ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays: Most of us assume that Jeff Cunningham, who turns 36 today, is just holding Major League Soccer’s all-time scoring leadership. He slipped past Jaime Moreno about this time last year with goal No. 134. Landon Donovan has 124, and he’ll almost assuredly past Cunningham – if he doesn’t go and retire on us.  So, we’ll see.

Across the Atlantic, just days before his team kicks off Bundesliga play Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski turns 24. Dortmund hosts Werder Bremen on Friday to inaugurate the 2012-13 Bundesliga season.

Big Important Story of the Day: There is one more round of Champions League play-in matches. Today, 10 teams begin home-and-away series for spots in the upcoming group stage. Wednesday, 10 more teams begin a home-and-away set. Among the recognized teams trying to fight their way into the lucrative Champions League group stage today: Scotland’s Celtic, France’s Lille, Germany’s Borussia Mönchengladbach, Turkey’s Fenerbahçe and Switzerland’s Basel.

And speaking of Champions League: Play resumes in CONCACAF’s version, as Real Salt Lake hosts Tauro from Panama. (Three more MLS teams are in CCL action Wednesday.)

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Chris Armas

*Ahead on the blog today:  What will happen today to San Jose in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings? Sporting Kansas City keeps winning. San Jose fell in Montreal. So …. The rankings will drop shortly after noon today.

We’ll also share a little story about fans from Vancouver and their not-so-excellent adventures in trying to breach the U.S. border en route to MLS action.

Twitter daps:

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What you should watch on TV: Real Salt Lake’s clash with Tauro kicks off at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel.

There’s all kinds of UEFA Champions League this afternoon across the Fox outlets. Best of the bunch may be Germany’s Borussia Mönchengladbach against Ukraine’s Dynamo Kiev. That kicks at 5 p.m. ET on FSC (on delay).

We’ll leave you with this: We are all out of things to say about the big talker from Sunday, the chaos that became DC United vs. Philly. We’ve moved on.

*Always subject to change; you know how it is…

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.