Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

PL Sunday preview: Litmus test time for Spurs, Man United

Leave a comment

Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures will see a pair of top-four hopefuls do battle head-to-head, as Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Everton v. Bournemouth — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With just one win in their last eight PL outings, Everton will be hoping that their narrow victory over League Two side Lincoln City in the FA Cup last weekend will help to right the ship once back in league play. Marco Silva‘s fingers crossed it does the trick after slipping to 11th in the league table.

“Winning matches is the best way to win confidence and to start playing at our best level,” he said this week. “The best way to show (our quality) is by the results and the wins. We achieved the main thing against Lincoln and we have to work strongly again to achieve a good result in the next match.”

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: None | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee), Dominic Solanke (hamstring)


Tottenham Hotspur v. Man United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Sunday’s showdown at Wembley will serve as a litmus test for both Tottenham and Man United, as well as their respective managers. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will put his unblemished record as United boss on the line against Mauricio Pochettino, who might just replace him at Old Trafford in the summer.

With all due respect to the likes of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, third-place Spurs will pose a challenge Solskjaer’s side has not yet seen since Jose Mourinho was fired following a humbling defeat to Liverpool last month. United didn’t fare so well the first time these sides met this season, as the Red Devils suffered a thoroughly embarrassing 3-0 defeat that home in August. While Solskjaer has restored the attacking intent at United, he will be without a number of key defensive figures on Sunday, with Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian all reportedly unavailable or left out of the squad.

Along the same lines, Spurs are enjoying their best run of results all season, despite experiencing a rash of injuries — particularly to the midfield, where Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have, somehow, become an irreplaceable duo. Finally, Eric Dier (appendectomy) is expected to return, as is defender Jan Vertonghen (thigh), thus affording Pochettino a majority of first-choice midfield and defensive options. Son Heung-min, who has amassed seven goals and five assists in his last seven games (all competitions), will play on Sunday before departing to join up with South Korea at the Asian Cup. It was agreed between the two side that Son remain with his club until after the game against United, missing the first two group games in the process.

INJURIES: Tottenham —  OUT: Mousa Dembele (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee) | Man United — OUT: Eric Bailly (suspension), Chris Smalling (foot), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed)

MLS Draft: Amaya goes first to expansion FC Cincinnati

@UCLAMSoccer
Leave a comment

New Major League Soccer club FC Cincinnati made Frankie Amaya its latest player, picking the UCLA midfielder first in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Below is the full list of first round picks made so far:

#1 – FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya, UCLA

A United States youth international, Amaya is a raw midfielder that, despite being the youngest player in the draft, is still far more experienced than most in the pool. His college numbers and production are a big question mark, but he is a consensus high ceiling guy who can make an impact if given time.

#2 – San Jose Earthquakes: Siad Haji, VCU

An well-publicized underwhelming combine didn’t deter San Jose, who took a VCU midfielder that has good attacking ability and great vision, but still has questions to answer about his speed.

#3 – Orlando City: Santiago Pantino, FIU

Known as a strong target man striker, Pantino played with Seattle’s U-23 USL League Two side and could be a legitimate backup option right away.

#4 – FC Dallas (from Colorado): Callum Montgomery, Charlotte

A Generation Adidas player, Montgomery is another guy that has a shot to be a contributor at the back right away, with many believing he’s maybe the most pro-ready player in the draft. His position on this list lends to that belief.

#5 – Colorado Rapids (from Chicago): Andre Shinyashiki, Denver

The Brazilian was a Hermann Award finalist in his senior year, scoring a whopping 28 goals in 21 games during the campaign to lead the nation.

#6 – Toronto FC: Griffin Dorsey, Indiana

#7 – Minnesota United: Dayne St. Clair, Maryland

#8 – Houston Dynamo: Sam Junqua, Cal

#9 – New England Revolution: Tajon Buchanan, Syracuse

#10 – FC Dallas (from Montreal): John Nelson, UNC

#11 – New England Revolution (from Vancouver): DeJuan Jones, Michigan State

#12 – NYCFC (from LA Galaxy): Luis Barraza, Marquette

#13 – FC Cincinnati (from Philadelphia): Logan Gdula, Wake Forest

#14 – DC United: Akeem Ward, Creighton

#15 – Minnesota United (from Chicago via FC Dallas and Colorado): Chase Gasper, Maryland

#16 – NY Red Bulls (from Cincinnati via LAFC): Roy Boateng, UC Davis

#17 – Real Salt Lake: Sam Brown, Harvard

#18 – Columbus Crew: J.J. Williams, Kentucky

#19 – LA Galaxy (from NYCFC): Emil Cuello, SMU

#20 – Seattle Sounders: Tucker Bone, Air Force

#21 – Sporting KC: Kamar Mariott, Florida Gulf Coast

#22 – NY Red Bulls: Janos Loebe, Fordham

#23 – Portland Timbers: Ryan Sierakowski, Michigan St.

#24 – Atlanta United: Anderson Asiedu

Round 2

#25 – NY Red Bulls (from Cincinnati): Sean Nealis, Hofstra

#26 – San Jose Earthquakes: Sergio Rivas, Seattle

#27 – Orlando City: Kamal Miller, Syracuse

#28 – Atlanta United: Marcelo Borges, Michigan

#29 – FC Cincinnati (from Chicago via Philadelphia): Tommy McCabe, Notre Dame

#30 – FC Cincinnati (from Toronto): Jimmy Hague, Michigan St.

#31 – Minnesota United: Hassani Dotson, Oregon St.

#32 – New York Red Bulls (from Houston via Chicago): Rece Buckmaster, Indiana

#33 – Houston Dynamo: Andrew Samuels, Maryland

#34 – Montreal Impact: Amar Sejdic, Maryland

#35 – Vancouver Whitecaps: Brandon McDonough, Georgetown

#36 – LA Galaxy: Don Tchilao, Oregon St.

#37 – FC Cincinnati (from  Philadelphia): Ben Lundt, Akron

#38 – Orlando City (from D.C. United): Tommy Madden, UNC-Charlotte

#39 – Toronto FC (From FC Dallas via Colorado): Adam Wilson, Louisville

#40 – LAFC: Peter-Lee Vassell, Harbor View FC

#41 – Real Salt Lake: Kyle Coffey, Washington

#42 – Colorado Rapids (from Columbus): Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, UConn

#43 – NYCFC: Abdi Mohamed, Akron

#44 – Seattle Sounders: Joel Rydstrand, Creighton

#45 – Sporting KC: Camden Riley, Pacific

#46 – San Jose Earthquakes (from RBNY): Mamadi Camara, Simon Francis

#47 – Portland Timbers: Lennart Hein, Saint Louis

#48 – Atlanta United: Amir Bashti, Stanford

Also, of note, Major League Soccer announced just prior to the draft that the annual Coach of the Year award would be renamed after former LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, and Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, who passed away last month. The announcement was fitting as Amaya, a UCLA grad, was selected first just after the announcement. Schmid coached UCLA for nearly 20 years before he moved to the USMNT youth fold and then on to Major League Soccer.

Solanke signs for Bournemouth; Clyne joins on loan

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dominic Solanke has signed for Bournemouth from Liverpool for a fee reported to be in the region of $24.1 million.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Solanke, 21, didn’t feature this season after becoming a regular off the bench during the 2017-18 campaign. The Chelsea academy product moved to Liverpool in the summer of 2017, hot off the heels of leading England’s U-20 side to World Cup glory.

Speaking about the move to Bournemouth, the English striker is excited to get the opportunity to work with Eddie Howe and the fine young forwards they already possess.

“I think the club is going somewhere. Over the past few years, they have been really good in the Premier League and had some good positional finishes as well. I think it’s a good club to be at, especially for someone of my age,” Solanke said. “I spoke with the manager this morning [Friday]. He is a really nice guy. From playing and watching the Premier League, I know the sort of manager he is. I was excited to meet him and am really looking forward to working with him and seeing what he’s about.”

Solanke is no doubt one of the top English prospects up front (he made his full international debut in November 2017 against Brazil), and this move makes a lot of sense.

At Bournemouth he will get to play in a young, exciting attacking unit where the likes of Ryan Fraser, Josh King and David Brooks have flourished and he can hold the ball up and knit things together in attack. At Liverpool he played a bit-part last season but picked up some great experiences in the UEFA Champions League and in cup competitions.

Does Solanke’s arrival suggest that Callum Wilson is heading to Chelsea, as reported?

We will have to wait and see, but given Jermain Defoe‘s impending loan move to Glasgow Rangers Howe needed reinforcements up front and Solanke suits Bournemouth’s speedy forward play, with a focus on strikers running into wide areas, perfectly.

And Solanke will take Nathaniel Clyne with him to the South Coast from Liverpool, as the right back has arrived on loan for the rest of the season.

The right back has had terrible luck with injuries in recent years, but is back to full fitness now and played extremely well in Liverpool’s victory against Manchester United last month.

However, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez ahead of him in the pecking order at Anfield, Clyne needs regular minutes and he will get that at Bournemouth with regular right back Adam Smith out for another few months with a knee injury and Simon Francis also injured.

At the age of 27, Clyne is in the prime of his career and it is easy to forget he was a regular for England during his days with Southampton and the early part of his Liverpool career.

Two very good, and sensible, pick ups by Bournemouth.

PL Sunday preview: Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd all in action

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sunday sees four final fixtures, featuring top-four hopefuls Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, to round out the 2018 calendar year in the Premier League…

[ MORE: Liverpool go nine points clear with dismantling of Arsenal ] 

Crystal Palace v. Chelsea — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With one giant slaying already to their name in the last week, Crystal Palace now turn their attention to Sunday’s visit from Chelsea. Following their unlikely upset of Manchester City a week ago, the Eagles suffered an abrupt come-down in the form of a 0-0 draw with Cardiff City on Wednesday. Despite taking 32 shots, just five were on target and not a single one found the back of the net — an all too familiar tale for a side with just 17 goals scored this season (third-fewest in the PL).

Chelsea themselves were on the wrong side of a giant slaying of significantly lesser proportions last weekend when Leicester City turned the Blues over. It’s been relatively tough sledding for Chelsea of late, as they’ve lost three of their last seven league games after going unbeaten in the season’s first dozen.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Martin Kelly (groin) | Chelsea — OUT: None


Southampton v. Man City — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The math is simple for Man City these days: nothing short of a victory — followed by another victory, and another victory, and lots more victories — will do, if they are to stay in the title race with current leaders Liverpool. Heading into Sunday’s trip to St. Mary’s Stadium, the defending champions trail the runaway Reds by 10 points. With defeats in three of their last four games, Pep Guardiola‘s side is reeling and needs not only a victory, but a resounding response and performance, to re-establish themselves and set the table for a chase-down in the second half of the campaign.

Southampton, on the other hand, have largely enjoyed the busy festive period thus far as they won back-to-back games last week and climbed out of the relegation zone, where they remain with a game in hand.

INJURIES: Southampton — OUT: None | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee), Fernandinho (thigh), Fabian Delph (suspension), Claudio Bravo (achilles)


Burnley vs. West Ham — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Speaking of the relegation zone, that’s where Burnley begin their second half of the 2018-19 season — in 19th place following Fulham’s victory on Saturday. With just one victory in their last 12 games — and just two draws during that period — it’s been a dire three months for Sean Dyche‘s relegation-threatened side.

Unfortunately for the Clarets, West Ham head into Turf Moor riding a wave of optimism and point — five wins in their last six games have seen them climb all the way to 11th place in the table. Another win on Sunday would see them go seventh. Felipe Anderson has been the danger man of late and has begun to repay a hefty chunk of the $48 million spent to bring him to the London Stadium this summer with seven goals in his last eight games.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Aaron Lennon (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Steven Defour (knee),  | West Ham — OUT: Marko Arnautovic (hamstring), Manuel Lanzini (knee), Winston Reid (knee), Andriy Yarmolenko (achilles), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Ryan Fredericks (ankle)


Man United vs. Bournemouth — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

As for clubs enjoying better days following a poor start to the season, no one has done a sharper U-turn than Man United. Since firing Jose Mourinho and installing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager nearly two weeks ago, the Red Devils have won both games they’ve played, victories over Cardiff and Huddersfield Town, by a combined score of 8-2. Paul Pogba, more than anyone else, is enjoying his new lease on life and turning in the type of performances expected of a former world-record signing.

As for Bournemouth, the Cherries’ season has largely moved in reverse of United’s, as their strong start has been undone by recent struggles (seven losses in their last nine games). Losing captain Simon Francis to a torn ACL — just weeks after midfielder Lewis Cook to the same injury — has left Bournemouth thin at the back and on the leadership front. Manager Eddie Howe has made no attempts at downplaying the loss.

“He’s been our leader on the pitch and a role model and a big miss in the dressing room. As a team it’s a big loss and a big gap to fill. He didn’t deserve that, but it’s happened and now we’ll do our best to support him through this process.”

INJURIES: Man United — QUESTIONABLE: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Chris Smalling (foot) | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee)

Bournemouth’s Brooks bullies Brighton

Leave a comment
  • Brooks scores in each half
  • Brighton’s Lewis Dunk sent off
  • Bournemouth up to eighth place
  • Brighton without a win away from home this season

Bournemouth beat 10-man Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, as the Cherries enter the festive season on a high.

David Brooks scored a stunner and a header to do the damage, as Brighton’s captain Lewis Dunk was sent off in the second half after picking up two yellow cards.

The win moves Bournemouth up to eighth in the table and on to 26 points, while Brighton remain in 13th on 21 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton started well as Yves Bissouma burst through the Bournemouth defense but his low shot was saved by Asmir Begovic.

At the other end Simon Francis clipped in an inviting ball which just evaded the Bournemouth attack as the home side huffed and puffed.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Callum Wilson then raced in and his cutback was cleared on the line by Brighton’s Bernardo and then Mat Ryan saved the rebound after persistent Bournemouth pressure. Jurgen Locadia prodded a decent effort goalwards at the other end, but then Bournemouth took the lead in sensational fashion.

Welsh international Brooks picked the ball up without much on but he danced towards goal and slammed an effort into the far corner to put the Cherries 1-0 up. Before the break Lewis Dunk got a powerful header on goal but Begovic saved superbly as Brighton were unlucky to get in behind at the break.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half Bournemouth almost doubled their lead.

Junior Stanislas whipped a free kick just wide of the post with Ryan rooted to the spot and the home side looked the more likely to score.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Brighton’s task was made tougher late on as Dunk was handed a second yellow card for taking out Wilson, and then it was game over.

Brooks scored his and Bournemouth’s second goal of the game as he deftly flicked home Ryan Fraser‘s inch-perfect cross to make it 2-0.

Game. Set. Match.