Road results send Arsenal, Juvisy through in UEFA Champions League

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It looked like it was going to be a big day in UEFA Champions League for Yael Averbuch, the U.S. international whose second half volley pulled her Göteborg side even with Juvisy this evening in Sweden. The two quarterfinalists left northern France last week with the Feminine Division side up 1-0, but 65 minutes into the second leg, a volley from the 26-year-old North Carolina alum found the upper-left hand corner, pulling Göteborg even. Scoring goals while playing in the middle of her team’s formation, Averbuch was one of the players threatening to lead the Swedes into the semifinals.

But as often happens when the underdog fights back, the favorite wakes up, and while Juvisy wasn’t that much of a favorite over Gotebörg ahead of their tie, the French club had been the marginally better side over the two legs. Despite Averbuch’s equalizer, Juvisy had every reason to think themselves the better side, and over the match’s final 15 minutes, that quality bore out.

Camille Catala, who had just come off Juvisy’s bench a quarter-hour earlier, put her side in front in the 77th minute, giving the visitors a valuable away goal. Catala completed her double just before full-time, and when Janice Caymen (assisted by Catala) provided further insurance in stoppage time, Juvisy had a deceptively decisive victory.

Though their 3-1 win (4-1, agg.) gives a superficial impression of control, the two sides were within one goal of each other for the first 176 minutes of the tie. Still, it was the French side that applied most of the pressure on Wednesday, keeping Goteburg from connecting with forward Jessica Landström. Once Averbuch put the home side in front, the visitors started converting that pressure into results.

For Juvisy, it’s their first trip to the Champions League semifinals, a notable achievement for a French league that’s criticized for its lack of depth. With two-time defending champions Lyon likely to join Juvisy in the final four after Thursday’s match in Malmö, the Feminine Division will make up half of this year’s semifinals. And with emerging Paris Saint-Germain sitting second on the homefront, France’s league not only has the world’s best team but some newfound depth.

France is not Germany, but its league is also not the paper thin circuit its detractors imagine. It’s top heavy, and Lyon makes a mockery of the competition, but there’s a burgeoning quality in the league’s upper half. Goteborg bore witness to that on Wednesday

Kerr still not happy with Arsenal

“We weren’t particularly pleased with the way we played today” manager Shelley Kerr said after today’s match in Sassari, perhaps a greedy assessment given her team had just eliminated Torres Calcio.

A fourth minute goal from Naamh Fahey put Arsenal up 4-1 (agg.), enough of a cushion to help them see out a 1-0 result in Italy on Wednesday.

“You can’t take anything away from Torres,” Kerr added, “They battled really well today and put us under pressure a lot of times in the game.”

Despite playing without Kelly Smith (their playmaker injured in leg one), Arsenal converted an early corner kick to put the tie away. A ball from Rachel Yankey was played on by Ellen White, setting up Fahey to put the Gunners in front.

It’s the third straight year Arsenal has made the semifinals and the sixth time in 11 years they’ve made the final four.

They’ll meet the winner of Rossiyanka- Wolfsburg, with the Germans taking a 2-1 lead into Thursday’s leg in Russia.

VIDEO: Chicharito talks West Ham signing, opener at Manchester United

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is back in the Premier League, and will debut for his new club at the home of his old club.

The league schedulers didn’t know the Mexican striker would be a member of West Ham United on Opening Day, but nonetheless have the first weekend ending with an 11 a.m. ET kickoff between the Irons and Red Devils of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: How will Chicharito slot in at West Ham? ]

Combine a new home with an old haunt, and you’ve got one fired up Little Pea:

“A little bit more than my teammates probably, of course to be back to Old Trafford to start this adventure this season with my new team. It’s gonna be a very important one and I’m going to be very happy to be there.”

Hear more from the latest West Ham buy below:

Juventus buys $46 million Bernadeschi from Fiorentina

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If this transfer is anywhere as successful as Juventus’ capture of Roberto Baggio from Fiorentina, the Old Lady’s run of scudetti could reach double digits.

Juventus announced the $46 million purchase of Federico Bernadeschi from La Viola on Monday, snaring the U-21 star at the same age they purchased Baggio in 1990.

[ SERIE A: Can Roma catch Juve? ]

Bernadeschi, 23, broke out for 11 Serie A goals last season for Fiorentina, adding two in the UEFA Europa League. He scored his first senior goal for Italy earlier this summer in a World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.

It’s another big add for Juve, which has Douglas Costa on loan from Bayern Munich and made Mehdi Benatia’s loan a permanent buy.

It’s another big blow for Fiorentina, which sold Borja Valero and Josip Ilicic this summer, but it could be a boon for American forward Joshua Perez. The 19-year-old made his debut for Fiorentina in November 2016 against Inter Milan.

De Rossi’s fire burning toward elusive scudetto

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When Mexican star Hector Moreno arrived at AS Roma this month, he brought a hyper-competitive drive and the desire to inspire his new club toward a long-desired scudetto.

What he found was a club that top-to-bottom was already driving toward that same goal.

“I’ve been here two days and the guys have the same hunger and desire as me,” Moreno told ProSoccerTalk.

To those who’ve played for AS Roma, bled the crimson in and out for i Lupi, the pursuit of a first scudetto in a decade and a half dances through their heads.

“Totti told us that when he won the scudetto in 2001, there were parties for three months. We all have the ambition to win something here, and to celebrate with the fans,” said Kevin Strootman.

[ MORE ROMA: PST talks with Strootman ]

“It would be amazing for all the players. They will love us and never forget. The people in Rome, they live for football. They live for us,” said star striker Edin Dzeko, the ex-Man City forward who potted 29 goals last season.

Juventus has won the last six Serie A titles, but Roma has steadily narrowed the gap in finishing second three of the past four seasons. Roma finished four points back of Juve last season, and my did they entertain, scoring 90 goals en route to second.

Strootman has been in Rome since 2013, Dzeko since 2015, and we’ve already covered Moreno’s nascent period with the club.

So imagine the scudetto fire that burns within captain Daniele De Rossi, who turned 34 on Monday and made his Roma debut the year after the club’s last scudetto. He’s made 561 appearances since that October night in Belgium against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League when he made his first senior appearance.

His teammates will know what it means to him.

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“It’s my biggest target,” De Rossi told PST. “It’s what I’m following with my career. I know the other guys know what that means for the people here in Rome and I would like to explain it a little bit deeply what it can mean to win a scudetto right here in Roma. It’s part of our job to know what can happen if we win, and to our culture it can be something that we never forget.”

AS Roma played Paris Saint-Germain level through 90 minutes in Detroit, its first International Champions Cup appearance of the summer. Now i Lupi prepares for another UEFA Champions League opponent in Tottenham Hotspur, up next Tuesday at Red Bull Arena.

Clubs have had to be nearly flawless to make a run at Juve in recent seasons, and looking at Roma’s schedule doesn’t mean finding a load of could’ves and should’ves; Yes there was an early draw at Empoli and a regrettable home defeat in the Derby della Capitale, but Roma wasn’t tossing aside points in poor situations.

[ MORE: Pallotta’s Roman vision ]

So even with a bunch of new faces and several key departures, De Rossi and Roma need to come out of the gates with vigor. And the captain admits he sees the fire mentioned by Moreno, but cautions that it needs to be carefully built by i Lupi’s leadership.

“It’s clearly very early but you can see that there’s a group, with a lot of people who are 27, 28, 24, who are not so much young players and that’s important because at 27 you already know almost everything you need to be a professional player,” De Rossi said.

“Hunger is something that comes probably later when the matches are more important, but also during training you can find it, and when people spend time with the team when they are free. The atmosphere is very good for now. I hope it will follow later.”

De Rossi’s words carry weight even in a short conversation. He doesn’t throw away words, and takes his time to convey the proper meaning.

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Asked about leadership and whether he considers his guidance more by words or his example, De Rossi doesn’t turn to platitudes or fire and brimstone. The latter might be expected, given his demeanor and — to an American audience — memory as the man who used his elbow to examine what lies underneath Brian McBride’s face at the 2006 World Cup (and, it should be noted, helped the Yanks to their only point of the tournament, later won by the Italians).

“It’s something you have inside, your character, but also something you build during your career and your life,” De Rossi said. “It’s not something you have to show every second in soccer or a work place. You have to be nice with your teammates, you have to be available if they need something, and that’s it. If you have to raise your voice, you do it, but it’s nothing special. The same things the other guys do.”

Sure, but the *other guys* don’t sit in the Top 5 for caps in the celebrated Italy national team set-up. They haven’t all won World Cups, or been knighted, or been named Serie A Footballer of the Year.

[ MORE: Dos Santos brothers reuniting in LA? ]

So what are De Rossi’s leadership guideposts? Sorry to disappoint, but there’s no magic to it.

“First of all, inside the pitch you are respected by your teammates,” he said. “Also outside the pitch, you know that your job is going good when you see things going in the right way, the normal way, nothing weird, nothing special, nothing perfect, the right way! Normal people who love their work and love their job will respect each other.”

Okay, fair enough. De Rossi is no doubt respected, but as he edges further into his career, does he think about how he’ll be remembered? Scudetto or not, what’s his legacy?

Easy, it seems; De Rossi wants to be known as a custodian of his club, even if he’s already one of its all-time centurions.

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“As a professional player, a nice guy, but most of all a player crazy in love with his team,” De Rossi said. “And also as a good player, because I think I am. Nothing more. What happened to Francesco (Totti) is something unbelievable and unrepeatable. I’m happy. I will be happy if a lot of people remember me as a nice guy, as a huge person who loves Roma as much as he can.

Well, he’ll be happy then, as a classic Wolf in yellow and red: a man who was born in the Eternal City and grew to become a symbol of it.

“There’s something inside of us, Roman citizens. Rome is a city full of stories, full of history, full of old things. There are monuments, what you can read in books, but also people connected to art like Ennio Morricone or Sergio Leone. It’s a mix of new things that we have to do, and also remain connected with our past history. It’s something you have to remember, not forget, and can affect our way to lead and live outside of soccer and the way I play.”

And given his legendary status, it’s little surprise that De Rossi has the admiration of the players in the room, social media fans or not.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up in Gold Cup Final? ]

“He’s our captain,” Strootman said. “He was already the captain when I came here four years ago and he was one of the only players who spoke English. He helped me with a lot of things on and off the pitch. He’s a role model for everybody. It’s a pleasure to train with him, stay with him, and be on the pitch with him.”

Strootman agreed with De Rossi that the side has to be nurtured into the season.

“We still need some time, that’s normal, but we need to show on the pitch that we are hungry,” he said. “It’s a good mix. We have to show it from the first competition and game by game.”

Roma’s ICC finishes up at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on July 30, where they’ll hope to make an early statement of intent against serial scudetto winners Juventus.

Reports: Jonathan Dos Santos set to join Giovani on Galaxy

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Double Dos Santos DPs in Tinseltown?

That’s again the rumor out of Spain, where Jonathan Dos Santos has reportedly left Villarreal camp with permission to negotiate with the LA Galaxy.

Dos Santos would join his brother Giovani in a move which would not only increase the Galaxy’s attacking portfolio but give the club another feather in the cap as it attempts to ward off incoming Los Angeles FC in the race for the hearts of L.A. soccer supporters.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up in Gold Cup Final? ]

It would be the second time Jonathan joined his brother on a squad, and the third time the two were professional teammates. Both joined Barcelona’s academy in 2002.

Jonathan posted two goals and three assists in La Liga last season, leading the team in key passes per game with 1.3. He added a goal and an assist in UEFA Europa League play, where he also registered a hemorrhagic 2.6 giveaways per contest.

Nevertheless, there’s little doubt the younger Dos Santos brother would shine in MLS, where he could set up his brother and Romain Alessandrini to feast on defenses, and maybe even help Gyasi Zardes find his form.