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MLS roundup: Dempsey scores two more; RSL the last of the unbeatens

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Major League Soccer is down to one unbeaten team, though in a month-and-a-half full of ties, it’s only right that the last undefeated side is riddled with draws. After a 2-2 result today in Philadelphia, Real Salt Lake’s left with only two wins in six, its 2-0-4 record as indicative of its difficult opening schedule as the team’s quality.

Thanks to Seattle’s performance in Frisco, Tex., FC Dallas can no longer count itself among the unbeatens, with another headlining performance from one of the league’s biggest stars finally sinking Óscar Pareja’s upstart side. FCD does, however, maintain its place at the top of the Western Conference, with a surprise win from Colorado at BMO Field leaving a trio of clubs three points behind the leaders.

Here’s what happened on the sixth Saturday of the Major League Soccer season:

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Real Salt Lake

Oh, look what we have here: The good Philadelphia Union. We thought we lost you guys, but the way you played against Real Salt Lake? You obviously just had an off week against Chicago. Maybe that potential you flashed against Portland, New England, and Columbus wasn’t a more than a hot start.

Coming back from two different deficits, the Union got their fourth draw of the season, seeing their new striker (Andrew Wenger) score in the process. Real Salt Lake also so a “4” going into their tie column, though the Western Conference champions are the league’s last unbeaten team.

Toronto FC 0-1 Colorado Rapids

Without Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe, Toronto still had a number of chances to claim their second home win of the season, but after a well-built chance that saw Dillons Serna and Powers create a close-range opportunity for Edson Buddle, the Reds were made to rue their inability to find an opening goal. With their second loss of the year, TFC remains tied at the top of the East with Columbus, while Colorado moves to within three points of first place Dallas in the Western Conference.

Montréal Impact 1-1 Chicago Fire

Jack McInerney scored in his first game with Montréal, but much like the rest of his team, the new Impact striker was kept quiet throughout the rest of the afternoon. When Chicago got an early second half equalizer from Quincy Amarikwa, Frank Yallop’s team appeared to be building toward its first win of the season, but unable to find a winner from a match it controlled, the Fire had to settle for its fourth straight draw.

New England Revolution 2-0 Houston Dynamo

Carrying some kind of hangover from their 4-1 loss to Dallas last weekend, Houston failed to put a shot on goal at Gillette Stadium, allowing Kevin Alston’s first MLS goal to carry New England into stoppage time. Jerry Bengston’s goal after a Tally Hall error doubled the Revolution lead as well as Houston’s losing streak, with New England rebounding from its loss at D.C. to hand the Dynamo their second straight loss.

D.C. United 1-0 New York Red Bulls

A fourth minute goal from Davy Arnaud along with another surprisingly poor performance from New York gave Ben Olsen’s team its second straight win, with United now one win short of its 2013 season total. With Thierry Henry back in the team, the Red Bulls were able to take more control than they did last week in Montréal, but an inability to put more than three of their 19 shots on target leaves the Supporters’ Shield holders winless this season.

FC Dallas 2-3 Seattle Sounders

Clint Dempsey made his case for a second straight Player of the Week honor, with a Goal of the Year candidate and a late match-winner giving “Deuce” his second straight multi-goal night. Knocking Dallas from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Sounders claimed their third win of the campaign, with their biggest star taking his spot atop the league’s scoring charts with six goals.

Portland Timbers 1-1 Chivas USA

What New York is to the East, Portland is to the Western Conference. Now six games without a win, the Timbers again saw a defensive failing cost them points, with Erick Torres’s late goal giving the visiting Goats a surprise result. With his fifth goal of the year, “Cubo” joins Dempsey as the only players to net five times though six rounds (though Dempsey has played two fewer games).

LA Galaxy 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Robbie Keane’s third goal in four games keeps LA in the win column, with the Galaxy’s second straight shutout giving fans reason to think Bruce Arena has found a solution for the team’s biggest weakness. After starting the season with a loss and draw against Real Salt Lake, LA’s up to seven points in four games, though Landon Donovan remains in pursuit of goal No. 135.

Atletico Madrid unveils new crest, stadium video

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Atletico Madrid has a new look to go with its new home (which has a name, also obviously new).

The La Liga giants will eliminate that dot of green from their badge when they hit the Wanda Metropolitano next summer.

Yep, that’s when the new stadium will open. Ideas move quickly.

[ MORE: Stoke’s Hughes likes Arsenal’s PL odds ]

The blue in Atleti’s crest is navy, and the red stripes are wider. There are still seven stars, a bear, and a strawberry tree.

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Stoke’s Hughes senses Arsenal could win Premier League

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Mark Hughes manager of Stoke City looks on prior to the Premier League match between Stoke City and Burnley at Bet365 Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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A longtime Manchester United player who managed two sides in London, this probably stings a bit for Mark Hughes.

The Stoke City boss has admitted he’s feeling positive about Arsenal’s chances at a run to the Premier League title this season.

[ MORE: Swans committed to Bradley ]

Hughes, 53, leads his Potters into the Emirates Stadium for a 10 a.m. EDT Saturday date with the Gunners, and knows the challenge is high.

The manager has the Potters up to ninth after a poor start to the season, and Stoke is closer to sixth than the relegation stew.

From the BBC:

“Arsenal, as a team, look in good shape and whilst we have a lot of confidence, given their form too, it isn’t a good time to play them.

“At times, Arsenal have struggled with consistency, and it has cost them, but you sense this could be their year. It’s important for us to give ourselves an opportunity to get something out of the game, we need to stay in the match and frustrate them.”

This week’s match with Arsenal kicks off a four-week run that goes Arsenal, Saints, Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea.

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Copa America trip helped convince Lodeiro of Sounders move

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 22: Nicolas Lodeiro #10 of the Seattle Sounders gets control of the ball during a match against the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals at CenturyLink Field on November 22, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders won the match 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Nicolas Loderio is getting set to play in the MLS Cup finals, something that only came to pass with a team visit to the United States, and the assistance of Luis Suarez.

According to Seattle Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey, he spoke with Lodeiro often in his attempts to bring the 27-year-old from Boca Juniors to Major League Soccer. The moment that swayed him was a trip to the US. A business trip.

With Uruguay competing in the Copa America Centenario, it allowed the two to speak more frequently, but when the Uruguayan became frustrated with his own handle of the native language, a friend stepped in to help. He asked national teammate Suarez to help translate, and thus the transfer came to pass.

“You don’t have body language, it’s harder than it is straight to the face and so he just got frustrated that he couldn’t understand everything that I’m saying,” Lagerwey told MLSSoccer.com’s radio show. “And so he says, ‘Hold on, speak to my friend,’ and I said, ‘OK,’ and I have no idea what’s happening. And Luis Suarez gets on and says, ‘Hi, this is Luis Suarez, how are you?’ And I’m like, ‘Morning, Mr. Suarez, how are you?’ And he was our translator.”

Lodiero has been a revelation for the Sounders since joining in the summer. A creative force all season, the Uruguayan has scored four goals in five playoff matches, bursting onto the national scene on the biggest stage.

“It was just funny. Nico and I, we talked fairly regularly during the process, in part because it took four months for the thing to play out,”  “And he was in the US for the Copa America with Uruguay, obviously, and in hindsight that ended up being a big deciding factor for him, because he brought his wife and his little son and they got to see America and I think liked it and developed a comfort level with it. And I think that’s what ultimately pushed them to make the leap, but I was talking and Nico’s English is actually pretty, pretty good, but he isn’t always so comfortable on the phone.”

With over 50 caps for the national team, Lodeiro is a well-known presence with the Barcelona striker and his other national teammates. The two have hooked up on the field as well, with Suarez assisting Lodeiro’s fourth national team goal back in October.

Zidane’s Madrid on cusp of setting new unbeaten record

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03: Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid looks on during the La Liga  match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Zinedine Zidane is one match away from coaching Real Madrid to a new unbeaten record.

When Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez midway through last season, the inexperienced former midfield standout got off to an auspicious start with a 5-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna.

Eleven months and one Champions League title later, Madrid faces Deportivo again at home on Saturday with the chance of surpassing its longest unbeaten run since the club was founded in 1902.

On Wednesday, Madrid equaled a club record of 34 games without a loss set in 1989 under coach Leo Beenhakker when it drew 2-2 with Borussia Dortmund.

“It’s important to continue to make history and continue our good run,” Zidane said after the match. “I don’t think it’s very important for me to leave my mark. What interests me the most is to continue with this great run that we’re on.”

Last season, when Real Madrid president Florentino Perez tapped Zidane to take over a struggling team, the decision smelled of desperation.

A fan favorite from his playing days as part of Madrid’s “galaticos” bunch, Zidane was promoted from coaching the reserve team to take over a side that was lurching from one embarrassing episode to the next.

Madrid’s 2015-16 campaign had started with Perez flubbing his play to sign away Manchester United goalie David De Gea. The team was then disqualified from the Copa de Rey for fielding an illegible player, and it endured a 4-0 defeat from Barcelona at home as it failed to click with Benitez.

Perez needed to make an impact move. But instead of searching for a veteran manager, he charged the unproven Zidane with turning around Madrid’s group of talented underachievers.

At first, the team remained erratic, and even looked set to bow out of the Champions League after a shocking 2-0 loss at German side Wolfsburg.

But that defeat on April 6 proved to be a catalyst. The team hasn’t lost since, recovering to claim its 11th European Cup and almost nip Barcelona for the Spanish league crown, before roaring out to lead la Liga this season.

Zidane, whose top-tier coaching experience had been limited to his stint as an assistant under Carlo Ancelotti, has now reached the half-century mark as head manager. During that 50-match period, he has overseen 37 wins, 11 draws and only two losses. That other loss came at Atletico Madrid in February.

“The players have to be congratulated. They’re the ones out on the pitch, it’s them who run, fight and dig in,” Zidane said. “We also have to thank the fans, who always get behind the team and support us. They’ve got to take some credit for what the team is achieving”.

Gifted with world-class stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, Zidane focused on getting more from Madrid’s supporting cast. He put a new emphasis on defense in his midfield by favoring Mateo Kovacic and Casemiro over flashier playmakers James Rodriguez and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon, and he has helped the little-known Lucas Vazquez blossom into an important piece of its attack.

“(Zidane) has gotten us to work hard and for things to go well for us, and that is paying off with this run of 34 unbeaten games,” defender Dani Carvajal said. “Everyone on the team has words of praise for him.”

Whereas the draw with Dortmund was disappointing because it cost Madrid a first-place finish in its Champions League group, its 1-1 stalemate earned last weekend at Barcelona tasted of victory. The “clasico” draw kept Madrid six points clear of Barcelona at the top of the Spanish table.

After it plays Deportivo, Madrid heads to Japan for the Club World Cup.

If Zidane sets the new club mark, his next goal would be the milestone held by Barcelona under counterpart Luis Enrique, whose 39-game unbeaten run was ended by Madrid last April.