Portland Timbers v Real Salt Lake

Examining both sides of Jason Kreis, NYCFC possibilities

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Jason Kreis, whose contract is up with Real Salt Lake after this year, has told me and everyone else who cares to bring up the situation that he is focused on his team, on Major League Soccer’s regular season stretch drive and on the upcoming U.S. Open Cup final.

Being the soccer-obsessed perfectionist that he is, Kreis is surely telling the truth.

So when news broke from SI.com that Kreis flew to England recently to meet with Manchester City officials about the job soon to open at New York City FC (a club that will become the 20th MLS franchise in 2015), I instantly understood one thing: Kreis is seriously considering this thing. The possibility of it, at least.

It’s not just a bargaining ploy; he could have played a ploy chip without crossing oceans and multiple time zones.

Yes, it was a weekend off for RSL. Still, if I had asked Kreis on a Friday, before a September break in the schedule, if he would be doing any fishing or head to Vegas for a boys weekend or whatever during the little break, he would have laughed at me. He would talk about a bunch of scouting and video study, about youth academy catch-up sessions and meetings with management on upcoming contract and 100 things that needed doing for RSL. In other words, he would have found plenty of club-related things to do. So … Kreis is clearly intrigued.

Best guess here as someone who has known the guy since he was a rookie player in MLS back in 1996: This isn’t about money. Rather, it’s about a potential life-shifting opportunity. Because he knows what he has at Rio Tinto is a good thing.

Besides, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen is a smart guy who sees the big picture when it comes to financial matters. Sources say RSL’s offer already on the table would put Kreis among the three highest paid MLS managers. That’s not bad considering that he coaches in a smaller market and that, at age 40, Kreis remains among the youngest MLS managers.

So let’s quickly examine the pros and cons of the NYCFC position:

PROS

Kreis is an ambitious guy, and hooking up with the Manchester City organization could provide extra exposure and open doors for Kreis to eventually become the first American to manage at the highest level in Europe. Don’t forget, he was the youngest manager to win an MLS Cup (still is), so Kreis already has accomplished a lot, even though he is really just getting started in the managerial biz. Getting into a bigger market could best position Kreis for maximum future achievement.

The big money sure to come cascading through the second Big Apple club could provide access to players Kreis and RSL are just never going to get. Even if Hansen were willing to drop huge bucks on a pricey transfer fee for some top-line man, luring the game’s global A-listers to Utah will always be tricky.

Further, having the opportunity to build something from the ground up, with near unlimited resources, surely must be intriguing.

CONS

Kreis already has a great situation at RSL, clearly. He has a terrific and effective working relationship with ownership – perhaps he is not as close to Hansen as he was with former owner Dave Checketts, but the relationship seems solid – and with upper management.

source:
Former U.S. national team star Claudio Reyna, center, will be NYCFC’s director of soccer operations.

He has already accomplished so much, and that buys latitude and benefit of the doubt if things ever begin going sideways. Kreis certainly won’t get that in New York, a tough and demanding market where he will start from scratch in terms of building organizational chops.

Working with Claudio Reyna, the upstart club’s director of soccer operations, might be wonderful. But who knows at this point? Since this is a spanking new club, Kreis has zero idea of the politics he could be walking into. I am not saying it’s going to be a fiasco or even difficult … just saying that there is no way anyone could know at this point.

At RSL, Kreis controls so much regarding training, travel and operational scheduling, plus a big say in personnel. At New York City FC … who knows? What will the organizational structure look like, for instance?

By the way, where is the team going to play? Where will the team train? I mean, the franchise’s initial training camp is 16 months away. That may sound like a lot, but it’s really not when it comes to these momentous choices. Remind me what progress NYCFC has made on these critical elements since the splashy announcement in May? Exactly, there hasn’t been much.

There are lots of questions here. At RSL, the upside is hardly as vast, but at least Kreis knows his upsides and his downsides.

Joel Matip set to miss a month as FIFA dispute continues

DERBY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Joel Matip of Liverpool in action during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Derby County and Liverpool at iPro Stadium on September 20, 2016 in Derby, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Liverpool could be without central defender Joel Matip for another month.

[ MORE: Costa trains on own ]

Matip, 25, was called up by the Cameroon national team for the 2017 African Cup of Nations which is currently taking place in Gabon. However, the former Schalke defender has previously stated that he did not want to play for them and he had retired from international duty.

Cameroon called him into their initial 35-man squad for the competition anyway but did not include him in their final 23-man squad once it became clear Matip, along with six other players, had no interest in playing for them at AFCON.

Now, Matip and Liverpool are in limbo and the Reds do now want to risk facing a FIFA sanction for playing someone who is deemed ineligible for selection.

FIFA has confirmed that Liverpool has been in touch regarding Matip’s status and it now appears that he will not be able to play in any other competition while Cameroon is still in AFCON action under Article 5 of FIFA’s rules which are as follows:

“A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe, plus an additional period of five days.”

What now?

Cameroon is not releasing Matip as they obviously feel slighted that he didn’t want to play for them (even though he hasn’t made an appearance for The Indomitable Lions since Sept. 2015) so now Liverpool must wait for them to be knocked out of AFCON unless an agreement is reached. If Cameroon make it to the final on Feb. 5 then Matip will not be available to play for Liverpool again until Feb. 10.

Matip was left out of Liverpool’s squad for the 1-1 draw at Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday as there wasn’t any clear guidance given to the club by FIFA on his availability.

After the game his manager Jurgen Klopp revealed his true feelings about the situation.

“Our understanding is Joel is retired from international football and we, the club, did everything we had to do to make this clear but until now we could not get the response we need to be 100 per cent sure that he can play,” Klopp said. “It’s pretty difficult and pretty frustrating, to be honest. He’s been in training for five days and would have been in the squad, 100 per cent, maybe on the pitch today, so I don’t think it’s fair. But we cannot do more and are still waiting on the decision. We could not take the risk. It is public now, we have this problem and we are not the only team with this problem.”

I’m with Klopp. Shambles.

West Bromwich Albion are also dealing with a similar situation with Cameroon as Allan Nyom cannot get FIFA clearance to play after he also refused a call up.

As for Liverpool, Matip has been key since arriving last summer on a free transfer, playing 14 games in all competitions and scoring once. His partnership with Dejan Lovren has now been broken up and Ragnar Klavan has looked shaky since coming back into the team after Matip’s ankle injury which last saw him play on Dec. 11 against Middlesbrough.

Chelsea’s Diego Costa trains on his own

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Diego Costa of Chelsea reacts during the Emirates FA Cup sixth round match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on March 12, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Reports from multiple outlets in the UK claim that Diego Costa trained on his own on Monday.

[ MORE: Europe’s 100 most valuable

That shouldn’t be too surprising but anything to do with Costa right now is news.

Costa, 28, was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the 3-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday but manager Antonio Conte cited a back injury for the absence of the Premier League’s leading scorer who has 14 goals and five assists this season.

However, reports emerged last Friday that Costa was involved in a training ground bust up last Tuesday with a member of Chelsea’s medical staff and had a heated debate with Conte. Couple that with reports of a monster contract offer of over $40 million per year from the Chinese Super League and you have, reportedly, a player in turmoil.

Pro Soccer Talk can confirm that Chelsea’s players who played on Saturday were given two days off by Conte, so the vast majority of the squad were not in training on Monday.

Photos taken on Monday (below) show Costa on his own at Chelsea’s Cobham base on Monday and he has supposedly been working on his own for the past two days as he tries to regain full fitness.

All of this will add further fuel to the fire that Costa has been exiled from the first team due to his supposed row with Conte, but it must be noted that it is not uncommon for players returning from an injury to train on their own until they get back up to speed.

It is thought that Costa has been working hard in the past two days in individual sessions to prove to Conte and his staff that he can return to first team training. Whatever you want to believe is going on, Costa’s importance to Chelsea is clear as their top scorer is needed back fast despite their seven-point lead at the PL’s summit.

Chelsea is a different team without Costa and although Eden Hazard and Co. breezed past Leicester at the weekend, they didn’t look the same in attack and they need Costa back ASAP.

Both Costa and Conte should put their differences aside, but it seems as though Conte will be the one who will be dictating the next step and its up to Costa to make amends.

What lies ahead for USMNT in January camp?

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Bruce Arena’s reign as the new U.S. national team head coach is well under way and the veteran seems to be enjoying his second stint in charge after 10 years away.

[ MORE: Europe’s 100 most valuable ]

The USMNT have been training in Carson, Calif. over the past five days and a pretty cool behind-the-scenes video of the opening day of training was released by U.S. Soccer (see above) to show how Arena has been getting on.

With 31 players currently in camp, Arena is enjoying himself (banter with DaMarcus Beasley and waxing lyrical about Jermaine Jones says as much) but he already has one eye on the two crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama coming up in March.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news

This camp will be key for the MLS-heavy contingent, with the likes of Chad Marshall, Benny Feilhaber, Dax McCarty and Juan Agudelo getting another chance to impress for the Stars and Stripes. So many youngsters have emerged from these camps in the past, with Kekuta Manneh, Keegan Rosenberry and Walker Zimmerman just some of the young talent looking to not only make their debuts but also become regulars in the USMNT setup.

Veterans Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi and others are all around and ready to prove their worth to the new boss too.

Below is a quick look at what lies ahead for his team during January camp (and beyond) as they prepare for two friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica to tune themselves up for the World Cup qualifiers when the European contingent will join the squad.


Training

  • Jan. 11-28 – Carson, Calif.

Friendlies 

  • Jan. 29 – Serbia in San Diego, Calif.
  • Feb. 3 – Jamaica in Chattanooga, Tenn.

2018 World Cup qualifiers

  • Mar. 24 – vs. Honduras in San Jose, Calif.
  • Mar. 28 – at Panama in Panama City

Study reveals Europe’s 100 most valuable players

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur (L) celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur (R) during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane on January 14, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Wait, what?

[ MORE: Title race over for City? ]

A study from the International Center for Sports Studies (CIES) has slapped valuations on Europe’s top stars and both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t the most valuable.

Hmm.

The guys over at the Football Observatory, the soccer arm of CIES, always do a great job with these kind of studies and below you will find who they’ve ranked as the 100 most valuable players in Europe’s top five leagues.

CIES take players’ performance on the pitch, contract length, age and many other factors into place when ranking them and in the extensive study 10 Premier League clubs have players included as stars from Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur feature.

In total, 38 PL players are in the top 100.

Neymar is the most valuable player in Europe as the Barcelona star has a valuation of $261.5 million, which puts him way ahead of Lionel Messi who sits in second place with a value of $180.6 million.In third place is Manchester United’s Paul Pogba who has a value of $164.5 million, while Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez round out the top five.

Below is the top 100 list in full, courtesy of CIES, with their club, age and when their current contract runs out listed.

Do you agree with their valuations?


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