Let’s talk (again!) about David Beckham and Major League Soccer’s apparent double standard

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Major League Soccer’s next chance to duck and cover, to lamely hide from its responsibility and permit David Beckham carte blanche in breaking the rules at his pleasure is upon us.

So what if the man is frustrated over not being selected for Great Britain’s Olympic team? Life is full of disappointment, and if things never get any worse than this for Beckham, a man more fabulously blessed than almost every human being who has ever walked the Earth, then he should faithfully count his blessings each and every day.

And if the temperature went up on an MLS contest, one that wasn’t perhaps properly managed, well, we’ve got a word for that: we call it a “Saturday.”

MLS and U.S. Soccer finally, after years of stubbornly pretending there wasn’t a problem on overall match management and temperament, is trying to fix things. Still, it’s going to take time and further action. In the meantime, these hot-headed, action-packed and difficult-to-referee contests do happen, even in the best-officiated of leagues.

Teams and players just have to deal with it – and comport themselves better than Beckham did at Stanford Stadium last night, site of the latest code red contest.

It was San Jose’s enthralling 4-3 win over the Galaxy, a match that even most members of the losing side admitted was a memory maker and a hoot to be a part of.

Things unraveled in the end, and a lot is on Beckham – who lost his cool. It happens. It doesn’t make him a bad person.

But … he needs to be accountable.

He probably won’t be. We’ve seen it before; go back and check this one out, where the league demonstrated a clear double standard at work when it comes to Beckham and referee criticism.

Let me bust the mystery on that one: no action was taken.  Shocking, I know. We’ve seen it before with terrible tackles and other post-game incidents that came and went with impunity for the L.A. Galaxy’s No. 23. There are clearly different guidelines at work on action and consequence for the league’s highest paid man.

Long story short from Saturday, Beckham became frustrated when San Jose began delaying the match in its dying minutes. Beckham kicked not one, but two balls in the direction of referee Hilario Grajeda and a fallen San Jose Earthquakes’ player.

ESPN L.A. has a fairly detailed account of that bit of naughtiness and the ensuing pushing, shoving and post-game histrionics – a bunch of boyish silliness that the former England captain, a veteran and leader, should be diffusing, not initiating.

So, we’ll see.

While we wait on any potential league action, consider that:

  • The league suspended Galaxy teammate Mike Magee earlier this year for throwing a ball in the direction of referee Silviu Petrescu in the Galaxy’s loss at Houston.
  • The league suspended New York’s Rafa Marquez three games during last year’s playoffs for throwing a ball at Landon Donovan, initiating a full (and rather comedic, in retrospect) post-game donnybrook. Marquez missed the teams’ following playoff contest.
  • The league suspended FC Dallas’ Brek Shea for three games earlier this year for kicking a ball at a linesman.

The Marquez and Shea tosses and kicks were more egregious; Beckham’s double kick in the direction of the San Jose player and Grajeda don’t perhaps rise to that level, although his provocative post-game conduct ups the stakes.

Beckham will miss at least one match; the caution issued from Grajeda put him over the limit for yellow card accumulation; The Galaxy can’t be too happy about that one, since the L.A. playmaker will miss a match this week in addition to whatever time off he might request later this month for ceremonial Olympic participation.

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.


Preview: Everton v. Newcastle

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  • Everton have won seven of their last eight games v Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won four PL games in a row
  • Wayne Rooney has more goals (15) against Newcastle than any other PL team

Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both setting pretty in midtable.

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The Toffees sit in ninth, with Newcastle in 10th and just one point behind Everton with a game in hand. Rafael Benitez has been lauded for taking his newly-promoted side into the top 10 with defensive solidity, while Sam Allardyce has been lambasted for a defensive style of play despite getting Everton out of a relegation fight following his appointment back in November.

In team news Everton have Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured, while Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu but Islam Slimani could make his first start.


What they’re saying 

Sam Allardyce on the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle: “From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it around. They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there [when Everton won 1-0 in December]. Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds. What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent.”

Rafael Benitez on his Newcastle future: “I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time. I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.”

Prediction
Two teams who are very similar in terms of their style of play should see a bit of a stalemate take place at Goodison. 1-1 draw, which is a much better result for Newcastle and will pile more pressure on Big Sam.

Paul Pogba: “Transfers are not in my head”

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Paul Pogba has been discussing his future at Manchester United beyond this season.

The Frenchman delivered a stunning assist in United’s 2-1 win against Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday, with the midfielder now named Man of the Match in each of his last two games after plenty of speculation about his future at United in recent months.

Jose Mourinho left Pogba out of his starting lineup on multiple occasions, while Pep Guardiola claims he was offered to buy Pogba in January and speculation about him joining Paris Saint-Germain, going back to Juventus or heading to Real Madrid continue.

Speaking to French outlet Canal Football Club, Pogba had the following to say about his own future.

“Right now, I am at Manchester United and I am honestly only thinking about the present. Transfers are not in my head. We are in the [FA] Cup final and the World Cup is around the corner,” Pogba said.

Pogba also addressed the rumors regarding his relationship with Mourinho with reports stating that the duo do not get along and United’s manager is fed up with the Frenchman’s attitude off the pitch.

“I don’t have a problem with him, and I don’t think he has a problem with me,” Pogba said. “He’s the coach and he has to make choices. I am a player and I accept them. I have to answer on the pitch.”