Window Shopping: It was a successful transfer window for Saints, because they didn’t lose any of their talented young stars. The likes of Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw were consistently linked with big moves away to the top clubs in England, but Southampton resisted any temptation to cash in on their young English talent as Mauricio Pochettino’s project continues to move forward. There was some unrest during January, as hugely successful Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese abruptly left the club, but not much has changed as owner Katharina Liebherr insisted no players would be sold and that the club would carry as if nothing had happened.
Liebherr has been true to her word, with the only high profile departure being club record signing Dani Osvaldo, who joined Juventus on loon with a view to a permanent deal after allegedly headbutting and punching teammate Jose Fonte in training and being banned by the club. Getting rid of Osvaldo became Saints’ main aim during this window, plus they also held onto talisman Rickie Lambert too.
Players In: None
Players Out: Dani Osvaldo (Juventus, Loan), Lee Barnard (Southend, Loan), Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace, $2.2 million), Billy Sharp (Doncaster, Loan)
RECAP: All the deals on deadline day
As we mentioned, Saints didn’t bring anyone in this January, but why would you need to when you have so many young studs rolling off the production line at their renowned academy? Right now they have academy products Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers, James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reed and Sam Gallagher regularly involved in the first-team squad and are the envy of clubs across the PL.
Many thought Pochettino would bring in another striker to replace Osvaldo, after his remarkable training ground bust-up which saw him banned, but instead 18-year-old Gallagher was put into the first team and has shown he’s good enough to play in the PL. Keeping onto Lallana, Shaw and Lambert was key for stability at St. Mary’s. Now Saints can kick on in the final few months of the season to try and bag their highest-ever finish in the PL.
Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.
Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]
While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.
[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]
Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.
For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.
Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.
Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET
Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET
USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)
1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
Tottenham was granted the right to play all of its home matches at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season, but the club must now make a decision whether or not to remain at White Hart Lane for another year.
[ MORE: Man City weighing massive offer for Milan’s Donnarumma ]
The club’s application was granted on Thursday by Brent Council’s planning committee, giving Spurs the option to move into Wembley next season for all 27 home Premier League fixtures.
Spurs must decide if it will go ahead with that move though by March 31.
Tottenham continues to play at White Hart Lane while its new stadium, located next door to its current venue, is being constructed. The current plan is that the new venue will be open ahead of the 2019/2020 campaign, but the club is said to be weighing all of its options in the event that it could be ready for the 2018/19 season.
BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.
[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]
Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.
[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]
The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”
Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.
Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.
[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]
According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.
The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.
Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.
Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.