David Moyes feeling the heat, hits back at rumors of dressing room split at Manchester United

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On the eve of a season-defining game, Manchester United boss David Moyes has hit out at critics trying to derail his side. Many would argue he’s doing a pretty good job of that himself.

Regardless, rumors of a dressing room rift between Moyes and his players have been circling for months and with the likes of Nemanja Vidic on the way out, plus speculation about Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie all unhappy playing for Moyes, the Scottish manager has finally moved to quell any suggestions that he has lost the locker room.

“A lot of people are trying to divide us in some way or not keep us together,” Moyes said in an exclusive interview with the clubs TV station, MUTV. “I can only tell people what they’re hearing or what they are saying is rubbish.”

(MORE: Champions League Preview – With blindfold and cigarette, Moyes faces the firing line)

With a massive second leg of their last 16 UEFA Champions League tie coming up against Olympiakos on Wednesday, Moyes’ men must overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg to make it into the quarterfinals of the UCL. Right now, success in Europe’s elite club competition is the only thing that’s keeping the Red Devils going. Even that’s hanging by a thread, with Moyes under increasing pressure to deliver results in his dreadful first season in charge.

A monumental night awaits, as its simply win or bust for the the English powerhouse against Olympiakos.

Any lingering hopes they had of finishing in the top four of the Premier League were ended last Sunday in that crushing 3-0 home defeat to Northwest rivals Liverpool, so now everything is aimed at getting as far as they possibly can in the UCL. For most of this ill-fated 2013-14 season, this tournament has acted as a release for Moyes and his players after the intense pressure of the post-Ferguson era has visibly eaten away at the playing and coaching staff.

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Time and time again people question whether or not Moyes was the right man to take the reins, but with this Fergie-esque rallying cry for togetherness before United’s biggest test of the campaign, he may yet get the best out of his under performing stars. Once again, that siege mentality has returned to Old Trafford after it had hung around for most of Ferguson’s time in charge. ‘Us against them, Man United against the world.’

For Moyes and Manchester United, this is judgement day. There’s no going back, in his first-season at the helm Moyes may have to win against Olympiakos, or kiss goodbye to his job. Seriously. He deserves more time, but this is a results business.

And, as you probably already know, United ain’t getting ’em.

Remember, we will have recaps, analysis and reactions from all the UEFA Champions League action right here on ProSoccerTalk.

Off to slow start, Morris, Seattle know “things can change quickly”

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Both Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders are off to a rough start in defense of their MLS Cup title last Fall, and the USMNT’s star striker admits to recalling last season’s wild turnaround as an inspiration.

“After the game last week we mentioned that we have a lot of the nucleus from last year and we all know that things can change quickly,” Morris said to ProSoccerTalk this week.

Seattle won just seven games before Matchday 22 last season, rebounding with a burst after coach Sigi Schmid was replaced by assistant Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders went 8-2-2 down the stretch en route to an MLS Cup win over Toronto FC.

While he hasn’t scored in five matches and only has two markers in 12 games, he feels success is coming for the 3W-5L-4T Sounders. Morris said the club knows the results aren’t there, but also that they are producing chances.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

“It’s been okay,” Morris said. “Definitely not the start I would’ve wanted. It’s not an excuse but we’ve hit a lot of posts and had other near misses.”

Seattle has a huge opportunity to flip the script on its season when Cascadia Cup rivals Portland visit on Saturday. The free-scoring Timbers are dangerous in attack, but have been opened up 20 times this season. Only two teams have conceded more goals than Portland (which has played the most matches in the league, it must be said).

And it may or may not surprise fans that Morris’ focus has been one of his strengths: the final product.

“I’m working on the final third, whether it’s shooting or finding the open guy,” Morris said. “It’s a big deal for us to finish our chances. Scoring or the final pass in that final third.”

Despite his relatively cold start, it would be surprising if Bruce Arena didn’t tab Morris in his crop for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. The 22-year-old also seems relatively certain to be a part of the Gold Cup plans.

“I’m excited and hopefully I get called up,” he said. “These World Cup qualifiers are obviously a very big deal and Bruce has done a really good job of getting us on the same page.”

Morris is also participating in a unique promotional activity with Delta Air Lines for Sounders fans, as he and Cristian Roldan are among Seattle teams picking fans for “positions” in a Fan XI. Once assembled, they’ll travel to L.A. for a Sounders road match and even sign one-day contracts. Morris was happy to get on board with it.

“It’s for our fans, who are amazing,” he said. “Delta’s idea to make a Fan XI gives the fansa chance to have the behind the scenes experience of being part of a team put together by having different skills. We love rewarding our fans.”

Day Seven: All the action from the U20 World Cup (video)

Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP
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Mexico has automatically qualified for the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup despite falling to Venezuela.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest

Germany dropped below Mexico in goal differential after allowing a 3-0 lead to sink to one, though El Tri still likely would’ve advanced to the next phase despite Germany’s result.

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

Caracas 19-year-old striker Sergio Cordova scored for the third-straight match in what is sure to make him a hot summer commodity as Venezuela clinched Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.

Germany 3-2 Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s potential name of the tournament Bong Kalo scored twice in the second half to sink Germany below Mexico on goal difference.

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

A brace from Lautaro Martínez gives Argentina hope of the knockout rounds with a third-place finish.

England 1-0 South Korea

Everton’s Kieran Dowell scored the lone goal of the match to give England the Group A crown.

Zabaleta staying in Premier League with West Ham move

@WHUFC
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A week after bidding Manchester City an emotional goodbye, Pablo Zabaleta has announced he’ll be staying in England.

The 32-year-old right back is moving to London, where he’ll join West Ham United on a two-year deal beginning July 1.

[ MORE: Three key battles in FA Cup Final ]

The San Lorenzo youth product went to Espanyol in 2005 to begin his European adventure, joining Man City in 2008. He won two PL titles, two League Cups, and an FA Cup, and was named the club’s player of the season in 2012-13.

From WHUFC.com:

“Manchester City gave me the opportunity to come to this wonderful league, the Premier League, something I’ve been enjoying a lot as a player and of course for me it was probably the right time to move on.

“Also, as a player, I thought I wanted to keep playing in the Premier League. For me, after being in this country for so long, this is a new challenge for me in the Premier League and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”

Maybe he just wanted 3G.

Young Sam Byram can learn plenty from Zabaleta, and the signing means that star right-sided man Michail Antonio likely won’t have to be wasted at right back in emergency situations. Good risk by the Hammers.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.