Watch: EPL returns Sunday with Arsenal-Manchester City, while NBC’s Coach Lasso/Jason Sudeikis explains the basics of English football for the uninitiated

The traditional curtain-raiser to the EPL season is 7 a.m. Sunday on Fox Sports 1 — the annual Charity shield game that pits the EPL champions, in this case Manchester City against the FA Cup winners, which last season was Arsenal.

NBC’s coverage of the EPL begins the following weekend and while you wait, don’t miss the hilarious video above.

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Major League Soccer Preview: LA Galaxy (9-4-6) hosts San Jose Earthquakes (6-8-5) in Carson at 7:30 p.m. live on NBCSN a day after Landon Donovan’s retirement announcement

DNDonovan

A day after Landon Donovan announced his retirement from the game at year’s end, the Galaxy face the team he started with in MLS before joining the Galaxy to embark on a highlight reel career, the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Earthquakes may sit at the wrong end of the Western Conference standings, but they’re coming off an upset win over division-leading Seattle, boast a modest winning streak and a new DP.

Still, the Galaxy may redouble their efforts to reach another MLS Cup in light of Donovan’s announcement and his desire to go out on a championship-winning note after a career with so many notable moments.

Columnist Jill Painter provides context and perspective on Donovan’s career here.

Finally, the LA Galaxy II (11-7-4, 37 points) faces Arizona United SC (6-11-5, 21 points) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at StubHub Center. The game will be streamed live at lagalaxy.com.

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MLS Commish Don Garber releases statement on Landon Donovan’s retirement: “Landon is to MLS, what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL and Tiger Woods was to the PGA Tour”

Here’s the full statement from Don Garber:

“There is no doubt that Major League Soccer would not be what it is today without Landon Donovan.

“His decision to join MLS in 2001 was a statement to the entire soccer community, at the most crucial time in our history, that MLS could be a league of choice for the best American players. Landon is to MLS, what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL and Tiger Woods was to the PGA Tour; a player who’s sporting accomplishments and popularity transformed their respective leagues and set a new standard for how the game would be played.

“While Landon is arguably the greatest player our country has ever produced, it is his character and his commitment to growing the game in the United States that truly makes him so special. We plan to celebrate his career during the second half of the MLS season, and we look forward to working alongside Landon as he continues to work in the sport he loves.”

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Read Landon Donovan’s farewell message to fans as he retires from LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer at season’s end

After careful deliberation and after many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional soccer player.

I don’t write these words lightly and this day carries mixed emotions for me. I am sad to leave a profession that has brought me so much joy. I will miss all of the teammates who helped me create so many incredible memories on-the-field, and who I have shared many wonderful experiences with off-the-field. I will miss my coaches, at both the club and national team levels, who have helped me develop throughout my career and helped make me the player I am today. However, after spending half my life as a professional soccer player, I also am excited to begin a new chapter and pursue other opportunities that will challenge me and allow me to grow as a person.

There are so many people I want to thank who have inspired me, guided me and helped me on this incredible journey. I simply could not have accomplished what I did during my playing career without an overwhelming amount of support from my family, my friends and many others. I plan to express my gratitude to everyone in a more detailed manner at a later date; however, for now, I want to single out the fans. You are the lifeblood of this sport and, without you, none of us would be fortunate to call ourselves professional soccer players in MLS.

I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have played a role in the remarkable growth of MLS and US Soccer during my playing career. And while my career as a player will soon be over, rest assured I will stay connected on many levels to the beautiful game.

As we enter a transformative time for the sport, I will do everything I can to help the continued growth of soccer in the United States. I look forward to making a difference, pursuing my passions and meeting all of you along the way in this next phase of my life.

With gratitude,

Landon

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Major League Soccer All-Star game highlights: Watch the Galaxy’s retiring Landon Donovan score the winning goal in MVP-winning performance in his final season as a soccer player

Take that Jurgen Klinsmann.

Galaxy playmaker Landon Donovan grabbed the biggest mid-season stage in MLS with a star turn in Portland Wednesday
(while Chivas USA striker “Cubo” Torres didn’t have a bad night, either).

Guess we know what that Galaxy press conference is (and is not) about this afternoon:

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MLS-All-Star Game tonight at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2

Full disclosure; I’m no fan of the artificial MLS All-Star game that frankly is a lot more about marketing than soccer as even Landon Donovan admits:

“I think this year I’m realizing more than ever how important this is,” Donovan said. “When you have the opportunity to promote our game and our league, we want to do it.”

I’m still not convinced a meaningless game like this will convert new fans, but at least the sole LA Galaxy participant sounds excited — for the sponsors. Still, at least soccer-mad Portland sounds up for the event even if the players involved have had little time to prepare.

However, I will follow the lead of selected, but absent Galaxy All-Stars Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane and skip the whole thing with an eye on Friday’s Galaxy-San Jose Earthquakes game — just like those missing players from LA.

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Weekly Soccer Column: LA Galaxy poised to take run at MLS Cup again

Galaxy

Could the Galaxy add to their back to back MLS Cup titles of a couple of years ago? Maybe.

But it’s clear after the disappointment of last season, no one is taking anything for granted including rising hotshot Gyasi Zardes who seems to have exactly the right attitude:

“I just take it in by day,” he said after Saturday’s game. “Now this game is over, I don’t look back. I don’t fantasize over all the goals I scored. I start looking at now. When I’m in the game, in that moment, in my head, I’m thinking ‘zero goals, nothing. ‘Prove myself.’”

Read more in this week’s column here.

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Major League Soccer Monday Video Rewind: Galaxy dominate wooden Timbers in Carson, few see Chivas USA lose again

On a Saturday afternoon when the eyes of most American soccer fans was on Michigan and the spectacle of the largest crowd ever to see a game in this country, the LA Galaxy burnished their MLS Cup credentials with a dominating performance over the Portland Timbers before just a touch over 20,000 at almost exactly the same time in Carson.

In contrast, Chivas USA couldn’t even attract a crowd exceeding 4,000 to the StubHub Center Sunday in a loss to FC Dallas that further underlines the club’s sad slide to irrelevance.

Meanwhile, a crowd of almost 50,000 watched the San Jose Earthquakes do the Galaxy a huge favor by knocking off the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders, tightening the playoff race in the division ahead of Friday’s game in the South Bay against LA.

I’ll take a look at the Galaxy’s season so far in Tuesday’s column as we reach the halfway point of the season with the MLS All-Star Game set for Wednesday in Portland.

Check out the highlights of the Galaxy game:

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