Costa Rica v United States

Should Carlos Bocanegra seek MLS return?


With the Spanish league season almost over, USMNT veteran Carlos Bocanegra has a big decision to make.

In case you forgot, the former Chicago Fire standout is still a Glasgow Rangers player. But they of course are due to begin life in the Scottish Second Division next season, after winning promotion from the four-tier of Scottish soccer this campaign.

So should Bocanegra stick with Rangers after his loan with Racing finishes? Or head back to MLS? Or go elsewhere?

It really is an intriguing question.

The long-time USMNT defender and national team captain is in the twilight of his career but he certainly has two or three seasons left in him.

And it appears there are plenty of willing suitors. “There’s interest in MLS, England and a few clubs on the continent,” Bocanegra’s agent told yesterday. “We’re looking at his options.”

Which teams would be chasing Bocanegra, I hear you you cry. Let’s take a gander.

Well, first and foremost, his old club Chicago are struggling this season. The could really use his veteran leadership in defense but with Arne Friedrich already back there and often injured, do the Fire really want to use plenty of allocation money on another 30-plus defender? Time will tell.

But it would be the most likely option after Bocanegra blew everyone away with Rookie of the season awards and helped Bob Bradley’s Fire side dominate MLS after arriving in the league during the 1998 season.

(More: Bocanegra headed back to Rangers?)

Elsewhere in MLS, the 33-year-old defender could be extremely useful for D.C. United, Toronto FC and just about any side come to that matter. Where would he want to play, is probably the better question.

Bocanegra’s season on loan at Racing Santander hasn’t gone well, they’re currently five points from safety with four games to go in Liga Adelante. While Bocanegra has only played eight times for Racing as they spiral towards the Spanish third-tier.

Now Boca is way down the pecking order in Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT setup and this next move must be the right one if he harbors any hopes of making the USA’s 2014 World Cup squad, if they make it to Brazil.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia