Two Dempsey goals (including this blast) help Seattle hand Dallas its first loss

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It’s hard to argue Clint Dempsey outdid last week’s three goal performance in Portland, but consider the nature of the two goals he scored today in Frisco, Tex., one that helped the Sounders to a 3-2 win over previously unbeaten Dallas. Whereas one of last week’s goals came after a penalty earned by DeAndre Yedlin, this week’s pair was a Goal of the Year candidate and a late match winner, combining the sublime with the dramatic to leave “Deuce” two goals clear at the top of the league’s goal scoring charts.

After a bouncing, wind-blown ball was misjudged by Stefan Frei left Seattle down 1-0 after 10 minutes., Dempsey pulled Seattle back with this blast from around 28 yards out, an near-unstoppable shot that initially left us guessing as to whom the goal would be credited:

Obafemi Martins puts the ball back in, but Dempsey gets the goal, with the ball having crossed the line before bouncing back out. Twenty-two minutes in, Dallas and Seattle were tied at one.

After a DeAndre Yedlin forearm shiver to David Texeira gave Michel a chance to convert from the spot, Dallas went into halftime up 2-1, a lead Stephen Keel gave back with an own goal in the 75th minute.

Then, 10 minutes later, off the same type of outside-in play we saw produce Seattle’s third goal last week, “Deuce” got his sixth of the season – another classic Dempsey goal:

After a strange but relatively even game, Dempsey proved the difference, with his fourth and fifth goals in two games leading the Sounders to the one-goal victory, one that knocked Dallas from the ranks of the unbeatens. His six goals are also two more than anybody else in Major League Soccer, with Colorado’s Vicente Sanchez and Chivas USA’s Erick Torres trailing Dempsey with four, each.

On the team level, it was a telling game for both sides. Seattle was able to overcome a strange opener and a Yedlin penalty to get full points from a good team, giving another resilient performance in the process. For the second straight week, the Sounders overcame a late deficit on the road, with the urgency they’ve shown in the closing moments at Providence Park and Toyota Stadium giving their attack an aura invincibility. It’s a level that may not be sustainable for 90 minutes at a time, but when the Sounders attack starts clicking like has on Dempsey’s last two open play goals, their opponents are at their mercy.

As for FC Dallas, we’ve been looking for a game that finally gave us a hint at how good the team really is, and we got it. Though Óscar Pareja’s side may have lost for the first time this season, we saw a team capable of playing with arguably the league’s most talented team. Ultimately, Dallas needed some fortunate on both of its goals, but the play between the scores helped back the claim FCD might be for real.

Perhaps you could look at Saturday as a setback, but Dallas wasn’t going undefeated anyway, and if you have to lose games, you might as well learn something about yourself in the process. Against Seattle, Dallas was reassured at can compete with MLS’s most gifted teams – not bad for a team that finished last year eighth in the Western Conference.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.