Houston Dynamo practices this week? No place for the timid

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So, you want to be a professional soccer player?

You’ve got a little skill. You know how to strike a ball. You’ve worked that speed ladder and showed the doggone thing who is boss, right?

Now you think you can run with the big dogs, with the lads who play for pay?

Here’s what I suggest: start with Houston Dynamo practices this week. Because those bad boys are going to be super intense, somewhere between soccer practice and cage fighting. As they say, if you can make it there …

Here’s what the Houston Chronicle said about the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s 3-1 loss at already eliminated Philadelphia.

Kinnear tore into his team afterward, delivering an expletive-laced tirade that could be heard down the hall at PPL Park. No doubt he was incensed by the Dynamo’s listless play and lack of fire, which was unacceptable in the critical match.

From there, Kinnear offered some on-the-record quotes that are as close as he ever comes to criticizing his team. “It wasn’t good enough. That’s how I’ll leave it. I’m just disappointed.”

(MORE: Brad Davis says you can’t miss that “desire”)

I’ve said this plenty of times before: There is nothing fancy or secret or groundbreaking about the way the Dynamo do things. Kinnear is still fairly young (45) but is far and away the longest serving MLS coach at his current position for one simple reason: he demands accountability on the field.

That’s it. It’s all the little things. Getting into the right places. Making the correct decisions. Tracking back faithfully. Marking on set pieces. Fighting for second balls with Jack Bauer intensity. Being a good locker room presence.

Every manager wants these things; Kinnear demands it. And for those who can’t quite make the grade in any one area, Kinnear thanks them and moves them along.

Right now, too many players aren’t getting it done. Rookie Kofi Sarkodie gets caught with the ball too often, and then goes down too easily when it happens. Ricardo Clark may cover a lot of ground, but his passing looks a bit slow and overly contemplative right now. There’s more, those are just the first things that come to mind.

And for Kinnear’s part, that 4-3-3 (or whatever it was in Philadelphia) may need a re-think, perhaps back to the well-rehearsed roles everyone had in the 4-4-2.

Because 1-3-3 over their last seven (6 of a possible 21 points) is not going to get it done, especially not when the club is healthy, with pretty much everyone available for selection.

So, yes … go ask about joining up in the Dynamo practices this week. It is not going to be pretty, technical, tika-taka stuff.

Transfer rumor roundup: Schurrle to Newcastle, Spurs

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A new name has emerged on the loan market, as Borussia Dortmund forward Andre Schurrle is reportedly being made available for the second half of the Premier League season.

[ WATCH: Full PL match replays ]

Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.

Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.

But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.

Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.

And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.

He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.

World Cup winner, England legend Armfield passes away at 82

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1966 World Cup champion Jimmy Armfield has died at the age of 82.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Voted “the best right back” in Europe between 1962-64, the former England and Blackpool captain also had a successful management and broadcasting career.

Armfield was a member of the 1962 and 1966 World Cup squads, though a toe injury kept him from his place in the starting lineup when England won the tournament.

He spent his entire playing career with Blackpool before managing Bolton Wanderers to promotion and Leeds United to the European Cup Final, righting the ship after Brian Clough’s infamous spell in charge of the club.

There’s a statue outside Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, and the club legend has a stand named after him inside the venue.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Julie Ertz scores in USWNT win, discovers good Eagles news after

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Whoever scheduled the U.S. Women’s National Team’s friendly against Denmark at the same time as the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night should really consider the Ertz family in the future.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup — Auba to Arsenal, Man City tracking Evans, Fred ]

While noted USWNT defender Julie Ertz and her team cruised past the Danes in a 5-1 victory, her husband, Zach, was playing a hand in the Philadelphia Eagles’ progression to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

With Julie not knowing what to expect following her team’s match, find out how she took the news of her husband’s triumph in the video below.

While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.

The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.

For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.

Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.

Report: LA FC near deal for Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez

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As this year’s MLS newcomers aim to fill out the rest of their roster, Los Angeles FC appears close to adding a goalkeeper.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to sign for Stoke this winter ]

Reports out of Honduras have stated that Luis Lopez is close to signing with the expansion side, which will suit up for manager Bob Bradley starting in March.

The 24-year-old Lopez most recently played for Real Espana in Honduras’ top flight, who won the league’s Aperatura season. Real currently sits third through one match to start the Clausura season.

At the moment, LA FC has just one other goalkeeper on its roster, former Seattle Sounders keeper Tyler Miller.

Additionally, the Real Espana goalkeeper has made 12 appearances for the Honduras national team.