Houston Dynamo up first as CONCACAF Champions League play resumes

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Major League Soccer’s quest for better regional standing, and for a long-sought place in the FIFA Club World Cup, begins anew on Tuesday.

Houston Dynamo is first up as CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play begins, this one in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The Dynamo, Seattle and LA Galaxy are Major League Soccer’s three survivors in the regional club championship. MLS clubs remain on the hunt for that historic breakthrough, a CCL win that would give MLS a place in the FIFA Club World Cup in December.

Real Salt Lake has come closest to the small FIFA pot of gold, the Utah club’s bid for continental supremacy falling a goal short in 2011 as Mexico’s Montrerrey claimed the prize.

Seattle’s home-and-away series with Tigres (also based in Monterrey, not far south of the Texas border) begins Wednesday. The Galaxy begins its two-leg series with Costa Rica’s Herediano on Thursday. Full tournament details are here.

Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo should be full of confidence following Sunday’s 2-0 opener in MLS play. Ricardo Clark was in on both goals as the U.S. World Cup 2010 midfielder began a bid to re-establish himself within Jurgen Klinsmann’s current pool.

(MORE: Highlights from Houston’s season opening win)

Of slight concern to Houston perhaps is an additional day of rest for Santos. Los Guerreros last played on Friday, as American international Herculez Gomez scored twice in Santos’ 3-1 win on the road. That left the club 6th of 18 teams in the Liga MX Clausura.

Gomez is second in team scoring in league play with three goals and is tied for team leadership in assists, also with three.

Here is a great match breakdown of tonight’s contest from longtime Houston-based soccer writer and broadcaster Glenn Davis. Davis reckons the Dynamo needs more from Oscar Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis, needs to put pressure on former Mexican national team goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez (who has gone a bit wobbly) and tame Colombian playmaker Darwin Quintero.

There is more on Santos and the club’s current form here.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.

Celtic secures trophy treble, ends Scottish season unbeaten

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Celtic completed a trophy treble in Scottish soccer and finished the domestic season undefeated after beating Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final thanks to an injury-time goal on Saturday.

Midfielder Tom Rogic scored from an acute angle in the second minute of stoppage time at Hampden Park to ensure Celtic added the cup to the Scottish Premiership and the Scottish League Cup.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Brendan Rodgers became the third manager, after Jock Stein (1967, 1969) and Martin O’Neill (2001), to lead Celtic to a treble of domestic titles.

Celtic hasn’t lost any of its 47 games across in the league and both cups, and is the first team to go through the whole of a Scottish domestic season unbeaten.

No China for Costa: It’ll be Chelsea or Atletico Madrid

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Blues striker Diego Costa offered some insight into his future following Chelsea’s FA Cup Final loss to Arsenal on Saturday.

The combustible striker was subject to a head-turning bid from the Chinese Super League this winter, but is only looking at two European locations for his future.

Those are his current club, Chelsea, as well as former home at Atletico Madrid.

[ JPW: Poignant FA Cup Final reflects English mood ]

The 28-year-old Costa has kept his scoring pace level since arriving in the Premier League. He scored 64 goals in 134 matches for Atleti, and has notched 58 goals for Chelsea in 120 appearances.

Costa reportedly said, “No, no, no” when asked about China, as well as the following: