John Terry willing to end international retirement, Hodgson should pass

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Chelsea’s John Terry is willing to end his hasty international retirement, an offer that should have England manager Roy Hodgson browsing for “Thanks, but no thanks” cards. Though England have proved thin at center half since Terry quit the Three Lions in September, there’s little good that can come from reintegrating the former captain into the current squad.

According to Dominic Fifield at the Guardian, Terry has his sights set on Brazil 2014, a change of heart partially motivated by impending changes at the top of The FA. David Bernstein, the current chairman of England’s federation, is set to step own later this year, and as we learned last week, Terry still resents Bernstein’s part in last year’s suspension for racial abuse.

When he retired from international duty, Terry called his position within the England national team “untenable.” Rather than represent a federation that was willing to ban him four games after he’d been cleared in a court of law, the Chelsea captain chose to walk away. At the time, it looked like a principled stand. Rather than persist in squad in which he was arguably still a starter, Terry was willing to call it an early day on a 78-cap career.

Now, with Terry’s potential comeback coinciding with Bernstein’s upcoming departure, his September retirement seems like a unsuccessful power play. That, or retirement seems more political than we may have originally thought. If I’m going to be suspended, I’ll just retire. Oh, nobody’s rallying to the cause? Um …

While there will always be a faction of onlookers who ascribe cynical motives to Terry, there was previously reason to believe his decision stemmed from a desire to eliminate a negative from his life. And there’s still reason to believe those were his thoughts, at the time. But now, with this willingness to make a quick about face that coincides with his snub of Bernstein? It casts that hasty retirement in another light.

You hate to say that if Terry’s simply had a change of heart. It’s entirely possible that he retired, regrets his decision, and now wants to rejoin his national team, a realization you wouldn’t begrudge anybody. Yet that indecisiveness only adds to the baggage Terry carries back into the national team, a history Hodgson need not engage when Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, and Chris Smalling (and perhaps even Rio Ferdinand) are all viable options.

Although Terry’s post-prime decline has been exaggerated, he is no longer an improvement over that array of decent if unspectacular options, meaning there’s little incentive to bring him back into the team. The volatility that accompanies him is unlikely to be matched by an increased chance of success in Brazil. Though you never want to close a door when, should his center backs against become depleted, Hodgson could use Terry, the England boss may want to steer clear of Terry.

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

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.