Landon Donovan speaks on trip to Brazil, Jurgen Klinsmann’s methods and more

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Landon Donovan is a lot of things; count “smart” and “contemplative” among them.

He tends to be cautious about what he says publicly, and he tends to avoid one-on-one interviews. So we don’t always see behind the curtain when it comes to U.S. Soccer’s all-time leading scorer (who is also now Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer.)

But make no mistake, Donovan is a sharp guy. He observes the game and the people around him and almost always has something wise to say – even if his cautious approach sometimes means that we have to dig a bit to find the real treasure.

Donovan touched on quite a few topics in a Q&A with U.S. Soccer, a transcript of a press conference in Brazil. Here are a couple of the most interesting elements:

Some of us in the business have weighed in on whether the United States’ trip into Brazil is beneficial, something that could truly the tip the balance of performance this summer? U.S. Soccer officials believe it will, forming a comfort level that no other team has an opportunity to build so far out. Here is Donovan’s thought on the matter:

It definitely helps because now when we come back in the summer we have a comfort level. We know the club here, we know the people, and we know the training facility. It makes it a lot easier. In 2009, we played the Confederations Cup in South Africa and the next year the World Cup in 2010. That was very helpful. I think this is similar. You get a feeling for what it’s like here and it helps a lot.”

On the one hand, what he says makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, Donovan speaks of 2010, and most people agree that the U.S. performance there was nothing better than just OK, that a big opportunity was missed for a deeper drive into the money rounds World Cup South Africa. So, who knows, really?

Donovan’s thoughts on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s managing style were also interesting. He was asked about a Klinsmann’s “European” approach, whatever that is.

It’s unique for me and a lot of the players. He’s very demanding, but he’s respectful. He pushes us a lot. He has the German mentality of really working hard, but also he lives in California, he likes the American ‘free spirit’ mentality, so he’s very energetic and very lively. It’s a very good mix and the guys have taken to it well.”

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.

Video: De Rossi, Roma make classy visit to Hillsborough memorial

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On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.

After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.

De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”

Liverpool, Roma ride major emotions into the UCL semifinals

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Four clubs remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League competition, and while two of the teams have been considered heavy dogs in the fight all year long the other two sides look to continue on their storybook run.

Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have found themselves in the semifinals of this season’s UCL, creating a strong mix of storylines as the tournament heads towards its most critical point.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Theo Walcott’s strike ]

Anfield will be the site for Tuesday’s first leg between Liverpool and Roma, with both sides still riding major highs from their victories in the last round.

The Reds enter the final four after having disposed of fellow Premier League side Manchester City in relatively dominating fashion. Meanwhile, Roma completed a seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona to progress in the competition.

Liverpool is led by three of the year’s top goalscorers, including Mohamed Salah — who has scored eight goals in the UCL and 41 across all competitions.

For Roma, much of the side’s success has been predicated on finding defensive strength at the right moments throughout the tournament.

Despite falling behind 4-1 in their first leg defeat to Barca in the previous round, Edin Dzeko and Co. rallied for a 3-0 win at the Stade Olimpico to stun the Catalan club by holding Lionel Messi and his side in check.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco will have to find creative ways to halt the Liverpool attack though over the course of two legs, with the Reds boasting the top attack in this year’s UCL.

Liverpool has scored 33 goals in 10 UCL matches, while only conceding seven in the process.

Keeper Ederson hopeful he can score this season for Man City

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The prospects for a goalkeeper scoring during a match are usually uncommon, but that hasn’t halted Manchester City’s number one choice from aiming to break the trend this season.

Ederson — who has moved into the starting role at the Etihad Stadium with relative ease in 2017/18 — has dreamt of scoring a goal of his own for the Premier League champions in waiting.

“I heard the fans chanting my name, asking me to take the penalty but Gabriel went there,” Ederson said. “Unfortunately he missed it and Bernardo happily scored. But if the manager have asked me to go there, definitely I’d score.

“I’m not sure if I would be able to do set-pieces, but I’m good at penalties, either using power or technique on shooting it. But City have [their] regular penalty-takers and we are well-served.

Citizen supporters chanted for the goalkeeper to take a penalty kick over the weekend in the team’s 5-0 win over Swansea City.

However, Gabriel Jesus was the man selected for the opportunity, but had his attempt saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Bernardo Silva was in the right spot to score the game’s fifth goal.

“If Pep asks me to take it, I’m there,” Ederson said of the penalty kick. “Hopefully it will happen [before the end of the season], I’d like to score.”

This isn’t the first time Ederson has discussed exploring opportunities outside of the net, though.

The Brazilian shot-stopper has long been a fan of former Brazil international goalkeeper Rogero Ceni — who scored 65 goals for club side Sao Paolo.

Earlier this season, the 24-year-old joked around with the media, saying that he’d be more than happy to fill a role in the midfield when City was experiencing some injury issues within the squad.