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MLS Draft: Amaya goes first to expansion FC Cincinnati

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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.

Premier League preview: West Ham v. Arsenal

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  • Arsenal has lost just 1 of its last 21 PL matches against West Ham
  • Aubameyang has scored in four straight London derbies
  • West Ham has 16 points in its last 8 games, 4th best in the PL

West Ham could hand a debut appearance to Samir Nasri as the Hammers host Arsenal at London Stadium, Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Nasri’s arrival in the West Ham squad times up perfectly with the recent unrest surrounding Marko Arnautovic, who could be held out of the match as rumors swirl about a possible big-money move to China. Arnautovic’s absence would be a brutal blow to the West Ham attack, but Nasri could slot into his place and would have an immediate chance to make an impact on his return to the Premier League. Nasri last played a Premier League match on August 28, 2016 for Manchester City against West Ham.

For Arsenal, the Gunners are without a growing number of injured players, including Mesut Ozil, Laurent Kosciely and Hector Bellerin. Thankfully, it appears they will have natural defenders along the back line, as Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal are apparently fit, as is Konstantinos Mavropanos.

The Gunners must be wary of a trap game against the Hammers, with an enormous match against fourth-placed Chelsea on the horizon. If Arsenal can keep focus, they could put pressure on the Blues ahead of their upcoming match that will be critical in shaping the race for the final Champions League position.

What they’re saying

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini on responding to season-opening loss to Arsenal: “We have changed a lot more with four months of working. We didn’t play badly against Arsenal last time, but we lost with an own goal but after that we have worked hard, improved in every sense.”

Arsenal manager Unai Emery on West Ham: “I know he [Pellegrini] needs time to create his idea with the team. I think they are improving and they also have good individual players with quality. Players like Anderson, like Arnautovic, who are very good players. They are also playing at home with their supporters and that’s difficult for us.  Each away match is a very big challenge for us to find consistency and progression with our way. Saturday is a new challenge. We are [determined] to play [well] and to work hard in finding our victory.”

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Prediction

This match greatly hinges on the status of Arnautovic. While Samir Nasri could have a big day in his return, Arnautovic brings an element to West Ham that is special among their squad. If he doesn’t play, it’s likely Arsenal wins 2-0 thanks to Aubameyang’s good form up front.

Colorado Rapids sign free agent Feilhaber to 1-year deal

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Former Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber has completed a one-year deal with the Colorado Rapids, with an unspecified option for a second year, the club announced Friday.

Feilhaber spent two seasons with the New England Revolution before joining Sporting KC prior to the 2013 season, and became one of the more well-known members of the KC roster over a five-year spell, winning an MLS Cup in 2013. The 33-year-old joined LAFC before last season and made 34 league appearances for them, scoring three goals and adding six assists. He also started and played 73 minutes in the playoff loss to Real Salt Lake.

“Benny is a creative and experienced MLS veteran,” Rapids Executive VP & GM Padraig Smith told the official team release. “He is a player that will help balance our midfield and contribute to the scoresheet.”

According to reports, Feilhaber will make just under the maximum salary of $530,000, meaning he will not need to be bought down by GAM or be a Designated Player. He joins other new Colorado arrivals such as Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio, and Keegan Rosenberry.

Feilhaber owns 44 appearances for the USMNT, but was infamously shut out of the squad by former manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and while he returned to the fold after Klinsmann was fired, his age prevented him from being a major contributor to the team.

Aitor Karanka leaves Nottingham Forest after one year

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After just one year at the club, Nottingham Forest has released manager Aitor Karanka despite the club challenging near the top of the Championship table. According to a statement by the club, Karanka “asked to be released from his contract” and was granted his wish.

Forest currently sits seventh in the Championship standings, just four points back of the playoff positions and 12 points behind leaders Leeds United. They are also coming off a 4-2 win over Leeds that saw the team fight back from a one-goal deficit.

However, before that result the club had gone five matches without a win, allowing the teams in playoff positions to build a slight cushion.

According to many reports around the club, Karanka was clashing with ownership and the front office, and according to Sky Sports, Karanka became fed up with “outside influence disrupting his day-to-day team management.” Sky also states that the 45-year-old Spaniard “felt the lack of stability, control and constant speculation was affecting the club’s progress and players’ mentality.” That latter part could be in reference to heavy speculation surrounding his job status throughout December.

Karanka came to Nottingham Forest from Middlesbrough where he managed through a season of promotion to the Premier League followed by a relegation campaign that led to his departure in March of 2016 with the club in the bottom three, a position they would not recover from. He joined Forest in January of 2018 with the club in 14th position, and they would finish in 17th last year.

Karanka is known for bringing defensive tactical strength to his squad, but as a result, they often lack in attacking threat. The club has conceded 29 goals in 26 Championship matches this season, the sixth-best defensive record in the league, but they have 12 draws so far, the most in the league, and have won back-to-back Championship matches just once all year.

His departure means Nottingham Forest will begin to search for its 11th permanent manager since 2011, a notoriously high rate of turnover that is beginning to upset club supporters.

Premier League preview: Brighton v. Liverpool

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  • LFC is unbeaten in 3 PL games vs. Brighton, winning a combined 10-1
  • Liverpool has not lost back-to-back PL games since 2015
  • Brighton has scored in its last 13 PL home games

Brighton puts its stellar home record on alert as the Seagulls host Premier League leaders Liverpool at Falmer Stadium on Saturday, with kickoff at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The hosts have been fantastic in Premier League play in front of the home fans, with just six losses in its 29 Premier League matches at home over its two-year top flight history. However, five of those six losses have come against the Big Six clubs. They will be without defender Bernardo, who injured his hamstring in early January against West Ham. Also missing is struggling summer signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh who has been out since early November with a hamstring tear.

The Reds, meanwhile, are looking to turn around its first losing streak of the season, with a league loss to Manchester City plus an early FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves last time out. Virgil Van Dijk is back in contention after missing the FA Cup defeat midweek, but his central defensive partner is still a mystery. Dejan Lovren is out with a hamstring injury of his own, while Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are long-term absentees, so Fabinho could deputize along the back line again. Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, is a game-time decision after a calf problem popped up.

After Liverpool’s riveting loss to Manchester City in league play last time out, the Reds will be looking to turn things around and regain the upper hand in the title race. For Brighton, they sit in 13th place with 26 points, eight above 15th placed Newcastle.

What they’re saying

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on Jurgen Klopp‘I think he’s been outstanding for the game here. When you see how their team work without the ball to get it back and the quality they show, it’s orchestrated by the manager and the demands of the manager. This season shows what a great job that he has done. They are better prepared than any other team with the quality they have got. It is all led by Jurgen Klopp and they are a great team to watch.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on early Cup exits: “I would love to still be in these competitions, but we are not in them. We have to make the best of the time now. I know Pep [Guardiola] said he would prefer to be in four competitions. I would prefer the same. We have to make the best of the time and get as many points as possible.”

Video preview

Prediction

Defensive injuries, a tough road destination, and a losing streak. There’s plenty going against the Reds in this Premier League away match, but Jurgen Klopp won’t let them lose three in a row. It’s possible this ends in a disappointing draw, but Liverpool guts out a tough 2-1 victory.