Robert Earnshaw

Toronto FC roster improving; but is it enough?

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I respect Toronto FC boss Ryan Nelsen for not being satisfied with less. It really is commendable that he can watch his team, game after game, give up terrible goals at terrible times and not say what all of us are thinking: the players just aren’t good enough.

So I’ll say it for him: the players aren’t good enough. The roster isn’t good enough.

TFC is trying to do something about it, adding veteran players lately, including another one today in Israeli international Tal Ben Haim. Still, you have to wonder if guys like 32-year-old Scottish defender Steven Caldwell, New Zealand forward Jeremy Brockie and Haim have enough in them to be the game-changers needed at BMO Field?

Nelsen has a point when he tells MLSSoccer.com that teams aren’t “earning” goals against TFC. Bad marking, lost focus, poor positioning, failure to deal with routine balls in the box, etc., it’s all biting TFC as yet another season around Exhibition Place wanders off into the wilderness.

If not for woeful D.C. United, TFC would be right back in its old, unfortunately familiar home, in last place in the East. The latest setback was last night’s 2-1 loss to San Jose

What Nelsen said:

I think we were playing really well. They defended the box, were confident on the ball, got the goal and were looking very comfortable. Then [we] switched off on a throw in during the second half. It was just an unbelievably soft goal, but we have been doing that all season. I don’t think an opposition team has earned a goal against us yet. It has just been cases of us switching off and they just walk it though into the back of the net.”

Again, though, the overriding, unavoidable issue is a roster than just isn’t good enough. That’s not totally surprising considering the rebuild effort that president Kevin Payne and, subsequently, Nelsen, knew they were getting themselves into. Still, that may ring hollow at some point to TFC fans, who have long deserved better.

Robert Earnshaw’s opportunistic goals have propped up an offense that doesn’t have much imagination or punch otherwise. TFC is15th in shots, 14th in shots on goal among the league’s 19 teams. (Danny Koevermans’ eventual return to health should help, it should be noted.)

Things are just as bleak in the back, where even veteran Darren O’Dea has made crushing mistakes at the worst times. Despite good goalkeeping by Joe Bendik the team’s 15 goals allowed is tied for second worst in MLS (although by goals per game, Nelsen’s men are ahead of a few teams.)

The new faces certainly will not hurt; the question is, “Are they enough?” Because there is a lot of field left to plow here.

Peru extradites ex-soccer boss to US on bribery charges

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 13: A FIFA logo next to the entrance during part I of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 13, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.

Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.

He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.

Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.

San Jose Earthquakes release Clarence Goodson, eight others

San Jose Earthquakes forward Quincy Amarikwa (25) is mobbed by teammates after scoring against the Portland Timbers during the first half of an MLS soccer match Sunday, March 13, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.

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The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.

Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.

Napoli beats Inter 3-0 in Serie A after lightning start

NAPLES, ITALY - DECEMBER 02:  Players of Napoli celebrate the opening goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and FC Internazionale at Stadio San Paolo on December 2, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines heading into weekend ]

The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.

[ MORE: Ronaldo, Mourinho involved in massive tax evasion system ]

Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.

It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.

Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.

Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.

Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Report: Paraguayan midfielder Almiron to join Atlanta United for $13 million

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 11:  Miguel Almiron #17 of Paraguay tries to keep the ball as John Brooks #6 of United States slides in the first half during the Copa America Centenario Group C match at Lincoln Financial Field on June 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.

According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.

Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.

On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.