Honduran international Maynor Figueroa completes move to Hull City

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Having finished second in the Football Championship, Hull City have vaulted onto this site’s agenda, with the Tigers set to make their English Premier League return in August. That means Steve Bruce, their manager, is back on our watch lists, as is Honduran international Maynor Figueroa, who has completed a move to the KC Stadium.

Figueroa just finished a five-season run at Wigan, one which ended with both an FA Cup and relegation to the second division. With the 30-year-old’s contract expired at with the Latics, Bruce was able to acquire the center/left back on a free transfer.

The move represents a reunion between player and coach. Bruce, while at Wigan in 2008, brought Figueroa to England from Honduran powerhouse Olimpia, part of a scouting program that saw Wigan leverage then under-utilized areas in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Antonio Valencia (Ecuador), Hugo Rodallega (Colombia), and Emmerson Boyce (Barbados) also saw time at Wigan before Bruce moved on to Sunderland.

Figueroa:

 “When [Hull] were playing the final few games in the Championship, I paid close attention to the results because I wanted Steve Bruce to achieve promotion.”

“I was happy for him to earn the success. He is a great manager and I’m looking forward to working with him again. I’m happy to be here and to be a part of the club. It is a big challenge for me, but it’s certainly one I’m looking forward to.”

It as under Bruce’s successor, however, that Figueroa crafted his enduring moment at Wigan, with this goal against Stoke City coming during Roberto Martínez’s debut campaign (2009-10):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56hhfQjep_A]

In the two years since Figueroa’s play has slipped. While at one time you could argue Figueroa was one of the Premier League’s under-appreciated defenders, much of last season his spot was a point in need of an upgrade. Perhaps that was a function of him playing in a back three, or maybe it was a reflection of regressing skill. Regardless, for both club and country, Figueroa’s not quite the player he was in 2010.

That player may still be an upgrade for Hull, who have a lot of work to do to position themselves for Premier League survival, but on a free and likely to resume being a back-four’s left back, Figueroa may prove a prudent use of limited resources.

Figueroa’s Honduras national team will face the U.S. tomorrow in Sandy, Utah, each team’s sixth match of their 10-round CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying final round. Figueroa, however, is expected to miss the match through injury.

Rapids add longtime Bundesliga winger Aigner from 1860 Munich (highlights)

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The Colorado Rapids are hoping for an injection of offense from veteran Bundesliga right winger Stefan Aigner.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old has played 274 games between the first and second tiers of German soccer, with 25 goals and 25 assists in Bundesliga play and a further 31 and 25 in the second tier.

Most recently with 2.Bundesliga side 1860 Munich for a third time, he’s played most of his career between Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt.

[ MORE: BVB’s Merino to Newcastle ]

Aigner has the resume to succeed and perhaps star in MLS, especially if he wasn’t slowed too much by a knee injury last season (He returned and produced at the 2.Bundesliga level).

Here’s what Rapids interim general manager Padraig Smith said:

“We’re excited to add a player of Stefan’s caliber to our roster for the next three-and-a-half years,” said Smith. “As an organization we are committed to fielding a forward-thinking side and bringing in Stefan – a technical and versatile player who can excel in multiple attacking roles – will help us achieve that vision.”

UEFA Champions League wrap: Celtic held; U.S. GK Horvath busy

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It was a busy night in the UEFA Champions League, with clubs battling for berths in the playoff round where they could draw big names Liverpool, Napoli, Sevilla, Sporting CP or Hoffenheim.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 


Club Brugge 3-3 Istanbul Basaksehir

American backstop Ethan Horvath was under siege at home, but his Club Brugge side overcame throwing away a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-3 draw with İstanbul Başakşehir. The three road goals will give the Turkish visitors every reason to feel good about the Aug. 2 second leg.

Celtic 0-0 Rosenborg

Brendan Rodgers‘ Scottish champions outshot the visitors 12-8, but couldn’t find a way into the goal. Now the Bhoys will have to score in Norway to advance to the next round.

Nice 1-1 Ajax

Mario Balotelli‘s 32nd minute staked Nice to a halftime lead, but the UEFA Europa League finalists snared an away goal through Donny van de Beek to send Ajax back to Holland with a slim advantage.

UCL first legs

Tuesday
Qarabag 0-0 Sheriff
Slavia Prague 1-0 BATE Borisov
AEK Athens 0-2 CSKA Moscow
Steaua Bucharest 2-2 Plzen
Vardar 1-0 Copenhagen
Partizan Belgrade 1-3 Olympiacos

Wednesday
Astana 3-1 Legia Warsaw
Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 Young Boys
RB Salzburg 1-1 Rijeka
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-0 Ludogorets Razgrad
Viitorul 1-0 APOEL Nicosia
Maribor 1-0 FH

Terim steps down as Turkey manager after restaurant fight

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) Turkey’s soccer federation says it has parted ways with national team manager Fatih Terim.

The announcement on Wednesday came weeks after Terim and his two sons-in-law were involved in a fight with a restaurant owner.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 

The Turkish Football Federation statement said Terim, 63, and the federation agreed that “it would be healthier for both sides to part ways,” saying non-football related issues were harming both Terim and the federation.

It also thanked Terim, who has headed the national team since 2013, for his services.

Terim previously managed Galatasaray, Milan and Fiorentina. There was no word on who would replace him.

BVB mid Merino reportedly undergoing Newcastle medical

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It’s been a wild year for Mikel Merino, and now the Spaniard is close to playing for a legend from his home country.

Merino joined Borussia Dortmund from Osasuna last summer, and the 21-year-old had a hard time getting playing time under Thomas Tuchel.

[ MORE: Gold Cup Final preview ]

A defensive midfielder who also plays center back and a bit further up the pitch, Merino is set to join Rafa Benitez on loan at Newcastle United for the club’s return to the Premier League next month.

Merino was photographed in Newcastle on Wednesday, and would join a central midfield with Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden. Both players thrived in the Championship last season.

The Magpies turned Christian Atsu‘s loan permanent to start the summer, and then purchased Florian Lejeune, Jacob Murphy, and Javier Manquillo.