Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Fire burn bright; Revs, DCU get needed wins

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The fifth MLS Saturday of 2017 is nearly halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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Chicago Fire 1-0 Columbus Crew SC

Chicago were well on their way to being one of the biggest storylines early in the 2017 season before they went and signed Bastian Schweinsteiger. Two games into Schweinsteiger’s MLS adventure, and Veljko Paunovic’s side is the subject of “Are they MLS Cup contenders?” whispers.

On Saturday, Chicago closed the gap to Eastern Conference-leading Columbus with a 1-0 victory at Toyota Park, courtesy of Nemanja Nikolic’s second MLS goal. The Hungarian international got the goal, but all the world’s plaudits go to Dax McCarty for the inch-perfect, 40-yard, seeing-eye through ball to split a half-dozen defenders and put Nikolic in on goal in the blink of an eye.

It’s still early days for Schweinsteiger and Chicago — and the temperature and tempo haven’t yet risen above comfort level for the 32-year-old — but they’re miles better after five games than they were at any point in 2016. Simply being relevant again is a massive victory all its own.

[ MORE: U.S., Mexico, Canada to announce joint 2026 World Cup bid ]


D.C. United 2-1 New York City

Every last one of the East’s 11 teams will spend the entire season beating up on each other before seven or eight finish five or six points apart — it’s a tradition as old as the league itself. Take, for instance, D.C.’s 2-1 victory over NYCFC. Through their first four games, arguably not team in MLS had inspired less confidence (and excitement) than Ben Olsen’s side. On Saturday, they largely played Patrick Vieira’s bunch off the field. Lloyd Sam and Luciano Acosta had the home side 2-0 after 73 minutes, before David Villa pulled a goal back with six minutes of regular time remaining.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Where do the three unbeatens slot in? ]


New England Revolution 2-0 Houston Dynamo

Tyler Deric had an afternoon to forget, as the Houston goalkeeper spilled a pair of saves right into the paths of Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo. That’s three games without a loss for New England, while Houston have lost two of their last three after taking all six points from their first two games of the season.

AC Milan completes signing of forward Kalinic

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MILAN (AP) Big-spending AC Milan has signed another player, completing the transfer of Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic from Fiorentina.

In a brief statement on Tuesday, Milan said it signed Kalinic “on a loan deal with obligation to buy.”

Kalinic has signed a four-year contract through to June 30, 2021.

Milan has been in negotiations with Fiorentina for the 29-year-old Kalinic for a while, and he missed training last week as he attempted to push through the move.

Milan, which was bought by a Chinese-led consortium in April, has spent more than 200 million euros ($234 million) in the offseason, signing Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Ricardo Rodriguez, Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti, Hakan Calhanoglu, Lucas Biglia and Mateo Musacchio.

Alan Shearer has a message for Wayne Rooney

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Alan Shearer finally has a friend.

On Monday Wayne Rooney scored in Everton’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City (see in the video above) and he became just the second-player in history to reach 200 goals in the Premier League.

Rooney, 31, still has some way to go to catch Shearer’s all-time record of 260 goals in the PL but the former Manchester United striker has a few more years left in the tank to try and get as close as he can.

Take a look at the video below as Shearer (or, Mary Poppins to Newcastle fans) delivers a message to Rooney.

What’s next for Julian Green, and what’s gone wrong?

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Julian Green will have a new team again soon, in all likelihood.

A Stuttgart publication says Green is on the transfer market this month, just eight months after moving from Bayern Munich to the then-2.Bundesliga side for less than $500,000.

Now 22, Green is three and a half years removed from Jurgen Klinsmann’s long campaign to get him into a USMNT shirt. It’s been a little less time since he scored in extra time against Belgium in the World Cup, but also less than a year since he scored goals in consecutive USMNT matches. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

Green scored one goal in 10 appearances for Stuttgart, who was promoted to the Bundesliga at the end of last season. He fell out of favor there, but was far from poor. Green completed 87 percent of his passes and averaged 1.3 dribbles per game (only four teammates had more, though 10 matches is a smaller sample size).

Before that, he spent parts of three seasons with Bayern Munich and made just four appearances, taking a loan to Hamburg in 2014-15 that saw him banished to Hamburg II after just five appearances.

What gives? Whether attitude or skill, Green has a lot of work to do to get back to a level where he’s a reasonable USMNT call-up (Green has a respectable three goals in eight call-ups, netting against Cuba and New Zealand in Oct. 2016). Still, it’s far from over for Green at 22.

There are legit questions here, as the list of not high-profile players Bayern Munich has used in its senior team at a young age and blossomed elsewhere isn’t necessarily impressive (at least relatively speaking). Nils Petersen, Thomas Kraft, and Sandro Wagner are exceptions to the rule. Better put: Bayern has a really good idea what it’s doing when it lets young players walk, and it begs discussion on the best path for Green.

It seems likely he could get a move to another 2.Bundesliga club, and there’s an outside shot he could get a look in the top flight. It would be interesting to know where the interest lies abroad. Would it be hard to acquire a work permit for France or Spain (England seems a hard sell)? Could a move to a free-flowing Eredivisie club work?

Obviously Major League Soccer clubs would welcome his talent and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be a useful piece in the United States’ top tier, even if on a short-term move as he looks to regain confidence. Would Green see it as below him?

Arsenal’s Wilshere sent-off after brawling in U-23 match vs. Man City

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Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere isn’t standing around waiting for his next team, he’s fighting.

Period.

Wilshere got into with several members of Manchester City’s U-23 side in a match on Monday, with the English midfielder taking exception to a hockey-style hip check from City’s Matthew Smith.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

Shoving the 17-year-old Smith, Wilshere saw the City man take a tumble and stay prone. Still riled up, Wilshere tangled with City’s Tyreke Wilson.

Wilshere and Wilson were sent off.

Given his injury history, we’re not surprised Wilshere took exception to a hard and needless foul in a U-23 match.

The Arsenal man has been linked with moves to Newcastle, West Ham, AC Milan, and Sampdoria, but Arsene Wenger wants to keep Wilshere at the Emirates Stadium.