Where does Clint Dempsey’s signing rank in MLS Designated Player history?

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Clint Dempsey’s transfer to the Seattle Sounders will be announced tonight before the game with FC Dallas.

With Deuce reportedly getting a Designated Player contract, after the Sounders maneuvered this week to open up another DP spot, big money is being splashed up in the Emerald City.

Many are still scratching their heads as to how quickly all this happened, but Dempsey has been signed by MLS and he will be unveiled as a Seattle Sounder later this evening.

That’s a fact.

Here’s something we can debate. Since the Designated Player rule was introduced to Major League Soccer in 2007, there have obviously been some marquee signings that stand out above the rest.

(MORE: Confirmed, Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC)

But where does Dempsey fit in among the top 10 most influential DPs in MLS’ history?

First, let’s look at the 10 DPs who’ve been huge success stories in MLS… then we’ll get to Dempsey.

1. David Beckham

The man who truly kick-started the modern MLS era we live in. The DP rule was created so LA could pay his huge wages outside of the cap. An innovator who brought much more than stunning goals and sumptuous set pieces to MLS. A pioneer whose arrival is, and will always be, a major part in MLS’ history.

2. Thierry Henry

Arriving a few years after Beckham, Henry almost had the same effect. He’s stardom was still in full swing after excelling at Arsenal and FC Barcelona. He switched the Nou Camp for Red Bull Arena around much fanfare and has captained New York with his mercurial talents. A few flashpoints here and there, but he has been a lynchpin in MLS’ growth and has scored some stunning goals. Just needs an MLS Cup to cap it off.

3. Landon Donovan

When most people across the globe mention MLS, the first player after Beckham that pops into their mind is Donovan. The LA Galaxy star has won five MLS Cups with LA and San Jose and his goals, creativity and All-Star status in 13 consecutive years says it all. A true great of American soccer and someone who has given so much back to the league and soccer fans in the USA.

4. Guillermo Barros Schelotto

The Argentinian genius may have not been the biggest name to grace the DP slot. But boy, could he play. Inspiring the Columbus Crew to the 2008 MLS Cup, Schelotto was the league’s MVP and carved out so many chances for the Crew’s attack. A wizard on the ball and a true competitor on the pitch, he epitomized Columbus’ great team that won the Supporters’ Shield in ’08 and ’09.

5. Robbie Keane

Two MLS Cups in his first two seasons in MLS… Keane’s impact has been sensational. The 33-year-old forward brings all his attacking nous and clever runs to LA and has captained the side to success as first Beckham, then Donovan, left LA. Keane has scored 27 goals in 46 games for LA and he shows no sign of slowing down.

6. Fredy Montero

The Colombian scored goals by the bucket load for Seattle but despite regular season success, a deep run in the playoffs alluded the Emerald City side. Montero is of course still a Seattle player, but is out on loan at Sporting Lisbon. If he ever returns he will be treated like a hero after the fantastic long-range goals and his numerous energetic displays in the Rave Green.

7. Javier Morales

This man was the heart and soul of the Real Salt Lake side that won MLS Cup ’09. Jason Kreis built RSL around Morales’ talents and even today the Argentinian magician can change a game in an instance. That horrible injury suffered after a tackle with Marcos Mondaini has slowed him down, but Morales’s impact on RSL and MLS has been incredible.

8. Juan Pablo Angel

Goals, goals, goals. When he first arrived at the New York Red Bulls from Aston Villa, Angel instantly became a legend in the Big Apple. After four stellar seasons in New York with goals galore, Angel moved onto LA and then Chivas USA with varying degrees of success. But the Colombian forward grabbed 62 goals in 113 games in MLS. A true poacher who was loved by the fans.

9. Alvaro Saborio

Again, another player who just loves to score. The Costa Rican international is currently one of the deadliest forwards in MLS and can frighten the life out of most defenses with his combination of pace and power and supreme finishing ability. Saborio, 31, arrived in 2007 and has scored 44 goals in 87 games for RSL since. Stunning.

10. Cuauhtémoc Blanco

In terms of his play on the field, Blanco was up and down like a yo-yo. But the Mexican international brought a certain star quality to Chicago. His skills and goals were a sight to behold, but unfortunately he couldn’t bring an MLS Cup to the Fire and the team didn’t excel when he was around. And to go along with his great talent on the pitch, Blanco was a huge success at helping supporter numbers grow in Chicago. The Mexican star entertained and Hispanic fans turned their attention to MLS when he arrived.

Where does Clint fit in?

If Dempsey comes in and the Sounders win MLS Cup this year, more from Steve Davis on that later, then Deuce instantly jumps into the top five DPs all-time in MLS. But regardless of whether or not he helps bring a championship to CenturyLink, Dempsey’s arrival will be huge in terms of viewer numbers and raising the profile of the domestic league. To have the USMNT’s captain spearheading the league’s best supported franchise is massive.

Should Dempsey recreate the form he has shown for the USA, Fulham and New England in the past, he could edge into the top three and rival Beckham as the most important DP in the league’s history. His signing is about much more than talent. It could spark a seismic shift of US national team players moving form Europe to MLS. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see that over the coming years. Time to get to work on overtaking those legendary MLS DPs, Clint.

More: Why Clint Dempsey’s move to Seattle won’t affect the US national team

More: Official, Tottenham confirm sale of Clint Dempsey to MLS

More: Confirmed, Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC

More: Dempsey to Seattle in $9 million move, plus $8 million salary

Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 17 of its last 23 Premier League games
  • Alvaro Morata has 3 goals and 2 assists, all with his head
  • Stoke has lost just 1 of its past 7 home games vs defending champions

Eden Hazard is back and at full strength as Chelsea travels to the Britannia to take on Stoke City Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

With Hazard back and Diego Costa finally shed to Atletico Madrid, the Blues have positioned themselves to make a run at the Premier League’s top spot. Chelsea has not lost since their Opening Day misstep against Burnley, and despite firing a blank in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with the Gunners, Chelsea is still just three points off the top spot, and will look to put pressure on the Manchester clubs.

In addition to Hazard, the Blues also get Temoue Bakayoko and Pedro back in the lineup as well, although David Luiz is suspended after his late red card last weekend.

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This season has been a roller coaster ride for Stoke City, having picked up four points against Arsenal and Manchester United, but also losing to Newcastle and Everton, plus a very disappointing defeat midweek to Bristol City in the Cup. The Potters are missing a host of defenders, with Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross both injured, plus Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club. Kevin Wimmer is also touch and go with a hamstring injury, not expected to be available.

What they’re saying

Mark Hughes on Chelsea’s discipline issues: “Chelsea at the moment look like they are getting yellow and red cards more frequently, but that might be just an anomaly, something happening in the moment. I don’t think it is prevalent in their team. They are just strong when they need to be. It is not going to be tactic we are going to irritate them with, to step over the line, because if I’m honest I don’t think I’ll have the players to do that.”

Antonio Conte on Stoke: “The most important thing for us is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be a really tough game. We must prepare very well this game in all the situations, tactically, physically, to be disciplined. Stoke won against Arsenal and then drew against Manchester United. It means Stoke is a really good team.”

Prediction

Stoke City has given tough teams trouble, and could again if Maxim Chupo-Moting shows up at his best again, but it’s much more likely that Chelsea will ease by in this game. The Potters have fallen off slightly this season, and while their draw against Manchester United shows they pack some punch, it won’t be enough to see off a Chelsea side buoyed by the return of Eden Hazard. Chelsea could win their opening three Premier League away matches for the first time since 2009…their third away fixture of that campaign was a 2-1 victory at Stoke, so we’ll go for the same scoreline here.

Hope Solo says she has settled grievance with US Soccer

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Hope Solo has settled a grievance with U.S. Soccer over her suspension from the women’s national team following comments she made at the Rio Olympics.

The settlement was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 35-year-old goalkeeper was suspended for six months and her contract with the federation was terminated after she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S. team’s quarterfinal loss.

Details about the settlement, reached last month, were not released. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Association filed the grievance on Solo’s behalf.

In a statement provided Friday to The Associated Press, Solo reiterated her regret over the comments.

“As I expressed in my apology to the Swedish captain immediately following the match, I have tremendous respect for the Swedish team, and in describing the style of play, I used a choice of words that was both offensive and not at all what I had intended to convey,” she said.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

“We have amicably resolved the matter and are moving forward in a positive way,” she added.

U.S. Soccer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Women’s Soccer Team Players Association declined to comment.

Solo anchored the team in goal for the 2015 Women’s World Cup victory, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament – earning her a second straight Golden Glove Award.

For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.

The defending champion U.S. women were ousted from the Olympics last summer when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.

Solo’s “cowards” quote came immediately following the loss. Sweden went on to play in the gold-medal match against Germany.

Solo told the AP in an interview late last year that she spoke to coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati following the loss, and felt that the issue was put to rest. After she returned to the United States, she said she was blindsided by the announcement about her suspension.

She said she believes U.S. Soccer wanted her off negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Solo has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay and was among the players who filed a complaint against the federation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.

“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing,” Solo told AP then. “It was a termination of my contract effective immediately with severance. That is a firing. It wasn’t a suspension, that’s what they told the media because it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was using the word `cowards’ but in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay.”

U.S. Soccer said at the time that Solo was suspended following a culmination of actions, and separately her contract was also terminated with the team.

Awful goalkeeping howler dooms Bayern to draw

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Bayern fans are already counting down the days until Manuel Neuer’s return in goal.

In his absence, Sven Ulreich has earned a pair of starts in Bundesliga play, and the most recent has not ended well. With Bayern leading Wolfsburg 2-0, Ulreich completely botched a simple save leading to Wolfsburg’s first goal, sparking a comeback from the visitors.

As Max Arnold delivered a free-kick 10 minutes after halftime, the ball sailed just over the wall and directly at Ulreich’s head. Instead of catching the attempt or using both hands to parry the shot, Ulreich raised just his right hand and failed to connect fully. The ball glanced off the side of his palm and into the back of the net to bring Wolfsburg a goal back.

The free-kick had decent pace, and it didn’t help that Sebastian Rudy made a poor attempt to block the delivery, but Ulreich won’t want to see a replay of that chance, as he made a hideous attempt to stop the shot. Wolfsburg would eventually equalize with just seven minutes remaining in the match as Daniel Didavi scored a pinpoint header in off the post. Ruddy let Didavi sneak behind him, and Paul Verhaegh delivered a fantastic long ball into the box for the 27-year-old to redirect in.

The draw means Bayern has failed to put pressure on Borussia Dortmund this weekend, leaving Die Roten level with their Dortmund rivals on 13 points with the latter still to host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

Neuer likely won’t be back until January thanks to yet another foot injury, leaving Bayern to either continue along with Ulreich and hope he improves, or look for other options either in-house or on the free agent market. Ulreich came over from Stuttgart in the summer of 2015 and has backed up Neuer since.

Former Fulham midfielder Sidwell tells another amazing Felix Magath story

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German manager Felix Magath has always been known as a mercurial individual, but as time passes from his failed stint in charge of relegated club Fulham, more and more stories continue to flow from former players that absolutely boggle the mind.

The most famous story thus far has come from former Fulham defender Brede Hangeland about Magath’s suggestion that applying cottage cheese directly to his ailing knee would help solve his injury problem. Hangeland also spoke of how Magath would make the team run in the dead of night after returning from away trips, calling him “an awful human being.”

Now, former Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell, who spent three years at Craven Cottage, spoke up about his own experiences under Magath. Sidwell, now with Brighton but yet to make a Premier League appearance, told BBC 5 Live Sports about another time Magath was frustrated with his squad, and how he chose a different way to express that during training.

“We played poorly – I can’t remember what game it was – and we got off the bus and he said ‘right, well everyone in tomorrow at 8:00 and we’re gonna train.’ We was due a day off but we’re gonna be in for training. So everyone got in, we got outside…there was no balls coming out with us so we’re thinking ‘right, ok.’ So he’s gone ‘right, your formation yesterday, can you get in your positions?’ So we got on the pitch…goalkeeper, back four, midfield four, two strikers…stood there. And he said, ‘right, you didn’t want to run around yesterday, we’re not gonna run around today.’ And he just blew the whistle, and he said ‘everyone just stand still.’ And we had to just stand still. And it was a cold day, and there was a couple lads with gloves on, they was off straight away. There was leaves blowing across the pitch, you couldn’t make eye contact with anyone, you had to just stand there, and I think we was just there for about 40 minutes just standing there.”

In. Credible. Stuff. Sidwell also said that Magath had every player participate in a pint night before each and every away game, often in the hotel bar.

Magath was fired in September of 2014, just seven months after his hire, with Fulham having suffered an eleven-game winless streak. The Whites were eventually relegated later that season, and have not recovered since, still in the Championship looking for a return to the top flight.