Landon Donovan

LA Galaxy needs a penalty kick shooter; apply within

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You don’t have to be Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson all rolled into one – that’s one big mass of managerial brilliance, don’t you know? – to see certain things about the game with crystal clarity.

Here’s a great “for instance:”  Someone other than Landon Donovan needs to step up on penalty kick duty next time an MLS ref points to the spot for the Galaxy.

Donovan was once among the country’s most reliable figures from the 12-yard mark. Never mind that silly, involved little hand dance that once preceded his spot shots, he was money just the same.

(On the national team, too … although those numbers are surprisingly difficult to turn up. I’ll keep trying.)

As the 2012 MLS season closed, Donovan was 24 for 26 in regular season penalty kicks. You can slice and dice stats until you are blue in the soccer face, but you could not turn those numbers any way that wouldn’t look damned impressive.

But Donovan … well, he just isn’t there right now. He couldn’t squeeze one past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez three weeks ago. Then last night at home, Donovan could not beat Houston’s Tally Hall.

Watch them both below. Meanwhile, here’s what Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said about it:

Never good to miss a penalty kick. We’re probably going to have to change that. He’s missed two in two games that we’ve lost, 1-0. Not good, so we probably need to make a change there.”

One problem is in the lack of an obvious choice to fill in for Donovan. Make no mistake: not everyone has a big enough bag of practice balls to step up and hit these. Robbie Keane certainly does, but he’s been hurt lately. Plus, he’ll miss more time this summer due to Ireland internationals.

Juninho? Marcelo Sarvas? One of the young kids now on patrol along the Galaxy front line? We may soon find out.

First, the thwarted effort in a 1-0 loss at FC Dallas:



And then last night’s shot, hit to just about the same spot and saved by Houston’s Tally Hall. Note the stutter-step, rather than the more confidence “stride up and smack it” approach:


Klopp to the Kop: Multiple reports say deal agreed at Liverpool

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24:  Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp shouts to his players during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Juventus and Borussia Dortmund at Juventus Arena on February 24, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp is on his way to Liverpool to sign a contract naming him the next coach of the Reds.

The celebrated manager, 48, has been on “hiatus” from football since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season.

[ MORE: Messi to stand trial in Spain ]

Reports starting emerging earlier today that an agreement was imminent, and now the BBC is among those reporting that Klopp will be rolled out Friday morning.

From the BBC:

No contract has yet been signed but that is viewed as a formality when Klopp arrives in Liverpool later on Thursday. He will be officially unveiled by Liverpool on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.

There’s not much to say besides this: Klopp’s addition to the Premier League will give more color and brilliance to the country’s footballing scene. Only a certain class of manager can be instantly expected to find a better system for an inherited group of players.

This could and should be a game changer on Merseyside.

Appeal rejected! Lionel Messi will face court trial in Spain

VIGO, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 23:  Lionel Messi looks dejected after the La Liga match between Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona at Estadio Balaidos on September 23, 2015 in Vigo, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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It was a mere 48 hours ago that Lionel Messi looked close to in the clear when it came to tax evasion charges.

Now the question is whether a Spanish court will lock away the greatest active footballer, as a judge rejected the prosecutors’ (!!!) request to drop the charges.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

Messi and his father have already made a $5.5 million corrective payment, but there’s principle in play here. And the judge wants to know how Messi can claim he had no idea what was being done with his money.

From the BBC:

Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing, according to the AFP news agency.

Can you imagine one of the world’s richer men ending up in a Spanish prison? It’s very difficult to consider. In some ways it’s more plausible that he would buy his own island and start the “Messi Isle Premiership”.

Still, we won’t laugh off the idea, especially with FIFA apparently going down. Messi in prison. That’s something. Sepp in Switzerland. Lionel in Spain.