Jermain Defoe keeps World Cup hopes alive, can Toronto’s star forward make it?

1 Comment

With Jermain Defoe’s dream Major League Soccer debut for Toronto FC behind him, the clinical striker still has one huge aim on his mind: get into England’s World Cup squad.

Defoe, 31, scored twice on his TFC debut in a 2-1 away win away at Seattle over the weekend, but the former Tottenham Hotspur striker is still seen as having an outside chance of making England’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil.

Speaking to the English FA’s website, Defoe is keen to do all he can to get on the plane to Brazil. That means playing well and scoring goals for Toronto in MLS.

“I just need to play and score goals,” said Defoe. “To get in a World Cup squad you have to be playing. Throughout my career, people know I’ve scored a lot of goals. I think the most important thing for me is to play and score goals. I think that’s all I can do.”

(MORE: Defoe scores two goals in his first 24 Major League Soccer minutes)

And Defoe is very, very good at doing just that. Ask the Seattle Sounders defense, they found out about Defoe’s supreme poaching ability first hand on Saturday. But with MLS still looked down on by the upper echelons of English soccer and elsewhere in the world, will scoring a shed load of goals in North America be enough to get Defoe in Roy Hodgson’s squad? It should.

Being sharp, scoring goals and playing well for Toronto should definitely get Defoe in the initial 30-man squad for the Three Lions, and then the real challenge begins for the London born striker. Defoe’s competition is Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge (both dead certs) and then a group of four strikers which include Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert, Andy Carroll and Jay Rodriguez.

Defoe has World Cup pedigree, something Welbeck, Lambert, Carroll and Rodriguez don’t possess as Hodgson will likely take a maximum of five strikers to Brazil. TFC’s leading striker scored the winning goal for England against Slovenia in the 201o World Cup, which put the Three Lions into the last 16 in South Africa.

Can Defoe make it? Only time will tell. But the fact that he’s so fired up to get to Brazil can only be a good thing for Toronto, as Defoe’s double against Seattle in their season opener is just the start of things to come.

Follow Live: Mexico looks to hold off Honduras

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mexico is looking to begin its Gold Cup title defense in earnest as El Tri takes on Honduras at 10:30 p.m. ET in Glendale, AZ in the 2017 Gold Cup quarterfinals.

With Jamaica already through with a 2-1 win over Canada, the winner of this match will take on the Reggae Boyz in the semifinal opposite the United States and Costa Rica.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Honduras has yet to score a single goal in Gold Cup 2017 competition, but their defensive prowess kept them around to the knockout stage thanks to their forfeit win over French Guyana (technically a 3-0 victory) and a 0-0 draw against Canada.

Mexico, meanwhile, won Group C handily, conceding just once throughout the group stage. However, El Tri has brought a youth squad, and they showed weaknesses in the group stage despite the solid record on paper. They have spread out the scoring among five different goalscorers, but lean on Elias Hernandez for much of the creative duties.

LINEUPS

Mexico: Corona, Pereira, Ayala, Molina, Alvarez, Pineda, E. Hernandez, Pizarro, Gallardo, Sepulveda, Duenas.

Honduras: Lopez, Crisanto, M. Figueroa, H. Figueroa, Alvarado, Acosta, Mejia, Quioto, Lanza, Elis, Sanchez.

Jamaica 2-1 Canada: Reggae Boyz reach 2nd straight Gold Cup semifinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two years after their stunning finals appearance, Jamaica is back into the Gold Cup semifinals after holding off Junior Hoilett and Canada 2-1.

Shaun Francis put Jamaica in front just five minutes into the match, as Darren Mattocks expertly cut back to the far side of the box where Francis was trailing the play, and the Montreal Impact full-back put the Reggae Boyz in front.

There was no more action until past the halftime break. Jamaica doubled its lead thanks to a superb strike by Romario Williams, who leaned back and rifled one off the hands of goalkeeper Milan Borjan and into the top corner.

Darren Mattocks got his second assist of the game on the goal with his little nudge backwards to Williams at the top of the box.

The two-goal cushion wouldn’t last long, however, as the fireworks show continued. Now, it was Canada’s turn to put on a show as Junior Hoilett stunned the crowd with a long-distance curler from even further outside the box than Williams’ just 11 minutes earlier.

That would do it for the scoring, although the show wasn’t completely over. With just 15 minutes left, Hoilett unleashed another would-be stunner, but Andre Blake matched the shot with a spectacular save, getting his fingertips to the shot to keep it out.

Blake was critical down the stretch to squelch any chances Canada had late as they pushed for an equalizer. The Reggae Boyz held on to reach the semifinal, where they will take on either Mexico or Honduras.

Report: Morata sale allows Madrid to pursue Mbappe

Getty Images
2 Comments

For months rumors have claimed that Real Madrid had been priced out of a move for Kylian Mbappe.

Now, they may have the cash, and a way throught.

After selling Alvaro Morata to Chelsea for $75 million, the club may have the funds – and enough offsetting cashflow to appease Financial Fair Play – to make a serious play for the 18-year-old superstar. In addition, the club has almost completed the slale of Danilo to Manchester City for $35 million, and James Rodriguez to Bayern Munich, although they see little return from that immediately, as the deal is a two-year loan with an obligation to buy at the end.

[ MORE: Man City bid for Mendy rejected ]

According to a Goal.com report, Mbappe is now Madrid’s top transfer target, although it seems there is little chance of prying him away from Monaco this late. According to the same report, Mbappe has been advised by unnamed parties that staying at Monaco gives him the highest likelihood of making the French squad for the 2018 World Cup.

“Mbappe is very good,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “He’s a very good player and he has shown that all year, but he is not my player. I can’t say anything else.”

PSG is also reportedly in for Mbappe, but it’s understandable that Monaco would be hesitant to sell to a chief league rival.

Follow Live: Jamaica and Canada battle for semifinal spot

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jamaica and Canada are looking ahead to a possible semifinal spot as they match up at 7:30 p.m. ET in Glendale to mark their beginning of the 2017 Gold Cup knockout round.

Both clubs make up the majority of their rosters from MLS clubs, with Cyle Larin heading the line for Canada and Andre Blake manning the backstop for Jamaica. Nonetheless, it’s Larin’s fellow attacker Alphonso Davies who’s picked up three of Canada’s five goals thus far.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Both teams are putting heavy importance on this match with each already eliminated from World Cup contention.

Jamaica has only allowed one goal all tournament, shutting out both Mexico and Curacao. The Reggae Boyz made the final last time around, but will find that same result much more difficult this time around.

LINEUPS

Jamaica: Blake, Taylor, Lowe, Lawrence, Powell, Watson, Lambert, Francis, Gordon, Mattocks, Williams.

Canada: Borjan, Vitoria, Jakovic, Davies, Petrasso, Piette, Tiebert, Arfield, Larin, De Jong, Hoilett.