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Fit-again Daniel Sturridge like a new signing for Liverpool

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Daniel Sturridge has had a rough last 18 months. We can all agree on that.

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After battling back from injuries which saw him miss most of the 2014-15 campaign, he once again went down in 2015-16 and Jurgen Klopp is yet to see the best of Sturridge since he took charge in October 2015.

The German coach was a little critical of Sturridge’s pain threshold when he first took charge and constant reports linking him with a move away from Anfield, coupled with Klopp’s frustrations, did little to quell the suggestions that the England international would be playing elsewhere this season.

However, despite Klopp preferring to play Roberto Firmino in a false nine for most of last season, partly due to Sturridge’s injuries and a lack of form with just seven goals in 27 appearances, it appears Klopp has been impressed with Sturridge so far in preseason.

“It’s the best condition I’ve seen from him since I’m here. I came in October 2015 and Daniel, I think, was probably injured,” Klopp said. “Last preseason was after a tournament and only a short break. But this year he has had a proper break and is in a good physical shape, absolutely. Daniel could be part of the full preseason so far so that’s very important. It’s looking good. Preseason was quite intense, especially in England. He was part of pretty much each session so it’s good.”

Sturridge is 27 years old and is entering his prime. If he can stay injury free we all know what he’s capable of. This appears to be a make or break season for him.

His audacious goals and sumptuous link-up play with Luis Suarez in the 2013-14 season seem an age away, and although Klopp has Sadio Mane, Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Danny Ings and now Mohamed Salah to use in the front four attacking positions, Sturridge is the only top-class clinical finisher among them.

Had he been fit and sharp for most of last season, you wonder how many of those draws Liverpool would’ve turned into wins.

The old adage of “getting a good preseason in” rings true (get ready to hear it in October/November when a player is asked why he’s having such a good season) and perhaps no player in the PL needs an injury-free summer more than Sturridge.

If he does stay fit he will be like a new signing for Liverpool and he’ll be able do lead the line with a plethora of attacking talents behind him.

MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-3 Toronto FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Greg Vanney and Toronto keep on doing their thing, and the Canadian side is yet another step closer to achieving MLS glory. TFC picked up its 50th point of the season on Saturday night after comfortably handling the Chicago Fire, who have cooled off significantly as of late in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are now nine points behind the East leaders and are losers of four of their last five matches.

Three moments that mattered

54′ — Accam, Fire level it up — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from everybody…

64′ — Hasler nets first MLS goal — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from all of their players…

90′ — Giovinco says goodnight to Chicago — That’s 12 goals on the season for Sebastian Giovinco and the TFC striker continues to help his side push towards the top seed in the East and MLS.

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Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Marco Delgado (14′), David Accam (54′), Nick Hasler (63′), Sebastian Giovinco (90′)

Video: Watts gifts D.C. United own goal for the ages

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Not many things have gone right for either side involved in 2017, but D.C. United was the recipient of a gift early on against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

[ MORE: Piatti brace lifts Impact to fourth win in a row; Orlando, Crew draw ]

In the 27th minute, Rapids center back Jared Watts received the ball at the back, before making a routine back pass to USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard

Or at least, it should have been a routine back pass.

Instead, Watts’ pass was well off target and too strong for Howard to reach and landed in the back of the Rapids goal. 1-0 in favor of D.C.

Reminder: Both these teams sit at the bottom of their respective conferences on points.

MLS Snapshot: Piatti brace lifts Impact | Crew, Orlando City draw

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact have proven to be a second-half of the season team the last several years, and that form appears to be holding true once more. Mauro Biello’s side won its fourth straight match on Saturday, while Ignacio Piatti continues to show he’s one of the most deadly scorers in the league. Meanwhile, RSL’s six-match unbeaten run is snapped north of the border, leaving the Western Conference side three points out of sixth place.

Three four moments that mattered

11′ — Piatti nets his first of the night — The Impact made this attack look so easy, and Ignacio Piatti simply won’t miss a chance like this one.

26′ — Evan Bush left motionless as RSL equalize — Luis Silva took matters into his own hands, and boy did he connect with this effort!

29′ — Impact punish poor RSL defense — Guess who? Piatti has his second of the evening.

47′ — Hosts begin to pile it on — Anthony Jackson-Hamel played provider in the first two goals, so it’s only fair he got one of his own.

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Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Ignacio Piatti (11′, 29′), Luis Silva (26′), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (47′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Orlando City and the Crew settled for a point apiece on Saturday night, but for the former the club is running out of opportunities to pick up points in the playoff race. Giles Barnes pulled a goal back for the hosts after Lalas Abubakar netted his first MLS goal for the Crew, but Orlando couldn’t find a second. The Lions played up a man for the final 13 minutes, following Harrison Afful’s dismissal.

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Abubakar knocks in first MLS goal — Orlando City’s defensive woes are certainly notable as well, but for Lalas Abubakar this is a quality way to open his scoring account in MLS.

67′ — Barnes knots it up at 1-1 — The veteran MLS forward picked up his second goal of the season.

77′ — VAR used for red card decision — The video monitor came into play briefly in the second half, and Harrison Afful was sent off the pitch early after the referee viewed the defender’s elbow to the head of Yoshi Yotun.

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Man of the match: Zack Steffen

Goalscorers: Lalas Abubakar (35′), Giles Barnes (67′)

Atlanta United fans pack 20,000 into new stadium for training session

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Atlanta United is currently in the midst of a three-match road trip in MLS play, but that didn’t stop the club from unveiling its new home venue to a massive crowd of supporters on Saturday.

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Over 20,000 fans of the Eastern Conference expansion side filed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium to watch Gerardo Martino’s side train on Saturday as Atlanta prepares to finish out its road trip against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union.

Atlanta will open up home play at their new stadium on September 10 when they host FC Dallas. The club will have the benefit of playing eight of its final 10 regular season matches in front of its Georgia fan base.

The first-year MLS side will share the stadium with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Here are some sights from the training session