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Done Deal: England’s Deadline Day sees lower teams scurry to ensure top flight status

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It was a furious day of activity in England’s Deadline Day, but the top teams in the table were quiet while the bottom half made plenty of moves in an attempt to avoid relegation.

In fact, Liverpool failing to sign a player may be the biggest news out of the Premier League’s top 7 clubs.

Let’s go through all the completed deals for today:

ENGLAND:

FulhamMore to come on this complete and total squad turnover, but the Cottagers were by far the busiest team in the league on Deadline Day.  They completed permanent deals for Kostas Mitroglou, William Kvist and John Heitinga, while bringing in Lewis Holtby on loan.  Mitroglou is in on a club record transfer fee, and Holtby could be made permanent if the club stays up.

They also offloaded Aaron Hughes, Adel Taarabt, Dimitar Berbatov, and Philippe Senderos, with manager Rene Meulensteen clearly unhappy with the current squad makeup. They also offloaded Bryan Ruiz earlier in the window, while adding Clint Dempsey in the beginning of the window.

Finally, in the waning minutes of the window, the Whites nabbed Manchester United youngsters Ryan Tunnicliffe and Larnell Cole.

Crystal PalaceTony Pulis has done a fair bit of dealing today as well, bringing in defender Scott Dann and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey from Wolverhampton to shore up and already strong back line.  Finally they sealed Jason Puncheon permanently, already at Selhurst Park on loan. That allowed them to make their biggest signing of the day, nabbing winger Tom Ince from Blackpool on loan.

ArsenalMany have called for Arsene Wenger to sign a striker, but instead he went for the less sexy option of grabbing 31-year-old midfielder Kim Källström on loan from Spartak Moscow.

West Ham UnitedThe signing of Abdul Razak was made official, with the midfielder coming in from Anzhi.  The Hammers also grabbed Pablo Armero on loan from Napoli, a 27-year-old Colombian left-back.

They did, however, miss out on a striker, most notably in their attempt to hijack Mitroglou’s move to Fulham, ending up empty-handed despite reports that they offered the Greek 25% higher wages.  In fact, they offloaded disappointing striker Modibo Maiga on Queens Park Rangers just in time for the deadline.

Finally, they retained Ravel Morrison despite heavy interest from Fulham and other lower table sides.

ChelseaNo major moves were made by Jose Mourinho, but this morning the confirmed the signing of highly-rated defender Kurt Zouma from St. Etienne, costing them a reported £12 million ($19.7 million).  The 19-year-old was then immediately loaned back to the French side. Gael Kakuta was loaned out to Lazio, the 22-year-old’s fifth loan stint during his time at Chelsea.

Cardiff CityThe Bluebirds’ new manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer brought in a number of familiar faces from his time at Manchester United.  Most notably they captured Wilfried Zaha on loan, joining Fabio who was sealed a few days ago.

SunderlandThe Black Cats signed 24-year-old Liam Bridcutt for a reported £2.5 million ($4.1 million) fee after handing in a transfer request earlier this month at Brighton & Hove Albion. However, Gus Poyet will also be pleased with retaining Lee Cattermole despite heavy interest from Stoke City.  Danny Graham departed on loan to Middlesbrough.

LiverpoolAfter much speculation that they didn’t get the deal done in time, Liverpool did NOT get the deal done for 24-year-old Dnipro midfielder Yehven Konoplyanka.  They hit a snag on a £15 million ($24.7 million) deal and ran out of time.  No deadline day signings for the Reds, on the heels of missing out on Mohamed Salah who was stolen by Chelsea. More on this later.

West BromThe Baggies have added a fantastic hairdo to their ranks when they inked Espanyol striker Thievy Bifouma on loan until the end of the season.  It’s a bit of a panic purchase, with Nicolas Anelka and Stephane Sessegnon both out injured.

Southampton – Mauricio Pochettino, less than 24 hours after confirming he’d never play Pablo Osvaldo again, the striker was loaned to Juventus. So he punches a player at training, and is sent to the Serie A league leaders as a result. Justice is served!

That’s all for around the Premier League, Newcastle failed to replace Yohan Cabaye and Manchester United didn’t add a central defender. We’ll have more from around the rest of Europe a little later tonight.

MLS Preview: Conference leaders meet as Philly head west to Colorado

COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO - APRIL 02:  Dillon Powers #8 of Colorado Rapids controls the ball against the Toronto FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on April 2, 2016 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated Toronto FC 1-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The weekend is nearing, which means another full slate of ten matches across Major League Soccer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

With Sporting KC and D.C. United kicking things off on Friday night, Saturday is jam-packed with eight matches before the league’s youngest clubs NYCFC and Orlando wrap up the action on Sunday.

Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union — Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET

There’s not a misprint on the table, Colorado and Philadelphia are both at the top of their conferences. After sitting near the bottom of MLS for the past two seasons, Colorado has shocked everyone, currently leading the league in points (27) with the fewest goals conceded (9). On Saturday, the Rapids put their perfect 6-0 home record on the line when they host the Union, who currently lead the East by two points.

New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC — Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET

Coming off of a massive 7-0 win in the Hudson River Derby against NYCFC, the Red Bulls will look to continue trending upwards when they host Toronto FC. Two of the preseason favorites to top the Eastern Conference, both sides are currently tied on points, although the Red Bulls have a game in hand. For Toronto, Sebastian Giovinco will be keen to prove Antonio Conte wrong after being left out of the Italy squad for EURO 2016 after the Italian boss talked down upon MLS.

[ MLS: Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Montreal Impact vs. Los Angeles Galaxy — Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Didier Drogba has scored in each of his last three starts, a streak he will look to keep alive against the Los Angeles Galaxy this weekend. While Drogba will be looking to score, Montreal must make sure their defense is in top form as the Galaxy have scored a league-high 25 goals through 11 matches.

Elsewhere around MLS

Sporting KC vs. D.C. United — Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo — Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC vs. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers — Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC — Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Cantona claims ethnicity played role in Benzema, Ben Arfa France snubs

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 14:  Former Footballer Eric Cantona of France speaks during a press conference at the Shanghai Grand Theatre prior to the  Laureus World Sports Awards  on April 14, 2015 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus)
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Eric Cantona has made the headlines again, this time making some bold claims against France national team manager Didier Deschamps.

Cantona, a former Manchester United legend and French international, questioned whether Deschamps excluded Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa from the team due to their North African origins.

[ MORE: Skrtel set to leave Liverpool ]

Speaking to The Guardian, Cantona calls Benzema and Ben Arfa two of France’s best footballers, both of whom will not be playing for the national team this summer.

Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know.

So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after [French Prime Minister Manuel Valls] said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.

One thing is for sure – Benzema and Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play the European Championship. And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open.

Cantona’s view doesn’t hold much merit as Deschamps did not even have the option of selecting Benzema, the country’s active leading goalscorer. The Real Madrid striker is suspended by the federation, embroiled in a blackmail sex-tape scandal involving French teammate Mathieu Valbuena, who was also left off the EURO roster.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determine the Champions League final ]

France is an extremely diverse nation with a large North African population, Benzema of Algerian descent and Ben Arfa’s father a former Tunisian international. Both players were born in France and have received prior call-ups under Deschamps, with Cantona’s quite ridiculous comments likely to cause a stir before the EURO.

FA Cup will no longer have quarterfinal replays

HALIFAX, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  The FA Cup is seen prior to the FA Cup First Round match between FC Halifax and Bradford City  on November 9, 2014 in Halifax, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Starting in 2017, the FA Cup will no longer have replays in the quarterfinal round.

The decision was made in an effort to combat the congested English fixture list, which has been a topic of debate for years now.

[ MORE: Lukaku wants out at Everton ]

This season, Manchester United defeated West Ham in a quarterfinal replay before going on to win the competition.

In a statement released by the FA, these changes aim to add drama to the matches while eliminating an extra matchday needed for replays.

The revamped competition will see eight clubs battle it out over one weekend with each tie to be played to a finish on the day, adding to the drama and impact the competition has enjoyed in recent years.

Other new initiatives will be explored to ensure The FA Cup retains its status and appeal. These plans also form part of The FA’s commitment to help ease English football’s congested fixture schedule.

There will still be replays in the earlier rounds of the tournament, which allows lower level clubs the opportunity to earn a nice financial boost should they force a second match at a Premier League ground.

The Premier League is the only top league in Europe that does not take a winter break, a schedule that has been criticized by multiple managers, including Jurgen Klopp.

Judge hears arguments on US women’s team strike rights

HARRISON, NJ - MAY 30:  The United States team poses for a team picture before the match against the South Korea during an international friendly match at Red Bull Arena on May 30, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO — A federal judge in Chicago has heard arguments whether the world champion U.S. women’s soccer team has the right to strike for improved conditions and wages before this year’s Olympics.

Lawyers for the U.S. Soccer Federation told Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman at a Thursday hearing that a no-strike clause is implied in a still-valid 2013 memorandum with players.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

But a lawyer for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association balked at that claim. Jeffrey Kessler said the federation had “screwed up” by not securing a no-strike clause in writing and can’t argue three years later that such a provision is implied.

The union wants the option to strike before the Olympics start in August, but hasn’t said it will. Many players have voiced concern over gender equity in soccer.