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MLS: FCD hitting their stride; Dempsey scores twice in SEA win

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FC Dallas 4-2 D.C. United

The game in 100 words (or less): We’re only just beginning to see anything resembling the very best FC Dallas have to offer, now that Mauro Diaz, the magical unicorn no. 10, is back. The Argentine playmaker returned to the starting lineup a week and a half ago, and Oscar Pareja’s side have two wins and a draw (combined score of 8-4) to show for their efforts. Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over D.C. United had Diaz’s fingerprints all over the film, as he tallied an assist for the third straight game and masterfully dictated tempo for an FCD side so happy to have its midfield metronome back in tow. Roland Lamah has been the biggest beneficiary of Diaz’s presence, scoring twice more on Tuesday to take his season tally to eight goals, including seven in his last five games (four while playing with Diaz). The victory pushes FCD level on points (31) with Sporting Kansas City atop the Western Conference, and ahead on goal differential. Ian Harkes and Deshorn Brown scored DCU’s goals on the night, the first for each player this season.

[ MORE: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT to win over Ghana | Three things ]

Three Four moments that mattered

41′ — Harris rises above, heads home for 1-1 — Victor Ulloa’s corner kick found Harris atop the six-yard box, and it was all pretty straightforward from there.

45+3′ — Lamah pounces on a loose ball, 2-1 — Failing to clear the ball from inside your own penalty area, on multiple occasions, will cost you every single time.

47′ — Urruti forces Worra into a blunder, and it’s 3-1 — Travis Worra should do something — anything — else here.

55′ — Lamah bundles home from close range for 4-1 — Diaz started the entire move (shocker, right?), Michael Barrios picked out Lamah inside the box, and it would have been tough to miss from there.

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

Man of the match: Roland Lamah

Goalscorers: Harkes (30′), Harris (41′), Lamah (45+3′, 55′), Urruti (47′), Brown (57′)


Colorado Rapids 1-3 Seattle Sounders

The game in 100 words (or less): The key to winning in Colorado, or against any other side that sits ultra-deep defensively, is to score early and force them out of their defensive shell, wait for the spaces to open up when they creep forward in search of the equalizer, and strike on the break. Seattle executed that particular game plan with aplomb on Tuesday, thanks to Clint Dempsey‘s 6th-minute opener, Will Bruin’s 30th-minute tally to make it 2-0, and the icing on the cake from Dempsey in the 85th minute — the latter two of which capped off quick counter-attacking moves. The victory pushes Seattle past Vancouver Whitecaps and LA Galaxy as the defending champions move into the sixth and final playoff place in the Western Conference (for the time being).

[ MORE: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT to win over Ghana | Three things ]

Three Four moments that mattered

6′ — Dempsey finds some space, makes it 1-0 — The invisible forcefield around Dempsey not only prevented anyone from closing to within five yards of him, but seemed to actively push everyone wearing a burgundy shirt farther and farther away.

30′ — Bruin pounces on a mistake for 2-0 — Route 1 soccer is rarely pretty, but it’s often effective — especially when the would-be clearances are this poor.

78′ — Badji pokes home Hairston’s cross for 2-1 — Marlon Hairston delivered the inch-perfect ball for Badji, and there was no missing from there.

85′ — Dempsey beats Howard in spectacular fashion for 3-1 — Tim Howard will be having a word with Dempsey post-game after beating hit this first-time, left-footed lob to ice the game.

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

Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (6′, 85′), Bruin (30′), Badji (78′)

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow