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Columbus, Portland, and Atlanta take first-leg leads

The soccer news starts with the first-round of the MLS conference semifinals. Columbus took a 1-0 lead over the New York Red Bulls at MAPFRE Stadium. Gyasi Zardes scored the game’s only goal in the 61st minute with Zack Steffen keeping the clean sheet with three saves. New York hosts the 2nd-leg on Sunday, November 11 at 7:30 pm ET on FS1.

Portland came back at home to take a 2-1 lead over Seattle with all goals scored in the first-half. Raul Ruidiaz put the Sounders up in the 10th minute with Jeremy Ebobisse equalizing in the 17th. Sebastian Blanco put the Timbers up in the 29th. The series concludes in Seattle on Thursday, November 8 at 10:30pm ET on FS1.

“That’s why you have a big roster,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said after needing to make two first-half injury substitutions. “Roster full of good players. Roman [Torres] came on and did a good job. Waylon came on and did a good job. They were steady. It’s tough to lose two of your starters, but we will continue. We didn’t give up any goals in the second half. It was a little dysfunctional when they came off, but we gutted through it.”

Atlanta United took a 1-0 lead at NYCFC. Eric Remedi scored in the 37th minute with Brad Guzan not needing to make a save to keep the clean sheet. The 2nd-leg is set for November 11 at 5:30pm on ESPN.

“It was a good performance,” Atlanta defender Michael Parkhurst said. “It was the performance that we needed. It’s the performance that we wanted to have in big games this year and I’m disappointed that we haven’t had. It’s good that we came out here and we brought the fight. It was ugly out there for everyone at times. The pitch is tough to play on and you have to win the fight. Today, if we didn’t win the fight we at least equaled it and that was good.”

The first-legs concluded at Rio Tinto Stadium with Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC finishing 1-1. Albert Rusnak put RSL up in the 51st with Diego Rubio equalizing in the 60th minute. Sporting hosts RSL in the 2nd-leg on Sunday, November 11 at 3pm ET on ESPN.

There isn’t much to say because it’s halftime,” Sporting defender Matt Besler said. “It’s an interesting situation when you have these two-leg series. The game is completed but it feels halfway over. There is still a lot of work to do and it’s still anybody’s series to play for. Do we feel good about going home and having everything in front of at home? Yeah, it feels good.”

Also in the soccer news, DC United’s Wayne Rooney will return to the England National Team for the friendly against the USMNT on November 15 at Wembley. “Playing for England was the greatest honor of my career,” Rooney said in a statement released by DC United. “So winning my 120th, and final, cap will be a particularly special moment for me. It’s fitting that the match will be against the USA and I hope that both sets of fans enjoy the game.” The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reports that Steve Cherundolo will be an assistant with the USMNT in November.

The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter addresses rumors that the Galaxy might be reaching out to former coach/GM Bruce Arena. The Province’s JJ Adams with differing accounts of what was happening with the Vancouver Whitecaps this season. FourFourTwo talks to LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. AP’s Tales Azzoni reports on rumors about playing Spain’s Supercopa in Miami.

Keir Radnedge works through the latest Football Leaks published in Der Speigel. The Football Leak articles on Der Spiegel. Bundesliga Fanatic’s Mathew Burt on the leaks and Bayern Munich’s position on a European super league.

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