Rumor: Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke to create MLS side “LA Gunners”

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With Stan Kroenke’s recent purchase of a choice 60 acre plot of land in downtown Los Angeles, reports from Britain claim the Arsenal chief shareholder is set to create a sister team in Major League Soccer called the LA Gunners.

Straight off these “reports” should be qualified as coming from the notoriously unreliable Metro, via the notoriously unreliable Sun.

The theory is as follows – just before this year’s Super Bowl Kroenke purchased a parking lot sized space located between Hollywood Park and the Los Angeles Forum. Such prime real estate, combined with the fact that the stadium lease for the St. Louis Rams (who Kroenke owns) ends after the 2014 season, had the LA Times making the logical connection that the land could “potentially could be used for an NFL stadium.”  

The foreseeability of Kroenke using the land to establish a new MLS side in LA, as the British tabloids would like us to believe, is considerably low for two main reasons. First, there are already two MLS clubs in the city, making three a crowd. Second, MLS has recently announced the expansion of the league to include New York City Football Club, Orlando City and David Beckham’s Miami club. Adding a fourth expansion side in such close temporal proximity would feel a bit aggressive and even if it gets down, Atlanta is currently the favorite to win that race.

Given these reasons – as well as the lack of quotes from anyone in Kroenke’s camp revealing even a mild interest in setting up a sister side in MLS – it’s highly likely the LA Gunner rumor is mere journalistic creativity of someone at the Sun connecting the dots and someone at the Metro getting on board. Quintessential British footy tabloid stuff.

Yet despite the barriers to entry and the story being pie in the sky, Kroenke setting up a sister club in LA is at least a possibility considering the rise of sister clubs (read: Manchester City’s plan for world domination) in burgeoning soccer markets.

But what about the practical issues at hand?

Chivas USA is the blight of MLS, a disgracefully run organization in dire need of a change of ownership. If Kroenke could work out a deal to purchase the club, this would overcome both the three-teams-in-LA issue and the expansion predicament.

Another option would be for Kroenke to rebrand the Colorado Rapids, his current stake in MLS, into the LA Gunners. Doing so, however, would fail to address the three-teams-in-LA issue all the while pissing off an important base of MLS supporters. A definitively less likely possibility

So for now the LA Gunners story should be taken with a grain of salt. Pure rumor. Speculation. Tea leaves. But discredit the rumor at your own peril because in the current wheeling-and-dealing world of MLS anything is possible.

Cologne’s Hector extends contract despite likely relegation

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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Germany defender Jonas Hector has shunned reported interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by extending his contract with Cologne – despite the club’s almost certain relegation from the Bundesliga.

Cologne, eight points from safety with three games remaining, says its 27-year-old captain has signed a two-year extension to 2023 instead of using a release clause in his contract.

Hector, who has been at the club since 2010, says, “It wouldn’t have been a problem to switch to another club after this season but it didn’t feel right for me. I belong to Cologne and want to tackle the new season with the team and the fans behind us.”

Cologne sporting director Armin Veh says Hector’s decision is, “a great signal for the team, the club and our fans.”

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.


Preview: Everton v. Newcastle

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  • Everton have won seven of their last eight games v Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won four PL games in a row
  • Wayne Rooney has more goals (15) against Newcastle than any other PL team

Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both setting pretty in midtable.

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The Toffees sit in ninth, with Newcastle in 10th and just one point behind Everton with a game in hand. Rafael Benitez has been lauded for taking his newly-promoted side into the top 10 with defensive solidity, while Sam Allardyce has been lambasted for a defensive style of play despite getting Everton out of a relegation fight following his appointment back in November.

In team news Everton have Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured, while Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu but Islam Slimani could make his first start.


What they’re saying 

Sam Allardyce on the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle: “From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it around. They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there [when Everton won 1-0 in December]. Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds. What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent.”

Rafael Benitez on his Newcastle future: “I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time. I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.”

Prediction
Two teams who are very similar in terms of their style of play should see a bit of a stalemate take place at Goodison. 1-1 draw, which is a much better result for Newcastle and will pile more pressure on Big Sam.