Former Norte Dame Fighting Irish star Ryan Miller turns 28. The Illinois boy tried his luck with the Columbus Crew and D.C. United before jumping across the pond. He’s currently playing for Halmstad in Sweden. That sounds nice.
The defender earned a 2010 call from Bob Bradley for the United States national team’s friendly against Chile, but he did not feature. Less nice.
Big Important Stories of the Day:
Transfers and trades. It has to be transfers and trades, right? Silly season, yo. Get into it. MLS clubs are making moves like crazy. Wherefore art thou, Mix Diskerud? (Too weird? Too weird. Sorry. But look at that plaid jacket!) What clubs will make more moves today? Who knows. It could be anyone. I hear Steve D. put himself up for transfer. Kidding. He’s here forever. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day:
Who knows? No one ever tells me anything around these parts. Do you, good reader, have any ideas?
Hopefully, the next in a series of conversations based on a long conversation with U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. It might drop at about noon ET, and we hope it does because these have been awesome.
Other than that… um… some thoughts about the matches this weekend? There are games this weekend, right? An examination of Merritt Paulson’s naughty and nice list? I know one thing: SD and RF have you covered.
What you should watch on TV today:
It has to be Bayern München vs Borussia M’gladbach at 2:30 ET on GolTV. If only Michael Bradley was still playing for the underdogs.
We’ll leave you with this:
Is this the best MLS offseason yet? Seriously: So. Many. Moves. And we’re only like a week and a half into the whole ordeal. We are legit excited about the Portland Timbers now, something we wouldn’t have said 72 hours ago. And Sporting Kansas City! Who needs Kaka when you’ve got Feilhaber?!?
*Always subject to change; you know how it is
A week from now, Diego Costa may still be a Chelsea player; he may also very well be off to the Chinese Super League by then.
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beauty insanity of the transfer market — and a volatile figure like Costa, in particular — is that no one knows which path he’ll take. After being made to train on his own on Monday, the best anyone can tell you is, “It’s 50-50.”
There aren’t many sides in the world that could stand to lose the league’s top goal-scorer (14 goals in 19 appearances this season; Chelsea have played 21 games) and still win the league title, but Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes that the current Blues squad is one that could hold onto its seven-point lead with 17 games remaining — quotes from FourFourTwo:
“Of course we have enough quality to replace Diego. Diego is important for us, but if he’s not there for one game, we know we can handle it as well.
“Was this a message to our rivals? Yes, just to see Chelsea won 3-0 and that loss at Spurs didn’t affect us and we can play without Diego if need be. I think everybody hoped for us to drop points and we didn’t so that was very good.”
Eden Hazard has chipped in with nine goals of his own this season — his performances have been bordering on brilliance at points — while Pedro and Willian each have five league goals to their name. 19 goals from three secondary-type scorers is what champions are made of, until you consider the only other true striker currently in the squad, 23-year-old Premier League newcomer Michy Batshuayi, has 1) made just 13 PL appearances (all as a substitute); 2) scored just once, all the way back in August.
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In his mind, he probably imagine himself manager Manchester United for the duration of his three-year contract before riding off into the sunset after restoring the Red Devils as Premier League champions four months from now. At the very least, he’d agree to stay on one more season to complete a bit of unfinished business after narrowly missing out on the title in his third season in charge at Old Trafford.
Instead, he was fired last May, two days after lifting the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium, and has been out of a job ever since. Van Gaal’s unemployment will now continue for the rest of his days, as the 65-year-old announced on Monday that he has retired from coaching after 26 years at Ajax, Barcelona (twice), AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands (twice), Bayern Munich and Manchester United — quote from the BBC:
“I thought maybe I would stop, then I thought it would be a sabbatical, but now I do not think I will return to coaching.”
After the stress put upon his shoulders while at Man United, the last eight months must have felt like heaven to Van Gaal. Why on earth would anyone ever go back?
A roundup of all of Monday’s action in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations…
Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo
OYEM, Gabon (AP) Ivory Coast’s Europe-based stars stumbled in the heat of northern Gabon in their African Cup of Nations opener, with the defending champion held by Togo to 0-0 on Monday in another twist to start the tournament.
Ivory Coast’s title-winning coach fared worse as Congo beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in the day’s second game.
Congo, a team that was on strike and refusing to train two days ago, finished with nine men on the field and on top of Group D.
Ivory Coast created few clear chances against Togo, with Wilfried Zaha‘s blocked shot in the second half after a clever run probably its best. Zaha was substituted two minutes later and, although Ivory Coast pressed hard in stages, it never broke open Togo’s well-drilled defense in the first game in Group C in the northern jungle town of Oyem.
Togo was competitive in the first half and had two good openings with around 10 minutes to go, when Kodjo Laba missed with a header from in front of goal and Mathieu Dossevi’s deflected shot dropped onto the roof of the net.
Four of the first six games at the African Cup have been draws, with Ivory Coast’s fellow title challenger, Algeria, held to 2-2 by Zimbabwe, a team that hasn’t qualified for the African Cup in over a decade. Also, host Gabon couldn’t beat outsider and tournament debutant Guinea-Bissau in the opening game.
“After Algeria-Zimbabwe and Gabon-Guinea-Bissau, we were very careful,” Ivory Coast coach Michel Dussuyer said. “But we still have two (group) matches so we are still confident.”
Togo even started better, and Dossevi was clear on goal in the 29th minute only for Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo to smother the chance.
Zaha was at the heart of Ivory Coast’s two best attacks, first in the first half when he sped down the right wing and sent across a dangerous low cross that was scrambled away. Then, in the 68th minute, he tricked his marker with a clever turn, cut inside, and hit a low shot that was headed to goal before two Togo defenders managed to get in the way.
Senegal and Congo are the only teams to win at the tournament.
DR Congo 1-0 Morocco
Junior Kabananga got the winner for Congo in the 55th minute after a mistake from Morocco `keeper Monir el-Kajoui. Congo’s Lomalisa Mutambala was sent off for a wild tackle in the 81st and played the last six minutes of normal time plus six minutes of injury time with nine men when captain Gabriel Zakuani went off injured with all their substitutes used up.
Still, victory was a major mood-changer for Congo, whose players refused to train on Friday and Saturday, claiming they hadn’t been paid tournament bonuses. They also posted a video on social media during their strike, where they complained about their treatment.
On Monday, Morocco was the one frustrated: Midfielder M’Bark Boussoufa hit the crossbar in the second minute. Goalkeeper El-Kajoui tried to block a cross with his feet and managed only to divert the ball to Kabananga to score the winning goal. Then, substitutes Youssef En Nesyri and Youssef el-Arabi missed late chances.
Although Ivory Coast and later Renard failed their first tests at the tournament, the Stade d’Oyem held up despite a desperate race to be ready in time, which saw workers scrambling around the venue finishing all sorts of jobs on the day of the game. Television viewers won’t have seen the construction debris that surrounds the outside of the stadium, which juts out of dense jungle canopy around 15 kilometers outside of Oyem.
Even organizers couldn’t do anything about the heat during the opening match, though, with Togo coach Claude le Roy’s shirt covered in dark sweat patches after urging his team on to a promising draw against the defending champion Ivorians.
“It was very hot. We were sweating so much,” Le Roy said. “We did what it takes. We are satisfied with the draw.”
Tuesday’s AFCON schedule
Ghana vs. Uganda — 11 a.m. ET
Mali vs. Egypt — 2 p.m. ET
UPDATE: The Fire and Red Bulls have officially announced the trade. The deal will send $200,000 of allocation money to RBNY in 2017, and $200,000 again in 2018.
Don’t look now, but the Chicago Fire are building something noteworthy in Bridgeview.
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Three weeks after signing three-time MLS Cup-winning (LA Galaxy) midfielder Juninho to anchor the midfield in Veljko Paunovic’s second season in charge, the Fire sent a hefty chunk of general allocation money to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for do-everything stalwart Dax McCarty, who’ll partner the Brazilian in comprising one of MLS’s toughest midfield duos.
According to a report on FourFourTwo.com, the Fire will send $400,000 of general allocation money to the Red Bulls, which represents the largest sum of MLS dollars to change hands since the league began announcing figures during the 2017 SuperDraft on Friday (New York City FC traded $250,000 to the Fire in exchange for the no. 3 overall pick, which helped fund the acquisition of McCarty). In total, McCarty made 169 regular-season appearances for the Red Bulls, serving the last two seasons as club captain, and helping the red half of New York to the only two major trophies in club history, the 2013 and 2015 Supporters’ Shields. The 29-year-old (he’ll turn 30 in April) is currently participating in January camp with the U.S. national team.
The Fire also signed 28-year-old Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolic to a Designated Player contract last month. Nikolic has nearly 200 goals to his name in 326 career games played.
With seven weeks still to go before First Kick 2017, the Fire’s opening-day starting lineup is shaping up to look something like this…
Accam — De Leeuw — ???
Juninho — McCarty
Vincent — Meira — Campbell — ???
The Fire might be good this year.