Chelsea v. Manchester United: No Rooney, RVP or Evra means trouble

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Chelsea welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge this Sunday (watch live 11:00am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra) where a win could see the Blues leapfrog Arsenal and Manchester City into first place.

Jose Mourinho’s side have been in fine-form of late, winning their last five matches and going unbeaten in their last six league clashes. December saw the Blues hit a few bumps in the road with losses to Stoke City in the league and Sunderland in the League Cup, but since then Chelsea has showed the poise and resilience of a club with its eye on a title.

The exciting 0-0 draw with Arsenal on December 23rd was followed by wins against Swansea City, Liverpool and Southampton (1-0, 2-1, 3-0, respectively) in the league, a 2-0 drilling of Derby County in the FA Cup and last weekend’s 2-0 win over Hull.

United enter the match still trying to recover from losing three straight matches to open up 2014. After dropping 2-1 games to Spurs on New Years Day and Swansea City four days later, United proceeded to lose their third successive match at the hands of Sunderland in the League Cup, the worst losing string since 2001.

David Moyes righted the ship last weekend with a comprehensive 2-0 win against Swansea City but with news that Wayne Rooney could be out an additional three weeks with a groin injury, Sunday’s contest could prove quite difficult to make it two straight. Joining Rooney on the sideline is Robin van Persie, the long-time absentee with a thigh injury.

Patrice Evra (knee), Ashley Young (shoulder), Nani (hamtstring) and Marouane Fellaini (wrist) are also ruled out for Sunday’s contest, with Jonny Evans (back), Rio Ferdinand (knee) and Phil Jones (knee) all late fitness tests.

Chelsea’s squad is in a much healthier state with Branislav Ivanovic (knee) out while Frank Lampard (thigh) will undergo a late fitness test.

The last time these two sides played was a bore 0-0 draw at Manchester United but this time we can expect a much different game. Have a watch of the video above as Joe Prince-Wright and I discuss other intricacies of the match.

What They’re Saying

Manchester United manager David Moyes: “I have no fears whatsoever with the players I have got. I wouldn’t really care who plays in my team because I believe in them all. I believe in what this club stands for and they will go and take whatever challenge … and throw it forward.”

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “My feeling, which is based on years of communicating with Sir Alex and some inside information, is Man United are not happy, but they are calm. They trust David. David trusts them. I don’t think David is under pressure.”

Prediction

No Rooney, RVP or Evra? Chelsea will win this match, and it could be punishing.

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

AP Photo/Esteban Felix
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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.”