Luis Suarez commits himself to Liverpool, possesses ‘group mentality’

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Ahead of today’s massive fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea, Luis Suarez has calmed the nerves of the Kop by telling the Sunday Times that he will be at Anfield when next season rolls around.

“I’ll be here next season, yes,” Suarez said. “Not only am I playing for Liverpool, I am playing in one of the best leagues in the world.

“I am very happy (at Liverpool) and I want to see out my contract, though in football you never know quite what’s ahead.”

The Uruguayan appeared to leave a little wiggle room with the later portion of the statement, but Reds supporters will nevertheless find comfort in Suarez’ qualification, adding:  “A club can decide they don’t want you, even though you want to stay. In football things never turn out the way you plan.”

Like all top players, Suarez dreams of playing in the Champions League but with five matches to play and 11 points away from qualification, Liverpool won’t be involved in the competition next season. German giants Bayern Munich, however, will be. And with Pep Guardiola set to take over as manager, the Bavarians have made no secret of their admiration for Suarez. The buzz of interest has compelled Liverpool to regularly down-play the reports of Suarez’ possible departure and up until Sunday only veiled references indicated the striker’s intent to stay.

If Suarez were to depart it would be a crushing blow to Liverpool, who’s striking options would be left to Daniel Sturridge, on-loan striker Andy Carroll and the oft-injured Fabio Borini. Of course, a transfer of the striker would bring in a haul of $45-$90 million with which to find a suitable replacement. But if the Reds are to compete in next season’s Premiership, the constant shuffling of the attack is something that the club will look to avoid.

With 29 goals to his name, Suarez has provided Liverpool with the lion’s share of their scoring leading to his short-listing for PFA Player of the Year earlier this week. When asked whether he would have preferred to help Liverpool win a trophy and score fewer goals, the striker said: “Yes, 100 times more. I’ve got very much a group mentality.”

It’s a mindset Reds supporters will hope persists through what promises to be a drama-filled summer in the transfer market.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.