MLS preview: New York Red Bulls at D.C. United

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Neither of these MLS heavies are where they want to be seven weeks into the season. Yes, there is still much soccer ahead. But there’s a lot of deflated return on high expectations so far in 2013 – and the pressure builds for something more with each passing week.

D.C. United cannot score.

One of the team’s prized young midfielders, Nick DeLeon, is hurt. The other, Chris Pontius, just isn’t delivering as expected. Dwayne De Rosario sat out United’s first pair of matches for some preseason foolishness, and now he’s hurt. Throw in Lionard Pajoy’s continued inability to find goal and get a five-game opening series with a lousy two goals.

That puts United 9th in the 10-team Eastern Conference, which is hardly the place anyone expected to find Ben Olsen’s team, one that missed a trip to the MLS Cup final by just a single goal last year.

Mike Petke’s Red Bulls are just a little better at 7th in the East. They are doing OK scoring goals – no surprise considering a roster filled with the likes to Thierry Henry, EPL veteran Tim Cahill and MLS A-lister Fabian Espindola. The Red Bulls’ obvious weakness is preventing them.

They might be a little higher today in the standings but for last week’s late, defensive collapse at Toyota Park. About to cruise Chicago with a 1-1 draw, the Red Bulls allowed two late goals to drop a 3-1 result, which was Chicago’s initial win this year.

As this preview piece points out, New York is therefore responsible for 75 percent of the goals that offensively challenged Chicago has put away in 2013. Not good.

This is one of Major League Soccer’s heavyweight rivalries. In fact, it’s their second meeting this year after an early (and rather peculiar) 0-0 draw back in Week 3. The Red Bulls did pretty much anything they wanted that day to the Olsen’s team, except for score. Petke’s group outshot United 24-5 that day at Red Bull Arena.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was quite The Man in that one.

(MORE: MLS rivalry backstories – New York and D.C. United)

Otherwise, Perry Kitchen has been big in United’s midfield. And center back Dejan Jakovic and Brandon McDonald have been solid.

Dax McCarty has continued to impress in the Red Bulls’ midfield. Henry is still a game-changer, although he’s been limited with injuries again this year. He should have a big role today, apparently likely to start for the first time since these teams’ last meeting, back on March 16.

The full, fact-stacked match preview from MLSSoccer.com is here.

Bilbao’s Williams: ‘I suffered racist insults’ at Espanyol

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams says that he was a victim of racial abuse from fans while playing at Espanyol in a Spanish league game on Saturday.

Williams said after the 1-1 draw that “I suffered racist insults, something that no one wants to hear and has no place here.”

Williams, who is black, played 82 minutes of the match before being substituted.

“People should come to enjoy themselves, to help their team. This is a sport about friendship,” Williams said.

More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

FA Cup: Chelsea survive trip to Hull, advance to 5th round (video)

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With their 2-1 victory away to EFL Championship side Hull City, Chelsea joined Leicester City, Sheffield United and Norwich City as Premier League sides to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

[ FA CUP ROUNDUP: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance ]

Frank Lampard‘s side got off to a flying start courtesy of Michy Batshuayi‘s deflected finish in the 6th minute, and the Blues were well on their way to a first half of total dominance.

Hull looked more prepared for a fight after halftime, but it mattered very little after Fikayo Tomori was gifted a free header two yards off the goal line. Ross Barkley‘s free kick was well placed at the back post and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Hull pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 78th minute, and they were more than a little fortunate in how they managed to do so. Kamil Grosicki smacked a free kick with plenty of power and got the deflection of all deflections to wrong-foot Willy Caballero and find the back of the net.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur — FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

RB Leipzig beaten, Bundesliga title race thrown wide open

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BERLIN (AP) Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig 2-0 to throw the title race wide open on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Frankfurt defender Almamy Toure scored a brilliant goal just after the break and Filip Kostic sealed the win in injury time to deal Leipzig its first defeat since a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg in October.

Borussia Monchengladbach cut the gap at the top to two points with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz, thanks largely to goals in each half from French striker Alassane Plea.

Bayern Munich has the chance to cut the gap to one point with a win at home over Schalke in the late game.

[ FA CUP: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

Borussia Dortmund is just four points off the top after its 5-1 win over Cologne on Friday.

Also Saturday, Union Berlin defeated Augsburg 2-0 at home, Hertha Berlin came from behind to win 2-1 at Wolfsburg, and Paderborn moved off the bottom with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.