Newcastle 3-0 Cardiff City: Bluebirds are relegated (video)

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After just one season of top flight football, Cardiff are being sent back to the Championship. Their loss to Newcastle United on Saturday, combined with Sunderland’s victory over Manchester United, officially relegated the Bluebirds.

Already in the first minute, Cardiff were being cut to pieces. Moussa Sissoko went zipping up the right to put a cross into the area. Loïc Rémy couldn’t get a good shot in, however, and the forward’s strike was deflected wide.

But before twenty minutes were out, Sissoko was able to set up a goal for his side. Another cross, this one coming from the right, fell to Shola Ameobi. The forward got his head on the ball to give Newcastle the lead – but the last time he (and Newcastle) scored, Swansea came back to take all three points. Could Cardiff, fighting for their lives, possibly do the same?

The hosts set out to make sure that didn’t happen. Sissoko, clearly on fire, had his own go moments. His effort from 25 yards off bounced off a Cardiff defender, but only collided with the post.

Tim Krul played savior for his side in the 30th minute. Wilfried Zaha, looking for Cardiff’s equalizer, slipped past the Newcastle defense to put in a low shot. The goalkeeper used his feet to block the ball, preserving the rare Magpies’ lead.

After the break, Cardiff, rather than looking revived, looked all but defeated. Just what had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said to them at halftime? Nothing that pepped them up, apparently, because only Ben Turner had any sort of attempt before Newcastle began controlling the game once more.

The Bluebirds began to make more of impression after the hour mark, right about the time that banners calling for change at Newcastle began to unfurl at St. James’ Park. Still, there was nothing from Cardiff that particularly worried the hosts, with a shot from Peter Whittingham easily blocked, and a long-range effort from Jordan Mutch sailing harmlessly wide.

As Cardiff threw more and more players up the pitch in an attempt to find the equalizer, they became more sloppy at the back – which ultimately allowed Newcastle to score two late goals. In the 87th minute, Rémy had no trouble beating David Marshall from close range. Rémy very nearly put in another in extra time, but Marshall was up to the task, pushing it away. Unfortunately for the Bluebirds, the keeper could only steer the ball into the path of Steven Taylor, who headed home.


Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett (Haidara 45); Sissoko, Anita (Taylor 79), Tiote, Gouffran (Gosling 70); Shola Ameobi, Remy

Goals: Shola Ameobi 22′; Rémy 87′ ; Taylor 91′

Cardiff City: Marshall; Fabio (Eikrem 86), Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Kim (Bellamy 45), Mutch, Zaha; Campbell (Jones 73)

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.

MLS All-Stars to face Juventus in 2018

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For the first time, Juventus will be taking on Major League Soccer’s best in the MLS All-Star Game.

MLS announced on Thursday that the six-time defending Italian champions will take on the MLS All-Stars in Atlanta United’s Mercedez-Benz Stadium on August 1, 2018. Juventus will be the second Italian club to play in the MLS All-Star Game, following AS Roma’s appearance in 2013.

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Since MLS adapted its all-stars vs. foreign club format in 2002 (with a brief return to the old East vs. West format in 2004), MLS has gone 9-6. Last year the MLS All-Stars lost 4-2 on penalty kicks to Real Madrid in Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Klinsmann: “I’m sure I’ll come back” to coaching

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Jurgen Klinsmann hinted that he could return to full-time coaching after the 2018 World Cup.

Klinsmann appears to be enjoying life as a full-time soccer dad after his dismissal from U.S. Soccer in November 2016, having taken home a portion of a $6.2 million buyout from U.S. Soccer for he and his staff. Speaking to Socrates Magazine in Germany, Klinsmann gave his thoughts on the Bundesliga, the German National Team, and whether he’d be back in the hot seat one day.

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“I’m sure I’ll come back,” Klinsmann said. “Right now I’m having a nice break, I enjoy it. I do not know when I’ll take on a coaching job again. I’m looking forward to the World Cup in Russia and then I’ll be back in action.”

Klinsmann has been linked with a number of jobs over the past few years, even before he was fired as U.S. Men’s National Team coach, including with Everton, Sunderland, and Club Tijuana in Liga MX. But instead, Klinsmann has remained in the stands, cheering on his son Jonathan at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup along with the rest of the U.S. parents in their section.

Following the disastrous start of World Cup qualifying and the fact that Klinsmann never took the U.S. to the level he promised, it is hard to see where he will go next, unless it’s a lower level, with lower expectations. Based on his work with the USMNT and Bayern Munich, he has shown that he struggles tactically and is mainly a man-motivator, which is just one part of the coaching package.

The 53-year-old former German coach and player also had a bit of a warning to the Bundesliga, after a particularly tough season in Europe. Three Bundesliga teams (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig) made the UEFA Champions League, but both Dortmund and Leipzig finished third in their groups, dropping down to the Europa League. FC Koln, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin all failed to advance to the knockout stages in the Europa League as well.

“The recent development at the European level is not a good sign, it is important that everyone is aware that success is lacking,” Klinsmann said. “Recently, you have lost too much ground.

“It’s a very critical moment. There is a certain amount of satisfaction after winning the World Cup in Brazil and the Bundesliga clubs having done very well in the Champions League.”