Champions League - FC Schalke 04 v Real Madrid CF

Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski denies Julian Draxler swap claim

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Julian Draxler remains the apple of Arsenal’s eye although links bringing him closer to the club remain unsupported.

The most recent rumbling out of North London was that this past January the 20-year-old German international was on the verge of being swapped for Lukas Podolski and other goodies. Podolski, however, squashed that report on Thursday claiming it was a non-starter.

“I only know that a swap deal involving me and him was never a consideration,” said the Arsenal winger.

Last summer, and then again this winter, Draxler was widely touted as the next big thing set to wear the famous Arsenal red. A lanky yet beautifully composed attacking midfielder with a penchant for both creating and scoring goals, Draxler is a more elegant version of Bayern Munich’s Thomas Mueller.

For these qualities and more, the Schalke man has been widely tipped to become Arsene Wenger’s new conversion project: attacking midfielder to striker. The next Thierry Henry. The next Robin van Persie. The next player to be transformed from ‘incredibly talented’ and ‘highly rated’ to ‘world class.’

Patience is a virtue in any aspect of a Goonah fan’s life though, especially when it comes to transfers. At Arsenal, big moves (sans Mesut Ozil) take time to transpire. Sometimes even years. From all indications that will be the case with Draxler, who, despite not being part of an elaborate swap scheme for the under-valued Podolski, is still very much on the Gunners’ radar.

This summer Wenger will once again engage in his transfer market song-and-dance of denying any deals all the while carefully orchestrating (alongside CEO Ivan Gazidis) the most economically advantageous way to land the coveted Draxler. So breathe deep, Gunners supporters, this could be awhile. But the upside is that Draxler-to-Arsenal still very well ‘could be.’

In 26 matches with Die Königsblauen this season, Draxler has four goals and eight assists.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.

Men In Blazers podcast: Romelu Lukaku Pod Special

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3 – 1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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