Help wanted

Still wanted: a New York Red Bulls manager

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(Update, 6:42 p.m. ET: Hearing from one MLS source that Paulo Sousa is the coach soon to be named, despite the cool response from Red Bulls officials when reporters asked about the former QPR manager and other potential targets today.)

I was encouraged when I heard about the Red Bulls’ new management and its plans to incorporate a heavy American influence among the hierarchy of deciders.

Sounds like a solid plan, right? If Red Bull totem pole topper Gerard Houllier and sporting director Andy Roxburgh do not have a deep grasp on domestic soccer, best to bring someone onto the coaching staff who does.

It seemed that Red Bulls, a historic mess of a franchise in terms of personnel bungling, was still on some reasonable path to stability.

But then … Well, this is not a good sign. At all.

Yes, Major League Soccer’s off-season was brief, by domestic sports standards, anyway. So perhaps two months is not enough time to turn up a good coaching fit?

Then again, Roxburgh presumably knew late last season that he and the Red Bulls would not be retaining manager Hans Backe. So, uh, what are they waiting for in hiring a new man in charge?

Presumably, Roxburgh did not intend to be down in Florida running a training camp, along with interim man Mike Petke. And yet, here we are.

The team has gathered in New Jersey for the procedural work (physicals, meetings, etc.) before the real work begins in Florida.

What Roxburgh said today about this increasingly curious circumstance:

I want to address the obvious things. We’re talking to a number of people, a lot with really interesting backgrounds, but we’re still in discussions. We appreciate the fans’ patience, but we don’t want to rush to judgment. There will be an announcement soon. We ask that you be patient just a little bit longer. We want to make sure it’s someone who’s available and who’s appropriate.”

In his protracted search for a manager, Roxburgh calls it “a matter of taking time and doing things properly.” Fair enough.

But if conducting a player draft (a valuable tool in every MLS club’s box of player acquisition devices) without a managerial direction, and if starting a preseason training camp without  a coach in charge is anyone’s idea of “doing things properly,” then a whole bunch of MLS teams out there are doing it wrong.

Could it be that this interesting theory from Empire of Soccer is correct, that conflicting ideas are mucking up the process?

The Red Bulls are the only team heading to training camp without a head coach.*

So we’re trying to give some benefit of the doubt to the new Red Bulls regime, but this is not starting well.

*Toronto FC has a coach, technically, but, well … oh, nevermind. We’ve covered that ground.

USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN