No one should ever find joy in athlete injury; remember what they say about karma being a “you-know-what.”
As such, none of the good, sweet, clean U.S. Soccer supporters would ever be “happy” that Tim Howard fell to injury three weeks ago at Everton, causing the highly respected American backstopper to also miss two massive World Cup qualifiers for his homeland.
But now that it’s over, now that Howard is once again stately guardian of Goodison Park goal – pitching a shutout while presiding over his team’s 1-0 win Saturday against Stoke City – it seems OK to chew on this bit of delicious gristle:
Was all this a positive thing in the long run for Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team?
Brad Guzan (pictured) was flawless in goal over two U.S. nights. The duty was hardly extensive in that memorable March 22 fluffy white madness outside Denver, but what Guzan did handle that snowy evening required military grade attention, not to mention the surest of gloved hand. Four nights later in Mexico City, heady and hardy U.S. center back play prevented Guzan from being stretched too often. But again, what the U.S. backup did that cool evening at Azteca, he did with calm assurance and impeccable technique.
So … now we know.
We all suspected Guzan, so heroically nimble and well-placed this year while standing in the shooting gallery of Villa Park, had the stuff to handle the pressure cooker of a World Cup qualifying effort approaching the skids. (We did tell you so, after all.) But suspecting is one thing; putting on your flight suit while standing on deck beneath the “Mission accomplished” banner is something quite different.
Howard will be back in goal next time around. No need for Klinsmann to over-think this one, eh? It’s Howard as No. 1, now with Guzan as No. 1A.
It does help put this drive for Brazil 2014 into a better place, knowing a highly capable backup is around to stave off significant dropoff should Howard become less available once again.
Brazilian star Neymar isn’t keeping his future plans under wraps, at least when it comes to his current club teammates.
According to a report in French newspaper Le Parisien, Neymar has started telling his Barcelona teammates that he’s intends to join Paris Saint-Germain. Spanish publication Marca meanwhile is reporting that Neymar’s teammates are trying to persuade him to stay in Catalonia for the season.
The Le Parisien report adds that certain officials at Barcelona believe the transfer is imminent and are resigned to losing one of their stars this summer. The report also said that it was a “decisive step” that Neymar was on board with the deal, going along with his father and agent.
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Rumors intensified over the past few days as reports emerged in Spain that Neymar had agreed on a contract with PSG, and all that was awaiting was PSG exercising Neymar’s release clause, worth nearly $260 million (€222 million). On paper, PSG’s Qatari owners can probably afford that tremendous sum but it still remains to be seen whether PSG will see this move over the line.
Should Neymar move, it would break transfer records for the price of the deal as well as shock the world, as Neymar seemed settled and happy in Barcelona playing alongside the likes of fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Neymar and Barcelona are currently in New York training ahead of the club’s friendly match in the International Champions Cup against Juventus Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.
The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.
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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.
Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.
The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.
According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.
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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.
FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.
The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.
Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.
Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.
Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.
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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”
Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.
Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.