Juan Mata talks Wayne Rooney, United’s character and his love of pressure

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Spain midfielder Juan Mata was unveiled as Manchester United’s £37.1M record signing on Monday.

During the press conference Mata spoke on a number of issues, notably his eagerness to link up with Wayne Rooney.

“For me he’s one of the best players in the history of this country. He’s an unbelievable player,” Mata said.

“He’s a striker who can score, assist and come into midfield to take the ball. I will try to connect with him as much as possible and find the gaps in rival defenses. I think that’s my best style of play, to get into positions where I can assist the strikers.”

A midfielder who was deployed centrally and on the wings for Chelsea, Mata is expected to operate in the central attacking position at United. In the Red Devils’ typical 4-2-3-1 set up, Mata would play just inside Rooney but with Robin van Persie’s improvement in health (he may feature in tomorrow’s match against Cardiff City), David Moyes could roll out all three players in a 4-4-2 so long as Mata is paired with a suitable defensive player in the center of the park.

In addition to his admiration for Rooney, Mata also spoke of his attraction to United’s character and never-say-die attitude.

“What I like most about this club is the character,” said Mata. “I think if another club were in this position in the league, it would be very difficult to come back and take first position, but this club can do it.

“This is the real image I have from Manchester United, always fighting to win titles, always coming back from difficult moments.”

Mata also spoke of his fearlessness at United’s current predicament of being 7th in the league and needing a Top 4 finish.

“I love the pressure,” the 25-year-old said. “When people are suspecting big things from you then it’s a challenge but I am looking forward to being successful. This is a massive club. I’ve realised that since I came here and I’m really glad to be here. This is the club that has won the most trophies and it’s down to me to show people the football I have inside of me.”

Mata arrived at Old Trafford after a 2.5 year stint at Chelsea where he scored 32 goals and made more than 130 appearances, twice being named Chelsea’s player of the year. The Spaniard, who has chosen the No. 8 shirt, is scheduled to make his first appearance for United tomorrow at 2:45pm ET on NBC Live Extra.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.