Yankees legend Mariano Rivera inspires Panama before Gold Cup semi

2 Comments

Panama face Mexico tonight in the Gold Cup’s other semifinal contest at Cowboys Stadium. They square-off at 10pm ET after the USA play Honduras.

Panama are the underdogs, but leading up to the game, they got a little help from someone who knows a thing or two about closing out games.

New York Yankees legendary Panamanian pitcher Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees relief pitcher happened to be in town as New York took on the Texas Rangers this week so the 43-year-old, who has won five World Series’, gave Panama’s national team some inspiration.

How cool is that?

Los Canaleros face their toughest task yet this evening, after impressing during the Gold Cup group stages and quarterfinals.

But will Rivera help Panama cause a big upset and oust El Tri to make just their second-ever Gold Cup final? One Panamanian striker very familiar to MLS fans was certainly impressed.

“It was a very motivational conversation,” FC Dallas and Panama striker Blas Pérez told reporters. “He’s a person who is a great believer in God, he gave us a lot of inspiring quotes that will stay with us and we have to [look to him] as a great example.”

Panama are huge underdogs, there’s no doubt about it. But Rivera’s words may just help them overturn a Mexican side that will be heavily supported in Dallas this evening.

(MORE: Torres’ double gives Panama first-ever win vs. Mexico)

Inspirational words or not, Panama will need to be at their best all over the pitch to stand a chance of beating Mexico.

But, wait a minute… that’s right, Panama already beat Mexico in the Group A opener back on July 7. A 2-1 win in Pasadena came courtesy of two goals from Gabriel Torres, the joint-top goalscorer in the 2013 Gold Cup with five to his name, and was Panama’s first win against Mexico in history.

Isn’t that inspirational enough?

Regardless, forwards Perez and Torres will both cause Mexico plenty of problems tonight and expect an epic battle in Dallas. Can El Tri beat an inspired Panamanian side?

If they can’t, Mariano Rivera played a part in Panama’s trip to the Gold Cup final. You better believe it.

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

Twitter/@djdiveny
Leave a comment

Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.

Villa: Seeing Pirlo retire showed me that I have to train harder

Alex Menendez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

New York City FC has quickly become one of Major League Soccer’s most exciting clubs in three short seasons, and a lot of its success can be attributed to be David Villa.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron named MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

The Spanish international has been with the club since completing a move to MLS in 2014, and has easily been NYCFC’s most important signing since the team’s inception.

Despite boasting an impressive 22 goals in 2017 for Patrick Vieira’s side, Villa knows that his days in MLS are starting to count down after one of the legends of the international game recently announced his retirement.

“[Seeing Andrea Pirlo retire showed me] that I have to train harder every day if I want to continue extending my career. Someday I will leave, as will everyone, it’s a fact of life. But I’m going to fight to make it as late as possible,” Villa told Marca.

Villa, 35, received a one-year extension to his contract in 2017, leaving his future with NYCFC up in the air beyond next season.

Additionally, the forward says that he constantly receives positive feedback about MLS and he knows that there is a lot of interest from players outside the United States in the developing league.

“Really, quite a few [have reached out],” he said. “The MLS is growing a lot and is having more and more global impact. Many have called me and are interested in what’s going on here.”

Brighton 2-2 Stoke: Seagulls remain ninth thanks to Izquierdo’s equalizer

Leave a comment

Three Premier League newcomers remain in close contention with one another after 12 weeks, one of which picked up another positive result today.

[ MORE: Congested PL schedule challenges the big boys ]

Brighton & Hove Albion earned a 2-2 draw against Stoke City at the Amex Stadium on Monday after Jose Izquierdo’s persistence gave the home side the leveler in the 60th minute from Glenn Murray‘s clever pass inside the box.

The result made for Brighton’s sixth consecutive match unbeaten at home this season.

A back-and-forth first half saw the on-loan Chelsea defender give Stoke the lead heading into the halftime break after a disappointing spell of defending by Brighton allowed Zouma to finish of a corner kick.

Pascal Gross gave Brighton an equalizer one minute from halftime after Davy Propper had done superbly to create space for himself down the right wing.

The visitors struck in the 28th minute after Shaqiri delivered a perfect long ball into the path of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

The Cameroonian proceeded to control the pass beautifully from his Stoke teammate, before tucking his shot from close range into the near corner past Brighton goalkeeper Maty Ryan.

Brighton thought they had the chance to level the score prior to the equalizer when the hosts appeared to have a penalty appeal after Murray went down inside the Stoke area. However, referee Lee Mason opted against spot kick.

The two sides will both be in action on Saturday when Brighton travels to Old Trafford to face Manchester United and Stoke takes on Crystal Palace.

At the half: Zouma’s header has Stoke in front against Brighton

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been a wild one thus far at the Amex Stadium, and we’ve still got 45 minutes left to play.

Stoke City holds a 2-1 advantage against newcomer Brighton & Hove Albion after Kurt Zouma gave the visitors the lead on the stroke of halftime.

[ MORE: West Brom fires manager Tony Pulis ]

Zouma headed home close range in first-half stoppage time to restore the Potters’ advantage, after Pascal Gross had equalized in the 44th minute for Brighton.

Stoke opened the scoring just prior to the half hour mark when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting finished off a stellar move that originated from a Xherdan Shaqiri long ball over the Brighton back line.

Brighton were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men after Glenn Murray went in late on a challenge against Stoke defender Kevin Wimmer.

Murray thought he had won himself a penalty kick minutes prior, but referee Lee Mason decided to continue play.