MLS SuperDraft Recap – Who’s Going Where

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Major League Soccer’s off-season highlight is the SuperDraft, which kicked off today at 12pm from Philadelphia ET.

Throughout the day we will keep you updated on all the news from the SuperDraft as well as constantly updating all the picks as they come in.

For more information about the SuperDraft, make sure to check out Richard Farley’s ‘Guide to Major League Soccer’s annual (super) Draft.’

FIRST ROUND

1. Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union via trade with D.C. United): The 6’4″ 175 lbs University of Connecticut product was sensational in his three years at Storrs. This season, the Generation Adidas player registered 10 shutouts (0.75 GAA and 10-3-8 record) to win the American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year award and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy. An athletically gifted shot-stopper, the Jamaican is known for his strength on crosses, leadership, strong organization skills, good touch on the ball and positivity.

2. Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United via trade with Philadelphia Union): The 6’2″ 180 lbs Cal centerback appeared in 19 matches for the Golden Bears, finishing the season with an impressive 10 goals and one assist. The NSCAA First Team All-American was a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and is known as a complete player with impressive aerial skills, distribution and calm on the ball.

3. Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps): The 6’3″ 198 lbs Dean anchored a Cal defensive unit along with Birnbaum that allowed 21 goals in as many games and recorded seven shutouts. The First Team All-Pac-12 player scored one goal and added four assists on the way to an Elite 8 finish. The athletic left-footed centerback is known for a sensational touch on the ball and galloping runs out of the back.

4. Steve Neumann (New England Revolution): The 6′ 165 lbs striker from Georgetown was a NSCAA second-team All-American and First Team All-Big East selection after notching 10 goals and six assists in 21 games (all starts) to lead the Big East in scoring. A clever player with plenty of flicks and tricks, Neumann is a highly intelligent player capable of creating his own shot and setting others up just as well.

5. Eric Miller (Montreal Impact via trade with FC Dallas): The 6’1″ 175 lbs midfielder out of Creighton earned Second Team All-Great Lakes region honors in midfield after starting all 20 games and tallying three goals and one assist. The Generation Adidas man is versatile player who can play in the back or the midfield and is known for his fantastic stamina and aerial prowess.

6. Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas via trade with Philadelphia Union): The 6’1″ 170 lbs striker from Calgary flew up the draft boards after a strong combine. Akindele attended Division 2 Colorado School of Mines where he leaves the school’s all-time goals leader after scoring 19 goals in 19 matches this year. A powerful, strong striker who can turn on a dime.

7. Andre Lewis (Vancouver Whitecaps): The 5’9″ 145 lbs Jamaican U-17 and U-20 midfielder recently broke into the senior Reggae Boyz side in 2012. Lewis played for national soccer power St. George’s College in Jamaica and is known as a technical, creative midfielder who plays on either flank of midfield.

8. Damion Lowe (Seattle Sounders): The 6’3″ 175 lbs Jamaican played three seasons at the University of Hartford where he was named second team all-Northeast region and first team all-America East Conference in 2013. The former Jamaica U-20 international represented his country at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.

9. JJ Koval (San Jose Earthquakes): The 6’1″ 175 lbs Stamford midfielder was the team captain who started all 21 games, tallying two goals and one assist to earn First Team All-Pac 12 honors. A solid holding midfielder, Koval is known for great vision and strong tackling ability.

10. Nick Hagglund (Toronto FC via trade with Philadelphia Union): The 6’1″ 187 lbs defender out of Xavier was named First Team All-Big East and Big East Defensive Player of the Year after anchoring a defense that allowed 19 goals and recorded six shutouts. Hagglund is the complete package for a centerback – physically imposing, strong, fast, smart and with a good touch and slick distribution skills.

11. Patrick Mullins (NE Revolution via trade with Colorado Rapids): The 6’1″ 172 lbs striker led Maryland to the NCAA College Cup championship final with 19 goals and eight assists in the regular season, followed by five goals and two assists in the postseason. An active striker known for making clever runs behind defenses, Mullins is a left-footed player who knows how to finish.

12. Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids via trade with NE Revolution): The 6′ 157 lbs box-to-box midfielder helped Louisville to the American Athletic Conference title with three goals and two assists. A Generation Adidas player, Hairston is known for fantastic technical ability as well as pace and timing.

13. Marco Franco (Chicago Fire): The 5′ 11″ 155 lbs right-back started all 23 matches for UC Irvine and was named Big West Defender of the Year after helping his team to the Big West Championship and a Sweet 16 finish in the NCAA tournament. A composed, quick defender, Franco is technically good on the ball and can also play center-back.

14. Ben Sweat (Columbus Crew): The 6′ 2″ 175 lbs defender is an attack minded fullback who earned First Team All-American Athletic Conference honors after helping South Florida to the AAC tournament title. A strong left-back, Sweat is good on the ball and dangerous on the attack.

15. Pedro Ribeiro (Philadelphia Union via trade with Toronto FC): The 6′ 4″ 208 lbs Brazilian midfielder scored 11 goals and seven assists in 23 games with Coastal Carolina in 2013. A MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, Ribeiro is versatile enough to play anywhere on the field but is a particularly good defender.

16. AJ Cochran (Houston Dynamo): The 6′  3″ 195 lbs defender from the University of Wisconsin was named the Big Ten Defender of the Year after starting all 21 of the Badgers’ contests and scoring three goals. A monster in the air, Cochran also has good feet and a good sense of positioning.

17. Schillo Tshuma (Portland Timbers): The 5′ 10″ 162 lbs University of Maryland striker scored six goals and one assist in 25 games for the Terrapins before signing a Generation Adidas contract in January. Creative, tricky and lightning-quick many feel Tshuma under-performed this season but that the Zimbabwe native has more potential than Maryland teammate Patrick Mullins.

18. Ryan Neil (Real Salt Lake): The 6′ 1″ 165 lbs midfielder is the third Cal product taken in the first round of the SuperDraft after earning All-Pac-12 second team honors in his senior season. Fast, athletic and a fantastic dribbler, many feel Neil could be reborn into an attacking full-back in MLS.

19. Grant Van De Casteele (New England Revolution): The 6′ 2″ 165 lbs Notre Dame product anchored the Irish defense that allowed 18 goals and recorded 10 shutouts en route to winning the first NCAA title in the program’s history. VDC was named to the All-ACC Third Team and is known as a sizeable centerback with good feet and a penchant for attack.

La Liga: Sevilla win late to move even with Atletico Madrid in 3rd

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MADRID (AP) Wissam Ben Yedder scored three minutes after entering the game to give Sevilla a late 2-1 win over 10-man Celta Vigo in the Spanish league on Thursday.

The victory moved Sevilla even on points with third-place Atletico Madrid with four matches left. Third place guarantees an automatic spot in the Champions League next season, while the fourth-placed team has to go through a playoff.

Ben Yedder netted the winner from close range after a low cross by Samir Nasri in the 79th minute, beating a defender to the ball and hitting the top of the net with a right-footed shot.

“It was a complex game but the team was able to overcome the difficulties,” Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said.

Joaquin Correa put the host ahead after halftime, and Iago Aspas equalized by converting a penalty kick just minutes later. Aspas did not celebrate the goal out of respect to fans of his former club.

Sevilla dominated from the start and was pressuring vigorously in search of the winner, especially after Celta went a man down when midfielder Pablo Hernandez was sent off with a second yellow card in the 56th with the game 1-1.

Sergio Escudero and Nasri each struck the crossbar a few minutes apart late in the second half, and Vicente Iborra also had hit the woodwork earlier in the game played under steady rain in Seville.

It was the third win in four matches for Sevilla after a streak of five games without a win.

Sevilla and Atletico are level on points, but the Madrid club is ahead on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Top PL Storylines: Bye-bye, St. Totteringham’s Day? So long, Sunderland?

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Ahead of Week 34 of the 2016-17 Premier League season, we’re most looking forward to keeping an eye on the following storylines…

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Cancel St. Totteringham’s Day?

8,018 days (otherwise known as 22.9 years) have passed since Tottenham Hotspur last finished above Arsenal in the Premier League. First of all, that’s a lot of days. Secondly, the time to reset that clock is nearly upon us, as Tottenham take a 14-point lead into Sunday’s North London derby (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) — perhaps the final one to be played at White Hart Lane. With Arsenal having only five games left to play after Sunday, a 17-point deficit would be mathematically impossible to overcome, and would guarantee Spurs’ first PL finish above Arsenal since the spring of 1995.

The fact that Spurs could end that embarrassing, heinous streak in a game against Arsenal, in perhaps their next-to-last game at White Hart Lane, and maybe even close to within a single point of Chelsea in the title race… it’s almost all too timely and too perfect to believe it could really happen… to Spurs.


Finish the job

With all due respect to Middlesbrough (home), West Bromwich Albion (away), Watford (home) and Sunderland (home), Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they’ve lost on their last two visits (all competitions) and they’ll take on seventh-place Everton (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com), is far and away the toughest remaining fixture on Chelsea’s schedule as they chase a fifth PL-era title (fifth in all eras). Having booked their spot in the FA Cup final by beating Spurs last weekend, Antonio Conte is dreaming of — and a favorite to win — a double in his first season at Stamford.


Someone has to finish top-four

Ahead of the weekend, two points separate Liverpool (third), Manchester City (fourth) and Manchester United (fifth), with Arsenal another four back in sixth (but possessing a game in hand). Given all the points dropped by each of the aforementioned sides in recent weeks, it’s important to remember that someone has to finish third and fourth in the PL this season.

We’ve already discussed Arsenal’s titanic task, so here’s the challenges facing the other three this round: Liverpool, at Watford (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com); Man City, at Middlesbrough (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, on  NBCSports.com); Manchester United, vs. Swansea City (7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com).


So long, Sunderland?

For five seasons now, Sunderland have flirted with relegation from the PL; and every previous season, they’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat and managed to stay up. This season, though, under David Moyes, there appears to be no rabbit. With five games to go, safety is a whopping 12 points away, which means a loss to Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com), coupled with a win or draw by 17th-place Hull City, would officially send Sunderland to the Championship next season. If the Black Cats somehow find their way out of this predicament, a northeastern knighthood awaits Mr. Moyes.

French authorities investigating 2018, 2022 World Cup bids

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PARIS (AP) French financial prosecutors are investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and have heard former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

A person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday that France’s financial prosecutor services (PNF) opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling, and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Blatter was questioned in Switzerland last week as a witness, the same person told the AP.

The office of the attorney general of Switzerland said in a statement that “at the request of and in the context of proceedings being conducted by French justice authorities, it has questioned Mr. Joseph Blatter in his capacity as a person providing information on the 20th April 2017 in Zurich.”

The PNF opened its investigation last year.

FIFA has also been targeted by investigations led by Swiss and US authorities. Last month, FIFA sent 1,300 pages of internal investigation reports into suspected bribery and corruption to Switzerland’s attorney general. The documents complete a 22-month probe by legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which FIFA retained in the fallout from United States and Swiss federal prosecutors revealing their sprawling investigations of soccer corruption in May 2015.

Blatter said last week that he met with U.S. Department of Justice investigators and insisted he was not a suspect in their bribery and corruption case linked to FIFA.

Blatter was suspended from office in September 2015 and later banned from soccer by the FIFA ethics committee.

Johannsson expected to leave Bremen this summer — is MLS next?

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Aron Johannsson’s time at Werder Bremen is all but finished, as the 26-year-old American-born, Icelandic-raised striker is expected to leave the club this summer after 22 months with Die Werderaner.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

Having failed to make much of an impact during his second season in the Bundesliga, following a few promising days early in the fall of 2015, the German press stated on Thursday, in no uncertain terms, “Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club” — quotes from Kicker (translation courtesy of Google Translate):

In addition, Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club. The US boy was not able to get through the hard competition in the storm, claimed more time, which can hardly be guaranteed in the next season. The fact that Baumann is already talking about finding a meaningful solution with the striker in the summer can be interpreted as follows: Johannsson will leave Werder.

Since various bits and pieces are lost in the above translation, allow us to offer a translation of the translation: the “hard competition in the storm” refers to the three or four strikers presently ahead of him in the pecking order. Johannsson fell down the depth chart due in large part to a hip injury which cost him the final seven months of last season.

Johannsson was recently quoted as saying, “It’s not my desire to leave, but at the end of the day it’s important that I play. I love football, but I need to play to be happy.”

[ MORE: John Brooks hip injury is worrying ahead of World Cup qualifiers ]

So, what’s next for Johannsson?

He can probably forget about a move to a top-division team in any of Europe’s premier leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France). A move back to Holland, where he starred at AZ Alkmaar (39 goals in 81 games) before moving to Bremen, would make sense if his goal is to stay in Europe at all costs. Another strong season (just a half, even) could earn him another shot with a first-division side roughly the size of Bremen.

Then, there’s MLS, which Johannsson’s been linked with before, and has publicly expressed a desire to join one day. As a current U.S. national team player, a move to MLS would mean a trip through the league’s allocation order for Johannsson. As of this posting, the Houston Dynamo hold the no. 1 spot in the allocation order, with Columbus Crew SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Minnesota United and Orlando City SC rounding out the next five.

[ WATCH: If you haven’t Darlington Nagbe’s latest golazo ]

Any team in MLS could land Johannsson by acquiring the top spot in the allocation order, via trade, and agreeing (what would almost certainly be) a Designated Player contract with him.

At the age of 26, Johannsson will likely feel there is still something left for him to accomplish in Europe. A strong showing in this summer’s Gold Cup (he’s a perfect candidate for Bruce Arena’s “B-team”) could open plenty of eyes — and doors. Money talks, though, just as the opportunity to be the face of the franchise and score a boatload of goals in MLS might also do.