Ecuador’s probably going to be at Brazil 2014. They currently sit second in CONMEBOL qualifying, four points back to region-leading Argentina but seven head of Uruguay, whose sixth place standing leaves them one spot short of South America’s playoff spot. Now up to 10th in the (admittedly deceiving) FIFA rankings, Ecuador’s a team on the rise, even if their goal difference hints their results may regress.
Regardless, Reinaldo Rueda’s team should have been expected to a challenge for a German national team that was without all of its stars. Neither Bayern Munich nor Borussia Dortmund players took part, while Real Madrid midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira are still with the Merengues (the Spanish season ending June 1). Joachim Löw’s team was a collection of second and third-teamers, one that should have been at a disadvantage against Antonio Valencia, Christian Benítez, and Felipe Caicedo.
But when the teams kicked off this afternoon in Boca Raton, Germany held all the advantages. Lukas Podolski scored in the first minute and added another at the 17-minute mark. In between Lars Bender had doubled Germany’s lead, and when the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder completed his own double in the 24th, Löw’s side had an early four-goal lead.
Antonio Valencia scored before halftime, and Walter Ayovi added a very late second, leaving the final a slightly more explicable 4-2, but for an Ecuador side that resumes World Cup qualifying June 7 in Peru, the performance was a worrying way to transition into an important summer. Giving up four goals in 24 minutes against anybody should send a coach through the roof, but against a team that chose reserves at every position? It was embarrassing.
As for the Germans, next up is … well, look at this: the United States, Sunday, at RFK Stadium. So much for a weakened Germany.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
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Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
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The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
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Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.