In New York City, Chelsea fans dwarf City supporters – But for how long?

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For anyone who watched last night’s exhibition match between Manchester City and Chelsea, one thing was clear – the greater New York City area is currently Chelsea territory.

Just as they did last summer for their club’s exhibition against Paris Saint-Germain at the same venue, Blues supporters showed up in droves at Yankee Stadium. In fact, but for a small pocket of approximately 2,000 City supporters down third base line, the vast majority of the crowd was Chelsea blue, through-and-through.

The disparity wasn’t surprising.

Chelsea’s success in England and Europe – as well as being a London based club – are factors that have served as natural attractions for Americans who follow the Premier League.

If you speak to any member of the New York Blues – the official Supporters club of Chelsea based in Manhattan – many of them began supporting Frank Lampard & Co. after living in London (for study abroad or work) during the early 2000’s. It was at this time that Chelsea burst into an era of prominence as Roman Abramovich bought the club, hired Jose Mourinho, and soon thereafter won back-to-back league championships (2004-05, 2005-06).

This was an age when the Premier League was enjoying a surge of prominence in the United States and many fans found themselves feverishly searching for a team to call their own. Each person’s respective reason for supporting an English club didn’t really matter, as long as it made sense in his/her head.

You want to support Chelsea? Great.

You like Manchester United? Nice choice.

You’re an Arsenal man? They play a great brand of football.

But very few American fans who began watching the Premiership at the turn of the century were chomping at the bit to support Manchester City. After being relegated in 2001-02, the Citizens spent most of the decade in mid-table purgatory before being bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008. Within a year the club purchased a roster of top quality players and by the 2010-11 season, the Citizens had qualified for the Europa League.

City’s recent rise – combined with being based in a city less frequented by Americans, not to mention the home of their championship winning neighbors, United – means that the club’s stronghold in America simply isn’t that strong.

But don’t expect it to stay that way.

If City’s marketing department is anywhere as well-funded and determined as their player acquisition department, things in the tri-state area will begin to change over the next 5-10 years. While it’s unlikely that American fans of Premier League clubs will be changing allegiances, non-aligned Premiership fans (as well as the new wave of supporters) are likely to find their way into the sky blue kit as the game continues to spread stateside.

But how can we be sure that City’s presence in the U.S. will change?

Buying a Major League Soccer club is a pretty good start.

UCL wrap: Napoli, Celtic win big; Nwakaeme volleys beauty (video)

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A day after three of five road sides felt good with their work in first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round, it was the hosts time to celebrate good results.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL first legs ]

Home sides in Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Israel posted wins. Spanish side Sevilla did manage a road win.

Napoli 2-0 Nice

Chances and even possession was at a premium for the visitors, and Napoli found its breakthrough from one of the more overlooked gems in the world. Dries Mertens scored in the first half, his sixth career UCL goal, and Jorginho converted a second half penalty to give Napoli a foot in the group stage.

Adding insult was a pair of red cards in the 80th minute, the first to Vincent Koziello for a dangerous tackle (it was a harsh call) and Alassane Plea was given a second yellow for protesting the sending off.

Mertens’ goal was smooth as silk:

Celtic 5-0 Astana

A pair of Scott Sinclair goals joined an Astana own goal as the Bhoys went a long way towards avoiding the tight tie that made the last round tricky.

Olympiacos 2-1 Rijeka

Heber gave the visitors a halftime lead in the 42nd minute, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe equalized in the 66th minute to minimize the damage for Olympiacos, who would go on to win.

Istanbul Basaksehir 1-2 Sevilla

Remember Eljero Elia? The Dutchman’s on his eighth club and third since leaving Southampton after just a half season, but he’s given his Turkish side hope against mighty Sevilla after Sergio Escudero gave the Spanish side an early lead and Wissam Ben Yedder nabbed the winner.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-1 Maribor

Goals from Anthony Nwakaeme and Shir Tzedek boosted the Israeli hosts to a come-from-behind win.

In the case of the former, it was a beauty:

Brighton breaks transfer record (again) with Izquierdo (video)

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Brighton and Hove Albion have broken its transfer record.

A week after setting a new club standard with the signing of Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven, the Gulls have signed electric Colombian attacker Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge for over $15 million.

[ MORE: Matuidi medical at Juve ]

Izquierdo averaged a goal every other match for Brugge last season and broke through to the Colombian national team with two caps this summer, scoring in a friendly against Cameroon.

With Propper and Izquierdo, manager Chris Hughton has two more playmakers who can better set the table for a strike corps that has been questioned at the Premier League level.

Brighton lost to Man City 2-0 on Saturday and next faces Leicester City at King Power Stadium.

Matuidi having a medical at Juventus ahead of move from PSG

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi was having a medical at Juventus on Wednesday ahead of a potential move to the Serie A club.

Juventus said that Matuidi arrived at Turin airport in the afternoon and was undergoing tests.

Juventus will reportedly pay PSG 20 million euros ($23 million) plus bonuses for the 30-year-old Matuidi, who had a year left on his contract with the French club.

[ MORE: Wenger issues updates on Alexis, Ox, Wilshere ]

PSG, which is also trying to balance the books after buying Neymar for 222 million euros, could not afford to lose Matuidi on a free transfer.

Matuidi played nearly 300 games for PSG in all competitions after joining from Saint-Etienne in 2011.

After a difficult first season, he quickly became an integral part of the team for successive managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.

He flourished from a largely defensive midfielder to a robust, tireless runner with an eye for goal and an enormous work-rate.

Overcoming some technical deficiencies in his game, Matuidi gradually earned himself a place in the France lineup and became a key player at the 2014 World Cup and last year’s European Championship.

At the beginning of last season, after Blanc was fired and replaced by Unai Emery, he expressed a desire to leave PSG and already wanted to join Juventus. But the club blocked his move, considering him too important to leave, and he stayed for another season.

Altogether, Matuidi has scored 33 goals for PSG in 295 appearances, becoming a well-respected player among fans and teammates alike, often taking a public stance when others would not and when tensions arose within the club.

In all, Matuidi has won four league titles, three French Cups and four League Cups with PSG.

This story has been corrected to show that Neymar’s fee was 222 million euros, not 220 million euros.

Furious Cristiano Ronaldo responds to five-game ban

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the Spanish soccer federation after his five game ban for pushing a referee in the back was upheld.

Ronaldo, 32, pushed the ref after he was shown a second yellow card in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at Barcelona on Sunday.

It capped an eventful El Clasico for Ronaldo who arrived in the second half as a sub, then scored a stunner to put Real 2-1 up.

He received his first yellow for taking off his shirt and holding it up to the Nou Camp crowd to mock Lionel Messi for doing the same in a goal celebration in April at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldo then received a second yellow for going down in the box under a challenge.

In an Instagram post the Real Madrid forward had the following to say about the decision which sees him banned for the second leg ag the Bernabeu on Wednesday as well as Real’s next four games.

“It seems to me exaggerated and ridiculous, this is called persecution.”