MLS preview: Sounders vs. Sporting KC, Revs vs. D.C. United headline Week 12

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Week 12 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us, and it’s shaping up to be a weekend dominated by intra-conference matchups between current playoff teams and playoff hopefuls alike.

Predictions record through Week 11: 19-24

If you’re to watch just four MLS games this weekend — who am I to tell you to watch only four games? — might I suggest the following four:

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 10 pm ET, MLS Live)

Sporting KC were downright unplayable at times during their 4-2 thrashing of the New England Revolution on Wednesday night. Likewise, the Sounders were as impressive as any team has been all season in beating the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-0, away from home last weekend.

With Roger Espinoza and Seth Sinovic likely out (injuries), Sporting come into this one shorthanded and on short rest. But that won’t be a problem MLS’s best road team the last two-plus years. They’ll go to CenturyLink Field and attack the Sounders from minute 1 to minute 90. They’ll run out of gas and fall just a bit short, but it’ll be an entertaining, even game for much of your late Saturday night.

Prediction: Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC

[ MORE: US Open Cup draw: Sounders-Timbers, NYCFC-NY Cosmos highlight 4th round ]

New England Revolution vs. D.C. United (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS Live)

The Eastern Conference’s top two teams, both coming off humbling defeats (D.C., 1-0 to lowly Philadelphia last week) and perhaps providing an early preview of the East final which is to come in November.

Jermaine Jones is a center back one game, a central midfielder the next, and a center back again three days later. Continuity is not a word known to the Revs’ defense at the moment (Jose Goncalves is back, but Andrew Farrell missed Wednesday night’s game), and they’ll likely be playing from behind again in this one. The Revs’ saving grace: Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies are in fine form of late, and they can make up the goals leaked at the back.

Prediction: Revs 2-2 United

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers (Saturday, 5 pm ET, MLS Live)

Jozy Altidore is out 4-5 weeks with another hamstring injury. Somehow, this will make Toronto FC a “better” team, because in the world of TFC, that somehow makes sense. Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley are more than capable of picking up the slack on their end, but can Luke Moore replace Altidore’s hold-up play and finish at a similar rate? It’s a huge ask.

On the other side, Will Johnson hopes to return this weekend from the broken leg he suffered at BMO Field last September. How quickly — or, if — he integrates back into the Timbers’ squad, and returns to the Johnson of old, will go a long way toward pushing the Timbers upward in the bunched-up West.

Prediction: TFC 2-1 Timbers

[ EXPANSION: Downtown stadium would make STL “a contender” | NASL beats MLS to Miami ]

LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo (Friday, 10:30 pm ET, UniMas)

The Galaxy were embarrassed in Orlando last Sunday, while the Dynamo were busy putting together their most comprehensive performance and dominant result of the season, a 3-1 thumping of the Timbers. And yet, it’s still too early in the season to know whether the former are as bad as they’ve looked at times, or if the latter are as good as last week’s showing.

Can the Galaxy midfield 1) keep track of Giles Barnes (6 goals, 1 assist), and 2) deny him the ball in space with room to turn and run at defenders? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then this one might look pretty similar to the aforementioned results of last week.

Prediction: Galaxy 1-1 Dynamo

USMNT notes: Robinson moves to Wigan, and more

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It’s been a busy day of U.S. Men’s National Team related news, from Tyler Boyd signing with Besiktas to U.S. Soccer announcing a friendly match with Mexico in September at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Here’s everything else you may have missed today relating to the USMNT and Americans Abroad.

Robinson joins Wigan in permanent transfer

Antonee Robinson is heading back to the Championship, but this time, he won’t be heading back to Everton at the end of the season.

Robinson on Monday completed a permanent transfer to Wigan. where he spent last season and helped the club avoid relegation. Robinson has signed a three-year contract and he joined for a reported $2.5 million transfer fee, per Wigan Today. He battled injuries to make 26 appearances in all competitions.

Robinson, born in England to an American father and British mother, came up in Everton’s Finch Farm academy but never broke through to make a first team appearance. Instead, he spent time in the lower levels on loan to Bolton and then Wigan. With Everton’s signing last year of Lucas Digne, the left back spot is locked up for quite a while, leaving Robinson second-choice and in search of first team minutes again.

For the USMNT, Robinson made his debut in the 3-0 win over Bolivia in late May, 2018, and has gone on to make seven appearances for the senior team, including a start against Jamaica, though it didn’t go well in a 1-0 defeat at home. Robinson was on the 40-man provisional Gold Cup roster for coach Gregg Berhalter and he also took part in a European-based training camp for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team as the team starts preparing for Olympic qualifying, which will likely take place later this year.

Robinson will likely play a key role in helping the U.S. make it to their first Olympics since 2008 in Beijing.

Reyna heading to USA with Borussia Dortmund

Claudio Reyna’s son Giovanni Reyna is off to a strong start after officially being announced as a signing by Borussia Dortmund. Whether for marketing reasons or sporting reasons, Reyna was one of the 26 players to make the flight to Seattle as Dortmund takes some preseason action in the U.S.

BVB will face the Seattle Sounders in Seattle on Thursday before heading to take on Liverpool in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday.

It’s a quick burst in the U.S., but perhaps Reyna can get a few minutes of action in his home nation before heading back to Germany to try and see if he can break into the squad.

Scott set for Newcastle? 

British-born American midfielder Kyle Scott appears that he will still be on the books at a Premier League club next season.

According to multiple reports, including the Newcastle Chronicle, Newcastle FC is interested in signing Scott, thanks to a reported recommendation from former coach Rafa Benitez. Scott, 21, has spent the past 12 years in Chelsea’s academy and reserves, but he’s hardly sniffed a match, at least for the first team. He spent some time on loan with Dutch second-division side Telstar last year, but it wasn’t declared permanent.

Now, having been let go by Chelsea, Scott is looking for a new club. It’s unclear, however, considering his lack of first team experience, if he’d be able to step into the lineup at Newcastle and really make a difference so soon.

In the past, Scott has appeared for the U.S. Under-18s and U-20s. Perhaps some regular playing time in the Premier League can get him into the senior national team.

Watch: Hear from Bournemouth’s Howe in training

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Ever wondered what it is like to go through preseason training with a Premier League?

Thanks to AFC Bournemouth, now we know.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was “mic’d up” during a preseason training session on Monday, giving fans an inside look into his team gaining fitness and going over some key movements that they’ll surely be using during games this season.

Plus….players biking to practice and the dreaded beep test.

Here from Howe and the players above and take a look at a Premier League preseason.

Dietrich quits as club president of crisis-hit Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Wolfgang Dietrich quit as president of German second-division team Stuttgart on Monday after saying he no longer wants to be made a scapegoat for all that’s wrong at the crisis-ridden club.

The 70-year-old Dietrich, who took over as president in October 2016 and whose term was due to run until 2020, said he never expected such “hostility and malice” as he experienced at the club’s annual general meeting on Sunday.

[READ: Tyler Boyd signs with Besiktas]

The AGM had to be cancelled after about 4,500 members were unable to vote for the club’s management board because of Wi-Fi problems. Dietrich broke off the meeting to loud jeers and protests and was accompanied by bodyguards from the interior of the stadium.

Dietrich said he no longer wants to “be in charge of an organization that is neither willing to stand up to these interests against me nor is able to guarantee the smooth running of a general meeting.”

Dietrich was already under fire for his links to investment company Quattrex Sports, which provided loans to several of Stuttgart’s rivals. In his 3+ years at the club, Stuttgart has had three coaches, two sporting directors and was relegated from the Bundesliga last season.

Should Tottenham sign or pass on Bale?

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Tottenham just broke its transfer record with the signing of Tanguay Ndombele. Could it break the bank for a second time this summer?

However unlikely that could be, Spanish publication Marca reports that Tottenham has continued to express interest in bringing Gareth Bale back to White Hart Lane and Northwest London. The report states that Tottenham is willing to spend between $56 and $67.6 million to sign Bale but that it could not afford Bale’s $19 million yearly salary after tax. Even more, it could only afford to pay half of that, or $9.5 million per season.

[READ: Fabian Delph moves to Everton]

There’s no doubt that, on paper at least, Bale would improve Tottenham’s squad and could potentially even immediately step into the starting lineup. But that’s assuming Tottenham could sign him anyway.

It seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago, after Daniel Levy and the club went an entire calendar year without spending money on a new player, that it could spend more than $100 million on two players to improve the squad. But perhaps now, with television revenues growing and more seats to sell at Tottenham’s new stadium, Levy feels he can spend big this summer to take Tottenham to the next level.

Whether due to luck or not, Tottenham took advantage of its opportunity and manager Mauricio Pochettino did a masterful job guiding the club to the UEFA Champions League final. But to challenge Manchester City at the head of the Premier League, it’s going to take a talent like Bale coming in.

That being said, that are the chances that Bale, who turns 30 on Tuesday, can dramatically regain his fitness after years of recurring injuries, are low. So the big question now is, is it worth it for Tottenham to spend more than $60 million on re-signing Bale, and is it worth it for Bale to leave, instead of getting to stay on his salary for the next three seasons.

Bale’s agent Jonathan Barrett has long stated his client wants to retire in Madrid. It’s seeming less likely by the day, and yet, as Bale doesn’t move, perhaps he’ll call it quits ahead of schedule, and turn down a chance to return to Tottenham.