Andy Carroll, West Ham

Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham: Victory lifts Irons out of the drop zone (video)

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West Ham’s win at Cardiff may very well have saved Sam Allardyce’s job, at least for the moment. The three points lift the Irons even with today’s opponents, but, by virtue of goal difference, push Cardiff down into the relegation zone. Now it’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who’ll be feeling the pressure, with the new Cardiff manager expected to turn the side around.

The match may have been a relegation six-pointer, but West Ham, three points from safety, were even more in need of a win, and it was evident from the start. With five minutes gone, the visitors had an opportunity of sorts, when Stewart Downing’s cross sailed past his teammates yet connected with the post. James Tomkins tried to get ahold of the rebound, but David Marshall came out to rescue Cardiff.

Shortly thereafter, Guy Demel collided with teammate Roger Johnson, crashing to the ground and lying still. After a lengthy delay, Demel was stretchered off. Reports from West Ham are that he has been admitted to hospital for tests, with more information provided when available.

It was the hosts that looked to be on top for the majority of the first half, yet West Ham went into the break leading thanks to a goal from Carlton Cole. Matt Taylor put the ball out wide, giving Matt Jarvis the chance to send it across the face of goal. Carlton Cole pushed past the Cardiff defense to send the ball into the roof of the net.

Cardiff, out of ideas, were forced to resort to appealing for a penalty during the first half’s injury time, when Craig Noone went down under a challenge from James Tomkins. The referee waved play on, and the hosts went into the break trailing 1-0.

Solskjaer brought on Craig Bellamy to start the second half, hoping the forward’s first appearance in two months might buoy his squad. Cardiff did look lively, pressing for the equalizer throughout the second half. Mark Hudson nearly put in a Bellamy free kick, but his header was high.

Cardiff again appealed for a penalty when George McCartney appeared to handle the ball inside the area, but again they got no sympathy. Lee Mason again waved away appeals when McCartney pawed at Frazier Campbell inside the area.

Campbell must’ve thought he’d gotten his own back when he lashed out a great strike. But Adrian performed an amazing save, managing to tip the ball over the bar to preserve West Ham’s lead.

The hosts finally had a decision go their way when James Tomkins was sent off, earning a second yellow for a high boot. With almost 20 minutes remaining, the Bluebirds’ play made it seem like it’d be just a matter of time before an equalizer.

Instead it was West Ham that grabbed the second goal. Andy Carroll, on for Carlton Cole in the 72nd minute, slipped a neat ball in to Mark Noble. Noble’s low shot nestled into the far corner, securing all three points for the Irons.

Cardiff City: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Hudson (Cornelius 78) Caulker, John, Whittingham, Medel (Eikrem 65), Kim, Noone, Campbell, Odemwingie (Bellamy 45)

West Ham: Adrian, Tomkins, Jarvis, Rat, Collison (Diarra 75), Taylor, Noble, Demel (McCartney 17), Downing, C Cole (Carroll 72), Johnson

Goals: Carlton Cole 42′; Noble 93′

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.

Whitecaps acquire U.S. defender Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City

Toronto FC v Orlando City SC
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With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.

[ MORE: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018 ]

The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.

“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”

Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.

Report: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.

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According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.

Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.

Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.

ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.

In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

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Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.