Mike Petke 2

Are the days of the pricey DP done in New York?

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Remember when we talked about how the New York Red Bulls were no longer “Thierry Henry’s team,” having transitioned in image to something that more closely resembled “Tim Cahill’s team?”

It was also something of a metaphor, really more about reshaping the team in manager Mike Petke’s image, a team that would be less about the brightly lit flash and dash, more about a mud-and-guts side that could grind with the best of them.

No, it’s not as sexy, but the results were speaking for themselves; New York won its first major trophy (or did so if you are among the set that considers a Supporters Shield as a major trophy).

Either way, it appears things will keep moving in that direction for New York. Big Apple Soccer reports that the day of the fancy-pants DP may be done around Red Bull Arena.

This doesn’t mean new Designated Players can’t find their way to Harrison, N.J.  Rather, it means that the balance will shift as Red Bulls deciders spend their DP bucks, tilting away from seat-selling concerns and more towards players who fit a role or fit the system.

(MORE: Why the “Ashley Cole to Red Bulls” story is kind of silly)

Is the shift necessary? Yes and no. The LA Galaxy has demonstrated wonderfully that both boxes can be checked by the same player – but it’s not an easy maneuver. And it’s not cheap!  David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan do make sense on both accounts – but they hardly come at discount prices.

Tim Leiweke, now presiding over Toronto FC, was the architect of those teams in Los Angeles. He says there may be no more than 30 players in the world who fill needs in building the brand and in being all they can be on the field. And that crème de la crème bunch is hardly a secret in world soccer, which means they can command a premium price.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia