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MLS Preview: Atlanta United opens new stadium; Fire clash with Red Bulls

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On a busy week of MLS action, let’s take a deep dive at this weekend’s top three matchups.

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Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas — Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET

After six months at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta United finally get to take the field at its permanent home stadium.

Mercedez-Benz stadium plays host to Atlanta United against FC Dallas as the two teams battle for playoff places in their respective conferences. Both teams are sitting in the last playoff places available and need to get wins to get back on track.

Atlanta United is winless in its last four, but the club get Designated Player Miguel Almiron back from international duty. He and Josef Martinez will be hoping Yamil Asad can find them in space to bring the Atlanta fans to their feet.

FC Dallas on the other hand are winless in its last seven games but have drawn two of its last three matches, maybe a sign of positive results on the horizon.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

The Fire returned to winning ways last Saturday with a 1-0 win on the road over the Montreal Impact and now they return home to face Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls sit just four points behind the Fire in the Eastern Conference Standings but have struggled on the road this season, winning just four times out of 12 games.

It will be interesting to watch how the midfield partnership of former Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty and Bastien Schweinsteiger deals with the Red Bulls’ high press and short passing system.

Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy — Sunday, 9 p.m. ET

For the second time in a little more than a month, Sigi Schmid and his LA Galaxy side face his former club, the Sounders.

Schmid won his first game as Galaxy manager last weekend with a 3-0 decision over the Colorado Rapids but it’s been tough sledding for a team that’s dealt with serious injuries across the lineup and international call-ups all season long.

Seattle meanwhile is unbeaten in its last five with two draws after three straight wins, and as an added boost, the club gets Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey back from international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team. It’s unclear whether Joevin Jones will play, after departing from the Sounders without permission to join up with the Trinidad and Tobago National Team.

Full MLS schedule (All Times E.T.)


Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — 4 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. San Jose Earthquales — 5 p.m.
New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers — 5:30 p.m.
D.C. United vs. Orlando City SC — 7 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake — 10 p.m.


Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City — 1 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas — 3:30 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy — 9 p.m.

Ailing LA Galaxy could miss as many as 10 players this weekend

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We’re less than a month into the new Major League Soccer season, and one club is already left scrambling to find players for its next match.

[ MORE: A deeper look at the USMNT roster ]

Between injuries, international call ups and a suspension, the LA Galaxy could be without as many as 10 players this weekend.

Ola Kamara, Romain Alessandrini and Giovani dos Santos are among the notable names likely to be absent for Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but seven more players could be left unavailable for Sigi Schmid’s squad.

Kamara was the latest player to be named to his respective national team, with the striker being called up to Norway on Monday.

Meanwhile, both Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos have earned call ups to Mexico, and Emrah Klimenta has been selected by Montenegro for its next friendlies against Cyprus and Turkey.

Both Dos Santos brothers are battling injuries of their own, so they may not feature for El Tri, but that won’t necessarily help the Galaxy either as they are kept sidelined.

Of the ten players possibly missing the Whitecaps match, five of them (Michael Ciani, Cole, Gio dos Santos, J. dos Santos and Kamara) started in the Galaxy’s last game — a 2-1 loss to New York City FC.

Report: Chelsea, Real Madrid could make sensational swap

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Real Madrid’s interest in a certain Chelsea star has been well-noted for some time, and with the World Cup nearing this summer, Los Blancos may finally be able to get their man.

[ MORE: Brazil to play Austria in final World Cup tune-up ]

Eden Hazard has long been a Madrid target, and with the Belgium international seemingly more and more interested by a move away from Stamford Bridge, the veteran attacker could see himself join Real after the World Cup in Russia.

According to Spanish outlet Diario Gol, Real could secure a move for Hazard this summer, while sending young attacker Marco Asensio to Chelsea.

While hypothetical at this point, the move makes sense for both clubs, particularly from a Blues perspective as they look for young attacking players.

The 22-year-old Asensio has been seeking regular minutes at Madrid, and with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale regularly included in the starting squad, that has been nearly impossible for the Spanish international.

Meanwhile, Real would be gaining another incredibly talented attacking piece to go along with Ronaldo and Bale, although the latter has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu for some time.

Real has also been strongly linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain winger Neymar, who has spent less than a season in France.

It’s a ways away from happening, but a front three of Hazard, Ronaldo and Neymar would certainly make El Clasico even more intriguing than usual, with Real facing off against a Barcelona squad that currently boasts Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho.

Andrija Novakovich: “It’s a good feeling” to earn USMNT call up

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As the U.S. Men’s National Team continues its transition towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, a new face has emerged for the Stars and Stripes ahead of its upcoming friendly against Paraguay.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of Paraguay friendly ]

Striker Andrija Novakovich earned his first call up on Sunday when U.S. manager Dave Sarachan named the Telstar player in his squad, which will play the South American side on March 27 in Cary, North Carolina.

The 21-year-old forward has been nothing short of brilliant in his first season with the Dutch second-division club, scoring 18 league goals for Telstar — who sit fourth in the Eerste Divisie.

“It’s a good feeling to get the call-up and hopefully it will be a very good experience,” Novakovich said. “They [the U.S. national team] sent the club and myself an email saying that I was on the preliminary roster and we were just waiting, and then this week I got another email saying I was on the final roster.

“I called my Mum right away and she’s proud, she’s happy.

“I’m just there for the experience — of course I want to play, of course I want to get the opportunity and hopefully that will happen, It’s an honour to be called up and I’m very proud and very happy.”

Novakovich, a Wisconsin native, is currently on loan at Telstar from English Championship side Reading.

The young USMNT player moved to England back in 2014 to join Reading’s academy, despite originally planning on playing for Marquette University following high school.

Despite this being his first senior-team call up, Novakovich is familiar with the U.S. national team setup. Novakovich has previously represented the Under-17, U-18 and U-20 national teams.

Lionel Messi suggests 2018 will be his final World Cup

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Lionel Messi’s track record as a professional has encompassed just about every imaginable accolade, but one that has eluded he and his Argentina national teammates is winning the World Cup.

[ MORE: Kekuta Manneh added to USMNT squad ahead of Paraguay friendly ]

The Barcelona star has played a significant role for the Albiceleste since debuting for Argentina back in 2005, and even helped guide the South American power to the 2014 World Cup final, however, harsh criticism from local media could push Messi and many of his teammates towards not returning to the national team.

This wouldn’t be the first time Messi has contemplated international retirement, though.

Following the 2016 Copa America Centenario final — which resulted in a Chilean victory over Messi’s Argentina — the Blaugrana attacker announced his retirement from the Albiceleste. While he has since returned to the international scene, it appears Messi is once again considering a halt from representing Argentina.

“It’s just the feeling that this group of players has. It seems that having reached three straight finals didn’t mean anything,” Messi told La Cornisa TV. “Obviously, we depend on results and unfortunately, we reached three finals and we didn’t win them.

“A lot was said about us. The criticisms hurt back then. But the demand is going to be there for this group to get it done. We think that if we don’t do it, we are going to get a lot more [criticism] and we are not going to have another possibility.”

Argentina has fallen in three consecutive major finals dating back to 2014, including two Copa America competitions and the World Cup.

Messi says these shortcomings have weighed heavily on him, and that winning a World Cup is still the one goal that has left him hungry.

“I’ve cried many times for lost finals,” the Barca forward said. “I cried for not being able to fulfill the dream of our nation. My desire is the same as every Argentine, which is to lift the World Cup.”

He continued: “To win a World Cup is not easy. It doesn’t happen often. The last time we did things well but due to minor details we didn’t get it done. We are very enthusiastic and eager to lift the cup for our country. I hope God helps us and it happens.”

Messi has scored 61 international goals in his international career for Argentina, the most of any player from his native country.