SANDY, Utah – Heard often on the night before Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. team met Honduras: “Hey, I didn’t know Eddie Pope was here!”
Everyone seemed so genuinely excited to see the man who stands as one of the truly respected figures around U.S. Soccer and at Real Salt Lake, the club where the former United States center back spent the final two seasons of his decorated career.
He is here officially as part of U.S. Soccer’s ongoing centennial celebration.
Pope, now the director of player relations for the MLS Players Union, made an appearance last night at the U.S. rally, held inside a local music venue and attended by more than 600 fans.
Fans here seemed as excited to see Pope as they were to see the U.S. players who followed. (By the way, how many high level athletes will have this kind of close interaction with fans on the night before such a big match? Truly, another reason U.S. Soccer players have a special relationship with their supporters … and here’s hoping it stays that way as the game develops here.)
Pope answered a few questions, talking about playing alongside Alexi Lalas, about the toughest strikers he ever faced (Oliver Bierhoff, Francesco Totti and Roy Lassiter) and about why he never played in Europe. Mostly, he said, he simply found a place in the game here that suited him.
“Some of it was about timing,” Pope told the crowd. “Some of it was really being proud to help form the game here.”
Pope was a rookie in 1996, Major League Soccer’s inaugural season. He played until 2007.
Leaving Manchester City is proving difficult for longtime backstop Joe Hart.
The English No. 1 is heading out on loan to Torino after dropping down Pep Guardiola‘s depth chart at the Etihad Stadium after 348 appearances for City.
[ MORE: Deadline Day’s done deals ]
Hart needed to play, as he’s still in Sam Allardyce’s plans for England, and couldn’t wait around for a chance in Manchester.
That didn’t stop the 6-foot-5 keeper from a very emotional goodbye in his last City start, last week’s win over Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League.
Days later, the goalkeeper is trying to put it all into words, saying in a Facebook post that he will miss Manchester:
I am very grateful that Torino has given me this opportunity to play for their great club. But the feelings I felt during the recent Steaua Bucharest game will live with me forever. You can’t buy that and I will struggle to replicate them. So thank you for that and all the amazing memories.
Hart joins a Torino side with European aims, and is not the only big name loan on the books. Leandro Castan and Iago Falque have joined the Turin side from AS Roma.
AFC Bournemouth have secured the biggest signing in club history on Transfer Deadline Day.
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, 24, has signed for Bournemouth on a season-long loan deal at the Vitality Stadium.
Put your jaw back in its correct position.
[ LIVE: Every Deadline Day deal ]
Wilshere only became available on Tuesday after holding talks with Arsene Wenger and the outcome was that he wouldn’t get regular minutes with the Gunners this season.
The England international is a star talent and as soon as he became available over 22 teams registered their interest in taking him on loan. Three front-runners emerged early on Wednesday with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and AS Roma all keen on Wilshere.
However, tiny Bournemouth won the race in the Wilshere stakes to dish up the biggest shock of the transfer window so far.
This is a massive transfer coup for Bournemouth.
In only their second-ever season in the Premier League they have landed a star midfielder with vast UEFA Champions League and international experience.
Yes, Wilshere has a history of injuries but now he has the chance to prove everyone wrong and play in a sustained run of games for the Cherries (he was likely fifth or sixth on the depth chart in Arsenal’s midfield this season) as he aims to get his career back on track after several injury-hit seasons.
It is thought that Wilshere preferred playing for Bournemouth over the likes of Palace and Roma due to the style of play of Eddie Howe‘s side as the Arsenal academy product loves to pass and move the ball. He will fit in very nicely for the Cherries on the south coast and will become an instant hit with the Bournemouth faithful as his signing gives them a massive boost after a tough start to the season.
Nobody could’ve predict this move. The madness of Deadline Day lives on.
Tipped for several Premier League destinations, Islam Slimani has joined Algeria teammate Riyad Mahrez at Leicester City.
Slimani, 28, spent the last four seasons as Portuguese powerhouse Sporting Lisbon, scoring a career-best 31 goals last year.
[ MORE: Sissoko to Everton for medical]
He scored two his 23 international goals at the 2014 World Cup, netting against both South Korea and Russia.
Slimani said Mahrez helped with his decision:
He added: “My friend Riyad Mahrez spoke to me about the Club and about the atmosphere the Leicester fans create at King Power Stadium. I will give absolutely everything I have on the pitch for them and for my team-mates and I hope that together we can achieve something special.”
Get the jersey ready. Slimani, Mahrez, Vardy, and Musa could be a deadly bit of depth as Leicester strives to strike hard in the UEFA Champions League.
West Ham United has strengthened their flanks with the addition of two-time UEFA Champions League winner Alvaro Arbeloa.
The 33-year-old back played in the Premier League with Liverpool from 2006-09 before skipping town for Real Madrid.
[ MORE: Sissoko off to Everton for medical ]
Arbeloa has been with Real since, scoring six goals and making 233 total appearances. His appearance dipped to just nine last season, and he’ll finish his time at the Bernabeu with
He also was a part of Spain’s EURO-World Cup-EURO sandwich between 2008-2012.