Watch Live: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders (Lineups and Discuss)

Leave a comment

PORTLAND, Ore. — A noon kickoff in the Rose City has brought the Timbers Army out early for the season’s first visit from their arch rivals. Winless in 2014, the Portland Timbers host the Seattle Sounders in the first game of the Major League Soccer weekend, with coverage available on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

Seattle enters the game with a  three-game losing streak against their regional rivals, with back-to-back defeats in last year’s postseason seeing the Sounders out in the Western Conference semifinals. This season, Sigi Schmid’s team has started 2-2-0 but enter Saturday’s match having lost at home to Columbus, 2-1 last week.

WATCH: NBCSN’S MLS COVERAGE AVAILABLE ON LIVE EXTRA

Their effort to avoid a two-game losing streak will be helped by the return of U.S. captain Clint Dempsey, whose suspension for violent conduct against Toronto’s Mark Bloom expired with last week’s loss. He’ll move into a team that switched formation in his absence, moving away from a 4-2-3-1 setup to embrace a true 4-3-3 against Columbus and Montréal. Left-sided attack makes way with Dempsey’s return, while starting center back Djimi Traoré sits after the red card he earned against the Crew.

For Portland, 2013 Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts will serve the second match of his own suspension, incurred for his red card on Colorado’s DeShorn Brown two weeks ago. In his place, former Sounder Andrew Weber will get his second start since moving south, with the former New Mexico Lobo having conceded twice in last week’s loss at Dallas.

Though they allowed multiple goals last week, the Timbers’ main problem has been scoring, having only found three goals in four games. Hoping to address that, Portland head coach Caleb Porter has given Kalif Alhassan and Alvas Powell their first starts of the season.

LINEUPS

Portland Timbers: Andrew Weber; Alvas Powell, Norberto Paparatto, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Will Johnson; Kalif Alhassan, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, Maxi Urruti

Subs: Jake Gleeson, Futty Danso, Jack Jewsbury, Steve Zakuani, Ben Zemanski, Gastón Fernández, Frédéric Piquionne

Seattle Sounders: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marchall, Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez; Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Michael Ariza; Kenny Cooper, Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey

Subs: Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott, Marco Pappa, Lamar Neagle, Kévin Parsemain, Char Barrett, Dylan Remick

Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A horror tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor snapped Seamus Coleman‘s leg in gruesome fashion on Friday.

Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.

“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.

This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.

Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, and Phil Jagielka have played some right back for Everton, while Ramiro Funes Mori has deputized at left back.

Emotional McClean speaks after honoring deceased teammate (video)

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.

Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).

“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.

“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”

World Cup qualifiers: Wales in trouble; Buffon hits 1000

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
1 Comment

Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear of Ukraine and three above Iceland midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.