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MLS Week 22: Schmid, LA Galaxy host Seattle, Chicago visits Sporting KC and more

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The annual LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders matchups are always filled with drama, but Thursday’s moves took the drama and interest in the match up a notch.

Sigi Schmid’s first game back in charge of the LA Galaxy will be against his former club, which fired him midway through the 2016 season. Schmid will also have a brand new signing to debut in Jonathan Dos Santos, the midfield brother of star forward Giovani Dos Santos.

Meanwhile, the second-place Chicago Fire from the Eastern Conference travel to face second-place Sporting Kansas City from the Western Conference, with both teams back to full strength with the Gold Cup completed.

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Here’s a look at this weekend’s full slate of matches around MLS.


Atlanta United vs. Orlando City — 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

It’s a rematch from last week’s 1-0 late win for Atlanta United over OCSC. Atlanta has won five of its last six matches, courtesy of Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba, who scored the game winner last week, but Orlando City upgraded this week by trading for former player Dom Dwyer. The American international could make his Orlando City return on Saturday.

New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

The New York Red Bulls passed the test in flying colors on the turf and in the heat at Minnesota, picking up an emphatic 3-0 victory. The Red Bulls have won three-straight games and Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer and Bradley Wright-Phillips are firing on all cylinders. The Impact meanwhile coughed up a lead to fall 2-1 and will now have to rebound against the Red Bulls. The good news is that Ignacio Piatti is set to return to the starting lineup.

New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union — 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

Both teams have struggled to win consistently this season but New England picked up a big confidence-boosting win last week, a 4-3 result over the LA Galaxy, which ended up being the dagger for Curt Onalfo. Philadelphia meanwhile is coming off a big win of it’s own, 3-0 on Wednesday against the nine-man Columbus Crew, which were pretty woeful on the night. CJ Sapong getting on the scoresheet is always a boost to the Union.

Minnesota United vs. D.C. United — 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

It’s a battle of the irrelevants as the last-place team in the Western Conference hosts the same in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have struggled mightily defensively but a win on Saturday could be a nice boost for the fan bases that have suffered through the first half of the season.

Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew — 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

The Columbus Crew’s poor road form continued Wednesday with a 3-0 battering at the Philadelphia Union. Gregg Berhalter’s side will have to rebound without two starting centerbacks against one of the league’s hottest teams in Real Salt Lake, as Mike Petke’s side is beginning to hit its stride.

FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

FC Dallas has managed to stay in first place in the Western Conference – with two games in hand over second-place Sporting Kansas City – and now they get starters Matt Hedges, Jesse Gonzalez and Kellyn Acosta back from international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team. The Whitecaps meanwhile are clinging to the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and will need a positive result to stay above the red line.

Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers — 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

The Houston Dynamo, under Wilmer Cabrera, has been one of this season’s surprises and should have a good advantage in the heat against the Timbers, which sit two points behind the Dynamo in the conference standings having played an extra game. However, the Timbers do get star Darlington Nagbe back from the Gold Cup and could steal a point on the road.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire — 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

In one of the weekend’s most-anticipated matches, it’s a battle of two second-place teams that are about to be back at full strength. Aside from the midfield battle between Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty against Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza, the biggest question for the game is how Sporting KC replaces Dom Dwyer up top. Latif Blessing, Diego Rubio and Daniel Salloi are all options up top.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids — 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

The Colorado Rapids have dropped back to earth this year after a stellar 2016, but the playoffs aren’t yet out of reach. Sitting just seven points out of a playoff place and six from the Earthquakes, Pablo Mastroeni’s side are looking for a chance to pick up a rare road win. The Earthquakes meanwhile are struggling under Chris Leitch, having lost three-straight. Colorado’s visit may come at the best time.

LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders — 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday

It’s arguably the weekend’s marquee game, with Sigi Schmid facing his old team. The Galaxy have struggled mightily to this point this season, but they’ve also had multiple starters missing large chunks of the season including Jermaine Jones, Robbie Rogers, Sebastian Lleget and Baggio Husidic. However, the focus will be on the sideline as well as on the new stars on the field, with the signing of Jonathan Dos Santos confirmed on Friday.

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC — 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday

Toronto FC secured a 2-2 draw with NYCFC that included a controversial goal that was originally given and then called back for offside, and it’s a bitter memory that Toronto FC manager Greg Vanney won’t forget. NYCFC are in a good vein of form but Toronto FC get Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley back from the Gold Cup and the pair are high on confidence from the Gold Cup title and final performances.

Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29

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The return of German soccer has been hugely successful and the Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29 is locked and loaded.

Dust off your lederhosen, fill that stein to the brim and make sure you know which young American stars to keep an eye on. Live sports is back.

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Bayern Munich are top of the table with a seven-point lead after their big win at Borussia Dortmund, while RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have all dropped points as their title bids have faltered.

Given that Bayern look likely to secure an eighth-straight title, there is an epic scramble for European qualification. The top four in Germany qualify automatically for the UEFA Champions League group stage and that means one of the five teams mentioned above as title contenders will miss out, while Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin are surging and Schalke and Freiburg have struggled in the Europa League spot.

Below is the full Bundesliga schedule for this week, as the fourth round of games to restart the campaign is a beauty.

Bundesliga schedule

Friday, May 29

2:30 p.m. ET: Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday, May 30

9:30 a.m. ET: Hertha Berlin v. Augsburg
9:30 a.m. ET: Mainz v. Hoffenheim
9:30 a.m. ET: Schalke v. Werder Bremen
9:30 a.m. ET: Wolfsburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt
12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v. Fortuna Dusseldorf

Sunday, May 31

9:30 a.m. ET: Borussia Monchengladbach v. Union Berlin
12 p.m. ET: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Monday, June 1

2:30 p.m. ET: Cologne v. RB Leipzig

Barcelona ready to sell six players this summer

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According to the latest news out of Barcelona, the Catalan giants are ready to rework their squad and want to sell up to six players to fuel their transfer plans.

Those players being sold are Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets… just kidding. Of course not.

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According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Barca have made Rafinha, Arturo Vidal, Jean-Clair Todibo, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo and Moussa Wague available for permanent transfers. Wague is currently on loan at Nice, while Todibo is on loan at Schalke and Rafinha at Celta Vigo. Ousmane Dembele is another player who has been consistently linked with a move away from the Nou Camp too, as he continues to be hampered by injuries.

Why the huge exodus? It is believed Barcelona want to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan and Miralem Pjanic from Juventus to spruce up their squad under relatively new manager Quique Setien, who only arrived in mid-January.

It is believed Inter boss Antonio Conte is a big fan of Vidal, but any deal for the Chilean midfielder would reportedly be separate for a deal for Martinez. The Argentine striker has been sensational for the Italian giants so far this season and is said to have been in close contact with Messi about a move to Barcelona.

As for Pjanic’s potential arrival, what does that mean for Ivan Rakitic? He has just one year left on his current Barcelona contract and seems relaxed about his future but Pjanic plays in a very similar position to the Croatian playmaker.

One thing is for sure, Barcelona need to freshen up this squad and there is plenty of transfer news floating around when it comes to ins and outs. They are just ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Real have certainly had a huge overhaul over the last 12 months with Vinicius Jr., Eden Hazard, Brahim Diaz, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic all arriving at different times.

Barcelona’s old guard remains intact with Messi, Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba as instrumental as ever but there’s no doubt Setien will want to strengthen his squad as they aim for Spanish and European glory next season and beyond.

With plenty of talk about Barcelona’s financial situation and the huge contracts that Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in particular have, offloading this many players suggests they have to cut their cloth accordingly in order to bring in top talent.

Setien will be hoping he can offload as many players as possible reshape this Barcelona squad which is still incredibly talented but has a few glaring needs.

Premier League to restart on June 17

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Our partners in the UK, Sky Sports, have confirmed that the 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17.

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs on Thursday to determine the potential restart date, among many other matters, and June 17 has emerged as the date games will return.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

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Multiple reports claim that clubs and the league have agreed that from June 17 games can resume, which is five days later than the original placeholder date suggested last month. It has been reported the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, could be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played, then the rest of the games would kick off on June 19-21.

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

Other reports suggest that a sticking point remains neutral stadiums as police forces in the UK want certain high-profile games to be played at neutral stadiums over fears of fans congregating outside home stadiums. However, it is believed the majority of games could be played at home stadiums as normal.

More details will no doubt filter out in the coming hours, while the meeting is also set to discuss the plan for possible curtailment if playing the remaining games of the 2019-20 season is not possible. The schedule for how games will be played will also be discussed, with five games back-to-back on both Saturday and Sunday reported as a possibility.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan, as the Premier League’s main focus is to agree on a restart date that managers and players can now focus on.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith’s father dies of COVID-19

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has lost his father, Ron, who died at the age of 79 after contracting COVID-19.

Ron Smith was a lifelong Aston Villa fan who worked at Villa Park as a steward and passed on his love of the club to Dean and the rest of his family.

The Premier League club released the following statement honoring Smith.

“The Aston Villa Family are saddened to announce that Ron Smith, the father of our current head coach Dean, has passed away at the age of 79.

“Ron, who had recently been living in a care home after being diagnosed with dementia six years ago, contracted coronavirus four weeks ago and after a short spell in hospital passed away with his family at his side.

“A lifelong supporter, Ron was a steward at Villa Park for many years and passed on his love of the club down to his children. As well as being a regular at home games, Ron was also there to witness that greatest of days in May 1982 when Villa lifted the European Cup in Rotterdam.

“The thoughts of everyone at the football club are currently with Dean and his family at this most distressing of times and would kindly ask for the family’s privacy to be respected.”

Dean Smith is a hardcore Aston Villa fan and the fact he joined them midway through last season and got them promoted back to the Premier League via the playoffs was a hugely emotional moment for the former Walsall and Brentford manager.

He has spoken candidly in the past about his close relationship with his father and the impact dementia had on his dad. Last summer Dean Smith revealed this story before he led their beloved Aston Villa to promotion back to the Premier League.

“I went to see my old man on Friday and I managed to get his eyes open for two minutes and I said to him ‘next time you see me I’m going to be a Premier League manager’,” Smith said. “He smiled and nodded, for me that’s enough.”

Man City manager Pep Guardiola lost his mother to the coronavirus pandemic and the Premier League rallied around the Spanish coach. They will do the same for Smith who has lost the man who introduced him to the beautiful game in the first place.