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.

Impact defender Ciman hopes to extend MLS stay past 2018

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While he may not be one of the household names in Major League Soccer in terms of popularity, Laurent Ciman has easily become one of the league’s top defenders since coming to North America.

[ MORE: Sounders in firm control of West final after leg 1 victory ]

The Montreal Impact center back arrived on the MLS scene back in 2015, and has spent the last three seasons with the Canadian side.

In that span, Ciman has not only allowed those within the MLS ranks, but also with his native Belgium, to which he has earned various call ups to the national team recently. He is also on track to make the Red Devils squad ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

The 32-year-old has plans to remain with the Impact past 2018, when his contract expires, and Ciman says he hopes the club’s next manager — Remi Garde — will be able to assemble a quick turn around.

“My projects are based in the MLS. I have a year left with Montreal, and my goal is to extend my contract in North America after that,” said Ciman.

“Last season was disappointing, but I hope the new coach will give new momentum to the team.”

The Impact missed the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017 after the team lost nine of its last 10 regular season matches.

VIDEO: Celtic’s 1st minute goal breaches PSG

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Celtic still have hope of advancing to the UEFA Europa League, but have a new feather in its cap regardless of whether they hold their table advantage on Anderlecht.

Moussa Dembele became the first UEFA Champions League player to score against Paris Saint-Germain, when he side-footed a first minute corner kick off PSG backstop Alphonse Aréola.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Neymar would score just eight minutes later to level the score at the Parc des Princes, but Celtic had its moment and PSG is no longer unbreached despite entering the match with 17 goals scored, conceding zero.

2017 CONCACAF Awards shortlist revealed

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The 2017 CONCACAF Awards shortlist is up, and fan voting counts.

Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Christian Pulisic are among the nominees for Men’s Player of the Year. Philadelphia Union’s Jamaican backstop, Andre Blake, is also on the list along with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and others.

[ MORE: Big American Soccer Survey results ]

The Female Player of the Year is predictably American-heavy, with Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe, Sam Mewis, and Tobin Heath competing with a trio of international players.

Tim Howard is the only American up for Male Goalkeeper of the Year, though Blake is again in the running. The female side has American backstops Adrianna Franch, Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris, Jane Campbell, and Nicole Barnhart.

The full ballot, including Best XI, coaches, referees, and goals, is up for your votes here.

UCL: Chelsea advances vs. 10-man Qarabag (video)

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  • Chelsea into knockout rounds
  • Willian draws two penalties, scores two more
  • Hazard, Fabregas score

Willian scored two goals from the run of play and drew a pair of penalties in Azerbaijan, as Chelsea beat 10-man Qarabag 4-0 on Wednesday.

His second goal was a fantastic thump from atop the arc, and further iced the result in the 85th minute.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Qarabag hung tough for the first 20 minutes, but saw its odds of getting a point take a hit with a penalty and red card.

Rashad Sadygov made contact with Willian inside the 18, and Portuguese referee Manuel de Sousa awarded a penalty. That was understandable, but surprisingly he produced his red card to send Qarabag down a man.

Eden Hazard converted his low penalty, wrong footing keeper Ibrahim Sehic, and Chelsea took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.

Willian would score a goal of his own in the 36th, part of a terrific team goal with Hazard and Pedro.

The Blues were largely content to let Qarabag have the ball early in the second half, but resumed control around the hour mark and Sehic made an outstanding stop on Hazard before substitute Alvaro Morata dragged a shot wide of the far post.

Willian drew a second penalty in the 71st minute, as Maksim Medvedev tugged on the Brazilian’s jersey on a dribble into the 18. Yellow card for this foul.

Cesc Fabregas scored but two Chelsea players infringed on the 18 thanks to the shooter’s stuttering — and stopping — PK. He finished the second as well as the first. 3-0.

Willian added the fourth with a vicious strike five minutes from the end of scheduled play.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]