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How effective would a returning Landon Donovan be for the Galaxy?

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Major League Soccer’s postseason just received a major boost in the hype department, and rightfully so, as Landon Donovan appears set to return to the field after less than two years away from the game.

We’ve covered the “Why?”, not what about the “How?”.

[ MORE: Donovan is coming back ]

The last time we saw Donovan on the pitch, he was playing all 120 minutes of the Galaxy’s extra time win over New England in MLS Cup 2014, finishing a five-match run that saw him play all but 7 minutes.

How good was he that season? Real good. Check his per-game performance score amongst players to play more than 10 matches, via advanced stats site Squawka. No coincidence that No. 2 is the striker he set up for a boatload of goals.

Donovan (@Squawka)
(@Squawka)

Donovan has always been known as an endurance freak, the sort of athlete willing to commit whatever it takes to success. Even his unusual break from the game after a bout with depression came with an admission that he had trouble understanding his inability to totally commit to the game.

So he won’t be making this decision without an ability to do just that. If you need a reminder of how good Donovan was when he called it quits, lest we forget that Donovan’s final season, CONCACAF Champions League, and playoffs saw him drop 13 goals and 24 assists en route to a seventh MLS Best XI.

[ MORE: Twitter reacts to LD’s return

We wouldn’t rule out flashes of dominance from the 34-year-old attacker at all — This is Landon Donovan after all — but it’s likely we’re talking super sub for a while. Donovan said he and coach Bruce Arena said “expectations would be minimal”.

Or are we? Once Donovan’s fitness is up to snuff, this is a team missing Gyasi Zardes for the season and using Emmanuel Boateng — who scored Wednesday — and Baggio Husidic on the wings of a 4-2-3-1. The idea of Donovan slotting next Giovani Dos Santos, as odd as that would be for USMNT and Mexico fans, could happen down the stretch.

After all, this is a Galaxy team which is 7 points back of FC Dallas for the top slot in the West (and MLS), and two matches left against the Texas club. Throw in last place Houston and 8th place Seattle, and there are 12 points sitting out there before we talk mid-table sides Sporting KC and Orlando City.

[ MORE: Mourinho vs. Pep rivalry

Here’s how the Galaxy season plays out:

Sunday — vs. Orlando City FC
Sept. 18 — at Sporting KC
Sept. 25 — vs. Seattle Sounders
Oct. 1 — at FC Dallas
Oct. 16 — at Houston Dynamo
Oct. 23 — vs. FC Dallas

Remember that Squawka table from above? If not, scroll up (I kid). The Galaxy has had trouble getting production from players on the wings this year. While Dos Santos has been electric in the hole, Zardes has simply hemmorhaged possession this season.

Could we see an XI like this from Bruce Arena?

Rowe

Rogers — Steres — Van Damme — Cole

Gerrard — Larentowicz

Boateng — Dos Santos — Donovan

Keane

Given the relatively good performances from Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane, even marginally effective displays from an in-form Donovan could boost L.A. into one of the favorites for MLS Cup (They need to be more consistent at the back, for sure).

Premier League social media wrap: Brighton, teqball, remembering Tiote

Premier League social media
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Premier League sides are fully back in the flow of training with scheduled matches coming within a fortnight.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

So it’s no surprise that banter’s back, too.

That’s where we’ll start Friday, with Irish center back Shane Duffy making sure he’s keeping things light as Brighton and Hove Albion prepares to defend its Premier League place.

Duffy turned a sprinkler on his teammates at training, showing that, yes, your high school career has some things in common with Premier League footballers.

How about some skills as Manchester United gets ready for its return to the PL pitch?

Bruno Fernandes and Andreas Pereira tangled with Fred and Diogo Dalot in a match of Teqball.

You’ll have to watch to see who won.

There’s also a sad anniversary on this day.

It’s been three years since former Newcastle United wrecking ball Cheick Tiote passed away at age 30 after collapsing during a training session with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises, causing shock and grief around the Premier League.

His former teammates were remembering him on Friday, the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner was definitely beloved and will always be remembered for his incredible goal to cap off Newcastle’s 4-4 comeback draw with Arsenal.

We’ll start with Norwich City backstop Tim Krul, who spent time with Tiote at Newcastle.

Former Magpies wizard Yohan Cabaye pinned an old memorial to his Twitter wall.

 

Preview: Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha preview, how to watch
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Four Bundesliga teams are unbeaten in their last five matches and Hertha Berlin is the unlikeliest of the bunch.

They’ll tangle with Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday in the latest challenge of the Bruno Labaddia era in Berlin.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Labbadia is Hertha’s third manager of the season and Hertha has played a scrappy brand of football that has punched and counter-punched under his tutelage. That doesn’t mean they’ve failed to find finish, as Liverpool loanee Marko Grujic and Brazilian youngster Matheus Cunha have been potent.

Borussia Dortmund is a bigger ask, though Hertha made RB Leipzig make mistakes in a 2-2 tie.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Will it be able to get a result at the Westfalenstadion? Perhaps this is a bridge too far, because Dortmund’s shown an explosive offense and its defense has been strong far more often than not this season.

That said, Erling Haaland is just returning to fitness and has just one goal since the league’s restart from the coronavirus pause. Mats Hummels will miss with a yellow card suspension and Marco Reus still isn’t back.

Maybe American teen Giovanni Reyna will get prolonged run along with Jadon Sancho. We’ll see!

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin, how to watch

  • TV Channels: FS2
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)
  • When: Saturday, June 6 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Dortmund v. Hertha

Sheffield United season restart preview

Sheffield United season restart preview
Photo by Bradley Collyer/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.

Sheffield United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

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


Outlook: Sheffield United has welcomed itself to the Premier League and put its feet up on the big boys’ tables while asking what’s for dinner. Blades sit seventh and will hope to continue a fairytale which has them on the precipice of the Europa League. Their fixture list in monstrous, especially at Bramall Lane, but Wilder’s proven capable of outwitting even the smartest of bosses for long periods of time. A name to remember is Simon Moore. The backup keeper and starter from Blades’ League One days could become vital should Manchester United defy expectation and pull Dean Henderson home from his loan upon its June 30 expiry.

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


Tactical analysis: Chris Wilder has flummoxed many a Premier League manager with his creative use of defenders in attack. United typically uses Jack O’Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham as a back-3 with Enda Stevens and George Baldock as the two wingbacks. Those players have accounted for six of United’s 18 PL assists this season. For more on the tactics, Wilder laid things out in entertaining fashion for Arlo White late last month.


Possible XI (3-5-2) 

—– Henderson* —–

— Basham — O’Connell — Egan —

— Baldock — Fleck —  Berge —– Norwood — Stevens—

—– McBurnie —– Mousset —–

The challenge here is fitting January signing Berge into the mix, as fellow central midfielders John Fleck, Oliver Norwood, and John Lundstram have been instrumental in this amazing season. Lundstram seems the most likely to cede his spot if someone will, which really says something about Berge’s immense talent. David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp have provided a lot up top, so McBurnie and Mousset will see plenty of time on the bench. And the biggest question of all is Henderson, who’s on loan from top seven rival Manchester United.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Sheffield United’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Spurs, Wolves, Chelsea, Everton
Away: Newcastle, Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester City, Southampton

Predicted finish: The Blades will get the chance to defend their home turf from not one, not two, not three, but four would-be European rivals (It’s a little generous to include Everton, but the talent is there). Throw in Leicester and Manchesteer United away, and there is a huge bridge to cross for Wilder’s men to keep their incredible season on the path toward unprecedented heights. It’s not just about keeping Spurs and Arsenal in the rear view mirror, as Blades meet the next four teams above their seventh-place footing.

Petersen’s header leads Freiburg past 10-man Gladbach

Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach recap
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Nils Petersen’s second half goal led Freiburg to a huge 1-0 win over 10-man Borussia Monchengladbach at the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Friday.

Freiburg keeps its Europa League hopes alive by moving onto 41 points, one behind sixth and seventh.

Gladbach fails in a bid to go third and remains fourth with 56 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal differential.

A second yellow card to Plea was a double curse to Gladbach, who went down a man and now will miss a star forward against Bayern Munich.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Bayer’s Ramy Bensebaini utilized a slick backheel turn to nutmeg an opponent and send in a cross that was put out for a corner kick.

Freiburg keeper Alexander Schwolow made a tight-angle save on Alassane Plea just after the quarter-hour mark.

Gladbach saw a chance chalked off after two dangerous bids resulted in an offside deflection into the goal.

Florian Neuhaus came close to scoring again when Lars Stindl headed the penultimate move of a fine team play into the six, but he popped it over the frame.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Gladbach’s second half again settled into the Freiburg final third, but it was a home sub that paid dividends at the other end.

Petersen improved his club record for goals when he nodded Vincenzo Grifo’s free kick home in the 59th.

Stindl wasn’t too far from equalizing with a 17-yard shot at the hour mark, but Plea’s second yellow card damaged Gladbach’s hopes of a comeback.