Early goals, toothless Crew SC send Timbers to MLS Cup coronation

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From being inches — literally, on not one, but two posts, on the same kick of the ball — away from elimination in the first round of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs more than a month ago, to lifting the Philip F. Anschutz trophy at midfield of MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday, the 2015 postseason was one Portland Timbers fans won’t soon remember forget.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Sunday’s triumph over Columbus Crew SC in the 2015 MLS Cup final was yet another example of a crazy, unpredictable title-decider, in that it went completely against everything we thought we could forecast for this game. That tends to happen, though, when less than 30 seconds are on the clock and one team has already scored, doesn’t it?

Timbers quickest out of the blocks

Which is where we’ll begin our anlysis tonight. Portland weren’t just quickest out of the starting blocks on Sunday; they were the quickest team on the scoreboard in MLS Cup’s 20-year history. Diego Valeri’s goal 27 seconds into Sunday’s final was a sucker-punch to the proverbial jaw of Crew SC. Such a confident team all season, free-flowing and wide open with the belief that a goal was always just around the corner, Crew SC were shell-shocked and never really recovered from the early blow. They conceded the eventual winner six minutes later.

Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter:

“I think you could see a little bit of nerves. Steve [Clark] gets hundreds of balls, thousands of balls played to him during the course of the season and he rarely makes a mistake like that and you have to live with it. We support him and mistakes are part of the game. The start wasn’t good, the start was certainly not good. What I am pleased about is that we didn’t give up.

In fairness to Portland, the early goal won’t have changed all that much about Crew SC’s gameplan — they wanted to play quickly and aggressively beforehand, so nothing debilitating there — but it did allow the Timbers to defend with numbers, rather than to engage the Black and Gold in a counter-attacking track meet.

[ FULL RECAP: Timbers top Crew SC to take home first MLS Cup ]

They helped Diego Chara — a whole lot

My biggest worry for Portland ahead of the game was that Chara would be but a lone man constantly contending with a quartet of dangerous attackers, and would eventually succumb through no real fault of his own. As a knock-on effect of the early goal, those defensive numbers aided Chara more than anyone else in Green and Gold. Darlington Nagbe (and Valeri, to a degree) sagged deeper and deeper into midfield and forced Federico Higuain into a dismal performance when his side needed him at his most sublime.

Rodney Wallace and Lucas Melano provided serious cover for the full backs, Jorge Villafana, who was absolutely immense, and Alvas Powell. In the end, it was a full-team defensive effort from Portland, when the threat of them being stretched wide and made to chase the game seemed so real prior to kickoff. Crew SC, a side that led MLS in shots on target during the regular season (5.3 per game) managed just one in the biggest game of the season. Set pieces, of which there were alarmingly few for Crew SC, also failed them on Sunday when they had been such a weapon all season long.

[ MORE: PST staff predicts MLS Cup 2015 — how’d we do? ]

Timbers’ defensive shape picture-perfect

My other gigantic worry for Portland was that center backs Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell, neither of whom are particularly quick or athletic, would be torched when dragged out into open space to defend wingers Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram, both of whom were exceptionally poor by their standards and subbed off in the second half. The entire “why” for that duo, which combined for 18 goals and 18 assists during the regular season, being so poor was the defensive shape of the Timbers’ backline.

Villafana and Powell rarely ventured forward — thanks again, early goals! — and put in their best defensive shifts of the season. That meant Borchers and Ridgewell, 34 and 31 respectively, weren’t rushing out into space to emergency-defend against Finlay and Meram. Those two largely nullified, Kei Kamara, who scored 22 times during the regular season and three more times in the playoffs before Sunday, and he was feeding on scraps. Kamara managed just one shot all night — his goal — on 31 total touches over 90 minutes.

Premier League Fan Fest coming to Philadelphia

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The Premier League Fan Fest is heading to Philadelphia in 2022, as the entire Premier League Mornings Live team will be in Philly for what promises to be an incredible weekend.

Our latest Fan Fest will take place on October 15-16 in Dilworth Park and we can’t wait to be in the City of Brotherly Love.

SIGN UP FOR THE FAN FEST HERE

That weekend the huge Liverpool vs Manchester City clash takes stage (Sunday, Oct. 16 at 11:30am ET), while on the same day in the other type of football the Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

It will be one heck of a party in Philly.

Below are more details on the event, while all you have to do is click on the link above to sign up so you can be there.


Premier League Fan Fest is coming to Philadelphia in October

This marks the first Fan Fest in the state of Pennsylvania and continues a period of huge celebration for soccer in Philly.

With the Philadelphia Union flying high atop the Major League Soccer standings, plus Philadelphia recently announced as one of the host cities for games at the men’s 2026 FIFA World Cup, the beauty of the beautiful game is spreading to every corner of Philly’s famous streets.

Philadelphia was supposed to be the site of our Fan Fest in March 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19.

“Philly’s been waiting, and we wanted to use the best opportunities at the right moment to come back,” NBC Sports’ senior vice president of consumer engagement Lyndsay Signor told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “For all of the reasons that we landed on Philly for 2020 — the fandom the city, as the heart of so many professional sports — there was never a question.

“But I think when it started to get closer to Philadelphia hosting the World Cup, and looking at some opportunities to collaborate around Sunday Night Football … it felt like a really awesome time to fire up the Philly fan base again, and bring Fan Fest back and actually be able to execute it without COVID parameters in the way.”

Here are a few things you can expect from the Fan Fest

  • Gates will open at 6am on both days
  • Premier League legends Alan Shearer and Ian Wright will be on-site
  • Club mascots and the Premier League trophy will also be there
  • TV screens will be in place across Dilworth Park so fans can easily watch the game of their choice
  • Four games kick off at 9am ET on Sunday, Oct. 16, before Liverpool vs Manchester City at 11:30am ET
  • Entry is free but you will have to register for a ticket here
  • Special guests will join our crew throughout the weekend
  • Alcohol and food will be served at the event

Premier League odds, picks: Week 10 of the 2022-23 season

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Before you watch the Premier League this weekend, make sure to know who’s expected to win.

And, if you’re into it, be sure to check out who our ProSoccerTalk crew of Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards, and Nick Mendola think who’ll deliver the goods.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Remember: you can watch all 380 Premier League games across NBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com and Peacock. We’ve got you covered.

[ MORE: Watch Premier League live | Peacock Premium details ]


PST’s Premier League picks standings after Week 9

Considering that winning requires getting the correct result (win, loss, or draw), getting a ‘W’ in picks isn’t all that easy.

The originator of PST’s picks, Joe Prince-Wright, is now in second place after a rough week for Andy Edwards, but Nick Mendola’s re-established his first-place status with the most wins by a single writer in a single week this early season.

STANDINGS

Wk9

JPW 3-7
Andy 2-8
Nick 6-4

Season

Nick Mendola, 38-39
Joe Prince-Wright, 34-43
Andy Edwards, 33-44


Premier League picks: Week 10 of the 2022-23 season

Full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet – 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.

You can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR


Newcastle vs Brentford

Odds: Newcastle (-131) vs Brentford (+325) | Draw (+280)
Kickoff: 10am ET Saturday
TV/Stream: USA Network – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM

JPW: Newcastle 2-1 Brentford
Andy: Newcastle 3-2 Brentford
Nick: Newcastle 1-1 Brentford

Bournemouth vs Leicester City

Odds: Bournemouth (+240) vs Leicester City (+110) | Draw (+250)
Kickoff: 10am ET Saturday
TV/Stream: WATCH LIVE ON PEACOCK PREMIUM
JPW: Bournemouth 1-3 Leicester
Andy: Bournemouth 2-2 Leicester
Nick: Bournemouth 0-2 Leicester

Chelsea vs Wolves

Odds: Chelsea (-261) vs Wolves (+700) | Draw (+375)
Kickoff: 10am ET Saturday
TV/Stream: WATCH LIVE ON PEACOCK PREMIUM
JPW: Chelsea 3-1 Wolves
Andy:
Chelsea 2-0 Wolves
Nick: Chelsea 2-1 Wolves

Manchester City vs Southampton

Odds: Man City (-901) vs Southampton (+1800) | Draw (+850)
Kickoff: 10am ET Saturday
TV/Stream: WATCH LIVE ON PEACOCK PREMIUM
JPW: Man City 4-1 Southampton
Andy: Man City 5-1 Southampton
Nick: Man City 3-1 Southampton

Brighton vs Tottenham

Odds: Brighton (+165) vs Tottenham Hotspur (+160) | Draw (+240)
Kickoff: 12:30pm ET Saturday
TV/Stream: NBC – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM
JPW: Brighton 1-2 Spurs
Andy:
Brighton 1-1 Tottenham
Nick: Brighton 0-2 Spurs

West Ham vs Fulham

Odds: West Ham (-136) vs Tottenham Hotspur (+350) | Draw (+280)
Kickoff: 9am ET Sunday
TV/Stream: CNBC – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM
JPW: West Ham 3-1 Fulham

Andy: West Ham 2-1 Fulham
Nick: West Ham 1-0 Fulham

Crystal Palace vs Leeds United

Odds: Crystal Palace (+110) vs Leeds United (+240) | Draw (+250)
Kickoff: 9am ET Sunday
TV/Stream: USA Network – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM
JPW: Palace 2-1 Leeds

Andy: Palace 2-2 Leeds
Nick: Palace 1-1 Leeds

Arsenal vs Liverpool

Odds: Arsenal (+150) vs Liverpool (+160) | Draw (+260)
Kickoff: 11:30am ET Sunday
TV/Stream: USA Network – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM
JPW: Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool 
Andy:
Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool
Nick: Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool

Everton vs Manchester United

Odds: Everton (+270) vs Manchester United (-104) | Draw (+250)
Kickoff: 2pm ET Sunday
TV/Stream: USA Network – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM
JPW: Everton 1-1 Man United
Andy: Everton 1-2 Man Utd
Nick: Everton 0-2 Man Utd

Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa

Odds: Nottingham Forest (+230) vs Aston Villa (+115) | Draw (+240)
Kickoff: 3pm ET Monday
TV/Stream: USA Network – WATCH LIVE ON NBCSPORTS.COM
JPW: Forest 1-1 Villa
Andy:
Forest 0-1 Villa
Nick: Forest 1-1 Villa

West Ham vs Fulham: How to watch, live stream link, TV, team news

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Injury-hit Fulham visits West Ham United on Sunday, hoping to catch weary hosts just back from a midweek trip to Belgium when the sides tangle at London’s Olympic Stadium (watch live, 9am ET Sunday on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Irons are looking to build on their Premier League form after beating Wolves on Saturday and rolling it into Europa Conference League play at midweek. West Ham beat Anderlecht 1-0 on Thursday as Gianluca Scamacca stayed hot to keep the Irons perfect in group play.

STREAM LIVE FULHAM vs WEST HAM

Fulham has been a handful this season but won’t have Nathaniel Chalobah, who was suspended in last weekend’s loss to Newcastle, in addition to possible absences for playmakers Kenny Tete, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Antonee Robinson, and Willian.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Fulham vs West Ham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch West Ham vs Fulham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9am ET, Sunday
TV Channel: CNBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & (young) star players

Fulham may be without Robinson and Tete in addition to definitely missing Layvin Kurzawa, leaving Kevin Mbabu as the lone regular fullback certain to be available. Attacking injuries could shift focus to ex-Tottenham loanee Carlos Vinicius and wingers Neeskens Kebano and Daniel James.

West Ham started the Anderlecht win with Declan Rice, Lucas Paqueta, Gianluca Scamacca, and Pablo Fornals on the bench, with the quartet entering over the final 21 minutes to deliver the W. Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Thilo Kehrer, and Tomas Soucek were completely rested, so there won’t be too much worry about the weariness angle mentioned above.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle), Maxwell Cornet (calf)

Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (foot), Willian (calf), Kenny Tete (knock), Aleksandar Mitrovic (ankle). OUT: Layvin Kurzawa (knock), Manor Solomon (knee), Harry Wilson (knee), Nathaniel Chalobah (suspension)

Brighton vs Tottenham: How to watch, live stream link, TV channel, team news

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Brighton vs Tottenham is an early-season test of credentials as the host Seagulls look to show their top-four quality is on the level of their third-place visitors at the Amex Stadium (watch live, 12:30pm ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Seagulls have given new manager Roberto De Zerbi a solid start in taking over for Graham Potter, who left for Chelsea.

STREAM LIVE BRIGHTON vs TOTTENHAM

Now they’ll look to show that the team has plenty in the tank for a long run in the European places, currently three points behind Spurs with a match-in-hand on the North Londoners.

Tottenham has looked solid but also knows it has to show the 10-man North London derby loss was a fluke.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Brighton vs Tottenham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


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

Kick off: 3pm ET, Friday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Brighton’s been getting so much of its offense from Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard, the latter coming off a hat trick and in the upper end of the Premier League leaders in both goals and assists. Alexis Mac Allister has been solid in the midfield and at the penalty spot.

Spurs continue to use Harry Kane in the Starting XI time and time again, and the English center forward hasn’t worn down yet. A midweek scoreless draw in Germany against Eintracht Frankfurt will see Spurs show up to the party with more miles on their legs than the home team.


Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Enock Mwepu (illness)

Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Emerson (suspension), Dejan Kulusevski (thigh), Japhet Tanganga (knock), Lucas Moura (calf)