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)
- 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.
Jamie Vardy has joined several Leicester City voices in refuting claims that he helped usher in the dismissal of championship-winning manager Claudio Ranieri.
Vardy led the Foxes in scoring during last season’s run to the Premier League title, but has struggled to follow that success this season. He has five goals in 22 matches.
[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died” ]
Ranieri was fired this week with Leicester on the verge of dipping into the relegation zone, where they now sit ahead of Monday’s match against Liverpool.
Vardy wants the world to know this wasn’t his preference, saying, “There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this is completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful!”
Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.
Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.
[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]
His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.
The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.
Here are the first and third, too:
The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.
[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]
That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).
Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.
The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.
The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.
The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.
Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.
Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.