Hull City on the rise after double swoop for Huddlestone, Livermore

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In the space of a few hours on Wednesday, newly promoted Hull City strengthened their odds of Premier League survival considerably.

The Tigers sealed a sensational double swoop, signing midfielders Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore from Tottenham Hotspur.

Steve Bruce’s side badly needed reinforcements as the other newly promoted teams, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace, have added key players in previous days.

Huddlestone, 26, arrives on a three-year deal with the transfer fee thought to be around $8 million for the England international. While 23-year-old Livermore joins on a season-long loan from Spurs.

This tells us two things. One: Hull are extremely serious about staying in the Premier League and they’re likely to bring a physical and direct style of play. And two: Spurs are making room for more possible arrivals as they have a clear-out in midfield. Andre Villas-Boas mentioned that on Saturday following their final preseason friendly with Espanyol, where Livermore and Huddlestone both came on as subs.

(MORE: Premier League Preview: Hull City AFC)

In Huddlestone, Hull City have acquired a player with undoubted ability at the highest level. When fit, the former Derby County academy product is a beast in the midfield engine room. He’s won four caps for England and is unlucky to have not won more with several injuries hampering his development in the last two to three years.

Obviously at Spurs he was falling down the pecking order, with the arrival of Paulinho and Nacer Chadli making competition for places even tougher. Now with the chance to prove himself and play regularly, Huddlestone will make Hull’s midfield solid as a rock. But he’s tremendous range of passing is also underrated. He poses a hammer of a right foot and can score long-distance screamers when given the chance.

I’m sure Tigers’ fans will be excited to see him wear the No. 8 shirt this season. And expect to see plenty of fake afro wigs around the KC Stadium too, Huddlestone has become famous for his tremendous hairdo.

As for Livermore, he’s another player that’s suffered due to the extremely competitive midfield core at White Hart Lane. The young Englishman has done well whenever called upon, appearing 38 times for Spurs last season and scoring once. Most of those appearances came off the bench but he was progressing into a valuable squad player after coming through the ranks and signing a professional deal in 2008. While Livermore is no stranger to a loan deal, as Hull will be the seventh club that Spurs have farmed him out to.

(MORE: Premier League Team Guide: The lowdown on Hull City – Video)

Hull have added a dynamic duo of exciting, dependable and young English talent. Their fans will definitely be feeling more optimistic about the season ahead with their squad all of a sudden looking a lot more competitive as the opening day draws even closer.

Can they cause a shock against Chelsea against Stamford Bridge in their season opener on Sunday? I’m not sure about that. But now they have a fighting chance.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.