Arsene Wenger to remain as Arsenal boss after FA Cup win

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LONDON — Punching the air with delight at the final whistle. Leaning casually against the railings of the Royal Box during the trophy ceremony. Smiling uncontrollably throughout his press conference.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a happy man after guiding his side to the FA Cup. He will be around next season too.

Nine years without a trophy has been a huge strain on Wenger and Arsenal but finally their nightmare is over. Finally their trophyless run has come to an end. Wenger confirmed that he will be around next season and is expected to sign a new deal next week.

MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup final win

Speaking afterwards about the relief of the dramatic win, Wenger was clearly delighted with his eighth trophy as manager and believes all of the suffering made it worth the wait.

 “It was a relief and happiness because we were under severe pressure to win today,” Wenger said. “We didn’t start well, Hull started strong and we were hesitant. We responded well and we made a demonstration of how not to start the FA Cup final. It is a big moment of happiness. We waited for a long time for that. The happiness is linked sometimes with the suffering and the time you have to wait. That’s why maybe it was a great moment at the end of the game.”

However his expected new deal looked for a long time like it would come alongside a shock cup defeat but his team launched a rousing comeback in the sun at Wembley. After seeing his side trail 2-0 after eight minutes to Hull City, Wenger admitted he was surprised but delighted with the response of his team.

“I was shocked, the next goal against you is  then crucial, they looked dangerous on every set piece. We looked hesitant and you wonder if the shock for the team will not be too hard,” Wenger said. ” This team has a special spirit and togetherness I knew they would try to respond. It was important for us to get back to 2-1 before half time, to not rush our game and to keep calm and structured. Overall in the second half we created many chances.”

RECAP: Arsenal’s incredible comeback wins FA Cup final vs. Hull, first trophy since ’05

Wenger has now won five FA Cups as the Arsenal manager is alongside Sir Alex Ferguson as the men to have won it the most and the Frenchman has won eight major trophies in 18 years in charge of the Gunners. Three PL titles and five FA Cups later, he still enjoys the euphoria surrounding a cup win. He also lauded the mental toughness of his team to fight back when it mattered most and the huge impact that could have for next season and beyond.

“The mental aspect of a game like that is very important,” Wenger said. “Everyone expects you to win and you are 2-0 down. Cup finals in England are special, you saw it last year and again this year. It was an important moment in the life of this time. To lose today certainly would’ve been a major setback and to win provides a good platform to move on and come back even stronger next year.”

Where does the 2014 FA Cup rank all-time for Wenger? Right at the top.

“It was more important today than all the others,” Wenger said. “We have already twice won the double and many times but we were not under the pressure we were under today. I’ve now won it five times. It is not too bad.”

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

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John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”