Talking about Landon Donovan’s latest LA Galaxy night

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Perhaps a surprising start for Landon Donovan on Saturday should not have been such a surprise after all, not considering the guy’s career-long reputation for superior fitness.

Still, the guy has been back on the field for just two weeks – following that four-month sabbatical that began immediately after last year’s MLS Cup triumph – and trained with the team for less than three. So to see the guy run, pass, trap and shoot for a full 90 minutes Saturday, just three days after going a full 90 in the Galaxy’s important CONCACAF Champions League match in Monterrey on Wednesday night, was fairly impressive stuff.

(MORE: Highlights of Saturday’s Galaxy loss)

Three things to take away from Donovan’s night, which both he and Bruce Arena admitted were hardly the best minutes he’ll ever supply for the Galaxy. What they both said in a nutshell: it will get better.

  • On Donovan’s level of fitness and his overall physical conditioning, it’s not there – but it’s not bad. Forgotten in all the other things to talk about in an eventful Texas night was this: It was Donovan’s burst along the right, past two FCD defenders, that helped arrange the Galaxy’s second-half penalty kick (which he would miss, just the third PK failure for Donovan in 37 MLS career attempts.) Clearly, the man still has that burst – even if he has to carefully, strategically apply it for the time being.
  • Sometime before the 70th minute, Arena pulled Donovan back from his forward position, asking him to play along the right for 10-man LA. (Down to 10 following Leonardo’s ejection for pulling down FCD’s Blas Perez.) Think about that: with a lot of defending ahead, and even though Donovan was clearly nowhere near full fitness, Arena trusted his veteran attacker pull midfield duty, even when younger, more fully fit types were available. We are talking about a very wise manager, and he was demonstrating tremendous faith.
  • Donovan was clearly keeping himself fit (at least reasonably so) while on break. That’s the only explanation for the U.S. international’s ability to make a difference so quickly. Plus, the sabbatical apparently provided Donovan a good chance to heal all those little injuries he was carrying from extended use over last couple of years.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.

WATCH: Snazzy Sargent goal leads U.S. U-17s past Mexico

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Josh Sargent scored a pretty goal as the United States Soccer program had another banner day against Mexico.

Nearly two months to the day after the U.S. U-20 side beat Mexico for the first time in 31 years, the U.S. U-17 topped El Tri for the first time ever. That win snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak.

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The goal is the first of Sargent’s two goals, as the 16-year-old latched onto a long diagonal ball and used his right foot and head to move the ball into position for a strong shot.

The U.S. clinches a spot in the next round of U-17 World Cup qualifying with one match remaining in group play.

Sargent is from St. Louis and plays with Scott Gallagher-Missouri. Former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth coaches the U.S. U-17s.

Heads of South American soccer sent $128M in bank transfers

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) The leaders of South America’s soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation’s former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning in 2013 for what he said were health reasons.

The audit also found $58 million in payments “to third parties without adequate documentation,” payments of $33.3 million to “unidentified accounts,” and $10.4 million to “suspicious third-parties.”

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“We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL who commissioned the audit last year. “Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”

Leoz, 88, is one of three ex-presidents of CONMEBOL accused on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice. He is in Paraguay fighting extradition to the United States.

The South American body has been plagued by corruption, which was exposed two years ago during the FIFA scandal. Leoz’s two successors, Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout, were both arrested on corruption charges.

“I’m here, I’m the manager” – Moyes will not quit Sunderland

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This has been one horrible stretch for David Moyes.

The Sunderland manager probably thought he’d been through the worst once he left Real Sociedad, where he went 12-15-15.

But he’s managed just seven wins and seven draws in 38 matches in charge of the Black Cats — an 18 percent win mark. He’s also been charged for threatening to slap a female journalist.

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And after Wednesday, Moyes has lost both of his derby matches against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland is 12 points back of safety with five matches left. The odds the Black Cats are headed for the Championship are somewhere north of 99 percent, and fans are calling for his job.

Well, he isn’t quitting. From the BBC:

“No, I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose.

“There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”