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Mauro Rosales also being linked with move out of Seattle

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This report (read: rumor) came down last week, but with Fredy Montero inching closer to a return home, it’s important to note Mauro Rosales is not guaranteed to be back in Seattle (even if this isn’t the freshest of rumors). The Argentine winger has been linked with a move to Chile, with Union Española thought keen to draw the Sounders playmaker back to South America.

The report here (in Spanish) isn’t much. It’s just restating a report aired by Cooperativa program Al Aire Libre, and without more detail than a few perfunctory paragraphs, it’s hard to give this rumor heavy consideration.

There are, however, a few talking points surrounding a hypothetical Rosales sale:

How does this dovetail with the possible loss of Fredy Montero?

At first blush, you’d think Adrian Hanauer and Sigi Schmid would resist losing both Montero and Rosales at the same time. That’s a lot of playmaking leaving at once, though given the circumstances surrounding the two players, the potential moves can’t be linked.

On their own merits, sales of Montero and Rosales could make sense, and with Seattle’s economic ability to draw more designated players, these type of South American stars aren’t as scarce for the Sounders as they would be for other clubs.

Montero and Seattle seem to be parting ways regardless. The Colombian’s expressed a desire to move back into frame for his national team, but a move to Europe may also be in the cards. A loan deal to Millionarios in Bogata would serve as a shop window. If he does well in Copa Libertadores, he could could vault himself to a place like Portugal. Twenty-four and having spent four years in Seattle, it’s time for him to make this move.

Mauro Rosales is at another point of his career cycle. He’s descending. While the Argentine is still an elite playmaker in Major League Soccer, he’s also somebody highly unlikely to stay healthy throughout an entire season. For a team that is in Champions League in spring and takes U.S. Open Cup more seriously than most, wear-and-tear is an issue. If Seattle can get some minor cash for the to be 32-year-old (and free up a Designated Player slot), it may make sense to cash in.

While you wouldn’t want to lose either Montero or Rosales, two independent sets of circumstances could lead to the loss of both – the sensible loss of both. Though that would leave Christian Tiffert as the club’s best playmaker (a precarious situation given Tiffert still has to grow into the league), Seattle’s highly unlikely to go very long with only one Designated Player in their squad.

But Chile? Why would an Argentine who’s played for Newell’s Old Boys, Ajax, and Boca Juniors end up in Chile?

That Rosales is being linked to Union Española and not clubs like Boca Juniors, Estudiantes, or San Lorenzo tells a small story of the changing South American soccer landscape.

Slowly, the Argentine league has lost some footing in the region. Economic troubles at home combined with the buying power of Brazil means not only is the gap between the two leagues growing, but it gives Brazil the ablity to draw away much of the talent that would otherwise be playing in Argentina.

The effects of that dynamic have been felt in Chile. Talent which Argentina would previously lure east is (in rare cases) going to Brazil, jumping straight to Europe, or just staying home. Combined with the organic growth of the league, Chile’s league is no longer so far behind Argentina’s.

In some cases, the Chilean Primera can compete for a player like Rosales – somebody who may not attract top dollar but still has options.

Why would Seattle do this?

There are a number of subtle reasons Seattle might consider this move (regardless of what happens to Montero):

  • As mentioned above, there are health concerns with Rosales, a player that’s broken down at the end of each of the last two seasons. While he may still be worth his salary, Designated Player spots are scarce. And Seattle has the ability to go and get another Designated Player.
  • Seattle will be able to compete without Rosales. They’d still have Eddie Johnson, Steve Zakuani, Christian Tiffert, Osvaldo Alonso … Mario Martinez (if he doesn’t leave for Turkey), David Estrada, and Sigi Schmid favorite Andy Rose. They’d still be competitive even if they don’t sign more Designated Players.
  • And they will sign replacement Designated Players. Every indication out of Seattle is they’d look to replace Montero and/or Rosales. These moves would be an opportunity to cash in and reload, to a certain extent.
  • Seattle does have some salary cap concerns, a situation not helped by failing to qualify for the next CONCACAF Champions League. Even if they replaced Montero and Rosales with other Designated Players, allocation earned through their sales will help.

Spanish playmaker Bojan signs new long-term contract at Stoke City

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Bojan Krkic will be a Potter for plenty of years to come.

On Thursday Stoke City announced that Bojan, 25, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the Britannia Stadium for another four-and-a-half years.

[ MORE: New-look Stoke to progress

Since arriving from Spanish giants Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 season the playmaker has been a revelation in the Premier League.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury midway through his debut season in England, Bojan has battled back this campaign and has scored five times in 23 outings for the Potters.

Speaking to the club website, Bojan revealed his delight in signing the contract extension that will see him stay with Stoke until the summer of 2020.

“I am very happy and motivated. Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived to England,” Bojan said. “Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him.”

With Mark Hughes’ side battling for a top six finish, being knocked out agonizingly on penalty kicks by Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal and still in the FA Cup, it’s been another stellar season for Stoke as their progress continues.

Bojan’s presence has been central to attracting top names to join him at Stoke, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Mark Arnautovic all part of a new-look attack which in-turn has provided a much more attractive team to watch on the pitch.

Amid interest from plenty of other teams around the Premier League and Europe, Stoke have kept hold of their main creative hub and fans will be delighted to see the Barca academy product progress with the Potters over an extended period of time.

VIDEO: USWNT’s Press scores stunning goal after amazing spin move

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What a first touch.

The U.S. women’s national team beat Costa Rica 5-0 in the opening game of their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying campaign on Wednesday and USWNT forward Christen Press scored the pick of the bunch after she teed herself up with a superb first touch.

[ MORE: NBC to stream every Olympic qualifier

Click play on the video above to watch the World Cup winner control the ball with a deft outside-of-the-foot touch before spinning and striking home in a mesmerizing movement.

Majestic.

Press and the USWNT face Mexico on Saturday in their second Group A game (Watch live, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

On the up, off the pitch: Manchester United’s revenue continues to rise

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Manchester United have announced that revenue levels for the three months leading up to December 31 rose by 26.6 percent.

The Red Devils released the figures on Thursday which show revenue of $192.4 million, with commercial revenue up a massive 42.5 percent but matchday revenue was down 1.6 percent.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired”

The overall profit for the quarter was $26.7 million and over that period club debt fell by 6 percent but still stands at an eye-watering $463.6 million. That said, in a recent review of the finances of the top clubs on the planet Deloitte believes United will top the rich-list next season.

Despite Louis Van Gaal‘s future being questioned, United being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage in December and being six points off the top four with just 13 games of the current Premier League season to go, the strength of their results off the pitch continue to show just how successful a business they’ve become.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors that: “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our number one priority – success on the pitch.”

Woodward has also vowed to continue United’s “strong commitment to investing in our squad, youth academy.”

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Van Gaal, 64, will need a strong finish to the season on the pitch to help United to success and in turn improve those financial figures for next season. Failure to finish in the PL’s top four and qualify for the UCL will substantially impact United’s financial results next season, and the pressure remains on him and his players to claw back the deficit.

With speculation mounting that Jose Mourinho could be appointed as United’s new boss there also seems to be a surplus of cash which Rob Harris from the Associated Press speculates could be used for a new manager…

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.