Giovanni Trapattoni out as Republic of Ireland manager

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Breaking news this morning from the Emerald Isle as the Republic of Ireland are now searching for a new manager.

Following two defeats during the recent international break, 74-year-old manager Giovanni Trapattoni has left his role as Ireland’s manager after almost six years in charge.

The legendary Italian coach has called it quits, as qualification to the 2014 World Cup is now almost out of reach for the Irish after a 2-1 defeat to Sweden on Friday and Tuesday evening’s 1-0 loss to Austria.

Trapattoni has become a fans favorite over recent years, and he thanked the Irish nation for the opportunity to coach their side.

“I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here which has always meant a lot to us,” Trapattoni said. “We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect.”

While the Football Association of Ireland posted the following statement on their website.

“We thank Giovanni Trapattoni, Marco Tardelli and Fausto Rossi for the last five and a half years during which we qualified for our first major tournament in ten years and were close to qualification for 2010 World Cup in South Africa after the play-off in France.”

Trapattoni took charge in 2008 to stabilize Ireland’s faltering fortunes on the international stage and he came agonizingly close to reaching the 2010 World Cup, as the Irish lost in a playoff to France after Thierry Henry’s widely condemned handball knocked Ireland out.

(MORE: European qualifying roundup: Two qualify, while four groups remain tight)

However the Irish did mange to qualify for Euro 2012 last summer but the tournament was a disaster as Trapattoni’s men who lost all three group games to crash out. Yet despite that damaging European Championship campaign, the Irish fans still believed their Italian manager was the man to lead them forward to Brazil.

This WC 2014 qualifying campaign was always going to be Trapattoni’s last if the Republic didn’t qualify and that was all but confirmed last night as they lost to Austria and Sweden beat Kazakhstan. That result leaves the Irish six points off the playoff spot with just two games to go and a huge goal differential deficit to overcome. They had shown brief moments of promise throughout qualifying but pivotal losses this week marked the end of Trapattoni’s Irish adventure.

As for Ireland’s next manager, the early bookmakers favorite to replace Trapattoni is former Aston Villa and Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill. While other frontrunners include former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy returning for a second spell, Norwich City manager Chris Hughton and former Ireland captain and controversial figure, Roy Keane.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.

Three storylines when Mexico meets Germany in Confed Cup semis

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With a place in the final on the line tomorrow afternoon, it’s all or nothing for Mexico and Germany as they meet in the second semifinal at this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

The two nations have had very similar paths in reaching the final four, after both accumulated seven points during the group stage and showed signs of improvement with every match.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA Confederations Cup action ]

Here are some of the key battles to watch on Thursday when Mexico and Germany square off for a place in the final.

How does Germany’s youth hold up vs. Mexico’s experience?

Even when Jurgen Low released his roster heading into the Confederations Cup, much was expected of the Germans. After a strong run of play during the group stage, Low’s men have lived up to the billing with an exciting young attack and an improving backline to match.

When Germany meets Mexico though, the defending World Cup champions will be taking on an El Tri side that has loads of international experience, and similar to that of Chile, the Europeans will surely receive all that they can handle.

At the tender age of 23, Julian Draxler captains the Germans and has been challenged with leading his nation throughout the tournament. The PSG attacker has been quality thus far, but he and his side will take on a whole different task on Thursday against a quick, feisty Mexican group.

Will Hirving Lozano be the difference in the attack?

Injuries and a key suspension will certain hinder Mexico in the semifinal round, but the bigger question is: how will Juan Carlos Osorio’s side cope with the losses?

El Tri know it will be without winger Andres Guardado due to yellow card accumulation, while striker Javier Hernandez is in question ahead of the Germany clash after reportedly training by himself on Monday.

Although Hernandez likely just needed rest after a busy season of matches in the Bundesliga, Mexico is still seeking a quality playmaker to replace Guardado on Thursday, one that they’re hoping with be Hirving Lozano.

The newly-signed PSV man has quickly become one of the top young faces in global soccer, and with three international goals for El Tri dating back to 2016, Lozano is the spark that Mexico needs.

El Tri must start fast

In all three of Mexico’s group stage matches Osorio’s side fell behind during the first half. While El Tri managed to come away unscathed to remain perfect in group play, it’s difficult to imagine that they will be able to pull off the same feat against a quality German side.

On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience has been impressive. In their opener against Portugal, El Tri pulled off a late winner against the reigning European champions, a result that likely set the tone for the team’s ensuing comebacks versus New Zealand and Russia, respectively.