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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.)

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.