Portland Timbers Vs. Real St. Lake with playoff poistioning on line

MLS Preview: Chivas USA vs. Portland Timbers

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They need some help, but Portland can still grab hold of the Supporters’ Shield.

First things first, they need to get past Chivas.

That shouldn’t be a major hurdle, but you never know on the road in the MLS.  Chivas may have only 26 points on the season, but 22 of them have come at the Stubhub Center, where they’ve beaten the likes of New York, Vancouver, and Dallas among others.

But for the in-form Timbers, it’s not about who or where they’re playing, just about what’s on the line.

“There’s no reason to believe that anything is going to be different in these games moving forward because we’ve seen everybody, we’ve played home and away and we’ve been in every game we’ve played,” said Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

The Timbers are on a 7-match unbeaten run and have only lost five times all year. But they need to win to grab the top spot in the league.

For Portland, who hold the third-highest points total in the MLS with 54, their potential win must be coupled with a Kansas City loss or tie at Philadelphia and a New York loss against Chicago on Sunday.

Even if they don’t pick up the Supporters’ Shield, Portland can still extend a record – another shutout would add to their MLS record 11 clean sheets this season. The mark was set last week when Donovan Ricketts and company held Real Salt Lake to a 0-0 draw.

For Chivas, it hasn’t been as bad of a home stretch as last year when the club had to toil in the offseason with a 14-match unbeaten run to close out the season on their minds.

Still, improvement is seriously needed with the bottom spot in the West clinched long ago and the potential for their final nine matches of the year to garner just four points for Chivas.

Whether the side is heading into the playoffs (for the first time in club history) or moving to the long offseason, it’s always important to end the regular season on a high note, and that’s what is at stake Saturday night at Stubhub Arena.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia