Half of this year’s MLS Cup final will be determined on Sunday afternoon as the Western Conference final takes shape in the second leg.
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After taking a 2-1 lead in Seattle, the Sounders will head to Colorado to face the Rapids on Sunday with both sides hoping to advance to the MLS Cup on December 10.
The Rapids gained an lead in the opening leg through Kevin Doyle, with the goal potentially proving to be vital for Pablo Mastroeni’s side in the event that the match needs to be decided by away goals.
Dating back to August, the Sounders and Rapids have been among the league’s hottest sides, but have advanced to this point with very different playing mentalities.
Mastroeni has built a defensive stalwart, which has proven to be a nightmare for opposing attacks to break down. The Rapids allowed a league-low 32 goals during the regular season, but have allowed three goals in three games during the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Sounders have a top-class attack, led by rookie sensation Jordan Morris and Designated Player Nicolas Lodeiro, who joined the club midseason. Brian Schmetzer has completely turned the tide for the Sounders since taking over for the departed Sigi Schmid, and has done so without veteran attacker Clint Dempsey.
The Rapids have the opportunity to reach its third MLS Cup in 2016, with the club having hoisted the league trophy back in 2010.
However, the Sounders look to continue its dream season as they search for their first appearance in the final. The Sounders are one of seven MLS clubs that have never reached the MLS Cup title match, while both Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact will look to break that trend as they battle to represent the Eastern Conference.
Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.
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The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.
While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.
“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”
A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.
While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.
“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.
“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”
Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.
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According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.
Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.
The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.
The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.
For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.
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With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.
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Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.
“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.
“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.
“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.
For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.
Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.
Gabriel Jesus bursted onto the Manchester City scene upon arrival, but an injury back in February has left the talented Brazilian sidelined ever since.
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The lively attacker suffered a broken metatarsal last month against Bournemouth, which required surgery, but the 19-year-old remains confident that he’ll be able to feature again this season for the Citizens.
“I don’t know, I have no return prediction,” Jesus told SporTV. “But I hope I can still play some games this season.”
Initial thoughts were that Jesus would miss around three months, all but ending his first Premier League season. Now, Jesus is hoping that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to the devastating injury.
“It’s good,” Jesus said on his road to recovery. “Thank God, the effort, not just mine, but from all the physiotherapists in Manchester, doctors and everyone. It was not easy for me.
“It’s my first injury. Not muscle injury, but it’s the first time something happens that leaves me out of games. So it was not easy.
“But I saw that, of course, no one wants this to happen, but it could be worse. So we operated soon, I decided to operate and give it time.”
In just his first four matches with Pep Guardiola‘s side, the young Brazilian netted three goals and even dethroned Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup.