Rapids near deal for Ecuadorian international Diego Calderón

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Reports this morning say the Colorado Rapids are close to signing Ecuadorian international Diego Calderón, which brings two meaningful conclusions to Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

Foremost, the arrival of a commanding center back could improve a defense that certainly needs a bunch of it.

In 2012 new manager Oscar Pareja moved into DSG Park outside Denver, bringing a more possession oriented game. It was a stark contrast to the British-style of longer balls aimed forward, the preferred way of former boss Gary Smith, who rode the lesser aesthetic to an MLS Cup title in 2010.

Pareja’s team struggled to successfully transition into the new way; perhaps the movement out of Colorado of both first-choice strikers, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, will help on the top end of all the desired passing and possession.

But nothing will help the Ws and Ls if Pareja’s gives up goals at the same rate; The Rapids in 2012 allowed 50 goals.

No team in MLS since Chicago in 2005 has made the playoffs while allowing 50 goals.

So, clearly, something needs to be better. That includes more than the back line, by the way. Defending needs to be better in the midfield, and goalkeeper Matt Pickens is mid-pack in the roster of MLS ‘keepers, at best. Calderon’s introduction would be a good place to start, but it’s no more than that.

The other element to explore here is what it does for first-choice Rapids center backs Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor (pictured). Both can and have played along the outside, so there’s always a chance of some back line rearranging here. Or one of them could be move to the bench, with Wynne probably the more likely to take a bump.

He may be the fastest man in MLS, so recovery speed was always his calling card. On the other hand, Wynne’s positioning and ability in the air isn’t as strong.

Wynne, briefly a U.S. international, was a right back before Smith moved him into the center in 2010. This piece at Burgundy Wave makes the case for Wynne to return to his old spot.

Moor has spent time at left back, although that’s clearly not his best spot.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.

WATCH: Snazzy Sargent goal leads U.S. U-17s past Mexico

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Josh Sargent scored a pretty goal as the United States Soccer program had another banner day against Mexico.

Nearly two months to the day after the U.S. U-20 side beat Mexico for the first time in 31 years, the U.S. U-17 topped El Tri for the first time ever. That win snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak.

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The goal is the first of Sargent’s two goals, as the 16-year-old latched onto a long diagonal ball and used his right foot and head to move the ball into position for a strong shot.

The U.S. clinches a spot in the next round of U-17 World Cup qualifying with one match remaining in group play.

Sargent is from St. Louis and plays with Scott Gallagher-Missouri. Former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth coaches the U.S. U-17s.

Heads of South American soccer sent $128M in bank transfers

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) The leaders of South America’s soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation’s former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning in 2013 for what he said were health reasons.

The audit also found $58 million in payments “to third parties without adequate documentation,” payments of $33.3 million to “unidentified accounts,” and $10.4 million to “suspicious third-parties.”

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“We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL who commissioned the audit last year. “Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”

Leoz, 88, is one of three ex-presidents of CONMEBOL accused on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice. He is in Paraguay fighting extradition to the United States.

The South American body has been plagued by corruption, which was exposed two years ago during the FIFA scandal. Leoz’s two successors, Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout, were both arrested on corruption charges.

“I’m here, I’m the manager” – Moyes will not quit Sunderland

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This has been one horrible stretch for David Moyes.

The Sunderland manager probably thought he’d been through the worst once he left Real Sociedad, where he went 12-15-15.

But he’s managed just seven wins and seven draws in 38 matches in charge of the Black Cats — an 18 percent win mark. He’s also been charged for threatening to slap a female journalist.

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And after Wednesday, Moyes has lost both of his derby matches against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland is 12 points back of safety with five matches left. The odds the Black Cats are headed for the Championship are somewhere north of 99 percent, and fans are calling for his job.

Well, he isn’t quitting. From the BBC:

“No, I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose.

“There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”