DC United v New York Red Bulls

A word about RSL’s just-acquired Brandon McDonald ahead of tonight’s Sporting Kansas City clash

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On the surface, I completely agree with Richard Farley’s initial assessment of Real Salt Lake’s acquisition of Brandon McDonald. Let me boil that down for you: “Whatever.”

Some of this is short-term relief, as Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe both remain out injured. (Watson-Siriboe for the season; Schuler has just been cleared for practice but remains weeks away from starting.) The choices to partner Nat Borchers get fairly limited past that, although Aaron Maund has responded well since his U.S. Open Cup struggles last month.

Looks like Jason Kreis has a choice between Maund and McDonald for tonight’s big meeting with Sporting Kansas City.

Further, I think we can safely assume that D.C. United will continue to eat a substantial portion of McDonald’s wildly substantial contract. That bad boy, which expires this year, guarantees McDonald (pictured, along the left) a hefty $273,000 this year. That’s just a little south of what Jamison Olave makes at New York, and when the big Colombian (formerly at RSL) is on his game he is among the most dominant back line men in MLS. Safe to say, McDonald is no Olave.

What McDonald can be, however, is an adequate MLS center back when partnered with a veteran leader to keep him out of positional trouble. And Borchers is practically gold standard when we start talking “veteran leaders” around MLS.

McDonald’s ability to fit into a locker room hasn’t always been tip-top. But early reports out of Rio Tinto are of the “model citizen” variety – and he’s certainly smart to adopt such a posture, because the guy just got thrown an absolute career lifeline.

No, McDonald will not reap a contract in 2014 anywhere near what he’s making this year. (Assuming he stays in MLS; remember, all that talk of a possible move to Europe was part of the reason he went from San Jose to United on the cheap.)

But if McDonald wants to stay in MLS, if he behaves and if he can be a useful third or fourth center back, the guy just went from one of the worst teams in MLS to one that has emerged as a legitimate contender. And that’s not a bad day’s work, is it?

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia