Damien Duff sets sights on Major League Soccer

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Out of contract at the end of the season, Fulham’s veteran winger Damien Duff fancies a bit of a change.

The former Republic of Ireland international, who is now 35, has been chatting with LA Galaxy captain and fellow countryman Robbie Keane, who has passed on rave reviews about Major League Soccer.

After announcing he will not be renewing his deal at Craven Cottage beyond this summer, Duff admitted to the Irish Times that he’s spoken to Keane about the possibility of making the switch to MLS.

“He [Keane] obviously loves it and every six months I see he’s signed a new deal so he’ll be there for a good while yet,” Duff said. “We’ll see what happens but I wouldn’t mind trying it to be fair, but I have to get back fit first. I’ve got a screw in my knee now and a screw in the knee of a jinky winger doesn’t really go hand in hand, but we’ll see what happens.”

Duff has said nobody at Fulham has got in touch with him about staying and he isn’t too worried about furthering his career with the Cottagers. Interestingly he also stated in the interview that he wants to end his career in the League of Ireland, which could mean any potential switch to MLS would be a very short-term arrangement.

After signing from Newcastle United in 2009 Duff has played 173 times for Fulham but a string of injuries in recent seasons, including a bad knee injury against Sheffield United back in February, has seen Duff play his last game for the Lilywhites.

Would MLS be a good option for Duff?

Let’s look at the facts, in his prime at Blackburn Rovers, the blonde-haired winger was a menace with incisive runs and cool finishing helping Rovers to some tremendous finishes in the Premier League and European soccer. In stints at Chelsea and Newcastle United that followed, Duff provided plenty of memorable moments with his classic wing-play. For Ireland, Duff played 100 times for his country and appeared in the 2002 World Cup and the 2012 European Championships. Fans of a certain age will remember Duff tearing down the wing in Japan and South Korea like a man possessed as the Emerald Isle were agonizingly knocked out in the last 16 on penalties against Spain.

All this means he’s a player of superb caliber who certainly has a lot to give any MLS team, but is Duff still fit? The man himself admitted “a screw in the knee of a jinky winger doesn’t really go hand in hand” so there could be a real fitness issue here.

Duff would undoubtedly bring quality, class and experience to any MLS side and it’s obviously very unlikely he’d demand Designated Player money. Very, very unlikely. Yet he could add something extra to any MLS team thinking outside the box. Could he pop up in LA with his good friend Keane?

Let’s see how this one plays out.

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 3-5 Montreal Impact (video)

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The match in about 100 words: Well, here’s a formula for ending Toronto FC’s 11-match unbeaten run –

  1. Hope they don’t use Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Victor Vazquez.
  2. Have your best player ball out of control.

Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti did just that, scoring twice and adding an assist in the first half alone. A 42nd minute own goal from Montreal opened the door to home hope, but Anthony Jackson-Hamel continued his breakout campaign with two goals in four minutes. Tosaint Ricketts scored a pair of late headers to complete the score line.

Toronto FC’s home crowd didn’t see arguably its three top performers of the season, and did see something it hadn’t this year: a home loss. That it was a derby loss won’t feel good for the Reds, who also gave oxygen to their rivals’ flickering playoff hopes.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

12′ — Michael Bradley clears TFC’s runway — Not the finest moment for Captain America, as Marco Donadel opens up his laser and fires.

24′ — “When defenders fall down” — …And when they do it in front of Nacho, inside the 18.

47′ — AJH puts it to bed — It wasn’t Toronto’s night, and a bad back pass met tepid decision-making and one of the sleepy breakout players of MLS in Anthony Jackson-Hamel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Piatti

Goal scorers: Piatti (10′, 24′), Donadel (12′), Boldor (o.g. 42′), Jackson-Hamel (47′, 51′), Ricketts (77′, 79′).

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 4-0 LA Galaxy (video)

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The match in 100 words (or less): Somewhere, Atlanta United is still scoring now with 19 goals in its last five outings. The “Five Stripes” fired at will for the second-straight game, leading 3-0 before Jermaine Jones made it academic with a silly red card. Yamil Asad had two goals and two assists in the first half, while Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez also scored. For Martinez, it’s seven goals in seven days. LA has quit, and Tata Martino’s Atlanta may just pose a threat to Toronto FC’s presumed MLS Cup Final spot.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

13′ — Maaaaayyyybe defend, LA? — It’s one thing for Rafael Garcia to back off and back off and back off and back off Yamil Asad. It’s another thing to fail in any attempt to mark the hottest scorer in MLS: Josef Martinez.

20′ — Three goals in seven minutes — About that “defending”… woof. This is a straight-up passing drill for ATL.

39′ — Jermaine Jones rolls back the years (not in a good way) — The combustible midfielder showed that vibes haven’t settled in LA despite Sigi Schmid’s presence, taking an easy red considering VAR’s abilities for dragging his cleat in the direction of a fellow human’s spine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Asad

Goal scorers: Martinez (13′), Asad (16′, 20′), Almiron (43′)

Atletico Madrid to host 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final

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The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Final is headed to Madrid.

Atletico Madrid announced that next season’s final will be played at the recently-opened Wanda Metropolitano, making Atleti the fourth Spanish club to host a UCL final (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla).

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational goal ]

Atleti raves of its new home, “The Wanda Metropolitano can seat 68,000 spectators and is at the technological forefront due to agreements with top companies in their sector.”

This season’s final will be played at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, the home of the Ukraine national team and Dynamo Kiev.

The UCL Final was last in Madrid at the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu, for Inter Milan’s triumph over Bayern Munich in 2010.

Mourinho: League Cup “important to” Man Utd, but asks if it’s necessary?

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Marcus Rashford‘s heroics helped Manchester United cruise past visiting Burton Albion, 4-1, in a League Cup third round match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Mourinho said the League Cup is important to Manchester United because it’s an official tournament, and United wants to win everything it can as a club.

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational second ]

Yet he stopped short of endorsing the Cup’s long-term future, a tournament which his side won last season but is perhaps the major obstacle towards the Premier League joining other European leagues with winter breaks. From ManUtd.com:

“If the competition is an official competition then it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager. If you ask me could the English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe, maybe we would be fresher for European competition for example. But we have this competition, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents and a lot of us are trying to do our best.”

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]

United drew a trip to Swansea for the fourth round, and is certainly among the favorites to win the whole thing with their solid depth (See their Starting XI below).

Would you miss the League Cup if it went away?