Daniele de Rossi’s going to play central defense for Italy? It looks that way.

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The idea of Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli going 3-5-2 for Euro 2012 has been floating around for a while. His personnel  forces the consideration, and after the Azzurri was smoked by Russia on Friday (losing 3-0), Prandelli seems ready to shake things up.

In truth, the change is motivated less by the Russia result than the availability of Andrea Barzagli. The Juventus defender has picked up a calf problem that could sideline him through group stage.

With natural central defender Giorgio Chiellini potentially moving left to cover for the absence of Domenico Criscito (who is not being let back into the team), the pickings are becoming slim in the middle. However, if Italy went 3-5-2, they could use Daniele de Rossi in central defense.

De Rossi just finished a season playing the Sergio Busquets role in the Barcelona-esque system Luis Enrique tried to install at the Stadio Olimpico. He also spent some time doing a Javier Mascherano impression in central defense.

The change is not even as drastic as all that makes it out. The 3-5-2, as Prandelli would implement it, is little more than the attacking shape you’d get with de Rossi at the base of a 4-4-2 applied to other phases of the game. Right wing back Christian Maggio and proposed left wing back Federico Balzaretti would become fullbacks in the defensive phase, with Chiellini and (potentially) Torino’s Angelo Ogbonna supporting de Rossi.

Beyond the Barzagli motivation, there switch could serve a couple of other purposes. First, Italy’s first opponent in Euro 2012 is Spain, against whom a 3-5-2 would have a number of virtues: three-man midfield (and, in general, more players in the middle of the park); getting another great person on the ball in the back line; providing more ways to maintain the possession advantage Italy’s become accustomed to (and may need to advance). Second, it would allow Prandelli to maintain a more natural shape in midfield, with Riccardo Montolivo and Antonio Noccerino supporting Andrea Pirlo. Forcing de Rossi into the midfield throws off the balance.

Then again, Prandelli could just be preparing for Spain, using all this formation speculation to provide a smoke screen.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.