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Serie A roundup: Michael Bradley wins it for Roma and AC Milan continues freefall

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Roma 1-0 Udinese:

Another match, another win. That’s nine wins from nine for Michael Bradley’s Roma as they continue to shred their opponents. The American, on as a substitute, scored in the 82nd minute to give 10-man Roma yet another victory.

Already missing Francesco Totti and red-hot winger Gervinho due to injury, Maicon was sent off for his second yellow card with 25 minutes remaining.  The win ends Udinese’s 22-match home unbeaten streak.

Parma 3-2 AC Milan:

The only surprise of the weekend in Serie A play came when AC Milan fell 3-2 on the road at Parma? But is that even a surprise anymore?

Milan now have just two points on the road in Serie A play from three matches, as Marco Parolo’s free kick goal with just seconds left on the clock gave Parma the victory and sent them to seventh in the table, while Milan remain mired in ninth.

The goal was Parolo’s second of the match, his first coming in the 11th minute when he opened the scoring on a rebound.

Antonio Cassano had the third for Parma, while Alessandro Matri and Matias Silvestre found the scoresheet for Milan.

Napoli 2-0 Torino

Gonzalo Higuain converted a pair of early penalties to down Torino.  Dries Mertens was tripped in the box by Nicola Bellomo in the 11th minute for the first, and a handball in the box by Kamil Glik gave them their second.

Migjen Basha was shown a straight red with five minutes to go when he brought down Goran Pandev who was clear on goal.

Juventus 2-0 Genoa

Arturo Vidal slotted home a penalty and Carlos Tevez scored a golazo as Juventus cruised over Genoa.

Both goals came in the first 25 minutes, but Juventus came close a number of other times in a dominating win.

Chievo 1-2 Fiorentina

Juan Cuadrado bagged a double as Fiorentina held on to go fifth in the Serie A table.  The brace overcame an early Chievo lead thanks to a Bostjan Cesar 12th minute header.

Chievo drop to the bottom of the table thanks to results by Sassuolo and Bologna.

Catania 0-0 Sassuolo

Sassuolo rise off the bottom of the table. Nothing else to see here.

Bologna 1-0 Livorno

The home side grabbed their first win of the season courtesy of Jose Angel Crespo’s third-minute score.

SATURDAY:

Inter Milan 4-2 Verona

Inter picked up the first win of their last four matches thanks to goals by Rodrigo Palacio, Esteban Matias Cambiasso, and Rolando plus an own goal from Verona.

Sampdoria 1-0 Atalanta

An odd turn of events saw Sampdoria see out 10-man Atalanta and ease away from the relegation zone.

The home side scored when Shkodran Mustafi headed in for the lead.  Atalanta midfielder Luca Cignarini had tried to hit the ball away but failed.  The referee initially blew his whistle to send off Cignarini and award a penalty, but when the ball trickled in he instead rescinded the red card and allowed the goal.

Atalanta then did in fact lose a man seven minutes later when substitute Constantin Nica was sent off in just his 2nd career Serie A match for a hard tackle.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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