D.C. United set to give up first pick in allocation for Philadelphia’s Jeff Parke? Yikes.

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So much for speculating how D.C. United would look with Marco Pappa. Or Maurice Edu, for that matter, with the Stoke City man’s return to Major League Soccer discussed more-and-more by the day. Instead, D.C. United’s makeover has added another veteran in central defense, reportedly trading the first pick in MLS’s allocation order along with Ethan White to Philadelphia for Jeff Parke and the sixth pick in allocation.

If you’re looking at this, asking yourself if you’d trade Pappa or Edu for Parke, and are left wondering if there’s something more to this deal, you’re not alone. Parke, who was traded from Seattle to Philadelphia last season, is a decent-to-above average center back who makes decent-to-above average money ($205,000 in 2013). Together with the recently acquired Bobby Boswell, United have the makings of a solid if unspectacular pair. But to give up the chance at Pappa or Edu to make it happen? It seems like something else is up.

That’s not the only wrinkle to this deal. Part of the charm of the Union acquiring Parke last season was the Drexel graduate’s move closer to home. Now, after one year in Philadelphia, the 31-year-old has asked out, requesting the trade as a result of a “personal matter” (as relayed by our friends at CSN Philly). Twelve months after Seattle made the tough decision to cut costs by trading Parke, the former Red Bull is on the move again, set to join his third team in as many seasons.

source: Getty Images
Philadelphia is reportedly targeting Stoke City’s Maurice Edu with the allocation order slot acquired from D.C. United. (Source: Getty Images.)

There are a whole bunch of questions to go around about this one, not the least of which involves D.C.’s motivations. On the surface, it seems Dave Kaspar and Ben Olsen have decided an upgrade in defense is more valuable than adding Edu or Pappa, a decision that’s not difficult to understand. Olsen may see Perry Kitchen as his Maurice Edu while looking at a team that already has Davy Arnaud and Nick DeLeon wide in midfield. Where others might see places to upgrade, Kaspar and Olsen may see reasons to focus resources elsewhere. Finding a partner for Bobby Boswell may have been priority number one.

With that in mind, the bigger questions may rest with Philadelphia. Over at CSN Philly, the big focus is on Maurice Edu, a player that could provide an upgrade to Brian Carroll or Keon Daniel in midfield. While it would be difficult for the Union to turn their back on that upgrade (and a U.S. international) to take Pappa, the team is also in desperate need of new ways to score goals. When Jack McInerney cooled off after his spring explosion, the team was exposed as one-dimensional – overly reliant on playing through Conor Casey. Pappa could solve that. (He could also be the only option, if Edu doesn’t become available.)

On a team that competed for the playoffs last year, wide midfield is one of many holes, part of the reason why this deal looks bad for both sides. Philadelphia may be able to address one of their problems with Edu or Pappa, but in giving up Parke, they’ve created another. Perhaps Ethan White will make a smooth transition to Philadelphia, but the former Maryland Terrapin had yet to show enough at RFK to keep him in red and black. He may just add to the pile of young talent Philadelphia’s waiting to fully mature.

For D.C., they plug a hole, but to do so they’ve given up a prime asset. In return, they get a player who turns 32 in March – somebody who’s decent but no All-Star. Turning their back on a chance to get a more talented player, D.C. United appears to be placing a too much emphasis on 2014, perhaps overlooking the lengths they must travel to overcome their disastrous 2013.

LIVE, FA Cup semifinal: Chelsea v. Southampton

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Chelsea and Southampton clash in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Sunday (10 a.m. ET kick off) for the right to play Manchester United in the final on May 19.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

Antonio Conte led Chelsea to the FA Cup final last season but they lost to Arsenal. Even though the Blues are up against it to finish in the top four in the league, winning the cup would be a big success for Conte.

Saints haven’t made a cup semifinal since 2003 when they lost to Arsenal in the final. Mark Hughes‘ side are entrenched in the relegation zone and have a bigger challenge than making the final.

[ MORE: Minute-by-minute on Chelsea v Saints

Click on the links above to follow the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis live from Wembley right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Arrests made after violent soccer riot in South Africa

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DURBAN, South Africa (AP) Police say two people have been arrested and more arrests are imminent after a violent riot at a South African soccer game on Saturday night, when hundreds of fans ripped up parts of the stadium, invaded the field, and seriously assaulted at least one security guard.

Players had to run for the safety of the dressing rooms as the fans swept onto the field soon after the final whistle.

[ MORE: The latest Arsene Wenger news ]

Police responded with stun grenades to disperse the rioters, and television pictures showed riot police storming the field and a white armored police vehicle racing across the edge of the pitch.

South African Police Services spokeswoman Nqobile Gwala on Sunday confirmed the arrests and said the two people were facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.

The violence mainly by Kaizer Chiefs fans followed their team’s 2-0 loss to Free State Stars in the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup competition at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the east coast city of Durban, one of the stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup.

In the most disturbing scenes, a female security guard was set upon by a group of supporters on the field. She lay on the ground as they hit her with plastic chairs. A man then kicked her twice in the head. After the second kick she lay motionless and face down on the grass.

Police spokeswoman Gwala did not say if anyone had died in the violence, saying police had no information yet from stadium or medical authorities on any deaths.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela resigned after the game.

“Emotional” Mertesacker: Send Wenger off “with a cup”

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Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has made 220 appearances for the club, all with one man in charge of the Gunners: Arsene Wenger.

[ MORE: The latest Arsene Wenger news ]

Mertesacker has won three FA Cups with Wenger, and he took up his pen — or laptop — for Sunday’s Matchday program.

The 33-year-old German says it’s down to Arsenal’s players to send off Wenger right: With two more successful rounds in the UEFA Europa League against Atletico Madrid and either Red Bull Salzburg or Marseille. From the BBC:

“We were only informed on Friday about the manager’s decision to step down at the end of the season, so it’s still quite emotional,” Mertesacker said.

“He’s been the major figure of this club for more than 20 years. He’s been so impressive for me and he has trusted me so much throughout my career, in bringing me here and making me captain even when I was injured. He also gave me a future role here at the club so I am very grateful and humbled for the opportunity he gave to me.

“There’s now an emphasis on us doing it for him too. We want to give him the send-off he deserves: with a cup.”

The French legend to end his time at Arsenal against Marseille would be delightful, don’t you think?

Watch Live: Arsenal-West Ham, Stoke-Burnley

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The Premier League has a pair of 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday kickoffs for us this morning, including one of Arsene Wenger‘s final matches at Arsenal.

There’s a London Derby between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners look to stay fresh for Atletico Madrid and the Hammers aim to firm up their Premier League status for next season (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette. Subs: Macey, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Nelson. Aubameyang.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Masuaku, Kouyate, Noble, Fernandes, Mario, Arnautovic. Subs: Adrian, Cullen, Evra, Lanzini, Hugill, Carroll, Chicharito.


Stoke City’s climb out of the relegation zone will have to overcome Burnley’s desires for a Top Six place, as the Clarets can pass sixth place Arsenal with a win and a Gunners loss to West Ham (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, M.Indi, Pieters; Bauer, Allen, Badou, Shaqiri; Crouch, Diouf. Subs: Haugaard, Zouma, Ireland, Cameron, Fletcher, Ramadan, Campbell.

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Lennon, Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson, Wood, Barnes. Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Marney, Vokes, Hendrick, Walters, Bardsley.