Most of us can only imagine the crushing misery and heartbreak Panamanian players felt last week as their World Cup dreams drifted off into the Central American night. Truly, it must have been wrenching.
But a couple of the Panamanians got on a plane, got past their profound disappointment and professionally went about the task of getting on with it. And their clubs were the better for it.
One was in Los Angeles, where Panamanian No. 1 Jaime Penedo made two absolutely outstanding saves (among four saves overall) to preserve a scoreless draw against San Jose and put the Galaxy into a better spot for its season finale visit to Seattle. So, well done, Panamanian sir.
Unfortunately, one of Penedo’s teammates one-upped him. That was Gabriel Torres, the young Panamanian attacker whose work for the Colorado Rapids helped get the DSG Park gang a 2013 playoff spot.
Torres’ hold-up work was great all night as the Rapids eliminated Vancouver, all but officially claiming a post-season berth. (Plus, the Rapids still have a chance to move out of the fourth- or fifth-place spot, into the far more desirable third-place position.)
The club’s first Designated Player leveled Saturday’s match with a well-taken 41st minute penalty kick after Rapids defender Drew Moor was dragged down inside the 18. But it was Torres’ brilliant 77th minute strike, yet another equalizer after the visitors had pulled ahead again, that truly had everyone around suburban Commerce buzzing.
What a strike! Both in terms of greater meaning (for the club) and it terms of individual showmanship for the 24-year-old, who joined the Rapids in August. Talk about unstoppable.
Here are the highlights from DSG Park, all the goals in the Rapids’ telling 3-2 win, including Torres’ fantastic work.
Super agent Mino Raiola has injected a ray of light into the hopes of both Juventus and Real Madrid fans when it comes to Paul Pogba.
The terrific midfielder has been widely reported as an imminent arrival at Manchester United, but Raiola has taken to Twitter to blast journalists who’ve reported the move and medical as done.
[ RANIERI: Mahrez will stay at LCFC ]
Pogba was photographed in Los Angeles amid claims he was undergoing a physical at United. Multiple reports have said he passed the medical and that Juventus has agreed to sell Pogba to United for a world record fee.
Raiola says different, though taken with the grain of salt that he’s set to make as much as $30 million on the deal and his job is to squeeze every possibly penny from suitors.
Claudio Ranieri seems to be genuine and honest in his evaluations, as we’ve seen in his dealings with Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante amongst others.
And the manager is making no bones about what he thinks is best for another Leicester City star in Riyad Mahrez.
[ MORE: Gameiro joins new club ]
Ranieri says the Algerian will face far more pressure at a new club then he will face still competing in the UEFA Champions League with the Foxes.
In other words, the 25-year-old should stick around. From Sky Sports:
“I speak often with him and say stay with us, it’s much better for your future, I think he is an intelligent man and he will stay,” Ranieri told Sky Sports News HQ.
“We support him very well, this is important, when you change teams maybe you don’t find team-mates who help you at the same level.
“He improves more if he stays with us for another year, maybe next year he can think about another solution. If he goes for a lot of money, everybody will be expecting something special. He can do something special, but with us.”
We tend to agree. Whereas N’Golo Kante was prepared to use Leicester as a stepping stone — and it seems Ranieri knew it — Mahrez has been with the Foxes since 2014 and seen his stature skyrocket.
Let’s see what happens, Riyad. Cool?
MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid says it has acquired French striker Kevin Gameiro from rival Spanish club Sevilla.
In exchange, Atletico has agreed to loan Argentine striker Luciano Vietto to Sevilla for one season.
Atletico says Gameiro will sign a four-year contract after undergoing a standard medical exam.
[ MORE: NYCFC, Rapids meet in Bronx on Saturday ]
The 29-year-old Gameiro scored 67 goals during three seasons with Sevilla, helping it win three Europa League titles.
Gameiro will join countryman Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres to form the attack of an Atletico side that reached the final of the Champions League last season.
Atletico did not reveal the financial details of Gameiro’s transfer.
NEW YORK (AP) A former Guatemalan soccer federation president has pleaded guilty in New York to charges related to a sprawling corruption investigation of world soccer.
[ MORE: Christian Vieri ready for return, pursuing Chinese Super League ]
Brayan Jimenez pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear when he’ll be sentenced.
The 62-year-old Jimenez is among 40 people from around the world charged in a FIFA bribery scandal over lucrative broadcasting rights.
Prosecutors say Jimenez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Florida-based sports marketing company. They say in exchange for the money Jimenez awarded the company media marketing rights to the Guatemalan soccer team’s World Cup qualifying matches in 2018 and 2022.
Jimenez’s attorneys haven’t returned a message seeking comment on his guilty plea.