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Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City: Swans shock United on Van Gaal’s debut (video)

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Swansea City shocked Manchester United in the opening game of the 2014-15 Premier League season, as the Welsh side defeated the Red Devils 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The visitors took an early lead through Ki but United rallied in the second half and equalized through Wayne Rooney’s acrobatic effort. However with 18 minutes left the winner arrived as new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson scored to hand the Swans their first-ever league victory at Old Trafford over United.

The defeat was Manchester United’s first home defeat on the opening day of the season since 1972, as Louis van Gaal got off to the worst possible start as Red Devils boss. The misery of last season and the David Moyes era won’t evaporate in a hurry, as United started the season off with yet another damaging defeat. Van Gaal’s task to return the Red Devils to their past glory looks even tougher than we thought.

[VIDEO: Ki hands Swansea the lead]

Both teams settled into the match at a windy Old Trafford and the visitors also went clean through in the 6th minute as Jonjo Shelvey’s delightful reverse pass found Wayne Routledge but the wingers’ first tough eluded him at the crucial moment.

United tried to attack down the flanks early on but had little joy and Gylfi Sigurdsson’s long-range effort forced David De Gea to make a save as Swansea looked dangerous on the break. With the likes of Robin van Persie, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck missing, the Red Devils looked disjointed going forward.

source:
Swansea’s goalscorers, Ki and Sigurdsson, celebrate their opening day win.

As the first half wore on Swansea kept things tight at the back and an injury to debutant Jesse Lingard forced him off as Adnan Januzaj replaced him. A deflected shot from Phil Jones forced Lukasz Fabianski into a smart save at his near post, but the Red Devils failed to spark into life offensively.

Swansea then took a shock lead in the 28th minute as Korean midfielder Ki was found on the edge of the box by Sigurdsson and he calmly slotted the ball home to put the Welsh side 1-0 up. Wilfried Bony nudged Phil Jones out of the way cleverly as the ball nestled into the bottom corner past De Gea at a stunned Stretford End. Ki spent last season on loan at Sunderland but on his return to the Swans he netted his first goal for the club as Swansea led at the break.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

After the break the Red Devils pushed hard for an equalizer as Nani replaced Javier Hernandez at the interval and United switched to a back four. Januzaj was scythed down by Neil Taylor and the Welshman was booked for his troubles as the Belgian winger influenced the game.

In the 52nd minute Rooney equalized in acrobatic fashion for the Red Devils as Mata’s corner was flicked on to the back post and the newly appointed United captain sent a bicycle kick from five-yards out into the back of the net. 1-1.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

That goal buoyed United into action as Swansea sat back and invited intense pressure from the home side. Januzaj was lively on the right and was causing plenty of problems. Rooney almost had his second goal of the game in the 66th minute as the English forward curled a delicious free kick up and over the wall which but the ball struck the outside of the post and went wide.

However new signing Sigurdsson stunned Old Trafford again with 18 minutes to go as the Icelandic international scored from 12 yards out following a flowing move down the left. Substitute Jefferson Montero clipped the ball into the back post and although Routledge skewed his shot off target it fell to Sigurdsson to score in his first game for the Swans since leaving Tottenham Hotspur. Van Gaal looked shocked as United trailed late in the game. Try as they might, United couldn’t equalize as the new era at Old Trafford was ushered in by a shock defeat to start the season.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Blackett; Lingard (Januzaj, 20′), Fletcher, Herrera (Fellaini, 67′), Young; Mata; Rooney, Hernandez (Nani, 45′)

Goal: Rooney (53′)

Swansea City: Fabianski, Rangel, Amat, Williams, Taylor (Tiendalli, 53′), Ki, Shelvey, Dyer (Montero 67′), Sigurdsson, Routledge, Bony (Gomis, 77′)

Goals: Ki (28′), Sigurdsson (72′)

Sam Allardyce’s England future hangs in the balance

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Sam Allardyce manager of England looks thoughtful during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group F qualifying match between Slovakia and England at City Arena on September 4, 2016 in Trnava, Slovakia.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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England manager Sam Allardyce has not only been publicly humiliated but now he could lose his job.

[ MORE: What now for Chelsea? ]

An undercover investigation from the Daily Telegraph, released on Monday, showed Allardyce meating with fictitious businessman and discussing how to get around rules of third-party ownership (TPO) of players and then negotiating a fee of over $518,000 for becoming an ambassador for what he believed to be a company set up in the Far East.

After just one game and two months in charge of England, it could all be over for “Big Sam” as Three Lions boss. The FA is reportedly already close to firing him as they don’t want their image and integrity questioned across the globe.

Allardyce, 61, took charge of the English national team this summer but the footage released of him discussing TPO, plus criticizing former England boss Roy Hodgson and assistant manager Gary Neville, and his employers at the FA among others, will cause the former Sunderland manager huge levels of embarrassment and it is tough to see him rebounding from the widespread criticism already flying his way.

When asked about TPO — which was banned by the English FA in 2008 and by FIFA in 2015 — and ways to get around the current system, Allardyce replied to the businessmen that it was “not a problem” and revealed he knew agents who are “doing it all the time.”

The FA have yet to open a formal investigation but multiple news outlets in the UK claim that English soccer’s governing body have spoken to the Telegraph to try and acquire all of the facts before speaking to Allardyce.

Big Sam has been silly and naive. It is not the first time he’s had allegations flung his way either, as a 2006 BBC documentary also alleged he’d been involved in taking bungs over transfers, something he vehemently denied. A subsequent investigation proved no wrongdoing but the fact that Allardyce names individuals in the footage released (censored for legal reasons) tells us that he knows ways of getting around TPO. He even admitted that Enner Valencia‘s move to West Ham, where he was manager, from Mexican side Pachuca in 2014 was via a TPO.

Now, it must be said, during the undercover footage Allardyce states that he would have to check with the FA (“the powers that be”) before agreeing to any deal to be an ambassador for the made up company. Still, it’s not good and many will view this as Allardyce being greedy and putting his own interests ahead of his main job of managing the English national team between now and the 2018 World Cup in Russia. God knows they need some focus and some inkling of being successful after their recent results in tournaments.

Just 67 days after taking charge of England, something Allardyce has described repeatedly as his “dream job” in football, he was discussing how to make extra cash with complete strangers. Allardyce already earns over $3.3 million a year as England boss and the Telegraph also state that a second meeting was held last week in Manchester to discuss plans on when the Englishman would fly over to Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Telegraph has promised more information will be released in the coming days as they say their 10-month investigation into the murkier side of English soccer has also “unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football.”

Whatever comes out in the following days, it is unlikely the English FA will look upon this episode kindly and they have to judge whether this was just poor judgement from Allardyce or something more sinister.

There’s no doubt about it, the next 24 hours is crucial and Allardyce’s future as England boss hangs in the balance.

NWSL Playoffs set: Portland, Washington, Chicago, Western New York

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The National Women’s Soccer League will crown its fourth champion in mid-October, and for the first time in three years the winner will not be FC Kansas City.

FCKC finished sixth after the 20-game regular season concluded this weekend, six points out of the final slot occupied by the Western New York Flash.

[ MORE: Allardyce on England hot seat? ]

The Flash join Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit in attempting to topple NWSL Shield winners Portland, a Thorns side which won the title in 2013 and has only missed the playoffs once.

Washington hosts Chicago on Friday in the first semifinal, while the Flash travel to Oregon for an Oct. 2 semi.

Portland Thorns (1) vs. Western New York Flash (4)

The two best goal differentials in the league meet at Providence Park, where Mark Parsons’ Thorns and their league-best defense will be tasked with stopping the highest-scoring offense in the NWSL. That means stopping Golden Boot winner Lynn Williams and runner-up Jessica McDonald, who’ve accounted for 21 of WNY’s 40 goals.

The Thorns are loaded. Women’s soccer legend Christine Sinclair, who once lifted a trophy for the Flash, is there with a quintet of USWNT mainstays. French star Amandine Henry, too, as well as leading goal scorer and Danish star Nadia Nadim.

USWNT regulars on each side
Portland: Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Allie Long, Emily Sonnet, Lindsey Horan

WNY: Samantha Mewis

Washington Spirit (2) vs. Chicago Red Stars (3)

The two sides split the season series, with Chicago hosting a 3-1 victory on Saturday. Sofia Huerta had a goal and an assist, as she and Christen Press combined for nine shots. They’ve combined for 15 goals on the season, though the Red Stars have only found nine goals elsewhere.

No Washington player has scored more than five goals this year, and the Spirit haven’t had a multi-goal game in September, but Argentina national teamer Estefanía Banini’s five goals in 13 matches in an impressive haul.

USWNT regulars on each side
Washington: Ali Krieger, Crystal Dunn

Chicago: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Johnston, Christen Press

UEFA Champions League preview: Spurs, Foxes, and BVB hosts Real

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 02:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid takes on Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Borussia Dortmund during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Leicester City gets a home Champions League match, Spurs head to Russia, and two of the world’s best attacks meet in Germany; Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League slate is pretty tasty.

[ MORE: Allardyce on England hot seat? ]

An out-of-form Cristiano Ronaldo has Real Madrid in a mini-slump, and a trip to Borussia Dortmund isn’t exactly the antidote now, is it? Normally we wouldn’t dial that up, but Ronaldo has a knack for shining brightly when folks question him. We’ve seen this one before. Expect a highlight-reel night from CR7, but perhaps the same from high-flying BVB.

Spurs are buoyed by the news that Harry Kane‘s injury may not be as serious as first thought, but could be sunk back into the depths with a loss at CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. Spurs fell to Monaco, while CSKA scooped up a solid draw at Bayer Leverkusen.

Leicester City is looking to stay perfect after an impressive UCL debut at Club Brugge, and faces a big test in Portugal. Porto does quite well in this tournament almost annually, and won’t be scared by a trip to King Power Stadium. El Tri trio Miguel Layun, Jesus Corona, and captain Hector Herrera join familiar names Iker Casillas, Yacine Brahimi, and Maxi Pereira on the Porto roster.

Tuesday’s UCL matches

all matches at 2:45 p.m. ET

Sporting Lisbon vs. Legia Warsaw
Sevilla vs. Lyon
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Juventus
CSKA Moscow vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid
Monaco vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Copenhagen vs. Club Brugge
Leicester City vs. Porto

Kei Kamara “shocked” at boos in return to Columbus

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  Soccer player Kei Kamara attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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Kei Kamara couldn’t gather his emotions after his return to Columbus as a member of the New England Revolution.

The star striker netted 27 times in 41 appearances for the Crew before a locker room falling-out found him traded to New England.

[ MORE: Harry Kane to return sooner? ]

The reigning MLS joint-top scorer and a member of the 2015 Best XI, Kamara was back at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday. The Revs fell 2-0, thanks to Columbus’  new Kamara, and Kei was booed.

There was bitter, smarmy Kei (from MLSSoccer.com):

“I was shocked,” he said after the match. “Come on. You make so many sacrifices for an organization to really boost it. But hey, if I can bring some life to the stadium for once in the season, why not?”

And there was also sad, pensive Kei:

“It wasn’t something I asked for, to move,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s been tough. It’s been really, really tough. But after today, I got the final answer to everything. It’s time to move on.”

“It’s time to move on. I’m happy where I am now and I wish [Columbus] the best of luck.”

I’ve rarely understood the booing of former players unless that player grievously harmed your club on the way out the door. Here in Buffalo, I’ve seen even the least-celebrated of ex-Sabres get the boo treatment, though, so it’s not uncommon.