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ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays:

One of the game’s truly mercurial figures, Zlatan Ibrahimović, turns 31 today. He is also the only player to score in Champions League for six different clubs (Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain).

Former Canadian international and current University of Texas soccer coach Angela Kelly turns 41.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

This “Match Day” thing is always a bit confusing, isn’t it? Because yesterday was Champions League Match Day 2. Which makes today … uh, Champions League Match Day 2 ½ I suppose. At any rate, the other eight group play matches of UEFA greatness are set for today.

Of course, the big talkers will be the matches out of Group D, where Real Madrid plays at Ajax and Dortmund visits Manchester City.

Closer to our shores, two MLS matches come attached to those playoff implications that we all love so much at this time of year. In both cases, the home team faces a side already eliminated from post-season action, so they will see this as chance to fully exploit. Chicago hosts Philadelphia and Vancouver hosts Chivas USA.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day):Tracey Leone (Tracey Bates)

Twitter daps:

source:

What you should watch on TV today:

Featured Champions League matches on Fox Soccer Channel are:

Zenit St. Petersburg-AC Milan at noon ET

Manchester City-Borussia Dortmund at 2 p.m. ET

Arsenal-Olympiacos at 5 p.m. ET (delay)

Ajax-Real Madrid at 7 p.m. ET (delay)

*Ahead on the blog today: We’ll dig into yesterday’s big MLS news: Erik Soler being replaced as sporting director for the New York Red Bulls.

Former AS Monaco president Jérôme de Bontin will serve as New York’s general manager in a position overseen by former France and Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier, who now serves as head of global soccer for Red Bull.

(We’ll scour the earth to find someone for whom this move – and the timing – makes a bit of sense. We are not optimistic.)

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

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston at D.C. United

(Second round)

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

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Real Salt Lake vs. L.A. Galaxy

PST background noise while blogging today: Scanning for BBC and podcast bits on Champions League.

We’ll leave you with this: Yesterday I watched (live or same-day delayed) high-quality soccer from Russia, Romania, Norway and Portugal. Today we get the top shelf stuff from Russia, England and the Netherlands. TV and technology in the modern age is absolutely, positively awesome.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we all had to wait until the next morning and check out the Champions League scores in the newspaper.

Borja goal leads Atletico Nacional to Copa Libertadores title (video)

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Get into space and good things will happen.

That’s how Miguel Borja scored the goal that gave Atletico Nacional an edge that would stand up in the Copa Libertadores final on Wednesday in Medellin.

Borja’s goal gave Atletico Nacional a 1-0 win over Independiente del Valle in Wednesday’s second leg after a 1-1 first leg in Quito.

[ MORE: Wilshere likes Arsenal’s chances ]

Colombia’s Los Verdolagas hadn’t won a Copa Libertadores title since 1989, and the match was its first final since 1995. It was Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle’s first final.

Atletico Nacional’s Orlando Berrio traded goals with Independiente’s Arturo Mina in the first leg.

Two Newcastle players set for combined $60 million from Barca, Real Madrid?

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Newcastle player Jack Colback (r) celebrates his goal with Ayoze Perez (l) and Moussa Sissoko during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St James' Park on December 28, 2014 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United purchased Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze Perez from Toulose and Tenerife for combined fees of approximately $4 million.

They stand to make a whole lot more if Wednesday’s rumors are true.

Multiple reports say Real Madrid is set to bid $40 million to pry French international Sissoko from St. James Park, while Barcelona is ready to spend about $20 million to get Ayoze Perez as the fourth fiddle to its MSN attacking trio.

[ MORE: Wilshere likes Arsenal’s chances ]

Perez, 22, has scored 13 goals in two Premier League seasons with the Magpies after arriving from Segunda Division side Tenerfie in 2014, and was linked to Spurs amongst other locales.

But Barca has had trouble finding a player interested in being its fourth striker. Pedro left for Chelsea before last season, and players like Robin Van Persie and Luciano Vietto were tipped to join Barca earlier this summer.

Sissoko, meanwhile, was a feast or famine player at Newcastle this season but brought his A-game under the bright lights of EURO 2016 this summer. Real is reported to be giving up on Paul Pogba to focus on his French midfield mate.

As for Newcastle, Rafa Benitez probably planned on losing Sisssoko but Perez had worked well in preseason with new signing Dwight Gayle and was expected to be a factor this year. It could send Rafa back to the transfer mill, and he’d sure have some profit to spend.

PSG’s Meunier fires a laser versus Real Madrid in ICC match (video)

COLUMBUS, OH - JULY 27:  Thomas Meunier #12 of Paris Saint-Germain F.C is congratulated by Serge Aurier #19 of Paris Saint-Germain F.C after scoring a goal during the first half of the game against Real Madrid C.F. on July 27, 2016 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Thomas Meunier is feeling it this summer.

The 6-foot-4 right back had a tremendous EURO for Belgium, and now is starting hot for Paris Saint-Germain after moving from Club Brugge.

[ MORE: Wilshere likes Arsenal’s chances ]

Facing Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday, Meunier scored a pair of first half goals including this absolute laser to beat Kiko Casilla.

Arsenal’s Wilshere: “Hopefully we can go better this year and win it”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on May 15, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Arsenal star Jack Wilshere is excited about the developments at his club and country.

The English midfielder, 24, has a new coach for his country in ex-Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, and a new big-money teammate in Granit Xhaka.

[ MORE: Immobile finds new team ]

Both moves have him feeling good, and Wilshere is looking to inch his club one spot higher in the Premier League table this season.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“This year is going to be interesting. There are six or seven teams who could potentially challenge for the trophy. Man United have got a new manager, [Manchester] City have got a new manager; both managers are known for winning things wherever they go. And Chelsea as well. And then there are Leicester City, who are going to have to deal with a totally different pressure of being champions last year,” he said.

“We feel we’ve got better as well,” Wilshere continued. “Over the year we finished fourth, then third, then second. Hopefully we can go better than that this year and win it.”

With the big pick-ups at Man City and United amongst other clubs, Arsenal’s low-key offseason has made many forget that the Gunners return almost everyone from their second place finish next year. What chance do you give them of seizing a title?