Herculez Gomez of the U.S. speaks to the media before attending a national soccer team practice session at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico

Herculez Gomez wants back in MLS…he’s just not sure when


Who wouldn’t love to see Herculez Gomez back in MLS – if only because it would strip away his  ability to be  such an MLS thorn in CONCACAF Champions League?

Seriously, there are so many reasons why most clubs would love for the U.S.  international to fall into their roster. First and foremost, the guy can score; he’s a regular for a strong Liga MX side and a U.S. national team starter.

He’s a standup guy who has established great relationships with supporters through social media. The Santos Laguna man is an American who now enjoys tremendous respect in Mexico for his accomplishments there, so he carries a fantastic cross-over marketing value.

Gomez had his time in MLS – and it came and went with mixed results at Colorado, Los Angeles and Kansas City. Gomez got an opportunity in 2010 with Puebla in Mexico – at a time when the opportunities weren’t exactly flying in – and his career was suddenly off and flying.

The U.S. international is fairly diplomatic when he talks about his time in MLS and how things didn’t always fall his way. But never mind all that; not only does Gomez sound like someone who wants to get back into the league, he suggested during an interview with Soccer Today that day might not be long in coming. (Full disclosure: Soccer Today is a weekly radio show/podcast that I host along with ESPN’s Marc Stein.)

Gomez was in Dallas last week visiting with friends from his MLS days and watching the FC Dallas-LA Galaxy match. He spoke with Soccer Today the following morning, saying he loves his time in Mexico but mentioning that he has recently turned 31. Home is home, after all, and so many stars who find greater fortune in Europe or Mexico long  for the chance to finish back in our country.

The question was about playing once again in MLS “down the road.”

It might be sooner than you guys think. I’ve been enjoying myself playing [in Mexico]. But I’m at a point in my in my life right now where I have a lot more, and MLS is extremely attractive. What I’ve done in Mexico, I’m extremely proud of. It’s not just that I’m scoring goals, but I’ve been put in difference environments, other different situations, been kind of set up to fail, you might so, and I overcame. That’s something I’ve hung my hat on. …

I’d like to think somewhere out there, there is another opportunity somewhere out there for me in MLS. I’d like to be part of that, because I think that’s important.”

When pressed about whether that “somewhere out there” might even be this summer, Gomez reacted the way a professional should – by reminding us that he’s a proud member of Santos Laguna, focused tightly on the team’s busy spring schedule and everything his  club has on its target of accomplishments. He said it’s difficult to look ahead.

From my standpoint, I can’t look that far, can’t look past this summer. … Right now I’m thinking about what it’s going to take to win the double this summer. After we do that, and after we do the national team, I’ll start thinking about my future. Santos has to come to a decision this summer, whether they want me to stay, whether they want me to go. Something is going to happen this summer. … I’ve been fortunate enough to come this far, been fortunate enough to see what I’ve seen, to have done what I’ve done. And this ride has been amazing. It will continue, and whatever is in store is in store. Right now I’m just enjoying life.

Gomez’s portion of the hour-long show linked above begins at about the 35-minute mark.

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.

Phil Neville praises Juan Mata’s play to Manchester United

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Juan Mata has appeared in 116 matches for Manchester United since moving to Old Trafford in 2014. In that time, Mata has scored 29 goals and recorded 18 assists.

Despite his performance for the team, some thought Mata would be moved when Jose Mourinho came to town, including former United player and assistant coach Phil Neville.

Neville told Sky Sports, “I actually thought he would be the first out of the door when Jose came, but he’s actually becoming one of the most important players.”

Neville praised Mata’s contributions and versatility for United. “He is never injured, he provides a lot of assists, he plays in two or three different positions, and he scores important goals.”

Manchester United has lacked an identity under Mourinho and recently faltered in the Premier League as the team is winless in its last three matches.

[ MORE: Mourinho gets FA charge ]

Could Mata be the answer to some of United’s problems?

The Spaniard is a classic No. 10 with the ability to dictate his team’s attack and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Mata can also put the ball in the back of the net as evidenced by his winner against Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

Mourinho has options in the center midfield with the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick in addition to Mata on the roster.

However, given the team’s Premier League struggles, it could be worth giving Mata a chance as the team’s No. 10.

David Moyes faces FA charges after being sent off during EFL Cup

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David Moyes and Sunderland have gotten off to one of the worst starts in Premier League history.

If they fail to earn a point against Arsenal this weekend, they will tie the 1995-96 Manchester City team for the worst start ever through 10 matches with two points.

It appears those frustrations carried over to the EFL Cup for Moyes. On Wednesday, the manager was forced to leave the dugout toward the end of Sunderland’s 1-0 loss to Southampton after he protested a no-call from referee Chris Kavanagh.

Moyes was charged by the FA for his protests, saying the manager “used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official”.

It’s just another thing to add to Moyes’ plate as he looks to keep Sunderland’s hopes of safety alive in the Premier League.