King Conrad, and other funny or meaningful moments from MLS All-Star’s morning practice

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KANSAS CITY – Happily, Major League Soccer’s top performers don’t take themselves too seriously when it comes to the All-Star happenings. MLS manager Peter Vermes put his team through a short workout at Sporting Park. Here were some of the light-moment highlights:

  • MLS men were taking the field as Roma was finishing its workout. When it comes to the U.S. press and Roma, it’s all about Michael Bradley, naturally. Only about three or four other Roma men are comfortable with interviews in English, so the U.S. midfielder has been extra accommodating. Even Landon Donovan had a nice little chat with Bradley, off to the side as reporters finished up with other Roma men.
  • KICK TV’s Jimmy Conrad, who spent eight years in this city, has declared himself the King of Kansas City. So he donned the king’s cape and asked a few players, well, some kingly questions, I suppose. (That’s the photo above right; but you probably had that sorted out already.)
  • Former U.S. international Desmond Armstrong was at the workout, and even got a little stadium walkthrough from Vermes. Armstrong is doing a documentary on the United States team in qualifying for World Cup 1990 in Italy.
  • Matt Besler was a good sport when one camera crew asked the Sporting KC man to read aloud a few Italian phrases written on large pieces of paper. I mean, sure! What could possibly go wrong with something like that?

(MORE: Vermes and the headache of with managing All-Star minutes)

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  • Will Johnson, among the league MVP candidates for all he means to first-place Portland, must be one of the nicest men in the league. As he spoke to a few reporters, Chris Wondolowski was doing the same about five steps away. He’s another captain in this ship of mostly very nice guys.
  • Just getting the practice in registered as a meaningful moment following Monday’s cancelled sessions. Rain on Tuesday threatened the workouts, as stadium officials were understandably concerned about the field. The rain had mostly passed by the practice time, and forecasts call for a nicer day on Wednesday.
  • I’m not sure how, but Sporting KC man Aurelien Collin manages to keep his shorts hiked up in that silly way, even while he plays. Must be a French fashion secret or something.
  • Marco Di Viao absolutely blistered a one-time volley off a long cross (that’s not easy, of course), about three minutes into the 10-v-10 scrimmage to finish Tuesday’s short practice. It flew past Nick Rimando, drawing a few celebratory oohs and aws from impressed teammates.

Marco Verratti crushes teammates in PSG ultimatum

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When asked if he wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain, Marco Verratti gave an answer sure to turn the heads of his teammates in the French capital.

Transfer rumors have swirled around the Italian midfielder all summer, and he finally addressed the situation in Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport. When asked if he wanted to leave, Verratti said he’d like to stay, but if he is to do so, the club must come through in the transfer window.

“It’s not that I want to go at all costs,” Verratti said. “It’s just I want to see if they really do build a great squad this time. In that case, I would be happy to stay.”

“Each year they say they are going to build a great squad, but we’ve seen the results. Promises are not enough. If, on the other hand, this time PSG with [sporting director Antero] Henrique stick to what they say, then I will be absolutely happy to stay. At the end of the day, nobody is forcing me to leave.”

It’s one thing for a player to say he thinks the club needs reinforcements in the summer, but Veratti goes all in here. For the Italian to claim that promises had been broken and good players were not brought in, that’s a ruthless aside to his current teammates.

Media reports have linked Verratti with a move away from Parc de Princes all summer. The 24-year-old has been most heavily linked with Barcelona, although clubs like Bayern Munich and Chelsea have been mentioned. According to a number of reports, Verratti turned down a new PSG contract as recently as last week in a meeting with the sporting director.

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 1-1 FC Dallas (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): It ended scoreless when the two sides met for the first time this season, and although there were goals in this one, it finished with the same outcome. The Dynamo and Dallas remain equal on points following the draw, with each team boasting 25 at the midway point through the MLS campaign. Goals from Erick “Cubo’ Torres and Maxi Urruti cancelled one another out at BBVA Compass Stadium, but it was the Dallas that had more of the chances in the match. The Dynamo remain one of the top sides in MLS at home, boasting a record of 7-0-2 in their opening nine matches in Houston.

Three two moments that mattered

19′ — Torres makes it 11 on the year! — Give Erick Torres an inch this season… Well, you know the rest of the saying…

59′ — Urruti makes Dynamo pay for missed chance on other end — The Dynamo were so close to making it 2-0 just a minute sooner, but Maxi Urruti had other plans for the visitors.

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Man of the match: Maxi Urruti

Goalscorers: Erick Torres (19′), Maxi Urruti (59′)

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 2-0 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC was without some of its regulars on Friday night, but that didn’t matter much as Greg Vanney’s side avenged their loss to the Revolution from two weeks ago. Coming off of just two days’ rest, TFC continued its push towards an Eastern Conference title at BMO Field behind Drew Moor’s first goal of the season. Sebastian Giovinco was held in check most of the evening, but the Italian scorer did what he does best in the final minute of stoppage time to seal it for the home side with his seventh goal of the year. The Revs pushed and pushed during the second half for an equalizer but TFC’s resilience defensively proved superior as they kept the visitors off the scoreboard for their eighth shutout of 2017.

Three moments that mattered

11′ — Moor taps in for early Toronto advantage — Even on two days’ rest Toronto looks like this…

57′ — Cheeky Nguyen keeps Revs in match — Lee Nguyen is typically known for his creativity in the offensive half but it was this clever play defensively that kept the Revolution down just one goal.

83′ — Kamara comes so close! — It’s just not meant to be on the night for the Revs.

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Man of the match: Alex Bono

Goalscorers: Drew Moor (11′), Sebastian Giovinco (90+6′)

Video: Orlando City product scores crazy bicycle kick

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Goals like this one below never grow old.

Orlando City academy product Alejandro Pereira scored a brilliant bicycle kick for his Under-17/18 side in their 2-0 win on Thursday night during the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs.

Orlando will continue its path in the Academy Playoffs on Saturday when they face off against Players Development Academy (PDA) U-17/18, before meeting Indiana Fire U-17/18 on Monday.