Rio Tinto Stadium

Domestic soccer treble? Odds say “unlikely,” but Real Salt Lake has the chance at something very special

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I have known some members of Real Salt Lake’s management for years, going back to their earliest playing days – and they will absolutely hate me for what I am about to do. Then again, this is what journalists and content providers do … stir the pot, whether it needs a stirring or not. So here goes:

Real Salt Lake has a chance – not a great one, but not a terrible one, either – to pull off something unprecedented in domestic soccer. And something quite special.

With Saturday’s improbable victory in Vancouver, where a squad 100 percent stocked with reservists went into BC Place and left with all three points, Real Salt Lake remains in contention for Supporters Shield. Seattle has games in hand, but the Sounders’ schedule ahead is far tougher than RSL’s remaining schedule. (Of course, teams in the East have something to say about this, too.)

Real Salt Lake has done enough to be considered an MLS Cup threat. And the men of Rio Tinto Stadium (pictured) will be heavily favored for Tuesday’s final in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition.

So … a U.S. Soccer professional soccer Treble? That is, U.S. Open Cup winner, Supporters Shield winner and MLS Cup winner from the same address in the same season?

Again, all kinds of things can go wrong here; history speaks to the difficulty of accomplishing such a thing. That is to say, it’s never been done.

Some quality clubs have checked off two of the three over the years. Six teams, in fact, have captured Supporters Shield and MLS Cup in the same season, the 2011 LA Galaxy being the most recent “Double” winners. (The list of Supporters Shield winners is here.)

Three teams have claimed MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup in the same year. But none have gone the full distance, so to speak, also capturing Supporters Shield in that same season. (The list of U.S. Open Cup  winners is here; the list of MLS Cup winners is here.)

So this is just a heads-up: Odds say RSL walking with all this is highly unlikely, especially considering how many young hands remain on deck for Kreis’ team. Still, it’s worth noting that such a chance even exists.

The first check on the box has to come tomorrow from Rio Tinto.

Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.