Improving Jermaine Jones misses out on Besiktas’ Sunday 18

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Struggling with a groin injury, U.S. men’s international Jermaine Jones has yet to make an appearance for Besiktas since moving on loan from Schalke last month. Add in Germany’s winter break and the lack of playing time he saw during his last days in Gelsenkirchen and a presumed starter come June 16 in Natal hasn’t played a minute in two months. While there’s plenty of time for Jones to round into form, any glitches in the U.S. National Team machinery are sure to send fans’ heads spinning. After all, the World Cup now only four months away.

We’ll indulge that paranoia in a moment. First, let’s get some perspective on what Jones is going through in Istanbul.

The 32-year-old went on loan to the Turkish Süper Lig team on Jan. 28 but has yet to register a minute for Slaven Bilic’s second place club. On Thursday, however, the club reported Jones was due to resume full training, opening the possibility he could feature during Sunday’s visit from mid-table Bursaspor. Instead, Jones was again held out from Besiktas’s 18, with the Black Eagles’ not in action again until next Saturday’s derby at Galatasaray.

By all indications, Jones is close to a return, and presuming he can claim time from Manuel Fernandes, Veli Kavlak, Oguzhan Ozyakup, and Atiba Hutchinson, the move will help him stay in shape ahead of the U.S,’s pre-tournament camp in May. But what if, with Besiktas now looking to edge Gala for the league’s second spot, Jones can’t get the playing time we’re presuming? Or what i this groin injury sidelines him for a little bit longer? When should U.S. fans start to worry that Jermaine Jones isn’t getting the work he needs before Brazil?

It’s a complete hypothetical, but if you are incline to worry, don’t look at how long it’s been since he last played. Look at how long he has to round himself into shape if he returned tomorrow.

If he is back in the lineup next week and makes his debut in a huge Istanbul derby, Jones is looking at three months of consistent action before he joins the U.S. That’s fine. Especially considering he made 14 league (and a number of Champions League) appearances with Schalke, it’s not like he’s trying to go from 0 to 60.

If Jones misses another month, though? Or, if he’s unable to claim a regular spot once he returns to health? It’s more questionable territory, and at some point, Jurgen Klinsmann’s loyalty to one of his favorite players will be tested. Is a potentially rusty Jermaine Jones better than a full strength Kyle Beckerman or Mix Diskerud?

Based on how Klinsmann’s used Jones in the past, it would take a lot of rust to keep the German-born American out of the lineup – so little that it may take Jones a couple weeks’ game to get to a point where he would start for the U.S. Even if he missed two months, Jones would still be the favorite to start along side Michael Bradley in Brazil.

Thankfully, it’s unlikely to be an issue. All indications are Besiktas are looking forward to getting their U.S. international into the team. Any worries about Jones not getting time in Turkey are likely to remain hypotheticals.

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.

Video: De Rossi, Roma make classy visit to Hillsborough memorial

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On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.

After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.

De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”

Liverpool, Roma ride major emotions into the UCL semifinals

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Four clubs remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League competition, and while two of the teams have been considered heavy dogs in the fight all year long the other two sides look to continue on their storybook run.

Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have found themselves in the semifinals of this season’s UCL, creating a strong mix of storylines as the tournament heads towards its most critical point.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Theo Walcott’s strike ]

Anfield will be the site for Tuesday’s first leg between Liverpool and Roma, with both sides still riding major highs from their victories in the last round.

The Reds enter the final four after having disposed of fellow Premier League side Manchester City in relatively dominating fashion. Meanwhile, Roma completed a seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona to progress in the competition.

Liverpool is led by three of the year’s top goalscorers, including Mohamed Salah — who has scored eight goals in the UCL and 41 across all competitions.

For Roma, much of the side’s success has been predicated on finding defensive strength at the right moments throughout the tournament.

Despite falling behind 4-1 in their first leg defeat to Barca in the previous round, Edin Dzeko and Co. rallied for a 3-0 win at the Stade Olimpico to stun the Catalan club by holding Lionel Messi and his side in check.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco will have to find creative ways to halt the Liverpool attack though over the course of two legs, with the Reds boasting the top attack in this year’s UCL.

Liverpool has scored 33 goals in 10 UCL matches, while only conceding seven in the process.

Keeper Ederson hopeful he can score this season for Man City

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The prospects for a goalkeeper scoring during a match are usually uncommon, but that hasn’t halted Manchester City’s number one choice from aiming to break the trend this season.

Ederson — who has moved into the starting role at the Etihad Stadium with relative ease in 2017/18 — has dreamt of scoring a goal of his own for the Premier League champions in waiting.

“I heard the fans chanting my name, asking me to take the penalty but Gabriel went there,” Ederson said. “Unfortunately he missed it and Bernardo happily scored. But if the manager have asked me to go there, definitely I’d score.

“I’m not sure if I would be able to do set-pieces, but I’m good at penalties, either using power or technique on shooting it. But City have [their] regular penalty-takers and we are well-served.

Citizen supporters chanted for the goalkeeper to take a penalty kick over the weekend in the team’s 5-0 win over Swansea City.

However, Gabriel Jesus was the man selected for the opportunity, but had his attempt saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Bernardo Silva was in the right spot to score the game’s fifth goal.

“If Pep asks me to take it, I’m there,” Ederson said of the penalty kick. “Hopefully it will happen [before the end of the season], I’d like to score.”

This isn’t the first time Ederson has discussed exploring opportunities outside of the net, though.

The Brazilian shot-stopper has long been a fan of former Brazil international goalkeeper Rogero Ceni — who scored 65 goals for club side Sao Paolo.

Earlier this season, the 24-year-old joked around with the media, saying that he’d be more than happy to fill a role in the midfield when City was experiencing some injury issues within the squad.