Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans

Looking at the U.S. national team right back situation (a bit of a strange one at January camp)

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There was surely some underlying meaning in two particular newcomers being selected for the U.S. national team’s annual January camp: Sporting Kansas City’s Chance Myers and Seattle’s DeAndre Yedlin.

Yedlin is such a talented player in terms of what he offers moving forward that his inclusion in the national team plans has looked for months like a matter of “when” rather than “if.”   On the other hand, his defensive positioning and lack of instinct/experience sometimes bites him, so a trip into Brazil as one of the 23 U.S. chosen still seems unlikely.

Myers’ place on the January camp roster says more; he’s been an effective MLS right back for some time, a tough defender at one end and willing participant on the attack. So why is Klinsmann just now taking a harder look at the SKC veteran and former No. 1 overall draft pick?

Simple: the right back position continues to be a vexing spot for the national team. That’s why three are in camp, with two potential answers (Steve Cherundolo and Geoff Cameron) still somewhere in the conversation.

We’ll know more at the camp’s conclusion when Klinsmann concludes whether Yedlin or Myers has done enough to unseat Brad Evans as the right back starter for the time being. (The team faces South Korea to conclude this month-long camp.)

Either way, it does set up something of a strange situation for Evans, a thinking man’s player and a total professional when it comes to helping his teams, both club and country. Evans (pictured above, hugging Eddie Johnson) and Yedlin are Seattle Sounders teammates; Evans mans the midfield (in a revolving role for someone with ample versatility, clearly) while Yedlin starts at right back for Sigi Schmid’s club.

In the current camp, however, Yedlin’s job is all about trying to take Evans’ job. And Evans is OK with that; like I said, a total pro, that one.

Here’s what Evans had to say about it via USSoccer.com:

It’s a balance. DeAndre is my teammate in Seattle, but when we come here, we’re both battling for the same position. That’s the way I look at it. Obviously, all the questions off the field when we’re not at practice are always going to be there. I’m always going to be there as a cornerstone for him to come to when he needs advice on what to do here and there. In that position, if I see something I’m going to let him know. Him being 20-years old, I expect him to say, ‘this is what I would do in this situation,’ and we can bounce information of each other. That just builds good relationships and we can carry that over to Seattle because I’ll probably being playing right in front of him at right mid. There will be interchange there, and I think this will provide a good base moving forward.” 

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

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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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.

Emre Can back in the Liverpool side ahead of Europa clash vs. Villarreal

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  Emre Can of Liverpool battles for the ball with Idrissa Gana of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on February 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Emre Can has recovered from an ankle injury and will be in Liverpool’s squad for their Europa League semifinal against Villarreal on Thursday night.

The German international has not played since April 14 when he was forced off in the Reds’ wild 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool prepping for Villarreal ]

Giving his team update on Wednesday, manager Jurgen Klopp said Can is back in the team, although captain Jordan Henderson is still out. The Reds enter the second leg trailing 1-0 on aggregate.

Another positive note out of Melwood was the return of Danny Ings to first-team training. The 23-year-old striker signed with Liverpool last summer, but managed just eight appearances before having his season end to a torn ACL in October. Ings is still far away from his full return, but it was a good sight to see him back on the pitch and making progress in his recovery.

Disappointed Pellegrini rues lack of offense in Man City’s loss to Real

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )
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Manchester City put in an uninspired performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday, losing the match 1-0 and falling out of the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Real Madrid 1-0 Man City ]

The match was decided by just one goal, but the scoreline was flattering to City as they failed to create any kind of real chances at the Bernabeu. Over the two legs, City managed just two shots on target.

While City were wildly disappointing in the second leg, manager Manuel Pellegrini did not think the match was that one-sided, saying both teams struggled on the attack.

I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game with two teams who did not create many chances. The two teams were working with no-one making a difference.

It is not the best thing changing a defender very early but I don’t think we had any problems in defence, we had problems creating, same as Real Madrid. They did not create many chances.

Real Madrid was not in top form, but they still could have scored three or four goals on Wednesday. Joe Hart had to come up with some big saves to keep things close, as the England goalkeeper was by far City’s most valuable player throughout the tie.

[ MORE: Liverpool preparing for Europa League match vs. Villarreal ]

The absence of David Silva through injury certainly hurt City’s attack, but there was very little service moving forward from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure. The poor play in the midfield left Sergio Aguero stranded alone up top, nearly invisible in the second leg.

Without service, Aguero was forced to track back to try and find the ball himself, leaving City no options to hit on the counter. For a tie between two of the most expensive teams in the world, neither side was truly impressive, but City surely disappointing.