MLS news roundup: Returning U.S. internationals, Clint Mathis, Columbus logo changes and more

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Players coming off the U.S. national team’s January camp are filtering back into their clubs;  remember, this camp was almost exclusively made up of MLS men.

For instance, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez, two starters in Saturday’s 2-0 win over South Korea, will get a few days off before joining their MLS club’s practices on Thursday.

Speaking of American internationals and World Cups and U.S. dudes who scored in them… the Chicago Fire has a new assistant. No word on whether Clint Mathis will be rocking the Mohawk on the sidelines, a la World Cup 2002.

Mathis, whose goal in 2002 helped launch the country’s breakthrough, quarterfinal run, leaves his post with the Galaxy, where he served as the club’s director of camps and clinics.

FC Dallas announced it would meet San Antonio in a March 1 friendly. That’s one week away from the Major League Soccer first kick. Of course, an MLS team meeting a North American Soccer League team in a preseason friendly is nothing unusual. The real reason that match is important enough for us to mention: we get to run a picture of San Antonio’s very cool little stadium, a recently completed, privately funded 8,000-seat ground, which you see above.

(MORE: MLS set to announce Miami expansion Wednesday)

New Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt is throwing down some big hints – not check that … he’s more or less just saying it – that there are branding changes coming for the league’s Ohio club. He said so in an interview with Kyle McCarthy. “We will be introducing some changes to our brand in 2015. We love the name Columbus Crew. We love the colors. We love black and gold. That never changes,” he told McCarthy. “We’re looking at ways we can evolve and change our logo. We want it to represent the Columbus we’ve come to know.”

The preseason matches are starting to happen regularly now; the champs just drew with Portland, 1-1. Kansas City was without three of its U.S. national teamers, who will soon be joining the club’s workouts in Arizona.

Chivas USA has loaned Michael Farfan to Liga MX club Chiapas. Honestly, there’s not much to like about this. A guy who made 15 appearances for the club, who could have provided some good depth, will not be around to help new coach Wilmer Cabrera. More than that, the player is now  gone for which Chivas traded away its first round pick in the last draft. That ended up being the No. 2 overall pick … a place where  a club would be expected to get something considerably better than Gabriel Farfan, no offense to the lesser half of the Farfan brother tandem.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga