Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas gestures during their English Premier League soccer match against Swansea City in London

Villas-Boas: “I will not resign, and I’m not a quitter”

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The time for deflection and denial is gone. After today’s 5-0 loss at White Hart Lane, the question isn’t whether Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas is under fire. He clearly is. Instead, the question is whether he can survive, a question the second-year boss addressed directly after his team’s embarrassment.

“It’s not my call. I can’t control that,” Villas-Boas told the assembled media after today’s game in North London (as reported by The Guardian). “I won’t resign and I’m not a quitter.”

[MORE: Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool: Reds pummel erratic Tottenham defense to go second – Video]

Between today’s loss and Spurs’ 6-0 defeat at Manchester City on Nov. 14, Villas-Boas appears to be running out of time. Although most reports about Villas-Boas’s tenuous future rest on conjecture over knowledge, it’s rare to see a would-be Champions League contender suffer this kind of dip. When they do, their manager’s future is naturally a point of speculation.

“This is a top-four squad but in the Premier League the form isn’t there,” Villas-Boas confessed, implicitly alluding to the team’s 6-0-0 record in Europa League. “It’s not the points tally that prevents us from dreaming with our position in the league. It’s actually the expression of the results which has been difficult, from 3-0 at home to West Ham, to 6-0 at City and now 5-0 here. These things are costing us much more.”

Translation: It’s the way Spurs are losing more than the actual results, something that shouldn’t need spelling out to anybody. If Tottenham were losing one-goal heart breakers, this would be bump, not a swoon. Few would be speculating as to “AVB’s” future.

Instead, Spurs are suffering the type of inexplicable losses that have people questioning whether he’s lost the ability to motivate his team. And if he hasn’t, what other excuse is there for these types of performances? Because as Villas-Boas concedes, the talent is there.

Tottenham’s management isn’t averse to changing managers midseason. They did so with Martin Jol (Oct. 2007). They did so with his successor, Juande Ramos (Oct. 2008). If a manager isn’t meeting expectations, Spurs will move on.

The question is whether expectations that have changed since Harry Redknapp helped the team become a consistent threat for Champions League spots. Jol and Ramos’s clubs got off to near-bottom starts with teams that were expected to compete for Europe. Villas-Boas, on the other hand, is already in Europe with a team that currently sits in seventh place.

Given new standards at White Hart Lane, is Villas-Boas about to go the way of Jol and Ramos? Or will chairman  Daniel Levy have a different perspective on whether Spurs should move on?

 

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.

Whitecaps acquire U.S. defender Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City

Toronto FC v Orlando City SC
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With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.

[ MORE: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018 ]

The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.

“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”

Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.

Report: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.

Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.

Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.

ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.

In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.