Roundup: Wambach Hurt, Emotional Scenes At Anfield, MLS Weekend

Kevin C. Cox

NWSL season opens with Red Stars bye week; Higuain strikes again for Columbus; Dempsey on fire; full MLS highlights; and a smattering of the weekend's other footy

Chicago Red Stars open their season this Saturday against the Western New York Flash, and their chances of putting up a clean sheet may have gotten a little better, sadly.

Yes, sadly. Flash striker - and USA legend - Abby Wambach was ruled out of the team's game this weekend after fracturing an orbital bone in last Thursday's friendly against China. Her status for the Red Stars' opener is ‘day to day,' which usually means ‘we're going to see how this responds to treatment. Fingers crossed that one of the best players to wear the USA will be in the lineup Saturday evening in Toyota Park.

Big names bag goals in Crew v. Quakes

Goals from Frederico Higuain and Chris Wondolowski on either side of halftime neutralized each other in the teams' 1-1 draw on Sunday. Reports have it that the visiting team at Buck Shaw Stadium was just so, so f**king yellow.

Seattle, WNY open strong in NWSL

The Seattle Reign are famously one of the more star-studded rosters in NWSL, and new boss Laura Harvey put that quality on display in the league opener against Boston. The Breakers may have kept former teammate Sydney Leroux off the scoresheet, but USA and Reign teammate Megan Rapinoe picked up the slack, scoring once and setting up two more for former Arsenal striker Kim Little. NWSL, Seattle has you on notice.

Elsewhere, Western New York - despite Abby Wambach's absence - brushed aside the reorganizing Washington Spirit 3-1, defending champs Portland survived Houston 0-1, and Kansas City and Sky Blue drew, 1-1.

Liverpool present title bona fides

Made resolute by a stirring pregame memorial for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, including a howling, cathartic singing of "You'll Never Walk Alone," Liverpool underlined its championship intentions with a nervy 3-2 win over Manchester City Sunday at Anfield.

The Reds, some 24 years removed from their last first-division crown, are locked in a dogfight with The Oil Money Teams for the Premier League title. SB Nation's Zach Woosley has a short piece on what each of the three needs to do to win the title.

Madridista schadenfreude

The big news in Spain is Barcelona's slow-motion meltdown, now entering eclipse phase. The Catalonians, fresh off of their elimination from Champions League football by Atletico Madrid, lost on the road to minnows Grenada, 1-0, to fall four points off the pace set by Atletico with five rounds remaining. Reports out of Barca have Tata Martino worrying that ‘he's losing the team.'

Meanwhile, Real Madrid crushed Almeria, 4-0, and Atletico topped Getafe 0-2 on the road. The shameful laughter from the capitol may be audible in Catalonia.

‘Old Lady' still tops

Juventus could again stretch their lead to eight points - now with just five games to play - in Serie A with a win this afternoon in the black-and-white showdown at Udinese.

Napoli stayed third by defeating Lazio 4-2 behind a hat trick from Gonzalo Higuain, but the Naples club has little chance of overtaking Juventus or Roma at the top of the standings.

Saturday MLS roundup

Dallas 2, Seattle 3: In the game of the weekend in MLS, Clint Dempsey continued to demonstrate that his early-season struggles are a thing of the past, scoring twice - including a scorching free-kick - to lead the Sounders to a come-from-behind 3-2 road win over Dallas. Dempsey's now scored five goals in the last two games, and leads the league with six goals overall.

Philadelphia 2, Real Salt Lake 2: The Union, unimpressive at Toyota Park last week, twice rallied from a goal down to claim a point against last year's Western Conference champions. Our old friend Austin Berry gave up a penalty kick in the fourth minute! Salt Lake remains the last unbeaten team in the league.

Toronto 0, Colorado 1: With something like $10 million of players sitting broken, outside the gameday 18, this was always going to be a test of depth for the top-heavy Reds roster. Test: Failed. Edson Buddle is still playing soccer, folks, and he scored the game's only goal. It's getting all 2009 up in here!

New England 2, Houston 0: The Revolution's pass-and-move has been more pass-and-stand to this point, but the Dynamo - shell-shocked 4-1 losers in last week's Texas derby - served as the perfect pick-me-up. Kevin Alston got his first MLS goal to start New England off on the right foot.

DC United 1, NYRB 0: Is it time to panic in Red Bull land? Another tepid performance allowed Davy Arnaud's fourth-minute strike to stand up, as DC won its second game of the season.

Portland 1, Chivas USA 1: Portland's challenge to Chicago's claim as Kings of the Draw continues, with Erick ‘Cubo' Torres' late equalizer trumping yet another dominating possession game for the Timbers.

Galaxy 1, Vancouver 0: LA's second straight shutout continued the Galaxy's defensive turnaround, while the ever-present Robbie Keane got the goal. Lando's pursuit of the MLS career scoring title is still on pause, though.

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