MLS Preview: Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact

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With Toronto already eliminated from playoff contention, the Montreal Impact were good as dead last weekend down 1-0 to Philadelphia.

Then two players rescued hopes for a Canadian team to make the postseason – one dependable and one surprise.

Marco Di Viao brought himself back to the top of the league’s goals tally with a 64th minute equalizer, and Karl Ouimette got his first MLS goal in the 84th minute, none too late to save Montreal’s hopes.

Now, the Impact are in fantastic position to play on after this weekend – but it’s not done yet.

A win would clinch the first ever playoff berth for Montreal, while a draw could leave an opening for Chicago, New England, or Houston.

And it couldn’t come against a more fitting opponent. It’s a chance for redemption – redemption for a late season slide that very nearly grasped the Impact in its gravitational pull downwards.

Before last Saturday, Montreal had dropped five of their last six matches, and hadn’t won since a 4-2 road win over New England on September 8.  But they’re not done yet, not thanks to last week’s heroics.

The Impact will be without defender Alessandro Nesta, who picked up a calf injury against Philadelphia.  He will be retiring at the end of the season, whenever that may come for Montreal.

On the flip side, it’s been a struggle of a season for Toronto, but they could play spoiler against one of their biggest rivals.  They’re coming off their fourth consecutive road loss, but coming home will provide a bit of a boost.

But Montreal’s ready for the rivalry matchup. “If they can knock us out of the playoffs, or even knock us down to that fifth spot where we have to play an extra game, it’d be great for them” said Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins. “For them to get a result, the way they’ve had this whole season, would be a huge relief for them going into next year.”

The Impact have a serious test Saturday, one that will tell the world whether Montreal are truly over their late-season slide, or if last weekend wasn’t enough to escape the black hole.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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