Sporting Kansas City breaks out, overcomes penalties in Colorado (video)

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Neither Colorado nor Sporting Kansas City had scored an open play goal ahead this season, something the defending champions rectified in the second half of today’s game in Commerce City, Colo. Two well-worked goals saw Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber score for the first time this season, with Dom Dwyer roofing a winner in stoppage time to send a 10-man Colorado to its first defeat of the season, 3-2.

Along the way, the Rapids were blessed with two more penalty kicks, running the team’s total to five on the season. Converting both his tries, Vicente Sanchez is up to a league-leading four goals, withthe Rapids having yet to score from anywhere but the spot.

Yet despite getting two kicks for the second straight week, the Rapids suffered their first loss of the season, with Kansas City’s wide play able to create each of  the team’s second half goals. In the 50th minute, Paulo Nagamura fed Sal Zizzo down Sporting’s right flank, with the former Timber eventually playing through the six-yard box for Zusi. The U.S. international finished into an open net to make it 1-0.

source: Getty ImagesIn the 79th minute, it was Zusi (right, at MLS Cup) that started the final movement down the left, with Zizzo getting his second assist of the day when he headed down for Feilhaber. Though he need two chances to get around a diving Nathan Sturgis, Feilhaber’s goal equalized one minute after the Rapids’ second conversion.

But amid all those fireworks, the match’s key development looked like something that could have proven irrelevant. With five minutes left in regulation time, while pressuring Zusi on a ball coming out of the Sporting end, Marvell Wynne’s right foot came down on the attacker’s ankle, earning him a red card.

(ELSEWHERE: Late Di Vaio goal makes Philadelphia pay, gives Montréal first point of 2014 (video))

So close to the end of the game, Colorado should have still been able to kill off the draw. Instead, one minute into stoppage time, Zusi fed Dwyer in the left of the penalty area before this blast – what might be the best goal of the young striker’s career:

Sporting beat a very good San Jose team last week, but despite giving up two goals, this was the defending champions’ best performance of the season. There were points of this game, particularly in the first half, were Colorado was very good. Kansas City rode that out, though, got to half time even, and were eventually able to deflate a confident Colorado with Zusi’s goals. The first penalty was a bit of bad lack, the second one was fully Feilhaber’s fault, but the team overcame both. Between the attack’s awakening, the fight back, and three points on the road at altitude, this is a very impressive result.

(ELSEWHERE: D.C. United finally into goals, points columns, but Chicago takes result out of RFK (video))

Though the first three weeks of the season, we were left wondering what Sporting would look like once they moved on from their Champions League commitments. Though Dwyer, Aurélien Collin, and Chance Myers weren’t in today’s starting lineup, the team played more like last year’s champions than any Sporting squad that’s taken the field in MLS. Aside from the first half at home against Cruz Azul, this was the best Sporting team we’ve seen all season.

So consider the questions answered, even if the queries were more curiosities than serious. If you were wondering when the real Sporting Kansas City would show up, wonder no more.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.