Philadelphia Union v Colorado Rapids

Óscar Pareja remains silent regarding FC Dallas rumors

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SEATTLE — Colorado Rapids head coach Óscar Pareja faced reporters in the away locker room with red eyes after his team’s playoff run ended with a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday. He spoke of his pride in the way his team played all season.

It’s no surprise, then, that his response to rumors about him being in line for the FC Dallas coaching job was tepid.

“With all my respect … I’m the head coach of the Colorado Rapids today,” he said. “For the respect of my players and the effort that they put in today, it’s not a question that I will address.”

However, it is a question that had to be asked.

After 11 years playing in his native Colombia and with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, Pareja found a home at FC Dallas (then called the Dallas Burn). He spent seven seasons there as a player, retiring to become the franchise’s academy director in 2005.

He turned the FC Dallas Academy into the best in MLS, churning out six Homegrown Player signings who made it to the first team, and was named the United States Soccer Development Academy Coach of the Year in 2009. Pareja was an assistant coach for the U.S. under-17 team in 2007-08.

So when Schellas Hyndman announced his resignation as FC Dallas head coach following a disappointing 2013 season two weeks ago, Pareja’s name was one of the first thrown around the rumor mill as a possible replacement. In two years, Pareja turned the Rapids into an MLS force with a young squad that includes Rookie of the Year candidates Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers.

“I’m proud of what the boys have done during this season,” he said after Wednesday’s loss. “I feel bad for them because I know they wanted to advance, but that’s the game.”

His hunger to succeed and his insistence on an attractive style of play make Pareja an attractive candidate. Unlike many coaches who receive opportunities at the top upon retirement, he worked his way up from being a youth coach to managing an MLS team.

“My philosophy is: I battle for every day, for every game,” he said. “I want to win every game, whether it’s in the season, whether it’s in the playoffs or the offseason, and that’s the way I feel. That’s the way I play the game. If you ask me today, I feel terrible. I’m not happy, obviously. I can see great things that happened in the season, but we are competitors here, and obviously, there is some bitter in this result. But as I say, we keep moving forward, and nothing else we can do.”

For now, Pareja will move forward as the Rapids’ head coach. After building up steam for two seasons, perhaps leaving at this point would create a sense of unfinished business that he does not want. But if Dallas — his first MLS employer, which gave him a shot and laid the foundation of his career — calls, sentimentality could prevail.

Pep Guardiola: “Maybe I’m not good enough”

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Pep Guardiola has admitted he “may not be good enough” for his players at Manchester City.

Ahead of City’s clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola has been defended his squad after severe criticism from the media.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

City were hammered 4-0 at Everton last weekend, their worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever league defeat as a manager.

With plenty pointing the finger of blame at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City’s defense, their manager put himself in the firing line.

“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good? So I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and [people saying] they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them,” Guardiola said. “They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season.”

Mind games.

Guardiola, 46, is no doubt facing the biggest challenge of his season as City look to at least seal a top four spot in this his debut season in England. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has already “said goodbye to the title” and if they lose against red-hot Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium then more questions will be asked of his tactics and if they can work in the Premier League.

So far the possession-based slow build up style has been hot and cold for City, with plenty of counter-attacking teams in the PL (Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Leicester etc.) having a field day against a shaky defense.

Despite being 10 points off the pace, Guardiola is sticking by his philosophy. One thing really sticks out to me from his first few press conferences in England: “We will see if my style of play can work in the Premier League.”

So far, it’s not.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Liverpool host Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Reds aiming to stretch their unbeaten run at home in the Premier League to 18 games.

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Jurgen Klopp is a little concerned with the number of games his team have had to play over the past few weeks, but a victory against the struggling Swans would momentarily move his side just four points behind leaders Chelsea who play on Sunday.

As for Swansea, new manager Paul Clement knows a win would take his team out of the relegation zone and with new signings arriving that would be a massive boost. It would also be a massive ask for the Welsh side to get anything at Anfield but this may be a good time to play Liveprool after their midweek trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton coming up on Wednesday.

In team news Liverpool start with Philippe Coutinho once again, while Joel Matip is on the bench after the Reds finally settled the dispute with Cameroon. Swansea hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Matip, Woodburn

Swansea City: Fabianski; Olsson, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Sigurdsson, Llorente, Routledge. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Amat, Fulton, Dyer, Borja, McBurnie

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.