MLS Cup 2013 Starting Lineups: Wingert, Saborío in; Sporting unchanged

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MLS Cup 2013’s lineups are surprise free, which is good news for Western Conference Champions Real Salt Lake. With both Chris Wingert and Álvaro Saborío in Jason Kreis’s starting XI, RSL’s two injury doubts have been alleviated. The veteran left back, who missed the conference final’s second leg against Portland, and the Costa Rican international, three games on the sideline, are ready to make their returns.

The only surprise for the visitors: the absence of Devon Sandoval, who started both games of the Western Conference finals. According to Real Salt Lake, Sandoval’s “[exacerbated] the fractured [bone] in his right foot, on which he has played the last month,” keeping him for dressing for today’s game.

For Kansas City, the only mild surprise comes on the bench, but when you’re talking about the difference between Lawrence Olum and Soony Saad, there are only so many jaws that are going to drop. Now healthy after an early postseason injury, Olum returns to the 18, adding depth to midfield. With three other forwards dressing (Jacob Peterson, Teal Bunbury, Claudio Bieler), Saad was deemed redundant, even if the former Michigan attacker offers something slightly different than Peter Vermes’ other forwards.

Sporting’s starting lineup’s the same as we’ve seen through most of the playoffs, with the XI that clinched Kansas City’s return to the title game given a chance to bring home the team’s first title since 2000.


Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers, Aurélien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; Oriol Rosell, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber; Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, C.J. Sapong.

Substitutes: Eric Kronberg, Ike Opara, Federico Bessone, Jacob Peterson, Claudio Bieler, Teal Bunbury, Lawrence Olum

Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Luis Gil, Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy; Javier Morales; Robbie Findley, Álvaro Saborío.

Substitutes: Jeff Attinella, Lovel Palmer, João Plata, Sebastian Velasquez, Olmes Garcia, Cole Grossman, Brandon McDonald

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