Liverpool's Suarez celebrates his goal against Chelsea during their English Premier League soccer match in Liverpool

Luis Suárez joins Liverpool in Australia, Arsenal lurks, and ‘crunch talks’ are a thing again

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I’m not exactly sure what showdown talks are, but it doesn’t take an extensive internet search to see that word, crunch, or other crisis-implying adjectives linked to Luis Suárez’s arrival at Liverpool camp. The Uruguayan striker, after three weeks rest following the Confederations Cup, is joining his club in Melbourne for preseason preparations, an event that’s given media outlets around the world trying to raise the stakes on their Suárez coverage.

Trust the coverage and you’ll get a picture of Suárez, his agent, and Liverpool’s management consigned to play out some old-timey ritual involved a butcher’s basement, a broken air conditioner, and four cans of baked beans. Three men enter; three men, some kind of deal, and some embarrassing hygiene leaves.

More cautions tones are marking a slow progression to the Suárez saga, one that has become centered on Arsenal. At one point, the Gunners were reported to have registered a $45.8 million bid, slightly lower than the $61 million Liverpool want. Now reports have Arsenal willing to meet the Reds half way, $53.5 million, though Liverpool’s holding firm. With Suárez rejoining the club, the process may pick up, whether it be toward transcending that $7.5 gap or killing off the Arsenal speculation entirely.

Beyond the dollars and the potentially ludicrous saga, there’s a strangely appropriate dynamic to Arsenal pursuing Suárez. Between the player’s importance to Liverpool elevating his price and Suárez’s other baggage, the few clubs who can afford him have either looked elsewhere or declined to enter the fray. Arsenal, on the other hand, aren’t used to having money to spend and seem either reluctant or slow to spend it this window. Yet they’re still a storied club who’ve qualified for Champions League and, if they land somebody of Suárez’s ability and pick up some other parts, could be fringe title contenders.

The situation has the feel of two rudderless ships, disabled, floating toward each other while their crews watch the rest of their fleets sail away. For Arsenal, Arsene Wenger’s skeptical view of the marketplace continues to see targets fade into the distance, while Suárez sees the Barcelonas, Real Madrids, and Chelseas of the world choose on other captains.

At some point, if they stay a drift long enough, these two ships may find each other. Then perhaps Suárez can be the player to guide Arsenal back to shore.

USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN