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MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-0 FC Dallas

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

One game, 100 words (or less): FC Dallas’s unbeaten run is over. 7-0-3 in their last 10 before arriving in Chicago, the Toros see three months of unbeaten soccer come to an end, with a late goal from Robert Earnshaw delivering the Fire an upset result.

Dallas had chances to take a lead through Ryan Hollingshead and Fabián Castillo, with Óscar Pareja’s again proving lively on the counter attack. In the 83rd minute, that approach came back to haunt them, with center back Jeff Larentowicz allowed to find Earnshaw in the middle of the area. The forward’s header inside the right post sent Chicago to its fifth win of the season.

Goals:

Chicago: Robert Earnshaw 83′
FC Dallas: None.

Three moments that mattered:

40′ – Castillo, left! – It was the type of chance Fabián Castillo’s lived off of since returning from suspension: A quick move in transition that leaves him one-on-one with an opponent. This particular opponent, midfielder-cum-stopped Jeff Larentowicz, produced something we’ve rarely seen of late. Staying on Castillo’s right foot, Larentowicz kept the Dallas attacker from cutting back inside, forcing him into a left-footed shot that was easily blocked by Sean Johnson.

52′ – Hollingshead high – Dallas’s best first half chance came through Ryan Hollingshead, who failed to give Johnson a true test when put through to the left of goal. In the second half, Jari Benítez found the midfielder near the spot, but the 23-year-old put his one-timer off the top half of the cross-bar. Dallas’s chances were just falling to the wrong boots.

83′ – Earnshaw, again – Robert Earnshaw is a limited player, but within those limitations is the ability to finish chances, something that provided instant office when he arrived in Toronto last season. Having just signed with Chicago, the former Cardiff City man has done the same for the Fire, scoring his second goal in as many games with a late header from the middle of the box. Converting a cross from Larentowicz, the English import gave Chicago its fifth win of the season.

Lineups

Chicago: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz, Bakary Soumaré, Gonzalo Segares; Grant Ward (Harry Shipp 63′), Matt Watson, Razvan Cocis, Alex; Sanna Nyassi (Robert Earnshaw 63′), Quincy Amarikwa

FC Dallas: Raúl Fernández; Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, Jair Benitez (Moises Hernández 84′); Kelyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa; Ryan Hollingshead (Peter Luccin 66′), Fabián Castillo, Andrés Escobar (David Texeira 76′); Tesho Akindele

Three lessons going forward

1. It’s hard being favorites – At least, it’s hard being favorites when you’re not used to the role. Throughout the summer, FC Dallas has flown under the radar, a virtue the team lost when they beat Real Salt Lake last Friday. Thrust to the edge of first in the West, Dallas had earned expectations. On Saturday, the team failed to deliver.

2. Missing that bit of quality – Blas Pérez was suspended. Mauro Díaz is still out. At Toyota Park, those absences showed. Though Dallas was able to create enough chances on the counter, the team lacked other options, and as chances for Hollingshead went begging, the absence of Dallas’s stars came back to hurt.

3. It could have been worse – Chicago didn’t play particularly well, but with two late Earnshaw chances, the Fire had a chance to put up a more convincing result. Then again, for a team that came into the day with four wins in 24, winning is enough. Be it by one goal or two, all that matters for Chicago is getting some improved results. Against a good Dallas team, the Fire did just that.

Where this leaves them

  • This is where all those draws help. Chicago, seemingly wayward all summer, is only four points out of a playoff spot.
  • Dallas, on the other hand, stays third in the West, having lost ground to first place Seattle. FCD is now six points back of the Sounders.

Pellegrini defends fielding “B” team in loss at Southampton

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 01:  Kelechi Iheanacho (72), Samir Nasri (C) and Wilfred Bony of Manchester City (R) looks despondent as Sadio Mane of Southampton scores their fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester City at St Mary's Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini does not regret fielding a weakened side at Southampton over the weekend as he prepares for City’s Champions League semifinal at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Pellegrini chose to rest many of his top players at St. Mary’s, including Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, and Vincent Kompany. City were smashed 4-2 in one of their worst performances of the season.

[ RECAP: Saints 4-2 Man City ]

Pellegrini defended his lineup decisions after the match, saying he is willing to risk results in the Premier League to reach the Champions League final.

We knew before the game it was a risk to put so many players without football against a difficult team but we have to take those risks. If we had played on Saturday we could put more players out. I was disappointed with the team. It’s my responsibility for the starting 11.

I would do exactly the same again because we have an important game.

We play for the final in the Champions League. We continue in the Premier League what we are going to do in the next two games to be in the top four so that was a risk but one we had to take.

While you would expect a drop-off when the likes of Aguero and de Bruyne are not on the pitch, City’s poor performance was much more than just a team selection issue. With Raheem Sterling ($75 million) and Wilfried Bony ($45 million) in the starting XI, it was 19-year-old academy product Kelechi Iheanacho who was one of the few players to show any type of effort against Saints.

Pellegrini may be overlooking the end of the Premier League season, but his side still needs points to secure a top-four spot and berth in the Champions League next year. City currently sit four points ahead of Manchester United, but United have a game in-hand.

[ MORE: Burnley become first Championship side to clinch PL promotion ]

City travel to Spain for the second leg of their Champions League semifinal matchup against Real Madrid on Wednesday. After settling for a 0-0 draw in the first leg, City must put the Southampton debacle behind them and turn things around before the one of the biggest matches in club history.

Kiev willing to sell Yarmolenko to PL, but not to Stoke or Everton

UKRAINE, LVIV - NOVEMBER 14: Andriy Yarmolenko from Ukraine celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Play-off for Final Tournament, First leg between Ukraine and Slovenia at Lviv Arena on November 14, 2015 in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)
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It looks like Andriy Yarmolenko may be on his way to the Premier League this summer, as Dynamo Kiev is willing to sell their star player after EURO 2016.

Kiev president Ihor Surkis has said he will accept an offer for Yarmolenko if the player agrees, but not if that offer is from Stoke City or Everton.

[ MORE: Vardy named FWA Footballer of the Year ]

According to Surkis, those sides are not “top clubs” worthy of signing a player of Yarmolenko’s quality.

If I get an offer that will suit Dynamo and Yarmolenko wants to go to this club, I’ll let him. All talk of a transfer will begin after the Euros.

He is already a top player, so he should go to a top club. My position is that we should not let Yarmolenko go to such clubs as Everton and Stoke City. Dynamo is Dynamo and Stoke City is Stoke. We’re playing in the Champions League, and Stoke City are fighting for survival.

I, as president of the club, had a winter offer from China completely arranged, but Yarmolenko did not even come to the meeting with the sports director of the Chinese squad.

Andriy said that dreams to play in the Bundesliga and the English Premier League.

While Stoke City is not in the Champions League, they are far from fighting for survival. The Potters have finished 9th in the Premier League each of the past two seasons, and are in line for a similar finish this year.

[ REPORT: Portland Timbers’ Fanendo Adi linked to Crystal Palace ]

Yarmolenko has been named Ukrainian Footballer of the Year each of the past three seasons, and his play for both Kiev and the national team have seen him linked to multiple Premier League clubs.

Surkis may not view Stoke or Everton as “top clubs,” but they certainly have top-club money to spend. Both have set record transfer fees on players over the past two seasons (Imbula to Stoke, Lukaku to Everton), and they could easily meet the reported $35 million it would cost to sign Yarmolenko.

Reports: Man City to trigger $60 million Laporte release clause

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: Luis Suarez (L) of FC Barcelona kicks the ball next to Aymeric Laporte (C) of Athletic Club during the Spanish Super Cup second leg match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou on August 17, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
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Pep Guardiola isn’t in Manchester yet, but he’s already making plans for his side.

According to reports in Spain, Manchester City is ready to bring Aymeric Laporte to the Etihad, one of the most highly-rated defenders in Europe.

[ MORE: Burnley clinch PL promotion ]

The 21-year-old center-back has already made more than 100 appearances for Athletic Bilbao in La Liga, and City would need to pay nearly $60 million to trigger his release clause.

Guardiola has coached against Laporte while in charge of Barcelona, and it is believed he is Pep’s top defensive target to move in for the likes of Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis.

Named to the La Liga Team of the Year as a teenager in 2013-14, Laporte has been on the radar of all the major clubs around Europe. However, he saw his season cut short in March after suffering a terrible leg break on international duty with the France U21 side, ruling him out until August.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League semifinal preview ]

Although he could miss the beginning of next season while still recovering from injury, bringing Laporte to Manchester would be a move that could set up the club defensively for years to come. Should City meet Bilbao’s massive release clause, Laporte would add to the magnificently expensive City back-line, joining Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi to form a trio of center-backs worth more than $150 million.

VIDEO: Post-match melee breaks out between Spurs and Chelsea

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Tensions boiled over on the touchline after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham as players had to be separated while heading down the tunnel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Leicester City coverage ]

A testy match that saw referee Mark Clattenburg issue 12 yellow cards, the battle continued after the final whistle as a melee erupted in front of the benches.

It is unclear as to what caused the disruption, but it was not the first skirmish of the night. Earlier in the match, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino found himself on the pitch in the middle of a shoving match between players.

[ VIDEO: Leicester pubs erupt as Foxes clinch Premier League title ]

Seen in the video above, Spurs’ backup goalkeeper Michel Vorm seemed to be in the middle of things with who else but Diego Costa. Harry Kane and John Terry tried to quiet things down, but to little avail.

There are only two matches left in the Premier League season, but the FA will certainly be reviewing video of this incident and sanctions could come down on players or the clubs.