Fiery striker Pablo Osvaldo set to join Fulham… this could go badly

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Controversial AS Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo is close to securing a switch to Premier League side Fulham.

Why the negative vibe you ask? Well, he’s got previous.

The only reason Osvaldo is leaving Roma is because he’s had an almighty fall out with just about everyone at the club.

Do Fulham and their new mega-rich owner Shadid Khan really want to deal with Osvaldo’s antics next season?

Also, what if he doesn’t get along with Dimitar Berbatov? That has the potential, from those two alone, to make Fulham’s locker room one of the stroppiest and most negative in the Premier League.

But it shouldn’t all be doom and gloom.

Behind the veil of a troubled and flamboyant individual lies a sensational soccer player. How often do we see these mercurial talents gone bad in today’s game? Mario Balotelli, Joey Barton, Carlos Tevez and a handful of others could easily take the mantle as soccer’s bad boys.

Yet Italian international Osvaldo has the potential to be one of the very best. In flashes he has shown his goalscoring potential at Roma and in La Liga at Espanyol. The Argentine born striker has scored 47 goals in his last 99 league games, he is as strong as an ox, has incredible acceleration and can bring others into the game telepathically with his hold up play. On his day, he’s sensational.

But when things don’t go his way, it’s not a pretty sight. He’s been sent off nine times in six seasons, has returned late for winter camps, fans have vandalized his car at the training ground after he snatched a crucial penalty kick away from captain Francesco Totti… then missed it. The list goes on and on.

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Can Osvaldo finally exorcise his demons?

Like I said, he has previous.

But the latest blowout from Osvaldo is why he’s on his way out of Roma. The 27-year-old was dropped for Roma’s biggest game in years, a Rome Derby in the Coppa Italia final in May against their bitter rivals Lazio.

Following Roma’s loss, Osvaldo refused to get his runners-up medal and insulted interim manager Aurelio Andreazzoli before punching an advertisement board used for post-match TV interviews. Andreazzoli didn’t hide his feelings towards Osvaldo.

“Causing a scene when the TV cameras are running is nothing new for him,” Andreazzoli said. “But then in private he just moans and whines. That’s his problem, though, not mine. For a player who represents the national team, he should have better ethics. But again, that’s his problem.”

After hearing that interview, Osvaldo sent out the following Tweet. “You’d do more good if you admitted to being incompetent… Go celebrate with Lazio.”

For that outburst Osvaldo was left out of Italy’s Confederations Cup squad. Oh dear. Someone didn’t go to the social media training day…

Anyway, at Fulham maybe Martin Jol can keep a handle on Osvaldo and get the best out of his talents. A change of scenery and a new challenge could do the Italian forward the world of good.

But if it all goes pear shaped, expect an in-game scuffle between him and Berbatov. Flip a coin, this could go either way for Fulham.

Dempsey’s last-second PK lifts Sounders past Minnesota

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SEATTLE (AP) Clint Dempsey converted a penalty kick in the final seconds of stoppage time on Sunday night, lifting the Seattle Sounders to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United.

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A corner kick by Seattle’s Joevin Jones floated into the penalty area, and Minnesota’s Jermaine Taylor was called for a hand ball in a scrum of players battling for possession. Dempsey stepped up and drilled his kick to the right side past Loons goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the fourth minute of stoppage.

Dempsey’s goal was his 11th of the year.

Referee Ismail Elfath blew the final whistle as soon as Minnesota kicked off.

Chad Marshall also scored for the Sounders (11-7-7), who tied a club record by extending their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3). The team had an identical 6-0-3 mark from May 28-July 16, 2011.

Seattle was forced to rally after its club-record shutout streak ended at 421 minutes on a goal by Minnesota’s Ethan Finlay in the 21st minute.

The Loons (6-14-4, 22 points) are still looking for their first road win of the season. They are 0-8-2 away from Minneapolis.

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.