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Five things to watch in MLS: Week 5

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The international break is behind us and it’s time for Major League Soccer to continue. With several intriguing matchups across the league this weekend, there are storylines aplenty for the 20 teams involved in action.

[ MORE: MLS power rankings — Week 4 ]

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

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Does Minnesota get its first win?

It’s safe to say things haven’t gone according to plan for Minnesota since the club’s entrance into MLS just four weeks ago. A league-high 18 goals allowed and one point is all the team has to show to this point, but can the Western Conference side get off the snide?

With Real Salt Lake coming to town Saturday night, the Loons arguably have their best opportunity to pick up three points during the young season. RSL has scored just once during the opening four weeks, but given the Loons defensive struggles, that could very well change.

Reinforcements could be on the way for Minnesota though after the club acquired Colorado Rapids duo Sam Cronin and Marc Burch on Friday.

How good can the Crew become?

Already sitting atop the Eastern Conference through four weeks, the Crew look set to get significantly better thanks to acquiring attacker Kekuta Manneh in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps this week.

When considering the fact that the Crew attack already features the likes of Ola Kamara, Federico Higuain and Wil Trapp, the sky is certainly the limit for the 2015 MLS Cup runners’ up.

Greg Berhalter’s side will certainly need to get its backline in order if they are to consider themselves one of the league’s elite, but the Crew front office surely knocked one out of the park with the Manneh move.

D.C., Union look to grab first win

Neither club has been impressive to start the season, however, one team could earn their first win of 2017 on Saturday if they play their cards right.

Ben Olsen’s D.C. United is the only team remaining in MLS that has yet to score a goal this season despite boasting a strong attack that features Patrick Mullins and Luciano Acosta.

The Union are coming off of a 2-1 loss to Orlando two weeks ago, while D.C.’s last time out came with a 2-0 defeat to the Crew.

Atlanta looks to prove itself in Seattle

The newcomers down in Hot-lanta have lived up to their hype so far, and Friday night’s test in Seattle could further validate Tata Martino’s side as they look for their third consecutive victory.

Although top goalscorer Josef Martinez will be out after suffering a quad injury, Atlanta still boasts an exciting attack that features Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba. The Eastern Conference side is second in MLS with 11 goals scored through four weeks, but getting a result at CenturyLink Field will be quite the feat for the expansion side.

The Sounders picked up their first win prior to the international window and they looked like the side that won MLS Cup in 2016. With Clint Dempsey healthy and firing on all cylinders, Brian Schmetzer’s attack should be among the league’s best alongside that of Atlanta.

Whitecaps hope to find inspiration against Galaxy

With Kekuta Manneh gone, the Whitecaps must turn to other faces if the club’s struggling attack is to improve over the coming weeks. 16-year-old Alphonso Davies will be expected ti carry a greater load for Carl Robinson’s side.

With the Galaxy coming to town on Saturday, it will be a difficult test for the Whitecaps, who have allowed five goals in the last two matches.

The Whitecaps will have to deal with Giovani dos Santos and co. in the attack, although the Galaxy will be without Sebastian Lletget in the long term after suffering a devastating foot injury while on U.S. Men’s National Team duty.

Liverpool fans warned, as Roma pledges support

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There was a terrible incident in Liverpool on Tuesday when a Reds supporter was set upon by Roma fans and left in critical condition.

Sean Cox, 53, was attacked outside a pub before Liverpool’s 5-2 UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg win over AS Roma.

[ MORE: LFC 5-2 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Liverpool has released its plans to keep supporters safe should they be among the 5,000 with tickets in Rome on Wednesday (via LiverpoolFC.com), pledging the “most comprehensive safety and security advice.”

The club has taken the exceptional measure of requesting an extraordinary meeting in the Italian capital, which will take place on Friday April 27. … At the behest of Liverpool, club officials will join AS Roma, UEFA and the relevant Italian police and security services to discuss specific ongoing concerns.

Merseyside Police chief superintendent Dave Charnock backed up Roma’s police demand that Liverpool fans without tickets skip the trip to Italy. According to the BBC, Liverpool was asked to put fans names on their tickets to the game.

“While we understand and appreciate that many Liverpool fans will want to travel to Rome, I would encourage fans who do not have tickets to not travel,” he said.

AS Roma, for its part, posted a photo of Cox with the statement, “His recovery and the safety of all fans attending football matches, is the only thing that matters now.”

Report: Gerrard on Rangers shortlist ahead of Old Firm Derby

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Could Steven Gerrard‘s first foray into management come against his old manager and in one of the most heated derbies in the world?

The BBC is reporting that the Liverpool legend is on the shortlist for Rangers as the Glaswegian side prepares to hire a new manager in its bid to reverse Celtic domination of the Scottish Premiership and the Old Firm Derby.

[ MORE: Fulham, NFL owner to buy Wembley? ]

Brendan Rodgers has engineered a marvelous run of form for Celtic, who went unbeaten in the league last season. Rodgers is also a sought-after managerial candidate for bigger jobs in Europe, and may not be at Celtic if and when Gerrard is hired by its rivals.

Either Celtic or Rangers have won the Scottish top flight title dating back to 1984-85, when champions Aberdeen were led by some guy named Alex Ferguson.

Rangers are facing a Manchester United moment this weekend, traveling to Celtic Park for a Sunday derby against Celtic which would see their rivals clinch the Premiership with a win.

Celtic has a 10-point lead on Rangers and Aberdeen, and is extremely likely to win its seventh-straight Premiership title. The record for most consecutive Scottish titles is nine, shared by Celtic (1966-74) and Rangers (1989-97).

Sweden announces Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not return for World Cup

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s public flirtation and seeming committal to returning to the Swedish national team for the World Cup was a big tease.

Whether it’s his call or not is up for debate.

The Swedish Football Association reports that it’s spoken with Ibrahimovic and the 35-year-old LA Galaxy striker has declined the chance to return to the fold.

[ MORE: Fulham, NFL owner to buy Wembley? ]

Sweden’s sporting director Lars Richt says Ibrahimovic has not changed his mind on international retirement despite his own words.

Sweden’s current team may have a role in that.

We imagine Richt and Sweden may be cushioning the blow for Ibrahimovic, especially if national team goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson is speaking on behalf of a team vibe when he speaks of Zlatan being “an individualist” who could ruin Sweden’s team-first concept.

Report: Fulham, NFL owner Khan agrees $700m price for Wembley

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Fulham owner Shad Khan also owns a National Football League team, and could have two top-flight teams from different nations playing in England soon.

For Fulham, the Cottagers are currently very much in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League and at the least will have a chance at qualifying through the playoffs.

[ MORE: TFC loses CCL Final in PKs ]

For the Jaguars, who have rarely needed all the seats in their stadium, it could mean a move to London if Khan goes through with what’s being reported as an accepted $700 million bid to buy Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium was also built with the design to host NFL games.

Here’s how ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith puts a bow on it (on one of the biggest days of the NFL calendar, nonetheless):

So it’s possible that there could soon be two iconic soccer stadiums in London with strong NFL ties, one which was built with NFL games in mind, and another that is owned by an NFL owner. The league is pouring serious resources into London.

It seems unlikely Khan would move Fulham from Craven Cottage, but there are other repercussions of this move for soccer in England.

There’s the potential for the England national team to no longer utlizie a permanent home, and the FA Cup and League Cup both potentially requiring new or rotating venues for their final rounds.

A lot to monitor here, and we’ll surely have all the details as they emerge from Khan’s crew.