Britain Soccer Champions League

Galatasaray were done wrong – Burak Yilmaz’ yellow card must be rescinded

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Galatasaray were done wrong in yesterday’s Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.

No, they didn’t deserve to win but trigger-happy referee Svein Oddvar Moen (pictured) did leave the Turkish side in a much less enviable position than they deserved. While Moen had more than a few head-scratching incidents his decision in the 77th minute is what really chafes my bum.

Already down 3-0, Galatasaray’s Felipe Melo played a crafty ball to the top of the Madrid penalty area directly into the path of Burak Yilmaz’ diagonal run. The Turkish international collected the pass, moved to the left side of the box and squared himself to goal. Madrid defender Sergio Ramos closed Yilmaz down and launched into a tackle forcing the Gala striker to take another touch to the left. His touch appeared to let him down, the ball rolled out for a goal kick and Yilmaz went to ground in a heap of pain. Moen was having none of it and immediately showed Yilmaz the yellow card.

For Yilmaz, it was a horrible end to a horrible night. He’d hardly seen the ball up until that point and the yellow card meant he wouldn’t be participating in the second leg due to accumulation. At first glance, it looked like a clear simulation by Yilmaz, desperate to draw a penalty. Even the commentators were fooled, noting that the striker “has gone to ground much too easily.”

The problem was Yilmaz didn’t dive. Replays clearly show that Ramos mistimed his tackle, stomping hard on Yilmaz’ right foot. It wasn’t a dirty tackle but it was undoubtedly a foul and a painful one at that. Galatasaray should have been awarded a penalty, which, if converted, would have completely changed the complexion of the second leg in Istanbul on April 9. Not only would the Turks hold a massively important away goal but they would welcome Madrid “To Hell” with the influential Yilmaz leading the line. The ramifications of Moen’s oversight can’t be understated.

I hate when players dive. If a referee is clever enough to notice simulation during a match, it has to be a yellow card. Simple as that. If this standard is upheld from top to bottom throughout the game, I’m convinced that this snake tactic will be ousted from the sport. To be fair, we’ve already come a long way. Over the last few seasons referees have grown more and more confident in penalizing divers and the results have been tremendous.

Teams that were once inherently linked with diving – the Argentinas and Italys of the world – have been forced to reinvent themselves, much for the better of the team and the game. Of course, not everyone has come full circle. Clubs like Barcelona (yeah I said it, Barcelona) are still too quick to go to ground in a bid to get calls. But in general, diving in world football is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It would be hard to argue that eradicating diving from the game hasn’t helped propel it forward – especially in places like the United States where diving has always been a cardinal sin amongst soccer lovers and a source of ridicule for the passive sports fan.

But going hand-in-hand with the referee’s duty to caution players who are guilty of simulation is the burden of getting the call correct. It’s a sizable burden. And when refs fail to meet that burden governing bodies like the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body have to get it right.

In the case of Yilmaz’ card, Galatasaray must file a complaint with the CDB to have the card rescinded so the player can be available for the second leg against Madrid. If the CDB gets it wrong, Gala then has three days to appeal the decision to the UEFA Appeals Body. This is a no-brainer for Fatih Terim’s side. Heck, I’ll file the complaint for them.

It’s just a shame that nothing can be done about that missed penalty.

CONCACAF Champions League gets reboot; MLS benefits

Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey, right, clears the ball away from Club America midfielder Rubens Sambueza (14) during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League soccer quarterfinal, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Changes to the CONCACAF Champions League will benefit Major League Soccer in a big way.

Long requested by MLS, the North American league will only have to send its clubs to the CCL for the final four rounds, which will be home-and-away affairs.

Previously, clubs competed in a group stage from August to October, then joined the knockout rounds in February.

[ MORE: Transfer window names to watch ]

While MLS sides may still be just starting their seasons and have to contend with clubs who have been playing meaningful games, they will also be less likely to draw successful Liga MX sides in the Round of 16.

All of the details are here, but here’s a simplified takeaway:

— The 16 teams that qualify for the CCL, which will begin in February, will include four U.S. teams, one Canadian team, and four Mexican teams.

— The next six sides will be the Caribbean Club Championship winner and the champions of Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama.

— The remaining side will win its spot via a new tournament which includes 13 Central American teams and three from the Caribbean.

For those of us hoping to see an MLS side in the Club World Cup, the odds will become better come the 2018 CCL. As for this year, MLS will again have to deal with the split season.

Ten names to watch in Premier League transfer window

BERGAMO, ITALY - DECEMBER 11:  Franck Kessie of Atalanta BC in action during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on December 11, 2016 in Bergamo, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
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National team veterans from France, England, and Spain are in a 10-man mix of players we think could have big impacts on the fortunes of teams in the Premier League this January transfer window.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

10) Lassana Diarra, Marseille — Twice in London, the French-born midfielder is said to be interesting Manchester United and Valencia amongst others.

9) Leonardo Ulloa, Leicester City — The pressure doesn’t get to the Foxes’ 30-year-old striker, who has scored plenty of big goals for Leicester City. Might he be the perfect bench piece to push a team into the second half of the season? Spanish side Alaves have reportedly had a $2 million bid rejected by Leicester.

8) Phil Jagielka, Everton — Older, yes, but the English national team veteran could be just what the doctor-ordered for relegation candidates and lower-half sides looking for a PL-experienced CB.

7) Victor Lindelof, Benfica — His arrival at Old Trafford went from Tomorrowland to Lost in recent weeks, but Jose Mourinho could still act to bring in the center back before the summer.

6) Scott Hogan, Brentford — The Championship striker isn’t quite as prominent in the rumor mill as Jordan Rhodes was last season, but the 24-year-old could be a promising buy for a PL side. West Ham is said to have the inside track.

5) Goncalo Guedes, Benfica — As for Lindelof’s teammate, Guedes was tipped to join Manchester United with his center back. Will another side jump into the fray before Guedes joins Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford? Paris Saint-Germain is said to be interested.

4) Franck Kessie, Atalanta — The defensive midfielder has chipped in six goals for his Serie A side, and has been the major reason for Atalanta’s run into the top half.

3) Robert Snodgrass, Hull City — The Scottish wizard has been a big part of what little success has come the Tigers way this season, but West Ham and several other Premier League sides are tempting Hull.

2) Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid — He starred for Juventus last season and triggered a Real Madrid return. Slowed by an Achilles injury for much of this season, he’s been tipped for a summer move to Chelsea. If it can happen then… why not now? The Blues could order the title confetti if they landed the Spanish striker.

1) Dimitri Payet, West Ham United — Yes, we’re tired of his act — and reading about it — but Payet is a game-changer who could inject excitement into any offense in the world. If Marseille wants him, it had better pay up.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man City after two backs; Zelalem to Holland?

NAPLES, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 17: Napolis player Faouzi Ghoulam vies with Bologna FC player Simone Verdi during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on September 17, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
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Here are your transfer rumor headlines on a day when Gerard Deulofeu moves to AC Milan and Lazar Markovic heads to Hull City on loan.

[ MORE: Three players leave USMNT camp ]

Two Premier Leaguers could be heading down to help the Championship leaders. Newcastle United is said to be close to bringing Andros Townsend back from Crystal Palace after just a half-season, while Swansea City’s Mo Barrow is also on Rafa Benitez‘s radar.

An Arsenal blog says USMNT prospect Gedion Zelalem may have found his loan destination. The 19-year-old could be leaving the Emirates Stadium for a loan stint at VVV Venlo, with the Dutch side sitting first in the second tier and in a promotion push.

The Manchester Evening News brings reports of two backs on the radar of Manchester City. Rai Sport is the source for Man City’s interest in Napoli left back Faouzi Ghoulam, who has six assists in 21 appearances for Partenopei between Serie A and the UEFA Champions League. Pep Guardiola may also want to be reunited with Juan Bernat, though that story comes from the wild swings of The Daily Mirror.

Sunderland is going to lose one of its two brightest lights in a dark, dismal season. The Black Cats have taken a lot of calls on Jermain Defoe, but it’s Patrick Van Aanholt who is on the move to rejoin Sam Allardyce at Crystal Palace. The Dutch standout is said to be purchased for $15 million, and would be the equivalent of a transfer six-pointer in the Premier League’s relegation race.

Report: West Ham turns down another Payet bid

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14:  The Dimitri Payet of West Ham United sign is seen outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Crystal Palace at London Stadium on January 14, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
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West Ham United has rejected a third bid for wantaway midfielder Dimitri Payet, according to Sky Sports.

Marseille upped the ante to $28 million when it comes to the French midfielder, who has said he wants to go back to the club for “family reasons“.

[ MORE: Three players leave USMNT camp ]

Payet was given a $1.2 million loyalty bonus from West Ham earlier this season, but has continually tempted the rumor mill. He’s also winked at Arsenal.

He has 15 goals in parts of two seasons with the Irons, the same figure he boasted in two full years with Marseille. Payet has also played Lille, Saint-Etienne, Nantes, and AS Excelsior.

It’s been a rocky month for Payet, who could be doomed to purgatory at West Ham. Will any Premier League suitors come calling at the Irons’ $38 million asking price.