Lagerway evokes ‘Moneyball’ to explain Brandon McDonald’s acquisition

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Brandon McDonald was a major part of D.C. United’s success last season, but amid the downturn at RFK this season, he lost his spot. Before this morning’s trade, the former LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes defender hadn’t played a Major League Soccer game since June 15. Even on the league’s worst team, McDonald had become expendable.

That Real Salt Lake, a team sitting at the opposite end of the Supporters’ Shield standings, took a chance on McDonald was the surprise. Though RSL’s dealing with some injuries at the back (Aaron Maund, Carlos Salcedo, and Chris Schuler out), they have enough to scratch through Saturday’s visit from Sporting Kansas City without adding McDonald to the roster.

But instead of waiting that out, general manager Garth Lagerway’s giving up a third-round pick (2014) and a conditional choice (2015) for the 27-year-old.

“The basic premise of ‘Money Ball’ (sic) is that you try to acquire undervalued assets,” was Lagerway’s curious explanation for a player with a $235,000 base salary. “We’ve had a long track record of picking up pieces that other people don’t want anymore and cultivating their talents …”

That’s indisputable. Lagerway and head coach Jason Kreis consistently take other teams’ cast offs are turn then into valuable depth, with Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Lovel Palmer, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy, Khari Stephenson, Abdoulie Mansally and Josh Saunders all giving Kreis meaningful minutes this season. With that track record, RSL deserve the benefit of the doubt with McDonald.

How much of a benefit they deserve all comes down to length of McDonald’s contract. Because terms of the extension he signed in 2011 weren’t disclosed, we don’t know how long McDonald has left on his deal. If his contract runs beyond this season, this is a bad deal for an RSL team who will have to carry that cap hit into 2014. If, however, McDonald is in the final year of his deal, Lagerway may have decided the less than $100,000 the team owes McDonald is the best use of their remaining cap space.

If that’s the case, this does have the look of a Billy Beane-esque deadline deal, looking beyond what would otherwise be a bad contract to see the short-term benefits. And if short-term benefits are the only things RSL have to absorb from this deal, McDonald may prove more valuable than the throwaway picks it cost to get him.

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.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.