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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.

How can Chelsea, Arsenal challenge for the title?

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There are just 24 days until the 2018/19 Premier League season kicks off.

So, now seems like a good time to continue to focus on what the big boys need to do in order to challenge for the title and the top four.

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We’ve already focused on the top two from last season and what each of Manchester City and Manchester United need to do to get better, and Tottenham and Liverpool’s quest to remain among the top four.

But what about London giants Chelsea and Arsenal? They both finished outside the top four last season and they both have new managers heading into the new campaign.

Will Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery adapt quickly to life in England? Or will the London rivals struggle to rebuild and reach the top four as they’ll both play in the UEFA Europa League?

Below we analyze the situation for both Chelsea and Arsenal and their biggest needs for the season ahead.


Chelsea


Arsenal

Perisic, Rebic linked with moves to Man United

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Following their superb displays for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup, Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic are being linked with moves to Manchester United via a report from the Sun.

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It’s no secret that Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of Perisic as he tried to buy the left winger from Inter Milan last summer but saw plenty of bids turned down as United missed out.

Perisic, 29, then went on to become one of Croatia’s star performers this summer as he scored three goals and grabbed two assists combined with tireless displays on the left flank. Perisic grabbed 11 goals and added nine assists last season as Inter qualified for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Alisson to Liverpool back on?

Rebic, 24, also had a fine tournament with his powerful surges forward from the right flank as the Eintracht Frankfurt star scored in the win against Argentina and went close to scoring in the World Cup final but his drive was saved by Hugo Lloris. He also committed more fouls than any other player at the tournament as he tracked back and dug deep in Croatia’s best-ever finish at a World Cup.

Do United really need these two attacking wide men?

Mourinho loves to add pace and power to his teams and they certainly fit the bill in that regard, with the likes of Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and even Alexis Sanchez not out-and-out wingers. The transfer values of Perisic and Rebic will have soared due to Croatia finishing the tournament as runners up with Perisic valued at around $63 million and Rebic at $57 million.

Perisic only signed a new contract at Inter last season but given United’s long-time pursuit of him, he may feel like this could be his last chance to move to the Premier League, if that’s what his heart desires. While Rebic only just arrived at Frankfurt on a permanent deal after scoring twice in their German Cup final win last season, helping them win their first trophy since 1988.

If one or both of these players arrive at Old Trafford, serious doubt will be put on the future of Martial and Rashford as neither will seriously challenge Romelu Lukaku for the central strikers role.

Man City reveal squad for US tour

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Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have announced their squad for their U.S. tour this summer.

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Pep Guardiola is without several first team stars as City had more players at the 2018 World Cup (16) this summer than any other team on the planet.

New club-record signing Riyad Mahrez will travel Stateside though, so too will Joe Hart, Claudio Bravo, Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, with promising youngsters Patrick Roberts, Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz also included.

Former New York City FC star Jack Harrison will also be part of Man City’s traveling squad as he returns to American soil after starring in MLS over the past few years before his move to City and subsequent loan to Middlesbrough in England’s second-tier.

City have a busy schedule of games in the States as they kick things off on Friday against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago. They then travel to New York City and play Liverpool at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on July 25 before heading to Miami to play Bayern Munich on July 28 to round off their International Champions Cup action.

Take a look at the squad in full below.


Manchester City squad for US tour – 2018/19

Claudio Bravo
Joe Hart
Aymeric Laporte
Leroy Sane
Bernardo Silva
Benjamin Mendy
Tosin Adarabioyo
Riyad Mahrez
Patrick Roberts
Jason Denayer
Daniel Grimshaw
Oleksandr Zinchenko
Douglas Luiz
Jack Harrison
Lukas Nmecha
Phil Foden
Aro Muric
Eric Garcia
Nabil Touaizi
Brahim Diaz
Iker Pozo
Tom Dele-Bashiru
Benjamin Garre
Luke Bolton
Cameron Humphreys
Rabbi Matondo
Tyreke Wilson
Nathanael Ogbeta

Report: Liverpool in talks for Alisson

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It appears Alisson to Liverpool could be back on again.

A report from Di Marzio in Italy claims that AS Roma and Liverpool are in discussions over the transfer of Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson, with further reports from the UK stating Liverpool have offered $81 million for him.

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Their star goalkeeper, 25, was the subject of interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid before the 2018 World Cup began but Brazil’s starting goalkeeper didn’t have an outstanding tournament and Roma’s previous $100 million asking price may now have dropped.

Real may well turn their attention to Thibaut Courtois considering his recent comments that he could leave Chelsea with just a year left on his contract. As for Liverpool, their need for a new goalkeeper remains urgent following Loris Karius‘ mistakes in the UEFA Champions League final and Simon Mignolet falling out of favor.

With Karius backed by Jurgen Klopp several times over the past few months following his UCL final meltdown, Karius has continued to make mistakes in preseason games which may have accelerated Liverpool’s search for a new goalkeeper.

Although both Jack Butland and Nick Pope may well be cheaper options and have Premier League experience, Alisson is highly-regarded for his displays in Serie A and for Brazil and he is not only good with his feet but also a fine shot stopper. I mean, you have to be some goalkeeper to keep out Manchester City’s Ederson as the starter for the Brazilian national team.