Jack Wilshere apologizes after smoking in public, but is this the end?

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Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was the hero on Sunday, as he scored the equalized for the Gunners to nick a 1-1 draw at West Brom.

But much of the talk this week has been about Wilshere’s action off the pitch.

The 21-year-old midfielder was pictured smoking in public following Arsenal’s midweek Champions League win over Napoli, and despite his agent originally dismissing the reports despite clear evidence, Wilshere admitted he was in the wrong.

“I made a mistake,” Wilshere said. “Players make mistakes, I’m not a smoker. I spoke with the boss [Wenger] he asked me what happened and I explained it and we sorted it out. He put me in the team today and hopefully I repaid him.”

Wilshere’s honesty, in the end, is refreshing but it took a while. Many will argue he shouldn’t have apologized and believe the youngster was well within his right to have a quick cigarette. As a top athlete, it’s probably not the most advisable habit.

(MORE: Wilshere pictured smoking, Arsene Wenger not happy)

Nobody is doubting Wilshere’s technical ability, but he has certainly got a fiery temperament on the pitch and unsavory incidents like this, even at the age of 21, could spell trouble for the future. Many have compared Wilshere to Paul Gascoigne. The way he plays, with his diminutive size yet gigantic stature and surging runs from midfield, certainly remindw me of Gascoigne in his pomp. Let’s hope all of Gazza’s problems off the field don’t start to creep into Wilshere’s life too.

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Despite a tough week off the pitch, Wilshere grabbed Arsenal’s equalizer against West Brom on Sunday.

Luckily, I don’t think it will.

He has the right mentor in Wenger to succeed for many years at the highest level, and keep his feet grounded. But he mustn’t get too distracted off the pitch, he knows that. But as a 21-year-old professional soccer player living amongst the bright lights of London, there are bound to be plenty of distractions heading his way. Hopefully Wilshere can handle them better than he did earlier this week.

And if he does, both Wenger and England manager Roy Hodgson believe he will captain Arsenal and the Three Lions very soon, as the supremely talented midfielder from Stevenage has the potential to become one of the world’s best midfielders.

“Wilshere has got the personality, the ­character and the quality to accept ­responsibility, to accept the pressure,” Hodgson said. “I foresee a fantastic England career for him. I would agree with Arsène Wenger and say Jack has got the ­qualities [to be England captain], there’s no doubt about that.”

Maybe it’s too soon for that, but if Wilshere shows the same admirable honesty and responsibility he did this week, then maybe the youngster has just turned the corner.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.

WATCH: Snazzy Sargent goal leads U.S. U-17s past Mexico

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Josh Sargent scored a pretty goal as the United States Soccer program had another banner day against Mexico.

Nearly two months to the day after the U.S. U-20 side beat Mexico for the first time in 31 years, the U.S. U-17 topped El Tri for the first time ever. That win snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak.

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The goal is the first of Sargent’s two goals, as the 16-year-old latched onto a long diagonal ball and used his right foot and head to move the ball into position for a strong shot.

The U.S. clinches a spot in the next round of U-17 World Cup qualifying with one match remaining in group play.

Sargent is from St. Louis and plays with Scott Gallagher-Missouri. Former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth coaches the U.S. U-17s.

Heads of South American soccer sent $128M in bank transfers

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) The leaders of South America’s soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation’s former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning in 2013 for what he said were health reasons.

The audit also found $58 million in payments “to third parties without adequate documentation,” payments of $33.3 million to “unidentified accounts,” and $10.4 million to “suspicious third-parties.”

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“We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL who commissioned the audit last year. “Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”

Leoz, 88, is one of three ex-presidents of CONMEBOL accused on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice. He is in Paraguay fighting extradition to the United States.

The South American body has been plagued by corruption, which was exposed two years ago during the FIFA scandal. Leoz’s two successors, Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout, were both arrested on corruption charges.

“I’m here, I’m the manager” – Moyes will not quit Sunderland

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This has been one horrible stretch for David Moyes.

The Sunderland manager probably thought he’d been through the worst once he left Real Sociedad, where he went 12-15-15.

But he’s managed just seven wins and seven draws in 38 matches in charge of the Black Cats — an 18 percent win mark. He’s also been charged for threatening to slap a female journalist.

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And after Wednesday, Moyes has lost both of his derby matches against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland is 12 points back of safety with five matches left. The odds the Black Cats are headed for the Championship are somewhere north of 99 percent, and fans are calling for his job.

Well, he isn’t quitting. From the BBC:

“No, I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose.

“There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”