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Watch Live: LA Galaxy at Real Salt Lake (Lineups and discussion)

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Returning to Major League Soccer action after their Champions League excursion, Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy are in Sandy, Utah this afternoon, with their early season rematch with Western Conference champions Real Salt Lake giving the four-time champions a second crack at their first win of the season. Game time is 4:00 pm. ET, with the action available live on NBCSN or via NBC Sports Live Extra.

The Galaxy opened the season with a 1-0 loss to the team which ended last year’s three-peat pursuit, with Joao Plata giving new head coach Jeff Cassar’s team a victory in Carson, Calif. Since then, both teams have seen their fortunes turn, with LA eliminated in Champions League while Real Salt Lake was drawn last week in San Jose.

Both teams, however, have shown flashes of their title-contending selves. Ten days ago, LA was able to take a 1-0 win in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal with Club Tijuana, while Real Salt Lake took a 3-1 lead into halftime against a San Jose team that’s up to 20 straight wins at home. As a result, RSL sits at the top of PST’s MLS Power Rankings, while the Galaxy remain firmly entrenched in the list’s top ten.

WATCH LIVE: Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy on NBC Sports Live Extra

For Los Angeles, the main objective will be shoring up a defense that was badly exploited mid-week in Mexico. The lack of foot speed between central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo was evident, while the line’s poor organization underscored one of the worst defensive performances of Arena’s time in Los Angeles. Against Álvaro Saborío and Plata, who has two goals in as many games, the Galaxy will need to be better, perhaps part of the reason their back four has been shaken up for today’s game.

As Real Salt Lake looks to pick apart that line, they’ll have a newly healthy Javier Morales at their disposal. The Argentine creator is set to return after sitting out last week with back problems. Chris Schuler makes his first appearance of the season, starting in central defense, while the scare Nick Rimando’s back suffering in San Jose turned out to be nothing serious. Though Robbie Findley and Sabestián Velasquez are still out, Real Salt Lake is near full strength for today’s home opener.

The game kicks off at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, with Robbie Earle, John Strong, and Ross Thaler set to bring you the action from Rio Tinto Stadium.

Lineups

Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil; Javier Morales; Joao Plata, Álvaro Saborío

Subs: Jeff Attinella, Carlos Salcedo, Kenny Mansally, Cole Grossman, John Stertzer, Luke Mulholland, Olmes Garcia

LA Galaxy: Brian Perk; James Riley, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Stefan Ishizaki, Juninho, Baggio Husidic; Landon Donovan; Robbie Keane, Rob Friend

Subs: Brian Rowe, Marcelo Sarvas, Samuel, Gyasi Zardes, Leonardo, Chandler Hoffman, Dan Gargan

WATCH: Walcott compares Wenger speech to Pacino

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What if Tony D’Amato of American football was Antoine Dumond of the world’s game?

Theo Walcott says Arsene Wenger inspired him to make that comparison after a recent pregame speech, a fiery number that convinced the Arsenal attacker how badly his manager wanted to win the Premier League.

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Speaking to Arsenal TV for a series of questions on former and current teammates — and Wenger — Walcott shared a pretty funny tidbit:

“The manager did a speech the other day. I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good.”

“It genuinely reminded me of the film ‘Any Given Sunday’. I actually said that to him, and I was little bit embarrassed.’ You remind me of that film, that speech,’ I didn’t know if he had seen the film.

“Just showing the passion and how hard, and how long it’s been as well. He really wants it, like all of his players.”

Here’s the thing, though: Walcott doesn’t give us the answer as to whether Wenger has seen “Any Given Sunday”. And how about you, Theo, do you see yourself in Willie Beamon or Cap Rooney?

CAS rejects Serbia’s challenge to Kosovo joining UEFA

Supporters of Kosovo's national soccer team raise Kosovo flag during their international friendly soccer match at Adem Jashari Stadium in Mitrovica, Kosovo on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Kosovo host Turkey for their second friendly match of the country's national football team. Turkey won the match 6-1. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Serbian soccer federation’s appeal against Kosovo joining UEFA has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that Kosovo met the standard of UEFA entry rules because it is “recognized by the majority of the United Nations member states as an `independent state.”‘

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Serbia argued that Kosovo, which joined European soccer’s governing body last May despite not being a U.N. member, should be blocked.

CAS decided that because “there is no formal recognition of countries by the U.N.,” then acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood by most countries was valid for the soccer application.

European soccer federations voted 28-24 in favor of Kosovo’s entry to UEFA after Serbia led opposition to its former province.

Serbia and its allies, including Russia, have not recognized Kosovo since the Balkan republic declared independence in 2008.

UEFA’s decision led to Kosovo joining FIFA one week later, and being fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Still, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in neutral Poland in October, because its government also does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”