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MLS (late-night) roundup: Early favorites, FC Dallas & Portland, emerge

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With three MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 31 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Portland Timbers 4-2 Houston Dynamo

Isn’t it just wonderful when you look forward to a game all week, and when Saturday finally arrives, it lives up to everything you hoped of it? That’s Portland versus Houston, in a nutshell. Tied for the Western Conference’s top spot after two weeks, only Atlanta United looked to be on par with Saturday’s combatants in terms of attacking intent and ability.

What transpired at Providence Park was a six-goal thriller chock-full of brilliant midfield play, inspired final-ball making in and around the penalty area, and some decent finish on the business end. Diego Valeri scored twice (once from the penalty spot), and David Guzman and Fanendo Adi added goals of their own for Portland, erasing a 2-1 halftime deficit after Erick Torres (penalty kick) and Romell Quioto had the visitors halfway home with three points. Quiot’s goal, mostly for Alberth Elis’s seeing-eye through ball, was particularly stunning.

Valeri started the comeback just before the hour mark, and Houston couldn’t slow the momentum once Portland began rolling downhill.

2017 looks to be the start of a golden attacking age in MLS, and these two (young) sides are leading the charge. Portland and Houston’s next meeting? July 29, in Houston.


Real Salt Lake 1-2 LA Galaxy

It’s a strange new world, where LA find themselves Robbie Keane-, Landon Donovan- and Bruce Arena-less, and without a single point from their first two games of the 2017 season. Through 68 minutes on Saturday, zero points from three games seemed a distinct possibility, trailing away to RSL despite their man advantage since the 44th minute.

As far as headers go, you’ll not find one more impressive than this one from Yura Movsisyan to put RSL up in the 18th minute.

Dave Romney and Emmanuel Boateng got the goals to bring LA back from the depths of the unthinkable, and give Curt Onalfo his first win since replacing Arena this offseason.


FC Dallas 2-1 New England Revolution

FCD just keep doing work, whether it be in league play or CONCACAF Champions League. On Saturday, three days after a dogged CCL semifinals first-leg affair with Pachuca, Oscar Pareja’s men came back from a goal down to New England and move to seven points from three games.

Lee Nguyen put the visitors ahead, from the penalty spot in the 10th minute, one of just four shots from Jay Heaps’ side on the night. The comeback wasn’t quick, but it didn’t have to be. Maximiliano Urruti hit twice six minutes apart, in the 71st and 77th minutes, to not only rob New England of their first win of 2017, but their first points as well.

The 2017 Supporters’ Shield goes through Dallas, though Portland inch closer and closer with each passing week.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — NYCFC dominate, disappoint; ATL roll ]


Sporting Kansas City 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Sporting KC have their first goal, as well as their first win, of 2017 following a mostly dominant performance against San Jose. Benny Feilhaber’s long-range, knuckle-balling bomb opened the scoring in the 37th minute (WATCH HERE), and David Bingham’s epic howler made it 2-0 with a minute of regular time remaining.

Good thing for Sporting, too, as all concentration and focus disappeared once stoppage time began. Florian Jungwirth pulled a goal back in the 91st, and Tim Melia was called into action again a minute later. His Save of the Week candidate preserved a narrow, but thoroughly deserved three points for the home side.


Orlando City SC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

At some point, Cyle Larin will stop scoring every goal for Orlando, and I’ll be forced to formulate a lede other than “Cyle Larin’s going to Europe, and soon,” but that day isn’t today, as the 21-year-old Canadian international bagged his second and third goals of the season, each time putting the Lions in front.

The fluidity in the build-up to the second goal shouldn’t go unnoticed, as clinical as Larin may have been with his chance. Carlos Rivas is 22 and two full years into his MLS adventure. He’s made the jump from deer-in-the-headlights newcomer, to full-time contributor on a good team. That’s him with the simple lay-off to Matias Perez Garcia on the second goal, and he absolutely deserves a secondary assist for it. I’ll be petitioning the league on his behalf first thing Monday morning.


Colorado Rapids 2-2 Minnesota United

Minnesota have their first MLS point, just barely. Adrian Heath’s side came back from a goal down — then blew their first MLS lead in under two minutes, but that’s neither here nor there — to draw away the stingiest defense in all of MLS last season.

Dominique Badji put Colorado ahead in the 17th minute, but that was canceled out by Kevin Molino from the penalty spot five minutes into the second half. Christian Ramirez put Minnesota 2-1 up in the 58th minute, but Marlon Hairston equalized 108 seconds later. Such is life as an expansion team, but it brings the Loons’ goals conceded average down to 4.3 goals per game.


D.C. United 0-2 Columbus Crew SC

Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara converted a penalty kick each — no drama between the Argentine and a striker named Kamara this time — as Crew SC picked up their first win of the season, away to D.C., who look a serious contender for second-worst team (sorry, Minnesota) in MLS through three games. 0 goals scored, 6 goals conceded; 1 point won.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

New York City FC 1-1 Montreal Impact
Atlanta United 4-0 Chicago Fire
Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 Toronto FC

Follow Live: Chelsea, Swans, Cherries in FA Cup replays

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Chelsea, Swansea City, and Bournemouth look to avoid upsets in replays of their third round FA Cup matches.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

All three matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

The Blues tangle with former Premier League peers Norwich City, this time at Stamford Bridge, in a bid to host a fourth round match with Newcastle United.

Antonio Conte‘s not messing around (too much) with the XI.

Swansea City and Wolves, meanwhile, are arguably battling for a bid in the fourth round, as a trip to Notts County is on the docket for the winner of Wednesday’s replay at the Liberty Stadium.

Bournemouth is at Wigan Athletic for a replay with the third-tier Latics, with the victor hosting West Ham United on Jan. 27.

Benevento captain Lucioni banned one year for doping

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ROME (AP) Benevento captain Fabio Lucioni has been banned one year for doping.

[ MORE: Plenty to prove for Big Sam ]

Italy’s national anti-doping organization made the decision Tuesday after the steroid clostebol was found in a sample taken after Benevento’s 1-0 loss to Torino in September.

Benevento team physician Walter Giorgione was banned for four years for administering the steroid to Lucioni in a spray.

Both Lucioni and Giorgione plan to appeal.

The 30-year-old Lucioni joined Benevento in 2014 and the defender helped the team move from the third division up into Serie A this season for the first time.

Benevento is last in Serie A with only two wins in 20 matches.

The ban is back-dated to October, meaning Lucioni can return early next season.

Everton completes move for Walcott: “I’m dead excited” (video)

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Everton continues to supply its managers with top-end talent, adding Theo Walcott to its expensive season of boys which includes Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney, Cenk Tosun, Jordan Pickford, and Michael Keane.

[ MORE: Plenty to prove for Big Sam ]

The deal is reported to be near $28 million for Walcott, who’s made only a half-dozen Premier League appearances this season but did nab three goals in five Europa League matches.

Walcott, 28, scored 108 goals in 397 appearances for the Gunners. His 19-goal campaign last season was his second-best — he scored 21 in 2012-13 — but Walcott dipped down Arsene Wenger‘s depth charge and is leaving to pursue regular football.

And his comments will be lapped up by the #WengerOut brigade at his now former club:

“The Club has won trophies but I want them to win trophies now. The manager is very hungry and it’s just what I need. I’ve had a couple of chats with him and straightaway I felt that hunger and that desire that he wanted from me. I need that and I wanted that

The move is another exciting one for Everton, which has underachieved under Ronald Koeman and now Sam Allardyce. And it’s another sale from Arsenal which gives pause: Are the underperforming Gunners going to regret the move?

In the 2005-06 season, Walcott made his Southampton debut in the Football League Championship at the age of 16, and moved to Arsenal the next season.

Walcott has eight goals in 47 caps for England, and won two FA Cups at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Montreal nabs Algerian DP ]

Here is a useful quote from Sam Allardyce:“His physical output is excellent, he would be one of our top players in that area as well, which will hopefully bring us a lot more excitement and more ability to get forward quicker and create.

And here is an utterly useless one: ““If you analyse his goal record, then we are looking at a player who contributes goals on a regular basis.”

You don’t say. To paraphrase: If you look at all his goals, he regularly scores goals. Here’s more from the player on his move.

Montreal to nab Algerian DP Taider from Bologna

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The loss of Swiss power Blerim Dzemaili is a big one for the Montreal Impact, but another World Cup player may be taking his place in Quebec.

[ MLS: Club-by-club SuperDraft needs ]

Tutto Bologna reports that Algerian playmaker Saphir Taider, 25, is set to sign with the Impact on a contract through 2020.

On loan to Montreal last season, Dzemaili went back to Bologna. Taider is coming back the other way and will reportedly be a Designated Player.

Taider isn’t as consistent a player as Dzemaili, but presents a skill set that should be a massive problem for MLS midfields.

He has 42 caps with five goals for Algeria, and was once property of Juventus. He spent parts of four seasons at Inter Milan, with loan stints back to Bologna, at Sassuolo, and a unremarkable time at Southampton.