Tomas Rosicky flashbacks lead Arsenal at West Brom

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It’s a rare day that Tomas Rosicky is healthy enough to remind us: He was once one of the more exciting soccer players on the planet. Saturday was once of those days.

Scoring twice in 82 minutes before being subbed off, Rosicky led Arsenal to a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion, a result that temporarily vaults the Gunners into over Chelsea and into fourth place in the English Premier League.

Arsenal’s also within one point of third place Tottenham, though it won’t last long. Chelsea hosts a wayward Sunderland on Sunday while Spurs welcome Everton to White Hart Lane. In all likelihood, Arsenal will be back in fifth by Monday morning.

(MORE: Tracking England’s relegation battle.)

That doesn’t mean today’s points won’t prove valuable. Regardless, they were certainly well-earned. Only Manchesters United and City have more home wins than West Brom’s nine, with the Baggies having conceded only 14 times in as many matches at The Hawthorns.

Rosicky began bucking that rate in the 20th minute when his run onto a Gervinho ball allowed him to head past Ben Foster for the opener. Just after halftime, Rosicky completed his brace, following up his own blistering shot to double Arsenal’s lead.

The Gunners upped the level of difficulty late in the match when Per Mertesacker saw straight red after bringing down Shane Long. But Steve Clarke’s side was unable to build on James Morrison’s conversion and were kept off the scoresheet over the final 19 minutes.

While Arsenal’s three points were the day’s most important development, Rosicky’s performance was the most interesting. In addition to his two goals, Rosicky was among the team best passers statistically, at or near the top of the team’s rankings in rate of passes, accuracy, and chances created. He also cleared a Claudio Yacob header off the line early, saving West Brom’s opener.

It was a glimpse of the player who teamed with Pavel Nedvěd, Tomáš Galásek, and Karel Poborský in one of Europe’s best midfields during the mid-2000s. Quick, creative, with the ability to add goals, Rosicky had everything you’d want in an attacking midfielder, except health.

We’re long past the days of hoping Rosicky can stay fit. He’s 32 years old, and when the Czech Republic needed him so much at last summer’s European Championships, he couldn’t last the tournament.

But when he is healthy, Rosicky’s still capable of making an impact. And against a team like West Brom, he could be the difference, just like he was on Saturday.

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:

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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.