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Major League Soccer releases 2014 schedule, Sporting KC vs. Seattle to kick things off live on NBCSN

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On Monday Major League Soccer announced the schedule for the 2014 season as fans across MLS start to plan for this season.

In the lead up to the 2013 MLS Cup between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park, MLS revealed their entire schedule for the 2014 season — the last year in which 19 teams will compete for MLS Cup as NYC FC and Orlando City will join in 2015 — and some mouth-watering match ups are already sticking out.

The league’s 19th regular season will begin on March 8 from CenturyLink field as SKC travel to the Seattle Sounders, 3pm ET, live on NBCSN.

To see the entire 2014 MLS schedule, click here.

NBC Sports Network will now have a dedicated Friday night slot from June 27 through October 24 and in the third year of the network’s coverage MLS fans will have even more to look forward to. In total NBC Sports will show 38 regular season games on NBCSN and three on NBC. Plus the hugely popular MLS Breakaway will also return on NBCSN on August 2 and September 20.

As widely expected MLS will take a two-week break during the group phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, just like it did back in 2010 when the World Cup was in South Africa. The last MLS matches before the break are on June 11, one day before the start of the World Cup.

Some intriguing rivalry matches adorn the must see matches, here are a quick list of 10 you shouldn’t miss:

  • LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, Sat., March 8
  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. New York Red Bulls, Sat., March 8
  • Houston Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact, Sat., March 15
  • Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake, Sat., April 5
  • Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, Sat., April 19
  • Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy, Sun., June 1
  • San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire, Weds., July 23
  • San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders, Sat., August 2
  • Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy, Sat., August 16
  • New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew, Sun., October 19

A here’s a snippet of history for you here too, as MLS’s very own Dan Courtemanche reveals this fixture release is indeed the earliest in league history. Thanks, Dan.

From MLS’ release, this is just some of the MLS action you can look forward to exclusively in 2014 live on NBC Sports Network:

In the third season of its partnership, NBC Sports Group will open its coverage of the MLS season with six back-to-back Saturday afternoon matches, aligning with NBC Sports Group’s Barclays Premier League coverage. The broadcast package will feature MLS matches on Friday night slots on NBCSN from June 27 through October 24. All told, NBC Sports Group will broadcast 38 regular season games, plus three on NBC. Some of the highlights include two Fourth of July matches, LA vs. Portland and Houston vs. New York Red Bulls, and the California Clasico between San Jose and LA on June 28 at Stanford Stadium, all on NBCSN.

Report: Chelsea making first waves in $88m Bernardo chase

MONACO - NOVEMBER 22:  Bernardo Silva of Monaco  during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Monaco FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC  at Louis II Stadium on November 22, 2016 in Monaco, .  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Monaco has slapped a massive price tag on Bernardo Silva, and The Times says that isn’t stopping Chelsea.

Antonio Conte is trying to land the 22-year-old Portuguese attacker according to the report, which says that the Blues are already chatting up the Ligue 1 outfit.

[ MORE: Wenger’s Sutton pitch worry ]

Silva has six goals and seven assists in France’s top flight this season, adding another three in the UEFA Champions League. He did not appear at EURO 2016 thanks to a hamstring injury, as Portugal won the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

Chelsea is ready to spend $88 million on the right winger, who can also play in a attacking center mid role. From The Times:

Monaco would like to secure a minimum of €80m (£68.4m) for Bernardo, who is comfortable operating on either the left or right wing or as a number 10. With Barcelona, Real Madrid and both Manchester clubs also expressing their interest Monaco, who play Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, believe a money-spinning auction may develop.

Transfer prices can be hard to predict, but is Silva the sort of talent that will tempt nine figures? We’ve been surprised before, and at his age it’s possible, but color us skeptical.

AEK Athens beats Greek league leader Olympiakos 1-0

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) AEK Athens defeated Greek league leader Olympiakos 1-0 in an ill-tempered game on Sunday that saw 12 yellow cards and two dismissals.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win of season ]

Astrit Ajdarevic scored the only goal in the 34th minute with a free kick that deflected off Olympiakos defender Manuel da Costa.

Olympiakos’ athletic director Francois Modesto was sent to the stands for protesting about the lead-up to AEK’s goal. His team’s central defender Alberto Botia was dismissed after a second yellow card in the 75th for pulling an advancing AEK forward’s jersey.

Despite the defeat, its second of the season, Olympiakos has a 10-point cushion over second-place Panionios, which beat 10-man Iraklis 1-0.

PAOK, a 4-0 winner over Veria, remains in third place, one point ahead of Panathinaikos, which beat Asteras 5-0 on Saturday. AEK is joint fifth with Xanthi.

PSG drops points against Toulouse days after massive UCL win

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 14:  Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona at Parc des Princes on February 14, 2017 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Just days after its massive (and somewhat unexpected) beatdown of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain failed to close the gap on league leaders Monaco.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win ]

PSG settled for a 0-0 draw on Sunday at the Parc des Princes against eighth-place Toulouse, leaving the Parisian side three points behind Monaco through 26 rounds of action.

[ MORE: Bielsa returns to Ligue 1 with Lille ]

Despite holding the visitors to just three shots (one on target), Toulouse managed to contain a rampant PSG attack, which posted four goals midweek in their rout of the Blaugrana.

PSG’s first strong chance came in the 14th minute when Lucas Moura’s effort was saved in the bottom corner by goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani may have had the game’s best opportunity to break the deadlock when the Uruguayan attacker struck the post from inside the penalty area.

Unai Emery’s group will be back in action on Feb. 26 when PSG travels to Dimitri Payet and Marseille.

Wenger worried over Sutton’s pitch heading Monday’s clash

SUTTON, GREATER LONDON - FEBRUARY 16:  Pundits Paul Merson (4L) and Matt Le Tissier (2L) take part in a training session alongside Paul Doswell manager of Sutton United (L) and players during a Sutton United FA Cup media day on February 16, 2017 at the Borough Sports Ground in Sutton, Greater London. Sutton United are due to face Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup Fifth round on 20 February.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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The story of Monday’s encounter between Arsenal and fifth-division Sutton United will be whether the minnows can overcome the mighty Gunners.

[ MORE: Mourinho pleased with United’s “attitude” against Blackburn ]

However, Arsene Wenger already fears a bigger challenge within the game, one that concerns his players’ safety.

Sutton’s 5,000-seat Gander Green Lane features an artificial surface, which is largely uncommon for English and most European venues regardless of club standing.

“First of all the pitch. Secondly their enthusiasm. Thirdly that we are not ready mentally for a big fight and think subconsciously that it doesn’t matter,” Wenger said ahead of Monday’s FA Cup meeting in South London.

In preparation for their meeting with the U’s, Wenger had his side train on their own indoor artificial field on Friday.

“Look, ideally we would like to play on a normal pitch. Competition is as well to deal with what you face, and we’ll face an unusual pitch and we’ll have to deal with it,” he said.

“We practice inside [on Friday] because we have an artificial pitch. It’s not the same as it’s a dry pitch, and at Sutton I’ve heard that’s a wet pitch, they water it before the game. So it will be much quicker than what we have.”