturday and hope that the New York Red Bulls tie or lose to the Chicago Fire on Sunday.

• The Philadelphia Union must win to give itself a chance to make the playoffs. In addition, the Houston Dynamo must lose to D.C. United on Sunday or tie without scoring more than one goal. Also, the New England Revolution must lose to the Columbus Crew on Sunday (a tie would also do, as long as Philadelphia scores eight more goals than the Revs on the weekend).

• Kansas City and Philadelphia have split two meetings this season, with Kansas City winning 3-1 on opening day and Philadelphia winning 1-0 on Sept. 27. On both occasions, the away team has been victorious.

Having won five of its last seven league games, Sporting Kansas City is one of a handful of teams at the top of the Major League Soccer standings that heads into the final day of the season with a chance to win the Supporters’ Shield. Nothing less than a win (and some help elsewhere) on Saturday at the Philadelphia Union (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN or streaming online on NBC Live Extra) will do.

The Union finds itself in a similar must-win situation, but Philadelphia is fighting for its playoff life, not the first-place trophy. It needs even more help if it is to come through an up-and-down season with a playoff berth. Captain Brian Carroll will be suspended for the match through yellow-card accumulation, making the task more difficult.

On the other side of the ball, the Union has scored just four goals in the last nine games, with Designated Player signing Kléberson (pictured) having a hand in three of them. Without his game-winning goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time against Toronto FC on Oct. 5, his team would not have a chance at the playoffs right now.

Scoring just two goals in its last five games in all competitions, Kansas City is in the same spot offensively. That stretch includes the 1-0 loss to the Union last month, as well as scoreless draws with the Houston Dynamo and Olimpia, in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday.

What they’re saying

Union head coach John Hackworth on his team’s playoff chances: “We need a little help from people on Sunday, but we have to take care of business on Saturday. We have to get three points. We have to beat a very good Sporting Kansas City team. So that allows to us to focus in, if you will, and just take care of what we can. We can’t worry about anybody else.”

Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg on Wednesday’s Champions League match and the quick turnaround: “It’s a quick turnaround. We have a game this weekend. But we’ll be happy about it tonight, but tomorrow it’s right back to work and we’re thrilled to be through to the knockout round. I feel like we expected to be through, and it’s good to accomplish that goal.”

Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams on the mentality of a must-win game: “The only way for us to even think about playoffs is winning the game, so we’ll definitely do our best, I guess, trying to gamble safely, which sounds stupid, but we can’t throw all caution to the wind and go down two goals. That’s not going to help us. We’ll have to do it smartly.”

Prediction

With the attacking troubles both teams have had recently, Saturday’s matchup doesn’t look to be a high-scoring, entertaining clash, despite its importance to both teams. It may not be the most attractive of results, but perhaps predicting a scoreless tie would ensure that the opposite happens.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.