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MLS Snapshot: San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Seattle Sounders

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One game, 100 words (or less): The game seemed to set up perfectly for one of the late Dempsey-Martins-fueled explosions that defined Seattle’s spring, but aside from a Chad Barrett chance, a Gonzalo Pineda free kick, and some typical late-match drama, that explosion never happened. Though Seattle improved on its Monday performance, the Sounders were again kept off the board, with a late first half goal from San Jose’s Yannick Djaló delivering a 1-0 win in front of over 45,000 at Levi’s Stadium.

Goals

San Jose: Djaló 42′
Seattle: None.

Three moments that mattered:

42′ – Chipped right in – Toward the end of a half that had only featured three shots on target, San Jose got their match-winner, thanks in large part to Chris Wondolowski. Lifting a perfect pass over defender  Zach Scott, “Wondo” sent Djaló in alone on goal, with Stefan Frei doing little to stop the game’s only goal from rolling into his abandoned goal.

79′ – Pineda’s bullet – Speaking post-match, San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch said the kick got a piece of the wall, not that that piece slowed it down. With a left-footed bullet for around 34 yards out, Gonzalo Pineda tempted Busch to spill the ball in front of goal. The Earthquakes keeper, up to the challenge, pushed it over and out.

85′ – Chris Wondolowski, again – “Wondo” was responsible for the two biggest plays of the night, the second of which came at the defensive end. On a late corner from Pinedo, Chad Barrett redirected a header just inside Busch’s right post. Unfortunately for the Sounders, Wondolowski was right there, with his clearance preserving a 1-0 win.

Lineups:

San Jose: Jon Busch; Shaun Francis, Victor Bernárdez, Jason Hernandez, Jordan Stewart; Atiba Haris, Sam Cronin, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Shea Salinas (Cordell Cato 87′); Yannick Djaló (Khari Stephenson 65′); Chris Wondolowski

Seattle: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez (Chad Barrett 83′); Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alsono, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Kenny Cooper 65′); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins

Three lessons going forward

1. We can forget collapse – Hey, after last season, you can’t blame  people for wondering if Seattle was going to free fall again (I think we’ve mentioned this one or 50 times in the last week). Tonight, they were fine. They weren’t run away with the Supporters’ Shield fine, but they weren’t Seattle circa Oct. 2013, either.

2. The West is pretty tough – The Sounders didn’t play their best, but they generated a number of chances, and as you saw the urgency pick up in the second half, the Seattle that was able to orchestrate a number of early season comebacks started to come through. The only problem: They were up against a decent team, even if the Western Conference standings say otherwise.

San Jose isn’t going to win any silverware this season, but if what we saw tonight is (was) the last place team in the West, it says a little something about the strength of the conference.

3. More encouraging signs for San Jose, the market – For the second time this season, the Earthquakes drew huge numbers to a game, only this time, it wasn’t for the annual showcase against the Galaxy. Granted, there was something unique about playing at Levi’s Stadium, but the hints of San Jose’s potential were still there. Forty thousand need not be a once-a-year thing in the Bay, anymore.

Where this leaves them:

  • Not in last place! Though San Jose is even with Chivas on points, the tiebreakers go in the team’s favor. They’re now eighth in the Western Conference.
  • Seattle’s lead in the West has been cut to one, and they’re trailing Sporting KC in the Supporters’ Shield chase, but while fans can comfort themselves with a favorable games played column, the reality of a two-game losing streak is defined by doubts.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Swansea City

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 01:  Jefferson Montero of Swansea City is challenged by Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at The Liberty Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
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  • Liverpool leads all-time 22W-8D-10L
  • Swans lost five-straight at Anfield
  • Reds unbeaten in 7 PL matches

One of the Premier League’s top attacks hosts the division’s leakiest defense, as Liverpool may be licking its chops ahead of a visit from struggling Swansea City on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Liverpool has drawn at Sunderland and Manchester United in its last two Premier League outings, and sits seven points back of leaders Chelsea.

Swansea City has allowed multiple goals in five of six PL matches since beating Sunderland 3-0 on Dec. 10. It’s no surprise that they’ve lost those five (the sixth being a 2-1 win at struggling Crystal Palace).

What they’re saying

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on the match“We’re really looking forward to this game. I don’t know when it happened but in England every game now is like a final. Swansea are trying to survive. I don’t know when the title run-in will start, maybe now and we’re in the race. I hope for a special atmosphere tomorrow.”

Swansea City back Federico Fernandez on Liverpool“They are a team that is very strong going forward and that is shown by the number of goals they have scored. If you lose a little bit of focus against these teams then they have the players that will punish you every time. But it’s not only defending strongly when they are attacking, it is also how we keep hold of the ball and how we use it when in possession.”

Prediction

Swansea boss Paul Clement has his hands full, and is grabbing reinforcements in the transfer window (Luciano Narsingh, Martin Olsson, Tom Carroll). That won’t be enough to handle what Liverpool will dish out Saturday, as the Reds break free with a 3-0 win.

Saints’ Fonte moves to West Ham for $10 million

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West Ham has been linked with big name strikers since the summer, but the Irons’ big January transfer to date is a center back.

EURO champion and Southampton mainstay Jose Fonte is moving to London.

[ MORE: West Brom finally sells Berahino ]

Fonte, 33, makes an approximately $10 million move from the South Coast, where the Portuguese back will better Slaven Bilic‘s back line while forcing Southampton to find an answer alongside Virgil Van Dijk.

It’s been a strange trip to London for Fonte and Southampton, detailed by our own Joe Prince-Wright here. Fonte joined Saints during the 2009-10 season, and became a cult hero at St. Mary’s in helping the club move from League One to the Europa League in just over a half-decade.

Something won’t feel right about seeing Fonte in claret and blue, and Saints host West Ham on Feb. 4. Should be quite interesting.

Saga over: Saido Berahino finally has a new home (video)

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What in the world is the transfer rumor mill going to do without Saido Berahino?

Linked with a move away from West Brom for the better part of two years, the English striker has been freed from the bad graces of Tony Pulis and has joined Stoke City on a five-and-a-half year deal.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires Steven Gerrard ]

Berahino, 23, was sold for $15 million, a fee that could rise as high as $19 million. West Brom has previously rejected bids from Spurs amongst others that reached as high as $31 million.

It’s a smart, calculated risk for Mark Hughes and Stoke, who have not been able to get over the mid-table hump and encroach on European competition. Berahino scored 14 PL goals in 2014-15, a figure that rose to 20 when including all competitions.

Now could this mean Bojan Krkic is indeed off to Middlesbrough? We’ll wait to see if it’s a domino move for the Potters, and also if we one day yearn for the dulcet tones of Pulis screaming, “Saido!”, again and again, on the West Brom touch line.

Moyes says new Sunderland buys won’t be big difference makers

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: David Moyes, Manager of Sunderland (L) speaks to Jermain Defoe of Sunderland (R) before he comes on during the Emirates FA Cup third round replay between Burnley and Sunderland at Turf Moor on January 17, 2017 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Sunderland boss David Moyes isn’t expressing the emotions of an optimistic man.

The former Everton, Manchester United, and Real Sociedad manager says his transfer budget is “limited with a big L” and that any names in the transfer market are not the players he’s allowed to pursue.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

Sunderland has been linked with Phil Jagielka, Leonardo Ulloa, Robbie Brady, The Chronicle did report that free agent Joleon Lescott has been training with the team.

Even worse, Sunderland’s two most impactful players, Jermain Defoe and Patrick Van Aanholt, have been reported as targets for other PL sides and may prefer to leave the Northeast.

From The Chronicle:

“I’d be kidding you on if I said the players we are going to bring in in January are going to massively make a big difference because first of all, we probably couldn’t get that level of player and secondly, we probably wouldn’t have the finances to do that.

“To suggest that the player we bring in would be making a big difference, I think, wouldn’t be correct.”

Woof. That’s a tough pill for already beleaguered Sunderland supporters to swallow, and will only cause more unrest from a fan base that has been to know to leave a match early. Sunderland are far from dead in the water, but Swansea, Hull, and Palace are all making moves as it looks more and more like a four team race for 17th. Is Sunderland doomed?