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Five things to watch in MLS: Week 2

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The Major League Soccer season hits Week 2 on Saturday with a full slate of matches, however, one fixture has already been postponed due to inclement weather up in New England.

[ MORE: MLS power rankings — Week 1 ]

PST takes a look at some of the most intriguing storylines as MLS heads into the second week of the season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Battle of the expansion sides

Week 1 was a tale of two completely different teams, however, both Atlanta United and Minnesota United ended up with the same outcome on opening weekend.

Atlanta held a 1-0 lead over the New York Red Bulls heading into the final quarter hour, but a pair of goals from the visitors and an unnecessary red card prevented Tata Martino’s side from even grabbing a share of the points.

Meanwhile, Minnesota was simply played off the pitch at Providence Park last Friday evening as Diego Valeri and co. attacked and attacked and attacked some more. Adrian Heath’s side looked gassed as the Timbers continued to press, but now the Loons can turn their attention to Atlanta.

The question is: which expansion side will get a victory first?

How does NYCFC click offensively?

When you think of New York City FC’s attack, David Villa is the first name that comes to mind and rightfully so. However, with Frank Lampard no longer at the helm in the Bronx, there are some questions as to whom will be the heir apparent as Villa’s number two up front.

Second-year attacker Jack Harrison and cult hero Tommy McNamara are likely candidates to pick up the slack left by the recently-retired Lampard, but filling that void is much easier said than done.

In Week 1, NYCFC had its share of chances in the Orlando City half of the field, but Patrick Vieira’s group wasn’t sharp enough in front of net. Some of that will certainly be chalked up to the fact that it was opening weekend but there are still legitimate questions about finding a player or combination of players to bag at least 12 goals in 2017 — which is the number Lampard registered a season ago.

Timbers backline in shambles

Caleb Porter’s attack put on an absolute show against Minnesota with the Timbers’ five-goal performance, and while the frontline will surely be among the league’s best in 2017, there are some concerns at the back.

Already thin defensively, the Timbers will likely be without defenders Liam Ridgewell and Alvas Powell as the club prepares for the LA Galaxy on Sunday night. That leaves Chance Myers, Roy Miller and Marco Farfan likely in the mix to fill the two starting roles for the Timbers’ back four.

Despite the Galaxy’s struggles against Dallas last weekend, the Timbers will have to be wary of Giovani dos Santos and co. in the attack, particularly if Porter’s group is shorthanded defensively.

New-look Dynamo hope to build off of Week 1

It’s hard to put a ton of stock into one match, but the Houston Dynamo had a swagger about them in their opening weekend win over the defending champion Seattle Sounders.

Goals were hard to come by a season ago for the Dynamo, however, the Texas club looked more dynamic in their movement up front last weekend. Erick Torres found the back of the net, which has been a rare occurence in his time with the Dynamo.

Meanwhile, offseason signing Romell Quioto is somebody to take notice of this season for both the Dynamo and Honduras as he hopes to help his country reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Galaxy remain undermanned due to injuries/suspensions

There are still familiar faces on the LA Galaxy, but this is a drastically different squad from last season. Already without the departed Robbie Keane, the club has had to battle numerous injuries throughout preseason and into the start of the 2017 campaign.

Now, the club will be without Jermaine Jones and Dave Romney for their meeting with the Timbers after earning suspensions this week from MLS’ Disciplinary Committee.

Giovani dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget and newly-signed midfielder Romain Alessandrini will continue to spearhead the attack while Gyasi Zardes recovers from injury, while the backline features a strong centerback pairing of Jelle Van Damme and Daniel Steres.

Liverpool bosses Roma, opens door late

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  • Ex-Roma star Salah bags 42nd, 43rd of season
  • Picks up two assists as well
  • Firmino also has two and two

Liverpool’s trident impaled its visitors again and again, as the Premier League side took a 5-2 first leg lead over AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League semifinal at Anfield on Tuesday.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino braces bookended a Sadio Mane marker as the front three ran riot on Roma ahead of May 2’s second leg in Italy.

Roma’s only consolation comes in the form of two goals in the final 10 minutes; The first was an Edin Dzeko marker in the final 10 minutes. The second a penalty given for a James Milner handball that Diego Perotti converted for a second away goal.

[ MORE: Full box score and statistics ]

Roma will carry the same hopeful message as it did in the first leg against Barcelona, down three but this time with a pair of away markers.

Salah scored the first two goals, and the opener was a precise finish for the Egyptian wonder.

An offside but uncalled Salah worked a 1-2 with Firmino to add to his total before finding Mane to make it 3-0 with a tap-in.

Trent-Alexander Arnold sent Salah down the right side for the fourth goal, his 62nd minute pass reaching Firmino for an attempt he’ll finish 95 times out of 100.

It was simply calamity off a corner for the fifth goal, a disheartened Roma offering little as Firmino completed his brace.

WORLD CUP: Uruguay striker Suarez seeking redemption

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Uruguay’s priority will be keeping Luiz Suarez tamed at this year’s World Cup.

After the striker was expelled from the 2014 tournament in disgrace for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, Uruguay was eliminated by Colombia in the round of 16.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings ]

Suarez promises he is a reformed character and will be better behaved in Russia than in Brazil, where he scored twice before being banned.

“It was my mistake,” Suarez said. “So I have a debt to repay to myself and Uruguay, to try to show a good image.”

Things were already starting to look brighter for two-time World Cup champion Uruguay, based on qualifying at least.

After enduring four consecutive World Cup playoffs and only reaching three of the tournaments, Uruguay secured an automatic place in Russia by finishing second behind Brazil in qualifying.

Here’s a closer look at the Uruguay team:

COACH

Oscar Tabarez will lead Uruguay into his fourth World Cup after a first trip in 1990 followed by 2010 and 2014. A Tabarez team has always made it out of the group stage, including a semifinal appearance in South Africa eight years ago.

A former school teacher and professional player, Tabarez led Uruguay to the Copa America title in 2011. As a club coach, he led Penarol to the Copa Libertadores title in 1987 and Boca Juniors to an Argentine league title in 1992.

The 71-year-old Tabarez has used a wheelchair since he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2016.

GOALKEEPERS

There is little doubt Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will be between the posts for his third World Cup.

DEFENSE

The Atletico Madrid partnership of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez also anchor the heart of Uruguay’s defense. Godin has made more than 100 appearances since his debut in 2005 and scored at his third World Cup with a header against Italy in 2014. The 23-year-old Gimenez offers a solid companion to a player nine years his senior and already has one World Cup under his belt.

Versatile Lazio wingback Martin Caceres should also be sure of a starting spot unless there is a recurrence of one of his frequent injuries.

MIDFIELDERS

Tabarez has always had doubts about his midfield’s attacking qualities. While the unit has usually been capable of defending well, the midfielders have often struggled to generate chances for the forwards.

During qualifying, Tabarez called up several young players who improved in this area: Federico Valverde (19), Nahitan Nandez (22) and Rodrigo Bentancur (20).

FORWARDS

Uruguay shouldn’t be short of goals. The strikers are the team’s greatest strength.

Suarez is Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals and is coming off the back of a strong season with Barcelona. Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani is next on the list with 41, including a continent-leading 10 goals in 18 matches in South American qualifying.

GROUP GAMES

Uruguay, which will be based in Nizhny Novgorod, will face Egypt in its first match on June 15. That will be followed by matches against Saudi Arabia on June 20 and Russia on June 25.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

LIVE, UCL semifinal: Liverpool v. Roma at Anfield

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Liverpool host AS Roma at Anfield in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal on Tuesday, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men aim to get off to another fast start in a first leg to have one foot in the final.

Tuesday promises to be yet another memorable European night at Anfield.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

With Mohamed Salah leading the goalscoring charts in the Premier League with 31 goals and scoring 42 goals in all competitions this season, Klopp will hope the Egyptian wizard can blow away his former team.

As for Roma, they are similarly set up to attack and their main man is Edin Dzeko who helped the Italian giants overcome Barcelona in the quarterfinals following an incredible comeback from 4-1 down in the first leg to reach the final four.

Both Liverpool and Roma are admired for their attacking play and both are considered the underdogs to win the UCL with Bayern Munich facing Real Madrid in the other semifinal.

That said, when these two teams get hot, nobody can stop them.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis from the clash at Anfield right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Here’s a look at the top 20 players in the Premier League right now.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

Players from Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City dominate our latest rankings after a busy seven days in the PL with midweek games and a funky schedule due to the FA Cup semifinal.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Even
  2. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Even
  3. David Silva (Man City) – Up 8
  4. Ashley Barnes (Burnley) – New entry
  5. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) – New entry
  6. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 3
  7. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – Down 4
  8. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – New entry
  9. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Down 3
  10. David De Gea (Man United) – Down 3
  11. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) – Down 3
  12. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – New entry
  13. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – Down 9
  14. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Down 4
  15. Paul Pogba (Man United) – Down 3
  16. Romelu Lukaku (Man United) – Down 3
  17. Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United) – Down 12
  18. Marko Arnautovic (West Ham) – Down 3
  19. Salomon Rondon (West Brom) – New entry
  20. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry