Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Man United – Red Devils revival to continue?

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  • United have won seven straight games vs. Hull
  • The Tigers haven’t beaten Man Utd since 1974
  • Hull have conceded just 3 goals at home, the best record in PL

An upset could be in the cards early on Boxing Day, as Steve Bruce’s Hull City welcome Manchester United (watch live on NBCSN, 7:45am ET, via NBC Sports Live Extra) to the KC Stadium.

Hull have already beaten Liverpool at home and Bruce, an ex-Manchester United skipper, will be hoping to add the Red Devils to the list of top scalps the Tigers have taken this season.

As for United, David Moyes’ men have won four in a row in all competitions as the festive season has brought plenty of hope for the new year ahead. With a win and other results going their way, United could be just six points off the top of the table by the end of Boxing Day. Despite Hull’s great start to life back in the big time, they have won just once in seven games and are sliding back down towards the bottom.

United are ready to pounce and keep their resurgence going.

Wayne Rooney has been sensational and a new-look forward line around him — following RVP’s injury that has strangely coincided with their upturn in results — has seen the Red Devils look much more fluid and threatening in attack. Adnan Januzaj on one wing, Antonio Valencia on the other and Danny Welbeck up top should hive Hull plenty of problems. However, the home side have conceded just three times at the KC and have only lost once at their Yorkshire home all season.

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Can the Tigers get it going again as the reigning champs roll into town?

Hull don’t have any injuries worries, as Bruce is expected to name the same starting lineup for the fourth straight games. Man United have worries about Welbeck, as he picked up a knee injury in the win over West Ham last weekend. Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie are still out injured.

What they’re saying

David Moyes salutes Wayne Rooney: “He looks as if he is beginning to take ownership himself. He is starting to say: ‘Look, come on, we need to play better. We need to make sure we are doing much more than we are doing.’ I see that in the dressing room. I see it every day in training when he is continually trying to improve himself. Wayne has those qualities. It is good for us. Hopefully in the years to come we are going to need that from him.”

Bruce excited to face his old side: “For all of us at Hull City, there’s no better time to have a home game against Manchester United than on Boxing Day. Traditionally, it’s the biggest and best day and we’ve got the biggest game. It’s a big occasion for us to host the Champions and they’re hitting a bit of form which you would expect them to do. The one thing that is for certain is that we’re going to have to be at our best. We have to play well ourselves, like we did against Liverpool. We have to enjoy the challenge of welcoming Manchester United here.

Prediction

We are all expecting an away win here, regardless of United’s struggles this season. As Bruce points out, the Red Devils are hitting top form and will see maximum points from their festive games drag them right back into the title race. If Welbeck is fit, United will look to keep the same front four together to terrorize Hull’s defense. But the Tigers are made of stern stuff, and roared on by a vocal crowd at the KC they could cause a shock. I think United will edge it.

Chelsea Ladies sign NWSL superstar Sam Kerr

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Sam Kerr is heading to London.

The Australian megastar is leaving the Chicago Red Stars for Chelsea after scoring two MVP awards in the National Women’s Soccer League (2017, 2019).

[ MORE: NYCFC teen off to Gladbach ]

Kerr, 26, has 38 goals in 83 caps for the Lady Matildas, scoring four times in one World Cup match against Jamaica last summer.

Her 69 goals are the most in an NWSL career, and she admits it was a challenge to leave her comfort zone and head to Europe.

“Probably the part that was most difficult was leaving friends and the US because I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change. And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

It’s a huge signing for Chelsea, who is leading the table through five matches with an unbeaten 4W-1D record. She’ll join the team in January.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.