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First Kick 2017: Sounders open title defense in HOU; ATL, MNU debuts

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The 2016 MLS season came to a close 11 short days ago, and already it’s (almost) time for the 2017 schedule to be released.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

On Wednesday, MLS gave us just enough to whet our palates and tide us over through the holidays before the release of the full schedule sometime shortly (hopefully) after the New Year — dates, times and opponents for the home openers of all 22 teams.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Julian Green makes permanent move away from Bayern ]

The season will kick off in Portland, Friday, March 3, when Minnesota United make their MLS debut away to the Timbers. Fellow MLS newcomers Atlanta United will debut two days later, Sunday, March 5, at home (Bobby Dodd Stadium, home of Georgia Tech football) against the New York Red Bulls. Orlando City SC will open their brand new stadium in downtown Orlando the same day.

[ MORE: Offseason needs for the Western Conference | Eastern Conference ]

The Seattle Sounders’ MLS Cup defense will begin with a trip to Houston, where they’ll take on Wilmer Cabrera’s new-look Dynamo. As they have done each of the past two seasons, Toronto FC will begin their season with an extended road trip, this time less than a month long, making their home debut against Sporting Kansas City on March 31.

WEEK 1

Friday, March 3, 2017 — Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United FC (Providence Park)

Saturday, March 4, 2017
Columbus Crew SC vs. Chicago Fire (MAPFRE Stadium)
LA Galaxy vs. FC Dallas (StubHub Center)
Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC (Rio Tinto Stadium)
Colorado Rapids vs. New England Revolution (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
D.C. United vs. Sporting Kansas City (RFK Stadium)
Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC (BBVA Compass Stadium)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Montreal Impact (Avaya Stadium)

Sunday, March 5, 2017 

Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC (Orlando City SC Stadium)
Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls (Bobby Dodd Stadium)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Philadelphia Union (BC Place)

WEEK 2

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake (Toyota Park)
New England Revolution vs. Orlando City SC (Gillette Stadium)
New York Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rapids (Red Bull Arena)
Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC (Talen Energy Stadium)
Montreal Impact vs. Seattle Sounders FC (Olympic Stadium)
Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas (Children’s Mercy Park)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

New York City FC vs. D.C. United (Yankee Stadium)
Minnesota United FC vs. Atlanta United (TCF Bank Stadium)

WEEK 3

Saturday, March 18, 2017 — FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution (Toyota Stadium)

Sunday, March 19, 2017 — Seattle Sounders FC vs. New York Red Bulls (CenturyLink Field)

WEEK 5

Friday, March 31, 2017 — Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City (BMO Field)

Turkey hands bid plans for Euro 2024 to UEFA

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) Turkey has given UEFA its hosting plan for the 2024 European Championship, citing “unprecedented state support” to help beat Germany to stage the 24-team tournament.

Turkish soccer federation president Yildirim Demiroren says the latest attempt is “our best bid ever.” Ten stadiums proposed include two in Istanbul.

Turkey bid with Greece for EURO 2008, then alone for the 2012 and 2016 editions.

[ MORE: TFC’s “heart has been ripped from chest” ]

Before UEFA chose a multi-nation EURO 2020 hosting plan, Turkey was strongly favored before focusing on Istanbul’s failed 2020 Olympic bid.

Turkey has never hosted a major soccer tournament. West Germany hosted the eight-team EURO 1988 and a unified Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup.

The UEFA executive committee will pick a winner on Sept. 27 in Nyon.

Premier League TV, stream schedule

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A pivotal weekend in the Premier League is coming up, especially in the race for the top four and battle against relegation.

MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. Stoke City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Southampton vs. Bournemouth – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Brighton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Huddersfield Town vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Chelsea – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
9:15 a.m. ET: West Ham vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM
11:30 a.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Arsenal – NBCSN [STREAM

Monday
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford – NBCSN [STREAM]

 

Southampton’s Hughes sends Boufal to U-23s after reported bust-up

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One of Morocco’s best young players isn’t going to get ideal World Cup preparation, and could even lose his place in the team if things don’t turn around at Southampton.

Southampton’s one-time record signing Sofiane Boufal has been banished to the U-23 side after refusing to warm up in Saints loss to Chelsea last weekend.

[ MORE: TFC loses CCL Final in PKs ]

The refusal reportedly led to a dust-up with manager Mark Hughes in the dressing room after Saints came-from-ahead to lose 3-2.

Hughes says everything is better now, but there needs to be punishment for Boufal’s actions. This means one of Saints’ most talented attackers won’t be a part of their desperate battle to overcome relegation (at least not soon).

From the Guardian:

“Given where we are at the moment, he’s probably best served training with a different group just to make people aware the situation we found ourselves in wasn’t what should have happened. He understands that now. He probably needs to rebuild a bit of trust with us and his team-mates. That’s what we’re working on. He won’t be involved this weekend. We’ll have to wait and see [whether he can return this season].”

“He’s remorseful about it, which he needed to be, and we’ll build him back up to be in the group again. But the time for that isn’t now. It’s about him biding his time, doing the right things, until he’s reintegrated.”

Boufal has two goals and two assists in 26 games (11 starts) since arriving from arriving from Lille for around $22 million. He has six caps for Morocco.

Liverpool fans warned, as Roma pledges support

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There was a terrible incident in Liverpool on Tuesday when a Reds supporter was set upon by Roma fans and left in critical condition.

Sean Cox, 53, was attacked outside a pub before Liverpool’s 5-2 UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg win over AS Roma.

[ MORE: LFC 5-2 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Liverpool has released its plans to keep supporters safe should they be among the 5,000 with tickets in Rome on Wednesday (via LiverpoolFC.com), pledging the “most comprehensive safety and security advice.”

The club has taken the exceptional measure of requesting an extraordinary meeting in the Italian capital, which will take place on Friday April 27. … At the behest of Liverpool, club officials will join AS Roma, UEFA and the relevant Italian police and security services to discuss specific ongoing concerns.

Merseyside Police chief superintendent Dave Charnock backed up Roma’s police demand that Liverpool fans without tickets skip the trip to Italy. According to the BBC, Liverpool was asked to put fans names on their tickets to the game.

“While we understand and appreciate that many Liverpool fans will want to travel to Rome, I would encourage fans who do not have tickets to not travel,” he said.

AS Roma, for its part, posted a photo of Cox with the statement, “His recovery and the safety of all fans attending football matches, is the only thing that matters now.”