Watch Live: Newcastle vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Discuss)

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Two teams on poor form look to turn things around at St. James Park this morning, with Aston Villa on the road to face a safe yet unsettled Newcastle squad at 8:30am ET live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Despite Newcastle a comfortable 13 points above the relegation zone, they’re also in mid-table limbo, out of reach of anyone in the top seven as well.

With that in mind, Alan Pardew went on record having said his players could be playing for their places, and following those comments Hatem Ben Arfa fails to make the squad of 18 – nowhere to be found on the teamsheet. Sylvain Marveaux is another name that mysteriously did not appear.

Pardew has made such a declaration thanks to a pair of hammerings in their last two times out – a 4-0 loss to Spurs and a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea.  Newcastle have not scored in their last four matches.

The Magpies manager has plenty of options to choose from today, receiving a major boost to his squad. Striker Loic Remy is back from his three-match suspension, and both Fabricio Coloccini and Chieck Tiote return from injury. All three made the starting lineup.

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The visitors have much more on the line table-wise, with Villa sitting just four points above the relegation zone. They, like Newcastle, come into the match limping, having lost two of their last three matches, scoring just one goal during that span.

Villa also, however, have a majorly fit squad for this matchup.  Both Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor start up front. Benteke appeared to have put a ghastly season behind him with three goals in three games, but it’s again dried up over their last three matches.  Agbonlahor has been an outstanding creator all season, but it’s also dried up for him over the last two.

LINEUPS:

Newcastle – Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran; Remy, Cisse.
Bench – Elliott, Haidara, Yanga-Mbiwa, S.Taylor, Gosling, Shola Ameobi, de Jong.

Aston Villa – Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; Westwood Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann; Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Bench – Steer, Sylla, Holt, Clark, Albrighton, Tonev, Bennett.

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.