Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders - Western Conference Semifinals

Huge win for Real Salt Lake before significant July personnel losses

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No team in MLS has a better surge going into July than Real Salt Lake … no, not even the Portland Timbers, although Caleb Porter’s team is doing wonderfully, too.

And it’s great for RSL supporters that their team has collected so many points lately, now unbeaten in nine straight (in all competitions) after today’s 1-0 win at Toronto.

Including two home matches in U.S. Open Cup play, Jason Kreis’ team is 6-0 in June with a goal-scoring margin of 17-2. Not too bad. Add it all up, and a team on a semi-rebuild for 2013 is top of the West going into the bulk of Round 18 matches tonight.  (Portland and Dallas, the closest pursuers, both own games in hand.)

Saturday’s win at BMO Field on Yordany Alvarez’s fashionable strike just before intermission was especially important for what is about to happen. Monday, four important RSL men will leave for Gold Cup duty.

Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman will join outside back Tony Beltran and goalkeeper Nick Rimando (pictured) for Jurgen Klinsmann’s United States side. And striker Alvaro Saborio will depart for Costa Rican duty.

(MORE: Beckerman a natural for captain or this U.S. group)

Rimando and Beckerman are likely starters for the United States, which plays a friendly against Guatemala next week in San Diego, then launches Gold Cup play four nights later in Portland against Belize. (The United States schedule is here.)

With Gold Cup quarterfinals set for July 20 and 21, and the tournament playing out over the next week from there, the three are sure to miss three MLS matches and quite likely all four set for July.

Here is Alvarez’s important game-winner Saturday at BMO Field near downtown Toronto:


Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?