MLS preview: NYCFC vs. Red Bulls, Timbers vs. Sounders highlight Rivalry Week

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Week 17 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon, and it’s (Again? Already?) Rivalry Week. That means local rivalry after local rivalry on your TV, computer, tablet and/or smartphone all weekend long.

Predictions record through Week 16: 26-33

So, 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:

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 4:30 pm ET, ESPN)

Not even a month ago, this game would have been a joke to include among this week’s “Rivalry Week” matchups (not least because it’s still not a real rivalry, one game in and all). Then, NYCFC decided it was time to do a little winning (three in a row), while the Red Bulls thought to themselves, “That good start to the season we had? Eh, screw it, let’s throw it away.” (Four straight losses before winning mid-week)

Now, they’re separated by just three points while trending in completely opposite directions. NYCFC’s David Villa has tallied three goals and an assist in his last two games, while RBNY’s Bradley Wright-Phillips had two penalties saved just last weekend. With well over 40,000 expected at Yankee Stadium, Sunday’s second installment of the #NYSoccerWarz is bound to entertain, at the very least.

Prediction: NYCFC 2-2 Red Bulls

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

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)

Speaking of teams trending in opposite directions, we’ve also got the Timbers (four straight wins before losing mid-week) and the Sounders (two straight losses after winning three of four) facing off Sunday night.

There will be no Clint Dempsey (suspension), Obafemi Martins (groin) or Osvaldo Alonso (hamstring) for the Sounders. Gonzalo Pineda might also be unavailable (knee). Without their midfield and forward quartet, Sigi Schmid’s side struggled mightily against the San Jose Earthquakes and suffered a rare home defeat. Now they travel 175 miles down I-5 and enter MLS’s most daunting in-stadium atmosphere to face a suddenly-healthy Timbers team. I’ll cut them some slack for Wednesday’s shellacking because, well, it was the Galaxy.

Prediction: Timbers 3-2 Sounders

[ MORE: Atlanta’s MLS team will, unfortunately, be called Atlanta United FC ]

New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS Live)

We saw once again last week that the Revolution have trouble controlling and killing off games without Jermaine Jones in the heart of their midfield. We also learned that Jay Heaps still has no desire to dial back his side’s overall tempo and attacking instinct. Coming up against the Whitecaps this weekend, we’re all in store for a treat, because the Whitecaps are still the best counter-attacking team in the league and the Revs, in their current state, provide so many counter-attacking chances.

One promise for this game: goals. Plenty of goals. Who doesn’t love goals?

Prediction: Revs 1-2 Whitecaps

[ MORE: Dempsey given additional suspension for USOC, and it’s a big one ]

Toronto FC vs. D.C. United (Saturday, 5 pm ET, MLS Live)

These two played just three weeks ago, and TFC grabbed a shocking (to some) road victory over the leaders in the Supporters’ Shield race. Fast forward three weeks, and finally we’ve got a matchup with two teams playing equally well at the moment about which to get excited.

Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore combined for five goals scored and assisted on (all three goals scored) in Wednesday’s victory over the Montreal Impact. They’ve found in just three months the kind of chemistry and continuity that usually takes teams years to create. This is the last game for the latter two before departing for the Gold Cup, so keeping that momentum rolling 90 minutes more is vitally important for the Reds.

Prediction: TFC 2-1 DCU

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.

Elsewhere

Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig

Yedlin nears return, hoping for October USMNT call-up

Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images
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Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to see that DeAndre Yedlin didn’t look right last season.

The Newcastle United and USMNT right back was not up to his standards during the 2018-19 season, and Yedlin says the injury that’s cost him the start of this season has been the culprit for a long time.

[ MORE: Neymar ban reduced ]

Yedlin, 26, went through surgery this May for a sports hernia which he says bothered him on game days for almost a year and a half.

From NUFC.co.uk:

 “It was tough, and it was a bit confusing because it would come and go. There would be months that I’d be playing with it and I’d take pain killers before the game and try to get through it, then there’d be times when it didn’t bother me at all,” he said.

“Even in warm ups, I’d be thinking ‘it’s going to be tough to make it through this game.’ Once the pain killers hit in, you can’t really feel anything anymore and then adrenalin hits in but, yeah, it’s tough. As a player you don’t want to stop and then lose your place, but you’ve also got to do what’s best for you and for the longevity of your career.

That’s not good, and both USMNT and Newcastle supporters will hope the injury was the reason behind his decline in form.

Yedlin’s stats dropped in each of his last two PL seasons. For a player whose blessed with blazing speed, a sports hernia is only going to dramatically affect performance.

He says he has been in touch with USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter.

“That’s been tough. I’ve had contact with the manager and they’re keeping updated on how I’m doing. This last international break was just a bit too soon but hopefully the next one, I’ll be ready for and hopefully I’ll have some minutes under my belt by that time, then really crack on from there.”

Conte’s Inter avoids UCL upset in stoppage time

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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.

But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.

But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.

The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.

Here’s the equalizer:

LIVE, UCL: Napoli v. Liverpool, Chelsea v. Valencia

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The UEFA Champions League group stage is back, as Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea are both in action on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Reigning European champs Liverpool head to Napoli in their opening group game, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men aim to avenge the defeat at the Stadio San Paolo in the group stage last season. As for Chelsea, Frank Lampard and several of his young Blues stars are making their UEFA Champions League debuts as a manager and players.

A beauty of a game takes place in Group F, as Borussia Dortmund host Barcelona with Lionel Messi back in the Barca squad after injury.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Napoli v. Liverpool
Red Bull Salzburg v. Genk

Group F
Borussia Dortmund v. Barcelona

Group G
Benfica v. Leipzig

Group H
Ajax v. Lille
Chelsea v. Valencia