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MLS roundup: Dallas moves top; Toronto, Columbus stay perfect

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The 2014 Major League Soccer season has barely started, but the desire to connect dots is irresistible. Though each team has only played between five and nine percent of their seasons’ games, we want to see this weekend’s results as part of a bigger story, one which builds on the season’s first two weekends. We want these games to be more significant than they are.

For example, Toronto got its second win in as many games, marking the first time in franchise history the team has started 2-0-0. But does a 1-0 win at home against D.C. United tell us anything about Ryan Nelsen’s team? When the result slides into the bigger story of Toronto’s revival, it becomes more meaningful than it should.

What about Sporting Kansas City’s win over San Jose? With Champions League behind the defending champions, it’s tempting to see their first win of the season as turning a corner. Through three games, however, the team still hasn’t scored an open play goal.

And then there’s the league’s running joke: Chivas USA. Wilmer Cabrera’s team lost 3-1 in Frisco, Tex., on Saturday, a result that fits nicely with the idea that the league-owned club will be the circuit’s obligatory doormat. In reality, Chivas USA looked more like the team that took four points through two rounds than the squad that finished last year at the bottom of the Western Conference.

It’s too early to tell where this weekend’s games fit in the bigger picture. After three weeks, we have no clue what that picture will look like. Right now, all we have are the results.

Here’s what happened on the third Saturday of the 2014 MLS season:

New England 0, Vancouver 0

With Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene back in Jay Heaps’ starting lineup, the Revolution looked like their 2013 selves for the first time this season. Unfortunately for New England, that produced neither a win nor a goal, leaving the Revolution without either through three games this season.

(MORE: Everything there but the end product for New England against Vancouver)

Real Salt Lake 1, LA Galaxy 1

The Galaxy’s defensive problems persisted, giving up an early goal to Álvaro Saborío after leaving the Costa Rican unmarked on a set piece. Robbie Keane responded by finishing a trademark LA counterattack, sending the teams into halftime at 1-1. A lack of second half chances meant the two teams that opened the season with an RSL win in Carson, Calif., shared points at Rio Tinto.

(MORE: First half goals, lack of second half chances leave Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy drawn at Rio Tinto (video))

Toronto 1, D.C. United 0

Jermain Defoe’s third goal of the season gave Toronto a lead on the hour, and advantage Ryan Nelsen’s team would ride to their second win in as many games. While D.C. United improved on their opening day loss to Columbus, Ben Olsen’s team remains at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

(MORE: Bloodied Michael Bradley earning Toronto’s praise after staple-requiring win)

Columbus 2, Philadelphia 1

Bernardo Anor scored twice in the first half as Gregg Berhalter’s team built their second straight two-goal lead. Rather than building on it (as they did week one in D.C.), the Crew saw Leonardo Fernandes pull one back. Columbus eventually steadied the ship and held out for their second win in as many games.

(MORE: Perfect through two: Columbus answers opening day questions with win over Philadelphia)

Colorado 2, Portland 0

Donovan Ricketts’ 68th minute red card broke open the game for Colorado, who saw Vicente Sanchez convert the first of two penalties kicks in three minutes. Deshorn Brown put home the rebound of his 73rd minute attempt to give the Rapids their first win of the season, sending the Timbers to their first loss.

(MORE: Two goalkeepers, two penalties conceded as Portland falls in Colorado)

Sporting Kansas City 1, San Jose 0

A first half sequence that saw Sal Zizzo and Ike Opara hit Jon Busch’s right post left the teams even a halftime, a stalemate that was broken early in the second half. After Steven Lenhart was called for a hand ball in the box, Dom Dwyer converted from the spot for his third MLS goal and Sporting’s first win of the season.

(MORE: Defending champions get first win of the season, but scoring, chances still a question for Sporting Kansas City)

FC Dallas 3, Chivas USA 1

Goals from Fabian Castillo, Je-Vaughn Watson, and Michel turned a match that was even in the 70th minute into a decisive win for Dallas, with only Erick Torres’s third goal of the season providing consolation for Chivas. The win left Óscar Pareja’s team two points clear at the top of the Western Conference.

(MORE: Óscar Pareja’s still defying expectations, but who’s going to play defensive midfield next week for Dallas?)

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Erik Lamela of Tottenham Hotspur  during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Britannia Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

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.

 

Sutton forced to use outfield player after goalkeeper left match injured

SUTTON, GREATER LONDON - FEBRUARY 20:  Reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw of Sutton acknowledges the crowd after The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Sutton United and Arsenal at Gander Green Lane on February 20, 2017 in Sutton, Greater London.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Sutton United was put in a bit of a predicament on Saturday when the club lost its starting goalkeeper due to injury.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten runs in Saturday’s PL action ]

If only Wayne Shaw were available…

The 45-year-old resigned from his backup keeper position with the team earlier in the week after an investigation over broken betting rules came into question when Shaw ate a pie on the bench during Sutton’s FA Cup defeat against Arsenal.

Ross Worner left the pitch during the team’s 3-2 National League victory over Torquay United in the opening quarter hour.

Despite being down a goal and a man, central defender Simon Downer filled in for the injured Worner and only conceded once in the Sutton win.

Video: Schmeichel opens up about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester

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Leicester’s downward spiral this season has certainly been one of the most intriguing storylines in the Premier League, and that story came to a head when manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked by the club.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten runs in Saturday’s PL action ]

After leading his side to an improbable PL title during the 2015/16 season, the Foxes are now in the midst of a difficult relegation battle as the season hits its most crucial juncture.

[ MORE: Brighton extends lead in Championship, Newcastle held by Bristol ]

Still, the Foxes must turn their attention towards survival despite losing a manager that was amongst the most well liked in England and really all throughout European football.

“Claudio [Ranieri] leaving is obviously very, very sad. We achieved the impossible together and I have nothing but the upmost respect for him for everything that he achieved at this club,” said Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

“Everybody knows he’s a classy guy. He came in and said his piece to the players, thanked us for our efforts and for last season and said goodbye. It’s a shame it has come to this.”

Schmeichel reiterated that he didn’t believe Ranieri was the issue and that the players are at fault for not taking care of the results on the pitch.

“You can look at our performances on the pitch,” Schmeichel said. “We haven’t been quite good enough this season. It’s quite clear. The league doesn’t lie. We’re in the position we are in because we haven’t been good enough.”

The keeper stated that he especially is taking Ranieri’s sacking to heart and that he wishes the club could have strung together some better performances in order to save his former manager’s job.

“I don’t think anyone has had more sleepless nights over our form than I have,” Schmeichel said. “Our form affects me deeply. Every person can clearly see that we haven’t performed on the pitch and we deserve the criticism that we get and that we are getting because of our performances. But anything above that is out of our hands. On the pitch, we definitely deserve the criticism that we are getting.”

In the interim, Craig Shakespeare will be tasked with replacing Ranieri and hoping to keep his club afloat next season in the PL.

While Shakespeare does have caretaker experience back in 2006 with West Bromwich Albion, the 53-year-old is in a much more difficult position this time around given the magnitude of Leicester’s fall from grace.

“Craig is someone I’ve known for a very long time,” Schmeichel said. “He’s a very bright character. he’s a very serious football man, what you’d call a real football man. he’s very enthusiastic about training. I have absolutely no doubt that he’s capable of becoming a manager whether it’s now or at some point. I think that he does have ambitions of that but he’s been a magnificent manager in his time here.”

La Liga & Serie A: Sevilla moves second, Caldara guides Atalanta

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 29:  Stevan Jovetic (L) of Sevilla FC celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Sevilla FC at Cornella-El Prat stadium on January 29, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Betis 1-2 Sevilla

Sevilla has moved into second in La Liga thanks to a pair of second half goals on Saturday. Riza Durmisi gave the hosts the advantage heading into the halftime break but Sevilla fought back in the second stanza with finishes from Gabriel Mercado and Vicente Iborra to pull into a tie on points with league leaders Real Madrid.

Leganes 4-0 Deportivo La Coruna

Raúl Albentosa’s red card was the least of Deportivo’s worries on the day as the 17th place side took a hammering from Leganes. The victory for the hosts moves Leganes two points clear of Deportivo in the table and five points above the drop zone. Alexander Szymanowski and Martín Mantovani helped Leganes jump out to a 2-0 lead inside of the opening half hour before late finishes from Unai Lopez and Alberto Bueno put the finishing touches on the encounter.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 2-1 Valencia
Eibar 3-0 Malaga

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Espanyol vs. Osasuna (6 a.m. ET)
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (10:15 a.m. ET)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Granada (12:30 p.m. ET)
Sporting Gijon vs. Celta Vigo (12:30 p.m. ET)
Villareal vs. Real Madrid (2:45 p.m. ET)


Napoli 0-2 Atalanta

Mattia Caldara netted a brace on Saturday and helped guide his Atalanta side to within three points of Napoli in the Serie A table. Atalanta currently sits fourth in Italy’s top flight, but the race for the second place is heating up as Roma, Napoli and Atalanta all sit within five points of one another. Meanwhile, Inter Milan will have a chance to draw level on points with Atalanta on Sunday when they take on Roma.

Juventus 2-0 Empoli

It took a bit for the league leaders to get going but Juventus remains in firm control of Serie A after another victory. An own goal from Lukasz Skorupski gave the hosts the lead after the halftime break before Alex Sandro doubled the advantage 12 minutes later after finishing off a Dani Alves cross. The Bianconeri now hold a 10-point advantage over second place Roma.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Palermo vs. Sampdoria (6:30 a.m. ET)
Chievo vs. Pescara (9 a.m. ET)
Crotone vs. Cagliari (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Bologna (9 a.m. ET)
Lazio vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Sassuolo vs. AC Milan (9 a.m. ET)
Inter Milan vs. Roma (2:45 p.m. ET)