Arsenal welcome back Mesut Özil, predict German will be “Player of the Season” next year

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Arsenal’s good week just got better, as $63 million man Mesut Özil is back fit and raring to go.

The German international has been missing since Arsenal’s defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League on March 11 after suffering a hamstring injury.

Özil, 25, had come under increased pressure after a string of poor performances coincided with Arsenal’s recent fall from grace at the top of the Premier League standings. However after missing his main offensive weapon for over a month, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is pleased to have him available for selection.

“It’s good to have him [Özil] back because he is one of our main players offensively,” Wenger said. “We are a team who are used to score goals and recently, away from home, we have not scored much. It is important we get our offensive potential back.  We have had so many offensive players out, he gives you always opportunities to score and I have to test him physically tomorrow and Saturday to see if he can travel.”

With Özil on the mend, Wenger was asked many questions as to why his form dipped so suddenly after a stunning start to life at the Emirates. Wenger couldn’t quite point his finger on it, but did suggest because Özil had never played in England, he wasn’t quite used to not having a winter break.

Arsenal’s manager also put plenty of pressure on the German to perform next season, as Wenger expects big things. “Özil had a jaded period but I will put him on the list to be Player of the Season next season,” Wenger said matter-of-factly.

We all know Özil is a special talent and on his day he can tear teams apart, but physically he struggles to influence Premier League games. The German attacker scored his last Premier League goal on December 8, 2013 against Everton and has been in a huge rut. Yet if he can recover in the final four games of the season and play well in the FA Cup final to help the Gunners seal their first piece of silverware since 2005, his poor finish to the season may be forgotten.

Time will tell if Wenger’s prediction of Özil dominating the PL next season is legit, you hope for his and Arsenal’s sake that his Sophomore year is much better than a roller-coaster Rookie campaign.

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.