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Jose Mourinho hits back at Man United critics; talks Chelsea

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Jose Mourinho has been hitting back at critics who say his Manchester United team are too defensive and aren’t good to watch.

Does he have a point?

United are second in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Manchester City, and are on the verge of securing qualification to the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. So, results haven’t been bad but with bleak displays against Liverpool and Tottenham in recent weeks, the critics have been lining up to take a shot at Mourinho.

Ahead of United’s trip to Mourinho’s former team Chelsea this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via the Portuguese coach

“I don’t want to comment. If I comment I will do a job that is not my job. Sometimes I feel like I should, then I cool down. I know that it is a different way of analyzing things. Similar performances for some clubs are magic, examples of brilliant tactics and amazing attitude, for others the same performance becomes conservative and negative. As an example, Tottenham beat Liverpool 4-1, Real Madrid 3-1. Tottenham didn’t score against Manchester United. A bit of credit that my players deserve.”

As for heading back to Chelsea, the team he’s lead to three Premier League titles in the past, Mourinho admitted it is a little strange to manage at Stamford Bridge in the opposition dugout.

“I played there with Inter, twice with Manchester United. I have to admit it is a little bit different. In the end, I want to win like I did with Inter,” Mourinho said. “They want to win like they did last season. It is just one more day. In a couple of years it will be more natural. In four or five years no-one will remember I was Chelsea manager and it becomes absolutely normal.”

Mourinho suffered defeats at Chelsea in the Premier League and FA Cup last season, with the former a 4-0 drubbing as he clashed with Antonio Conte at the end of the game after demanding more respect following his celebrations.

United’s manager says it is just “one more game” but with Chelsea struggling after their 3-0 hammering at AS Roma in midweek, the magnitude of this game cannot be overlooked as both teams try to make ground on Man City atop the PL table.

“It’s a big thing because it’s a big match and because it’s a big opponent,” Mourinho said. “They are the champions and because it’s one of these matches between the top teams in the country. But, from the emotional point of view, it’s just one more game.”

Report: Orlando’s Justin Meram could be traded back to Columbus

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A former Columbus Crew midfielder could be on his way back to the Eastern Conference side.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Davies on brink of Bayern move ]

Several reports have suggested that Orlando City’s Justin Meram could be on his way back to Columbus, as the Lions look to trade the midfielder back to the club that drafted the 29-year-old.

The veteran attacker joined the Lions back in January in a trade after spending seven seasons with the Crew.

Reliable Twitter account MLS Transfers first reported the story on Sunday, also naming the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati as potential landing spots for Meram.

Meram was traded to Orlando back in January after requesting a move away from Columbus due to ongoing talks of the club being relocated out of Ohio.

The Iraq international has struggled in his first season with Orlando, scoring just one goal in 17 appearances for the club — who currently sit in ninth place and six points outside of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Three Eastern Conference sides on record-setting pace

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2017 saw Toronto FC dominate the MLS regular season before going on to hoist the club’s first MLS Cup in club history.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing Bayern Munich move ]

Fast forward to this season, and three more Eastern Conference sides are poised to break barriers as they continue a near record-setting pace.

Atlanta United, New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls have created a sizable gap over the rest of the East with nearly one-third of the season remaining.

Toronto’s 69-point regular season total a year ago looked like a record that wouldn’t be touched for some time, however, the current trio of dominating forces in the East are all on pace to finish 2018 with 68 points.

Atlanta, NYCFC and the Red Bulls are all averaging two points per game, while Toronto averaged slightly above that total (2.03 ppg) during their MLS Cup-winning run.

The Red Bulls and NYCFC, in particular, could be in line to follow in the footsteps of last season’s Toronto FC.

Manager Chris Armas and the Red Bulls play 10 of their final games against teams outside the current playoff lines in their respective conferences, while Atlanta and NYCFC face five and four playoff teams, respectively.

Here’s a look at how the three teams will finish up the 2018 regular season:

Atlanta United (12 matches)

Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew, Orlando City, D.C. United, Colorado Rapids, San Jose Earthquakes, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, Toronto FC

New York City FC (14 matches)

Orlando City, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, New England Revolution, D.C. United, Montreal Impact, Chicago Fire, Minnesota United, D.C. United, Philadelphia Union

New York Red Bulls (15 matches)

D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Los Angeles FC, Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps, New York City FC, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, Montreal Impact, D.C. United, Toronto FC, Atlanta United, San Jose Earthquakes, Philadelphia Union, Orlando City

Mesut Ozil discusses critique of Turkish background

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Germany’s dismissal from the World Cup came as a shock to many, but one of its players received heavier scrutiny for off-the-field actions.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing move to Bayern ]

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil appeared in two of the three group stage matches for the Germans in Russia, however, his play was overshadowed by his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prior to the start of the tournament.

The meeting between the two caused several German media outlets to criticize Ozil due to the heated relations between the two European nations.

Additionally, Ozil says his brand was affected as well, with various sponsors pulling their support due to the meeting with Erdogan.

The 29-year-old is of Turkish and German descent, which would have made him eligible to represent either country.

Ozil took to Twitter on Sunday to discuss how the ordeal has affected how the media and sponsorship has affected him over the last month.

Barcelona, Sevilla to play Spanish Super Cup in Morocco

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La Liga champions Barcelona will meet Sevilla in the 2018 Spanish Super Cup in Tangier, Morocco on August 12.

[ MORE: Klopp talks Pulisic, Liverpool spending ]

The Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) announced the decision on Sunday, as Barca looks to kick off the 2018 season against last year’s Copa Del Rey runners’ up.

Lionel Messi and Co. defeated Sevilla, 5-0, in the 2017/18 Copa Del Rey final, giving the Blaugrana a domestic double for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign.

La Liga play opens up in Spain on August 19, however, the full fixture list will be revealed on Tuesday.