Is Barcelona’s Xavi ready to join New York City FC and Major League Soccer?

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Reports on Tuesday are linking FC Barcelona and Spanish national team legend Xavi with a switch to New York City FC for the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season.

According to the details dished out in publications across Europe, Manchester City (who own the vast majority of NYC FC along with the New York Yankees) are desperate to bring Xavi to the Big Apple and make him the new franchises leading light when they begin play in 2015.

Xavi, 33, has spent his entire career at hometown team Barcelona and has won just about every trophy known to mankind in his glittering career as a tiki-taka general in the heart of Barca and Spain’s midfield. When 2015 rolls around Xavi will be 35 and will have just one year left on his current contract with the Catalan giants and City’s hierarchy believe it will send out a message of intent from the very beginning, that their franchise in MLS will play an attractive style of soccer similar to that of Barcelona.

(MORE: Learning more about New York City FC, about DPs and training grounds)

So why not pick up Barca’s creative hub and drop him in Manhattan? Xavi is said to earn $11 million a year in salary and would likely arrive on a free transfer, so from a financial standpoint it doesn’t seem like a problem. City’s owner Sheikh Mansour has already shown he’s willing to splash the cash and the same is likely to apply to the three Designated Players Jason Kreis will have at his disposal when he leads New York City FC into the first steps as an MLS franchise.

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After winning almost every honor in world soccer, does one more challenge in MLS await Xavi?

Speaking of Kreis, he’s surely an admirer of Xavi as the intricate passing style that the Spaniard has helped become a worldwide phenomenon is exactly the way he instructed his former Real Salt Lake team to play. Quick passing, mesmeric movement, making triangles and third-man runs, that’s right out of Kreis’ coaching manual. That said, Xavi may not be running around much at the age of 35 but he’ll surely have a few good seasons left in him and recently the Spanish midfielder sparked intrigue when asked if he will end his career at Barcelona.

“Being tied to Barcelona is a privilege,” Xavi said, “but I don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Let’s see if this is just another transfer rumor, or has more substance than most whispers of European legends joining MLS do.

I’m certainly hoping it’s the latter.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET