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Major League Soccer’s Week 3 preview: Surprising strugglers, Cali Clasico and more

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Every team has a bad week and, given the unpredictable nature of Major League Soccer, most teams will experience back-to-back clunkers at some point in a season.

But three? Three usually leads to panic (at least a little).

Several teams with promising offseasons are scratching their heads after two weeks of MLS 2016. As Week 3 takes hold on Friday, which ones might have to worry if their struggles trend into a third week?

[ MORE: Man Utd-Liverpool recap | 3 things | Europa roundup ]

New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps are all 0-2. All could remain winless after the weekend, though it’d be shocking if the first two fail to get at least a point from their matches.

Two of those teams square off, headlining our Week 3 preview.

Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 10 p.m. ET Saturday

Washington will be the venue for this pair of Cascadia Cup rivals, both hoping to halt tough runs to start the season. While the ‘Caps lost to 3-2 Montreal and 2-1 to Sporting KC, Seattle has scored just one goal in season-opening losses to KC and Real Salt Lake.

It’s been a bit of baptism by fire for Jordan Morris, who is shouldering more responsibility than expected after the departure of Obafemi Martins. He’s looked lively, but has yet to dent the score sheet.

As for Vancouver, they sent mercurial attacker Darren Mattocks packing this week and will hope that’s a bit of addition by subtraction. Both teams know a rivalry win could trigger the good vibes they so badly want to reclaim. The visiting team in this series went 3-0 last year. We’ll be watching to see if that improbable trend continues, or if Carl Robinson will be further vexed by his charges.

Prediction: 2-2.

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Get multiple screens ready, or at least your recording device, as the California Clasico takes its first strides in 2016. L.A. is smarting after a shocking road defeat to Colorado that set them back to 1-1, while Dominic Kinnear’s Quakes are feeling good with a 2-0 start to the season.

On paper, the Quakes will like their chances after beating the same Rapids team that topped the Galaxy last weekend, but not only does this match carry rivalry stakes, L.A.’s massive star and veteran qualities should have them raring to get back on the home — or any — pitch.

Prediction: Galaxy 2-1

Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler, left, vies for the ball with Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore as Sporting KC's Jimmy Medranda, right, chases during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. (Frank Gunn /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Frank Gunn /The Canadian Press via AP)

Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC7 p.m. ET Sunday

Through two weeks, this bad boy looks like an MLS Cup final preview. KC has beaten a pair of decent opponents in Seattle and Vancouver, while TFC cruised past New York Red Bulls before picking up a point at Yankee Stadium.

Both of those came without Jozy Altidore, and Toronto may have to live life without the big USMNT striker again this week (though he’s expected to be named to the U.S. roster for this month’s World Cup qualifiers).

TFC is again dealing with stadium expansion, and this is match three of an eight-match road swing to start the season. This one would have tough night written all over it in the past, but their veteran additions — especially goalkeeper Clint Irwin — could hold sway here.

Prediction: 1-1.

The rest
New York City 2-1 Orlando City
Chicago Fire 0-2 Columbus Crew
New York Red Bulls 2-0 Houston Dynamo
FC Dallas 2-2 Montreal Impact
Portland Timbers 1-0 Real Salt Lake
Philadelphia Union 1-1 New England Revolution
DC United 3-1 Colorado Rapids

Arsenal moves past Bournemouth to reach FA Cup fifth round

Arsenal
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Bukayo Saka had a goal and an assist as Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-1 in FA Cup fourth round action on Monday.

The result seals another trip to the South Coast, as the Gunners will visit Portsmouth in the fifth round.

Saka and Eddie Nketiah were the goal scorers as Arsenal did the job without Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and David Luiz in the Starting XI.

Sam Surrridge scored for Bournemouth in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. That gave a tension to the other four minutes of stoppage which did not exist in the rest of the match.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Saka drifted into the 18 to wallop a Gabriel Martinelli layoff into the upper reaches of the goal, the ball zipping from post-to-post with fury.

The 18-year-old Saka picked up an assist on Arsenal’s second goal, his cross seeing its way to Nketiah for a straight-forward finish in the heart of the 18.

Saka now has three goals and six assists in 23 appearances for Arsenal this season.

It wasn’t strictly positives for the Gunners, as Shkrodan Mustafi was stretchered off with an injury in the 62nd minute.

Bournemouth got one back when Simon Francis‘ cross was dummied by Dan Gosling, Surridge using a clever touch to set up his shot past Emiliano Martinez.

It’s Surridge’s first senior goal for Bournemouth, though the 21-year-old has managed 29 goals between Yeovil Town, Swansea City, and Oldham Athletic.

Ten possible transfers to monitor this week

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It’s been an active-enough transfer window from a wide perspective. Manchester United, Chelsea, and fans of other contenders may still be waiting for their breakthrough, but there’s been a lot to see world wide.

[ MORE: Deadline Day needs ]

Erling Haaland has a new home, and his housewarming party has been spectacular. Javier Hernandez headed from Sevilla to Major League Soccer.

Takumi Minamino joined Liverpool from Salzburg, and Gedson Fernandes found a home at Tottenham.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

So what’s still (possibly) to come before the transfer window slams shut at 6 p.m. ET Friday?

Aaron Long from New York Red Bulls to West HamA loan-to-buy bid’s been rejected, but could David Moyes skip the trial period. USMNT center back Long wants to go the Premier League, and RBNY are not in the CONCACAF Champions League so there’s time to replace him.

Antonee Robinson from Wigan Athletic to AC Milan — Speaking of USMNT-related transfers, could-be left back of the future has become a fixture at the DW Stadium but reports of his replacing Ricardo Rodriguez at Milan are many.

Paco Alcacer from Borussia Dortmund to Newcastle — The Magpies need another striker with Joelinton struggling to find form, and the BVB man is open to leaving on account of Haaland’s arrival.

Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United — A difference of $12 million seems likely to be made up by Friday.

Moussa Dembele from Lyon to Chelsea — He’s thrived at Fulham in the Championship, Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, and Lyon in Ligue 1, so the Premier League may finally get to see a mature Dembele. He made two appearances for Fulham in 2013/14.

Mykola Matviyenko from Shakhtar Donetsk to Arsenal — Twenty-two years old with 26 caps for Ukraine, reports of a try-it-before-you-buy-it with the Gunners seem very friendly to Arsenal.

Boubakary Soumare from Lille to Chelsea or Manchester United — Sixty-six senior appearances for a Ligue 1 side at age 20 is an eye-popper, and Soumare’s ceiling as a defensive midfielder is high.

Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Gerrmain to Atletico Madrid or Chelsea — The reports have all said Atleti is the front-runner, but the longer is takes the more you wonder…

Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli to Manchester United — Not in January with Napoli a month away from Barcelona in the UCL, right? Right?

Gareth Bale,  Krzysztof Piatek, Willian Jose, Mario Gotze, Steven Bergwijn, Alcacer, pretty much forward to Spurs — Self-explanatory. Spurs are transfer rumor bait as much as anyone not called Manchester United thanks to the injury to Harry Kane and the clear need for refreshment.

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

FA Cup fifth round draw

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The draw for the FA Cup fifth round has been made and a potential clash between Chelsea and Liverpool has been set up.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

If Liverpool’s youngsters (sans Jurgen Klopp and their first team) get past third-tier Shrewsbury Town in their fourth round replay they will travel to Chelsea, while holders Man City will travel to second tier Sheffield Wednesday.

Man United will travel to either Northampton Town or Derby County as they could face former United legend Wayne Rooney, while Portsmouth (the lowest ranked team left in the competition) will host either Bournemouth or Arsenal.

Southampton or Tottenham will host Norwich City in the only guaranteed all-Premier League last 16 clash.

To help ease fixture congestion for Premier League clubs and due to their week off for a mid-season player break (even if if didn’t work out like that for Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle United due to fourth round replays) the fifth round will be played across three midweek evenings on Mar. 3-5.

There will also be no replays from the fifth round onwards in the FA Cup, as the games will go to extra time and penalty kicks, if needed, if the scores are level.

Below is the draw in full for the fifth round.


Sheffield Wednesday v. Manchester City
Reading or Cardiff City v. Sheffield United
Chelsea v. Shrewsbury Town or Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v. Newcastle United or Oxford United
Leicester City v. Coventry City or Birmingham City
Northampton Town or Derby County v. Manchester United
Southampton or Tottenham Hotspur v. Norwich City
Portsmouth v. Bournemouth or Arsenal

LIVE, FA Cup: Bournemouth v. Arsenal

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Bournemouth host Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round on Monday (kick off, 3 p.m. ET) as the Cherries and Gunners will both fancy their chances of a lengthy cup run.

[ LIVE: Follow Bournemouth-Arsenal ]

In all honesty, both Eddie Howe and Mikel Arteta could do without this game as they aim to improve their position in the Premier League table.

Bournemouth picked up a vital win against Brighton last time out to push themselves out of the bottom three, while Arsenal picked up a morale-boosting draw at Chelsea after playing for over an hour with 10 men.

Howe and Arteta will acknowledge that their main aim is to stay in the Premier League and finish in the top four respectively but both will be extremely tough in the final months of the season.

It is always tough to strike the balance about how serious to take the FA Cup for teams in tough situations in the PL but more often than not the competition is a bit of a distraction for players as league form goes out of the window.

Arteta’s first game in charge of Arsenal was a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth in December and this will be a tight, tough game down in the wind and rain on the England’s south coast.

Success in cup competitions will likely save Arsenal’s dismal season as Arteta’s banged up side have shown plenty of hunger in recent weeks and an FA Cup and Europa League double would certainly salvage plenty of pride from the 2019-20 campaign.

That said, there is still a long, long way to go for Arsenal.

Click on the link above to follow the action as it happens, while we have you covered right here on Pro Soccer Talk with the reaction and analysis on the final game of the fourth round.