As part of our ongoing package previewing the start of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, here are the best and brightest MLS men who are eligible to play for the United States na tional team:
- GK = Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando
Why we like him: Real Salt Lake’s backstopper is solidly ensconced as Jurgen Klinsmann’s third man in the net. Just 33 years old — not a bit too old for ‘keepers — he is about to begin his 14th season as an MLS starter. How about them apples?
- RB = Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran
- CM = Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler
- CB = LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez (pictured)
- LB = New York Red Bulls’ Heath Pearce
Why we like them: Those who would like to debate the center back scene haven’t been paying attention. Gonzalez is a no-brainer (now apparently a U.S. starter until further notice) and Besler isn’t far behind. Beltran just edges San Jose’s Steven Beitashour for right back. Pearce is an interesting one because the Red Bulls and, before that, Chivas USA, like to use him at center back. But Pearce has 35 full U.S. national team appearances … all at left back. That’s his best spot.
- RM = D.C. United’s Chris Pontius
- HM = Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman
- LM = Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis
- AM = Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi
Why we like them: Pontius lines up at left midfield or forward for D.C. United; I’m sure he’d play along the right if asked for our little team here. Before anyone reminds me that Osvaldo Alonso is now an American citizen, he is not yet eligible to play for the United States; There are still some fairly significant FIFA hoops to jump. So, it’s Beckerman, who is well in the U.S. national team muddle of holding mids. Between Zusi, Davis and Pontius, you could move them around liberally at the three most advanced midfield spots.
- FW = San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski
- FW = Seattle Sounder’s Eddie Johnson
Why we like them: A total of 41 goals between them last year in league play (27 by Wondolowski)? Yep, we’ll take some of that.
(MORE: full roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)
Kevin De Bruyne won’t be the main man at Old Trafford this time.
[ MORE: Rooney to leave? ]
De Bruyne, 25, starred in Manchester City’s 2-1 win at bitter rivals Manchester United last month in the Premier League but ahead of the EFL Cup last 16 clash between Manchester’s two clubs, Pep Guardiola confirmed that the Belgian international will play no part after picking up a calf injury in the draw with Southampton on Sunday.
Speaking to the media, Guardiola also confirmed that Pablo Zabaleta will be out, plus Vincent Kompany will likely play a part.
“Kevin, no way, he cannot play,” Guardiola said. “Pablo I think cannot. Vincent I think he can but I don’t know today. I need to see training and regeneration [before making a decision].”
Guardiola also confirmed that he expects to give some of his squad players a chance to play despite the desire to win the big derby game.
“We are going to rotate. Some are going to play. I need to see the players today in training and after we will decide the team,” Guardiola added.
City’s squad is still ridiculously strong with the likes of Nolito, Fabian Delph, Kelechi Iheanacho and Aleix Garcia all set to play a big part in the cup tie.
The Daily Telegraph has struck again.
A few weeks after it’s investigation into corruption in English soccer unveiled plenty of wrongdoing, some of which led to Sam Allardyce stepping down as England manager, The Daily Telegraph has some more damaging evidence.
This time Watford Football Club is at the center of the allegations.
According to a report on Tuesday, Watford submitted forged bank documents back in 2014 when Gino Pozzo became the sole owner of the club from his father, Giampaolo, at the beginning of the 2014-15 campaign which saw them win promotion to the Premier League. The bank documents via HSBC (the Telegraph claims that Watford did not bank with that company at the time) were used to show proof of funding that Pozzo could bankroll Watford.
The English Football League has opened an investigation into the matter, along with an internal one from Watford, and if any wrongdoing is found then the Hornets could be subject to a fine and a points deduction.
An EFL spokesman told the Telegraph:
“We can confirm, following receipt of information from The Telegraph, that we immediately commenced a disciplinary investigation into serious allegations made against Watford Football Club. The club has been formally contacted by the EFL and is now required to provide a full and detailed response to the allegations. Once that response is received, it will be fully considered by the EFL and appropriate action will be taken under our rules and regulations.”
Watford has until next week to respond to the EFL.
The Telegraph also reports that just before the HSBC letter was accepted by the EFL as proof of funds, an earlier letter from Credit Suisse (a bank the Pozzo family and the parent company which owns Watford, Hornets Investment, did use) was rejected by the EFL and that would have put a hold up in the sale of the club.
Wayne Rooney‘s future at Manchester United seems increasingly uncertain.
[ MORE: Tight title race? ]
A report in the Sun newspaper states that United’s captain and talisman, 31, has been told by manager Jose Mourinho that he can leave if it’s regular game time he wants.
Rooney hasn’t started any of United’s last four Premier League games and was left out of their squad for the 4-0 thumping at Chelsea last weekend with a small injury.
Per the report, Mourinho has spoken to Rooney’s advisers and has told them he can not guarantee the England national team captain a starting role.
There’s no doubting Rooney’s huge impact at United over the past 12 years since he arrived at Old Trafford. He’s won five Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League title, two League Cups and an FA Cup.
Rooney is also just three goals shy of breaking the all-time club record for number of goals scored — he has scored 246 times for United in all competitions — which Sir Bobby Charlton has held for over 40 years and although he has this season plus two more on his huge contract, it seems like he’s reaching a major crossroads in his career.
Even if he is willing to stick around for the final years of his playing days and get stuck into a bit-par role a la Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, you know that Rooney will still make an impact.
The Englishman is stuck in a rut but so are United.
If fit, it would be very surprising to not see him feature heavily in the next few days as United host bitter rivals Manchester City in the EFL last 16 on Wednesday and then Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports).
VALENCIA, Spain (AP) Antoine Griezmann has won the best player award in the Spanish league for last season.
The Atletico Madrid forward was announced as the winner in a ceremony organized by La Liga in Valencia on Monday. The Frenchman was not at the ceremony.
[ MORE: Ballon d’Or omissions ]
Atletico also had Diego Simeone win the best coach award, Diego Godin earn the best defender award, and Jan Oblak clinch best goalkeeper.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was selected as the best forward, and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric as the best midfielder.
Team captains voted for the top players in each position, while a data-analysis system generated the best player award.
Barcelona won the Spanish league last season, ahead of Real Madrid and Atletico.