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MLS Snapshot: Los Angeles Galaxy 2-2 Portland Timbers

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One game, 100 words or less: Bruce Arena was asked at halftime what he can do to get his team on the board. “Play better” he said. Yup, about sums it up.

The Galaxy came out of the break and would soon open the scoring, but moments of relaxation soon after would relegate them to just a point.

It was a solid point considering they ended up needing a comeback to earn it, but having gone ahead early in the second half, they’ll be disappointed to have even put themselves in that situation.

Portland will be happy to have earned a road point, but they too will be disappointed to have given it up at the end.

Three moments that mattered:

65′ – Marcelo earns it this time – Sarvas may have hit the corner 15 minutes in, but he would get his goal in the second half. With the Galaxy threatening most since the halftime break, they would pick up the opener for their patience. A cross ricocheted out to the trio of Donovan, Sarvas, and Gyasi Zardes, and Marcelo took control. Zardes slid wide to tug Timbers defender Michael Harrington just slightly off Sarvas, and the space was enough for him to rip into the far corner.

70′ – Timbers strike for a second – Just when the Galaxy thought they’d taken control, it evaporates just five minutes later. Diego Valeri bagged one in the 67th minute to level things up at 1-1, and had another wide open opportunity three minutes later, but his shot careened into a Portland defender. The ricochet came right back out to Jorge Villafaña and he struck home powerfully.

86′ – Galaxy equalize at the death – The Timbers were the ones to steal a point last time out, and the Galaxy took that role at the StubHub Center. An own goal from Raushawn McKenzie was the final result of a great ball across the face intended for Robbie Keane at the far post. The ball didn’t make it to the striker though, as it evaded Donovan Ricketts but clipped McKenzie and went in.

Three lessons going forward:

1. The most likely time to concede, etc etc

Hey Galaxy, don’t let up after scoring. The old adage “the most likely time to concede is right after scoring” remained true, and in a deadly way, as the home side conceded not once but twice in five minutes after taking a 1-0 lead. This team proved creative on the day, but a poor stretch at the back was their undoing. The Galaxy will feel unlucky to get nothing from their build-up in the final minutes before their goal where Donovan twice went down in the box, but both Portland goals came on moments that should have been cleared, so they only have themselves to blame.

2. Both these teams remain dangerous and in good form

The first half was a chess match, but the second 45 opened up and showed why these two teams are still very much in the thick of things. The Galaxy created a pair of chances that could have resulted in penalties on another day, but the referee (probably correctly) ruled them as nothing and a free kick just outside the box, much to the chagrin of Donovan.

However, they are both dangerous sides that shouldn’t be taken lightly in the push for the Western Conference playoff spots.

3.  Nobody wants to win this fixture

After what happened in Portland in the reverse, it appeared for much of this second half that we’d have a winner. Nope. The Galaxy got the own goal, and good chances on either end in the dying minutes of the game go unpunished. Rodgers tried to win it with the final kick of the game, but his howitzer flew over. Three points would do both sides a big service here, but a draw doesn’t do much for anyone involved.

Where that leaves them:

Both sides will have wanted the win to pull away from the other, but this Western Conference remains a dogfight.  These two sides both are well in the hunt and are putting horrible starts behind themselves, but mistakes still resound.

  • The LA Galaxy sit on 21 points on 14 matches played, with a 5-6-3 record.
  • The Portland Timbers are also holders of 21 points, this time in 18 matches played and a 4-9-5 record.

Manchester City 3-1 West Ham: Sterling shines with double

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Raheem Sterling of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal with Nolito, Gael Clichy (2ndL) and David Silva (L) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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West Ham gave Manchester City a bit of a scare early in the second half, but Raheem Sterling‘s second goal of the afternoon provided the home side with all three points at the Etihad Stadium.

The Citizens held on for a 3-1 win on Sunday after Sterling found the back of the net twice, with the second coming in the dying minutes from a close-range tap in.

In the 18th minute, Kevin De Bruyne hit a superb free kick directly into the path of Fernandinho, who smashed home a header to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage.

Without a host of players for the visitors, City took it to their opposition early on when David Silva started a strong attack down the center of the West Ham defense. The Spaniard played the ball out wide to Nolito before finding an open Raheem Sterling, who calmly slotted his effort into the corner for the lead after seven minutes.

Michail Antonio provided West Ham with a lifeline following halftime, however, it wasn’t enough for the visitors to complete the comeback. Antonio headed home at the far post just prior to the hour mark after Arthur Masuaku beat his man and found the attacker.

Video: City clinical on set piece to double lead

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Manchester City has lived up to the billing early on in the Pep Guardiola era, and the first half of Sunday’s match against West Ham has been everything the Spaniard could hope for.

After taking an early lead through Raheem Sterling after seven minutes, Fernandinho doubled the City lead in the 18th minute after a stellar set piece situation.

Kevin De Bruyne‘s stepped up for a free kick before the Belgian curled his effort directly into the path of Fernandinho, who headed home the hosts for the 2-0 lead.

Even though West Ham is understandably undermanned with Dimitri Payet, Andy Carroll and others, City is putting on a show right now at the Etihad.

West Brom 0-0 Middlesbrough: Guzan holds Baggies scoreless

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Cristhian Stuani of Middlesbrough takes on Brendan Galloway and Claudio Yacob (R) of West Bromwich Albion  during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough at The Hawthorns on August 28, 2016 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t the most attractive perfromance all around but Middlesbrough remained perfect on Sunday after finishing level in their 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion from The Hawthorns.

Brad Guzan earned his second start in net on Sunday since joining Middlesbrough, and the U.S. Men’s National Team keeper was active early on, making two key saves in the first half to keep the match scoreless.

Despite Boro’s success in possession, the team lacked a final touch early on and failed to register a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. West Brom was successful in limiting Alvaro Negredo’s touches early on, which prevented the road side from getting any sort of offensive rhythm.

West Brom continued to press for the opener in the second stanza, however, the home side’s remained limited and largely unthreatening. Craig Dawson had an opportunity to open the scoring in the 63rd minute with a header from close range, but the attempt missed wide of net after Matt Phillips played in the service.

Watch Live: Manchester City vs. West Ham (Lineups, Live Stream)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City battles with Aaron Cresswell of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground on January 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Pep Guardiola remains perfect in his early run in the Premier League and looks to continue that trend on Sunday as Manchester City hosts a difficult West Ham United side at 11 a.m. E.T. from the Etihad Stadium on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Joe Hart has been the talking point for weeks now at City, but with the new signing of Claudio Bravo finalized earlier this week the attention turns to whether or not the Englishman will be offloaded before the transfer window closes next week.

WATCH LIVE: Manchester City vs. Sunderland live online

West Ham needed a late winner a week ago to edge Bournemouth at home, however, Slaven Bilic‘s side has battled hard in both of their fixtures to start the season.

The Hammers will be extremely undermanned on Sunday as Dimitri Payet headlines the group of players that haven’t travelled with the team to Manchester. Striker Andy Carroll won’t be at the Etihad either, leaving West Ham lacking with depth up front.

Enner Valencia and Cheikhou Kouyate will play key roles for the Hammers as they look to fill the voids left by Payet and Carroll.

Meanwhile, City will keep Will Caballero in net while Bravo finishes his transition into the squad. Nolito also gets the start alongside Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero up front, which will give West Ham fits defensively.

LINEUPS

Manchester City – Caballero, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Stones, Clichy, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling, Nolito, Aguero.
Bench – Hart, Fernando, Nasri, Kolarov, Delph, Iheanacho, Navas.

West Ham – Adrián, Ogbonna, Reid, Masuaku, Collins, Noble, Kouyate, Antonio, Tore, Enner Valencia, Fletcher.
Bench – Randolph, Byrum, Burke, Oxford, Obiang, Lanzini, Calleri.