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.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?