MLS Decision Day preview: Much at stake

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
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Four teams can claim a Western Conference second round berth, while four more can earn a valuable first-round bye in the East.

Yep, there’s plenty to play for beyond the West’s final playoff spot Sunday during Major League Soccer’s Decision Day, when every team will take the pitch for 4 p.m. ET kickoffs.

[ MORE: Conte feels pressure ]

Here’s what we do know regarding the playoffs:

  1. Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto FC gets a first round bye, while No. 6 seed New York Red Bulls are headed to the road for a first round playoff
  2. New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando, DC, Minnesota, Colorado, and LA will not make the playoffs
  3. Full stop.

So, yes, this will be fun.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings ahead of Sunday’s extravaganza:

Eastern Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Toronto FC 33 20 8 5 72 35 37 13-3-1 7-5-4 68
x – New York City FC 33 16 8 9 54 41 13 10-4-2 6-4-7 56
x – Chicago 33 16 7 10 61 44 17 12-3-2 4-4-8 55
x – Atlanta 33 15 9 9 68 38 30 11-2-3 4-7-6 54
x – Columbus 33 16 5 12 51 47 4 12-2-3 4-3-9 53
x – New York 33 13 8 12 51 46 5 9-6-2 4-2-10 47

— New York City FC controls its bye destiny, though Columbus could join them on 56 points and would pass them on tiebreakers (wins).

— If that happens, Chicago could claim the second bye with a win or draw in Houston (The Fire owns the goal differential tiebreaker).

— If New York City and Chicago lose or draw, Atlanta could finish second with a home win over TFC.

— Columbus can finish second with a win and non-wins for Chicago and Atlanta.

Western Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Vancouver 33 15 7 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 6-2-8 52
x – Portland 33 14 8 11 58 49 9 10-4-2 4-4-9 50
x – Seattle 33 13 11 9 49 39 10 10-5-1 3-6-8 50
x – Sporting KC 33 12 13 8 39 27 12 10-6-1 2-7-7 49
x – Houston 33 12 11 10 54 45 9 11-4-1 1-7-9 47
San Jose 33 12 7 14 36 58 -22 9-5-2 3-2-12 43
FC Dallas 33 10 13 10 43 47 -4 7-7-2 3-6-8 43
Real Salt Lake 33 12 6 15 47 54 -7 8-4-4 4-2-11 42

Byes

— Vancouver finishes first with a win or draw at Portland. The ‘Caps could finish as low as third with a loss to Portland and a Seattle win versus Colorado.

— Portland finishes first — and wins the Cascadia Cup — with a win over visiting Vancouver.

— Seattle can claim a first round bye with a win over visiting Colorado and a Vancouver win over Portland.

— Sporting KC can finish second with a win at Real Salt Lake and non-wins for Portland and Seattle.

Final playoff spot

— San Jose claims the sixth seed with a home win over Minnesota. They can also finish sixth with a draw joined by non-wins for FC Dallas at home to LA and Real Salt Lake at home versus SKC.

— FC Dallas claims the sixth seed with a win over LA and a San Jose draw or loss versus Minnesota. FCD gets sixth with a draw, and a San Jose loss coupled with a RSL loss or draw versus SKC.

—  Real Salt Lake gets sixth with a win over SKC, and non-wins from San Jose and Dallas. RSL could also get sixth with a draw and losses for San Jose and Dallas.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Schedule
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
San Jose vs. Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Colorado
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City
Portland vs. Vancouver
Montreal vs. New England
New York City vs. Columbus
Atlanta vs. Toronto

Predictions

— NYCFC hangs on for a draw against Columbus, earning a bye, leaving Chicago to host New York Red Bulls and Atlanta off to Columbus for the first round of the playoffs (We have Toronto beating Atlanta on Sunday).

— Vancouver and Portland draw, while Seattle beats Colorado. The ‘Caps and Sounders get byes, while Seattle takes back the Cascadia Cup.

— San Jose beats Minnesota, gaining the West’s sixth seed. The Quakes head to Portland for the first round, while SKC hosts Houston.

The Breakdown: Analysis, tactical focus on how Erling Haaland is ripping it up

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Throughout the Premier League season The Breakdown provides analysis, tactical focus and a deeper dive on some of the top plays from some of the best players on the planet.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

We are back for Season 3 of the Breakdown and Joe Prince-Wright will be joining you to discuss some of the things which stood out (or may not have, initially) in the Premier League.

Click play on the video above to watch the latest episode of the Breakdown, while below is the full archive of The Breakdown.

And feel free to send in your comments and questions to JPW via his Twitter feed (click below) if you want him to select any plays which caught your eye and he will then give them the Breakdown treatment.


The Breakdown – 2022-23 Premier League season

Matchweek 1

Matchweek 2

Matchweek 3

Matchweek 4

USWNT vs England, Spain: Rosters for high-profile friendlies, TV, stream

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USWNT head coach Vlatko Andovoski has announced his roster for one of the most-anticipated friendlies of all-time — and that’s no exaggeration — as the United States women’s national team takes on EURO champions England in one of two Europe-based friendlies next month.

The Yanks will also play Spain in a match well-worth watching, but the England match is going to be a clash of titans as the now-powerful Lionesses put their 14-match winning streak on the line against USA’s back-to-back World Cup champions.

“These are big tests for our team in front of crowds cheering against us and after long travel, but our players absolutely love games like these,” said Andonovski in a U.S. Soccer press release. “The group we are bringing to Europe includes players who have a lot of experience against top European teams and some that don’t, so these games are even more critical for our growth as our team. Our whole squad needs to get a clear picture of what these games are like as we continue to prepare for the World Cup.”

[ MORE: Watch Premier League live | Peacock Premium details ]

The Oct. 7 match against England at Wembley Stadium is set to shatter the attendance record for a USWNT friendly and U.S. Soccer says it will be second to only the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final in terms of in-person attendance for a USWNT match.

Those are big mile markers in soccer history, but these matches are really big — as big as friendlies get — in terms of telling where the USWNT’s status as the No. 1 team in the world is under threat.

The Women’s Super League has made huge strides alongside its national team in England and the National Women’s Soccer League will be watching this with real excitement and anxiety; All but two members of the USWNT call-up list play in the NWSL. All but four of the England team play in the WSL and only one plies their trade in the NWSL (Ebony Salmon of the Houston Dash).

And these teams very well could meet up this summer, as the friendlies are the final USWNT matches prior to the Oct. 22 Women’s World Cup draw in New Zealand.


How to watch USWNT vs England

Kick off: 3pm ET, Oct. 7
TV Channel: FOX
Online: Stream via FoxSports.com

How to watch USWNT vs Spain

Kick off: 2:30pm ET, Oct. 11
TV Channel: ESPN2
Online: Stream via ESPN.com


USWNT vs England rosters

USWNT: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

England WNT: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Manchester City), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lucy Parker (West Ham), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jessica Park (Everton), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ebony Salmon (Houston Dash)

West Ham vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, TV, team news

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West Ham vs Wolves: Two sides straddling either side of the relegation zone will be desperate for a victory (or even just a goal) when they meet at London Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 12:30 pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs WOLVES

It’s been a mostly miserable start to the 2022-23 Premier League season for both the Hammers and Wolves. West Ham have just one win on the season (1W-1D-5L) as David Moyes and Co., sit 18th heading into matchweek 8. Wolves also have just one win (1W-3D-3L) while scoring the same number of goals as West Ham (3) in seven games. Misery loves company.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of West Ham vs Wolves

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch West Ham vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30 pm ET, Saturday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

For both sides, the goal-scoring woes are a result of not only a failure to convert scoring chances, but also their inability to create them. West Ham and Wolves both rank in the bottom five of the Premier League in expected goals with identical paltry 0.9 xG averages (per 90 minutes). No other side in the Premier League is anywhere close to underperforming their expected numbers by more than 50 percent.

Goals have come much more easily for West Ham in the Europa Conference League, where they have scored three goals in all four games thus far — six in two games against Danish side Viborg, and three apiece against Romanian runners-up FCSB and another Danish side in Silkeborg.

Wolves made the effort to be a better attacking side this season, as they spent $18 million on Sasa Kalajdzic, but the Austrian international striker tore his ACL on his debut for the club. Raul Jimenez, meanwhile, has played just 211 minutes in three Premier League appearances (none since Aug. 31) and has just one goal, in the League Cup. The Mexican international is now in a race against time to be healthy and fit for the 2022 World Cup eight weeks from now.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Arsenal vs Tottenham projected lineups, form, head-to-head, prediction

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There is so little between Arsenal and Tottenham this season that every little decision will count as they square off this Saturday (watch live, 7:30am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com) in the north London derby.

[ MORE: Preview, storylines, latest on Arsenal vs Tottenham ]

Mikel Arteta and Antonio Conte have overseen superb starts to the season for their teams, with the Gunners top of the table and they are just one point and two places above unbeaten Spurs.

After Tottenham pipped Arsenal to a top four finish late last season, this rivalry has gone to new levels and both believe they can finish in the top four this season, at the very least.

Below we take a closer look at form, head-to-head info, projected lineups and a prediction for what promises to be a classic Arsenal vs Tottenham clash in the north London derby.


Arsenal vs Tottenham recent Premier League form

Arsenal last five fixtures – WLWWW | Last match: 3-0 win at Brentford

Tottenham last five fixtures – WWDWW  | Last match: 6-2 win vs Leicester City


Who has more wins, Arsenal or Tottenham? (all competitions head-to-head)

Tottenham wins: 67

Arsenal wins: 84

Draws: 54


Projected lineups

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

—– Ramsdale —–

— White — Saliba — Gabriel — Zinchenko —

—- Partey —- Xhaka —-

—- Saka —- Odegaard —- Martinelli —-

—– Jesus —–

If Partey is out with injury then Arteta has a big decision to make in midfield: does Lokonga come in? Or does Odegaard drop deeper with Vieira coming in to an attacking midfield role? Elsewhere, Zinchenko will likely start ahead of Tierney if both are fit, while Zinchenko could also start in holding midfield given his incredible vesatility.


Tottenham (3-4-2-1)

—– Lloris —–

—- Romero —- Dier —- Davies —-

— Emerson — Hojbjerg — Bentancur — Perisic —

—- Richarlison —- Son —-

—– Kane —–

The back three picks itself, if everyone is fit, with Llenget and Sanchez coming in and doing okay when injuries have flared up. But the big debate is what Spurs do with Kulusevski potentially out. Does Richarlison come in for him? Or does Yves Bissouma start in midfield and the formation switch to a 3-5-2 with Son supporting Kane in attack? If it’s the latter, that would give Spurs extra defensive cover in the engine room.


Arsenal vs Tottenham prediction

This is going to be a very close game with these managers, players and clubs so evenly-matched across the board. Arsenal have been in better form but are battling with some key injuries, while Spurs look more capable of grinding out results when they’re not at their best. All of that adds up to an entertaining draw. I’m going for 2-2.