Week 13 Preview: RSL takes its unbeaten mark to Seattle; Donovan visits Yallop, Magee in Chicago

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The 13th weekend of the MLS season begins on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern with in the Pacific Northwest and ends its nine-match round Sunday night in … the Pacific Northwest? With symmetry at our side, here’s our quick look at what’s on top this weekend in Major League Soccer.

Note: All rankings reflect PST’s weekly MLS Power Rankings.

TOO IMPORTANT TO BE PLAYED WITHOUT ITS STARS
a.k.a., The game you really should still watch
#3 Seattle Sounders vs. #2 Real Salt Lake, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: Seattle drew in Vancouver, 2-2; Real Salt Lake was held at home by FC Dallas, 0-0

Somewhere, long ago, when the pros and cons of this issue were first discussed, somebody had to make a list of reasons why MLS shouldn’t play through the World Cup. And hopefully, high on that list, they wrote “Unrepresentative product.” A league that’s trying to convince the public of its quality has to worry about a below-standard product, particularly around the World Cup.

Saturday’s game in Seattle is the latest example. In the big picture, the Sounders and RSL are two of the teams most likely to represent the West at MLS Cup, but in the narrow, microscopic, comically irrelevant view of Saturday’s 90 minutes, it’s a game that will be played without Seattle’s Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin. Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, and Álvaro Saborío will also be missing for RSL.

In fairness to MLS, it would have been difficult to anticipate such a sharp increase in players going to Brazil this summer. Whereas the league barely lost any talent to South Africa, this time teams like Sporting, Houston, Columbus and San Jose have been hamstrung. Real Salt Lake and Seattle are in that group, too, though the player that is RSL’s Clint Dempsey (in terms of significance) is still with the team. He doesn’t get as much publicity, and he doesn’t even play the same role, but Javier Morales can have Dempsey’s influence over a given 90 minutes. He’ll be in Seattle on Saturday, as will center backs Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler.

That’s not enough to say Jeff Cassar’s team will win this game, because Seattle has enough talent to manager its absences. It’s just a shame that this game, one which on another date would otherwise be a great showcase for what Major League Soccer can offer, will be played without many of its stars. Even if RSL’s unbeaten record falls, we’ll wonder what how these matchup at full strength.

Prediction: The weekend’s best game.

source: Getty ImagesPACKAGING MAY BE DECEIVING
#15 Chicago Fire vs. #5 LA Galaxy, Sunday, 4:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: Chicago lost at Columbus, 2-0; LA beat FC Dallas and Philadelphia, (2-1, 4-1).

Little known fact: A Bruce Arena team leads its conference in ball possession. Real Salt Lake’s number (53.9%) is practically identical, but that revamped, diamond-esque formation the league’s most successful coach is using? It’s holding more of the ball than The Diamond Masters Of Utah, not exactly what we would have predicted from an Arena side.

Frank Yallop, in his first season in Chicago, is defying expectations, too. After building his last San Jose team around a modest midfield of Rafael Baca and Sam Cronin, the Fire has proven surprisingly adroit in the middle. While that hasn’t translated to a great possession number (45), it has translated to chances. The Fire’s fourth in the league in shots per game, with Harry Shipp’s 2.6 key passes (passes ahead of shots) leading the charge.

Arena and Yallop are two of the league’s more successful coaches, but the ways they achieve their success change. The duo’s 2014 squads are showing some of their newer tricks.

Prediction: More Landon Donovan goals.

source: APTAKING ADVANTAGE OF WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU
#7 D.C. United vs. #4 Sporting Kansas City, Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: D.C. lost at New England, 2-1; Sporting drew with visiting Toronto, 2-2

By now it’s clear that absences and injuries have made Sporting KC a completely different team, but that’s not D.C. United’s problem. Instead, it’s an opportunity. Though United had problems two weeks ago playing the favorite against Montréal, they have a chance to take advantage of a Kansas City team that’s given up seven goals in its last four games.

Prediction: Benny Feilhaber challenges the 100-pass mark for the second game in a row.

(Note: Eddie Johnson, right, had his red card appeal accepted and will play on Saturday.)

OH, NO. NOT YOU AGAIN
#8 Toronto FC vs. #11 Columbus Crew, Saturday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: Toronto drew at Sporting Kansas City, 2-2; the Crew defeated Chicago, 2-0

When Toronto visited Columbus at the beginning of April, and early goal from Michael Bradley sparked a performance that handed the Crew its first blemish. For the rematch, however, Bradley will be with the U.S. national team while Federico Higuaín, playing as well as anybody in Major League Soccer, remains at the wheel for Columbus.

Bradley’s presence would normally drive Higuaín deep to pick up the ball. Without him, Kyle Bekker may have to come up big.

Prediction: A Ryan Nelsen special – early goal; sit on the lead.

source: APDEAD TEAM WALKING?
#19 Montréal Impact vs. #1 New England Revolution, Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: The Impact lost 4-1 at Colorado; New England defeated D.C. United, 2-1

A visit from the league’s hottest team may only highlight what’s become a demoralizing situation in Montréal. Having already expressed disappointment with general manager Nick De Santis, Impact fans may not let the team’s poor performance in Colorado go unnoticed. Even after a midweek draw at Toronto (Canadian Championship), an increasingly disillusioned fan base will want to see improvement.

Prediction: Protest banners in two languages.

11-ON-11? TAKE TWO
#9 San Jose Earthquakes vs. #13 FC Dallas, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Eastern
Last week: San Jose beat Houston, 3-0; FC Dallas lost at LA (2-1) beat drawing at RSL (0-0)

When Dallas visited Santa Clara three weeks ago, Shea Salinas got himself sent off just before halftime, giving way to an extravaganza of Clarence Goodson and Víctor Bernárdez clearances. If all 22 players manage to stay on the field this weekend, the game should be decided in an increasingly Dallas kind of way: See if Fabian Castillo create more goals than the defense eventually allows. For all Castillo’s speed and talent, that answer’s been “no.”

Prediction: Fans remember how much calmer things were when Steven Lenhart was out.

PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED
#17 Chivas USA vs. #18 Philadelphia Union, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. Eastern
Last week: Chivas lost on Wednesday to Portland, 2-0; Philadelphia also lost at StubHub Center (to the Galaxy), 4-1

Between actual attendance, television audience, MLS Live viewers, this may end up being one least-consumed games of the year. Maybe Philadelphia’s large fan base will prove that wrong, but on paper, this looks like one of the least desirable matchups of the season.

One team (Chivas USA) has a scorer but can never get him the ball. The other can keep the ball but has no scorers. Enjoy?

Prediction: The ability to take over the #CHVvPHI hashtag.

source: APTESTING THE REBOUND …
#16 Portland Timbers vs. #6 Vancouver Whitecaps, Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: Vancouver was drawn by Seattle, while Portland’s won consecutive matches at New York and Chivas USA.

Portland’s won two in a row, but what an interesting two they were. It’s 2-1 win in New York saw the losing team create the better chances, and during the midweek win at Chivas, an almost entirely changed team played a lackluster first half before Fanendo Adi scored his first two MLS goals.

That momentum’s probably not enough to overcome Vancouver’s advantages. The Whitecaps are the form side, on full rest and, depending on who you ask, have the better players.

That Portland defense that’s been struggling all year? Against Kekuta Manneh, Erik Hurtado, Pedro Morales, and potentially Darren Mattocks, they’ll need to give one of their season’s best performances.

Prediction: Both goalkeepers stay in the general vicinity of their goals.

… AND LET THE REBOUND CONTINUE
#14 Colorado Rapids vs. #12 Houston Dynamo, Sunday, 6:00 p.m. Eastern
Last week: Colorado downed Montréal, 4-1; Houston lost at D.C. United at San Jose by a combined 5-0.

So let me just get this straight: One team is at full strength, having lost none of its players to World Cup duty, while the other is missing its two best players? No, I understand Houston knew this was coming. It’s just weird, that’s all. Too bad Rico Clark and Mark Sherrod aren’t around to help.

Prediction: Fewer Shane O’Neill goals.

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.