Championship Sunday focus: Manchester United

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Story so far…  Quite simply it has been an Annus horribilis for Manchester United, as the Red Devils endured their worst-ever Premier League season and the defending champions surrendered their crown with a whimper. David Moyes lasted less than 10 months as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor as the Scotsman just couldn’t handle the demands of leading an aging United side through transition. Making it to the UCL quarterfinals was a small positive in a season full of negatives. Who will be the next boss at Old Trafford?

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That remains the big question hanging over the club at the end of this campaign, as interim boss Ryan Giggs doesn’t seem to be the preferred candidate and big names likes Carlo Ancelotti and Louis van Gaal continued to be linked with the job. The rebuilding of an empire is underway at Old Trafford. This could take a while, especially after such a demoralizing season.

Who do they play and where can I watch it: United travel to play Southampton down at St. Mary’s Stadium, live on SyFy At 10 a.m. ET and you stream it online via NBC Sports Live Extra. In the past Southampton has been an unhappy hunting ground for the Red Devils after a series of devastating defeats in the 90s. Will they endure a miserable end to a truly shambolic season?

Form guide: United drew 1-1 at home with Southampton earlier this season as Saints bagged a last minute equalizer at Old Trafford. Giggs has won two of his three games in charge thus far and will be hoping his team can finish the season on a high.

March 29 – vs. Aston Villa, W 4-1
April 5 – at Newcastle, W 4-0
April 20 – at Everton, L 2-0
April 26 – vs. Norwich City, W 4-0
May 3 – vs. Sunderland, L 0-1
May 6 – vs. Hull City, W 3-1

What’s at stake: United can finish in sixth if they beat Southampton and no lower than seventh. If Giggs’ side beat Saints then they need Tottenham to lose at home to Aston Villa in order for the Red Devils to finish sixth and qualify for the Europa League.

When the final whistle blows: I think United will be in seventh, their lowest ever PL finish and the first time they’ve ever finished outside the top four. A monumental rebuild is underway at Old Trafford. Will Louis van Gaal, or somebody else, be the chief architect next season? Get ready for a summer of rumored transfers and huge upheaval, United fans.

EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

(more…)

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)