Collin red, Bunbury goal see New England down visiting Sporting, 2-0

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Given the teams that met at Gillette Stadium, a game that lacked scoring chances was less of a surprised than unfortunate confirmation. New England, a team that always possesses a conservative streak, has been offensively challenged all season, while Sporting Kansas City is not immune to down spells of its own. Through 74 minutes on Saturday, each sad had put exactly one shot on goal, with the rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal seemingly destined to end scoreless.

That’s when a small, perhaps trivial piece of history turned Saturday’s match. Aurélien Collin, owner of 32 career yellow cards without a dismissal in this three-plus year MLS career, was shown a straight red card by Alan Kelly after a sliding challenge on Diego Fagundez. Nineteen minutes later, a cross sent through the penalty area that was misplayed by Eric Kronberg led to Teal Bunbury’s game-winning goal, with Lee Nguyen’s late penalty conversion giving the Revolution a 2-0 win over the defending Major League Soccer champions.

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Teal Bunbury’s 92nd minute goal gave the Revolution a late lead over the team that traded him this offseason. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Before Collin’s dismissal point, Bunbury’s 32nd try on Kronberg had been New England’s only shot on target. Sporting finally tested Bobby Shuttleworth just before the hour mark, with Alex Martínez’s shot toward the lower right hand corner pushed wide. It was a match blunted by two conservative approaches, allowing the Revolution to hold the champs at bay while Sporting closed in on a road result.

When Collin was sent off, that all changed, though Kelly’s decision will prove controversial. Immediately reaching from his back pocket, the official seemed to judge the Sporting defender had gone in studs up. Replays were less conclusive. For a player who has made an MLS career of riding the line between physical and excessive, Collin pressed his luck with the wrong official, the defender left pointing to the replay on Gillette’s scoreboard as he left the field.

Moments later, Benny Feilhaber had a golden chance to snatch full points for 10-man Sporting when a ball in from the right was knocked down behind New England’s collapsing defense. One touch beyond an oncoming defender have the Kansas City midfielder a near-post chance around six yards out. Instead of going across goal, however, Feilhaber tried to pick out the upper right hand corner. His shot went into the stands.

Come stoppage time, Collin’s absence paid off. On a ball send in from the right by Fagundez, Kronberg missed on an attempted punch, apparently thrown off as Jerry Bengston made a run in front of him. Following behind, Bunbury was able to finish into an open net, scoring his first Revolution goal against the team that traded him this winter.

Nguyen’s insurance — coming after a handball for which Oriol Rosell should have seen red — made for a deceiving final score, one that gives the appearance there was some difference in quality between the two teams. There wasn’t, something that should provide the Revolution some assurances after an inconsistent start.

As far as the final score is concerned, however, one mistake (be it by Collin or Kelly) gave New England full points, costing Sporting its place atop the Eastern Conference.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.

West Ham targeting Wilshere transfer in January

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David Moyes has stated his desire to sign Jack Wilshere during the January transfer window, as West Ham United battle relegation and attempt to secure their Premier League status for next season.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Wilshere, who’s made just five PL appearance (all as a substitute) this season for Arsenal, after spending last season on loan at Bournemouth (27 appearances, including 22 starts), will be out of contract with the Gunners in the summer and it’s looking less and less likely that the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club. Thus, he would almost certainly be allowed to leave and recoup something — anything — next month.

As such, Moyes, whose West Ham side currently sits 19th in the league table after a disastrous start to the season which ultimately saw Slaven Bilic fired, sees an opportunity to bring in an international-caliber player, on the cheap, at exactly the right time — quotes from the Guardian:

“You’d hope that if you took a player from another Premier League club it’d be much easier for him to go right into the team and play well. Jack Wilshere would be someone who we’d have to look at if he was available.

“I do believe the transfer window could be the difference between relegation and staying up. If we can get the right players, that’s the big part of it.

“I also want to make sure we’re looking at players who’ve got time and who can be at the club for a long period and not just in for a short period. Then there’s also the short-term fix for me which is, how do we get enough wins between now and the end of the season? There’s a balance between that.”

Wilshere’s (waning) chances of making the England team for next summer’s World Cup undoubtedly hinge upon him playing a majority of minutes during the second half of the season and finding a patch of remarkably good form. Suffice to say, he’d likely to be quite interested in a move — especially one that would keep him in London.

Dyche: “Football is about dreams,” and this is Burnley’s

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Burnley challenging for, and ultimately finishing in, a top-four place in the Premier League would be the most unexpected outcome in England’s top flight since… well, Leicester City won the title 18 months ago.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

While the Foxes might have desensitized us with regards to what constitutes a feel-good story, one cannot simply ignore the astonishing, unexpected nature of the Clarets currently occupying fourth place in the PL table, just shy of the season’s halfway mark.

Sure, all three of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have a game in hand (all to be played on Wednesday) and would overtake Sean Dyche‘s side with a win, but even then “seventh-place Burnley” is a phrase that is only slightly less remarkable.

Following his side’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Tuesday, Dyche something like a romantic, referring to Burnley’s run as a “dream” given those lofty levels of overachievement — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s a run of results and a start which the fans are enjoying and rightly so.

“Football is about realities but also about dreams. It’s a tough task for us winning games at this level, but Leicester blew the roof off dreams in football.”

“We found a way to win and a fine goal. We’re not the real deal, we’re a side that are improving.

“I keep reality because this division will eat you alive. We’re having a real go at what we can achieve this season.”

Report: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million

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The Geordie dream appears one giant step closer to reality after Amanda Staveley has reportedly made a significantly larger bid in her attempt to purchase Newcastle United from long-embattled owner Mike Ashley.

[ TIMELINE: Ashley puts club up for sale | Staveley’s first bid rejected ]

According to multiple reports out of the UK — the Telegraph offers the most information at this time — Staveley has increased her initial offer from $335 million to today’s $400-million figure which is expected to be enough to convince Ashley to accept and bring to an end his decade-long, rocky relationship with the Toon Army.

Ashley purchased the club for $177 million back in 2007 and has reportedly invested somewhere in the neighborhood of another $177 million, in the form of interest-free loans, during his stewardship. He stands to make a sizable profit in light of today’s reports, though his original asking price of $534 million is nowhere close to being met.

[ STREAM: Newcastle host Everton — Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET ]

The biggest question which remains — now that will he or won’t he sell? appears to have been answered — is how quickly the deal can be completed, thus allowing Staveley to back manager Rafa Benitez during the January transfer window. Once the two sides enter into deeper takeover talks and the process of transferring ownership from one to the other begins, a transfer embargo will be activated.

Benitez and Ashley traded verbal jabs over the club’s transfer dealings — or, lack thereof — in the summer, and the Spaniard has again this week insisted significant investment is needed in January, otherwise the Magpies could very well be relegated, once again. After a strong start to the season, Newcastle are winless in their last seven Premier League games (six losses) and have tumbled to 16th in the league table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone.