ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays: I have never been more excited about a daily re-set that I am today. Maybe it’s because I only do one re-set a week that (a) I can still get excited (really excited) about them, and (b) I don’t often this kind of stand-out birthday, but when I looked and saw Francesco Totti was born today, I practically jumped off my picnic table (that’s not a figure of speech; I’m really sitting at a picnic table).

Keep that excitement in mind as you read the following superlatives.

As he turns 36, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect on how undervalued Francesco Totti’s been. Romanistas don’t undervalue him, but because he’s been a club-first man who wasn’t anywhere near as dominant for country as he has been for club, Totti’s only  been adequately appreciated in Italy – by those he’s served he’s served and those he’s burned. Over the course of his career, Totti’s been one of the world’s best players, a truly unique talent, but because he only scored nine goals for Italy, he hasn’t been fully appreciated.

Along with Juan Roman Riquelme, he is on of this era’s quintessential trequartistas, an odd grouping considering the drastic differences between the two players. Riquelme is slick, magical, his deft touches dominating with caresses. Totti is imposing in skill, movement and personality, capable of striking a fatal blow or distracting you while setting up a teammate to do the same.

I better stop now. This is supposed to be a daily re-set, not a love letter to Francesco.

Big Important Stories of the Day: John Terry’s expected to return to Wembley on Thursday to hear the verdict on The FA’s charge that he racial abused Anton Ferdinand last October. There had been speculation that a decision could be delayed until after Chelsea’s game Saturday against Arsenal, but now it looks like the Blues’ captain will miss this weekend’s derby (along with a few more games). If you need a refresher on the Terry issues, read about his abrupt international retirement and some details about The FA hearing.

Soccer Birthdays: I forgot to mention: Totti was a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Eduardo Hurtado

What you should watch on TV today: If you’re lucky enough to have beIN Sport, then you can catch one of the few live games on today: Siena vs. Bologna in Serie A action. Beyond that, it’s pretty bad. Even the repeat stuff on FOX Soccer stinks (who wants to watch Celtic-Benfica – there were only two shots on goal!).

Soccer Birthdays: Totti is also Roma’s all-time leader in appearances and goals. With his goal against Sampdoria this weekend, Totti is now up to 216 Serie A goals for Roma, 271 in all competitions.

PST background noise while blogging today: The Shins, who PST recently saw in concert as they’re touring the States’ west coast. Their performance of “Phantom Limb” was, as expected, particularly noteworthy.

We’ll leave you with this: Did you know it’s Francesco Totti’s birthday?

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

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Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.


Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)


1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.

Spurs allowed to play all home matches at Wembley next season

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Tottenham was granted the right to play all of its home matches at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season, but the club must now make a decision whether or not to remain at White Hart Lane for another year.

[ MORE: Man City weighing massive offer for Milan’s Donnarumma ]

The club’s application was granted on Thursday by Brent Council’s planning committee, giving Spurs the option to move into Wembley next season for all 27 home Premier League fixtures.

Spurs must decide if it will go ahead with that move though by March 31.

Tottenham continues to play at White Hart Lane while its new stadium, located next door to its current venue, is being constructed. The current plan is that the new venue will be open ahead of the 2019/2020 campaign, but the club is said to be weighing all of its options in the event that it could be ready for the 2018/19 season.

Prosecutors question Beckenbauer in World Cup fraud case

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”

Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.