Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP

Twenty-Three* thoughts for Week 3 in MLS

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Almost half of Major League Soccer’s clubs have two weeks off to either lick wounds, right wrongs, or celebrate fine starts to their season.

There are 23 clubs in MLS, and we’re here to highlight what happened this week with the clubs who took the pitch for league play.’

[ MORE: (Very) Fresh faces for USMNT ]

Atlanta United and Vancouver Whitecaps — Call this one “V-A-R-you kidding me?”

A match we’d been anticipating all week gets a straight-shot to the gut from a trio of bad decisions.

First, Atlanta’s Leandro Gonzalez Pires works himself into position on a Five Stripes free kick, clearly and purposely aiming to find a way to hit the deck against Vancouver center back Kendall Waston.

Then Waston, who is known for his physical play, gets his elbow up against Gonzalez Pires, allowing the theatrical center back to go down like he’d been de-spined Sub-Zero/Mortal Kombat-style (Yes we made up a word there).

Finally, and probably most egregiously, referee Ismail Elfath goes to the Video Assistant Referee and somehow thinks he has a conclusive angle to send Waston off.

Can Waston have a red for that? Sure, but it was built and aided by embarrassing acting from LGP and it’s just not the sort of play we think should be reviewed and go from zero to red.

Chicago Fire — Veljko Paunovic’s men are a disappointing 0-2 start, but will feel pleased to see second-round pick Elliott Collier get off the mark. They’ll also know they lost to Minnesota with Bastian Schweinsteiger tending to more important matters:

Columbus Crew — The Twenty-Three would like to issue a too-soon apology to Columbus in case they “do a Burnley” and make our miserable preseason predictions even worse. The Crew could easily be 3-0 with a bit better finish from Gyasi Zardes.

DC United — Seemingly serial disappointment Darren Mattocks has two goals and 10 shots in two matches. Maybe Ben Olsen is what the Jamaican needed all along. Now both men would like a win, and soon.

FC Dallas — Granted Oscar Pareja’s men earned their 3-0 win on the back of Clint Dempsey‘s red card, but FCD now has a win and a draw in rebounding from a calamitous performance against Tauro in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Philadelphia Union — Threats were few for the hosts at Talen Energy Stadium, with David Accam taking a pair of shots and CJ Sapong held without an attempt. Still, the Union are unbeaten in two matches and showed good mettle in keeping Columbus off the board.

Houston Dynamo — There’s good Houston and there’s bad Houston. The first half saw electric attackers Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis scored one minute apart in cooking up a 2-0 lead. But the Dynamo didn’t threaten much in the second half as the hosts found a way to a point in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Minnesota United — Rebounded from the season-ending loss of Kevin Molino to pick up a second win of the season, something it took the Loons eight matches to do in their MLS debut last season. Seven combined shots from Sam Nicholson and Ibson helped do the trick.

Montreal Impact — Remi Garde is going to be exhaling after his Impact scooped the first win of his tenure, and in home derby style. Montreal has won its last two regular season 401 Derbies, which is not too shabby even if this one needed a huge deflection and perhaps some quite tired TFC legs to get the job done.

New York City FC — No David Villa meant NYC had a little more work to do in breaking down Orland this weekend, but it’s 2-0 win was very positive in taking a 3-0 record atop the Supporters’ Shield table. NYC has allowed just one goal through three matches, and winger Jesus Medina has been very, very good.

New York Red Bulls — Given that CCL sides went 0-3 this week in league play and the fact that Major League Soccer doesn’t have every team going every week, perhaps scheduling a bye here would’ve made more sense? RBNY’s 1-0 loss in Utah featured eight total shot attempts from the visitors.

Orlando City — The Lions are still waiting on their lineup to find its flow with one point through three matches, but “How long will Jason Kreis be allowed to run a losing team?” is starting to feel like a real question. Yes, it’s only three matches. No, this isn’t very good.

For more on Orlando’s plight, head here.

Real Salt Lake — Mike Petke will be feeling a lot better after his reading of the riot act inspired a win over his former team at Rio Tinto. This save is making the rounds, understandably so, and what we like best about this from RSL elder Nick Rimando is the wisdom to figure the show was coming low and the quickness to get there.

San Jose Earthquakes — Valeri Qazaishvili felt underused last season, or at-best poorly deployed. Not this go round, as Mikael Stahre is proving he’s going to fire at will with his weapons. To allow three goals on four shots on target, however, is an issue.

Seattle Sounders — Deuce has a reputation. Whether it was for his right-handed slap to Jacori Hayes’ private parts or the left-handed follow-through, we still really don’t have a read on Seattle thanks to travel congestion and a red card. Dallas went on to win 3-0.

Sporting KC — We thought SKC-SJ would be a good one, and it again delivered. Peter Vermes is opening up the attack, and now has seen seven Sporting goals in a pair of wins.

Alas…

Toronto FC — Given the Reds’ CONCACAF Champions League success/travel and a playoff structure as forgiving as Major League Soccer’s means TFC’s 0-2 start to the season is only cause for alarm in terms of:

A) Retaining the Supporters’ Shield

B) Losing a 401 Derby

Part B happened this weekend. Chances were even, as were battles, and Montreal’s game plan to foul TFC to death helped hamper flow. Jeisson Vargas’ goal took a massive deflection after the Reds’ back line gave Ignacio Piatti significant room to set up his teammate (Not a great idea). It’ll be fine.

Lampard: Pulisic back over ‘next week or two,’ explains caution

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The latest batch of Christian Pulisic news is good: Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says the USMNT star is back training but still days away from being in contention to play in a match.

Pulisic, 22, is yet to play for the Blues this season after suffering an injury in this summer’s FA Cup Final.

[ MORE: West Brom-Chelsea preview ]

Like new addition Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic is getting closer but not quite ready. He hopes to see both players in match action within “the next week or two.”

The Chelsea boss was asked whether the club is being more careful with Pulisic given his series of muscle injuries that have short-circuited several star turns at Stamford Bridge.

From Chelsea’s site:

“There is always a concern about player fitness when their history shows there has been injuries and you try to find the right way and right balance to get the best out of Christian, which we saw in big periods last year. You make sure you don’t over-cook him and leave him susceptible to injury, and particularly with a player of his explosive pace and balance that is a fine line.

“We are working on that and Christian is very open to that. He wants to play, he is so hungry and he is very nearly fit now but it is certainly something we will have to manage this season. We have all seen the talent and it is something I want to get right. I am not saying it is a fundamental, chronic issue, it is not, but we want as many minutes of the great Christian we saw last season on the pitch.”

Makes sense.

In other Pulisic news, the American is being hailed for reaching out to a young Libyan who saved a man from drowning.

Mohammed Al-Arabi is described as one of the leaders of a Chelsea fan club in Libya. He heard someone in distress on a beach in Libya and rescued them from the water but was lost at sea for 20 minutes.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Al-Arabi ended up in a coma for 24 hours but has emerged with his health.

Pulisic sent a video to Al-Arabi describing the Libyan as “brave” and a “hero or a legend.”

Al-Arabi was stunned, via the BBC:

“What Pulisic did is surprising and I didn’t think that my actions would get such attention from the club that I have supported since I was a child,” he told BBC Sport Africa. “I love Chelsea very much and I try to go to their matches whenever circumstances allow me to travel. I’m not lying when I say Chelsea are the best thing for me in life: my friends tease me that I exaggerate my support, but this has made me love this club even more and more.”

“Pulisic’s words have not only raised my spirits but also urged me to do more to help others. Life is simple, and when you see a star encouraging a simple person it is a great incentive for many people to do help in such situations. I have to thank everyone who saved my life and the life of the other person, whose name I do not know, and everyone who supported me in this difficult experience.”

Nice nod from Pulisic, but even better from Al-Arabi. To a long and fruitful life!

Suarez unveiled by Atletico Madrid; Messi takes swipe at Barcelona

Luis Suarez Atletico Madrid
https://twitter.com/atletienglish
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The iconic partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona is a thing of the past and the greatest player in the world is clearly unhappy to see it.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan pairing of Suarez and manager Diego Simeone is just beginning (and we think Joao Felix may have something to say here, too).

Atletico Madrid announced the signing of ex-Liverpool star Suarez on Friday, injecting power into its attack in a bid to overtake Real Madrid and Barca and reclaim La Liga superiority.

Suarez will turn 34 in January. The two sides meet Nov. 22 in Madrid and May 9 at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk Unfiltered, Week 2 ]

He scored 20 or more goals in each of his six seasons at Barcelona, including a career-high 58 (with 40 league goals) in 2015-16. He bagged 21 goals and 11 assists despite being limited to under 2700 minutes last season due to injuries.

Could Suarez’s arrival have a bonus outcome and strengthen the resolve of countryman Jose María Gimenez to stay in Madrid? The aforementioned trio is part of a history of Uruguayan success at Atleti, as Diego Godin, Diego Forlan, and Fernando Correa have all delivered the goods.

Messi and Suarez enjoyed a terrific chemistry on- and off-the-field with Barcelona (Who can forget the photo of the pair calmly watching their kids play soccer, which is turned into a meme used by every soccer coach in the world to decry more volatile soccer parents and guardians).

The Argentine used Instagram to salute his CONMEBOL and now La Liga rival. He’s not happy. Here are some selections from his post, translated by Sky Sports.

“You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: One of the best players in the club’s history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively. You didn’t deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.”

“I was gradually accepting it, but when I got into the dressing room today, how hard it’s going to be to no longer have you around in the day-to-day on and off the pitch really dawned on me. We’re going to miss you so much. …. I wish you all the best for your new challenge. Sending love to you and your family. See you soon, mate.”

Messi tried to leave Barcelona earlier this summer but La Liga backed the club’s reading of his contract and the player was unwilling to expose his club to a court battle.

It’s going to be an interesting journey through Messi’s presumed final year at his beloved Barcelona. Will the club’s presidential elections and/or transfer actions do enough to keep him a one-club man beyond the summer of 2021?

MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 01: Messi and Suarez after a Barcelona goal against Atletico Madrid in 2017 (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

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Report: Man City offering Otamendi in package for Dias or Kounde

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Manchester City is moving on from Kalidou Koulibaly and has a package in mind as Pep Guardiola moves to improve his center back situation with a couple of weeks to go in the transfer window.

Reporter Fabrizio Romano says that City has offered veteran center back Nicolas Otamendi and money in a $60 million package to both Sevilla and Benfica in pursuit of Jules Kounde and Ruben Dias, respectively.

Gotta love it when the real transfer market looks like the FIFA video game transfer market.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Both prospective City additions are much younger than the 32-year-old Otamendi. Dias is 23 and Kounde is 21 and would join Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte in the City back line (and Eric Garcia, for now). Romano says Sevilla turned down the package last week.

Kounde debuted for Bordeaux at the age of 19 and moved to Sevilla in 2019. Between the clubs, he’s played in 111 matches and scored six times. He was named to the Europa League Squad of the Season when Sevilla won the tournament this summer.

Dias is a Benfica lifer and already has 19 caps for the Portuguese national team, a standout member of the side that won the UEFA Nations League. He was linked with Manchester United last year.

As for Otamendi, the Argentine has won nine trophies at Man City over 210 appearances in five seasons. He was also a member of the 2017-18 PFA Team of the Year when City set a number of Premier League records.

The players look similar when put side-by-side in WhoScored’s Player Comparison tool, though obviously there’s a required allotment for the differences in league.

But Dias’ vision and range of passing makes him the top option in the bunch. We’ll see what happens as the days move forward.

WhoScored
whoscored.com/PlayerComparison

Premier League odds, Prince-Wright’s picks: Week 3

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EPL betting odds for the Premier League Week 3 have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right and there is plenty of cash to be made up there.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League 2020-21 season is here and the EPL betting odds all over the place with new signings galore, some teams having more of a preseason than others and injuries already having an impact early in the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

The Premier League score predictions below encompass the 10 games during Week 3 of the new season, as Liverpool host Arsenal, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all face tough tests.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun with these Premier League games.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

Check out our Premier League score predictions below, plus the betting odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.


PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Manchester City 3-1 Leicester City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

West Ham 0-3 Wolves – (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, Peacock Premium) – [STREAM

West Brom 1-4 Chelsea – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Brighton 1-2 Manchester United – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Burnley 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, Peacock Premium) – [STREAM

Sheffield United 2-2 Leeds – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, Peacock Premium) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa – (Monday, 2:45 p.m. ET, Peacock Premium) – [STREAM

Tottenham 2-1 Newcastle – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Crystal Palace 2-1 Everton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


EPL BETTING ODDS – full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet

Saturday, September 26: (+360) Brighton v. Man United (-130), Tie: +270
Saturday, September 26: (+270) Crystal Palace v. Everton (+110), Tie: +225
Saturday, September 26: (+750) West Brom v. Chelsea (-280), Tie: +400
Saturday, September 26: (+220) Burnley v. Southampton (+135), Tie: +220
Sunday, September 27: (+165) Sheffield United v. Leeds (+165), Tie: +235
Sunday, September 27: (-225) Tottenham v. Newcastle (+600), Tie: +360
Sunday, September 27: (-350) Man City v. Leicester (+850), Tie: +480
Sunday, September 27: (+275) West Ham v. Wolves (+105), Tie: +235
Monday, September 28: (+185) Fulham v. Aston Villa (+150), Tie: +225
Monday, September 28: (-210) Liverpool v. Arsenal (+525), Tie: +360