D.C. United v Vancouver Whitecaps

Wednesday’s Stage 2 MLS re-entry draft could throw up some surprises

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One of the quirky things we love about Major League Soccer is the often complex and incredibly unique player movement process which takes place every offseason.

This year is no different.

After Stage 1 of the re-entry process ended last week, five players were taken on their current contracts.This week sees 48 more MLSers put up for auction, if you will, and able to negotiate new contracts for 2014 and beyond with any potential new teams.

And this year there’s some big names up for grabs but more than likely the phone conference which decides which club takes who will consist of a lot of MLS staffs and GMs getting very accustomed to mumbling the word “pass” as the picks go by.

Three former MLS MVPs can be picked up in Wednesday’s draft with Dwayne De Rosario, David Ferreira and Carlos Ruiz up for grabs, whilst several other gems are littered amongst the field of players who didn’t have their options taken by their current MLS side.

But just to clear up exactly how this works, the re-entry order of picks is right here. Plus here are the requirements each players has to meet in order to be eligible to participate in the re-entry process:

  • Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years experience in MLS whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2014)
  • Players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary (available for at least their 2013 salary)
  • Players who are at least 30 years old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them (available for at least 105% of their 2013 salary)

Now that’s been cleared up… here’s the list of 48 players available, including three players who have retired but are still in the process because they may wake up one morning, and change their mind. Pablo Mastroeni, Kevin Hartman and Chris Albright, it’s not too late fellas!

So, here’s 48 guys who could get picked up today. Who would you like to see at your club?

Players available for Stage 2 of re-entry draft

Chicago Fire (5): D Shaun Francis, M Joel Lindpere, F Maicon Santos, M Wells Thompson*, M Michael Videira

Chivas USA (3): D Ante Jazic*, D Steve Purdy, M Josue Soto

Columbus Crew (2): M Danny O’Rourke, M Konrad Warzycha

Colorado Rapids (3): GK Steward Ceus, D Brian Mullan, M Jamie Smith

D.C. United (5): M Dwayne De Rosario, D James Riley, F Carlos Ruiz, M Marcelo Saragosa, D Daniel Woolard

FC Dallas (2): M David Ferreira, D Ugo Ihemelu

Houston Dynamo (3): F Calen Carr*, M Alex Dixon, F Cam Weaver

LA Galaxy (3): M Colin Clark, M Laurent Courtois,  M Pablo Mastroeni* (retired)

Montreal Impact (1): M Sinisa Ubiparipovic

New England Revolution (4): F Chad Barrett, F Ryan Guy, M Clyde Simms, M Juan Toja

New York Red Bulls (4): D Brandon Barklage, F Fabian Espindola, GK Kevin Hartman (retired), D Heath Pearce*

Philadelphia Union (1): D Chris Albright* (retired)

Portland Timbers (2): D Ryan Miller

Real Salt Lake (3): D Brandon McDonald, GK Josh Saunders, M Khari Stephenson

Seattle Sounders (1): M Blair Gavin,

San Jose Earthquakes (4): D Nana Attakora, M Mehdi Ballouchy*, D Dan Gargan, GK Evan Newton

Toronto FC (1): F Justin Braun*

Vancouver Whitecaps (2): GK Joe Cannon, F Corey Hertzog

* denotes players who are out of contract, other players had options declined.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Big boys to turn up

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Week 26 of the Premier League season is here. This will be a lot of fun with massive games at both ends of the table.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Arsenal 3-2 Leicester City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Norwich City 0-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA) –  [STREAM]

Man City 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur – (Sunday 11:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United – (Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Everton 2-1 West Brom  – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Swansea 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Ranieri on Leicester City’s dream season: “Nobody wake us up please!”

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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There’s plenty to like about Leicester City’s run to the top of the Premier League, but perhaps nothing is more enjoyable that its manager’s musings.

Claudio Ranieri, the Tinkerman himself, has provided some of the best quips of the season.

[ MORE: Top 5 storylines to look for in PL ]

From “I want to be the crazy man in the Premier League” to “It’s like nobody wants to win the league“, the 64-year-old Italian has offered plenty of beauties.

Make way for some more gems, from LCFC.com:

“I think we work so hard to achieve this level. We want to stay at this level. It’s no pressure for us. The pressure was at the beginning to start well, to carry on and maintain the standard of our performance.
“Now we are safe and we want to fight with respect with all our opponents. Face to face, we play with our strength and they play with theirs. If we win, fantastic. If we lose, next match.
“I think the pressure is on the other teams. We have pressure for our little gap. We continue to dream with our fans and we want to continue to dream. Nobody wake us up please!”
We love this man. To go from a short-lived run in Euro qualifying with Greece to this remarkable roll with Leicester has to be a bit dream-like. We get it. And we love that he’s going with it.