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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.

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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.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.