How do we feel about Dom Dwyer’s one-game loan to Orlando City? Sporting attacker will play in USL PRO title game.

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Dom Dwyer has nothing to prove in the third division, especially after scoring 15 times in 13 games with Orlando City SC earlier this year. He hasn’t been able to replicate the proficiency with Sporting KC, but the 23-year-old attacker does have a goal in 206 minutes of action. With Kei Kamara gone to Middlesbrough, the former South Florida Bull is in line for more time with his Major League Soccer team.

Regardless, Dwyer has been loaned back to Orlando City, albeit under very unique circumstances – a situation that might disappoint the Charlotte Eagles. They’re Orlando’s competition in Saturday’s USL PRO title game, and thanks to today’s agreement between Sporting and Orlando, they’ll also be the opponents for Dwyer’s curious one-game loan.

Here’s the player, from Major League Soccer’s website:

“It’s going to be fun,” Dwyer said on Wednesday, shortly after learning that he would be loaned back to Sporting’s affiliate for Saturday’s USL PRO title game against the Charlotte Eagles. “Obviously, they’ve done really well to get the game at home, and I’m excited about it, I didn’t think I was going to get to go. I thought I’d just be wishing them luck.”

Why would he think he was going to go? There was no reason to think this would happen. After all, since when to players go on one-game loans to bolster squads for a title game? Is this something we’re doing now? Because if so, it sure seems like the Eagles get screwed by the new practice.

Dwyer was with Orlando earlier this year, so from a certain point of view, you could argue he was a part of their success and deserves to further contribute to their possible title. But it’s still incredibly perverse, akin to trading away a player mid-season only to see him make a cameo in the most important game of the season. Things similar to this can happen in minor league baseball, but not quite so abruptly. Particularly given Orlando is not a Sporting KC farm team, this is weird to the point of being wrong.

Here’s Sporting’s Peter Vermes with some background:

“They called me last week after they won [in the semifinals] and said, ‘Look, we’re decimated in the forward position with injuries, and a red card on one of the players, and then one player on international duty,'” Vermes said on Wednesday. “So they’ve got one guy. They asked if there was a chance that either Dom or C.J. [Sapong] could go, and they particularly wanted Dom because he’d been there as long as he had.

“I said it probably wasn’t the greatest time for us, either, but we have options, so I just feel obligated based on our partnership and how well we’ve worked with each other.”

This just makes it even more perverse. Somehow, Orlando has been able to turn their lack of depth and the team’s misfortune into an opportunity to upgrade. Averaging over a goal a game, Dwyer is clearly beyond third-tier quality, yet thanks to players being injured, suspended, and recalled, Orlando have actually improved. They wouldn’t have called and asked about Dwyer’s availability otherwise, but thanks to those circumstances, Dwyer becomes Orlando City’s ringer for Saturday’s title game.

I’m not going to go as far as to say this will taint an Orlando title — I don’t follow USL PRO much, so I shouldn’t judge — but conceptually, this seems all wrong. Allowing teams to reload from outside their organization three days before the title game? When did this become acceptable?

Perhaps for Charlotte, it’s not.

 

Transfer rumor roundup: Van Dijk to Chelsea, Ox to Anfield

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More and more players are being linked with Manchester United, but — believe it or not — the Red Devils aren’t the only club seeking talent.

DiMarzio is reporting that Antonio Conte is close to securing the services of Southampton center back Virgil Van Dijk, insisting the Dutch back is Conte’s top choice ahead of Juventus power house Leonardo Bonucci (which isn’t to say there isn’t room for both). The price? An eyebrow-raising $77 million.

[ MORE: Confederations Cup scenarios ]

Meanwhile, Conte is selling talented Bertrand Traore outside the Premier League. A solid season on loan at Ajax upped interest in the 21-year-old striker, and L’Equipe says it’s a $22 million move to Lyon for Traore.

How much do you think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is worth? Liverpool may think his value is as high as $32 million, as The Independent reports that Arsenal is prepared to sell the Southampton Academy product to the attacker-heavy Reds.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry‘s wild journey looks to have another stop despite a purchase from Bayern Munich this summer. Gnabry was one of Germany’s heroes at the Olympics and left Arsenal for Werder Bremen last summer. He thrived, and earned a deal to Bayern, but Kicker brings quotes from a Hoffenheim player that are hopeful of a loan for this season.

Messi offers to pay $558,000 to avoid 21-month jail sentence

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has offered to pay an additional fine of 500,000 euros ($558,000) to ensure he avoids a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud that a judge is expected to suspend, a Spanish state prosecutor said Friday.

State prosecutor Isabel Lopez Riera told The Associated Press the fine-for-time deal was presented by Messi’s lawyers to the judge who will rule on whether to suspend Messi’s sentence – as is widely expected. Lopez Riera said she has told the judge that her office is not opposed to the deal.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Lopez Riera said Messi’s lawyers have made a similar offer for the Barcelona player’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi. He is offering to pay 360,000 euros ($402,000) to avoid his 15-month sentence for helping his son cheat on his taxes.

In Spain, prison sentences under 24 months for first-time offenders can be suspended by a judge.

The government attorney representing Spain’s Tax Office in the case will also be able to weigh in on the proposed deal. As state prosecutor, Lopez Riera is impartial in the case as a defender of the public interest.

Last year, a court in Barcelona found Messi and his father each guilty of three counts of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. The unpaid taxes were from money made through endorsement deals, not Messi’s salary paid by Barcelona.

Messi was fined 2 million euros and his father 1.5 million euros. Both were originally sentenced to 21 months, but his father’s sentence was later reduced to 15 months.

In the last two weeks, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho have been accused by a Madrid-based state prosecutor of having defrauded Spain’s Tax Office of millions of euros (dollars) in unpaid taxes.

Both have denied wrongdoing.

WATCH: Pair of inspiring Academy videos from Men In Blazers

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Men In Blazers produced a pair of videos on two teens from rival academies that should give all young players a sense of gratitude and inspiration for their chances in American soccer.

New York City FC Academy center back Prince Amponsah and New York Red Bulls Academy destroyer Amadeo Chapru-Tate get the mini-doc treatment from Roger Bennett.

Amponsah comes from Ghana, and his family moved to the United States where their son found his way to the youth national team.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Chapru-Tate comes from Haiti, adopted by his parents after a three-year process. His first game saw him score an own goal, but that was not a sign of what’s to come for the 15-year-old.

Confederations Cup: Scenarios before final group matches

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Seven of eight nations remain alive for the knockout rounds after two-thirds of the group stage at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

Only New Zealand has been eliminated, though the underdogs aren’t the sort of nations who will quit ahead of its group finale against Portugal.

That’s one of two Saturday matches, along with Russia versus Mexico, with two more on the docket for Sunday when Germany meets Cameroon and Chile duels with Australia.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

We’ve seen zany finishes at the Confederations Cup before, as the U.S. beat Egypt 3-0 and Brazil topped Italy 3-0 on the final day of group play in 2009 to send the Americans past Italy and into the knockout rounds despite a tournament-opening 3-1 loss to the Italians.

Group A

Draws will be enough to send Mexico and Portugal into the knockout rounds, with Mexico currently leading the group by virtue of a single goal scored (The two sides drew 2-2 in the opener).

We mentioned New Zealand’s status as a wild card, but hosts Russia will be under immense pressure against Mexico. The cynic will note that the tournament’s location could help the Russians beyond simple home-field advantage, while a bigger cynic may not that Mexico has been the beneficiary of plenty of officials’ whistles and non-whistles in recent years.

The safe bet is Portugal to win and Mexico to advance via draw or win.

Group B

No one’s safe, but Chile is feeling very good about its chances coming into Sunday’s match against Australia in Moscow. The Chileans battered Australia at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and a draw would give them a place in the next round.

The Socceroos need a two-goal win to pass Chile and assure a spot in the next round. A one-goal win could also do the trick for Australia if Germany loses and Australia outscores the Germans (who currently hold a one-goal advantage).

Germany knows it’s result-and-in for them, while Cameroon faces the longest odds. Not only do the Africans need to upset the Germans, but they need a two-goal win and help. If Cameroon won by one, it would fail to pass Germany.