Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP

MLS Snapshots: Orlando City 2-2 RSL | Chicago Fire 3-4 NYCFC

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The game in 100 words (or less): A first-half red card for either side made for tons of space and a wide open game of soccer in Orlando on Sunday, as 10-man Orlando City SC drew 2-2 with 10-man Real Salt Lake on goals scored in the 94th and 95th minutes. It was simply an utter capitulation from RSL’s defense. For 93 minutes, RSL were by far the better side and looked so confident and so assured of starting their season with three points away from home. A fun debate to have would be, “which of the two red cards was dumber?” I’ll take Darwin Ceren’s cheap shot on the head of Javier Morales, but could easily be talked into Demar Phillips’ head-high boot on Cyle Larin. Fun times. We’ll wait until either said plays a full 11-v-11 game before trying to discern too terribly much from their performance, but you have to wonder about RSL’s psyche after a self-destruction like this.

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Three moments that mattered

20′ & 45+2′ — Phillips, Ceren sent off, both sides down to 10 — Look, if you’re opposite number is going for a 50-50 ball with his head, you can’t try to win the ball with your foot. Phillips tried anyway, and rightly saw red. Ceren should also know you can’t intentionally target the head of an opponent without making any play on the ball. Both sides down to 10 men, wide open soccer to ensue.

25′ — Movsysian taken down in the box, PK to RSL — Down a man? No problem for RSL, who won a penalty kick five minutes after Phillips’ dismissal. Seb Hines tried to win the ball off Yura Movsysian from behind, and ended up taking the Armenian down instead. Joao Plata converted the ensuing spot kick, 1-0 to RSL.

90+4′ & 90+5′ — OCSC hits RSL twice in two minutes, steals a point — What in the world happened, RSL? You were fewer than 60 seconds from closing out a thoroughly professional away victory to start your season. Cyle Larin bagged the first goal, which should have been nothing more than a late consolation, before Adrian Winter hammered home from a simple long ball over the top to rob RSL of two more points and grab one for themselves.

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Man of the match: Joao Plata

Goalscorers: Plata (26′ – PK, 66′), Larin (90+4′), Winter (90+5′)


The game in 100 words (or less): My advice: put on this track before reading any further and/or watching the below highlights. Got it playing in the background? OK, good. New York City FC and the Chicago Fire are atrocious defensive teams, and that made for a highly entertaining, hilarious game at Toyota Park on Sunday. The two sides combined for seven goals from seven different goalscorers, most of which were of the highest comedic value. Fortunately for NYCFC, they’ve got the firepower and intent to outscore just about any team in the league. This isn’t the last seven-goal game in which they’ll be involved this season. It’s almost surely not the highest-scoring game in which they’ll be involved, either. They’ll be appointing viewing each week. As for the Fire, well, the less said about them right now, the better.

[ MORE: Previewing MLS First Kick 2016 ]

Three moments that mattered

10′ — McNamara opens the scoring for 2016 — Tommy McNamara scored the first goal of the 2016 season, and a beauty it was — right-footed curler, from just outside the 18-yard box, banged in off the inside of the post.

19′ — Cocis gets in behind and slots it home — NYCFC were an unmitigated disaster defensively in 2015, and 2016 looks to be no different, at least early on. Simple things like tracking runners and not getting beat by archaic long balls are the least you would expect of a professional soccer team. Alas…

29′ — Yakety Sax defending from Chicago, and it’s 2-1 — Veljko Paunovic has a lot of work to do, doesn’t he?

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Man of the match: Tommy McNamara

Goalscorers: McNamara (10′), Cocis (19′), Taylor (29′), Shelton (36′), Igboananike (49′), Diskerud (63′) Accam (72′ – PK)

How will USMNT line up versus Costa Rica?

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Saturday brings a first look at the United States men’s national team in 2020, though Gregg Berhalter’s bunch won’t look anything like its best self.

The Yanks have an almost exclusively MLS roster for the match, with Hobro’s Christian Cappas, Wolfsburg II’s Uly Llanez and unattached 17-year-old Bryang Kayo in the fold.

Many of Berhalter’s best MLS stars won’t be in Carson either for the 3:55 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff. Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley are the biggest names.

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Ronald Gonzalez’s Ticos will be similarly hampered, although more of Costa Rica’s A-side play in MLS and domestically.

We’ll leave the breakdown of the visitors for a later date, but who will rep the U.S. in Saturday’s Starting XI?

The travel roster includes keepers Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, and Matt Turner, as well as defenders Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Julian Araujo, Chase Gasper, Justen Glad, Mark McKenzie, and Sam Vines. Listed midfielders Sebastian Lletget, Jackson Yueill, Brenden Aaronson, Cappis, Kayo, and Brandon Servania are joined by forwards Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Ferreira, and Ulysses Llanez.

Goalkeeper is anyone’s guess, but Johnson’s got the most run of the three during the Berhalter era. The younger Turner or more accomplished Hamid may step in there.

It would be surprising to see any other center backs besides Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long given what we know of Berhalter and his respect for regulars. Reggie Cannon should start at right back and it’s between Chase Gasper and Sam Vines for the left. We’ll choose Vines out of intrigue.

Jackson Yueill, Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, and Gyasi Zardes are safe bets to start, and this would seem a spot to give Jonathan Lewis more than subs’ run. That leaves one spot, and we’re pegging Brandon Servania to be the one chosen of four midfielders aged 17-20.

There’s also the matter of whether FC Dallas striker Jesus Ferreira will be internationally cleared to play Saturday. We sure hope he will be!

How do you think Berhalter will line them up?


How Berhalter may go

Johnson

Cannon — Zimmerman — Long — Vines

Yueill — Servania

Arriola — Lletget — Lewis

Zardes


What we’d like to see

Turner

Cannon — Zimmerman — McKenzie — Vines

Yueill — Cappis — Servania

Arriola — Ferreira — Lewis

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Report: Sheffield United in ‘advanced talks’ for $22M Norway star

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Sheffield United is ready to add one of the game’s brightest young talents to its blossoming Premier League side.

Norway midfielder Sander Berge is the name, and he’s been linked with Liverpool amongst others over the past few months.

Berge turns 22 next month and already has 20 caps for Norway in addition to 113 senior appearances for Genk in Belgium and 43 more for Valerenga in his home country.

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The defensive midfielder has chipped in six goals and four assists. He won the Belgian Super League with Genk last year and has a career-best four goals so this season.

It shows what success brings to a club, as Sky Sports reports that Berge turned down a move to Bramall Lane in the summer.

The fee is said to be $22 million, which isn’t small but completely reasonable given his stature for club and country.

This may move may join the Lys Mousset purchase as one of the Blades’ smartest bits of business, especially as Chris Wilder‘s men look for success on multiple fronts. Their success as a newly-promoted side is one of the great stories of the European season, and a place in Europe would be a fantastic achievement.

From The Yorkshire Post:

“It is going well, no doubt about it,” Wilder said. “On the Premier League front and in the Cup. You probably would not think it, but the win at Millwall has given me an enormous amount of pleasure in confirming, not even seeing, what my team is about. Players have come in with the likes of the skipper (Billy Sharp) and other players who are really driving it forward and want to produce individual performances and the atmosphere is good.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Espanyol identify 12 fans who racially insulted player

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BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish club Espanyol says it has identified 12 fans who racially insulted an Athletic Bilbao player in the Spanish league last weekend.

Espanyol said on Monday in a statement that nine of the fans were club members and would face punishment that could include suspension or a full-time ban.

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It said a report of its analysis of the video images of Saturday’s game at RCDE Stadium were sent to authorities.

The club reiterated its “categorical condemnation of any displays of violence and racism.”

The fans made monkey noises directed at Athletic forward Inaki Williams, who is black. Television images showed Williams confronting the section of Espanyol fans who taunted him after he was substituted late in the game in Barcelona.

The Spanish league said it will seek a partial stadium closure for Espanyol and will raise the incident with the Spanish soccer federation’s competition committee, which handles disciplinary issues.

Transfer rumors: West Ham want $44M midfielder, Barca eyes Rodrigo

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West Ham United is being linked with a big transfer splash, and it’s not even a striker.

Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez is the man in question, and West Ham is reportedly tempting Cagliari with a $44 million offer this January.

Nandez, 23, arrived from Boca Juniors for less than half that fee this summer, and has chipped in a goal with three assists for Tommaso Giulini’s sixth-place Serie A side.

He’s got 31 caps for his national team, and is averaging 1.5 tackles per match with Cagliari. Nandez is also averaging a key pass and 1.1 successful dribbles per league outing.

Football-Italia says that Cagliari will try to tie Nandez to a new deal with a $44 million release clause if the move to West Ham is unsuccessful.

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Meanwhile Barcelona’s pursuit of a Luis Suarez replacement isn’t limited to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits that Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is interesting his coaches.

“We don’t talk about players from other teams. But [Rodrigo’s] name is on the table of the coaches, and a replacement will arrive. I do not know whether it will be from Barcelona B or from outside. I like many players.”

The Spaniard has eight goals in 21 caps, and turns 29 in March. Rodrigo has four goals and 10 assists in 23 matches across all competitions this season.

Valencia beat Barcelona this weekend to send the Blaugranas three points back of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.