MLS Playoff Focus: Notes on Colorado ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Seattle

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Ahead of Wednesday’s first round playoff between Seattle and Colorado, here are the most knows about the Rapids ahead of the 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff (NBCSN):

  • The kids are alright …

Given the slowly diminishing significance of MLS’s Draft, it’s remarkable Colorado found two starters in the 2013 crop, even if one is iffy for tomorrow’s game in Seattle. Deshorn Brown, the 22-year-old  out of Central Florida, will likely be in Oscar Pareja’s attack, though Dillon Powers, a Notre Dame alum who’s been so crucial to the Rapid’s midfield, is still coming back from concussion symptoms. He missed Sunday’s game in Vancouver.

Add in goalkeeper Clint Irwin, defenders Chris Klute and Shane O’Neill, and Panamanian attacker Gaby Torres, and over half of Pareja’s starting XI could be 24-or-younger. Contrast that with the Sounders who’ll only start one player (DeAndre Yedlin, 20) younger than 26.

For Colorado, their youngest starter may be their most important. At least, facing a potential matchup with U.S. international Eddie Johnson, the 20-year-old O’Neill will have to be at his best. In his first year as a starter, the Ireland-born U.S. U-level regular has show all the tools necessary to be one of the league’s best central defenders, but like the rest of his teammates, the question is whether he can apply them in the playoffs.

  • Though they’ll get help from some key veterans, additions.

Gaby Torres’s mid-season acquisition was the big one, the Panamanian international becoming the club’s first Designated Player, but there have been a number of other key additions that have rounded out the Rapid’s youth movement. Acquired from Los Angeles this offseason, Edson Buddle has given Colorado a consistent presence up top, even if that presence is sometimes short on production. Midfielders Nick Labrocca and Nathan Sturgis provide valuable depth, particularly if Powers can’t go.

Vicente Sanchez may have been the team’s most influential addition, however, though the 33-year-old Uruguayan is also a fitness doubt for Wednesday’s game. When healthy, his presence on the left of midfield combines with Klute to form one of the most dangerous wide attacks in Major League Soccer.

  • But will inexperience be their undoing?

It’s not so much the kids can’t perform. Some youngsters don’t perform in the postseason, but veterans aren’t immune a post season dip, either. You either raise your game in response to a more competitive environment or you don’t. Mentality and talent are more important than age.

Where youth could come into play is in realizing the stakes. If Colorado’s lack of playoff experience sees players default to a “just another game” mentality, they’ll be sorely mistaken. A playoff game in Seattle is not just another game, and while you have to remain focused on your team’s plan and your responsibilities, you also need to match the energy of the occasion.

Young players are fully capable of doing that, but that youth often comes with an a lack of experience. While that can be overcome, it also could lead to a naiveté that will undermine Colorado’s hopes.

  • Chris Klute’s going to be a handful

Chris Klute just finished his first full year in MLS, but he’s already the league’s best left back, combining a threat going forward with strength and athleticism that allows him to maintain a presence at the back. For years we’ve been waiting for this type of fullback to become more prevalent in Major League Soccer, and that day may have finally arrived. Leading all defenders in assists (seven), he deserves to be in this year’s Best XI.

Seattle has their own talented attacking fullback, though on Wednesday, DeAndre Yedlin’s defensive acumen may prove more important than his ability going forward. If Sanchez plays, he’ll have to deal with a tandem that’s capable of deciding the game. If the former Schalke midfielder’s out, Yedlin will likely see Deshorn Brown combine with Klute.

Compounding Yedlin’s concerns is a formation tweak that could expose the 20-year-old defender. If the Sounders do go with a diamond midfield, there won’t be a player dedicated to the right flank, potentially freeing up space for Klute to come into the attack.

  • Hendry Thomas is capable of containing Clint Dempsey

The success of Seattle’s diamond (if Schmid even deploys one) will rest on Clint Dempsey’s ability to create for Eddie Johnson and Lamar Neagle, but with a formation that uses two defensive midfielders, Colorado should be well-equipped to contain the U.S. international.

But even if Nathan Sturgis wasn’t helping in front of the line, Hendry Thomas would be a handful for the U.S. international. The Honduran is one of the roughest destroyers in the league, his single-minded, unrelenting approach straddling that line between disruptive and dirty. Thomas’s willingness to get stuck in can be intimidating, and while a player of Dempsey’s experience is unlikely to wilt, he may have to adjust his game to deal with the Rapids’ midfielder.

Unfortunately for Seattle, notorious whistle-swallower Silviu Petrescu will be officiating tomorrow’s game, and while you could argue that also benefits Sounders’ destroyer Osvaldo Alonso, “Ossie” is not dealing with a Dempsey-like game changer. Petrescu’s presence could give Thomas an extra edge.

Southampton vs Everton, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream

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Southampton host Everton at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday and both Ralph Hasenhuttl and Frank Lampard are desperate for a win.

STREAM LIVE SOUTHAMPTON v EVERTON

Before the break Saints put in their worst display of the season as they lost at Aston Villa and their trademark high-pressing was non-existent. With such a young team they are likely to have ups and downs throughout this season and overall they’ve had a very solid start to the new campaign.

Everton got their first win of the season last time out as they edged past West Ham at home before the break and Lampard has made the Toffees very tough to beat. They sit on seven points (the same as Southampton) and have lost just twice so far this season. That said, scoring goals is a real issue for them as they’ve scored just five goals in their first seven games.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a huge game as Southampton vs Everton is a clash both teams will believe they can win.


How to watch Southampton vs Everton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines

Saints have so many good youngsters with Armel Bella-Kotchap, Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia all catching the eye early in the season. The latter has missed the last few games through injury and Saints have lost both 1-0 at Wolves and Aston Villa. Scoring goals will be a problem for them but they look defensively solid this season and Hasenhuttl is relying on Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse to score the goals to keep them well away from the relegation scrap.

Lampard’s Everton are also tougher to break down and scoring goals is also an issue for them. After selling Richarlison in the summer and having Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured so far, Lampard has relied on Anthony Gordon to be his main attacking weapon. The youngster has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Saints’ Bella-Kotchap (20) and Mohammed Salisu (23) have formed a really strong partnership at center back and both made their international debuts over the break for Germany and Ghana respectively. Saints need Ward-Prowse to get back to his best as he’s struggled to start the season and is so important to the way they play.

Alex Iwobi has been superb in a deeper central midfield role for Everton and Amadou Onana continues to show his class alongside him, while the experienced duo of Conor Coady and James Tarkwoski are forging a very solid partnership at center back with the summer signings leading by example.


Southampton team news, injuries, lineup

Tino Livramento continues his recovery from a long-term knee injury and is getting closer to a return, while 18-year-old midfield sensation Lavia is still a few weeks away from returning. Sekou Mara starts in attack with Adams as Hasenhuttl rotates his squad and seven new signings start. Larios, Caleta-Car, Maitland-Niles, Aribo, Stuart Armstrong and Mara all come in for Saints.


Everton team news, injuries, lineup

Injury issues continue to mount up for Lampard as they lost right back Nathan Patterson over the break and that is a big blow as he’s been sensational in recent games. Jordan Pickford is back from injury, which is a massive boost, but Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina and Andros Townsend all remain out. Calvert-Lewin remains out as Seamus Coleman comes in.


Arsenal ease past bitter rivals Tottenham, stay top of the Premier League

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Arsenal surged past bitter rivals Tottenham to remain top of the Premier League table as they also took the bragging rights in north London.

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Thomas Partey curled home a beauty to put Arsenal ahead but Harry Kane equalized from the penalty spot in the first half.

The Gunners stepped on the accelerator in the second half as Gabriel Jesus put them ahead and Granit Xhaka slotted home a third just after Emerson Royal had been sent off.

With the victory, their seventh from their opening eight games, Arsenal move on to 21 point for the season and are now four points ahead of Tottenham who suffered their first defeat of the campaign.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY


What we learned from Arsenal vs Tottenham

Partey, Zinchenko underline importance: After missing the last few games through injury, this display summed up how important Partey and Zinchenko are to Arsenal. Partey broke up play masterfully and never allowed Spurs to dictate the tempo of the game. Zinchenko’s runs into midfield from left back bamboozled Spurs and his tactical flexibility and calmness on the ball is a joy to watch. Their leadership flows through every part of this team and when everyone is fit, this is a very balanced, young, exciting squad.

Statement win sums up steady progress: There is something special brewing at Arsenal. This run of wins to start the season should surprise nobody. After spending wisely on quality players this summer, this finally feels like Mikel Arteta’s side and it has felt that way since day one of preseason. Even after the disappointment of just missing out on Champions League qualification to Tottenham at the end of last season, Arsenal were heading in the right direction. They have been for some time and this start to the season will give them the confidence and belief they can fight for trophies and maybe, just maybe, have an outside chance of challenging for the title.

Clunky, unbalanced Spurs still yet to hit their stride: Even though Spurs went into this game as one of only two unbeaten teams in the Premier League so far this season, they haven’t played that well. They are clunky in possession, lack creativity in the final third and have relied on Kane, Son and Richarlison to finish off chances on the counter. That tactics clicked in a few times but with that trio starting together from the off, the balance just wasn’t right and Conte’s side couldn’t keep the ball well enough or link together in the final third. The good news is Spurs have still had a decent start to the season without hitting their stride at all. Emerson Royal’s sending off was a little harsh but Spurs deserved nothing from this game as Conte is still trying to get the balance right.


Tactical focus

This game perfectly summed up the playing style of both of these teams. Arteta’s Arsenal kept the ball well, rotated through midfield and Zinchenko slotted inside to give them a one-man advantage in the engine room and they dominated most of this game. Spurs were dangerous on the counter, as always, but starting Son, Kane and Richarlison together impacted the balance of Conte’s side and they were overrun in midfield by Xhaka and Partey.

 [ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]


Stars of the show

Oleksandr Zinchenko: Fired up from the very start and he’s so good on the ball and his movements into midfield helped Arsenal stay on top for large periods.

Bukayo Saka: Brilliant run and shot to set up the second goal and went close on a few other occasions. He gave Clement Lenglet a tough time.

Granit Xhaka: Scored the third goal and alongside Partey, they won the ball back so many times. What a resurgence he’s having.


What’s next?

Arsenal host Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League on Thursday before welcoming Liverpool to the Emirates for a huge clash next Sunday, Oct. 9. Tottenham are away at Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and then travel to Brighton on Saturday, Oct. 8.


How to watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Arsenal vs Tottenham live analysis! – By Joe Prince-Wright at the Emirates Stadium

FULL TIME: Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham. Dominant win for Mikel Arteta’s side.

It’s all Arsenal now. Spurs are in damage limitation mode.

GOALLL! Granit Xhaka slots home. ‘We are top of the league!’ sing the Arsenal fans. The Emirates has gone absolutely bonkers. What an atmosphere here!

RED CARD! Emerson Royal catches Gabriel Martinelli high on the ankle and gets a straight red card. Cue a melee between the players as Arsenal’s fans are delighted. That was a late challenge and it was high. But that probably falls into the orange card category.

Spurs looking a threat on the counter again now as Kane, Son and Richarlison are getting on the ball.

MISS! Gabriel Jesus nods wide. That is a big chance for Arsenal to extend their lead. Tottenham being pinned back just like the start to the first half.

GOALLLL! That pressure told. Bukayo Saka cuts inside and his low shot is parried by Hugo Lloris and Cristian Romero can’t clear as Gabriel Jesus bundles home. Cue pandemonium at the Emirates. Arsenal retake the lead! What a start to the second half.

We are off and running in the second. It’s all Arsenal early on. Spurs remaining solid.

HALF TIME: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham – Very good game, this. Tactically intriguing and Spurs have battled back into this well after Arsenal dominated most of the first half.

Arsenal are very nervous at the back now. Buoyed by that equalizer, Spurs look very sharp on the counter.

GOALLL! After one long ball finds Son who finds Richarlison after hesitation from Gabriel, Arsenal get themselves into a heck of a mess as Gabriel brings down Richarlison for a clear penalty kick. Harry Kane (Mr. North London Derby) slams home the penalty to score his 14th goal in 18 appearances against Arsenal to extend his own record as the leading scorer in the history of this magnificent fixture. Just like that, Spurs are level. They don’t deserve it but Conte won’t care and neither do the Spurs fans in the away end. Absolute limbs.

Wave after wave of Arsenal attack on the Tottenham goal now. Spurs cannot hold the Gunners back.

GOALLLL! Wow. Thomas Partey curls home a stunner from outside the box. What a goal. The Emirates goes wild. How did he have that much space there!? “1-0 to the Arsenalllll!” is the chant from the home fans. And it should be more. They totally deserve this lead.

SAVE! Aaron Ramsdale denies Richarlison from close range when he looked certain to score. Was Ben White playing everyone onside? Lovely clipped free kick from Son towards Dier but Richarlison couldn’t get proper contact on it.

CHANCE! What a clearance from Lenglet as a long throw is flicked on and drops inside the six-yard box with Jesus lurking. What a start that nearly was for Arsenal. Moments later Martinelli clips the outside of the post.

KICK OFF: We are underway. It is LOUDDDDDD in here.

My thoughts on this massive clash. I can hardly hear myself here!

It is go time here! Wow. What a noise.

Both teams are out warming up and there is a real zip as they go through their paces. The sun is out and first host third in the Premier League in a derby. Does it get much better than this!?

The team news is out and here are the lineups hot (I’d probably go with lukewarm) off the press. Partey and Zinchenko are back in central midfield and left back respectively, which is a huge boost for Arsenal. Kulusevski is out for Spurs so Son comes back into the lineup as he starts in attack with Kane and Richarlison in a very attacking lineup from Antonio Conte. Intriguing.

Hello and welcome to a beautiful morning here in north London! There is a huge buzz of anticipation and excitement in the early autumn air. The Premier League is back and what better way to restart things with a bitter rivalry clash between Arsenal and Tottenham?


Key storylines

Arteta’s Arsenal have been absolutely superb so far this season and they could easily be perfect as they lost at Manchester United but dominated the majority of the only game where they’ve dropped points. There is a great balance to the Gunners with young attacking players flying all over the place — led by the incredible Jesus who has slotted in seamlessly — and a solid defense with Partey and Xhaka very important in the holding midfield roles. Arteta knows that a big win against Spurs will give his young side further confidence as they aim for a top four finish, and maybe more, this season.

Conte’s Spurs have been workmanlike so far and Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Richarlison are all among the goals and are popping up at key moments when they’re needed. Defensively Spurs look solid in their 3-4-3 formation and you always fancy them to grab at least a few goals. Tottenham are seen as many as title contenders this season and a win at their bitter rivals will see that feeling grow.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Gabriel Jesus continues to lead the line superbly for Arsenal and he is bringing their entire attacking unit to life. Granit Xhaka has also been incredibly important and was excellent away at Brentford before the international break as he wore the captain’s armband once again and Arsenal’s fans were full of praise for the Swiss international midfielder.

Son has finally found his scoring boots and bagged a hat trick off the bench in Spurs’ demolition of Leicester City and he looked very good for South Korea over the international break. Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have barely put a foot wrong and are a big reason why Spurs remain unbeaten this season and look so robust. Harry Kane loves a north London derby and he always seems to take his game to a new level when this game rolls around.


Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup options

Emile Smith Rowe is out until December after undergoing surgery on a groin injury, while Reiss Nelson and Mohamed Elneny remain out. Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey, Cedric Soares and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all battling to be fit to feature. If Partey is out, Albert Sambi Lokonga is likely to come in and partner Granit Xhaka in central midfield or perhaps Odegaard could slot back into a deeper role and Fabio Vieira may play in the No. 10 role after his fine goal at Brentford?


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

The main injury concern for Spurs is Dejan Kulusevski after he suffered an injury while on international duty with Sweden. Hugo Lloris and Ben Davies have had thigh and knee injuries respectively and will be battling to be fit, while Lucas Moura is definitely out as he continues to work his way back from a calf injury.


Bournemouth vs Brentford, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream

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Bournemouth vs Brentford: The mid-table Cherries will try to make it four games unbeaten when they host the top-half Bees at Vitality Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BOURNEMOUTH vs BRENTFORD

Draws with Wolves and Newcastle, bookending a victory over Nottingham Forest, and suddenly Bournemouth’s future isn’t looking as dire as it did after a 9-0 defeat to Liverpool led to Scott Parker’s dismissal as manger. Gary O’Neil remains in charge on an interim basis, as the positive results make it tougher and tougher to replace him.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Bournemouth vs Brentford

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Bournemouth vs Brentford live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Brentford sitting 9th in the Premier League table, even after only seven games, is no small achievement for a tiny club that only made its PL debut a year ago. They look like they belong in the top half of the table as well, with their 15 goals scored bested by only Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal — the top three sides in the league heading into matchweek 8. Ivan Toney is back to his goal-scoring best with five in seven games, chipping in a pair of assists as well as he continues to prove himself a complete player at the top level, resulting in his first England call-up (but not appearance, yet) last week.

Bournemouth are trying to replicate Brentford’s top-flight success after returning to the Premier League this season. Without a star center forward like Toney (six goals scored, 4th-fewest in the PL), the Cherries will frequently look to grind out results by keeping clean sheets, only their defensive record (19 conceded in seven games) runs to the contrary.


Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Keane Lewis-Potter (knock), Ethan Pinnock (knee)

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Crystal Palace vs Chelsea, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream

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Chelsea looks to keep up its top-four pace when it visits Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

The match is Graham Potter’s first in the Premier League since leaving Brighton for new digs in London. The Blues drew Salzburg in 1-1 in Potter’s first match with Chelsea, and many eyes will be trained on his Starting XI.

STREAM LIVE CRYSTAL PALACE vs CHELSEA

Palace is winless in its last three Premier League matches including back-to-back draws versus Brentford and Newcastle. Patrick Vieira would love to make that a three-match unbeaten run with a good result Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace vs Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Crystal Palace vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

What will Graham Potter’s first Premier League XI look like come Saturday? Kepa Arrizabalaga could be in goal if Edouard Mendy is not ready, but will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remain a starter? Are Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic locks for the midfield? Lots to monitor as Christian Pulisic, Conor Gallagher, Ben Chilwell, and Hakim Ziyech will hope to have made a major impression.

Palace has played well against the “Big Six” this year, leading Man City 2-0 before an Erling Haaland hat trick, drawing Liverpool, and losing on Opening Day vs Arsenal while holding 57% of the ball and matching the Gunners in shots and shots on target. A win over the Blues sure would do the trick.


Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: James McArthur (groin) | OUT: James Tomkins (calf), Nathan Ferguson (ankle), Jack Butland (hand)

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Edouard Mendy (knee), N’Golo Kante (thigh)