For the first time in his international career, Cote d’Ivoire striker Didier Drogba was dropped from the lineup, the former Chelsea and Marseille icon left out of Sabri Lamouchi’s starting XI for today’s match against Tunisia. Anzhi Makhachkala beanpole Lacina Traoré was given the start and produced a nice backheel assist on Gervinho’s opening goal.
The move comes after an opening match that saw Les Elephants struggle to put away Togo, a team expected to finish at the bottom of Group D. Gervinho’s 88th minute goal salvaged a 2-1 result, but from a team that’s against favored to win the tournament, more was expected. Potentially as a result, Drogba and fellow stalwart Kolo Touré found themselves on the bench.
Drogba and Touré’s are two very different cases, though. Touré struggled against Togo and was understandably dropped, with midfielder Didier Zokora assuming the central defense role he has periodically occupied for the national team. Touré very well may have slipped enough to justified this move on form alone.
For Drogba, his first match struggles were less a result of his play than the tactics of his opponent. Not surprisingly, Togo paid an undo amount of attention to the Ivorian starter. As a result, his impact on the first game was marginalized.
A more viable explanation for Drogba’s benching is fitness. The 34-year-old has had only three days rest since the match against Togo. With three points booked, Lamouchi can afford to give his best attacker some rest. If the move backfires, Cote d’Ivoire can still go through with a win against Algeria, a match for which Drogba will be rested.
Now in the 67th minute, Cote d’Ivoire has a 1-0 lead, and Didier Drogba is getting ready to come on. With only 20 minutes of action today, he should be well rested for Wednesday’s match.
While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.
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Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.
Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.
Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.
Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.
Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
Late action (10:30 p.m. ET kick off)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic
City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.
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The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.
CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.
Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.
MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.
The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.
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Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.
Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.
Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.
[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]
ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.
The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.
Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.
Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.
According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.