Thoughts on Heath Pearce and latest Red Bulls preseason lineup

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After a while, I quit beating the drum for Heath Pearce as a left back.

He was just fine as a center back, but I always wondered why such a good, technical defender with a swell left foot would be “wasted” in the middle.

Again, nothing wrong with Pearce stationed centrally, except that I can find 15-20 MLS center backs with roughly the same ability as a center back. That’s just not the case with left backs in MLS, a position with far less league-wide depth.

Pearce in the middle? He’s in a clump of similar center backs.

Pearce on the left? He’s probably No. 1 in Major League Soccer.

Yes, San Jose’s Justin Morrow or Sporting Kansas City’s Seth Sinovic might have something to say about it. The LA Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant is as reliable as they come, although probably not the attacker that Pearce can be. And at 32, he’s four year’s older than Pearce. But let’s not bog down here.

Still, for reasons that had to do with personnel on hand and … well, who knows why else, Pearce has played in the middle more than out left for Chivas USA and New York (his current address) over the last two years.

So I was interested to see that Pearce was, in fact, on the left in the Red Bulls’ come-from-behind win yesterday, 3-2, over Swedish First Division side Malmo at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In the middle: Markus Holgersson and Jamison Olave. With Kosuke Kimura on the right, that looks like a fairly strong back line, and one that add pressure up the wings on the attack.

Thierry Henry got his first preseason goal for the Red Bulls.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.