At halftime: Suárez header has Uruguay up on England, 1-0 — FOLLOW LIVE

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Story of the half: Thirty-eight minutes of even play loses its balance after the game’s first shot on target. Playing his first match since knee surgery last month, Luis Suárez heads his team in front, converting a Uruguayan moment of transition into a 1-0 lead over England.

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Goals:

39′ – In his night’s first moment of freedom, Suárez gives his team the lead. On a counterattack orchestrated by Nicolas Lodeiro, Edinson Cavani moves wide left, giving his teammate an outlet as the defense reacts at the edge of England’s defensive third. Cavani takes the ball and cuts onto his right foot before chipping to the middle of the box. There, Suárez has pulled away from Phil Jagielka, giving himself enough room to head the opening goal inside Joe Hart’s right post.

Other key moments:

9′ – Moving quickly into their attacking third, England finds Danny Welbeck at the top of the arc, with Wayne Rooney coming from deep for a pass that looks like it will make its way through the defense. Diego Godín, however, brings his right hand down on the chip, drawing a yellow card while killing the movement. Rooney’s ensuing free kick goes wide of the left post.

15′ – Uruguay’s first moment of danger comes when Phil Jagielka’s failed clearance sits up for Cristian Rodríguez in the left of the penalty area. The Atlético Madrid midfielder has all the time he wants to line-up a left-footed shot, but when his blast goes into the stands, Joe Hart’s left untested.

26′ – La Celeste’s best spell of sustained pressure sees a ball chipped into the box brought down by Nicolas Lodeiro, who turns and plays through ball for the cutting Edinson Cavani. Gary Cahill tracks the run and eventually sends the ball out for a corner, though on the ensuring restart, Cavani gets a step on the Chelsea defender and is able to get off a shot. The ball goes into the seats, leaving Uruguay without a shot on target.

31′ – A restart deep on England’s left sees Steven Gerrard hit a perfect ball high and just inside Fernando Mulera’s far post. Wayne Rooney’s beat his mark but, continuing his World Cup goal-scoring drought, plays the ball off the side of his head and onto the corner of goal. The best chance of the match ends with Rooney tangled in the back of the net as the ball rebounds back into the box.

41′ – England nearly responds to Suárez’s opener when Rooney finds Sturridge making a diagonal run behind the right of Uruguay’s defense. Left with a sharp angle, the Liverpool attacker turns to shoot before he’s closed down by Godín. Muslera is there to block England’s first shot on target out for a corner.

Lineups:

Uruguay: Muslera; Pereira, Godín, Jimenez, Cáceres; Rodríguez, Gargano, Ríos, Lodeiro; Suárez, Cavani.

England: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Welbeck, Sterling, Rooney; Sturridge.

Key Players:

  • Steve Gerrard, England – After the Three Lions’ opening game loss to Italy, fans were left asking “what happened to Gerrard?” He had no impact on the match. Today the England captain got off to a more influential start but failed to sustain that influence. Particularly against a Urugayan midfield apt to sit deep, can England’s key distributor get more involved?
  • Diego Godín, Uruguay – Just before the half-hour mark, Godín teased a second yellow card when he brought down Daniel Sturridge on England’s right. With a 19-year-old World Cup debutant to his right in Uruguay’s central defense, Godín is one of Óscar Tabárez’s most important players, but against a quick England attack, the veteran defenders in danger of going off.

Numbers to know:

40 – Suárez, already his country’s leading scorer, hits a benchmark, scoring his 40th international goal (in 78 appearances).

2 – Total shots on target. Suárez’s goal should open things up.

60% – England’s possession, though the team’s best chances have come off a dead ball and a quick movement through the middle of the field.

Question for the second half:

  • Does England leave Raheem Sterling wide? – Wayne Rooney has come in from the wide position he occupied against Italy to take up a place in the middle of the park, a deployment that pushed Sterling to the flank. Whereas the Liverpool teenager was one of England most influential players against the Italians, his influence has been more sporadic against Uruguay. With England generating fewer chances today than they did against the Azzurri, does Roy Hodgson need to bring Sterling back to the middle?

FC Dallas extends the contract of Oscar Pareja

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After winning the club’s second-ever U.S. Open Cup title and first-ever Supporters’ Shield last season, plus a hot start to the new term, FC Dallas has extended the contract of manager Oscar Pareja.

Pareja, who was hired as FC Dallas manager in 2014, will be at FC Dallas “for years to come” according to the club, although the terms of the contract, including the length, were not released.

“We are excited to ensure Oscar will be our head coach for many years to come,” said FC Dallas chairman and CEO Clark Hunt in a statement by the club. “As a manager and a developer of talent, Oscar has proven himself to be among the elite in our sport, and we look forward to even greater success under his leadership in the future.”

As the former head of the FC Dallas academy, Pareja has been hailed not only for his tactical abilities, but as a cultivator of new talent. His most prized possession is young midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who made his U.S. national team debut on Tuesday, and young defender Walker Zimmerman cracked the roster but has yet to debut. The club also boasts homegrown players Victor Ulloa and Jesse Gonzalez, and the official club roster features a whopping 20 players 25 years old or younger, six of whom are teenagers. The nine homegrown players are the most on any roster in MLS.

Pareja, a former FC Dallas player who made 176 league appearances for the club, said he is loving life in the city he built his career. “On behalf of my family and the people who work with me, I would like to extend my gratitude to Clark and Dan Hunt and the entire FC Dallas family for having the confidence and belief in us,” Pareja said in the statement. “Our ultimate goal is to continue developing the model, with a commitment to young players, that makes FC Dallas so successful.”

“When I came [to the United States as a player] in ’98, after a few months I had the desire to go back home. I found it difficult for me, my wife and my daughter to adjust to the culture because we didn’t know the language and that creates a little bit of a gap,” Pareja said. “The people here in Dallas, they were terrific with us and made us feel very comfortable. I started growing into the culture and in that moment things started changing. I did not for one moment, though, think that I was going to be here this many years.”

The 48-year-old Colombian stated he still desires for an MLS Cup, something which evaded FC Dallas last year after losing to Seattle in the conference semifinals.

Top PL Storylines: Merseyside Derby, relegation special

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The international break is over and the Premier League is back.

[ MORE: What’s left for each PL club? ]

This stretch run begins now, as teams have around eight more matches left in league play with which to move up or down. Who will climb the table, and who will lose spots? The best picks are below:


Merseyside clubs clinging to European places

Liverpool vs. Everton — 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday online via NBCSports.com

Everton and Liverpool doesn’t need any sideshows to hype up the heated rivalry, but a little added spice won’t hurt anything. Spice is what we have as the two teams clash at Anfield Saturday as both teams are battling for European places.

Liverpool comes into the game in fourth, four points ahead of Manchester United for the final Champions League spot. A return to Europe’s top competition is overdue for Jurgen Klopp and the Reds, having made the tournament just once since 2010. It’s been a dogfight all year at the top of the table (aside from Chelsea, of course), and Liverpool is right in the mix. A misstep here would give Manchester United the chance to climb just one point back, really putting on the pressure. For Everton, they sit in seventh, level with Arsenal on points and just two behind Manchester United. They still have a good shot at Europa League play, and any spot in a European competition is a welcome moment for an Everton team that has appeared just once since 2010.

Both teams have to contend with injuries suffered over the international break. Everton’s Seamus Coleman is out at least for the rest of the season after his nasty leg break, while Liverpool will miss Adam Lallana who aggravated a muscle injury while on duty with England and will likely be out a month.

Will Arsenal or City turn their season around?

Arsenal vs. Manchester City — 11:00 a.m. EDT Sunday online via NBCSports.com

Arsene Wenger continues to find himself under more and more pressure. It seems Pep Guardiola takes one step back for every one step forward. As the two managers meet at the Emirates on Sunday, will either man manage to get a high-profile win to boost its season’s fortunes?

The Gunners are in serious peril. Wenger has never missed the Champions League in his 20 seasons in charge, but that could all change this year as Arsenal sits in 6th on 50 points, six back of fourth position. There is little to no room for error the rest of the way, and even against a strong opponent, the Gunners cannot afford to drop more points. For Pep Guardiola, City still sits in an envious position in third place and five points clear of dropping off the top four, but it’s not been without bumps and bruises. City is without a win in its last three matches, having dumped out of the Champions League and drawn a pair in league play over that time. Both managers are struggling. Will either turn things around?

A relegation special

Swansea City vs. Middlesbrough — 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday online via NBCSports.com

Middlesbrough is in the relegation zone. Swansea City isn’t out of the weeds yet. Premier League status could be on the line.

As the two teams meet at the Liberty Stadium, Middlesbrough can go a long way towards climbing out of the bottom 3, while Swansea City can build space from it. Boro sits in 19th place, on 22 points, five back of safety. In that final safe spot is Swansea, on 27 points, and depending on the results of this match, things could get hairy for the loser. A draw helps nobody, so expect both sides to go all out.

Spurs with a tough road test

Burnley vs. Tottenham — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday online via NBCSports.com

Spurs sit in second, 10 points off the top but in control of the tight Champions League battle. Yet, they face a difficult challenge on Sunday. Burnley has lost just twice all season long at home, the latest coming January 2nd. Their away form has been miserable, but at home, they’re a completely different team.

Enter Tottenham, who has won three Premier League games in a row, but it’s not all rosy for the title contenders. They’re still without Harry Kane, who has returned to light training but still remains sidelined with his ankle injury. Sean Dyche can coach with the best of them in the English top flight, and it remains to be seen if Mauricio Pochettino can break down a strong Clarets defense. Spurs managed a 2-1 home win over Burnley, but a similar performance won’t get it done at the fortress of Turf Moor.

Former DC United keeper sues club plus Espindola, Olsen

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Former DC United goalkeeper Charlie Horton has filed a lawsuit naming D.C. United and Major League Soccer defendants along with Fabian Espindola and manager Ben Olsen.

The lawsuit alleges assault by Espindola which left Horton with career-ending concussion symptoms which he claims still haunt him today. Horton, born in London, was on D.C. United’s roster in 2016, but never saw the field as he failed to crack the pecking order which boasted Bill Hamid, Tally Hall, and Andrew Worra. Eventually, Horton was sent on loan to the Richmond Kickers to gain playing time.

According to the lawsuit, Espindola attacked Horton at the team training facility in late March of 2016 after an argument involving an incident in training weeks earlier. Horton did indeed officially miss seven weeks with a concussion that season, the first of two injuries he suffered that year (a broken hand ended his season).

However, the lawsuit states that Horton was not entered into MLS concussion protocol immediately, instead allowed to practice that day and only entering protocol and missing time when he reported his symptoms the following day. Horton was cleared to play in May, and was then sent on loan to Richmond.

The lawsuit states that the lingering concussion symptoms caused the end of Horton’s career. “Due to the severity of his ongoing post-concussive neurological symptoms, which directly inhibited his ability to perform at a level necessary to continue his professional career, Mr. Horton was forced to officially retire from professional soccer.”

Horton claims that Espindola’s attack was a blindsided attack, an elbow to the temple after Horton had turned to walk away from the altercation.

Manuel Neuer injured, will miss two games

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A long streak will come to an end on Saturday when Bayern Munich hosts Augsburg at Allianz Arena.

Manuel Neuer, who has started 65 straight Bundesliga matches for Bayern, will be forced to the bench after injuring his foot in training on Wednesday. That means a streak of 5,850 straight minutes played will be snapped.

The injury required minor surgery, which was performed by club doctor Markus Walther, and a club release said it “went optimally.”

The injury will see Neuer miss at least the Augsburg match plus the midweek visit to Hoffenheim. That leaves the two big matches up in the air, with Bayern set to travel to Westfalenstadion to take on Borussia Dortmund on April 8th, followed closely by the first leg against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals the following Tuesday. There was no mention of either game in the club release.

The last time Neuer missed minutes in a Bundesliga game was a home game against Eintract Frankfurt on April 11, 2015. The last time the 31-year-old missed more than three league games in a season was 2008/09 when he played for Schalke and missed the first six games of the year with a broken foot.

With the club 13 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table, the injury is likely to have little effect on the final league standings, but should Neuer end up out for either the Dortmund game or, more importantly, the match against Real Madrid, it could affect the club’s position in the Champions League.