What could Chad Marshall bring to the Seattle Sounder defense? We’ll find out in 2014

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This one got blown away by all the mid-day Re-Entry Draft news, but for the Seattle Sounders, today’s trade with the Columbus Crew could represent a significant, much-needed upgrade. A defensive corps that’s been shielded by Osvaldo Alonso and saved by Michael Gspurning was acquired a borderline all-star player, and while two-time Defender of the Year Chad Marshall may not be resume his trophy gathering ways, he may provide a big improvement for a central defense that was picked apart in the Major League Soccer playoffs.

Today the Sounders picked up the 29-year-old for a third round pick and allocation, a $361,250 salary in 2013 meaning the two-time Best XI honoree could be had for picks and funny money. For a team desperate to solve the problems in central defense — one that could reunite the 11-time international with Sigi Schmid, a coach he won a title with in Columbus — it may prove a price worth paying.

Seattle, who had the league’s second best defense in 2012, gave up 42 goals last year, most among the West’s playoff teams. In late season blowout losses to Colorado and Vancouver, the defense’s limitations helped throw the team into a late tailspin, with five goals allowed over two legs in the Western Conference semifinals sending the Sounders crashing out of the playoffs. With Seattle’s midfield part of the problem, the team couldn’t cover for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Djimi Traoré.

With players like Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Victor Bernardez and Jose Goncalves in the league, Marshall no longer enjoys a place among the league’s elite defenders, MLS’s talent having improved since the time he was winning Defender of the Year honors. But as the Crew have waned and attentions have turned elsewhere, the 10-year veteran has continued persisted in his excellence. Were it not for the lack of attention Columbus gets on the national scene, both Marshall and Federico Higuaín would have garnered more consideration for postseason honors.

A lack of attention is something Marshall won’t have to worry about in Seattle. If he performs for the Sounders as he did last year for the Crew, he should regain some of that lost recognition, particularly since that will lead to more wins for the Sounders. At his salary, however, the Sounders should expect nothing less than all-star production, with a huge chunk of the cap room they cleared out earlier this week taken up by today’s acquisition.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.