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.

Zenit face racism charge after banner honors war criminal

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg is facing a UEFA racism charge after its fans displayed a large banner honoring convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.

Two Serbian clubs, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade, were also charged for similar offenses of supporting Mladic at Europa League games on Thursday.

UEFA said Friday that all three clubs faced charges of “racist behavior.” No dates were set for disciplinary hearings.

Zenit fans unfurled the banner, about 10 yards in length, during Thursday’s 2-1 Europa League group-stage win over Macedonian club Vardar Skopje.

The game took place the day after former Bosnian Serb military chief Mladic was convicted by a United Nations tribunal of genocide and other crimes in the wars following the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Mladic and other Serb leaders have broad support from Russian nationalist groups, which often see them as allies.

Red Star fans drew 0-0 at BATE Borisov in Belarus, while Partizan beat Swiss club Young Boys in their Europa League games.

Partizan also faces a range of charges for incidents in Belgrade including “field invasions” and “improper conduct” by fans.

Watch Live: West Ham v. Leicester City

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Friday Night Football under the lights in east London. Beautiful.

West Ham United host Leicester City on Friday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes takes charge of his first home game as Hammers boss.

Leicester and Claude Puel will play on the counter and look to Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez for inspiration at the London Stadium, while Moyes is putting all of his faith in Andy Carroll.

After a defeat at Watford in his opening game as West Ham boss last week, Moyes could really do with a win to kick-start his Hammers career.

As for Puel, he’s had one win, one draw and one defeat from his three PL games in charge of Leicester so far but the Foxes have shown plenty of promise in those outings.

In team news West Ham are missing Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez through injury so Carroll starts up top with Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini supporting him.

Leicester start with Mahrez just off Vardy with Demarai Gray once again starting out wide in a 4-4-1-1 formation.

LINEUPS

West Ham

Leicester

FIFA reminds World Cup-bound Peru about government meddling

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has reminded the Peruvian soccer federation of rules prohibiting interference by national governments, one week after the South American country qualified for its first World Cup since 1982.

FIFA says the letter reacts to the “current draft of the Peruvian Sports Law” presented to a congressional committee last month. FIFA says the proposed text to lawmakers includes “certain items that, if implemented, would contravene the FIFA Statutes.”

In serious cases, FIFA can suspend a country’s national and club teams, plus officials, from international competitions and meetings.

Peruvian officials are due in Moscow next week for the World Cup draw.

Peru is not likely to be facing any action, but FIFA has promised to “continue to monitor the situation.”

PL Preview: Man United v. Brighton

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  • United have scored 19 goals, 6 wins from 6 at home this season
  • Brighton unbeaten in 5 games
  • Zlatan, Pogba, Rojo all fit for United

Manchester United host newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Red Devils aiming to keep their 100 percent home record in the PL intact.

[ MORE: Mourinho hits back at critics

Brighton are on a five-game unbeaten run in their debut campaign in the PL and Chris Hughton‘s side have settled impressively as they sit in ninth-place in the table.

Jose Mourinho’s United sit in second place but are eight points behind crosstown rivals Manchester City who are settling a rasping early-season pace in the Premier League. United and City clash at Old Trafford on Dec. 10 so Mourinho’s men can’t afford any dropped points between now and then.

In team news United are without central defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, while Brighton have no new injury concerns.

What they’re saying

Mourinho on Pogba’s return to fitness: “Paul is still on this process where he cannot reach the fatigue limit, he cannot go more than 65 to 70 minutes because that’s when fatigue normally arrives and with so many matches consecutively we need to protect such an important player for us.”

Chris Hughton on Brighton’s mindset heading to Old Trafford: “There aren’t many teams at our level that are going to go there and win. You’ve got to play at a very high level and you’ve certainly got to have that bit of luck that goes with a win away from home at any one of the big clubs. But these are the days you’ve worked so hard for as a team and it’s what we got promoted for. What we hope to do is to make a good account of ourselves there and we hope we can do that.”

Prediction

I expect a big home win for United who are simply too powerful in attack for most PL clubs to handle. Sure, their direct approach gets criticized by many but they’re second in the PL table for a reason and Mourinho’s squad has extreme strength in depth in attack. 3-0 to the Red Devils.