Clarence Seedorf sounds confident ahead of tomorrow’s visit from Atlético Madrid; then again, what’s the new Milan boss suppose to say? That a Milan team that remains lodged in the middle of the Serie A standings is improving but still flawed? That the dramatic turnaround some loyalists hoped for hasn’t happened?
In lieu of such honestly, the four-time Champions League winner (as a player) is offering less committal responses. The recently retired midfielder is promising “a great night” in Milan, while saying Atlético has “weak points” he intends to exploit. Diego Simeone’s team is “one to respect and very strong,” but Seedorf contends his team is “confident although it will be hard.”
If Seedorf’s confidence comes from facing Atlético, he’s making the same mistake many around Italian soccer made when Milan were drawn against the Colchoneros. Though they’ve slumped recently (losing three games in a row earlier this month), Atleti have only lost four times in all competitions this season. Contrast that with Milan, who’ve lost 10 times. The Italian media may be lauding Milan’s chances because they didn’t draw Barcelona or Real Madrid, but their chances to advance are only slightly better against Atlético.
They’re expectations that work against Seedorf, whose meeting with Atlético is being seen as the new head coach’s first major test. In a fair world, he would be judged purely in terms of the incremental progress he makes from the state in which Max Allegri led the team. By next year, Milan may be ready to resume their place near the top of Serie A. Instead, Atlético lack of response beyond Spain has given fans hope.
In all likelihood, it’s false hope. Perhaps a Milan team with Mario Balotelli, Keisuke Honda, and Kaká will finally start converting their league-leading possession into better chances. And maybe Atlético will regress into the slump they’ve just busted. More likely, though, a mediocre Milan’s going up against one of the strongest teams in Europe, and because of their history, the presence of a new coach, and a lack of respect for Atlético, some see them as more than long shots they are.
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.
Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.
He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.
Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.
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The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.
Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.
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The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.
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Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.
It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.
Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.
Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.
Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.
According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.
Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.
On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.