England Training Session and Press Conference

Roy Hodgson to take over England U-21s for game vs. Scotland

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In a turn of events which caught everyone off guard, the English Football Association have come up with a novel idea.

England’s national team manager Roy Hodgson will take over as the Three Lions U-21 coach on an interim basis for the upcoming friendly with Scotland on August 13.

Since Stuart Pearce’s contract wasn’t renewed following England’s embarrassing early exit at the European Championships in Israel earlier this summer, the English FA have decided to hand things over to Hodgson, for now.

But will this be permanent?

Hodgson and his trusty assistant Ray Lewington will take charge of England’s brightest young talent, as they face their neighbors from the north at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.

And it seems as though England’s manager has offered to take on the role temporarily

“There is an opportunity while the recruitment process goes on for me to work with this squad for this fixture, and it is something I very much wanted to do,” Hodgson said. “Following the tournament in the summer, a number of players are now too old for the age group so we will look at a new batch and I’m keen to work closely on the training field with them for the few days before the game.”

And Hodgson is keen to stamp his authority on the youngsters coming through.

“I watch the Under-21 fixtures and I was in Israel for the tournament but, as a coach, nothing can beat the training field and the team hotel for getting to know players properly. In a World Cup year it makes absolute sense while there is the chance to do it.”

Hang on… wait a minute, where is Gary Neville in all this?

Well, that ‘jack of all trades’ will be leading the English national team as they prepare to take on Scotland at Wembley. Hodgson will still be manager on August 14, the night after he manages the U-21s. But Neville will prepare the team for the friendly and be in charge leading up to the game.

(MORE: Hodgson whines about strikers, but he’s only got himself to blame)

Is Neville being groomed to take over as England’s next national team manager? If Hodgson doesn’t qualify for the World Cup, don’t rule it out.

But regardless of Neville or Hodgson, this could be quite a good idea by the FA.

Hodgson will get to know the young players much better and that will help with integration into the full national team. And in the new state-of-the-art St. George’s Park facility, it is easier to flit between the two teams on the multiple training pitches they will share.

In the statement the FA did say they would be appointing a new coach to take the U-21s permanently by September. But if Hodgson does a good job, why can’t he split the role between himself, Lewington and Neville?

It wouldn’t be too much to ask and would help with continuity and ideas being shared across the different age groups. But that idea may prove just too radical for the chaps at the English FA. They’ve already had one good idea today, after all.

Pellegrini says announcing departure was mistake; Won’t jump into job

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini, right, and Bayern Munich's manager Pep Guardiola during the Champions League group D soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)
AP Photo/Clint Hughes
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Former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini thought it was the right thing to do; His club was reportedly looking for his successor, so why not let them do it in the open.

[ MORE: Barcelona could chase Mata ]

What followed Pellegrini’s announcement that he would leave at the end of season were three straight losses and, arguably, City’s chances at a Premier League title.

From Sky Sports:

“After Guardiola said he was coming to England it was my decision [to go public] because all the media was talking about Guardiola here, Guardiola in Arsenal, Guardiola in Manchester United,” he told The Guardian.

“It was not fair for all managers – when everyone knew he was coming here. If I ask if I would do that again… I have some doubts.”

Pellegrini said the announcement didn’t make it difficult for him, but for his players.

The Argentine also said he’ll wait for an interesting job to come calling, and that he could be done managing forever if such an opportunity doesn’t present itself. That said, we think he’ll find a job that’s to his liking given this comment:

“Of course, I would miss it. The challenge keeps me alive.”

Life is a good motivator.

Will upsets continue in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round?

SANDY, UT - OCTOBER 1: The U.S. Soccer Championship trophy sits on display before the game between DC United and Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium October 1, 2013 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup hits the third round on Wednesday, with NASL teams entering the fray and at least one fourth-tier or lower side guaranteed to advance to face MLS competition.

The USASA had three teams win second round matches, and two will face each other on Wednesday. The L.A. Wolves knocked off the USL’s Orange County Blues, while L Maquina FC handed the NPSL’s Sacramento Gold an ouster. They will tangle for the right to a high-profile match-up with the L.A. Galaxy.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Gonzalez wins Liga MX with Pachuca ]

We’ll also see NASL vs. USL geographical rivalries when Carolina faces Charlotte and Rayo OKC meets Oklahoma City.

Wednesday’s third round matches
Chattanooga FC (NPSL) vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL)
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) vs. Richmond Kickers (USL)
Jacksonville Armada (NASL) vs. Charleston Battery (USL)
New York Cosmos (NASL) vs. Jersey Express (PDL)
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) vs. Charlotte Independence (USL)
Miami FC (NASL) vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) vs FC Cincinnati (USL)
Rochester Rhinos (USL) vs. Lansdowne Bhoys FC (USASA)
Indy Eleven (NASL) vs. Louisville City FC (USL)
Saint Louis FC (USL) vs. Minnesota United (NASL)
Rayo OKC (NASL) vs Oklahoma City Energy (USL)
Des Moines Menace (PD) vs. San Antonio FC (USL)
Arizona United (USL) vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL)
La Maquina (USASA) vs. L.A. Wolves (USASA)
Kitsap Pumas (PDL) vs. Sacramento Republic (USL)

Iranian woman “sneaks” into Persian League match dressed as a man

Persepolis FC
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An Iranian woman wanted to see her favorite team play badly, but knew well the unspoken rule: no females at the stadium.

The Independent has the story of a woman who dressed in layers and filmed herself in case trouble came from her attendance.

[ MORE: Police free kidnapped Mexico striker ]

Persepolis FC is the name of the club, and they play in the Persian Gulf Pro League.

From The Independent:

There is no official ban on women attending sports events in Iran, but they are often refused entry so it is rare for women to attend.

In a third video, the woman explains that she layered five T-shirts and five pairs of trousers to hide her figure and covered her face with face paint.

I recognize that this is the norm over there, but it’s still a striking story.

Report: Barcelona ready to swoop if Mourinho deems Mata surplus at Manchester United

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - OCTOBER 01: Juan Mata (L) of Chelsea shakes hands with manager Jose Mourinho (R) after being substituted during the UEFA Champions League Group E Match between FC Steaua Bucuresti and Chelsea at the National Arena Stadium on October 1, 2013 in Bucharest, Romania.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
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It’s a $40 million question for Manchester United: Will Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho work well together?

Their time at Chelsea was fractured when Mourinho deemed Mata surplus to requirement and shipped the Spaniard to Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Rashford signs new 4-year deal ]

Mata, 28, has been a consistent performer for United, but will his reunion with Mourinho be short-lived? It’s easy to imagine both as ready to move on and Barcelona could be an option if that happens.

Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona could make a bid of close to $40 million in order to help the midfield continue to tick. Mata was a key part of United’s possession-based approach under Louis Van Gaal, and as a player really does fit the bill of a Mourinho-minded mid.

We’re just hoping that if Mata moves, he doesn’t switch anywhere that would change his English language blog posts.