Ryan Nelsen will join Toronto FC on February 1

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So that wasn’t so bad after all. While we all had a little chuckle and shook our heads when we heard new Toronto FC head coaching hire Ryan Nelsen was still obligated to England’s Queen Park Rangers, now comes news that he will leave West London after QPR’s game against Manchester City on Jan. 29.

The center-half has been a consistent choice for Harry Redknapp in the middle of QPR’s defense, and with a contract that runs through the end of the season, it was unclear when the 35-year-old would be allowed to begin his stewardship of the Reds.

Now, as reported here by the CBC, Nelsen’s set to join Toronto on Feb. 1:

There was speculation Nelsen would have to finish the season in England, where QPR is in last place in the Premier League and fighting to avoid relegation to a lesser league.

“I just had to be respectful to my club, and obviously the media is pretty ruthless, the fans are pretty ruthless, so it just had to be handled properly,” Nelsen said. “It was always going to happen, once we sat down with QPR and had an adult conversation, and that’s been done.

“I’m just really looking forward to properly being here full-time.”

Nelsen will join the team Feb. 1 in Orlando to continue training camp in the warmth of the Sunshine State.

Even better, Nelsen’s thoughts on the effect his departure will (or should) have on his soon-to-be old team:

“I’m 35-and-a-half, if they’re relying on me to get them out of situation like that, then they’re in a bit of trouble,” he said laughing. “They understood when I came in that I’ve had job offers before in coaching, and they knew I was going to go at some stage.”

In related news, Nelsen’s also called time on his international career, answering another question posed by his surprise appointment. The New Zealand captain had made 49 appearances for the All Whites but recently informed head coach Frank van Hattum that he has decided to walk away:

“When you’re not enjoying the playing side as much as other aspects of football, you know it is time to move on.  That time is now and I want to commit all my energies into my coaching career with Toronto FC,” he said.

Brazil to play Austria in final warmup game for World Cup

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VIENNA (AP) The Austrian soccer federation says Brazil will play its final warmup game for the World Cup against Austria on June 10, a week before the five-time world champions take on Switzerland in their Group E opener.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of friendly ]

The match will be played in Vienna at Ernst Happel Stadium, the same venue where both teams last met in a 2014 friendly, which Brazil won 2-1.

Brazil has further build-up games against World Cup host Russia (March 23), world champion Germany (March 27) and Croatia (June 3) ahead of the June 14-July 15 tournament, where it also meets Costa Rica and Serbia in the group stage.

Austria failed to qualify for the World Cup but will also play friendlies against Russia on May 30 and Germany on June 2.

Fiorentina renames training ground for Davide Astori

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Fiorentina’s training ground has been renamed “Centro Sportivo Davide Astori” in honor of the club’s deceased captain.

[ MORE: Manneh added to USMNT squad ]

Davide Astori died in his team hotel room on March 4, shocking the Italian soccer world and triggering tributes around the world of soccer.

The respected Italian national team center back has had number retired by both Fiorentina and former club Cagliari.

Thousands packed a Florence piazza to salute the player en route to his funeral, and the club won its first match after his passing following vivid pre- and in-match tributes.

Kekuta Manneh added to USMNT roster for Paraguay game

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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CHICAGO (AP) Mexican league midfielder Kekuta Manneh was added to the U.S. roster Monday for a March 27 exhibition against Paraguay at Cary, North Carolina.

The 27-year-old was born in Ghana and became a U.S. citizen two years ago while playing with Vancouver. He was traded to Columbus in March 2017 and signed with Pachuca in December.

[ MORE: Southampton momentum? ]

He is among eight players on the 23-man roster who could make their national team debuts. The others are goalkeeper Alex Bono; defenders Shaq Moore, Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson; midfielders Marky Delgado and Tim Weah; and forward Andrija Novakovich

Four others have played just once: goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and midfielders Weston McKennie and Kenny Saief.

After failing to qualify for the World Cup, the U.S. will not play a competitive match until this summer.

The revised roster:

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland, Denmark), Zack Steffen (Columbus).

Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town, England), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, England), Matt Miazga (Vitesse, Netherlands), Shaq Moore (Levante, Spain), Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk, Belgium), Antonee Robinson (Bolton, England), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna, Mexico), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle, England).

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Marky Delgado (Toronto), Kekuta Manneh (Pachuca, Mexico), Weston McKennie (Schalke, Germany), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta), Cristian Roldan (Seattle), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht, Belgium), Wil Trapp (Columbus), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain, France).

Forwards: Andrija Novakovich (Telstar, Netherlands), Rubio Rubin (Tijuana, Mexico), Bobby Wood (Hamburg, Germany).

Further crowd trouble could see Lyon’s European ban made active

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Lyon has not enjoyed sportsmanship on and off the pitch this season.

You’ll remember an ugly incident between its players and Everton fans this season, but it’s been Lyon’s support which has had the Ligue 1 club under the microscope for some time.

[ MORE: (Very) Fresh faces for USMNT ]

Lyon had a two-year ban suspended in April, and antics before Thursday’s Europa League match versus CSKA Moscow could see the French side’s suspension from European competition put into action. From the BBC:

Lyon have been charged with racist behaviour, crowd disturbances, throwing objects and setting off fireworks and blocking stairways.

Police say up to 150 ultras attacked officers outside Lyon’s stadium on Thursday.