Four thoughts from Manchester City vs. AC Milan (including Balotelli’s on-field selfie!)

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Pittsburgh, PA — Manchester City beat AC Milan 5-1 at a stormy Heinz Field on Sunday as Manuel Pellegrini’s side won their first Guinness International Champions Cup match in style.

[VIDEO: Balotelli takes selfie with pitch invaders]

City were rampant going forward and could have hit double figures in a dominant performance. As for AC Milan, you could tell they were way behind the Citizens in their preseason preparations.

Here are four quick thoughts live from the Steel City as City cranked their preseason preparations up a notch.

1. Jovetic, Navas, Sinclair stake claims
Stevan Jovetic scored twice, Jesus Navas and Scott Sinclair both bagged a goal each and all three staked their claims to become regulars for Manchester City this season. Jovetic endured an injury hit campaign following his move from Fiorentina last year. Sinclair was also on the sidelines last year but the former Swansea City winger looked fit and sharp out wide. Navas’ speed and vision set up Jovetic, then the tiny Spaniard scored one himself. If those three continue their impressive preseason form past August then Manuel Pellegrini’s squad will look even stronger this season.

2. Slick and sharp City
The Citizens have hit the ground running this preseason. In a big way. On a conference call on Saturday with reporters Pellegrini stated that City intend to win the ICC tournament this summer and that his side are on course to win back-to-back Premier League titles. After the impressive interplay of their forwards, the three aforementioned attackers in particular, City are in a good spot. While Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United continue to sign players galore, City have continuity plus top class attackers Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo still to return. There were a few dodgy moments at the back for City but they were far from full strength in defense. Overall, hugely encouraging.

Source, Twitter: @NA_B27

3. Balotelli. Seflie. Sublime.
Playing against his old side for the first time since he left in 2013, Balotelli arrived at half time and made an instant impact. When his name was announced on the public address system as an incoming sub one of the biggest cheers of the day arrived from the Heinz Field crowd. Balotelli stropped around the pitch, got clattered by his old teammates a few times, had a goal disallowed and was generally the pest we know and love. His star power is alive and well in the Steel City. Towards the end of the game two fans ran up to him and took a selfie with the Italian superstar. Naturally, Balotelli posed before the fans were carted away by police. Majestic.

4. Rain, rain go away
The setting was sublime. Downtown Pittsburgh in the background, two of Europe’s best teams slugging it out and then the storm started. Lightning, thunder, heavy rain and tornado warnings… Heinz Field had it all. It was a reminder that scheduling a preseason friendly towards the American Midwest in the summer is a tricky affair. After an hour-long half time break, the players returned to the pitch and the second half played out in beautiful conditions. Lovely stuff. Well, for City’s fans anyway.

LIVE – EFL Cup: Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, Saints-Sunderland

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United evades Fernandinho of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on April 12, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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There are still three more teams yet to join the quintet who clinched quarterfinal berths in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

We’ve got three all-PL ties to decide their fates.

[ LIVE: Follow EFL Cup scores ]

Follow the action above, as we learn who takes the remaining spots alongside Newcastle United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds United, and Hull City.

Holders Man City are off to Old Trafford for a derby match-up in the Round of 16, while it’s an all-London match at the Olympic Stadium between West Ham and Chelsea.

Finally, Sunderland hopes to break out of its season-long slump to join Northeast rivals Newcastle in the quarters. The Black Cats will need to win at Southampton to move on.

EFL Cup fourth round, Wednesday games

West Ham United vs. Chelsea — 2:45 p.m. ET
Southampton vs. Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET
Manchester United vs. Manchester City — 3 p.m. ET

MLS Cup Playoffs Thurs. preview: Seattle, DC riding hot streaks

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 06:  Osvaldo Alonso #6 of the Seattle Sounders FC dribbles against Roger Espinoza #27 of Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field on March 6, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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The 4-5 match-ups in each conference are set for Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs, with two of the league’s hottest teams set to hit the pitch.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

Both Seattle and DC are at home for their “play-in” matches, and face road teams with plenty of veteran experience and firepower in what should be a pair of beauts on each side of our country.

DC United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET

The Black-and-Red have hit their stride under coach Ben Olsen, and seem on board the plan.

Montreal, however, has not seen tranquility in Quebec. Ignacio Piatti has been fantastic, but the headlines have revolved around Didier Drogba‘s unhappiness at not starting under Mauro Biello.

It’s difficult to think Biello won’t start the Ivorian in a must-win match on the road, given Drogba’s experience and ability to dominate a game.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10:30 p.m. ET

Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris have helped Seattle make up for the absence of transferred Obafemi Martins and injured Clint Dempsey.

The duo has been simply fantastic in “rave green”, and Sporting KC is going to have a whale of a time slowing Seattle. Consider the ability and season of under-the-radar MVP candidate Osvaldo Alonso in the center of the park, and all bets are off.

Of course, the thing about KC is there’s little question it has the mettle to not just win on the road, but win a tournament. Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis, Benny Feilhaber… who in that locker room is going to shrink under the bright lights of the playoffs?

TFC’s Bradley: “Responsibility, privilege and passion” on line in playoffs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Michael Bradley #4 of United States looks on against New Zealand in the second half during an International Friendly at RFK Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Toronto FC’s supporters fell in love with the club almost immediately, but it’s taken to Year 10 for the Reds to get a home playoff match.

The latest batch of TFC stars have embraced the battle for relevance, at times even surpassing expectations the lofty expectations of championship-starved Toronto.

[ MORE: Bradley talks TFC renaissance

This is a city which has seen the Blue Jays and Raptors find the precipice of glory in recent seasons, but not reach the apex. The Leafs haven’t been to a Stanley Cup final since the NHL had a whopping six teams.

So winning would be a mighty big accomplishment, right Michael Bradley?

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Being captain or a big player on a team in this city carries an extra weight,” said captain Michael Bradley. “I’ve loved every second of that; playing in this city, for this city, and being captain. It’ll be nights like Wednesday night where the responsibility, privilege and passion that I have for this role will get magnified that much more.”

He has a way with words, doesn’t he? The USMNT captain begins Canada’s quest for a title at 7:30 p.m. ET against visiting Philadelphia.

Whitecaps lock up Welsh coach Robinson through 2020

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5:  Head coach Carl Robinson (right) of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during their MLS game against the Colorado Rapids April 5, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Colorado won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
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Vancouver is hanging onto stalwart coach Carl Robinson despite a massively disappointing season.

The Whitecaps were tipped to compete for the Supporters’ Shield, only to miss the playoffs. There were plenty of excuses for the ‘Caps, including an injury to Kekuta Manneh and the transfer of Octavio Rivero.

And Vancouver is alive as the No. 1 seed in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, also claiming the Cascadia Cup.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high ]

Robinson has signed an extension through 2020, from WhitecapsFC.com:

“Carl’s body of work over the course of his five years at the club has shown that he is one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in North America. While this past season was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved within the club, we have complete faith in Carl’s continued vision in acquiring the necessary players to build a team that will compete with the best in MLS.”

Robinson turned 40 this month, and has been leading the ‘Caps since December 2013. This is a smart move for both Vancouver and its coach.