Jurgen Klinsmann spills some details on Osvaldo Alonso, future U.S. national team midfielder?

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When it became known Jurgen Klinsmann would be in Seattle this weekend, a lot of people asked why. Eddie Johnson was unlikely to play. Brad Evans was out, and there were few other players in the team that looked like good candidates to be call in to the senior national team.

Maybe he was there to see DeAndre Yedlin? Are there Revolution players that could be called in?

Turns out the reason was more obvious. Or, the reason he gave was a more straight-forward one.

Talking to the press at CenturyLink, Klinsmann said his main motivations for the trip were to connect with the team, take in the game, and check out the facilities and hotel ahead of the team’s June 11 World Cup Qualifier against Panama.

Believe him? Sounds plausible enough to me. It’s not like it takes a huge commitment to fly from Southern California to Seattle these days. Besides, remember those conclusions bout the roster we harped on, above? Not exactly a lot of pickings, once you take Johnson and Evans out of the equation.

There is, however, this central midfielder from Seattle you may have heard of, one whose international career was put on hold the he came to the U.S. in 2007. It’s Osvaldo Alonso, a player who’d love to play for the United States, until the Cuban government clarifies his status, he’s ineligible.

Klinsmann:

[Alonso’s eligibility] is more like an administrative and governmental issue which we have no influence on it. I wish I could have brought him into January camp, and he knows that. Obviously, I’m in touch with Sigi and Adrian here all the time. He deserves a chance. He deserves a possibility, but it’s not in our hands, unfortunately. If Cuba is not giving a clearance, it’s not giving us a bit of help, FIFA is kind of strict in those matters.

There are a select few circumstances that allow a player to represent one country in international play after he’s been capped at senior level by another. One of those situations comes up when a player is no longer eligible to play for his first country.

Alonso appeared 16 times for Cuba before defecting, so he’s tied to them unless Cuba says otherwise. If Cuba says he’s eligible to come back and play, then he is. And as Klinsmann noted, FIFA’s unlikely to step in and influence matters.

Look at it form Cuba’s point of view. To them, this guy is defector, somebody who left the team while they were travelling in the U.S. They may see him as somebody who could come back and play, and while that’s a ludicrously thin way of looking at things, they’re under no obligation to write him off.

You rejected our country and we’re just supposed to sign off on this? Oh, okay. Let me put this application in David Brent’s secret filing cabinet … and it’s gone.

More from Klinsmann:

[Alonso] has a role similar to Kyle Beckerman of Salt Lake. Those two guys as No. 6’s in the league have shown tremendous consistency and the highest quality … He would have been part of our January camp, but unfortunately, we can’t bring him in.

Other items of note from Klinsmann’s chat with reporters, as relayed by Joshua Mayers:

  • Further explaining the trip, Klinsmann said his staff are going “all over the place connecting” with teams and coaches.
  • Klinsmann mentioned the nine-hour time difference between Seattle and Europe as being a “tricky” factor when scheduling the national team in the Northwest.
  • Playing on grass “plays a vital role.” Seattle made it happen. Portland didn’t.
  • He’s aware of DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle’s first-year right back. Then again, he follows all the U-20 and U-17 players.

UEFA Champions League semifinal predictions

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With the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League to kick off over the next few days, let’s take a look at both games and predict which teams will make it to the final in Kiev on May 26.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

Liverpool or Roma? Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?

Here’s the lowdown as two eagerly anticipated games take center stage across Europe.


Liverpool vs. AS Roma
First leg: Apr. 24, 2:45 p.m. ET at Anfield
Second leg: May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET at Stadio Olimpico

This should be one heck of a tie with defending optional for both teams but both have very different ways of playing. Jurgen Klopp will unleash the fluid trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on an often brittle Roma defense but the Italian giants have a giant in their own up top in the shape of Edin Dzeko. How Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s defense deal with the threat of Dzeko will likely decide the outcome of this game. Liverpool will look to feed off the famous Anfield atmosphere to wrack up a big first leg lead before they head to Roma for Leg 2, and I fancy Salah to blow his old team away in the first leg. Liverpool to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
First leg: Apr. 25, 2:45 p.m. ET at Allianz Arena
Second leg: May 1, 2:45 p.m. ET at Santiago Bernabeu

A proper heavyweight clash as Bayern and Real do battle knowing that whoever wins will be the favorites in the final. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his life (again) after a slow start to this season and Zinedine Zidane’s side made hard work of it against Juventus in the last round but are on course for a third-straight UCL trophy. As for Bayern, they have been in imperious form and you feel like Robert Lewandowski can get the better of Real’s center backs. Expect this to be a tight game with extremely high quality from both teams. Real being at home in the second leg is a big advantage. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate. 

Cologne’s Hector extends contract despite likely relegation

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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Germany defender Jonas Hector has shunned reported interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by extending his contract with Cologne – despite the club’s almost certain relegation from the Bundesliga.

Cologne, eight points from safety with three games remaining, says its 27-year-old captain has signed a two-year extension to 2023 instead of using a release clause in his contract.

Hector, who has been at the club since 2010, says, “It wouldn’t have been a problem to switch to another club after this season but it didn’t feel right for me. I belong to Cologne and want to tackle the new season with the team and the fans behind us.”

Cologne sporting director Armin Veh says Hector’s decision is, “a great signal for the team, the club and our fans.”

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.