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MLS Re-Entry Draft: D.C. United add Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell at the back

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The only team to make two picks in the first phase of Major League Soccer’s Re-Entry Draft, D.C. United double-dipped to help a defense that allowed the league’s second-most goals. With the day’s first pick, the U.S. Open Cup champions took Sean Franklin from the LA Galaxy, and once their second pick came around, the Black and Red brought back one their down, tabbing now-former Houston Dynamo Bobby Boswell for a return to RFK Stadium.

Franklin was one of the most notable names on the Re-Entry Draft’s list, the 28-year-old’s $248,333 salary ($225,000 against the cap) making him expendable on a team that can move A.J. DeLaGarza to right back. Also able to play in midfield, Franklin looks like the likely starter to Boswell’s right, allowing Chris Korb to return to left back. For the first time in his MLS career, Franklin will be playing with someone other than the Galaxy, a team with whom he won two MLS Cups.

[MORE:  MLS Re-Entry Draft: As predicted, Portland find a way to get Steve Zakuani]

Boswell started his career in D.C., where he was Defender of the Year and Best XI selection in 2006. The three-time U.S. international moved to Houston in 2008, eventually making 177 regular season appearances for the Dynamo. In 2011 and 2012, Boswell anchored defenses that helped Dom Kinnears’ sides to MLS Cup finals.

Together, the duo made$445,000 against the cap last season, prompting us to ask: What is D.C. getting for their money? With Franklin, they may not be getting the type of player who will challenge for All-Star (and national team) spots again, but they’ve picked up a consistent presence at right back – somebody who can fill the void created when D.C. sold Andy Najar. Franklin’s not the same kind of player, but he is somebody who can contribute in both facets of the game, something that will give his new, attack-starved team more options.

Boswell’s impact wil depend on which version D.C.’s acquired. If they get the player who was a standout in 2012, key to a defense en rout to a second straight appearance at MLS Cup, United will has addressed one of the team’s greatest lingering concerns. If, however, 2013 was a hint of what’s to come for the 30-year-old, Boswell’s return to D.C. will prove two years too late, his name adding to a growing list of solutions which really aren’t.

With only three wins last year, there’s lots of room for improvement in D.C., but for a team that only scored 22 goals in the regular season, it was interesting to see United go defense, defense. While there are number of other holes throughout Ben Olsen’s team, defense is often a place you can coach your way into solutions once you hit a talent threshold.

Today, D.C. United’s thrown at least $445,000 of their cap room at the problem. Whether the money would have been better used in attack will depend on what else happens this offseason.

Here are the full, first stage results of the Re-Entry Draft:

Round One
1. D.C. United – Sean Franklin, RB, LA Galaxy
2. Portland Timbers (from Chivas USA) – Steve Zakuani, LW, Seattle
6. Philadelphia Union – Corben Bone, M, Chicago
13. Colorado Rapids – Marc Burch, D/M, Seattle
Round Two
20. D.C. United – Bobby Boswell, D, Houston Dynamo

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

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Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

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The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.