Bill Hamid comes up big, holds Red Bulls scoreless

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HARRSION, N.J. – Bill Hamid gave most of the credit to his back line, but the DC United goalkeeper was the primary reason his team walked away from Red Bull Arena with a point in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls.

Hamid put an emphatic stamp on the match in stoppage time, when he palmed the ball off the line, reacting quickly after Brandon Barklage’s header deflected of DC defender James Riley and toward the net for the winner. Hamid got low to slap it away as he fell into the net.

“It did not go over (the line),” he said. “It was close, it was close. It bobbled around, it ping ponged but I got there before it went over the line.”

(MORE: Drilling down on: New York 0, DC United 0)

That was the last of Hamid’s seven saves in all, but hardly the only important one. He stonewalled Tim Cahill from inside the six-yard box in the 67th minute on what looked like a sure tap-in for the Australian veteran.

And yes, even though he refused to use the word ‘luck,’ he did get help from the crossbar twice on Fabian Espindola shots. But his performance warranted a little bit of help.

Despite a good start to the 2013 MLS season, Hamid is on the outside looking in to the national team picture, even with Tim Howard sidelined for upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Asked if the seeming disrespect motivated him, Hamid left it at “of course.”

Next question.

The 22-year-old looks to have a bright future between the pipes and that should eventually include playing in net for the United States national team. His experience with the US earlier this year has elevated his game, DC United coach Ben Olsen said.

“He was great; he has been very good since the moment he got back from national team camp,” Olsen said. “He is a new man. We talk about consistency with him, making sure he is as even-keeled as possible — on and off the field — he is staying big and making big saves. He is making saves he needs to make, but he is pulling one or two out of his hat that are saveless.”

On Saturday, Hamid pulled two marvelous saves out of that hat, even if he wants to defer credit to his defense.

“I think it was sound defending. If you look at the whole game, minute-by-minute, the center backs and the outside backs tucking in did a great job dealing with (Thierry) Henry and (Fabian) Espindola.”

Watch that stoppage time save:

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

(more…)

Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out:

Champions League last 16 draw sets up huge clashes

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The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League did not disappoint.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

We have some monster clashes with Chelsea facing Barcelona, once again, and the reigning champs Real Madrid paired with the favorites Paris Saint-Germain.

With five Premier League teams remaining, Tottenham have been handed a tough draw against Italian champions Juventus who were also runners up in the UCL last season, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool will all be rather happy with their draws.

United have been drawn against Spanish side Sevilla, Liverpool will face FC Porto and Man City clash with Basel.

Below is the draw in full, while UEFA has also released the schedule for the games with Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and Man United all playing their second legs at home.