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MLS (early) roundup: Galaxy, TFC, FCD all lose at home (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action from the early set of games in Major League Soccer…

[ MORE: Ex-NYCFC star pushes Leeds ahead of Derby in promotion playoffs ]

LA Galaxy 0-2 New York City FC

Following a strong start to the Guillermo Barros Schelotto era (six wins from seven games), the Galaxy have fallen back onto hard times in recent weeks and lost three straight, including Saturday’s home defeat at the hands of NYCFC. In those three successive defeats, they have conceded eight goals. At the risk of overreacting, they look once again like the 2018 team that conceded 64 times and missed the playoffs.

NYCFC did all of their damage in a three-minute span just before the halftime whistle, which left the Galaxy reeling as they went into the locker room. Heber and Maxi Moralez (penalty kick) got the goals, and NYCFC hardly broke a sweat in the second half.

The only real moment of danger for Dome Torrent’s side came in the 86th minute, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Chris Pontius each hit the woodwork. This, as is becoming all too commonplace these days, resulted in Ibrahimovic becoming physically violent against an opponent.

Toronto FC 1-2 Philadelphia Union

Speaking of teams looking more like the 2018 version of themselves rather than the new and improved 2019 squad, Toronto FC lost its second straight game, at home against the first-place Union.

Chris Mavinga put the ball into his own net in the 25th minute, but Alejandro Pozuelo dazzled the North American masses once again with a sublime free kick in the 51st minute.

The Union responded brilliantly, though, as Kacper Przybylko found a wide open Jamiro Monteiro inside the TFC penalty area, once again harkening back to the Reds’ 2018 form at the most inopportune time.

FC Dallas 1-2 New York Red Bulls

Cristian Casseres Jr. (12th minute), Sean Nealis (58th) and Brian White (85th) each bagged a goal in the Red Bulls’ comfortable 3-1 victory over FC Dallas. Chris Armas changed 10 of 11 starters from last week’s game, and the move paid off.

Entrenched starters Aaron Long, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luis Robles, Daniel Royer and Marc Rzatkowski didn’t even travel with the team to Dallas.

FC Cincinnati 2-1 Montreal Impact

The Alan Koch era in Cincinnati ended abruptly this week, thus 29-year-old Yoann Damet’s (interim) tenure began on Saturday. Anytime you can end a five-game losing skid (and a winless run of seven), it’s a good day.

Allan Cruz opened the scoring in the 7th minute, ending Cincinnati’s 528-minute scoreless drought in the process. Fatai Alashe made it 2-0 just after the hour mark, and good thing he did because Orji Okwonkwo pulled a goal back for the Impact not even 15 minutes later.

UCL Live: Spurs meets Ajax in fascinating semifinal first leg

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For the first Champions League match held in the new stadium, the win over Manchester City was something to savor. It was hyped up, it was loud, and Spurs won a famous victory.

For the second match held in the new stadium, the stakes are even higher.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Tottenham vies for its first-ever place in the Champions League final as it begins a two-leg adventure against Dutch side Ajax in London. Both sides are as battle tested as they come, with Ajax having downed Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus plus defending champions Real Madrid, and Spurs knocking off Premier League powerhouse Manchester City.

While Ajax is on a dream run featuring young future stars like Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, Tottenham comes into this match as potential underdogs thanks to the brutal list of unavailable players. With Harry Kane likely done for most – if not all – of the season, behind him in-form striker Heung-Min Son is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, leaving Fernando Llorente up front. Dele Alli is fit to start in midfield, while Moussa Sissoko only returns from his groin injury with a place on the bench. A banged up Jan Vertonghen recovers enough for a spot in the starting lineup, while Erik Lamela does not appear in the squad while still recovering from his hamstring injury. Harry Winks and Serge Aurier also miss out with fitness problems.

Mauricio Pochettino opts for a three-CB system with Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld, and Vertonghen all in the lineup, utilizing Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier as wing-backs to provide superior width against an Ajax side whose one weakness has been the performance of their full-backs. Look for Alli and Lucas Moura to press the Ajax midfielders hard to win the ball back.

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Tottenham: Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier, Wanyama, Alli, Rose; Eriksen; Moura, Llorente.
Bench: Gazzaniga, Dier, Walker-Peters, Sissoko, Foyth, Davies, Skipp.

Ajax: Onana; Veltman, de Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; Schone, De Jong, van de Beek; Ziyech, Tadic, Neres.
Bench: Varela, Sinkgraven, Huntelaar, Mazraoui, Magallan, Dolberg, de Wit.

Joe Gomez ready for Liverpool return

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Joe Gomez has handed Liverpool another huge boost in their quest to win the Premier League title.

The England international, 21, has been out since suffering a fracture to his lower left leg during a win at Burnley in December.

Initially, Gomez was only going to be out for a few weeks but complications have since arrived and he has had to have surgery and further treatment to rectify the issue.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Porto on Wednesday (Liverpool have a 2-0 lead from the first leg), Jurgen Klopp revealed Gomez is now available for selection and has travelled with the team to Portugal.

“Absolutely [he looks strong]. Ox and Joe both did really well at Leicester, it was a brilliant game by all of the boys, to be honest, I watched it back. It looked really good,” Klopp said. “It’s clear they still need time to get full match fitness but it’s nice to have them back and now Joe first as an option. He played right full-back, we need him as this option as well. We all know he played a wonderful season at the centre-half position until his injury, but he can play both and it’s good to have him.”

Klopp now has a lot of options in defense, as Joel Matip has stepped in and played pretty well alongside Virgil Van Dijk over the past few months, as losing Gomez for a pivotal stretch of the season was a big concern for Liverpool. Even though Matip has filled in well, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson are clearly Liverpool’s first-choice back four.

With Dejan Lovren out with illness, getting Gomez back is a big deal for Liverpool as the composed center back was developing a superb relationship with VVD in the heart of Liverpool’s defense. However, with only TAA as a right back option and the likes of James Milner having to fill in there at times, it seems likely Gomez will rotate in that full back role in the final weeks of the season rather than disrupt the Matip-VVD partnership.

Mark this down as another big plus for Liverpool in their quest to win the league title for the first time since 1989-90.

In other injury news, Klopp also confirmed that Lovren is out of the game against Porto, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain needs more fitness work, Adam Lallana has returned to training and Jordan Henderson is fit after a slight ankle knock against Chelsea.

All in all, good news for Liverpool as they enter a season-defining 10 days.

PL Sunday Preview: Liverpool host Chelsea; Man City visit Crystal Palace

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In what may be Liverpool’s toughest remaining league match of the season, the Reds host the Blues of Chelsea in an epic matchup between two big six sides. Chelsea will be looking to spoil Liverpool’s title hopes yet again. It was Chelsea and Demba Ba who pounced on Steven Gerrard‘s slip in midfield which led to Liverpool losing the title in 2014.

Liverpool v. Chelsea — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Liverpool took care of business last week early against Porto, and with a 2-0 lead, it may allow manager Jurgen Klopp to focus more of his attention on one of the biggest games of the season against Chelsea. When these teams met earlier in the season, Chelsea recorded a 1-1 draw in the Premier League and a 2-1 win in the League Cup. More than Manchester City, Chelsea may be Liverpool’s bogey team. The Reds haven’t beaten Chelsea in six games, dating back to 2016.

One of Liverpool’s big boosts heading into the match is the return of the marauding Scottish left wing back Andrew Robertson. That should allow James Milner to either return to midfield or take a place on the bench, where he can make a second-half impact with fresh legs. In addition, Joe Gomez is available after a long injury layoff while Adam Lallana is expected to take part as well. But it will be up to the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to break down Chelsea’s backline and secure a massive three points to stay alive for the title.

An interesting little facet of this game is that it will come minutes after the end of Manchester City’s match at Crystal Palace. Liverpool and Chelsea’s players will know if Man City has taken back the lead in the table, or whether Liverpool can extend its lead at the top.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: None | Chelsea — OUT: None

Crystal Palace v. Manchester City — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Before Thursday’s defeat to Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League, Manchester City hadn’t lost a match since a 2-1 loss at Newcastle at the end of January. Now, Pep Guardiola heads back to London for the second time in a week looking to remain in the title hunt.

With Liverpool keeping pace at the top, Man City can’t afford a slip on on the road, but Roy Hodgson and his side will be hoping to pick up at least a point at Selhurst Park. Unsurprisingly, Crystal Palace has struggled against the Big Six sides this season, with the exception a 3-2 win….at Manchester City. Andros Townsend‘s world-class strike helped to prove the difference. Could Crystal Palace secure six points over the title-favorites?

Meanwhile for Man City, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane could inject some freshness back into the squad after sitting out the past couple of games. Also in Man City’s favor, Crystal Palace has lost 12 of its 16 Premier League home games this season. Plus, with a win, Man City goes one point ahead of Liverpool, putting all the pressure on Klopp’s side.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace —  OUT: James Tompkins (groin), Mamadou Sakho (knee) | Manchester City — QUESTIONABLE: Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy

Watch Live: Southampton v. Liverpool

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Southampton host Liverpool on Friday at St Mary’s (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), as Jurgen Klopp‘s men have the chance to go back to the top of the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Klopp knows that a resurgent Saints will be tough to break down, as new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (he and Klopp completed their coaching badges together in Germany) has led Saints to seven victories in his 16 games in charge, but Liverpool are the heavy favorites to move two points clear in the title race with Man City in FA Cup semifinal action this weekend.

Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren are all returning to their former club, and they can expect a hostile atmosphere down on the South Coast given all of the transfer deals between these two teams in recent years.

In team news Saints have had to leave Danny Ings out as he is on loan from Liverpool this season before he makes his move permanent in the summer. Shane Long comes in for him, while Jannik Vestergaard returns to the lineup.

Liverpool make two changes as Naby Keita and Fabinho come in to the midfield.


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