What could Chad Marshall bring to the Seattle Sounder defense? We’ll find out in 2014

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This one got blown away by all the mid-day Re-Entry Draft news, but for the Seattle Sounders, today’s trade with the Columbus Crew could represent a significant, much-needed upgrade. A defensive corps that’s been shielded by Osvaldo Alonso and saved by Michael Gspurning was acquired a borderline all-star player, and while two-time Defender of the Year Chad Marshall may not be resume his trophy gathering ways, he may provide a big improvement for a central defense that was picked apart in the Major League Soccer playoffs.

Today the Sounders picked up the 29-year-old for a third round pick and allocation, a $361,250 salary in 2013 meaning the two-time Best XI honoree could be had for picks and funny money. For a team desperate to solve the problems in central defense — one that could reunite the 11-time international with Sigi Schmid, a coach he won a title with in Columbus — it may prove a price worth paying.

Seattle, who had the league’s second best defense in 2012, gave up 42 goals last year, most among the West’s playoff teams. In late season blowout losses to Colorado and Vancouver, the defense’s limitations helped throw the team into a late tailspin, with five goals allowed over two legs in the Western Conference semifinals sending the Sounders crashing out of the playoffs. With Seattle’s midfield part of the problem, the team couldn’t cover for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Djimi Traoré.

With players like Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Victor Bernardez and Jose Goncalves in the league, Marshall no longer enjoys a place among the league’s elite defenders, MLS’s talent having improved since the time he was winning Defender of the Year honors. But as the Crew have waned and attentions have turned elsewhere, the 10-year veteran has continued persisted in his excellence. Were it not for the lack of attention Columbus gets on the national scene, both Marshall and Federico Higuaín would have garnered more consideration for postseason honors.

A lack of attention is something Marshall won’t have to worry about in Seattle. If he performs for the Sounders as he did last year for the Crew, he should regain some of that lost recognition, particularly since that will lead to more wins for the Sounders. At his salary, however, the Sounders should expect nothing less than all-star production, with a huge chunk of the cap room they cleared out earlier this week taken up by today’s acquisition.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET