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Old 01-07-2020, 07:35 AM   #1

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Default The referee awarded a goal kick.While Liverpool
Josef Martinez is back just in time to help Atlanta United try to defend its MLS Cup title.Martinez twisted his knee in a Sept. 21 game against the San Jose Earthquakes. The reigning league MVP was expected to miss several weeks but then he teased his return with a Rocky-inspired Instagram post.He started in United’s final regular-season match against New England and scored a goal in a 3-1 victory. Atlanta sealed up the second seed in the East for a first-round matchup against the Revolution. That win in the first of back-to-back meetings with New England bodes well for Atlanta in the postseason opener at home Saturday.Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan noted that in the final regular-season game last season Cheap France Soccer Jerseys , Atlanta lost the Supporters Shield to the Red Bulls with a loss.“In the playoffs, anything can happen. It means nothing where you finish,” Guzan said. “It’s one and done. You’ve got to fight for your lives and fight for every inch that you get come playoff time.”Indeed, this postseason, fighting for every inch is important. Major League Soccer went to a single-elimination playoff format, replacing the two-legged format for the conference semifinals and finals that the league started using in 2003. The MLS Cup final is on Nov. 10 — its earliest finish since 2002.And because the league expanded to 24 teams, MLS also expanded the playoffs to include 14 teams, seven from each conference.NYCFC and LAFC finished atop their conferences to earn an opening-round bye. Four of the first-round matches are set for Saturday, with the remaining two on Sunday.Here are some things to know about the first-round matchups:NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION AT ATLANTA UNITED: The Revolution got into the playoffs as the seventh seed for their first postseason appearance since 2015. New England started the season 2-8-2 before firing coach Brad Friedel and replacing him with veteran Bruce Arena. The Revs went 1-1-3 over their last five games, capped by the loss to Atlanta. United is playing its first year under Frank de Boer, who replaced Tata Martino. Atlanta went 3-1-1 in its last five matches and Martinez finished third overall in the league with 27 goals.FC DALLAS AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS: The Sounders clinched the second seed in the West with a victory over Minnesota on Decision Day. Seattle won its last two regular-season matches and went 3-1-1 over its last five. Raul Ruidiaz leads Seattle with 11 goals this season. Dallas secured the seventh seed in the West with a decisive 6-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in the last game, but the team had lost the previous four matches. Jesus Ferreira leads Dallas with seven goals. The two teams have split their last four meetings.D.C. UNITED AT TORONTO FC: The Reds are back in the playoffs after winning the MLS Cup in 2017, boosted by a 10-game unbeaten streak to end the season. Forward Jozy Altidore Cheap Germany Soccer Jerseys , who has 11 goals in 22 matches, is a game-time decision with a thigh strain. Alejandro Pozuelo leads Toronto with 12 goals and 12 assists. D.C. United is undefeated in its last five. Striker Wayne Rooney, who leads the team with 11 goals, is finishing up his stint with the team before heading home to England to be a player-coach for Derby County.PORTLAND TIMBERS AT REAL SALT LAKE: The Timbers struggled down the stretch with a five-game winless streak before a 3-1 victory over the Earthquakes on Decision Day. Portland, which finished sixth in the West, heads into the playoffs without Brian Fernandez, who voluntarily entered the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. But the Timbers should have captain Diego Valeri back from a calf injury that kept him out of the finale. Real Salt Lake has gone 3-2-1 in its final six games, capped by back-to-back wins against the Whitecaps and Dynamo. RSL fired coach Mike Petke in August and installed Freddy Juarez to lead the team in the interim. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is wrapping up a 20-year career in MLS.NEW YORK RED BULLS AT PHILADELPHIA UNION: The Red Bulls fell to sixth in the Eastern Conference after a loss to the Montreal Impact on Decision Day. The team has not scored a goal in the last two games. The Red Bulls are led by Daniel Royer with 11 goals. Behind him with nine is Brian White, who returned to start in the finale after sustaining an ankle injury on Aug. 17. Philadelphia has never won a playoff match. The Union dropped to third in the East with back-to-back losses to finish the season. Leading scorer Kacper Przybylko, who has 15 goals, hurt his ankle in pregame warmups on Decision Day but coach Jim Curtin said he’ll start Sunday against the Red Bulls.LA GALAXY AT MINNESOTA UNITED: Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his MLS playoffs debut Sunday. The enigmatic Swede finished second in the league with 30 goals this season, behind LAFC’s Carlos Vela, who had a league-record 34. The Galaxy lost their final two games of the season to finish fifth in the West. The Loons dropped their final regular-season game to the Sounders best replica football jerseys , but they were undefeated in their previous four matches. United’s Ike Opara was named the league’s Defender of the Year. He also received the honor in 2017. LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool missed a chance to move seven points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester on Wednesday.The leaders couldn’t build on a goal after 121 seconds by Sadio Mane at a snowy Anfield, with Leicester equalizing through Harry Maguire in first-half injury time and causing Liverpool problems in the second half.Only a fine reaction save from goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who turned the ball away after teammate Roberto Firmino diverted it toward his own goal, denied Leicester another surprise win after beating Chelsea and Man City in the past five weeks.As it was, Liverpool’s lead is now five points with 14 matches left as the team looks to win the league for the first time since 1990.Liverpool’s quickest league goal in nearly three years was a 30-pass move that culminated in Andrew Robertson playing the ball across the box, through Firmino’s legs, to tee up Mane for a low shot around Maguire’s legs and inside the far post.The Foxes are favored opposition for the Senegal international, who now has had a hand in five goals — three goals and two assists — in his last five appearances against them. It was the 100th goal scored at Anfield by Mane and fellow forwards Mohamed Salah and Firmino.Firmino and Mane wasted chances before Liverpool’s tempo dropped.Alisson miskicked a short backpass from Jordan Henderson, who was playing as an emergency right back, straight to James Maddison, who went down under a challenge but was not awarded a penalty.When Alisson delayed another clearance, it was half-blocked by Jamie Vardy Cheap Iceland Soccer Shirts , and Maddison made a complete mess of his far-post header when the ball was returned into the box by Marc Albrighton.Maguire found himself in action at both ends of the field with varying results, as Salah ran into him in the penalty area — with no punishment for either player — before the England defender was booked for tripping Mane as he tried to run clean through onto Robertson’s pass.By far his biggest contribution, however, was the stoppage-time volley when Liverpool failed to clear a free kick. Ben Chilwell returned the ball into the box and Maguire sneaked in at the far post to guide in a finish.The big center-back almost repeated the feat early in the second half, and it required Alisson to get Firmino out of trouble when his Brazil teammate diverted Maguire’s header goalward.Naby Keita felt he should have had a penalty when, after exchanging passes with Firmino to get through on goal, Ricardo Pereira laid two hands on his back causing him to fall. The referee awarded a goal kick.While Liverpool was appealing for another penalty, this time on Virgil Van Dijk, Leicester launched a three-on-two counterattack but Maddison was furious when Demarai Gray opted to shoot rather than squaring the ball.Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel denied Firmino with the last real chance of the game, with Mane flashing over a header in added time.Liverpool’s unbeaten home record was extended to 32 league matches but the first dropped points at Anfield since October meant the sense of a missed opportunity was palpable at the final whistle.
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