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MLS at Week 10: Sounders host TFC in rematch of 2016 final

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Week 10 around MLS presents several tantalizing matchups but none bigger than a meeting between last season’s MLS Cup winner and runners’ up.

Surprises like the Houston Dynamo and Orlando City will meet in an important cross-conference clash on Saturday, while a rivalry is renewed when the Philadelphia Union host the New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: Week 8 MLS Power Rankings ]

Let’s take a look at all of this weekend’s matches:

Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
10 p.m. ET Friday

These two sides are moving in opposite directions very quickly. The Rapids haven’t won since the opening week of the season, while the Whitecaps have won three of their last five and are beginning to show signs of life after falling out of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC
3 p.m. ET Saturday

Game of the Week! We get to see the two best sides from a season ago battle it out at CenturyLink Field, and this matchup couldn’t have come at a better time. The Sounders aren’t exactly in midseason form but they’re playing very well and TFC has certainly gotten its deficiencies sorted out after winning its last three fixtures.

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact
6 p.m. ET Saturday

Ben Olsen’s side is coming off of a very important win down in Atlanta, but can D.C. keep it up against the struggling Impact? The Canadian club hasn’t won on the road yet in 2017so they’ll be looking at RFK to get off the snide.

Philadelphia Union vs. NY Red Bulls
7 p.m. ET Saturday

It’s always a fun one when these two sides get together but as Week 10 approaches there’s a very different feel to this match. The Union are looking for something, really anything, to get them three points. Back-to-back draws can be minor positives for Jim Curtin and his club but it’s getting very close to the point where massive changes need to be made in Chester.

Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution
7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Both teams are coming off of very disappointing results, particularly the Revs, who led the Sounders by three goals on the road a week ago. The Crew and Revs will need to forget their short-term memory.

Houston Dynamo vs. Orlando City
8:30 p.m. ET Saturday

The Lions had their four-game win streak ended on Wednesday but it’s hard to say the sky is falling for Orlando City. They’ve been one of the best sides this season thus far and Jason Kreis has become an early candidate for Manager of the Year. Meanwhile, the Dynamo suffered a similar fate to Toronto in their last match but continue to be a pleasant surprise as well.

Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas
9:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Back-to-back defeats for RSL isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered for Mike Petke and co. and with Dallas coming to town it could be more trouble ahead for the Claret and Cobalt. Dallas remains the lone unbeaten side in MLS, but can RSL put an end to that streak?

LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire
10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Coming into this season, it would’ve been expected that the two sides would have their positions reversed in the table but the Fire have shown drastic improvement in the second year of Veljko Paunovic’s managerial tenure. The Galaxy, however, haven’t had much go in their favor in 2017 with just two wins in seven matches.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers
10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

The Timbers have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the attack this season, and the Quakes will surely be looking to borrow a trick or two from them when these sides get together at Avaya Stadium. San Jose has yet to lose at home this season after going 2-0-2 in their first four matches.

Minnesota United vs. Sporting KC
1:30 p.m. ET Sunday

The good news for the Loons is they’re playing at home, but unfortunately it’s against one of the top sides in MLS. Sporting KC has only allowed three goals in nine games this season, and the Western Conference leaders are beginning to fire on all cylinders up front as well.

New York City FC vs. Atlanta United
4 p.m. ET Sunday

In most other weeks this would be Game of the Week-worthy given their firepower on the offensive side of things. It should still live up to the hype though, especially if Josef Martinez is able to make a return for Atlanta.

Actors Reynolds, McElhenney bid to invest in Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC
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“The Gang Buys a Football Team?”

“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” actor Rob McElhenney and “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds are said to be in talks to buy National League side Wrexham AFC, reports The Guardian.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

The Welsh club, nicknamed the Red Dragons, was founded in 1855 and made it to the European Cup Winners’ Cup eight times between 1972-96.

They’ve since been relegated out of the Football League, dipping out of League Two in 2008.

McElhenney and Reynolds have bid to take over the club, and the Wrexham Supporters Trust says 97.5 percent of their members voted to allow the actors to propose their vision for the club before a second vote.

From wst.org.uk:

As a result, talks with the proposed bidders will now continue and we are in a position to confirm the two people interested in investing in Wrexham AFC.

Rob McElhenney is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter, best known as the creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Ryan Reynolds is an award-winning Canadian actor, writer, producer and business entrepreneur whose credits include Marvel’s Deadpool.

It’s gotta get McElhenney’s goat that Reynolds gets the “award-winning” adjective added to his name.

Either way, this is definitely an intriguing club for investment and the potential addition of Reynolds and McElhenney to the fray would only increase the interest in Wrexham AFC.

Deadpool and Mac would be quite a combo in the transfer market.

Arteta drawn into Ozil discussion, reacts to Liverpool doubleheader

Arteta on Ozil
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Mikel Arteta did his best not to give a soundbite that included Mesut Ozil’s name following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester City in League Cup action on Wednesday.

Ozil, 31, has not played since assisting the lone goal in a March 7 win over West Ham and has since only twice even made the bench (June 20 and 25).

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Asked six times about the German, Arteta painted in broad strokes before mentioning Ozil in the second set of questions.

Arteta said that Ozil simply hasn’t warranted a place in an 18. This is how he responded when asked if he understood why there are so many questions about a player who has 44 goals and 77 assists in 254 appearances for the Gunners.

From Football.London:

“Of course I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.”

Okay then.

As for Wednesday’s win, the Gunners broke through on a Christian Fuchs own goal before sealing the deal on Eddie Nketiah’s marker just before the final whistle.

Arsenal was outshot 15-10 but both teams were decidedly second-string. Now the Gunners get consecutive affairs at Anfield, as Liverpool is the hosts for a Monday meeting in the Premier League and a League Cup fourth round tie days later.

Arteta was asked how big of a test that will be for the Gunners.

“You can imagine, probably the toughest place to go in Europe or the world. That’s the fixtures, we have to go there. Let’s go first on Monday, let’s prepare well and see how it goes.”

Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in July to deny the Reds a 100-point season, weeks after the Reds clinched the Premier League title. The Gunners again topped Liverpool in the Community Shield one month later.

The atmosphere and stakes will be high again next week. Surely Arteta can’t go 4-0 against Jurgen Klopp, right? Right?

Leicester City’s Rodgers: Gruesome Ndidi injury could cost him 12 weeks

Ndidi injury
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For every team, there’s an indispensible player and it’s difficult to argue against Leicester City’s player being Wilfred Ndidi.

The groin injury that kept the Nigerian out of Leicester’s 2-0 home loss to Arsenal in the League Cup could require surgery, said Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers after the game.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

One of the game’s top destroyers, Ndidi had played two matches at center back as Leicester opened the season 2-0.

Rodgers could hardly have made the injury sound more painful.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“We’re just waiting to hear more on that but it could be anything between six and 12 weeks,” Rodgers said. “It’s a groin abductor which may have come off the bone, which is quite a nasty one. We’re waiting to see if he needs an operation or not. If he does, it will be at least 12 weeks.”

Leicester missed Ndidi for five-of-six games in early 2020 and went 2D-3L, starting a skid that ended up costing them Champions League football.

The 23-year-old already has 34 caps for Nigeria.

The Foxes have Nampalys Mendy, Hamza Choudhury, and Daniel Amartey amongst their defensive midfield options.

They next face Man City, West Ham, Aston Villa, and Arsenal in Premier League play. Leicester will learn its Europa League group on Oct. 2 before beginning its UEL run the week of Oct. 22.

Champions League: Six-goal thriller in Norway; Marsch’s Salzburg lead

Champions League qualifying
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The UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round is delivering entertainment, with six first legs dotting the European landscape over the past 27 hours.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

American coach Jesse Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg take a first leg advantage home from Israel, while U.S. right back Henry Wingo and Molde played the game of the round so far against Hungary’s Ferencvaros.


Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg

The Austrian visitors were heavy favorites, especially with the hosts dealing with positive COVID-19 tests, but Maccabi took a ninth-minute lead through Dan Biton.

But young Dominik Szoboszlai’s Man of the Match showing began with a goal in the 49th minute and Masaya Okugawan gave Salzburg the lead eight minutes later ahead of next week’s second leg in Austria.

Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros

A thriller in Norway saw the hosts erase a 2-0 deficit only to hand a big away goals advantage to the Hungarian visitors with minutes to play.

Ferencvaros scored early in each half through Franck Boli and Myrto Uzuni. Both goals were set up by Endre Botka and Ferencvaros looked set to cruise through the first leg.

Molde snapped awake through former Manchester United, Cardiff City, and Seattle Sounders man Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who set up Leke James in the 55th minute before scoring a classy goal that was started on the right flank by fellow ex-Sounder and American export Henry Wingo.

Martin Ellingsen gave Molde its first lead in the 83rd, but Ihor Kharatin made it 3-3 four minutes later to send Ferencvaros back to Hungary with three away goals. A draw any less insane would be enough for them to head to the group stage.

Elsewhere

Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia Nicosia
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland

Second legs

Sept. 29
Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30 
Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv