ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays: Remember when we said “Ronaldo” and everyone assumed we meant the striker from Brazil?

The one-time scoring ace from South America, Ronaldo, turns 36 today. The guy once looked like he was destined to challenge Pele has one of the greatest of the greats. And in the end, he had a fine career – but you always felt he left something on the table, somehow.

And you just can’t help but wonder if we ever got the 100 percent, full version of the curious events leading up to the 1998 World Cup final?

Also in birthdays: When I was a wee lad, I thought I wanted to be a goalkeeper, so I really loved watching a couple of the greats whenever that was possible.

Peter Shilton was one of those “greats.” Dude was a rock, wherever he went: Leicester, Nottingham Forest, Southhampton, Derby County (a real parade of 70s and 80s stalwarts that began fading roughly around the day of new wave music.)  He had 125 caps for England by the time his long career was over.

Most of that is beside the point, which is this: Shilton turns 63 today.

Big Important Stories of the Day:  

What a joyous Tuesday this is

UEFA Champions League group stage matches begin today

This stellar day has landed with such a force around ProSoccerTalk headquarters that I find myself forgetting to punctuate

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Brian Quinn

Twitter daps:

source:

*Ahead on the blog today: By the time Manchester City kicks off at the historic Estadio Santiago Bernabéu against Real Madrid (the feature match among eight in UCL group play … or did we already mention that?), we will have dropped the MLS weekly rankings, some thoughts on newly signed Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, information on a new women’s professional league and much more.

What you should watch on TV today:

Real Madrid Manchester City is on Fox Soccer Channel at 2 p.m. ET

Montpellier-Arsenal starts on FSC (on delay) at 5 p.m. ET

And then Tauro-Real Salt Lake kicks off (live) on FSC at 8 p.m. ET

Galavision has the other CONCACAF Champions League match, Real Estili-Tigres, which kicks off live at 10 p.m. ET

If the MLS playoffs started today (following 28 rounds):

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston vs. D.C. United

(Second round)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
  • Chicago vs. New York Red Bulls

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Seattle vs. L.A. Galaxy

PST background noise while blogging today: Loop of the iconic Champions League anthem. (Extended dance mix, of course.)

We’ll leave you with this: I’m just as excited as everyone else to see Man City at Real Madrid – but Borussia Dortmund vs. Ajax from the BVB Stadion in Dortmund? Yeah, that one is gonna rock, too. Group D really is a monster, isn’t it?

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

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.