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UEFA Europa League preview: RVP ready for “special” Old Trafford return

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We’ve got a Champions League-level match down in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, highlighted by an Old Trafford visit by a Turkish giant.

Old pal Robin Van Persie and Fenerbahce visit Manchester United on Thursday, and the home side would do well with all three points. Fener has a road draw at Zorya and a home win versus Feyenoord, while United beat Zorya after losing in the Netherlands.

[ MORE: Champions League power rankings ]

“In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it’s United,” Van Persie said on ManUtd.com. “I am looking forward to it. I am now playing for Fenerbahce and I want to do well for my team but of course it will be special to play ‘at home’ [Old Trafford] in a great stadium with great fans against a great team.”

Jose Mourinho admitted he’ll start Luke Shaw in the match, and wouldn’t rule out playing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney or both. United has to deal with a well-rested Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, so Mourinho’s lineup choice will be interesting.

Fenerbahce’s travel was anything but routine on the way to Manchester.

Our own Joe Prince-Wright will be at the San Siro for  Southampton‘s visit to Inter Milan. Inter has lost both of its Europa League outings so far, while Saints are tied for the group lead after beating Sparta Prague and drawing away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Meanwhile, surprising Dundalk hosts Zenit in the latest bid at upsetting a European regular, while Ajax faces a tricky trip to Celta Vigo.

Full schedule

1 p.m. ET
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Sparta Prague
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Gent
Qarabag vs. PAOK
Steaua Bucuresti vs. Zurich
Celta Vigo vs. Ajax
Standard Liege vs. Panathinaikos
Konyaspor vs. Braga
Liberec vs. Fiorentina
Inter Milan vs. Southampton
Red Bell Salzburg vs. Nice
Osmanlispor vs. Villarreal
Krasnodar vs. Schalke

3:05 p.m. ET
Saint Etienne vs. Gabala
Roma vs. Austria Wien
Olympiacos vs. Astana
Manchester United vs. Fenerbahce
Mainz vs. Anderlecht
Rapid Wien vs. Sassuolo
Viktoria Plzen vs. Astra Giurgiu
Dundalk vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Young Boys vs. Apoel Nicosia
Feyenoord vs. Zorya Luhansk
AZ Alkmaar vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Genk vs. Athletic Bilbao

World record-holding manager Gutendorf dies at 93

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The world record holder for most teams managed has died at the age of 93.

Rudi Gutendorf, who managed in the United States with the NASL’s St. Louis Stars (1968), last managed in 2003 when he led the Samoa national team.

[ MORE: Maguire shining for Man Utd ]

Those are two of 55 teams he led onto the pitch, 22 of which were national teams. He led teams from CONCACAF (Trinidad and Tobago), CAF (Ghana), CONMEBOL (Chile), OFC (Fiji), and AFC (Australia).

The German-born Gutendorf did a lot of his club work in Europe, leading clubs as big as Hamburg, Schalke, Real Valladolid, and Hertha Berlin.

Gutendorf managed Rwanda in the wake of the country’s dark civil war. From DW.com:

“Such hate, you cannot believe. I was able to unite these two tribes to play football, and good football,” he said in a 2013 interview of the mixed Rwandan team of Hutu and Tutsi players.

What a fascinating career Gutendorf had, and the stories he’s told.

Man Utd’s Maguire “showed what a man he is” versus Leicester

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Manchester United is still working to find its form as a team, but center back Harry Maguire continued his run of fine performances when the Red Devils beat his former team on Saturday.

United beat Leicester City 1-0 on the day, a Marcus Rashford penalty the difference, but Maguire and fellow new back Aaron Wan-Bissaka were again exceptional.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-0 Leicester City ]

Ashley Young has been through a few iterations of Manchester United, and the long-time club offered up lofty words to credit Maguire’s contributions to the team.

“Again he showed today what a man he is,” Young said. “You know, I think the manager’s said about him, he talks non-stop, he’s a real leader and he can play as well.”

Maguire won five aerial battles and two tackles while completing 83 percent of his passes and managing two shots against his former side (WhoScored). On the season, only Anthony Martial has consistently been more important to the team.

He also did not record a loss of possession, and seemingly was unbothered by plenty of criticism from the traveling fans. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t think it bothers (Maguire) whatsoever,” said Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “You’ve got to be that way and when you play, when you coach, when you manage, we don’t get carried away when we win a game that we maybe didn’t deserve to win, but we don’t get in the dumps when we don’t win.”

Solskjaer also loved Maguire and Victor Lindelof for their performance against pesky Leicester star Jamie Vardy.

“I’ve got loads of admiration for Vardy,” Solskjaer said. “I think he’s my type of centre forward, runs in in behind, harasses and you’ve got to be spot on with the decision-making, when to stay up, when to drop off, and both of them proved their worth today. There were a couple of races and Harry did well.”

Maguire didn’t love being on the other side of Vardy, either.

“It was tough playing against Jamie,” he said. “I’ve played with him for two years and he is a top player who can terrorize defenses when he is on his game. … We knew it was important to get the win, especially after the international break. We have to build on a solid base and we want to keep clean sheets, especially at Old Trafford. We are always going to score goals with the attacking talent we have.”

United hosts Kazakhstan’s Astana on Thursday in the Europa League before visiting West Ham United on Sept. 22.

Watch Live: Bournemouth v. Everton

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin gets the start up top as Everton looks to take down hosts Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Richarlison join Calvert-Lewin in attack for the Toffees, who can go fourth with a win.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Bournemouth enters the day in 16th, a point ahead of the bottom three, but can rise into the top half with a win. Early season vibes.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Rico, Ake, Cook, Stacey, Solanke, Billing, L. S. Cook, Wilson, King, Wilson. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Lerma, Ibe, Fraser, Simpson, Mepham.

Everton: Pickford, Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman, Delph, Schneiderlin, Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Walcott, Sidibe, Bernard, Davies, Kean.

USWNT legend O’Reilly scores stunner on night to honor her career

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USWNT hero and North Carolina Courage playmaker Heather O’Reilly gave her special day its just desserts.

The 34-year-old New Jersey native scored a sweet goal late in North Carolina’s 6-1 demolition of Orlando Pride on Saturday night, which just so happened to be the evening chosen to celebrate her 17-year career.

[ MORE: Fan banned from all NWSL games ]

O’Reilly dribbled down the left before cutting to the middle and slashing a shot across the goal and inside the far post.

She has 231 USWNT caps with 47 goals, a Women’s World Cup crown, three Olympic gold medals, three top-flight domestic titles, two Women’s College Cups, and an FA Cup with Arsenal Ladies.

The Courage have four matches left in the regular season and look set to again be the No. 1 seed, so O’Reilly may yet have more memorable moments left in her playing career.