Losing a great goalkeeper and popular locker room leader was surely a blow to Sporting Kansas City, although no one could begrudge Jimmy Nielsen’s decision to retire on top, doing so just hours after SKC lifted the MLS trophy 10 days back.
But what a deal team officials just made, solidifying the position anew with the arrival of Andy Gruenebaum.
Kansas City traded sent a second round pick in the 2016 draft to Columbus for Gruenebaum’s rights; he was out contract at Columbus.
Gruenebaum had been a backup to William Hesmer until 2012, when the Crew’s longtime No. 1 fell to a long-term injury. And the story from there was one of the real doozies of MLS in 2012.
Gruenebaum was nothing less than a revelation, an outstanding netminder at Crew Stadium. Outrage poured forth, in fact, when he didn’t get an invitation to the 2012 MLS All-Star game in Philadelphia. (We poured our share of it at ProSoccerTalk.)
The one knock on Gruenebaum comes in some history of injury; in fact, he was limited to just 21 in 2013.
What a stroke of fortune for Gruenebaum (nicknamed “The Hebrew Hammer”), who goes from a rebuilding team that failed to make the playoffs to league champs, a team set to play in CONCACAF Champions League in 2014.
The super bonus here is that Gruenebaum is a local kid, from Overland Park, Kan. He was an All-American at Blue Valley North High School and the Player of the Year in Kansas.
Columbus officials were willing to let Gruenebaum go because they signed Steve Clark, who is just back into the United States after four seasons in Norway.
Christine Sinclair scored her first goal for Canada in 2000, and today, she scored the 159th goal of her international career.
With goal #159, Sinclair passes Mia Hamm as the second-highest scorer in international soccer history, men or women. Abby Wambach’s record of 184 goals is the all-time mark.
[ REPORT: Obafemi Martins to China ]
Playing for Canada in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, Sinclair gave her country a 3-0 lead over Trinidad & Tobago to reach 159 goals. They would go on to win the match 6-0.
Sinclair, 32, will look to continue her scoring ways and lead Canada to Rio 2016, as the Canadians search for another medal after taking home bronze in 2012.
The Chinese Super League continues to buy top talent, as Obafemi Martins looks set to join Shanghai Shenhua.
According to a report from the BBC, the Seattle Sounders’ striker will leave Major League Soccer for a “multi-million dollar deal” in China.
Should this deal go through, Martins would join a list of top talents who have moved to the Chinese Super League this winter, including Chelsea’s Ramires.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
Martins has scored 43 goals in 84 appearances for Seattle since joining the club in 2013, named to the MLS Best XI in 2014 and the All-Star team in 2015.
If the 31-year-old was to leave, it would open up a potential starting spot for the USMNT’s Jordan Morris, who signed a record-breaking homegrown player contract with the Sounders last month.
[ MORE: Player ratings from Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Leicester City ]
Before moving to America, Martins played throughout Europe, spending most of his career with Inter Milan and Newcastle. He has earned 41 caps for the Nigerian national team.
At Shanghai Shenhua, Martins would line-up alongside former Premier League players Tim Cahill and Demba Ba, as wells as Fredy Guarin, who joined Shenhua in January from Inter Milan.
Barcelona is really, really good.
With their last loss coming all the way back on October 3, Barca remained unbeaten and put on a Sunday show in La Liga action, thrashing Celta Vigo, 6-1.
[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]
The highlight of the match came in the 81st minute when Barcelona was awarded a penalty. Lionel Messi stepped up to the spot, and did this:
The classic Cruyff penalty kick, it looks so good when it works, but is very risky and could end in disaster. Just ask Robert Pires…
The goal gave Luis Suarez a hat-trick and showed the ridiculous amount of confidence this Barcelona side has right now, as no one in the world has an answer for the Messi-Neymar-Suarez trio.
Manchester City fell 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in a massive battle in the Premier League title race.
[ RECAP: Man City 2-1 Spurs ]
While Christian Eriksen‘s late winner was the game’s deciding goal, it was Harry Kane‘s opener from the penalty spot that has caused some controversy.
Tottenham’s Danny Rose whipped in a cross that was blocked away by a jumping Raheem Sterling in the 54th minute. Sterling had his back to the ball, but the cross took a deflection off his elbow and referee Mark Clattenburg signaled for a penalty.
Speaking after the match, City boss Manuel Pellegrini was extremely angered by the decision, saying City were the better side until the penalty changed the flow of the match. Pellegrini also thought back to Tottenham’s win over Man City in September when the same official was in charge when Spurs scored two goals that looked to be offside.
It was a penalty that referee Mark Clattenburg wanted to sign for and he gave the sign. It was absolutely the wrong decision, it hit the back of Raheem Sterling then his elbow. Sterling was not even seeing the ball. It was the same referee in the first game where there were two clear goals in offside and we lost 4-1.
It was the key moment that decided the game; before that they did not shoot towards our goal and did not have any chances. We took the risks, the spirit of the team was good but it was not enough.
The rules regarding a hand-ball have been the topic of much conversation this season, as there seems to be a gray area where officials are forced to make judgement calls, with this decision very harsh.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Tottenham’s win over Man City ]
Now six points behind leaders Leicester, Manchester City will take a break from Premier League action and play a string of important cup ties. First up is a fifth-round FA Cup match against Chelsea before a long trip to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League, followed by the League Cup final against Liverpool.