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MLS Snapshot: Montréal Impact 0-2 Toronto FC

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em-BaPAH09o]

One game, 100 words (or less): In theory, Montréal and Toronto should be rivals, but Saturday’s game at Stade Saputo never captured a derby’s intensity. Conceding early to Gilberto, the Impact looked like a team in flux, one facing a team trying to rebound from mid-week disappointment. When Luke Moore converted early in the second half, that rebound was assured, with Toronto FC going on to claim full points in Quebec, 2-0.

Goals

Montréal: None
Toronto: Gilberto 11′, Moore 54′

Three moments that mattered

11′ – Too easy for Toronto – As the TSN team identified early, Michael Bradley was seeing too much time on the ball, something that came back to bite Montréal after 10 minute. Swinging a ball from the top of the box to the right flank, the U.S. international found Dominic Oduro, who played the ball back toward the spot for Gilberto. With the Impact defenders slow to react, the Reds’ striker had the time he ended to put his team up.

54′ – Again, too easy – It was a totally different kind of goal, but still one Montréal could have prevented. With the ball at the edge of his team’s defensive third, Bradley had the time to play a majestic long through ball behind Montréal left back, Krzysztof Krol:

Oduro’s speed allowed the Toronto midfielder to go in alone on goal, with his pass across the box to Moore giving his teammate an empty net goal.

87′ – Never gonna get it (never gonna get it) – Montréal almost ruined Joe Bendik’s clean sheet, with a 86th minute header from Andrés Romero drawing cheers from a crowd deceived into thinking the ball had gone in. Seconds later, Michael Bradley couldn’t catch up to a streaking Felipe Martins, whose try from just outside the six-yard box was blocked by Bendik. A late goal could have finally generated some excitement; ultimately; this was Toronto’s day.

Lineups

Montréal: Troy Perkins, Hassoun Camara, Futty Danso (Felipe Martins 51′), Matteo Ferrari, Krzysztof Krol; Justin Mapp (Dilly Duka 74′), Patrice Bernier, Eric Miller, Andrés Romero; Marco Di Vaio, Jack McInerney (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 65′)
Toronto: Joe Bendik; Warren Creavalle, Nick Hagglund, Doneil Henry, Justin Morrow; Dominic Oduro (Jackson 74′), Michael Bradley, Collen Warner (Kyle Bekker 84′), Jonathan Osorio; Gilberto (Daniel Lovitz 90′), Luke Moore

Three lessons going forward

1. Business of the rebound – At this point, winning in Montréal is almost obligatory, but coming off their mid-week disappointment, the Reds were facing that expectation along with the need to bounce back. Their response was an encouraging one, a result that provided them with much-needed points in the East’s playoff race.

2. Even without Defoe – That the team rebounded without Jermain Defoe is another reason to be encouraged. Jackson, so good along Toronto’s left of late, was also held back, as was Bradley Orr. For a team that finished near the bottom of last year’s Eastern Conference, Toronto’s required an enviable amount of depth.

3. Montréal adrift – With six losses in a row, the Impact appear done. Maybe Frank Klopas can get his team focused on Champions League (starting this week), but unable to get home points against Portland or Toronto, the Impact aren’t even ready for a spoilers’ role.

Where this leaves them:

  • Toronto is temporarily alone in third, the team’s 29 point leaving it three clear of Columbus and New England.
  • Montréal is still last, five points away from the league’s next-worst team (Houston).

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal ]

In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).

Week 26: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Top-four battle royal

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, right, lifts the ball over Leicester City’s goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel but fails to score during their English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City at the White Hart Lane stadium in London Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
AP Photo/Alastair Grant
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Whoever says, “No one could have ever predicted Leicester City would be top of the league on Valentine’s Day,” is wrong.

One group of Premier League savants knew: the PL schedule makers, which is why this Sunday shall henceforth be known as “Super Duper Mega Uber Sunday,” as it’s 3rd versus 1st, and 4th versus 2nd.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Top-four battle royal, part 1

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — Sunday, 7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

Will Arsenal “Arsenal it up?” Will Leicester finally fall apart and blow the PL title, as they were supposed to have done weeks months ago? The battle of narratives in so strong in this one. Are Leicester really title favorites? Upon further review, they are. No PL team has won more points away from home this season than Leicester (28). Is another giant-slaying on the cards for the Foxes? At this point, who would be crazy enough to doubt them?

[ MORE: PL schedule, stream links ]

Top-four battle royal, part 2

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The last time Tottenham were ahead of Man City this late in the season will have to have been the final day of the 2009-10 season, when Spurs qualified for the UEFA Champions League just ahead of City. Heading into Sunday, a single point is all that separates the sides. When they met earlier this season, Spurs hammered City, to the tune of 4-1. The importance of three points speaks for itself, as either side could surge into a commanding place in the title race with a victory on Sunday.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings | Schedule | Stats ]

Man United’s top-four hopes hanging by a thread

Sunderland vs. Manchester United — Saturday, 6:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

As the PL’s top-four teams have kept winning in recent weeks, so too have Man United, to an extent. With that, the Red Devils are no closer to Champions League qualification today than they were three weeks ago before their mini-run of 11 points from six games. Only Aston Villa (10), who are rock bottom of the league, have won fewer points at home this season than Sunderland (12). United are currently six points back of 4th, so with at least two of the four sides ahead of them guaranteed to drop points on Sunday, it’s a big, big weekend for United to take of their own business and apply a little pressure.

[ MORE: The latest on those Mourinho-to-United rumors ]

The Fallen On Hard Times But Someone Has To Win (Maybe) Derby

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET (Premier League Extra Time)

When 2016 began, Crystal Palace were 5th in the PL. Unfortunately for them, the clock also struck midnight on what had been a hugely successful season to that point — five losses and one draw since, and they’re now 12th in the league table. The story is eerily similar for Watford, who were 7th after a Boxing Day draw with Chelsea — five losses, a draw and a win later, they’re 10th. A single point is all that separates Saturday’s combatants desperately hoping to regain their early-season form.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Is Roberto Martinez’s employment under review? It might be

Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

Everton will be a fascinating club to watch as the 2015-16 season winds down. There’s essentially no chance of them finishing in the top-four or -five (12 and 6 points back, respectively), and they look essentially the same side that massively disappointed en route to an 11th-place finish last season — they’re atrocious and hugely naive defensively, which has been a characteristic of Roberto Martinez-managed teams since, well, the beginning of his managerial career. $100 million is a lot of money to spend over four transfer windows without any discernible progress.

Men In Blazers podcast: Leicester, Spurs continue to defy the odds

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3-1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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