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Coppa Italia: Roma up one after Napoli snares two away goals

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A late Gervinho winner gave Roma a 3-2 win over Napoli today at the Stadio Olimpico, but within the context of today’s Coppa Italia semifinal in Rome, it’s unclear which team has the advantage. The easy answer is Roma, who carry a one-goal lead into next week’s second leg at the San Paolo, but it’s possible Rafa Benítez would decline a chance to switch places with Rudi Garcia. The Napoli boss may prefer going home with two away goals rather than try to defend a one-goal lead, on the road, when the tiebreaker rests with the other team.

That’s the position Garcia’s Giallorossi find themselves in after 90 minutes of the clubs’ semifinal, a match Roma had under control after 45 minutes. With Kevin Strootman’s 32nd minutes blast doubling the lead earned by Gervinho’s 13th minute opener, Serie A’s second place team were ready to cruise to a comfortable first leg lead. But when Dries Martins’ 70th minute equalizer built on Morgan De Sanctis’s own goal just after halftime, the Neopolitans had gained the edge. Though the score was even at 2-2, the Partenopei’s pair of road goals gave them the edge in the tie.

Just minutes before the final whistle, a through ball for Gervinho allowed the Ivorian to restore Roma’s lead. Yet having seen Napoli claw their way being into the tie, the goal was more of a reprieve than triumph. Even in the first half, as Roma built their two-goal lead, close calls from Gonzalo Higuaín and Lorenzo Insigne could have provided an early spark for Napoli. Instead, the visitors needed to regroup at intermission to put Roma on their heals, with only the late substitution of Valon Behrami for Higuaín hinting Napoli were content to sit on they two goals.

Until that point, Napoli had played with a Roma team that’s been able to enforce their will on Serie A. Even mighty Juventus, a team running away with a third straight league title, demurred to Roma in the team’s January meeting, eventually countering the Giallorossi into their first loss of the season. Benítez, to his credit, didn’t let a Garcia’s team dictate terms, holding 51 percent possession against a team that league Serie A by average 59.3 percent per game.

With the teams resuming their tie next Wednesday, momentum’s on Napoli’s side. Not only were they able to snare two goals on the road, but they did so against a team rested after their weekend league match was rained out. And they did so on their own terms. Next Wednesday, the Giallorossi will be coming off a Rome Derby, while Napoli can afford to rest some players at home against Milan.

MLS: Le Toux to join D.C., Timbers set to acquire Myers and more

Sebastien Le Toux, Tony Beltran
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Two teams are set to bring in experienced players ahead of the new season, while another veteran has said his goodbye to his former club.

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D.C. United has reportedly signed veteran forward Sebastian Le Toux after spending last season with the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids.

According to SB Nation’s Black and Red United, Le Toux has inked a one-year deal with D.C. United. Le Toux has scored 57 goals in his time in MLS, with 50 of those goals coming with the Union.

Le Toux has also previously played for the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.


Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers are reportedly set to sign long-time Sporting KC defender Chance Myers, who spent the last nine seasons with the Western Conference side.

The 29-year-old had made 147 appearances for Sporting KC since joining MLS, while adding two goals over that span.


Dax McCarty posted a heartfelt message to New York Red Bulls fans, players and staff following the veteran’s move to the Chicago Fire.

The midfielder was recently traded to the Eastern Conference side after the spending the last five-and-half years with the Red Bulls, where McCarty served as the team’s captain.

Gerrard urges Liverpool to “try and bid for Van Dijk”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's Stadium on December 28, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.

[ MORE: Saints wallop Leicester in complete effort ]

Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.

Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.

“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”

The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.

Report: San Diego making push to become future MLS expansion site

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With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Hyndman provides assist in Rangers debut win ]

According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.

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The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.

NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.

MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.

If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).

In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.

Hull’s Ryan Mason hospitalized following collision with Gary Cahill

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Ryan Mason of Hull City lies injured after the collision with Gary Cahill of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.

[ MORE: Chelsea goes eight points clear at top of PL ]

The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Xhaka’s red card makes him most sent-off player in Europe ]

It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.

Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.

“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.

“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.

“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”

While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.