Mario Martínez’s time in Seattle appears to be over

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Seattle Sounders fan’s year-long wait for the emergence of Mario Martínez appears to have been in vain, with reports out of Honduras on Sunday confirming what many have suspected for much of the month. According to what his national team coach shared with Diario Diez, the talented Honduran’s loan from Real Espana will end without a permanent move to Major League Soccer.

Diario Diez posted the apparent confirmation Sunday, with Honduran national team coach Luis Súarez explaining the attacker’s inclusion in Honduras’s Gold Cup squad was a result of Martínez’s Seattle tenure coming to an end.

[tweet https://twitter.com/DiarioDiez/status/351401066857906176]

Roughly translated: I called up Mario Martínez because I confirmed he will no continue with the Seattle Sounders.

The news will disappoint ardet Sounder fans, but it’s unclear how big of a loss this is. During his year in Seattle, Martínez only made 13 league appearances and five starts, recording one assist and no goals. The production, a fair reflection of his contributions, won’t be difficult to replace.

While many lauded his potential, that potential rarely showed in competitive games. As one user quickly reminded me, Martínez did have a flash of brilliance in last year’s playoffs against Real Salt Lake; ultimately, however, Martínez’s influence never matched his talent.

As the end of the loan approached, Adrian Hanauer and the Sounders were left with a decision. Do we buy Martínez, a player who has failed to have an impact, based purely on our view of his potential? Or do we reallocate those salary cap resources (around $150,000) to other areas now that we’ve seen Martínez is unable to secure a regular place in the squad?

As the deadline to come to an agreement with Real Espana approached, the Sounders still seemed uncertain of their decision, as evidenced by Sigi Schmid’s surprise Martínez was named in the Catrachos’ Gold Cup squad. Seattle were under the impression that Martínez will be excluded. Apparently, with Martínez headed back to Honduras, their impressions no longer mattered.

It’s hard to say his departure will hurt, though, since it never really helped. For all the hopes Martínez inspired in loyal Sounders’ supporters, he never provided a dividend. And now, he appears to be off.

Pep sticking with Bravo for final: “Locker room more important”

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Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.

“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”

The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.

Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.

City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.

Arsenal gets AC Milan in Europa League Round of 16

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Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]

Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.

Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.

Here’s the draw in full.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.