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.

Pep sticking with Bravo for final: “Locker room more important”

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Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.

“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”

The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.

Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.

City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.

Arsenal gets AC Milan in Europa League Round of 16

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Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]

Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.

Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.

Here’s the draw in full.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.