Oguchi Onyewu, “almost certainly in Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad”

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Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp dropped some pretty significant U.S. national team news on Friday, following U.S. international defender Oguchi Onyewu signed a short-term deal with QPR.

Congratulations ‘Gooch’, it seems as though your spot in the USMNT World Cup squad is all but confirmed.

“Jurgen Klinsmann rung me about him,” Redknapp said. “To recommend him and he said he’s almost certainly going to be in his squad for the World Cup, and really was a big fan of his and liked him very much. Klinsmann said Onyewu needs to go and play somewhere, because he wants him for the World Cup squad.”

Okay, well, there you have it guys, straight from the horses mouth… sort of. English Championship side QPR have handed Onyewu a lifeline after he left Sporting Lisbon at the end of last season and has been without a club since. Redknapp revealed his been impressed with Onyewu in training, and will give the UMSNT stalwart, who featured in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the chance to shine in England’s second-tier.

(MORE: Americans Abroad – Onyewu signs for QPR, Brek Shea wants loan deal)

“He’s done well,” Redknapp continued. “He’s trained well, a fantastic boy with a great attitude and we’ve sorted out a deal, not a long contract… but it’s up to him now to come and do well.”

Onyewu, 31, has bounced around Europe with varying degrees of success in recent years and his chances with the USMNT has been hampered due to injury issues and a lack of playing time with AC Milan, Malaga and Lisbon amongst others. Now he may finally get the chance to shine at Loftus Road, as the R’s challenge for an immediate return to the top flight and are currently sitting second in the Championship with a game against league leaders coming up this weekend.

source: AP
Is Oguchi Onyewu a must for the USA’s 2014 World Cup squad?

If the Washington D.C. native can recapture full-fitness and his best form, no doubt he would be a valuable addition to the USA’s World Cup roster. However with young MLS duo Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez locking up the two central defensive spots as of right now, it seems like Onyewu should need a few good months of action under his belt to displace the likes of Clarence Goodson and Michael Orozco as back up center backs? Onyewu last played for the U.S. in the 2013 Gold Cup on July 13, as he captained the side in a 4-1 win over Cuba before returning to Europe after the group stages to sort out his club situation.

Regardless of whether or not 66-year-old Redknapp misquoted Klinsmann, the QPR manager did reveal how highly the USMNT coach rates the towering defender. And the fact that Klinsmann personally called Redknapp to arrange the deal shows how much faith he has in the defender to perform and be of use to him.

When informed that Onyewu once broke Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ribs in a training ground bust-up a few years ago, Redknapp laughed and suggested he should lengthen the USMNT defenders deal so he didn’t get any punches thrown his way from Gooch.

“Oh my god, I didn’t know that,” Redknapp said. “I’ve got to be honest, you wouldn’t want to have a fight with this fella. He’s a big ‘un…. I think we better give him an extra year on his contract in case he ‘cops the needle with me. * But he could be a heavyweight boxer, he’s about six foot four.”

And if Onyewu can get his huge frame fit and raring to go for Brazil 2014, the USA’s defensive depth will be stronger for it.

*For those not familiar with Redknapp’s cockney terminology, he basically thinks he should offer Onyewu a new deal, otherwise he may end up getting punched like Zlatan. I’m sure you got that… just wanted to double check.

USL granted 2018 2nd-division sanctioning by U.S. Soccer

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U.S. Soccer has officially granted the United Soccer League second-division sanctioning, behind first-division Major League Soccer, for the upcoming 2018 season, as well as first-division status for the National Women’s Soccer League.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan unveiled by Liga MX side Club Leon ]

USL, which will feature 33 teams in 2018, had been granted temporary second-division sanctioning, alongside the North American Soccer League, in 2017. As NASL’s demise continued and accelerated — the league will not begin play this spring, opting instead for a late-summer kickoff, after a number of its teams either folded or jumped ship to USL — USL, with the help of MLS, quickly pounced to capitalize — from U.S. Soccer’s statement:

Sanctioning allows NWSL and USL to operate a Division I and II league, respectively, during the 2018 season and includes a two-year pathway to full compliance with the Professional League Standards. USL has demonstrated substantial progress toward reaching full compliance since being granted provisional Division II sanctioning in 2017.

Conspiracy theorist’s take: USL supplanted NASL as the U.S.’s second-most viable professional men’s league — and more importantly, being granted official second-division status — paves the way for MLS to, at some point well down the line — say, 2030 or so — implement its own multi-tiered system of promotion and relegation, featuring anywhere between 60 and 80 teams, while still remaining a single-entity structure closed to the lower reaches of the sport in America, as the lines separating MLS and USL have only become more and more blurred in recent years.

[ MORE: Donovan ready to “win championships” after ending retirement ]

MLS realizes that public demand for promotion and relegation in the U.S. has grown significantly louder in recent years — particularly given the climate of the sport after the men’s national team failed to qualify for the World Cup, and subsequent ongoing presidential-election campaign — thus an open-but-not-really-open system which satisfies neither side will eventually be the end result.

Wenger called ref Dean “not honest,” “a disgrace” to earn ban

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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused a referee of being “not honest” and called him “a disgrace” in a rant inside the match officials’ changing room that led to a three-match touchline ban for one of English soccer’s most experienced coaches.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

The English Football Association published Tuesday the written reasons behind its decision to ban Wenger for being abusive toward referee Mike Dean after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Dec. 31.

In his match report given to the FA, Dean said Wenger “was pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions.” Dean then said Wenger said “you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace.”

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

Wenger had been incensed at Calum Chambers being penalized for a handball and West Brom converting the resulting penalty to equalize late in the game.

The FA said “there is simply no justification for this behavior” and considered a stadium ban for Wenger.

Wenger was also fined $54,200 for his conduct.

FA Cup: Leicester, West Ham survive replays to reach 4th round

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Two more Premier League sides reached the fourth round of the 2017-18 FA Cup on Tuesday, winning their respective replays and joining 10 other top-flight clubs already through to the next round…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town

Kelechi Iheanacho moved to Leicester from Manchester City for $33 million this summer and has, through his first half-season in the East Midlands, failed to live up to that price tag. In nine PL appearances, he is yet to score his first league goal. Tuesday, however, saw the 21-year-old Nigerian international put forth a bit production and performance more befitting a player of his promise and pedigree.

Manager Claude Puel picked a side consisting of first-team regulars and lesser-used squad players for the Foxes FA Cup third-round replay against League One side Fleetwood Town. It was Iheanacho, who started alongside/just behind target man Islam Slimani, who shown brightest with a pair of goals, in the 43rd and 77th minutes, to send Leicester into the fourth round. Iheanacho’s second, the one that put the game away for Leicester, was originally ruled out for offside, but was eventually after consultation of the video-assistant referee.

Leicester will travel to League One side Peterborough in the fourth round, on Sat. Jan. 27.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

West Ham United 1-0 (AET) Shrewsbury Town

It took far longer than Hammers fans would have liked — or expected — but West Ham, over the course of 120 minutes, survived the Cupset bid of third-division Shrewsbury Town. With eight minutes remaining before Tuesday’s replay went to penalty kicks at the London Stadium, 21-year-old defender Reece Burke fired home from inside the box to break the scoreless deadlock.

West Ham will be away to the winner of the replay between Bournemouth and Wigan Athletic (Wednesday), on Sat. Jan. 27.

Elsewhere in FA Cup replay action

Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Wednesday’s FA Cup replay schedule

Chelsea vs. Norwich City — 2:45 p.m. ET
Swansea City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 2:45 p.m. ET
Wigan Athletic vs. Bournemouth — 2:45 p.m. ET

Report: Newcastle sale talks between Ashley, Staveley collapse

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Talks between Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley over the much-desired and -rumored sale of Newcastle United are off, according to a report from Sky Sports and various other UK news outlets.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Sky has quoted a source close to Ashley as having said: “Attempts to reach a deal (with Staveley) have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time.” (Full quote below)

Ashley, the club’s current and long-beleaguered owner, has been seeking a potential buyer since putting the club up for sale back in October. Staveley emerged as the front-runner (the only runner, perhaps) in the days following Ashley’s announcement, and reportedly tabled an offer of $335 million in early December before reportedly offering something closer to $400 million a couple weeks later.

Ashley selling the club — and doing so before the end of the January transfer window, which now appears nigh impossible — appeared to be one the few scenarios in which Rafa Benitez would remain the Magpies’ manager beyond the end of the current Premier League season (Newcastle currently sit 15th, just three points clear of relegation) after constant rumors of his discontent and lack of financial backing last summer.