Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.

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International roundup: Manchester United down in the dumps

Posted by: Jon Marthaler under Europe, Soccer Updated: September 23, 2013 - 6:48 PM

HEADLINE | To say that Manchester United manager David Moyes had an impossible job this season is accurate. Moyes, the longtime Everton manager, took over for Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, a season after United won the league title with a month left to play.

There was, in short, nowhere to go but down for the Red Devils - and seemingly, they've already found the bottom, losing 4-1 at Manchester City on Sunday in a game that probably deserved to be an 8-0 loss. Kun Aguero scored twice, either side of halftime, to lead City to a comprehensive stomping of their rivals.

I suppose Moyes can take heart from two things. First, the season is only five games old, and odds are that by Christmas, United will be right back among the league leaders.

Second, it's worth remembering that Ferguson himself once went to City and got stomped, 5-1 in the fall of 1989. Fans called for him to be fired. Journalists encouraged the protests. The manager would later describe the period that followed as "the darkest period he had ever suffered."

United stuck with him, though they hadn't won anything since his hiring as manager in 1986. Three years later, they won the league, the first steps on their road to twenty years of dominance in England.

ELSEWHERE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE | We all knew that Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio was, shall we say, something different. He once was suspended eleven games for shoving a referee, for example, and he's a well-known fascist who called Mussolini "deeply misunderstood."

He's spent most of this year publicly berating his players and getting into on-field arguments with his team's fans, and finally, the players went to the club's CEO and helped get him fired.

He will be remembered by Sunderland fans for beating Newcastle 3-0, and really, not much else.

Elsewhere, Arsenal beat Stoke 3-1 and Tottenham beat Norwich 1-0, while Liverpool lost 1-0 against Southampton, meaning that - for the moment - the two North London sides are tied atop the league table.

MLS | Seattle got a disputed goal early in the first half and clung on for a 1-1 draw in Los Angeles, while New York benefited from a Dallas own goal to win 1-0 and re-take the lead for the Supporters' Shield.

The results set up a battle between the league's two best teams on Sunday in Seattle, as Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls try to pull away from the Eastern Conference pack, and Eddie Johnson and the Sounders try to do the same in the West. (And if you think I'm mentioning this because I will be at Sunday's game - yep, you got it.)

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