Falcao scores twice as leader Monaco beats Nice 3-0

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PARIS (AP) Benjamin Mendy delivered two assists and Falcao scored twice as leader Monaco moved three points clear in the French league with a 3-0 defeat of Nice in their top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

[ MORE: Chelsea knocks off Arsenal and more in Saturday’s PL slate ]

After struggling to get past the solid defense put up by the visitors, Monaco played with more fluidity in the second half and won the midfield fight at Stade Louis II.

[ MORE: Bayern, Leipzig both struggle in Bundesliga action ]

Falcao’s second strike was Monaco’s 100th goal this season in 38 matches in all competitions. Valere Germain scored the opener for Leonardo Jardim’s team, which has scored 68 league goals in 23 games, the best attacking record in the five major European leagues.

With its convincing win Monaco made another strong statement in the race for the French title and also avenged a 4-0 loss to Nice in the corresponding fixture back in September.

Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain can move level on points with second-placed Nice if it beat Dijon later Saturday.

Monaco had only a couple of chances in a tight first half. Nice played more aggressively after the interval but the move backfired and Monaco made the most of its many openings.

Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale easily stopped a 20-meter shot from Bernardo Silva in the 10th minute and was decisive in denying Kamil Glik’s effort three minutes later.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell after the half-hour and came close to scoring when Valentin Eysseric cut in from the right to connect with a good cross from Alassane Plea, only to miss the target by a couple of inches with a left-footed shot.

Silva had the half’s best chance in the 36th minute after Falco recovered the ball in the visitors’ camp and set up the Portugal midfielder, whose powerful shot was parried away by Cardinale.

Germain, who was on loan at Nice last season, ended a fine collective move down the left flank to put the hosts in front in the 47th. The Monaco forward headed home from close range after connecting with Mendy’s precise cross. Germain refrained from celebrating his goal against his former club.

Mendy was a constant threat with his crosses from the left and the French defender delivered a second assist at the hour mark, crafting a low pass in the box for Falcao. The Colombia striker latched onto it and doubled the home side lead, then put the game to bed in the 81st minute from Thomas Lemar’s cutback pass with his 14th league goal.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.

Report: Frank De Boer accepts Crystal Palace job

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Frank de Boer is widely expected to be named new Crystal Palace manager this week, as he has reportedly accepted the job after having been offered the position this week.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The 47-year-old Dutchman has been out of work since he was fired by Inter Milan in November. He lasted just 84 days at the San Siro, where he managed to win just five of 14 games. Inter Milan is Inter Milan, though, and that’s something worth remembering when critiquing Palace’s impending appointment of De Boer.

Palace are also widely expected to back De Boer in the transfer market this summer, in a big way. Kelechi Iheanacho is the biggest name linked with a move to Selhurst Park, as the 20-year-old Nigerian striker is reportedly unwanted by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

5th-place San Jose parts ways with Kinnear after 2.5 seasons

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Dominic Kinnear is out after two and a half seasons as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, despite leading the club to a hugely improved standing 17 games into the 2017 season.

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The move comes 17 hours after San Jose put to bed a three-game winless skid with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, a result which propelled them into fifth place in the Western Conference, just two points off second place. After seventh- and ninth-place finishes in Kinnear’s first two seasons back in Northern California (he managed the club in 2004 and 2005 before the club was relocated to Houston, where he would remain for nine seasons, through the 2014 season), this year’s team seemed to be moving in a positive direction quicker than most had previously expected.

[ MORE: Accam scores a backheel (video) | Opara scores a CB bicycle ]

The club has named Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo as assistant coach. Current assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will remain in their current roles.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years,” Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a release. “He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club.”

Kinnear is the second MLS coach to be relieved of his duties this season, suffering the same fate as RSL’s Jeff Cassar, who lasted just three games before being fired in March.