Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Cardiff City

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  • The last meeting between these two sides was the Carling Cup final of 2012 when Liverpool won on penalties after a 2-2 draw at Wembley.
  • These two teams have not met in the league since December 19th 1959 when Cardiff won 4-0 at Anfield.
  • Luis Suarez has scored 27 goals in 25 Premier League games in 2013.

Things get started bright and early on Saturday with a match of great consequence when Liverpool hosts Cardiff City at Anfield (7:45am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

With a victory, Liverpool will climb to the top of the Premier League table where they will remain until the outcome of the London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea on Monday.

For Cardiff, losing this match could mean curtains for manager Malky Mackay, who suffered the wrath of owner Vincent Tan this past week after saying he would like to purchase a few new players in the January transfer window. Tan reacted furiously, claiming Mackay would not be given “a single penny” and raising the likelihood that one unfortunate result is all the Malaysian billionaire needs to sack the Scottish manager.

Liverpool have recovered well since their shock 1-3 loss to Hull City on December 1st. Since then the Reds have bullied their opponents (Norwich, West Ham, Tottenham) scoring 14 goals in three games while conceding only twice.

With Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard out with injuries, Luis Suarez has been on a torrid scoring pace notching eight goals over three matches. Left-back Jon Flanagan has been sensational while deputizing for Jose Enrique while Jordan Henderson looks to fast be blossoming into a dominant midfielder.

Cardiff enter the match 15th in the table, four points above the relegation zone. Last weekend’s 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion ended their five-match winless run in the league that included three straight matches without a goal.

While the managerial situation remains on high drama, the Bluebirds come into Saturday’s game a healthy squad, with only Craig Bellamy facing a late fitness test to recover from a knee injury. If they’re to put up a fight against Liverpool, Cardiff needs their strikers to step up. Having scored against Manchester City and Manchester United, Fraizer Campbell loves a big game and the onus will be on he and players like Jordon Mutch and Peter Odemwingie to step things up on the offensive end.

What They’re Saying

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: “The squad we have at the moment is still relatively small, we have got a few players out. But I’ll always look from within, like I have done whenever we have had injuries, when young Jon Flanagan came into the team or Raheem Sterling came into the team. There’s very much a togetherness here, and that’s one of the key facets of the season so far.”

Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay: “It’s a job only three-quarters done as far as I am concerned – making Cardiff a sustainable Premier League team. I have a great group of players who are competing at this level and enjoying this level. The fans are enjoying being at this level and my duty is to make sure we continue to do that.”

Prediction

With Mackay on the stumbling block, expect the Bluebirds to play their hearts out for their manager. I think this match will be closer that one might expect at first glance but in the end this Suarez-led Liverpool squad won’t be denied.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.

WATCH: Snazzy Sargent goal leads U.S. U-17s past Mexico

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Josh Sargent scored a pretty goal as the United States Soccer program had another banner day against Mexico.

Nearly two months to the day after the U.S. U-20 side beat Mexico for the first time in 31 years, the U.S. U-17 topped El Tri for the first time ever. That win snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The goal is the first of Sargent’s two goals, as the 16-year-old latched onto a long diagonal ball and used his right foot and head to move the ball into position for a strong shot.

The U.S. clinches a spot in the next round of U-17 World Cup qualifying with one match remaining in group play.

Sargent is from St. Louis and plays with Scott Gallagher-Missouri. Former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth coaches the U.S. U-17s.

Heads of South American soccer sent $128M in bank transfers

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) The leaders of South America’s soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation’s former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning in 2013 for what he said were health reasons.

The audit also found $58 million in payments “to third parties without adequate documentation,” payments of $33.3 million to “unidentified accounts,” and $10.4 million to “suspicious third-parties.”

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

“We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL who commissioned the audit last year. “Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”

Leoz, 88, is one of three ex-presidents of CONMEBOL accused on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice. He is in Paraguay fighting extradition to the United States.

The South American body has been plagued by corruption, which was exposed two years ago during the FIFA scandal. Leoz’s two successors, Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout, were both arrested on corruption charges.

“I’m here, I’m the manager” – Moyes will not quit Sunderland

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This has been one horrible stretch for David Moyes.

The Sunderland manager probably thought he’d been through the worst once he left Real Sociedad, where he went 12-15-15.

But he’s managed just seven wins and seven draws in 38 matches in charge of the Black Cats — an 18 percent win mark. He’s also been charged for threatening to slap a female journalist.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

And after Wednesday, Moyes has lost both of his derby matches against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland is 12 points back of safety with five matches left. The odds the Black Cats are headed for the Championship are somewhere north of 99 percent, and fans are calling for his job.

Well, he isn’t quitting. From the BBC:

“No, I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose.

“There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”