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Community Shield: Chelsea, Arsenal kick off new season at Wembley

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LONDON (AP) When Chelsea faces Arsenal in the Community Shield on Sunday, the winner may be which team can best put a turbulent offseason behind them.

The traditional season curtain raiser at Wembley Stadium features league champion Chelsea against FA Cup winner Arsenal.

[ MORE: Conte prepared for “most difficult season of my career” ]

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been trying to keep hold of Alexis Sanchez as the Gunners attempt to return to the Champions League after missing out on qualification for the first time in 20 years. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is desperate to increase the size of his “small squad” as the Blues prepare to defend its Premier League title.

“The strength of professional people is to not be diverted by noises that are not their problem,” Wenger said Thursday.

There’s a lot of noise.

[ MORE: 2017-18 Premier League season preview hub

Sanchez was Arsenal’s leading scorer with 30 goals last season, including the opener in its FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea at Wembley in May. He appears to have decided his future lies away from north London but Wenger disagrees.

“He is focused. My decision is clear, he will stay and he will respect that and that’s as simple as that,” Wenger said of the Chile forward.

Despite signing France striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon in July for a club record $68 million, Arsenal has chosen to keep Sanchez for the final year of his contract. That risks the possibility of losing the 28-year-old star on a free transfer at the end of the season.

[ SEASON PREVIEWS: Chelsea | Arsenal ]

Conte won the title in his first season at Stamford Bridge with a squad lacking depth, but wants multiple new faces to cope with the additional strain of Champions League football.

“Now, for us, it’s very important to try to improve our squad’s numerical aspect, because we have a small squad and I think only one player is not enough to improve our team,” Conte said on Friday.

Chelsea has signed striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco and defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma during the offseason, but those arrivals have been offset by the departures of Nemanja Matic and John Terry. Also, Diego Costa is no longer wanted by Conte.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Wednesday ]

 

There have been reports of unrest between Conte and the Chelsea hierarchy over transfer policy, which were further fueled in July when the former Italy manager received a salary increase but did not extend his contract, which expires in 2019.

“The most important thing is the club knows my opinion and they’re trying to do the best for our team, our squad,” Conte said. “Now we have to wait, we must have patience.”

Past Community Shield matches have often lacked genuine competitiveness, but the shared summer of discontent and a fierce London rivalry should guarantee entertainment on Sunday.

“I think friendly games have ended for us,” Conte said. “This is an official game, this is the first trophy in the season.”

Liga MX wrap: Xolos beats Chivas as Apertura begins

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Liga MX’s Apertura season is off and running with all 18 clubs partaking in a match this weekend.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

Club Tijuana 2-1 Chivas Guadalajara

Scoreless at the half, the weekend’s marquee match sprang to life in the final 45. Juan Martin Lucero gave TJ a 54th minute lead before Jose Van Rankin knotted it up five minutes later.

Lucero assisted Jose Rivero’s 75th minute winner, which was helped in its status when Michael Perez took a red card in the 80th.

Cruz Azul 3-0 Puebla

Elias Hernandez scored a goal and added an assist, and Milton Caraglio put one of his five shots on goal into the net. Andres Renteria also scored in the win.

Tigres 2-0 Leon

Andre-Pierre Gignac scored, and Lucas Zelarayan marked a goal and an assist in the win.

Elsewhere
Necaxa 2-1 Club America
Toluca 2-0 Morelia
Santos Laguna 2-1 Lobos BUAP
Pachuca 0-1 Monterrey
Veracruz 0-2 Pumas UNAM
Atlas 0-0 Queretaro

Report: Colorado acquires USMNT mid Acosta for Badji

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The West’s first place team is switching it up in a big way.

FC Dallas is sending Homegrown Player and USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta to Western foes Colorado Rapids in exchange for striker Dominique Badji, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.

[ MORE: Pulisic rips up Liverpool ]

Acosta, 22, has 17 caps and a goal for the U.S., and is primarily a defensive midfielder. He’s also played right and left back.

He’s appeared 139 times for Dallas, scoring 13 times with nine assists, but had fallen out with head coach Oscar Pareja. He’s also struggled mightily on the field, according to WhoScored.

Badji, 25, has seven goals and three assists in 16 matches for the Rapids this season, building on an eight-goal, five-assist campaign last season.

FCD has gotten six goals out of forward Maxi Urruti, and there’s been little production from anyone else. Cristian Colman is out with an ankle injury and managed just a pair of goals in 399 minutes.

The risk of trading Acosta is mitigated by the continued speculation that he may test the waters of European soccer. Badji’s a quality player, but Colorado may’ve gotten a bargain in its push to escape the dregs of the West.

Quintero, Loons pick LAFC apart in five-star win (video)

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Minnesota United throttled LAFC on Sunday, using a Christian Ramirez brace to batter the hot expansion team 5-1 in Minnesota.

Darwin Quintero had a goal and two assists for the Loons, who took advantage of LAFC’s decision not to start dominant forward Adama Diomande and center back Walker Zimmerman.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

Quintero ripped off seven shots, putting five on goal. He now has 10 goals and five assists since joining the Loons after scoring two and eight in 29 matches for Club America last year.

Miguel Ibarra recorded a goal and an assist, while Rasmus Schuller also scored. LAFC’s goal came courtesy Benny Feilhaber.

Minnesota’s Bobby Shuttleworth and LA’s Tyler Miller each made six saves in their goals.

LAFC fails in a bid to make up points on Western Conference first seed FC Dallas, while the Loons now can eye a playoff spot in the West.

Already-thin Liverpool center back corps loses Matip to quad injury

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Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund featured an injury to a position with very little depth.

The Reds lost Joel Matip to what Jurgen Klopp said could possibly be a “small tear” in one of his quads.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

If Matip, 26, needs any significant time to heal up, he’ll put a major question mark into Liverpool’s opening day center back pairing.

Virgil Van Dijk, who scored against BVB on Sunday, already won’t have Dejan Lovren as a partner thanks to a post-World Cup vacation.

That leaves Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan as options next to Van Dijk.

Matches at Crystal Palace and home to Brighton and Hove Albion follow the Aug. 12 visit from West Ham.