Nesta’s debut makes for quite a star-studded affair at Stade Saputo

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source: AP
Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

MONTREAL – Tim Cahill won’t play at Stade Saputo tomorrow when New York visits Montréal, but with the much anticipated MLS debut of former Italian international Alessandro Nesta slated for tomorrow’s 7:30 p.m Eastern kickoff, the Impact’s match with the Eastern Conference-leading Red Bulls won’t lack for star power.

Consider Nesta, Kenny Cooper, and Sebastien Le Toux are not even designated players. Nor is this year’s number one draft pick, Andrew Wenger, who is expected to see some playing time as he returns from injury. Likewise, Matteo Ferrari – a former Italian international – could see time. Rafa Marquez’s calf will keep him sidelined, but two other designated players, Thierry Henry and Marco Di Vaio, will be the focal points of their teams’ attacks.

Star-studded affairs may be becoming more frequent in Major League Soccer, but Saturday’s game will be one of the league’s brightest in the league’s recent history.

For the Impact, who expect one of their best crowds of the season at Stade Saputo, the number of names above the title are irrelevant. Seven points behind Chicago for the East’s final playoff spot (with the Fire holding three matches in hand), Montréal needs a run to extend their first MLS season beyond 34 games.

“At this point in the season, it’s a game that we feel like it’s important to win,” captain Davy Arnaud said after Friday’s practice. “[The Red Bulls] have a lot of players who are dangerous … it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

“I think we have a lot draw on,” head coach Jesse Marsch said, his team having been outscored 7-2 in two losses to New York this season. “We feel like in both those games we still had very good moments.”

Seven goals allowed speaks for itself, though, and with New York having added Le Toux since the teams met on May 19, Marsch is happy to have his best defenders available.

“Alessandro, Nelson [Rivas], Matteo and Andrew [Wenger]” will be available, Marsch confirmed, adding his team’s first draft pick to the list. “Having all four of those guys back in our team is a big plus.

“We know that those guys are going to be key guys and they’re going to help us.”

Ferrari, speaking of his own potential return, confirmed Nesta and Rivas are set to start.

“I talked with the coach. He said they were going to start with Nelson and Alessandro because they are more fit … I think I will have 30 minutes, or something like that.”

Regardless of who starts, the focus will be on set pieces, both defending and executing in attack. Montreal spent the final part of Friday’s practice working on them, and with Zarek Valentin still “another couple of weeks” away from returning from injury (according to Marsch), Houssan Camara at right back will keep one of the Impact’s better players on set pieces in the team.

But Camara alone won’t solve a problem which has become multi-faceted.

“It’s not giving bad fouls and bad set pieces,” Marsch said, trying to explain the problem. “It’s the mental focus. It’s the execution, the physical execution on the field, the communication.”

Fixing the problem, however, requires balance.

“What we don’t want to do is emphasize it so much that now we just start to panic every time we have a set piece. We still want to have [confidence in] how we do things, how we’re going to approach it, and how we’re going to deal with it.”

“I think what we went through today, it was a good exercise. I expect us to be ready.”

Thankfully for Montréal, they won’t have to be ready for a fully loaded Red Bulls’ team. Marquez will be out, while Tim Cahill is unlikely to receive his P-1 visa in time to make the trip to Stade Saputo. But even without two designated players, New York’s firepower asks an eternal question in game preparation: How much does a team adjust their own approach for the team they’re facing?

“You always want to stay true to what you’re good at and who you think you are,” Marsch explained. “I don’t think you want to take it so far so that you’re only thinking of what they do, but you certainly have to address it within the group.”

Once New York’s latest piece is available, Marsch sees balance as Red Bulls’ biggest concern, a concern with which he can empathize:

“Their major challenge now is how to use all of them, how to balance the team out. For us, we have a similar situation where now we feel like we have some really strong center backs … You don’t want to throw off the rhythm and the balance that [the players] established as a team, but you should also [focus on] how do you get your best players on the field, how they can make plays, and how they can make the difference for you.”

Those concerns will be on Marsch’s mind Saturday, with Nesta available while three players retur from injury. Trying to get each of them time, managing substitutions will be an issue for Marsch, which is why a Di Vaio-Wenger pairing may be relegated to a late-match solution.

“We just have to be careful with how many [players] we put on the field from the start that we’re not sure if they can make 90,” according to Marsch. “That’s the major consideration now when we’re thinking about things. But I expect all four of Rivas, Nesta, Ferrari, and Wenger to factor in tomorrow.”

Brighton cruises past Newcastle through Maupay brace

Newcastle - Brighton
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images
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Newcastle – Brighton: Neal Maupay scored twice in the first seven minutes of Brighton and Hove Albion’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

Aaron Connolly scored late to complete the score line and Yves Bissouma saw a late red card as the Seagulls deserved every bit of the win.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Newcastle drops to 1-1 on the season following its opening win over West Ham. The Magpies are off to Tottenham next, while Brighton hosts Manchester United.


Three things we learned from Newcastle – Brighton

1. Going two behind Brighton a problem: Graham Potter’s Seagulls could be one of the season’s surprise packages, especially if teams hand them early two-goal leads. The club has an embarrassment of riches at center back and was able to loan Shane Duffy, a very good back in his own right, to Celtic because of Ben White, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, and Dan Burn. The first three played Sunday and were basically impenetrable

2. More promise from Maupay: Maupay scored 10 times last season, his first in the Premier League after the Frenchman buried 25 chances for Brentford in his last season in the Championship. He finished his penalty and slotted a second on Sunday, and his team looks set to produce plenty of chances for its forwards this year.

3. Turnabout fair play: The Magpies were, perhaps, surprisingly decisive winners at West Ham on opening day while Brighton did well enough and would’ve felt unlucky to fall by two to Chelsea on Monday. Perhaps the early lead was a massive help but Brighton looked better prepared for Newcastle and the Magpies’ lack of a real game-changer in the midfield proved its undoing.

Man of the Match

We might’ve given it to Bissouma for a complete performance but his wild boot to the face of Jamal Lewis was ugly though unintentional. Lamptey was great but left early. Maupay’s next in line, just ahead of an impressive Leandro Trossard.


Newcastle – Brighton recap

Jamaal Lascelles cleared early danger for Newcastle but that was a harbinger of what was to come as Allan Saint-Maximin chopped Tariq Lamptey down in the box to give Brighton a third-minute penalty.

Maupay dispatched a hard low penalty under a diving Karl Darlow to make it 1-0.

The Frenchman had it 2-0 moments later when VAR overruled the assistant referee when Lamptey led a charge down the right of Newcastle’s defense.

Yves Bissouma was lively in the first 22 minutes and blazed over the bar.

The hits kept coming for Newcastle as Saint-Maximin left the match in the 34th minute with an ankle ailment. The French wizard was replaced by Ryan Fraser.

Steven Alzate led a stoppage-time rush that nearly put it out of reach, Leandro Trossard’s ball making its way to Lamptey but the back’s shot smothered by Karl Darlow.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce lifted Andy Carroll for Miguel Almiron and the Magpies had more of the ball in the second half.

But Brighton twice challenged Darlow while the final ball kept eluding Newcastle.

The Magpies finally got their chance when Callum Wilson butchered a point-blank header off of Almiron’s fine cross.

Aaron Connolly broke through the back line and smashed the post but the AR’s flag was up. Trossard then clobbered the post on a shot that would’ve counted had it been on target.

Newcastle couldn’t make anything from a series of Ryan Fraser corners, Jeff Hendrick’s attempt to recreate a great goal at West Ham instead sailing well over the frame with 11 minutes to play.

Connolly had been knocking on the door and delivered the knockout blow with a terrific curler from inside the 18 in the 84th minute.

Bissouma was shown his red after VAR review of his reckless cleat to the face of Jamal Lewis with a few minutes to play, the Newcastle defender badly bloodied.

Chelsea – Liverpool: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Chelsea – Liverpool: This is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season and on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30am ET, online via Peacock) at Stamford Bridge we can expect all-out attack between these two stacked heavyweights.

CHELSEA – LIVERPOOL STREAM LIVE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have spent close to $300 million on new players this summer and may spend even more as they look to make the leap from a top four team to title contenders. As for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, the reigning champions had a scare in their opening day win against Leeds but will know they will have plenty of chances to score against Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Chelsea – Liverpool this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Chelsea – Liverpool (INJURY REPORT)

Chelsea will be without USMNT star Christian Pulisic as Lampard revealed he suffered a minor injury setback from his hamstring issue. This game has also come too early for new signings Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Thiago Silva to make their debuts as they work their way towards full fitness. Timo Werner is fit after suffering a small injury on his debut.

Frank Lampard issued the following injury update on Pulisic:  “Chilwell is not ready for the game, neither is Christian Pulisic. We hope they will work well during the week.” And had this to say after their win at Brighton on Monday: “Christian was training with us last week but he had a bit of discomfort a couple of days ago when he was trying to be in contention for today. It would have been a big ask for today and he has had to take a few steps back and we will have to see.”

Liverpool has Thiago Alcantara on the bench and Kostas Tsimikas available following a period of self-isolation after he tested positive for COVID-19. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing once again after he picked up a knee injury, while Xherdan Shaqiri is battling back from yet another injury. 


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on the brewing rivalry, sideline clashes with Jurgen Klopp: “How much do you want to make of it? If you’re pushing to be successful… we had it when I was a player. In the Champions League we drew each other a lot. In modern terms it’s slightly different because Liverpool are on top of the league and we’re trying to improve. Both squads, clubs and coaches are very driven to win. It’s what the Premier League is all about. The nature of the world we live in is there’s a lot of airtime for you to fill with rivalries. They can be scrutinised in every way. I have huge respect for him, what he’s done at Liverpool was incredible. There’s nothing in it for me. The competitive nature of the 90 minutes can boil over but the respect for Klopp I have will never change.”

Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s hat trick on the opening day against Leeds: “Of all the good performances Mo had for us obviously, this was for sure one of the better ones. So he should be proud of that because it’s very special to have these kind of numbers. ‘Long may it continue,’ I like to think in these moments, and this time I say it as well.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Chelsea (+215) are the underdogs but Liverpool’s odds are longer (+115) than many would expect. Chelsea have done well against Liverpool in recent seasons and seem to match up with them well, and the draw (+270) would be the smart bet in this one. Both teams would take that early in the season and move on.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

I’m going for a goalfest here and I think both teams will have plenty of chances and it’s all about who is more clinical. Liverpool will try to shore things up at the back but I think Chelsea know how to get behind them and Werner, if he’s fit, will cause problems. I’m going for 3-3. This will be a classic.


How to watch Chelsea – Liverpool stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Mourinho comments after leaving Dele Alli out amidst PSG links

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Tottenham Hotspur scored five times in Sunday’s win over Southampton, but Jose Mourinho’s comments after leaving Dele Alli out of the team will have elicited plenty of buzz.

So will rumors that Paris Saint-Germain is among the clubs seeking the English attacker’s signature.

[ RECAP: Southampton 2-5 Spurs ]

Saying “I want a balanced squad” and that he has too many forwards to dress right now — yes, even before Gareth Bale suits up — Mourinho explained his thoughts on the forward.

From Football.London:

“I’m not responsible for the market. I’m not able to answer your question on that. I can only say I left eight players behind training. They are a big group and Dele was among this group. The same way a squad is a puzzle and in the same way so is the bench. I cannot have three wingers and a number 10 and then no defender. Dele stayed out but probably Tuesday he will play.”

Journalist Fabrizio Romano reported that Spurs have been trying to offload Dele over the past few days and that Real Madrid did not want to take him on loan as part of the Gareth Bale deal.

The 24-year-old was hooked at halftime of Tottenham’s season-opening loss to Everton and has cooled off considerably since an early rejuvenation under Mourinho last season.

Dele has 62 goals and 55 assists in 223 appearances for Spurs, but just 16 and 14 in his last 77 dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season.

The knock on Dele has been that he’s a poor trainer, something the player laughed off when Mourinho pointed it out with a smirk during a meeting caught by cameras during the club’s “All Or Nothing” series.

Dele has three goals and six assists in 37 England caps and would still fetch a decent transfer fee, though he hasn’t appeared for the Three Lions since 2019.

Is it time to sell? Spurs run the risk that Dele’s value may never quite rebound anywhere near its heights and could dip quite a bit lower if he stays out of favor in North London. And Bale’s salary isn’t going to pay itself.

USMNT forward Gooch crafts long solo goal for Sunderland (video)

Lynden Gooch goal video
Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Former Premier League mainstay Sunderland is still toiling away in League One, but American forward Lynden Gooch enjoyed the competition on Saturday.

The Californian, 24, is a Black Cats lifer having joined the club at age 17 in 2012. He’s stuck with the club despite two relegations after his 11-appearance Premier League run in 2016-17.

[ MORE: Reyna gets first Bundesliga goal ]

Gooch came off the bench with Sunderland up 1-0 and delivering the second goal of the game within four minutes of his entrance.

There was some comical defending on the play, though we’d like to say the American bewitched Oxford United with his 20th senior goal for Sunderland to go with 17 assists in 126 outings.

Sunderland drew Bristol Rovers in its league opener and sit fifth on the table.

Gooch has made four substitute appearances for the USMNT but none since 2018.