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MLS roundup: 36 goals across 10 games make for lively First Kick 2016

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The opening day of the 2016 Major League Soccer season is in the books, and though it left us breathless and befuddled at times, today was a good day.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

A handful of thoughts (and links) looking back at First Kick 2016…

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Toronto FC FULL RECAP

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Toronto FC scored twice, and Sebastian Giovinco scored one of them and set up the other. 2016, same as 2015. Here’s the kicker: TFC were quite good defensively against the Red Bulls, which is why I’m happy to have picked them to finish top of the Eastern Conference this year.

Portland Timbers 2-1 Columbus Crew SCFULL RECAP

MLS Cup 2015 rematch, MLS Cup 2015 deja vu — just like December’s final, Sunday’s season opener finished 2-1 to the Timbers. Dare I say, Portland might actually be (way?) better in 2016 than they were last year. That Diego Chara-Darlington Nagbe-Diego Valeri midfield trio is, in theory, perfect.

LA Galaxy 4-1 D.C. United FULL RECAP

The LA Galaxy are going to run away with the Supporters’ Shield in 2016. The LA Galaxy are going to totally fall apart and miss the playoffs in 2016. Here’s the thing: I don’t know which of those two statements to hang my hat on just yet. One thing’s indisputable tonight: they were a million times better after Mike Magee replace Giovani dos Santos, with or without Magee’s two goals.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-3 Montreal ImpactFULL RECAP

With or without Didier Drogba (they were without him on Sunday), the Impact are really good. The midfield is oh so solid, both defensively and going forward; Ignacio Piatti (two goals, one assist) is, when healthy, one of the best in the league; the defense, anchored by Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera, is imposing and terrifying. Drogba makes them MLS Cup contenders (favorites?), though they might get there without him anyway.

Seattle Sounders 0-1 Sporting Kansas CityFULL RECAP

Aided in part by a first-half red card, a shorthanded Sporting KC side (no Benny Feilhaber, Ike Opara, Brad Davis or Seth Sinovic) stole a pair of additional points from the Sounders who, it must be said, looked extremely flat in their first league game of the post-Obafemi Martins era. Also, it’s official: Roger Espinoza makes a world of difference in the SKC midfield. Hugely influential and irreplaceable player.

Orlando City SC 2-2 Real Salt LakeFULL RECAP

Typically, dueling red cards is the storyline of any game. Indeed, it was headed that direction, until Orlando City scored in the 94th minute and again in the 95th to grab a point at home against RSL. Lost in all the late-game drama: Joao Plata is tied for top spot in the 2016 Golden Boot race (two goals).

Houston Dynamo 3-3 New England RevolutionFULL RECAP

The Dynamo aren’t half-bad, you know — offensively, at least. Will Bruin, Giles Barnes, Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger, with Erick “Cubo” Torres off the bench… that’s totally fine. Unfortunately for them, they’re still kind of a mess defensively (it cost them two points on Sunday), in part because they get very little help from the midfield.

Chicago Fire 3-4 New York City FCFULL RECAP

Seriously. Click that link and watch the goals these teams conceded.

FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia UnionFULL RECAP

Mauro Diaz’s 2016 so far: one game played, two assists. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Speaking of things staying the same, Fabian Castillo got himself on the scoresheet before being stretchered off the field. Thankfully, the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Colorado RapidsFULL RECAP

Jermaine Jones is suspended for five more games. Tim Howard is stuck at Everton for another three months. At least there’s something to look forward to, but it’s going to be a long year in Denver (again). There will be very few goals scored (again).

Report: Chelsea would let Juventus hire Sarri for $7m fee

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Maurizio Sarri looks set for a second-straight offseason of “Will Chelsea or won’t they?”

One year after needing the Blues to sort out the removal of Antonio Conte and compensation with Napoli, Sarri could now be moving back to Italy.

[ MORE: Man Utd nears $20m signing ]

But Chelsea won’t make any decisions on his future until after the Europa League Final in Baku next week, and reportedly would let him leave for Juventus if the Serie A side pays a $7 million fee.

Sarri also criticized the Blues’ preseason trip to America, and Matt Law’s report says the manager is fine to stay in England but may want to return to Italy. Roma is also searching for a manager.

Chelsea’s playing style under Sarri drew criticism from supporters but the Blues are in the Europa League Final, finished third in the Premier League, and came within penalty kicks of beating Manchester City to the League Cup title.

Maybe the cigarette-chomping Sarri isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but his success on the table and tournaments with a transfer ban looming was pretty solid. Chelsea could do much worse.

Man Utd set to add $20m Swans winger James

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Manchester United’s first signing of the summer will be a Welsh international forward, but not that one, presuming the clubs sort out the transfer fee.

Swansea City winger Daniel James has agreed to terms with United, according to Sky Sports.

The 21-year-old is expected to cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men about $20 million.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

James scored five times with 10 assists for Graham Potter in all competitions this season, totaling 2800 minutes for Swans.

Only Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish was fouled more per game than James, who was taken to the turf 2.7 times per match. He mostly played on the left wing this season.

Twice-capped by Wales, James turns 22 in November. How long will it take him to make the jump from Championship star to Premier League contributor?

Martinez names Kompany in Belgium squad

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Roberto Martinez is going to suit up a manager as Belgium fights to qualify for EURO 2020.

Okay, okay, that manager is Anderlecht player-manager Vincent Kompany, mere days removed from sealing a domestic treble for Manchester City.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

Kompany, 33, has been called up by Belgium for the first time since November. He has 87 caps with four goals for the Red Devils, and perhaps the nickname will be a little less awkward now that he’s not a member of the Premier League’s “noisy neighbors.”

Here’s what Martinez had to say about Kompany’s inclusion.

“In modern football it is not easy to combine the job of player and coach,” Martinez added. “In England they have a tradition of that but less and less because the job of coach has become enormously demanding. We must give him time. We will support him in everything he does.”

Belgium is in a qualifying group with Russia, Cyprus, Scotland, Kazakhstan, and San Marino, and should waltz into the tournament.

USMNT dates to host Cuba, Canada revealed

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MIAMI (AP) The United States will host Cuba on Oct. 11 and Canada on Nov. 15 in the first CONCACAF Nations League.

CONCACAF said Tuesday that the Americans, seeded in Group A, will play at Canada on Oct. 15 and at Cuba on Nov. 19.

Sites have not been determined.

Other Nations League groups are:

B – Bermuda, Mexico, Panama

C – Martinique, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago

D – Costa Rica, Curacao, Haiti

The top team in each League A group advances to the semifinals in March, and the last-place team is relegated to League B.

The U.S. intends to play exhibitions on the September FIFA dates for national teams.

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