Brek Shea impresses in Stoke City reserve match


So I wander over to Stoke City’s official site for a little pre-lunch drive-by. I know the Potters have a reserve match today, so I hope to find perhaps a lineup or a tidbit in the text on Brek Shea.

I just want to know if the guy made the field. He has, after all, only recently arrived and is not far off major surgery.

Turns out, he’s done more than arrived. Here was the headline I saw on the front page of Stoke’s site:

“Shea’s impressive start”

So, yeah. I guess the big left winger played.

Shea, who moved to Stoke two weeks ago on a $4 million transfer, scored on a header during a close-door reserve match against Burnley. (Thanks to Stoke City for the photo.)

The Stoke report spoke glowingly of Shea, great news for U.S. Soccer supporters and manager Jurgen Klinsmann, whose team lacks width and could certainly use a version of Shea that looks more like the emerging force from his 2011 breakout season.

City were much improved in the second-half and managed to get on the score-sheet through debutant Shea. The tall left winger, who looked lively throughout the match, met Adam’s corner and placed his header into the bottom corner of the net.

“… But the impressive display of Shea on his return from a long injury lay-off will excite Potters fans with the winger making lots of neat touches and powerful runs, so supporters will be hoping to see the new signing in first team action in the coming weeks.”

Stoke has a week off (it’s FA Cup fixture weekend) before traveling to London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage. The extra time makes it that much more likely he would get into Tony Pulis squad and into the match in West London.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?