Megan Rapinoe, now in her second stint with French champions Olympique Lyon, started in her teams 4-0 win at FC Twente on Wednesday.

It’s piling on for Reign FC, who may permanently lose Megan Rapinoe to Lyon

Leave a comment

That cloud on the horizon – the huge, Nothing-esque presence that started to form the day Megan Rapinoe left for Lyon – has finally been blown over Starfire Sports, imposing itself on Reign FC’s season just as it seemed things couldn’t get worse.

The team’s off to a 0-6-1 start, worse in the new NWSL. They’ve lost their last three games by a combined 9-2. Amy Rodríguez is out, pregnant. Hope Solo’s four weeks away from returning to the team. And Rapinoe, the person the team’s counting on to provide some scoring punch, won’t be back from france until late June.

Now comes news that Rapinoe’s upcoming half-season stay may be her only time with Reign FC. While speaking with Sports Illustrated, the U.S. international confessed talks are ongoing about a return to Lyon. According to Grant Wahl, “she’s also leaning toward coming back to Lyon for 2013-14.”

From the piece:

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m definitely thinking about coming back and playing another season here,” she said, noting that the pay is better in Europe, especially with the exchange rate. “There’s interest from both sides, from me and Lyon. It’s worked out well mutually.”

The pay difference is huge. According to league director Cheryl Bailey, the high-paid player in the NWSL is making $30,000 for their five-plus months service. Players of Rapinoe’s stature can make six-times that, albeit over a long season.

It’s an opportunity more players should explore. If it weren’t for the allegiance most stars feel toward the league — the sense of responsibility toward creating something at home — players beyond Rapinoe and Paris Saint-Germain’s Tobin Heath (allocated to Portland) would be playing in Europe.

All this doesn’t necessarily mean Rapinoe will be completely done with Seattle after this NWSL season (as, in fairness, I hint above). Not only is her deal with Lyon not done, but even if it was, she could still conceivably return to Seattle next summer, even though you’d think Lyon would like to avoid that type of arrangement.

And who knows if Rapinoe would even want to return. It’s no secret that she wanted to be allocated to Portland, where she lives and went to school. She was effusive about the possibility of playing in her hometown before allocation game. Dispersed to Seattle, the charm of the NWSL may have worn off. If she’s not playing at home, might as well play in Lyon? Or perhaps the money and team are just too good to turn down.

Regardless, Seattle’s bad luck continues. Rodriguez is out for the year. Solo’s still recovering. Rapinoe’s coming back, but by the sound of it, it may not be for long. The club’s first months have turned into a storm Reign FC must ride out.

Rapinoe and Lyon play for a third-straight UEFA Champoins League title on Thursday, with the French champions taking on German titlists VfL Wolfsburg at Stamford Bridge.

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.