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MLS Snapshots: Toronto FC 3-0 Crew SC | Orlando City 3-1 NE Revs (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): It’s the second half of the season, and rather than falling away from the pack, Toronto FC are making their move in an upward fashion as we close out July and head into August. With Sunday’s 3-0 victory over an officially floundering Columbus Crew SC side, the fighting Giovincos Reds have gone third in the Eastern Conference, just two and six points back of the second- and first-place New York Red Bulls and New York City FC, respectively, with two games in hand on each. Sebastian Giovinco picked up another goal and two assists on the night, bringing his 2016 totals to 12 and 9. He’s the odds-on favorite to become the first player in league history to win back-to-back MVP awards. Jozy Altidore returned to the scoresheet in league play for the first time since the final day of the 2015 season, and Greg Vanney’s side delivered just their clean sheet of the summer months. Crew SC, meanwhile, are just a point off the bottom of the league eight short months after appearing in MLS Cup 2015.

[ MORE: All the rest of Sunday’s MLS action ]

Three moments that mattered 

8′ — Giovinco uses Endoh as a deflector for 1-0 — So maybe he didn’t mean to do it, but you wouldn’t put it past Giovinco, would you? Either way, assist to Giovinco; goal to Tsubasa Endoh.

24′ — Giovinco gets one that can’t be taken away — No doubt about to whom to credit this one. Outside-of-the-foot beauty.

87′ — Altidore scores a deflected goal of his own — Welcome back, Jozy. If you had July 31 in the “when will Jozy score his first goal of 2016?” pool, you’re a winner.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Endoh (8′), Giovinco (24′), Altidore (87′)

The game in 100 words (or less): The Jason Kreis era is off and running for Orlando City SC, and to great effect with a 3-1 home victory over the New England Revolution on Sunday. Kevin Molino, who missed the majority of 2015 after tearing his ACL early in the season, bagged two goals and an assist, quietly bringing his 2016 totals 9 and 8. The Trinidadian probably isn’t on your radar yet, but that should be changing in short order. Cyle Larin netted for the 11th time this season (tied for second-most in MLS), and the Lions suddenly find themselves level on points with the Revs for the sixth and final playoff place. With a game in hand, plus 12 more still to play, a buoyed Orlando City side should put plenty of fear into the likes of New England and the suddenly reeling Philadelphia Union.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three Four moments that mattered 

19′ — Kamara races past three to make it 1-0 — That’s a lot of open space for a player with Kamara’s speed and nose for goal. If that’s how you want to play it, Lions.

46′ — Larin beats Shuttleworth for 1-1 — When you talk about complete forwards, you must mention Larin. Right foot, left foot, head … it doesn’t matter.

64′ — Molino heads the cross from Shea to take the lead — Brek Shea, off the right flank, floated the cross for Molino, who made no mistake with his header.

81′ — Molino fires past Shuttleworth for some insurance — When Kaka is serving them up like this, it would be rude not to score.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Kevin Molino

Goalscorers: Kamara (19′), Larin (46′), Molino (64′, 81′)

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.

Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]

Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.


Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]

Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.

Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.