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MLS Snapshot: NYCFC thrash DCU in blistering 1st half, 4-0 win

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The game in 100 words (or less more): One of the major topics prior to/early in the 2017 MLS season has been the league’s move toward Designated Players south of 30 years old — south in 25 in many instances — and with good reason. It’s certainly the way forward over the next 5-10 years. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s spend a few dozen words marveling at the way 35-year-old David Villa has — and continues to — dominate MLS. Through his first 64 regular-season MLS games, Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer’s strike rate sat at 0.64 goals per game. On Sunday, New York City FC’s leading man bagged another brace (his 11th in the club’s first 70 games of existence) as Patrick Vieira’s side thrashed D.C. United, to the tune of 4-0. Rodney Wallace starred early on, bagging the game’s opening goal and setting up Villa’s first to make it 2-0 before the half-hour mark, but it was Villa who won the ball back near midfield and fed Maxi Moralez for his first MLS goal six minutes before halftime, and capped the afternoon with a brilliant finish from an impossible angle 15 minutes from full-time. Villa’s bid to become the first back-to-back MVP winner in league history is off to a strong start.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup | Late-night ]

Three moments that mattered

28′ — Villa heads home for 2-0 — Three seasons with NYCFC, three goals scored in the club’s three home openers. Pro tip: he’s good, so maybe don’t give him five yards of space inside the 18-yard box.

39′ — Villa feed Moralez for 3-0 — For all the talent Villa possesses in his pinky finger, perhaps the most impressive thing he’s shown in MLS is a tireless work rate and commitment to the team’s cause. DP strikers aren’t typically winning the ball back on the other side of the field, let alone following that up with an inch-perfect through ball.

75′ — Villa shakes free of Birnbaum for 4-0 — Pro tip: if you find yourself one on one with Villa in the open field, you’ve already lost the battle and the war. In truth, Birnbaum did everything he could here, and did so pretty well.

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Men of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Wallace (8′), Villa (28′, 75′), Moralez (39′)

MLS Playoff bracket, dates set: Chicago, Vancouver host Tues.

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Major League Soccer’s playoff bracket is set. Our staff predictions are coming Tuesday before the first round match-ups, but here’s what we’ll be watching…

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

The chase begins with Chicago and the Red Bulls, and San Jose heading to Vancouver. The Quakes drew the ‘Caps just over a week ago, on Oct. 15.

First round
(E3) Chicago vs. (E6) New York Red Bulls — 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday
(W3) Vancouver vs. (W6) San Jose — 10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday
(E4) Atlanta vs. (E5) Columbus — 7 p.m. ET Wednesday
(W4) Houston vs. (W5) Sporting KC — 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Conference semifinals
(W1) Portland vs.  San Jose, Houston, or Sporting KC
(W2) Seattle vs. Houston, Sporting KC, or Vancouver
(E1) Toronto vs. New York Red Bulls, Atlanta, or Columbus
(E2) New York City vs. Atlanta, Columbus, or Chicago

Conference finals
Eastern Conference — Nov. 21 and Nov. 28 or 29
Western Conference — Nov. 21 and Nov. 30

MLS Cup Final
At finalist with best record — 4 p.m. ET Dec. 9

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Who will replace Koeman at Everton?

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Where will Everton turn in search of their next manager?

U23s coach David Unsworth is the front-runner to take over, according to several betting sites — not that we’d partake in such madness — and the 44-year-old boasts 312 career appaearances for the Toffees.

[ MORE: Everton sacks Ronald Koeman ]

As for who else could be in frame for the gig, there are names (quite) familiar and new.

David Moyes — This one is an eyebrow-raiser, as Moyes has had little if any success since leaving Everton and ended his time at Sunderland with a sexist takedown of a journalist. But the 54-year-old Scot spent more than 11 years at Everton before leaving for Manchester United, and it’s not like the Toffees wanted him to skip town. He was thrice League Manager of the Year at Goodison Park.

Sean Dyche — The Burnley boss has overachieved time and again at Turf Moor, and the Clarets are one of the smallest outfits the Premier League has ever seen. A move to Everton could be a big and safe enough step to warrant his affection.

Carlo Ancelotti — He’s said he’s not returning to a manager’s seat this season, but the Italian may relish the chance to take a skillful team and organize it into its rightful potential. And we think he’s do a magnificent job.

Chris Coleman — He’s waffled on staying in his position at Wales, and the club’s absence from this summer’s World Cup must have him eyeing the club scene. He’s hasn’t led a club since 2012, having led AEL, Coventry City, Real Sociedad, and Fulham.

Phil Neville — The Manchester United and Everton playing legend doesn’t have first chair experience, but may be able to rally the troops. His latest stint was as an assistant in brother Gary’s tough, short campaign at Valencia.

Although… his recent prediction record isn’t hot.

Longshots: Mikel Arteta, Luis Enrique, Eddie Howe, Thomas Tuchel, Sam Allardyce, Manuel Pellegrini, Frank De Boer.

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Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

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BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

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A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Who will replace him? ]

Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

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