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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.

Lampard, Azpilicueta back Barkley after penalty drama

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Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta claims that Willian was encouraging Ross Barkley in the run-up to the latter’s ill-fated penalty attempt in a 1-0 loss to Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League.

“Ross  is one of the best penalty takers in the team and one who takes them. He had the confidence and he was unlucky hitting the bar. They were encouraging him to have the confidence to score. There was high expectation. They were trying to get him into the best condition. Hopefully next time it goes in.”

[ MORE: Recap, 3 things ]

That is genuinely amusing from cheeky and likable “Dave.” Let’s take a look at the encouragement, shall we?

Barkley is literally, repeatedly motioning and even saying, “Nah, I got this. I’ll be fine.”

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says Barkley was the penalty taker for the game, and doesn’t see the drama in it.

“Ross is a penalty taker and is when he starts games. He took it and missed it. It is a great story to say there is contention between players. If he scores it is not a story. But he took it and missed. That is it. The disappointment to all of us is that we didn’t get chance to win the game. There is no issue in the dressing room.”

Chelsea was the superior team over 90 minutes, but that can mean so little in a tournament where winning at home can be vital to the chances of advancement.

Champions League wrap: Ajax, RB Leipzig, Salzburg win; Barca held

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While Liverpool and Chelsea lost in shutout fashion, only three other teams saw zeroes next to their names after 90 minutes of UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ UCL: Scores, full lineups, stats, box scores ]

You may be surprised to see that Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund kept each other off the board, while Lille was cooked by Ajax.

Red Bull Salzburg 6-2 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team to a win in a UEFA Champions League game. The Red Bull Salzburg boss got a hat trick from red-hot 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who has 17 goals in nine matches this season and is also the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Ajax 3-0 Lille

Mexico’s Edson Alvarez now has two goals in two career UEFA Champions League games, as he joined Quincy Promes on the score sheet in a 2-0 win. American-Dutch right back Sergino Dest played 90 minutes in the win, and Nicolás Tagliafico recorded two assists. USMNT forward Timothy Weah was again absent with a hamstring tear.

Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona

Lionel Messi spent most of the match on the bench, and Marco Reus missed a Jadon Sancho-won penalty thanks to a Marc-Andre ter Stegen save.

And what a save it was!

Elsewhere

Chelsea 0-1 Valencia — RECAP
Napoli 2-0 Liverpool — RECAP
Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Benfica 1-2 RB Leipzig

Barkley sails late penalty as Chelsea falls at home

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Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea lost its UEFA Champions League opener 1-0 to Valencia on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rodrigo scored the lone goal, and Valencia will be thrilled to collect all three points in London.

Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea, who out-attempted Valencia 22-8 on the day.


Three things we learned

1. Pulisic down the pecking order: The American star didn’t start, and wasn’t the first name called when Mason Mount was injured. Granted Pedro played a little deeper, but not a good week for the Hershey-born Pulisic

2. Wide men the danger men: Willian was the likely Man of the Match for Chelsea despite the lack of goals, and full backs Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta were also key to the resutl.

3. Penalty drama: VAR gave Chelsea a chance to level from the spot, but Ross Barkley stepped ahead of Willian and missed the chance. The Brazilian looked aggrieved before and after the miss, and Barkley looked mighty confident right until the moment he missed his shot. Sort yourself out!

Man of the Match: Willian — No wonder he was angry to see Barkley demand the penalty, as a Willian goal would’ve been a fitting result for his clever and industrious day at the office.


Valencia keeper Jasper Cillesen made two stops early, denying Tammy Abraham to concede a corner before collecting a Marcos Alonso header on the ensuing set piece.

Would it be Christian Pulisic time when Mason Mount left the match with injury following a challenge from former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin? Nope. Pedro was called upon to fill the void.

It was a sleepy second half, with Pedro conceding a free kick to Valencia that didn’t amount to anything exciting.

Those who stuck around were rewarded with late drama, as Valencia took the lead through a Rodrigo flick off a free kick.

However, Valencia then had to watch through its fingers as Chelsea was gifted a chance at the spot through VAR when Fikayo Tomori headed a ball off the arm of Daniel Wass.

Willian was upset to see Ross Barkley take the penalty, and the English midfielder probably wishes he let someone else take it after missing over the bar.

Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

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The good news is that Liverpool lost to Napoli last season in the UEFA Champions League, then went on to win the whole darn thing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jose Callejon won a late penalty that Dries Mertens converted, and Fernando Llorente took advantage of a Virgil Van Dijk error to pad the lead as Napoli held serve at home with a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeepers immense: No, he’s not Alisson Becker, but Adrian is probably the biggest reason Liverpool didn’t open its UCL defense with a loss. He made a pair of early stops on Dries Mertens before a show-stopping effort in the second half. Napoli got two fine saves from Alex Meret, including a terrific denial of Mohamed Salah in the 65th.

2. Salah, Mane can’t deliver in key moments: Take away Salah’s penalty in the UCL Final, and Liverpool’s two top threats have not accounted for a goal in four matches inside the competition. Mane was mostly good on the day, but misled Salah on an early second half pass which would have almost certainly been a goal. Salah simply had an off day

3. Callejon sells the drama: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson lost a 50/50 with Jose Callejon, who ran into the fulback and hit the deck to win a penalty. That was the difference here, as Mertens beat Adrian.

Man of the Match: Meret was especially good, the 22-year-old Italian goalkeeper big in several key moments to edge Mertens for the honor.


Napoli thought it had gone ahead through El Tri star Hirving Lozano, who nodded over the line following two Alisson Becker saves on Dries Mertens, but the Mexican was offside.

Sadio Mane had a 20th minute chance at the other end, but pumped a point blank low shot to Napoli keeper Alex Meret which led to a corner kick.

Fabinho intervened in the 53rd minute as Napoli emerged from the locker room with energy, but the best chance of the early second half was flubbed in uncharacteristic fashion: Sadio Mane was through 2v1 with Mohamed Salah but made a miserable pass to his teammate.

The first goal arrived when Callejon tapped the ball past Robertson and leapt into the defender to earn a penalty from referee Felix Brych.

It was 2-0 in stoppage time when Fernando Llorente ran onto a Virgil van Dijk error and passed beyond Adrian.