Jefferson Montero

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Official: First full USMNT squad will face Ecuador

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Hours before Gregg Berhalter’s second match as U.S. Men’s National Team coach, U.S. Soccer officially announced the USMNT’s next opponent.

The USMNT will open the March FIFA international week with a friendly match against Ecuador on Thursday, March 21 in Orlando, Fla. La Tricolor missed out on the 2018 World Cup but still features a quality side headlined by Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia. FC Dallas’ Carlos Gruezo, Tigres UANL’s Enner Valencia and West Bromwich Albion’s Jefferson Montero are also regulars in the squad.

[WATCH: Cardiff City fans salute Sala]

“Ecuador has an experienced, athletic team that will provide a good test for our group. We will use this opportunity to continue to build on the foundation of the team as we develop our style of play,” Berhalter said in a statement. “Playing in Orlando City Stadium is a great soccer experience – the atmosphere is fantastic.”

The match against Ecuador is the first in a two-match series against South American sides in March. In late January, U.S. Soccer announced the USMNT would host Chile in Houston, Texas on March 26, five days after the match in Orlando.

Man United 1-1 Swansea: Sigurdsson rescues a point for Swans

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Swansea City went controversially behind, but they always remained a threat, and Gylfi Sigurdsson was again the man to pull them from the cold, dark waters.

Wayne Rooney had bagged a highly controversial penalty at the stroke of halftime, but Sigurdsson delivered his specialty: a beautiful curling free-kick with 11 minutes to go as Swansea grabbed a point and doomed the home side to yet another single point at Old Trafford.

Swansea began with much of the early possession, with Manchester United sloppy on the ball. The home side, which has been struck by countless injuries of late, was forced into yet another early change as Luke Shaw was unable to make it out of the opening 10 minutes with an ankle injury, replaced by Antonio Valencia.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A furious chance for the Swans saw Fernando Llorente shake free of Eric Bailly and force a good save from David De Gea on 14 minutes. Down the other end two minutes later, Jesse Lingard timed a run well and received a brilliant ball from Anthony Martial, but he couldn’t bag the opener, with Lukasz Fabianski there to smother the ball.

On the half-hour mark, Martial burst into the box and took it on himself, cutting across three defenders to find space and firing on net but it was right at Fabianski who held on nervously.

Just before halftime, United found the breakthrough as Marcus Rashford went down near the endline on a challenge from Fabianski. The decision was poor, as Rashford dove amid hardly any contact from Fabianski off his line, but with the referee in a poor position to see the magnitude of the challenge, he pointed to the spot after a long deliberation. Wayne Rooney, who had been mostly invisible in the first 45 minutes, buried the chance from the spot with the final kick of the first half.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Rooney nearly had a second just minutes after the halftime break, but his effort on the empty left side of the net thumped into the back of Martial and harmlessly away. United then suffered yet another injury to its defense, with the reliable Eric Bailly unable to continue after whacking the back of Llorente’s leg.

Injuries were a concern for both sides throughout the contest. Swansea had just brought on Jefferson Montero, who has been plagued by hamstring problems all season. Montero was on the pitch just five minutes before pulling up after a physical contest between he and Antonio Valencia, forced back off the pitch and needed a stretcher to reach the tunnel. Martin Olsson came on, and was immediately thumped in the air full tilt by Ashley Young, but thankfully Olsson could continue despite the heavy clatter to his ribs.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Swansea fired a warning shot at the Red Devils on the break as Jordon Ayew cut back for Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he thumped the ball acres over the bar. That was a harbinger of things to come, as Ayew was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, and Sigurdsson stepped up to conjur the ball into the back of the net, with David de Gea failing to even produce an attempt at a save.

The visitors nearly snagged the win in six minutes of stoppage time, on a free-kick from Sigurdsson yet again, which he lofted into the box, and with Llorente’s defender Daley Blind falling to the turf, the Swans striker was completely free, but he bungled the wide-open chance and saw it harmlessly into the arms of De Gea.

The point for United only moves them within a point of the top four, failing to snag the chance to jump Manchester City, who have yet to play today. For Swansea, they fail to pull out of the relegation zone, still sitting two points below Hull City despite owning a slightly better goal differential.

Swansea loses Dyer for season with Achilles injury

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It’s been mostly good news since Paul Clement took over at Swansea City, so this is a departure in tone for the Welsh side.

Nathan Dyer is out for the year.

Dyer tore his Achilles tendon seven minutes into Sunday’s win over Leicester City, a victory that boosted Swans into 15th place. Swansea is four points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Conte v Mourinho brewing ]

Dyer joins Jefferson Montero as long-term injuries on the wing for Swansea, which has Luciano Narsingh and Jordan Ayew among its wing options.

Dyer won a PL title on loan at Leicester City last season, and missed eight matches with an ankle injury earlier this season.

From SwanseaCity.net:

A scan today revealed that the 29-year-old has ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left ankle.
It means Dyer, who won a Premier League medal on loan at Leicester last season, will have to undergo surgery in due course to cure the problem.
Dyer is 29, and returning from an achilles injury is no picnic, especially for a speed merchant. All our best to the Premier League vet.

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Leicester City (Lineups & Live Stream)

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Leicester City and Swansea City play a vital relegation battle as the Foxes visit the Liberty Stadium at 11:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

The defending champions are on a four-match losing streak that has seen them drop to just a point above the drop. That has seen manager Claudio Ranieri ring the changes, as Shinji Okazaki and Ahmed Musa were dropped to the bench in favor of Demarai Gray and Mark Albrighton. Islam Slimani makes the bench as he returns from a groin injury.

Gray scored in the midweek FA Cup win, and has been slotted in with Ranieri hoping to spark something in the squad that will end the miserable run. The Foxes have been shut out a whopping five straight matches, without a goal in 520 minutes. Ranieri has stuck with Christian Fuchs in defense after a poor showing in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out.

[ WATCH LIVE: Swansea City vs. Leicester City live online at NBCSports.com ]

For Swansea City, January signing Jordan Ayew still has not yet made his club debut after returning from the African Cup of Nations. Ki Sung-Yeung and Jefferson Montero are out injured, but Gylfi Sigurdsson continues in the attack, one of the most in-form forwards in the Premier League.

Leicester City has won four straight matches against Swansea City, with 11 goals for and just one conceded over that time. No defending champion has lost five straight in English top flight play since Chelsea in 1956.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Carroll, Fer, Cork; Dyer, Llorente, Sigurdsson.
Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Kingsley, Amat, Routledge, Narsingh, Ayew.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton; Gray, Vardy.
Subs: Zieler, Chilwell, King, Amartey, Musa, Slimani, Okazaki.

PL Sunday: Chelsea aims to extend lead; Swansea, Leicester battle

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Chelsea has a firm hold on the top of the Premier League, and the club’s lead could be up to 12 points on Sunday if they play their cards right.

Meanwhile, the day’s second matchup features two sides firmly in the relegation heap, including last season’s PL winners Leicester City.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Burnley vs. Chelsea — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

While the Clarets have proven to be a very tricky team to take care of at home, Burnley’s last league win against Chelsea hasn’t come since 1983. Given Chelsea’s current form, the challenge of knocking off the Blues will be made all the more difficult for Sean Dyche‘s team.

This season, Burnley has taken 28 of its 29 points at home, making the Turf Moor one of the league’s most difficult venues to play at for visitors.

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea enters Sunday unbeaten in its last six across all competitions, and with a nine-point advantage over second place Tottenham. The Blues can once again put out a healthy lineup, with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard leading the dangerous attack.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Liverpool drops Spurs ]


Swansea City vs. Leicester City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Both sides enter Sunday’s encounter a mere one point above the drop zone, so a victory would mean the world to both Swansea and Leicester. Jordan Ayew could make his debut for the Swans, although the side will likely be without key figures Ki Sung-Yeung, Jefferson Montero and Leon Britton.

Paul Clement‘s side have certainly improved in form since the new manager took over for the departed Bob Bradley. Swansea has won three of its five PL fixtures since Clement took over at the Liberty Stadium.

Meanwhile, Leicester’s fall from grace continues to get uglier by the day as Claudio Ranieri‘s side comes closer to the bottom three. The Foxes have won four straight against Swansea in PL action, but the club’s poor form could make for a more closely-contested match.