Poyet

Poyet shocked Sunderland not docked points for ineligible player

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There was a mini uproar when Sunderland were let off with just a fine for what they called a “technical fault.”

Even manager Gus Poyet was surprised – no, stunned – that no Premier League points were docked for playing Ji Dong-Won while ineligible.

Poyet called it “unbelievable” and “incredible” that the 19th-placed club got away unscathed on the table.  Despite the club “admitting no wrongdoing,” the Uruguayan gave off a very different vibe.

Recalling his time as manager of Brighton and Hove Albion, Poyet pointed to an incident where opponents Hartlepool were docked three points for fielding an ineligible player.

“I’m not saying we [Sunderland] should have been docked points, but I would understand if we had,” Poyet admitted to English media. “That day they didn’t give me the three points. Now why would you go the other way? Now, in England you should give it to Southampton, but why are you going to change it now?”

In a refreshing bit of honesty, Poyet stayed true to his sentiments felt while at Brighton.

“It’s incredible. The rules should be clear. It should be one rule. For me or against me, [it needs to be] clear. I am not a hypocrite. I still believe the same as I did then, I’m not going to change.”

Finally, when asked if he would be upset were he on the other side of the incident, he answered, “If they are like me, yes I would.”

His comments are very contradictory to the club’s statement released just a few hours before, stating:

“The club has never accepted any wrongdoing,” Sunderland released in a statement, “but did acknowledge that a technical fault occurred and as such, were fined by the Premier League accordingly in December. The matter is now closed.”

Poyet is glad the information was eventually released, but with the fine coming down in December for what the league declared was a “low-level administrative error” he wondered why the team did not make the information public sooner.

“I don’t know why the club didn’t say anything,” the 46-year-old said. “It wasn’t my decision. It had nothing to do with me. I’m pleased there was a statement today because why should I explain something that was nothing to do with me.”

Ji played in four Premier League matches in 2013 along with one Capital One Cup game while ineligible under international transfer regulations.  They picked up one PL point during that time. Their opponents in the Capital One Cup match, MK Dons, released a statement to say they would not be pursuing any legal action.

However, West Bromwich Albion told the Guardian they would seek “further clarification” from the Premier League before deciding whether they would seek legal action. It is thought that if Sunderland avoid relegation by the point earned over the time of Ji’s ineligibility, other relegated teams could make moves.

Ex-Leicester boss Pearson hired by Derby County

Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC
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Nigel Pearson lives.

The combustible former manager of Southampton, Hull City and Leicester City will now lead Derby County in the hopes of Premier League promotion.

Derby has been on the edge of promotion to the Premier League for several seasons, but neither Steve McClaren and Darren Wassall could do the trick.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed | Speaks more ]

Enter Pearson, 52, who has been hired on a three-year deal. It’s his first stop since a roller coaster ride saw him guide Leicester into the Premier League, only to be fired in the aftermath of some players being involved in a racist sex tape incident on a tour of Thailand.

This was after a bizarre season that saw him put his hands on an opposing player’s throat, call a journalist an ostrich, and ultimately save Leicester from the drop.

From Derby County’s site:

“I am honoured to be named as the Manager of Derby County, which is one of the biggest clubs in the country, a club in excellent shape and one with strong ambitions. It is firmly focused on achieving Premier League football.

“I will give absolutely everything I have to this role and do all I can to bring exciting, entertaining and winning football which our supporters can be proud of.”

At the very least, the Rams will be interesting to watch next season.

Castillo called up to take place of injured Chandler on USMNT roster

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Edgar Castillo #23 of the United States Men's National Team controls the ball against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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The United States men’s national team has applied to have left back Edgar Castillo take the place of Timmy Chandler on the Copa America Centenario roster.

The Monterrey back played well in the Yanks’ 4-0 win over Guatemala in World Cup qualifying, but was passed over for Chandler and others in the 23-man roster for this summer’s tournament in the United States.

[ MORE: USMNT-Bolivia preview ]

But Chandler has picked up a quadriceps strain and Jurgen Klinsmann will add Castillo in his stead.

Perhaps this is a sign that fate is on the Yanks’ side.

USMNT-Bolivia preview: Yanks look for momentum ahead of Copa America

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Michael Bradley #4 of the United States Men's National Team controls the ball against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Momentum is a funny thing. Numbers don’t really back it up, claiming the better team has momentum simply by nature of being better, but many players and coaches swear by it.

And the United States men’s national team might just have a bit of it heading into next week’s Copa America Centenario if it can topple Bolivia on Saturday.

The Yanks played their best half in ages on Tuesday night, eventually getting a deserved winner against Ecuador when Darlington Nagbe rifled in his first national team goal in the 90th minute.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]

All told, the Yanks are 6-1-1 in their last eight, the lone blemish a deplorable loss to Guatemala in World Cup qualifying. That’s kinda the story of the U.S. under Jurgen Klinsmann: pretty good record despite the on-field not always matching the numbers.

Again, that changed in Tuesday’s second half. With Michael Bradley lying deep and Darlington Nagbe attacking, the U.S. had plenty going for it even with Bobby Wood’s finishing touch a bit off. Whether Klinsmann goes back to Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes in the Starting XI will go a long way to see if the coach feels he learned anything (at least if Dempsey is a center forward again).

Juan Carlos Arce of Bolivia (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Bolivia made a surprise run into the quarterfinals of last year’s Copa America, but recent history hasn’t been kind to them outside of that.

La Verde is 3-9-1 in its last 12, a pair of the wins coming against Venezuela and the other over Ecuador. That said, the losses come against far superior competition than many confederations, as CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying is an onslaught of desperate, talented teams.

Longtime Club Bolivar attacker Juan Carlos Arce is at the forefront of Bolivia’s attack, with New York Cosmos striker Yasmani Duk breaking into La Verde’s scoresheet in recent matches. Goalkeeper Romel Quinonez is also integral to a defense that can yield big chances.

The United States should pick up a win at home against Bolivia, and if they do it in style we may see an invigorated USMNT fan base heading into the Copa America. If not, unease may abound.

Atleti’s Torres ready for “game of his life” in UEFA Champions League final

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21: Atletico de Madrid players Saul Niguez (L) and Fernando Torres (R) stretch during the training session during the Club Atletico de Madrid Open Media Day ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match against Real Madrid CF on May 21, 2016 in Majadahonda, Spain.
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Fernando Torres has won the UEFA Champions League before, but a victory on Saturday would ring as true as ever.

Calling it the game of his life, the Atletico Madrid striker spoke about this year’s final against Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determined UCL final ]

A lot has changed since the 2012 victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, when Torres subbed into Chelsea’s comeback win.

His decline at Chelsea found him on loan to Milan, where he transferred before finding another loan back home to Atleti. Now 32, Torres has his most goals since 2013 and is preparing for a Madrid Derby final.

From Sky Sports:

“Tomorrow [Saturday] is the game of my life, without doubt,” said Torres. “To me it means everything. Everything you dream when you’re a kid, I have the chance tomorrow to make this dream come true.

“I’ve played for great teams, and won many things, but this one is special, it is different, it’s what I wanted when I was a kid.”

Later lauding Atleti for giving him the chance “to come back and fight for what I wanted”, Torres is clearly hungry for a bit of redemption. And if his side comes out on top, he’ll likely be a big part of it.