Report: Juan Agudelo signs for Stoke City, will join in January

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This rumor has been rattling around for a few days now… and it seems as though USMNT youngster Juan Agudelo is heading to the Premier League.

Agudelo, 20, has been tracked by Stoke City manager Mark Hughes for some time and Stoke’s new manager has finally got his man.

The New England Revolution forward is apparently out of contract with Major League Soccer on December 31 2013, and under the rules he can discuss a contract with another club when six months or less is remaining on his deal.

Word on the street is that Agudelo has signed a pre-contract agreement with the Potters and will join up with his new team in January. There were also rumors that Stoke met with Agudelo on their recent preseason tour of the US to tie up a deal.

(MORE: Juan Agudelo attracting Stoke’s interest, time to move on?)

This may enrage some fans, especially those of the New York Red Bulls, as MLS will receive no transfer fee for Agudelo. However with the move all but sealed for January, it is believed that Major League Soccer are trying to strike a deal with Stoke in order to sale Agudelo on this summer and get some cash in return.

From his rapid rise as 17-year-old with the US national team, Agudelo’s career has slumped a little of late. But with this new opportunity to join US internationals Brek Shea, Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu at Stoke, Agudelo’s career may finally reach the levels we all hoped it would.

Agudelo left the Red Bulls last season after being underused by Hans Backe, but soon found himself surplus to requirements with all the craziness going on at Chivas USA. And despite scoring three times in four starts since joining New England in a trade, something hasn’t been quite right.

(MORE: Thursday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Juan Agudelo to Stoke)

A knee sprain hasn’t helped matters, but will Agudelo now stay at New England for the rest of 2013? Or will MLS and New York put pressure on the Revs’ to accept a transfer fee from Stoke, as New York and the league would surely prefer being reimbursed for producing a youngster of international caliber… rather than getting nothing.

Jurgen Klinsmann will likely welcome the news of Agudelo moving to Stoke. But will he play in the Premier League? Right now Hughes has plenty of strikers, but with Peter Crouch out of favor and Cameron Jerome under pressure after betting offenses, the Red Bulls academy product could see some playing time before January 1, if a fee is agreed in the next week or so before the MLS transfer deadline.

It all adds up to an interesting scenario, in which the shared interest of the league and certain clubs will play out in the public eye once more. As the Clint Dempsey transfer showed this week, the league has a firm hand in every deal its clubs make.

That very fact may see Agudelo leave now for something, rather than joining Stoke in January for absolutely nothing.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

Photo credit: New England Revolution / Twitter: @NERevolution
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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”