U.S. striker Herculez Gomez: hullabaloo and criticism no biggie

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DENVER – Who doesn’t love U.S. striker Herculez Gomez?

The Las Vegas native’s soccer career is a tale dogged persistence. Things were just OK during his time in Major League Soccer, but Gomez just kept moving forward, kept trying harder, kept looking for more. (Which he has found in hammering out a fruitful career in Mexico’s Liga MX.)

The U.S. coaching staff loves Gomez because his energy, desire and work rate bother defenses, creating opportunities that might not otherwise arrive. (They’ll need every little smidgen of fire and desire, hustle and bustle and everything in between in Friday’s World Cup qualifier outside Denver.)

He’s active with fans and members of the press through social media.

And now the man is helping tamp down the brush fires that threaten to ignite Camp Klinsmann with a healthy dose of perspective.

About all the holler and hullabaloo over Carlos Bocanegra, quirky roster choices, unresolved tactical tenets, etc., Gomez sees it as rather quaint. He called the U.S. press corps “teddy bears” compared to the flesh-eating grizzlies of most soccer-mad lands, including Mexico.

Among the great stuff he shared with MLSSoccer.com:

It’s funny, they’re making a bit of a hoopla about it right now. It’s almost, in a sense, cute, you know?

… we live in such a great country where you guys [the media] even have dialogue with us and things can be easily worked through. I think this, for us, is a learning experience. We will be a better team for it.”

I love it – I love it. It’s about time. It’s about damn time you guys took some interest and you guys started asking some tough questions. I think that shows us growing as a footballing nation, I really do.”

Gomez mentioned Brian Straus by name. Straus is the Sporting News writer whose provocative piece on Tuesday exposed or aggressively amplified a conversation that had been contained to media back room whispers to that point. Gomez said this stuff, provocative and dramatic as it might be, is a necessary and even helpful part of the game’s growth curve here.

Whether the writer’s theories and his sources are right or wrong, these conversations are critical, Gomez believes, even if just for the additional public chatter. Having the discussion is what matters.

… this country needs that exposure. This country needs football to matter. And I think that’s great.”

MLS SuperDraft 2018 Live Tracker

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For a few dozen players, hearing their name called up to the big stage will validate all the hard work and sacrifices they’ve made since they were children.

Starting at 11:00 a.m. when Los Angeles FC is on the clock at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the 2018 MLS SuperDraft will be underway. Many of the top college prospects will soon find out whether they’ll be headed to the Pacific Northwest, New England, the Southeast, Southern California or anywhere in between.

[MORE: 2018 MLS Mock Draft]

This year’s draft class is loaded with attacking talent, from Generation Adidas trio Ema Twumasi (Wake Forest), Mason Toye (Indiana) and Francis Atuahene (Michigan) to Twumasi’s college teammate Jon Bakero.

But potential No. 1 overall pick is a three-time national champion, Thomas Hilliard-Arce, who could become the anchor of a backline for a decade.

Follow along below as we update the picks live as we hear them:

(more…)

Bayern signs Germany midfielder Goretzka from rival Schalke

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.

Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.

Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.

[ MORE: Bundesliga scores ]

“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.

“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.

The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.

Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”

Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.

Pele hospitalized overnight in Brazil

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The most famous soccer player in the world had a scare last night as he was hospitalized in Brazil for “severe exhaustion.”

Pele, 77, was set to travel to London this weekend to be honored by the Football Writers Association, though it looks like that trip has now been postponed.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,” a FWA statement said. “He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.

“Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.”

Here’s to hoping Pele makes a full recovery.

[MORE: USMNT centerback heads to Championship club]

USMNT centerback Carter-Vickers heads to Ipswich Town on loan

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Cameron Carter-Vickers has a new club to call home for the next five months or so after a rough first half of the season.

Tottenham announced Friday morning that it had loaned the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback to Championship club Ipswich Town for the rest of the season. Carter-Vickers spent the first five months of the season at fellow Championship side Sheffield United, starting 17 times though he struggled recently as Sheffield won just one game he played in during the month of December, losing three and drawing one.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Carter-Vickers was then recalled earlier this week and now has a new home with a mid-table Championship club, with a new chance to impress. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can recover his form and continue to grow, potentially latching on to another Premier League side next year or breaking into the Tottenham first team.

There’s another interesting American tie-in to this. Carter-Vickers appears to be a short-term replacement for Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith, who the club states is headed to join the Colorado Rapids ahead of the 2018 MLS season.