When D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson went down in last Saturday’s 4-1 home win over FC Dallas, many feared the forward could be lost for an extended period of time.
After missing training earlier in the week, however, Johnson returned to practice on Wednesday raising hopes of his inclusion in the lineup for Saturday night’s crunch tie with the Portland Timbers.
Aware of United coach Ben Olsen’s cautious approach to bringing players back from injury too early, our good friends at Soccerly break down the coach’s options:
Should Johnson minutes be limited, expect forward Conor Doyle to receive significant minutes. Doyle, who came in for Johnson in last Saturday’s match against F.C. Dallas, has played in all seven matches for United this season. He has yet to score a goal in the 2014 campaign, but scored two goals last season after coming to the club on loan from Derby County in the English League Championship. At 6’2″ 172 pounds, he possesses size and strength that could be an asset against Timbers defender Pa Mamadou Kah, the imposing center-back for Portland.
Olsen could also go with Espindola as the lone striker up front and play a 4-5-1. Expect Lewis Neal to be added to the starting midfield if Olsen goes this route.
The 30-year-old Johnson has endured a difficult start to the 2014 MLS season, starting all 7 games but failing to find the back of the net and only managing 12 shots on goal. In his wake, Espindola has stepped up, scoring four goals and notching two assists.
Johnson’s form has improved of late but as Sean Maslin points out, competition is fierce for World Cup spots on Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad:
With fellow American forwards Terrence Boyd (18 goals with Rapid Vienna in Austria,) Aron Johansson (25 goals with AZ Alkmaar,) and Chris Wondolowski (3 goals in 6 matches with the San Jose Earthquakes) all performing very well for their prospective clubs, Johnson might find himself on the outside of the Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad should he miss any time with D.C. United.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday