Luis Suarez to return against Manchester United, follow in Eric Cantona’s footsteps

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When Liverpool and Manchester United square off in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, one man, once again, will be dominating all the headlines.

Fate wanted it to be like this.

The draw for the third round was made at random a few weeks ago, and pitted two of world soccer’s biggest rivals together in an unplanned North West derby. What that random cup draw also did, inadvertently, was enable Suarez to announce his return to action (following his 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season) against Liverpool’s biggest rivals and play the hero.

You can’t make this stuff up.

It just so happened that his 10-game ban ran out just in time so he could face Manchester United, at Old Trafford, as he will surely face a cauldron of scathing United fans ready to boo, whistle and curse his every move. But that’s just the way Suarez likes it, it would seem. It simply had to be this way.

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Luis Suarez was banned 10-games for biting Ivanovic.

So, with Liverpool losing to Southampton during the final game of Suarez’ ban, many are now calling for the Uruguayan forward to be instantly recalled to the starting lineup to give the Reds an extra impetus and attacking panache, following their impressive start to the season.

Manager Brendan Rodgers will not have wanted to do that, especially given Suarez’ stance for most of the summer that he wanted to leave Liverpool, despite all the faith and love shown in him by the club and its fans. But with Philippe Coutinho injured, Daniel Sturridge not 100 percent fit, and a cup game against their biggest rivals all converging, it seems as though it’s written in the stars for Suarez to start, score and win the game for Liverpool against United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

But something dawned on me, we’ve seen this script before.

Cast your minds back to 1995, and the similarities between Suarez situation and that of Manchester United’s legendary striker Eric Cantona are eerie.

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Eric Cantona was banned for eight months for kicking a fan in the crowd.

Cantona returned to action in an unplanned cup game, against Liverpool, after his eight-month ban for kung-fu kicking a fan in the stands at Selhurst Park. Like Suarez, Cantona aired his intentions to leave English soccer, but Sir Alex Ferguson persuade him to stay. Then the fiery Frenchman returned to face arch-nemesis Liverpool at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in October 1995, scoring a penalty to snatch United a 2-2 draw.

The similarities between Cantona and Suarez’ situation are incredibly similar, and these two hot-headed genius’ will be mentioned in the same breath by many for years to come.

Should Liverpool decide to start Suarez against Manchester United on Wednesday, will he score and play the hero, just as Cantona did on his return?

If the bizarre similarities that are already inter-twinned between Suarez and Cantona are anything to go by, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Fate may have already sorted this one out.

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

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.