The case for (and against) every Eastern Conference playoff team

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Of the six teams remaining in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, you could argue there are three distinct pairings.

You have red-hot traditional sides in DC United and the New York Red Bulls; There are the big-name driven, deep squads from Toronto FC and New York City FC, and finally the two relative unknowns truly deserving of “wildcard” status in the Philadelphia Union Montreal Impact.

[ MORE: Yedlin on Newcastle, EFL Cup ]

Sure, the table tends to tell us who’s who in the pecking order. It’s hard to bet against the Red Bulls seeing they haven’t lost since July 3, and Frank Lampard has somehow quietly been a wrecking ball thanks to dynamite performances from captain David Villa and world-class maestro Andrea Pirlo.

But there are reasons those teams may not be the true favorite to advance to the MLS Cup final, just as there are ways to imagine Philly can punch their way through the East. We’re here to give you both.

Philadelphia Union (6)

Why they’ll win: The young unit might be too green to know it isn’t expected to knock off Toronto in Toronto, or a New York team in New York or New Jersey. Chris Pontius and Tranquillo Barnetta add veteran skill and savvy, while Andre Blake is capable of stealing some of the league’s more terrific strikes.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

Why they won’t: Their last win was Aug. 27, and we’re supposed to expect the Union to win on the road at Toronto, RBNY, and then either NYCFC or DC. Nah, dog (though it’d be quite a story and we’d be happy to watch it).

Montreal Impact (5)

Why they’ll win: Didier Drogba may not be mentally in it, but he’s still a fierce competitor who can score with the best of them. By the way, the “best of them” definitely includes Ignacio Piatti. The Argentine has been one of the top players in the league this season, and can take over any game (Yes, even three on the bounce).

Why they won’t: The dysfunction and fall-out from Drogba’s benching permeates the room before match against red-hot DC United, and an average road team fails to meet expectations.

Montreal Impact forward Didier Drogba heads the ball in front of D.C. United midfielder Marcelo Sarvas during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

DC United (4)

Why they’ll win: A four-match win streak earned most of DC’s starters a well-deserved rest on Decision Day, and there will be a “Why not us?” cry coming from the DC dressing room. Patrick Nyarko has been a lot of fun to watch. Luciano Acosta is legit as well. Bill Hamid is an excellent shot stopper, and the four-time champion Black-and-Red is overdue for a final, having been absent since beating KC in 2004.

[ MORE: Pre-playoff power rankings ]

Why they won’t: Let’s be honest, most arguments against DC sound quite political. “Well, they can’t win because of the other guys being so good.” DC doesn’t have the firepower of TFC, NYCFC, and RBNY; Would you bet on them beating two of the above, which they likely would have to? (Actually, kinda).

Toronto FC (3)

Why they’ll win: Frankly, this is the best defensive team in the East, with a minimum of three game attacking breakers in Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, and Jozy Altidore. Imports Drew Moor and Clint Irwin aren’t scared of the spotlight, and Will Johnson will be putting on for his city. And they’re good away from BMO Field. This could be TFC’s season, y’all.

Why they won’t: This is Toronto’s 10th season, and happens to be the first one in which it won more matches than it lost. TFC’s debut home match comes on Wednesday evening, and there’s something to be said for experience. While some of its players have plenty, the club does not possess much at all.

New York City FC (2)

Why they’ll win: One of only two teams (Toronto) to finish their road schedule with a .500 record, Patrick Vieira has been able to get the best out of the superstars and the lesser-known members of NYC’s squad. Tactically, we’re not sure there’s another coach in the East with his acumen.

Why they won’t: It’s also Vieira’s first playoffs as a manager, and the whole franchise hasn’t done that dance, either. They have one win in five combined matches against RBNY and TFC.

New York Red Bulls (1)

Why they’ll win: Frankly, as stated above, because they don’t lose. Jesse Marsch hasn’t overseen a loss in three-and-a-half months, has two legit claimants to MVP honors in Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan, and have been reinforced by one of the deepest Academy production lines in MLS.

Why they won’t: New York won just three road matches all year, even if it managed 7 draws away from Red Bull Arena. On top of that, this is year No. 20 of MLS, and founding members RBNY have zero titles and one final appearance. Those ghosts could come creeping up to the door.

Arsenal vs Liverpool: How to watch live, stream link, TV, team news

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Arsenal vs Liverpool: The Premier League leaders will try to keep pace with Manchester City when they welcome the Reds, mired in a mid-table slump, to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 11:30 am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE ARSENAL vs LIVERPOOL

The Gunners (7W-0D-1L – 1st place) are winless in their last five meetings with Liverpool (2W-4D-1L – 9th) in all competitions, without scoring a single goal (and conceding 11). Arsenal are winless (without penalty kicks) in their last eight head-to-head matchups (0W-3D-5L).

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Arsenal vs Liverpool

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Arsenal vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Last weekend’s north London derby was billed as a massive test of Arsenal’s early-season title credentials, and they passed with flying colors. Still the youngest team in the Premier League (average age of 24.5, tied with Southampton), the young Gunners have grown and improved far more quickly than was expected of them, now they must show they can beat a side of Liverpool’s caliber — even in their struggles, the quality and highs-stakes experience remain and incredible advantage —  at the very top of the Premier League hierarchy, and a side so dominant in recent times. Gabriel Jesus’ arrival (and team-leading five goals to start the season) has lifted spirits and tide alike, getting the rest of the attacking unit (Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka) heavily involved in the goal-scoring, too. Nine different players have scored a PL goal, but the above quartet is responsible for 12 of 20 goals and 8 of 13 assists thus far.

As for Liverpool, scoring goals hasn’t been a problem (18 in seven games – 4th-most in the PL) and their nine goals conceded (tied-5th-fewest) is hardly appalling either, but their performances have largely matched the disappointing 9th-place start: uninspiring, unremarkable and a bit worrying. Last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Brighton was certainly thrilling, but the Reds not only slow out of the starting gates (2-0 down after 18 minutes), but also not up to the task of closing out an undeserved victory (conceded an 83rd-minute equalizer). Injuries have made things rather difficult for Jurgen Klopp, but the impending returns of Ibrahima Konate and Andrew Robertson are good cause for optimism as Liverpool try to reverse course and keep within touching distance of the top of the table.


Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Arthur Melo (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Andrew Robertson (knee), Curtis Jones (calf)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

England beats USWNT 2-1 in statement victory at Wembley

England vs USWNT
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LONDON (AP) — Ten weeks after conquering Europe, England proclaimed themselves ready for even more after beating the world champion USWNT 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley Stadium on Friday.

Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway scored to help England beat the USWNT for the first time since 2017 and less than 10 months before the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Stanway’s penalty in the 33rd minute put the hosts in front for good before 76,893 fans. Victory extended England’s unbeaten run to 23 games under coach Sarina Wiegman.

England took the lead in the 10th when Beth Mead sent a low cross into the box. USWNT defender Alana Cook tried to make a sliding block but the ball wiggled through to Hemp, who finished from close range.

The Americans equalized just before the half-hour mark. Millie Bright tried to pass out of the back to a tightly covered Stanway, and Lindsey Horan poked the ball forward to Sophia Smith, who turned and fired low to the left corner past a diving Mary Earps.

Stanway made amends from the spot, though, shooting the ball into the right corner as goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher went the wrong way.

Minutes later, the visitors thought they tied the game again but Trinity Rodman’s strike was ruled out for offside.

England and the USWNT wore teal armbands in solidarity with sexual abuse victims and together held a banner that read “Protect the Players” just before kickoff. A report this week into the scandals that erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the league.

There was also a moment of silence for the victims of the deadly crush of fans at a soccer match in Indonesia.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard were among the stars in attendance. The Packers play the New York Giants on Sunday in an NFL game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. “Ted Lasso” actor Jason Sudeikis was also on hand.

USWNT wing Crystal Dunn went on as a second-half substitute — less than five months after giving birth to her son. It was her 124th international appearance and first in nearly 13 months.

The draw for the World Cup will be in Auckland on Oct. 22.

Bournemouth vs Leicester: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Bournemouth vs Leicester: The Cherries will try to make it five games unbeaten when they host the one-win Foxes at Vitality Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BOURNEMOUTH vs LEICESTER

Leicester (4 points. 19th place) hammered Nottingham Forest 4-0 to pick up that first win of the season last time out, seemingly buying manager Brendan Rodgers a bit more time following an incredibly rocky start (0W-1D-6L). Bournemouth (9 points – 13th), meanwhile, are unbeaten (1W-3D-0L) since firing Scott Parker in late August (1W-0D-3L to start).

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Bournemouth vs Leicester

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Bournemouth vs Leicester live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

The Cherries had turned their season around by tightening the defense (just three goals conceded in four games, including two clean sheets) to compensate for their inability to create, let alone finish, scoring chances (two goals scored in four games under Parker; four in four games under interim boss Gary O’Neil). Half of their six goals came in the 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest (a common them emerges as well), all in a 36-minute period in the second half. Aside from those 36 minutes, it’s been a barren wasteland of offensive output (0.48 xG per game – last in the Premier League, by a wide margin).

The Foxes kept their first clean sheet of the season in the win over Forest, after conceding a PL-high 22 goals in their first seven games (they are still last in the PL, just ahead of — you guessed it — Forest). Leicester were, however, fortunate to escape the opening half-hour without conceding (maybe twice), most notably when Taiwo Awoniyi hit the post of an open goal. Saturday’s battle with Bournemouth will offer the perfect opportunity for another clean sheet.


Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Leicester team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Wilfried Ndidi (hamstring), Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee), Nampalys Mendy (knee)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 10 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

[ MORE: How to watch the Premier League on NBC ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Leon Bailey (undisclosed), Calum Chambers (illness)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Pontus Jansson (hamstring), Christian Norgaard (achilles), Keane Lewis-Potter (knock) | QUESTIONABLE: Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Moises Caicedo (undisclosed)Enock Mwepu (illness)

Chelsea injuries

OUT: Wesley Fofana (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Carney Chukwuemeka (illness)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT:  Chris Richards (leg), Jack Butland (hand), Nathaniel Clyne (ankle), Nathan Ferguson (foot), James McArthur (groin)

Everton injuries

OUT: Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee), Yerry Mina (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Nathaniel Chalobah (suspension), Layvin Kurzawz (calf), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle), Willian (calf), Kenny Tete (undisclosed)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Luis Sinisterra (suspension), Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (ankle), Archie Gray (ankle)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Wilfried Ndidi (hamstring), Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee), Nampalys Mendy (knee)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Arthur Melo (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Curtis Jones (calf), Andrew Robertson (knee)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kyle Walker (groin), Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Aaron Wan Bissaka (knock), Donny van de Beek (knock), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Raphael Varane (ankle)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Matt Ritchie (calf), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Aleksander Isak (leg)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Armstrong (undisclosed), Juan Larios (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

OUT: Dejan Kulusevski (undisclosed), Emerson Royal (suspension), Lucas Moura (achilles), Japhet Tanganga (knock)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Maxwel Cornet (calf)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Ruben Neves (suspension), Raul Jimenez (groin), Pedro Neto (ankle), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee)