Barcelona’s manager Tito Vilanova steps down due to illness

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Following a press conference in Barcelona on Friday night, Tito Vilanova has stepped down as manager of the Catalan giants.

Vilanova, 44, has suffered more health issues after battling throat cancer for several years.

He had only returned to manage Barca in March, after receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy in New York in January 2013.

Club president Sandro Rosell had this to say. “Vilanova needs further treatment which makes it impossible for him to continue as head coach.” And on Barcelona’s official website they said that Vilanova, “will not continue due to ongoing treatment of his illness.”

The club also confirmed that they will appoint a new manager next week.

Earlier in the day on Friday, a statement on the FCB’s website said that Rosell and Andoni Zubizarreta would hold a press conference at 7:30pm local time.

Speculation was rife that Vilanova would step down, and due to his ongoing health issues, sadly, it was the only real option.

Vilanova was Pep Guardiola’s assistant from 2008-2012, where he helped the club dominate Spanish and European soccer. When Guardiola stepped away from soccer, Vilanova provided a seamless transition and Barcelona continued to dominate under his stewardship.

Vilanova had a superb record as Barca manager, with a 71.67 percent win ratio across all competitions, only losing eight and winning 43 of his 60 games at the helm. He returned to the side in March after his treatment, leading Barca to the 2012-13 title.

However after his resignation, all thoughts will be with Vilanova and his family as he tries to regain his health away from soccer.

(MORE: Tito Vilanova released from hospital)

Guardiola’s former assistant coach first had a tumor removed from his throat back in November 2011. But he’s had several reoccurring issues since and the treatment he underwent in New York earlier this year hasn’t had the desired effect.

While all this news comes as Vilanova was entangled in an argument with his friend and Barcelona’s former head coach Guardiola in the past few days. Bayern Munich’s new manager has accused Barcelona of using his former assistant’s illness against him, as they stated Guardiola had not visited Vilanova whilst he was getting treatment in New York, despite Guardiola being in NYC on a year’s sabbatical.

Vilanova had this to say on the matter.

“He visited me once in New York when I’d just arrived, but during my recovery from the operation I was there for two months and I didn’t see him. He’s my friend and I needed him, but he wasn’t there for me. I would have done things differently. I won’t say anything else about this.”

So with Vilanova’s brief reign in charge at Barcelona over, people will be asking who the next man to take charge will be.

But it just doesn’t feel right to speculate on that after such a sad announcement.

All we can say is, get well soon Tito. We hope to see you back working in soccer in the very near future.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

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Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET