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Early red card gives D.C. United easy day against Dallas, five-game unbeaten run

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Turnabout is fair play? Luck evening out? There are so many directions we could go with this one – so many sports clichés we can apply to what happened to FC Dallas today at RFK Stadium. Ultimately, they all amount to the same thing: The fortune Óscar Pareja’s team had when David Horst was sent off against Houston reversed itself against D.C. United. Instead of using a man advantage to claim a superficially convincing 4-1 win, the Hoops were dealt their own three-goal loss, falling by the same score Saturday in the nation’s capital.

FCD took an early lead through Mauro Díaz before D.C. took control of the game, with Zach Loyd’s second yellow card in the 39th minute giving the hosts a permanent advantage. Five minutes into first half stoppage time, after Díaz had left with an injury, a Fabian Espindola goal sent the sides into halftime even. In the second half, scores from Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, and Espindola over a nine-minute period starting at the hour mark gave D.C. its most decisive victory of the season, one that gives 2013’s doormats a five-game unbeaten run.

I mention 2013 because this may be one of the last times we can realistically do so. This surge feels so new, it’s impossible not to cast it in contrast to last year’s failures, but after too long, we may get used to United being more than a doormat. Any mention of last year’s quality will either be lazy or ironic.

On form, there’s still a lot of progress to be made, yet their third win of the season inches the team closer to a symbolic milestone. Once they reach win four and pass last year’s record-setting low, 2013 may be irrelevant.

For now, last year helps provide important context for Saturday’s romp. While there’s a danger of reading too much into a team’s 11-on-10 performance (see: Dallas’s win over Houston), United’s ability to take advantage of its opportunities is noteworthy. Six months ago, this team was finding ways to give away points. Today, they were ruthless, quickly taking advantage of the 10-man Toros. It’s a quality that should serve D.C. well as pushes forward in its rebuild.

It’s a resourcefulness which, to this point in the season Dallas has shared – a quality one bad day in Washington, D.C., can’t take away. Though its inevitable that people ask whether today’s game burst the FCD bubble, it told us almost nothing about the team’s underlying quality. Just as the win in Houston wasn’t an indication of Dallas’s quick ascent into MLS’s elite, this game is not an indication Pareja’s side is about to slide.

The bigger worry is Díaz’s first half injury. Pareja also has to be concerned about any mental effect the lopsided result has on his squad. But as for what the final tells us about D.C.’s rise of Dallas’s potential fall: Not much.

State of the USMNT: What is Klinsmann’s best XI for World Cup qualifiers?

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With the U.S. men’s national team ending their January camp with two narrow friendly wins over Iceland and Canada, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff will now be sitting back and thinking: “What did we learn? Who impressed? Who struggled?”

Or something like that.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

Each year the January camp provides domestic based players — mostly from Major League Soccer but a sprinkling of other guys too — with the chance to impress Klinsmann and his staff in close quarters for multiple weeks in California. Many current U.S. regulars earned their stripes in January’s gone by and have established themselves ever since.

This January was no different as the experienced core of players — Michael Bradley, Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore among them — showed their class and several promising players worked hard to get minutes in the friendlies.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

However, despite some glimmers of hope from youngsters such as Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter, what we learned about the USMNT heading into the two CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifiers in March is that the established players remain the best hope for success. Sure, the likes of John Brooks is impressing in the Bundesliga, Matt Miazga sealed a move to Chelsea and Lee Nguyen took his chance in January camp, but the old guard should remain in place through this next batch of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala home and away on Mar. 25 and 29 and the Copa America Centenario this summer.

Question marks remain regarding some veterans, which could keep the situation a little more fluid than it should be.

One of those is Tim Howard with speculation of him moving away from Everton mounting plus a straight-up battle between Howard and Brad Guzan for the starting spot, while Clint Dempsey‘s status with the national team still seems to be somewhat clouded. Overall, though, the settled core of players who played together at the World Cup — plus or minus a few who have performed consistently over the last 18 months — should be kept together by Klinsmann. During last summer’s Gold Cup disappointment there was plenty of experimenting, especially in defense, but now is the time to settle things down and realize the following guys are the players you should count on going forward.

Below is my selection — feel free to select your own in the comments section — for the best XI available to Klinsmann, plus seven subs, assuming everyone is fit and available.

USMNT’s Best XI as of Feb. 9, 2016

—– Howard —–

— F. Johnson — Cameron — Besler — Ream —

—- Bradley —- Williams —-

—- Bedoya —- Dempsey —- Zardes —-

—– Altidore —–

Subs: Guzan, Brooks, Jones, Yedlin, Nagbe, Morris, Johannsson

Ahead of huge title clash, influential Leicester scout transfers to Arsenal

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Ben Wrigglesworth might not be a man you’ve heard a lot about, but he has been influential in helping Leicester City’s unlikely charge to the top of the Premier League.

Now, he’s been poached by Leicester’s main title rivals: Arsenal.

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Ahead of the monster clash between the Foxes and Gunners at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) the man who unearthed the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante has transferred to Arsenal and is now their First Team Video Scout.

Wrigglesworth, Leicester’s former Head of Technical Scouting, announced he would be leaving the Foxes via his Twitter page (see below) and he has now accepted a new role as part of Steve Rowley’s team at Arsenal.

It is believed he will not only help with the scouting of players but will also analyze Arsenal’s first team and the opposition.

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

Arsenal will unveil a new player performance center at their training HQ this summer and have recently purchased a soccer data company based in America, statDNA, to help them with scouting and player analysis.

With several Premier League teams now having huge player databases monitored by a team of talented individuals — often, like Wrigglesworth, with no pro playing experience — scouring the globe for the next bargain, the Moneyball vibe is strong.

VIDEO: Top 5 Premier League goals of Week 25

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Week 25 of the Premier League saw some stunning goals scored.

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

But which were the best?

In the video above are the top five strikes, as Jesse Lingard‘s stunning swivel and finish for Manchester United against Chelsea must be the top strike. Right?

Take a gander and see which is your favorite.

American takeover of Everton edging closer

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19:  A general view during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park on December 19, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Soon there could be an American flag fluttering at Goodison Park.

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Following reports in December stating that former San Diego Padres owner John Jay Moores and his associate Charles Noell were in talks to buy Premier League club Everton, a new report from the Liverpool Echo states the $300 million takeover could be completed in the next two weeks.

Long-time Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has come under increasing scrutiny from fans of the Toffees this season about their lack of spending in the transfer market and the businessman has reportedly been in talks with many interested parties over the years to try and sell the Merseyside club.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The report from the Echo says Moores and Noell have spent the last six weeks carrying out due diligence and have been in talks with the biggest shareholders, chairman Kenwright, plus Robert Earl and Jon Woods, about buying them out.

If Moores and Noell do become the majority shareholders of Everton and the controlling owners would mean the Toffees would be the seventh current PL club to be owned by Americans.

Manchester United, Sunderland, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Aston Villa all have majority owners who are from the U.S.