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MLS Snapshots: FC Dallas 3-1 Fire | Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): When they’ve got 11 players on the field, the prospect of facing FC Dallas is downright frightening. Oscar Pareja’s side, which entered the weekend with a three-point lead in the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield races, held serve and protected that margin thanks to a 3-1 home victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday. Not only did FCD make it four wins in five games, but they did so in spectacular fashion, scoring a pair of highlight reel goals in the first half. Maximiliano Urruti finished the Fabian Castillo’s ridiculous rabona cross, and Mauro Diaz hit a pinpoint bomb. Which goal was most spectacular? Take your pick. You can’t go wrong.

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Three moments that mattered

23′ — Urruti heads home Castillo’s rabona cross — Castillo is probably ready for Europe was ready for Europe years ago.

41′ — Diaz fires from distance for 2-0 — Diaz is a beautiful, magical unicorn (when he’s healthy).

56′ — Barrios has a wide open net, but can’t finish — There are spectacular misses, and there is what Michael Barrios did in the 56th minute. Oh, my.

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Man of the match: Fabian Castillo

Goalscorers: Urruti (23′), Diaz (41′), Alvarez (90+1′), Rosales (90+2′)


The game in 100 words (or less): While FCD were (hardly) busy taking care of business in Frisco, Tex., the Colorado Rapids found themselves (somewhat) occupied in securing a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in Commerce City, Colo. Playing once again without Jermaine Jones (with the USMNT world-beater on the field, Pablo Mastroeni’s side played its way to the Supporters’ Shield lead; without him, they had won just two of their last seven games), the Rapids somehow managed to improve upon their league-best goals-conceded mark (now just 13 in 19 games). The victory keeps the Rapids (37 points) three points back of FCD, while Sporting KC (28 points) remain fifth in the West with the Vancouver Whitecaps, a point behind in sixth, taking on Orlando City SC. The Portland Timbers would also leapfrog Peter Vermes’s side with a victory over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

65′ — Melia rushes out to deny Hairston — Tim Melia found himself sprinting off his line to close down Marlon Hairston’s path to goal in the 65th minute, saving the Rapids’ best chance of the night thus far.

78′ — Hairston curls one far post for 1-0 — Hairston’s second chance was much more difficult than his first, but it was the follow-up effort that found the back of the net.

90+2′ — Rubio hacked down in the box, no call — Sporting KC should have been awarded a penalty in the 92nd minute, but no whistle from referee Drew Fischer. Sometimes life be like that.

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Man of the match: Marlon Hairston

Goalscorers: Hairston (78′)

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

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How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

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The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

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Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

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