Venue Guide: Check out where the USA will play at 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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With all the excitement of the World Cup draw last Friday for Brazil 2014, now seems like a good time to take a closer look at the cities and stadiums the U.S. national team will play in next summer.

As we all know, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side were handed and incredibly tough draw In Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana standing in their way of making it to the knockout stages. Ahem, ‘Group of Death’…

But what many have overlooked is the fact that in the group stages the USA will play in three of the four most Northern cities hosting games in the World Cup, which means unbearable heat, incredible humidity and will put plenty of extra strain on the players bodies as they play three games in 10 days.

FULL WORLD CUP DRAW ARCHIVE FROM PROSOCCERTALK

So, from the Amazon to the North East coastal resorts, here’s a look at what cities fans of the USMNT will be visiting if they’re lucky enough to be heading to South America to cheer on the Yanks. Plus, we take a cheeky look at the venues the USA may play at in the knockout stages, if they make it out of the dreaded ‘Group of Death.’

Warning: take plenty of sun block… and a hat.

source: Getty Images
Estadio das Dunas stadium, named after the famous sand dunes which are in the region of Natal, is a beauty.

NATAL – 16 June, 6pm ET: Ghana v USA

City: In the far North East of Brazil, a tropical climate awaits the USA (that will be a running theme here) as Natal enjoys over 300 days of sunshine per year and is known as ‘Sun City’ in Brazil. Heavy European influence adorns the buildings and architecture of the city and tourism plays a big part in the local economy due to wonders such as Ponta Negra, Genipabu, Redinha, Pipa, Pirangi and the fabulous beaches along the coast. This area has struggled for any domestic soccer success for quite some time as fierce rivals America Futebol Clube and ABC Futebol Clube have both struggled since the 1980’s.

Stadium: The Estadio das Dunas has been newly constructed and it’s fantastic curving shape emulates the sand dunes Natal is famous for. A capacity of over 42,086 means it’s the smallest stadium at the World Cup. Could prove difficult to get tickets for this one.

source: Getty Images
The Arena Amazônia is the host stadium in the humid confides of the Amazon rainforest. Will the USA handle the heat?

MANAUS 22 June, 6pm ET: USA v Portugal

City: One of the most spectacular, yet problematic, venues in World Cup history, the Amazonian capital of Manaus is host to the USA’s game against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Humidity around the 99 percent mark is likely to greet the USMNT, as well as heat in excess of 100 degrees in the heart of the Amazon rainforest but plenty of stunning sights, such as the convergence of the Negro and Amazon rivers, will make a trip to Manaus a one in a life-time experience. The most northern venue boasts quite a poor crime-record, so be on your guard.

Stadium: There are plenty of concerns over the heat and conditions deep in the world’s largest rainforest, as the kick off time has been moved backwards, but what a stadium they’ve built to welcome the world into the Amazon. Huge interwoven rafters mimics the wooden baskets this region is now far, but once again the capacity is only just over 42,000 so the USA will be playing in another of Brazil’s smallest host stadiums.

source: AP
The Arena Pernambuco has already hosted Confederations Cup games and is ready to go.

RECIFE – 26 June, 12pm ET: USA v Germany

City: Just down the coast from Natal, Recife is the state capital of Pernambuco and the fourth largest metropolitan area in Brazil. The gorgeous beaches close to urban areas makes this city unique and a heavy Dutch influence from the 16th century can be found amongst the architecture. Just like Natal and Manaus, this sprawling Northern city also enjoys searing temperatures and the USA’s noon kick off time vs. Germany may actually play in their favor. Well, at least more of the USMNT’s players will be used to playing in hot conditions compared to the Germans.

Stadium: Built through public and private funding, the stadium is now home to Clube Nautico Capibaribe, one of Recife’s three professional teams. With a capacity of 46,154, again it’s not the biggest stadium in Brazil but there’s sure to be a terrific atmosphere in the ‘capital of the North-east’ when the U.S. face Germany in their pivotal last group game. The stadium itself is located outside of the city proper and close to the region known as Grande Recife where huge poverty affects the local people, but this venue has regenerated the area by offering shops, jobs and other businesses to locals.

USA’s potential venues in knockout stages

Last 16: Porto Alegre on June 30 or Salvador on July 1

Quarterfinal: Rio de Janiero on July 4 or Brasilia on July 5

Semifinal: Belo Horizonte on July 8 or Sao Paulo on July 8

3/4 place game: Brasilia on July 12

Final: Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janiero on July 13

Who are the favorites to take over at Arsenal?

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With Arsene Wenger announcing he will leave Arsenal at the end of the current season, the immediate focus switches to who will take charge of the Gunners beyond this season after almost 22 years of Wenger.

The bookmakers are having a field day slashing the odds of several managers previously linked with the job with nobody really knowing what direction Arsenal’s board will go with their next appointment.

Will they appoint an experienced manager? Or will it be a young coach with a fresh outlook a la Wenger back in 1996?

Here’s a look at the main contenders, according to Oddschecker.


Patrick Vieira (4/1) – Wenger spoke on Thursday about how Vieira has the potential to manage Arsenal but did mention now may be too early. The NYCFC manager has done a fine job in MLS but will Arsenal really hand the reins to their former captain and midfield general? Vieira’s appointment would be welcomed by fans who idolized him but maybe he is the man who should follow the man who replaces Wenger. That said, he is the early favorite to take charge of Arsenal.

Thomas Tuchel (5/1) – Out of work for 12 months, it was heavily reported that Tuchel had agreed to take charge of Arsenal a few months ago. The German coach did well at Borussia Dortmund as they won the German Cup and got the latter stages of the Champions League and he is known for giving youngsters a chance to shine. This would make a lot of sense given Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, his former players at Dortmund, arriving at Arsenal in January and the likes of Mesut Ozil around.

Joachim Loew (7/1) – Although the German national team manager has a contract through the 2020 European Championships, later this summer, after the 2018 World Cup, could be the time when Loew steps down from the German national team. He has built a World Cup-winning squad and may feel like he has done everything he can with Die Mannschaft. Loew hasn’t had experience of coaching a club on a day-to-day basis and that may be something which will concern Arsenal’s board.

Brendan Rodgers (7/1) – The odds have been slashed on Celtic’s manager taking charge of Arsenal. The former Liverpool manager (who came so close to winning the Premier League title in 2013/14) has certainly rebuilt his reputation at Celtic and we all know that Rodgers loves to play an attacking style. That fits in seamlessly with what Wenger has built at Arsenal, but would Rodgers’ appointment excite the Arsenal fans? Probably not. Also, with Rodgers known for his teams struggling defensively, there’s a sense that he will just be another Wenger and little progress will be made.

Massimiliano Allegri (10/1) – The Juventus manager is being linked with Chelsea and Arsenal this summer and it is easy to understand why. Allegri has led Juve to three-straight Italian doubles with a solid defensive approach, something Arsenal need more emphasis on if they’re going to make it back to the top four. Allegri has also reached the UEFA Champions League final in two of the three seasons. Seems like it would be a good appointment to improve Arsenal’s defensive unit and play.

Carlo Ancelotti (10/1) – The veteran Italian manager has won everything and he has won it everywhere but he usually takes over established teams with stars delivering. That’s not the case at Arsenal right now. Ancelotti has delivered success at AC Milan, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but he will have to be trusted with a lot of cash to rebuild this Arsenal squad. The former Chelsea manager certainly knows the Premier League well after winning the title and the FA Cup in 2010, so there are no problems there.

Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal

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After almost 22 years in charge, Arsene Wenger has called time on his Arsenal reign.

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Wenger, 68, announced on Friday that he will be leaving the Gunners at the end of the current 2017/18 campaign despite having one year remaining on his contract.

Here is the statement from Wenger in full which was posted on Arsenal’s website with the heading “Merci Arsene” taking center stage.

“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” Wenger said. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.”

The Frenchman is a man who revolutionized the Premier League when he arrived in 1996 and he will be remembered as a bastion of attractive, possession based soccer as his Arsenal team of the 2003/04 season, dubbed the “Invincibles,” will always be remembered for going through an entire PL season unbeaten en route to winning the title.

Wenger has won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven community shield trophies during his time in charge of Arsenal, as well as leading them to 20-straight seasons finishing in the top four of the Premier League and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

That run ended last season as they finished in fifth and in the past few seasons there have been fan protests with “Wenger Out” or “Wenger In” dividing the fanbase.

However, Wenger’s tenure can end on a high in the Europa League as Arsenal face Atletico Madrid in the semifinals and he is essentially three wins away from returning Arsenal to the Champions League.

Wenger has so far managed Arsenal for 1,228 games with 704 wins in all competitions. His final game in charge will be the Europa League final in Lyon, if Arsenal get there. But his final Premier League game in charge of Arsenal will be away at Huddersfield Town on May 13.

The focus will now switch to who will take over from Wenger this summer with the likes of Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti, Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Tuchel all linked with the job.

But in the more immediate future the final few weeks of the 2017/18 campaign in England will turn into an appreciation of Wenger and all he has achieved over the last two decades in charge of Arsenal.

France veteran Malouda loses appeal in Gold Cup case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former France winger Florent Malouda has lost his appeal against being ruled ineligible to play for French Guiana at the 2017 Gold Cup.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judges dismissed Malouda’s appeal against North American soccer body CONCACAF.

French Guiana fielded Malouda in a 0-0 draw against Honduras last July despite being told he was not eligible. CONCACAF awarded a 3-0 win to Honduras and suspended Malouda.

The Gold Cup uses FIFA eligibility rules which bar players from transferring allegiance after playing a competitive game for one country.

Malouda played 80 times for France including a 2006 World Cup final loss against Italy.

The French Guiana soccer federation hoped Malouda, now aged 37, could play in the Gold Cup because it is not a FIFA member.

Report: Bobby Wood unlikely to come to MLS this summer

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A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.

Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.

Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.

Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.

The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.

Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.

If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.