Clint Dempsey

Is Clint Dempsey’s arrival the biggest shock in MLS history?

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We’ve had the weekend and a manic Monday to contemplate all of this.

One more time: Clint Dempsey is a Seattle Sounders player.

That sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

But his arrival has thrown up so many questions since it happened, that we haven’t really had time to sit back and figure out what this all means.

Transfer fee transparency, LA and Toronto, multiple press conferences and other MLS clubs egos aside, is signing Dempsey the biggest shock in the league’s 18-year history?

It has to be. Even the arrival of David Beckham and Thierry Henry didn’t surprise us this much.

(MORE: How Dempsey’s deal came together, new details on Deuce’s deal with Seattle)

What makes it more shocking is that the move comes after Jurgen Klinsmann has repeatedly said he wants his best players to play in Europe and jokingly called Dempsey out for not playing in the UEFA Champions League. Now he finds the USMNT captain as the new face of MLS.

That’s what Deuce is. Forget Henry or Landon Donovan as the player that epitomizes MLS. Dempsey is now your man.

To have that sprung upon us in the past few days has been almost too much to handle for US fans and media outlets. When we confirmed the story on Friday evening after many, many discussions behind the scenes, trying to get to the bottom of this transfer took a while.

The initial question on the mind of everyone was about whether or not this was a good or bad move for Clint.

I think we saw from yesterday’s press conference that this move was very much about his young family. We are talking about a player who left the USA in his early 20s to compete in one of Europe’s top leagues. He has now returned to the USA and is ready to live in his homeland once again. He’s happy to be back in MLS. Most people are happy to have him back.

(MORE: The Dempsey Route: Allocation is focus, but another “rule change” a bigger issue for MLS)

But the fact Deuce actually made it back surprises me.

Obviously Adrian Hanauer and Joe Roth were working hard behind the scenes for a few weeks to get this all in place, from about July 20. But to have Dempsey agree to all this really surprised me. The likes of Alexi Lalas, John Harkes and Tab Ramos gave up their careers in Europe to help build and grow MLS in 1996. Is Dempsey doing the same to take MLS to the next level? Well, he’s getting paid a handsome sum of money to do it, so let’s not make him out to be some kind of sacrificial lamb.

However, does the transfer show a lack of ambition or drive from Deuce?

Following yesterday’s press conference where Dempsey spoke alongside Hanauer and Sigi Schmid, there was much talk of how Seattle have been ambitiously chasing Dempsey’s signature since 2010. If the Sounders would have pulled that off then, it would have been a huge coup. But now it’s arguably bigger.

(MORE: MLS gets cloudier, not transparent, with Dempsey’s Sounders deal)

Ahead of the World Cup in 2014, Dempsey will be playing his soccer in MLS. He is still in the late prime of his career and was expected to play in Europe for at least another two or three seasons. At least. His capture signifies the direction in which the league is going: up.

When Beckham, Henry, Robbie Keane or any of the other big name players have arrived in MLS during recent seasons, there’s been euphoria and excitement. But nothing quite like the return of Deuce.

Shocking. Sensational. Fantastic. Any superlative you want doesn’t do the rigmarole of #DempseyWatch justice. Seeing this all unfold was a unique experience, US soccer fans may never see their national team captain prefer MLS over the Premier League again.

The shock of Dempsey’s arrival still hasn’t properly dissipated. Give it time. Deuce wearing Rave Green this Saturday in Toronto will properly announce, once and for all, that the biggest transfer shock in the league’s history has indeed happened.

In case you’re struggling to wrap your head around it all, below is Dempsey’s introductory press conference from yesterday in full. Seeing is believing.

FIFA disbands racism task force ahead of World Cup in Russia

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
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MANCHESTER, England (AP) FIFA has disbanded its anti-racism task force, declaring the work complete despite ongoing concerns about discriminatory behavior in 2018 World Cup host Russia.

FIFA wrote to members of the task force to say that it has “completely fulfilled its temporary mission” and “is hereby dissolved and no longer in operation.”

“I wish I could say that I am shocked by the decision, but unfortunately I am not,” task force member Osasu Obayiuwana told The Associated Press on Sunday. “The problem of racism in football remains a burning, very serious and topical one, which need continuous attention.

“I personally think there remained a lot of very serious work for the task force to have done – the 2018 World Cup in Russia being one such matter. But it is evident the FIFA administration takes a different position.”

The task force was established in 2013 by then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter and headed by Jeffrey Webb, a vice president of world soccer’s governing body until he was arrested in 2015 as part of the American investigation into soccer corruption.

Webb, who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, was replaced exactly a year ago as task force chairman by Congolese federation president Constant Omari, who also sits on FIFA’s ruling council.

“We never had a single meeting under his chairmanship,” Obayiuwana said. “I wrote him, more than once, asking for when a meeting would be held. But I never received a reply from him.”

Obayiuwana, a journalist, broadcaster and qualified lawyer, received the letter from FIFA on Friday announcing the end of the task force.

“The FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination was set up with your help on a temporary basis to develop recommendations for FIFA,” wrote Gerd Dembowski, FIFA’s diversity and anti-discrimination manager.

“We are therefore delighted to inform you that all of the task force’s recommendations have been implemented and all resulting projects are ongoing.”

FIFA pointed to the introduction of an anti-discrimination monitoring system at matches, the launch of a “Good Practice Guide ,” starting a team of footballing legends and a new diversity award. Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s first female and non-European secretary general, will present the award on Monday at the SoccerEx convention in Manchester.

FIFA also told task force members that its own initiatives “actually exceed the working group’s recommendations” – trumpeting its “Say No to Racism” campaign, women’s leadership conferences and programs in Russia. There are less than nine months until Russia stages the Confederations Cup, the warm-up event for the 2018 World Cup.

The most recent research from the Moscow-based SOVA Center and the UEFA-affiliated FARE Network reported a surge in the number of racist displays by Russian soccer fans, with most cases going unpunished. Researchers logged 92 incidents of discriminatory displays and chants by Russian fans in and around stadiums in the 2014-15 season, against a total of 83 for the previous two seasons put together.

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-0 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): It was mostly the Crew from start to finish, and Ola Kamara’s brace helped ensure Greg Berhalter’s side that the team will remain in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. While the other Kamara — Kei — and his Revolution teammates were largely limited for chances on the evening, the Crew backline did an admirable job to prevent their opposition from testing them. For the Crew, it was the team’s first shutout since the two sides last met on August 20, ironically also a 2-0 victory for Berhalter’s group.

[ MORE: David Villa discusses MLS playoffs, Guardiola and more ]

Three moments that mattered

42′ – Ola smashes one past the Revs on the stroke of halftime — The Crew attack has sputtered a lot in 2016, but Ola Kamara continues to keep the team’s bleak playoff hopes intact.

67′ — Afful’s effort smacks against the post, stays out — The Crew attacked and attacked and attacked some more. Harrison Afful was definitely a bit unlucky that this chance didn’t end up in Brad Knighton’s goal.

84′ — Questionable penalty seals the points — It looked a bit soft to be given, but Kamara makes no mistake with the finish.

 

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ola Kamara

Goalscorers: Ola Kamara (42′, 84)

Watch: Dario Benedetto scores audacious blast for Boca Juniors

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When there’s little support up the field, what should you do?

Just ask, Dario Benedetto.

The Boca Juniors man broke Sunday’s 4-1 win over Quilmes wide open after a quarter hour when Benedetto smashed a 40-yard attempt into the back of the net, leaving the opposing keeper speechless.

The 26-year-old did just about everything right on the day, as Benedetto finished off the match with a hat-trick before halftime.

Serie A roundup: Torino knocks off Roma, Fiorentina-AC Milan finish scoreless

TURIN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 25:  Andrea Belotti (L) of Torino and Federico Fazio of Roma compete for the ball during the Serie A match between FC Torino and AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on September 25, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
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Joe Hart and Torino earned a 3-1 win over Roma on Sunday after two second-half finishes from Iago Falqué separated the hosts from the Giallorossi. Andrea Belotti struck for Torino after just eight minutes to give Siniša Mihajlović’s men the early lead. Meanwhile, Francesco Totti attempted to get Roma back in the match after halftime as the veteran striker converted from the penalty spot with 35 minutes remaining. For Totti, the goal marked his 250th in Serie A with Roma.

[ MORE: Schalke misery continues, Leipzig earns road point ]

Fiorentina drew AC Milan, 0-0, as the latter managed just one shot on target throughout the afternoon. Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was forced into five saves on the day, however, the Viola couldn’t find a way to break through the Milan backline.

Goals from Mattia Destro and Ivan Perisic cancelled out as Bologna picked up a point on the road against Inter Milan. Frank de Boer’s Inter currently sit third in Serie A, trailing only Juventus and Napoli, while holds the seventh spot.

Despite going down to nine men in the second half, Genoa managed a 1-1 draw against Pescara on Sunday afternoon. Giovanni Simeone’s opener gave the hosts the advantage just two minutes after the halftime whistle, however, Rey Manaj tapped in from close range in the 85th minute to secure a point for Pescara.

A pair of finishes from Balde Diao Keita and Senad Lulic helped hand Lazio a 2-0 win over Empoli to propel the Biancocelesti to fifth place in Serie A. The defeat leaves Empoli in the relegation zone through six matches.

Gregoire Defrel lifted Sassuolo past Udinese, 1-0, after knocking home the game’s lone finish in the 34th minute. Udinese fought until the very last minute, nearly finding an equalizer in the 90th minute when Felipe’s header struck the cross bar.