Columbus and Toronto FC are among the mystery teams in Major League Soccer’s ongoing preseason. We’ll define “mystery teams” loosely as clubs with significant roster turnover, several holes to fill or stocked with intriguing players and plans still in evolution.
Here’s what we can cull from Saturday’s match in the 2013 Disney Pro Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Columbus prevailed in the first match of the two-week preseason tournament, 1-0.
Obviously, coaches use preseason matches for experimentation and to study combinations in tandem and in groups. But it’s still fodder for conversation.
- Brazilian center back Gláuber, new to Columbus from Romania’s Rapid Bucuresti, made his first appearance, partnering with longtime Crew Stadium incumbent Chad Marshall.
- Dominic Oduro played along the right. In previous MLS stops, Oduro has more often been stationed closer to opposition goal as a striker, but he has lined up at different times as a flank midfielder.
- Danny O’Rourke, a utility knife for Robert Warzycha through the years, took over at center back for the second half.
- Debuting Crew midfielder Matias Sanchez got 58 minutes as a center midfielder (ahead of Tony Tchani, who played the final 32 minutes).
- For Toronto and new manager Ryan Nelsen, Jeremy Hall lined up as a central midfielder, an interesting choice for a guy who has always been on the outside. (He started ahead of Torsten Frings; that clearly won’t last, surely just a choice to best reflect preseason conditioning and such.)
- Heralded rookie Kyle Bekker, a Canadian international and the third player picked in last month’s MLS draft, played the final 26 minutes at forward.
The Starting lineups looked like this:
Columbus: Andy Gruenebaum; Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Gláuber, Tyson Wahl; Dominic Oduro, Agustín Viana, Matías Sánchez, Ben Speas; Federico Higuaín, Ryan Finley.
Toronto FC: Stefan Frei; Richard Eckersley, Gale Agbossoumonde, Darren O’Dea, Ashtone Morgan; Reggie Lambe, Jonathan Osorio, Jeremy Hall, Emery Welshman; Luis Silva, Justin Braun.
Super agent Mino Raiola has injected a ray of light into the hopes of both Juventus and Real Madrid fans when it comes to Paul Pogba.
The terrific midfielder has been widely reported as an imminent arrival at Manchester United, but Raiola has taken to Twitter to blast journalists who’ve reported the move and medical as done.
[ RANIERI: Mahrez will stay at LCFC ]
Pogba was photographed in Los Angeles amid claims he was undergoing a physical at United. Multiple reports have said he passed the medical and that Juventus has agreed to sell Pogba to United for a world record fee.
Raiola says different, though taken with the grain of salt that he’s set to make as much as $30 million on the deal and his job is to squeeze every possibly penny from suitors.
Claudio Ranieri seems to be genuine and honest in his evaluations, as we’ve seen in his dealings with Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante amongst others.
And the manager is making no bones about what he thinks is best for another Leicester City star in Riyad Mahrez.
[ MORE: Gameiro joins new club ]
Ranieri says the Algerian will face far more pressure at a new club then he will face still competing in the UEFA Champions League with the Foxes.
In other words, the 25-year-old should stick around. From Sky Sports:
“I speak often with him and say stay with us, it’s much better for your future, I think he is an intelligent man and he will stay,” Ranieri told Sky Sports News HQ.
“We support him very well, this is important, when you change teams maybe you don’t find team-mates who help you at the same level.
“He improves more if he stays with us for another year, maybe next year he can think about another solution. If he goes for a lot of money, everybody will be expecting something special. He can do something special, but with us.”
We tend to agree. Whereas N’Golo Kante was prepared to use Leicester as a stepping stone — and it seems Ranieri knew it — Mahrez has been with the Foxes since 2014 and seen his stature skyrocket.
Let’s see what happens, Riyad. Cool?
MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid says it has acquired French striker Kevin Gameiro from rival Spanish club Sevilla.
In exchange, Atletico has agreed to loan Argentine striker Luciano Vietto to Sevilla for one season.
Atletico says Gameiro will sign a four-year contract after undergoing a standard medical exam.
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The 29-year-old Gameiro scored 67 goals during three seasons with Sevilla, helping it win three Europa League titles.
Gameiro will join countryman Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres to form the attack of an Atletico side that reached the final of the Champions League last season.
Atletico did not reveal the financial details of Gameiro’s transfer.
NEW YORK (AP) A former Guatemalan soccer federation president has pleaded guilty in New York to charges related to a sprawling corruption investigation of world soccer.
[ MORE: Christian Vieri ready for return, pursuing Chinese Super League ]
Brayan Jimenez pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear when he’ll be sentenced.
The 62-year-old Jimenez is among 40 people from around the world charged in a FIFA bribery scandal over lucrative broadcasting rights.
Prosecutors say Jimenez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Florida-based sports marketing company. They say in exchange for the money Jimenez awarded the company media marketing rights to the Guatemalan soccer team’s World Cup qualifying matches in 2018 and 2022.
Jimenez’s attorneys haven’t returned a message seeking comment on his guilty plea.