AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Premier League preview: Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea

Leave a comment
  • Chelsea could climb to 14th in the PL
  • Blues seeking 1st win under Hiddink
  • Crystal Palace could reclaim 5th
  • Palace aiming for 7 games unbeaten

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

When Crystal Palace and Chelsea take the field at Selhurst Park on Sunday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), it’ll be the hosts, not the visitors who also happen to be the reigning Premier League champions, seeking to extend a six-game unbeaten run (three wins) in the PL. In stark contrast, a win for Chelsea would be just their third in 11 league games.

Since Jose Mourinho was fired on Dec. 17, Chelsea have won once and drawn twice, with the lone victory coming before Guus Hiddink, who’ll manage the club for the rest of the season, took charge — not exactly the uptick in results they might have been hoping for, but then again, one point is better than none (six of Mourinho’s last nine games in charge were losses). Meanwhile, it’s Palace who are challenge for European qualification this season, as they entered the weekend fifth in the league table but have since fallen to seventh after victories by Manchester United and West Ham United.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Arsenal, Manchester clubs all win ]

On the injury/suspension front, Palace will be without midfielder lynchpin Yohan Cabaye (yellow card accumulation), as well as Yannick Bolasie (hip), Connor Wickham (hamstring) and Dwight Gayle (hamstring). The Blues will be missing only Radamel Falcao (leg) with absolute certainty, while Gary Cahill has a chance to return from the ankle injury that kept him out of the Blues’ scoreless draw with Manchester United on Monday.

Palace upended Chelsea in their first meeting of the season, setting into motion the tumultuous season that’s plagued the Blues ever since. Chelsea won in their last visit to Selhurst Park, a 2-1 victory last October.

What they’re saying

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew: “It’s been an astonishing year and the Premier League has been shook up a bit. We have definitely upped our game and it’s a season that’s thrown up a few surprises. I don’t think anyone would doubt that the middle pack downwards has improved. The Leicesters, the Stokes, the Evertons, the Liverpools are all good sides while the top teams, for whatever reason, are just struggling a little bit.”

Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink: “The players have experienced a very bad half year. They have to lift it up and that’s what we have talked about in the locker room. Everyone is convinced we couldn’t go on on the same path and we have shown that in the last three games.”

Prediction

Cabaye is a massively important player for Palace, for whom the Frenchman is the best ball-winner and passer at the club. For basically the first time all season, Diego Costa is coming off a good performance (two goals scored vs. Watford), so maybe this is the game the Blues use to get back on track and finish the season on a positive note. Then again, maybe not. Palace 1-2 Chelsea.

First Leagues Cup will be an all-Liga MX affair

Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Given Major League Soccer’s record against Liga MX sides when both teams are bringing their best players to the party, it’s no surprise that the former has been left out of the Leagues Cup Final.

Instead, Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL will meet on Sept. 18 for the first ever crown in the history of the competition pitting teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States top flights.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Choosing not to play Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Carlos Pavon amongst others, the LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Cruz Azul in Carson, California, getting an Emil Cuello goal but allowing the below delightful winner from Orbelin Pineda just after halftime.

The Galaxy were in the midst of a nasty four-match fortnight, and opted for this match — a tournament semifinal against a league which has bossed its league — to rest their men. Not a choice we love, but a fair choice given the Galaxy’s mere 4-point advantage on 7th place in the West.

Tigres needed penalties to get past Club America in an absolutely bonkers semifinal.

The match was level at 2 after regulation, with two own goals, a penalty, and a 90th minute red card doled out to Tigres’ Roger Martinez.

The second Tigres own goal, which came before the club outlasted America 5-3 in penalties, came deep in stoppage.

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Zappacosta off to Roma as Chelsea trusts youth

Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tuesday was a great day to be Reece James.

Not that it hasn’t been a good summer altogether with Frank Lampard in charge of Chelsea.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Lampard sanctioned the loan of Zappacosta to AS Roma, which puts James firmly in line for first team reps at Stamford Bridge.

The 19-year-old James has earned his place after two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, and Cesar Azpilicueta will either need rest or time at center back at some point.

As for Zappacosta, he was a curiosity buy who was serviceable during his time at Stamford Bridge. At Roma, though, he’ll… also be second choice to club captain Alessandro Florenzi.

Lampard is definitely giving the Blues’ youth a chance to shine during this transfer ban, and this may well be the best opportunity of James’ career.

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

Photo by TF-Images/ Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States men’s national team has just a pair of friendlies remaining before its next CONCACAF competition, the Nations’ League.

Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will meet Uruguay and Mexico in September, and the looming CNL — you know Berhalter wants some sort of crown given the Gold Cup Final loss to El Tri — certainly hints at a strong XI even with players like Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Boyd (Besitkas) and Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf, on loan from Man City) settling into new digs.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]

Before we dare to name a 23-man outfit for these matches, we should note that there’s no guarantee every big team will want to release their players in September. But this projection will act under the assumption that his best healthy men will accept invitations or that, at least, Berhalter will invite his best healthy men.

The MLS playoff push may actually force his hand in that Berhalter may respect teams in said playoff race due (though MLS does not have every team playing over the break).

We’ll assume for this exercise that DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) don’t miraculously come fit.

Now for the Big Berhalter Questions (BBQs):

  1. Since Gyasi Zardes has scored three goals and an assist in his last six MLS games and there’s no chance Berhalter ignores him, who will not get a look: Tim Weah (Lille), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas) or … wait, it’s gonna be Boyd.
  2. Wil Trapp has been poor in a USMNT jersey, but has three assists in his last six MLS matches so will he…. book his place, too.

Finally, I’m not going to say that this 23-man roster will be correct, but it will be fun.

Goalkeepers (3)

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Kasey Keller (Millwall)
Pick the guy who you think I should pick here and pretend you like it better than:
David Bingham (LA Galaxy)

Defenders (8)

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Matt Miazga (Reading)
Aaron Long (West Ham New York Red Bulls)
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (6)

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Paxtom Pomykal (FC Dallas)
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

Forwards (6)

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Timothy Weah (Lille)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Paul Arriola (DC United)
Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)