Matías Laba out with Toronto? Not so fast, say Nelsen and Bezbatchenko

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When news broke that Michael Bradley would be swapping Rome for Toronto, it was assumed Matías Laba, the Argentine brought on board last year as a Young Designated Player, would be out. In addition to Bradley, the team had signed Jermain Defoe and Gilberto to occupy two other DP slots. Unless Toronto was going to renegotiate Laba’s contract or seriously pay down its cap his with allocation money, the young midfielder would need to find a new home.

But this is where bringing on Tim Bezbatchenko could really pay off. The young TFC general manager is seen as a big of a “capologist” – perhaps the first of his kind in a team’s GM position. Speaking to the league’s web site, the 32-year-old hinted his familiarity with the league’s salary cap rules could help keep Laba in Toronto:

“Everybody knows that I worked at the league office, so I know all the things you can do with the budget and the salary cap. So we’ll be looking at all options in terms of keeping our flexibility with our team and fielding the best team.”

That knowledge could help Ryan Nelsen retain a player he played a part in acquiring, even though former team president and general manager Kevin Payne was seen as the key motivator in Laba’s acquisition. On Tuesday, however, the TFC head coach told MLSSoccer.com “I love Matty,” claiming ‘I brought him in, so we will try and move hell and high water to try and keep the man.”

Laba, only 22 years old, joined Toronto in April from Argentinos Juniors for an estimated $1.5 million transfer fee. He went on to make 17 starts for the Reds, posting one goal. A natural defensive midfielder, Laba staying in Toronto would allow Nelsen to use Bradley further up the field, making better use of the U.S. international’s passing abilities.

Making $200,00 per season, Laba’s wages would normally fit under the salary cap without occupying a Designated Player spot, but the midfielder’s transfer fee likely contributes to a higher cap hit. If Laba stayed a Young Designated Player, that hit would be limited to $200,000. If that distinction has to be given up, the full weight of Laba’s cost will hit Toronto’s cap.

What, exactly, that weight ends up being appears to define the discussion between Toronto and MLS. According to Bezbatchenko, Toronto has to “work through the league” to figure out if they can keep Laba. Given how Nelsen feels about the 22-year-old, any window MLS is willing to offer could force us to revise our Toronto starting XIs.

Reports: De Boer offered Crystal Palace manager’s spot

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Multiple reports claim Crystal Palace has offered its managerial position to Dutch boss Frank De Boer.

Palace has been without a manager since Sam Allardyce retired after the season. The Eagles finished 15th in the Premier League, five points behind eighth place Southampton and seven points clear of the drop zone.

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An accomplished defender at Ajax and Barcelona, the 47-year-old De Boer led Ajax in his first managerial stint before spending less than three months at Inter Milan last season.

De Boer twice won the Rinus Michels Award as the top manager in Dutch football, and would become just the second Palace manager from outside the British Isles.

He would inherit a very good group of attackers with Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, and Andros Townsend. Palace also has a talented midfielders Luka Milivojevic and Yohan Cabaye to go with marauding Dutch back Patrick Van Aanholt.

Farcical officiating at end of Mexico-New Zealand match (video)

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Mexico should be counting their Confederations Cup blessings in congested Group A after a prolonged shoving match at the end of its 2-1 win over New Zealand on Thursday somehow ended with a single red card.

New Zealand is fortunate, too, but the All-Whites have already seen their hopes of the knockout round extinguished by a pair of losses in Russia.

With New Zealand counterattacking in hopes of a late equalizer, Mexico’s Diego Reyes pulled back charging Niko Boxall. It was the second pull back in minutes after Rafa Marquez went uncarded at the other end, and Boxall reacted poorly by lunging cleat-first into Hector Herrera’s calf.

Referee Bakary Gassama should’ve easily pulled two red cards there, but lost his focus in an ensuing melee that saw Herrera charge back to knock down Boxall, headbutts between Diego Reyes and Andrew Durante, and an absurd hand-throwing performance from Javier Aquino. Perhaps this lapse was understandable, which is why he had Video Assistant Referee available.

Even video couldn’t get it right, as a long and sloppy review was seemingly bungled by the referees saw a trio of yellow cards given to Boxall, Reyes, and Herrera.

All three should’ve been sent off, and otherwise Man of the Match contender Aquino and his teammate Marco Fabian should not have escaped discipline by any stretch of the imagination. If Gassama needed it to be level, Michael McGlinchey, Ryan Thomas and Durante could’ve left the match as well.

Instead, a terrific match has been left in the lurch. Will FIFA have the guts to issue supplemental discipline ahead of the important final matches of the group stage?

Oscar gets eight-match ban for petulant display in China

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Oscar‘s antics aren’t missed in the Premier League, and they won’t be missed over the next two months in China.

The 25-year-old Brazilian has been banned for eight matches after igniting a brawl between Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou (video here) by lashing a pair of shots at defenders and then hitting the ground in comical fashion.

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It’s amazing Oscar lived through the vicious shove (at least this dive didn’t influence a UEFA Champions League match).

While his antics won’t be missed, his playmaking will; It comes as no surprise that Oscar has thrived in the nascent Chinese Super League, posting nine assists and a goal in 13 league matches.

Latest on Ronaldo: PSG offer readied for Perez meeting

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Cristiano Ronaldo will meet with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez at the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, according to reports, at which point a pair of cut-and-dried options could be on the table.

Paris, or the status quo.

Marca reports that Ronaldo will bring a “money no object” offer from Paris Saint-Germain into the meeting, although the same outlet says Perez will know exactly what’s coming due to an understanding between the two big money clubs.

[ MORE: Juve confirms Alves release ]

The 32-year-old Ronaldo remains in fine form at the Confederations Cup, with Portugal’s unbeaten run continuing in Russia. If Portugal is upset by New Zealand in its group stage finale on June 24, it would still stand a good chance of proceeding to the knockout rounds depending on the Mexico-Russia result.

That means the Perez-Ronaldo meeting wouldn’t occur until after July 2, which is when the Final and third-place playoff are scheduled in Russia.

In the meantime, Real manager Zinedine Zidane is said to be cutting his vacation short to meet with Perez regarding not just Ronaldo’s future but the club’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe (which is a bit over-dramatic given the above news. Feels like a phone call could get the job done).