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Sporting Kansas City Man of the Match: Graham Zusi

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The crazy part about Wednesday’s game — especially after Dmitry Imbongo’s goal — is how much better, player-for-player, Sporting had been. New England got good games from Jose Goncalves and, until the 113rd minute, Matt Reis, but a lot of their players were struggling. Their fullbacks looked like out-of-place central defenders. Andy Dorman was pulled at half time. Diego Fagundez was having trouble tracking Chance Myers. And Chad Barrett? That was a sub.

Contrast that with Sporting. Both Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers were strong at fullback, while central defender Aurélien Collin made huge contributions are both ends. Oriel Rosell had a particularly influential second half, Benny Feilhaber’s inclusion proved inspired, and the only thing wrong about C.J. Sapong was an inability to finish all the headers he won.

And in case you hadn’t heard, Claudio Bieler made an impact, too.

[MORE: Claudio Bieler’s 113th minute goal puts Sporting Kansas City into the Eastern Conference final]

Feilhaber and Collin each have a solid claim as Man of the Match, but as Sporting pushed on after Imbongo’s goal — in need of an equalizer to salvage their season — it was Graham Zusi was took center stage. He won the header that was flicked on for Seth Sinovic’s goal, and as the game rolled  into extra time, he continued to seek space in midfield, allowing Sporting to maintain control while funneling the ball through their best player. He may not have contributed on the final goal, but his play helped Sporting maintain pressure on New England, part of the reason Feilhaber was in position to make that big 113rd minute interception.

Perhaps the justification sounds a little thin compared to Feilhaber’s (great numbers, created the winning goal) and Collin’s (opened the scoring, was the team’s best defender), but it’s always difficult to describe how much how important the maestro is to the production. Feilhaber’s shorter, quicker, and more accurate passes may have been just as valuable as Zusi’s contribution, but serving as the man the team sought coming out of the back, Zusi orchestrated the game Feilhaber took advantage of.

There’s little question Zusi’s Kansas City’s most important player, and on Wednesday, we saw why. His only contribution to scoresheet with an assist on the tying goal, but while creating as many chances as anybody (six), he maintained the pressure that caused New England to wilt.

Other players have a great claim to the honor, but Graham Zusi’s is the one that rings true. His persistence wins our Man of the Match nod.

NASL weekend preview: Rayo OKC faces stiff test against Minnesota

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Following a midweek loss against FC Edmonton, the New York Cosmos will try to rebound at home against Puerto Rico FC.

The Cosmos currently have two losses during the Fall Season, having conceded 10 goals in six matches, which is the second-most in NASL.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview ]

With no unbeatens remaining, Spring Season champion Indy Eleven looks to keep its place near the top of the table against Miami FC.

Minnesota United looks to build off of its strong start against league leaders Rayo OKC, with the two teams separated by a mere two points.

Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers continue to search for their first win of the Fall Season against the struggling Jacksonville Armada.

Saturday

New York Cosmos vs. Puerto Rico FC

Ottawa Fury vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Jacksonville Armada

Miami FC vs. Indy Eleven

Rayo OKC vs. Minnesota United

Sunday

FC Edmonton vs. Carolina RailHawks

Liverpool keeper Karius to miss two months

MEYRIN, SWITZERLAND - JULY 22:   Loris Karius of 1. FSV Mainz 05 in action during the pre-season friendly match between 1. FSV Mainz 05 and AS Monaco at Stade des Arberes on July 22, 2015 in Meyrin, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
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He was tabbed to be Liverpool’s opening day starter in goal, but Loris Karius could now miss the first two months of the Premier League season after suffering a hand injury in Wednesday’s International Champions Cup loss against Chelsea.

[ MORE: Real looking at Sissoko, Verratti as midfield options ]

The 23-year-old was brought to the Reds this summer from Bundesliga side Mainz for over $6 million.

Karius opted not to represent Germany at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in order to avoid missing any game action with Liverpool. Unfortunately, the young keeper will now likely miss between eight and 10 weeks.

Italian legend Christian Vieri looks to make comeback

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 19:  Christian Vieri poses with the UEFA Champions League Trophy during the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour 2012/13 on October 19, 2012 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images for UEFA)
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His career ended over seven years ago, but former Italy international Christian Vieri is looking to make an improbable comeback in a country that continues to attract big stars.

The 43-year-old Vieri is reportedly coming out of retirement to join the Chinese Super League, and posted a video on Twitter confirming his plans.

Last playing in 2009, Vieri finished his career where it began — in Italy — with Atalanta. During his career, the striker played for 10 clubs in his native country, while also spending time in Spain and France with Atletico Madrid and Monaco, respectively.

Vieri made his name with Inter Milan, where he recorded six straight seasons with double-digit goals. At the height of his career with Internazionale, Vieri netted 27 times across all competitions during the 2002/03 season.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Real looking at Sissoko, Verratti

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10:  Cedric Soares (l) and William Carvalho of Portugal (c) combine to tackle Moussa Sissoko of France during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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While Real Madrid still holds a slim hope of winning the signature of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, Los Blancos are said to have a viable backup plan in the event the Frenchman does the inevitable and joins Manchester United.

[ MORE: Ten most noteworthy summers transfers (so far) ]

Real is reportedly looking at another French midfielder, Moussa Sissoko, to fill the center of the park. The 26-year-old has made 118 appearances for Newcastle since joining the Magpies back in 2013.

While it may be outside option, Real is also interested in Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, although the French champions likely aren’t willing to part ways with the player.


Andy King has signed a new four-year contract with Leicester City, after Jamie Vardy and Ben Chilwell each agreed to a new deals this summer with the Foxes.

The midfielder appeared in 25 matches last season in the team’s Premier League title-winning campaign, while also featuring for Wales this summer at EURO 2016.


Aston Villa manager Roberto di Matteo has confirmed that Everton is set to acquire Idrissa Gueye.

The 26-year-old shined during the 2015/16 season for Villa, appearing in matches as a deep-lying midfielder. Everton has reportedly met the player’s release clause of over $9 million, and is now discussing personal terms with Gueye.


Swansea City striker Bafe Gomis has joined French side Marseille on a season-long loan after netting 17 goals in 71 matches in England.

The Frenchman is likely seen as the replacement for Michy Batshuayi, who left for Chelsea this summer.