Andrea Pirlo closing in on contract extension at Juventus

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Two days after his pristine restart created a goal in Juventus’s 3-0 win over Roma, Andrea Pirlo appears on the verge of signing an extension with the Old Lady, a deal that would carry the 34-year-old’s career well past Brazil 2014. Whereas there had been faint whispers about the central midfielder’s future in light of what’s likely to be his final World Cup, now the 107-time Italian international is in line for a two-year contract extension with the reigning Italian champions, a deal that could extend through Pirlo’s 37th birthday.

At least, those are the reports coming out of the Italy today, with Juventus CEO Giuseppe Moratta speaking confidently about his regista’s future in Turin. As reprinted by the Gazzetta dello Sport, Moratta claimed the two-time defending Italian champions were “ready to re-sign Andrea” and willing to pay nearly $5.7 million over the next two seasons.

“Pirlo’s contract is coming to an end, but I can say that relations are excellent,” Moratta said. “We’ll extend his contract as soon as possible, and we’ll let you know about the duration.”

Pirlo came back from injury on Sunday to feature in Juventus’s three-goal win over second place Roma. Just after halftime, Pirlo delivered a perfect cross from deep on Juve’s left to create the game’s second goal – his first league assist of the season. In 19 all-competition appearances (Serie A and Champions League), Pirlo has three goals and two assists while completing nearly 89 percent of his attempted passes.

That performance builds on two title-winning seasons in Turin, where he moved after a decade at AC Milan. Allowed to leave the San Siro after the 2010-11 season, Pirlo has found new life and health at Juventus. where has Pirlo has scored eight times and appeared in 87.2 of Juve’s Serie A matches. In his final three seasons at Milan, the former Brescia and Inter man scored two goals and played in 67.5 percent of his team’s league matches.

Over the course of the next two seasons, it will be difficult for a 35- and 36-year-old Pirlo to replicate his initial Juventus numbers, though with the talent around him in the Bianconeri midfield, the limitations that come with age can be mitigated. Chilean Arturo Vidal is already one of the best players in Italy, and with the emergence of French international Paul Pogba (who Juventus is also attempting to sign to a new deal), Pirlo has two, physical, ranging players to do the dirty work. If he does re-sign, the four-time scudetto winner will have all the cover he needs to continue his success in Turin.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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