Castillo, Akindele lead Dallas explosion in 5-0 win over San Jose

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgX5YXE3B8]

After a summer of close matches saw an oft-depleted FC Dallas preserve its place in the West’s top five, the Toros are now hitting their stride. On the heels of last week’s 3-1 win over Colorado, Óscar Pareja’s team engineered a Saturday exposition reminiscent of its early season surge, handing San Jose an embarrassing 5-0 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Predictably, given both teams have begun living on the counter, the team that found the most open space dominated. Fabián Castillo, sure to spend the rest of the night in Jason Hernandez’s nightmares, scored the first on a great individual effort in the 30th minute (after). The Colombian would assist on Tesho Akindele’s goal just before half time before completing his double in the second. After Akindele added his sixth and seventh goals of the season (the first hat trick of his career), Dallas was within three points of first in the Western Conference.

The night was another example of Castillo, still only 22, taking his game to another level. Long acknowledged as a danger man for his unmatched speed, Castillo’s evolved into something more, moving beyond a player who’ll put the final ball into the 12th row. In addition to better finishing, the Toros attacker has improved his ability to set up teammates, occasionally slowing his play at the edge of the penalty area rather than hoping his speed can win the attack’s final moments. In the absence of Mauro Díaz, Castillo became a better player.

It’s a big reason why the West must start taking Dallas seriously. Instead of being solely the Díaz show, FCD has a second elite attacker, one that can lead a rout even when his partner is left back in Dallas.

With his team on short rest after Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup marathon, Pareja relied on Castillo to lead a rotated squad. The result proved how important (and potentially, reliable) the Colombian’s become.

He’s a player that could tear apart the LA defense, and after the influence Joao Plata had against Seattle today, this version of Fabián Castillo could force the Sounders’ hand, too. Real Salt Lake has the talent to deal with almost any threat, but if we remember the chances Robbie Keane and the Galaxy have been able to generate against RSL, it’s tempting to ask what those attacks would look like with a player like Castillo joining in support.

It should go without saying: Good players make teams better. In the past, however, the extent was debatable. Just how good is Fabián Castillo? How much of what we see is potential? How much is actually being translated into production?

With eight goals and three assists this season (and another four goals in Open Cup), production is no longer a question. And on nights like Saturday, it’s difficult to imagine many more dangerous players in Major League Soccer.

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)

VIDEO: A sneak peek of Everton’s Europa League journey – Part 2

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In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.

Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.

[ MORE: Live Europa League scores

[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ] 

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/everton-unseen-part-2-everton-host-mfk-ruzomberok-europa-league

FIFA to send in emergency team to run Cameroon football

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.

The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.

FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.

CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.

FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”