Hamburg remain in Bundesliga thanks to playoff draw

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Hamburger SV sure love to spin out a good storyline. One of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1962, HSV has spent 50 consecutive seasons in the top flight – the longest of any German club. But after a topsy-turvy season, it seemed like they were about to be relegated for the first time.

Instead, Hamburg saved themselves. After a goalless draw at home, HSV traveled to take on Greuther Fürth for the second leg of the Bundesliga playoff. The visitors were the better side in the first half, and, somewhat surprisingly, it took them less than fifteen minutes to find the goal.

After Pierre-Michel Lasogga put his shot just wide, Fürth goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl used his leg to keep out a shot from Hakan Çalhanoğlu. Rafael van der Vaart put in the resulting corner, curling it beautifully for Lasogga to head in.

Hamburg’s momentum was upset around the half-hour mark, when Johan Djourou came off the worse in a collision with Ilir Azemi. The former Arsenal player ended up stretchered off with his neck in a brace.

Fürth came back into it in the second half, and by the hour mark they’d found their equalizer. Zoltán Stieber put his pass through Petr Jiráček, with Stephan Fürstner getting on the end to knock home.

But that wouldn’t be enough for Fürth: the away goals rule was in effect, and with a draw, HSV would win. The hosts pressed harder, and very nearly found promotion. But Jaroslav Drobný, in goal instead of René Adler, managed to keep his wits about him. The Czech made two great saves in injury time, keeping Hamburg level – and keeping them in the Bundesliga.

After spending the majority of the season fighting the drop, and very nearly losing out in the playoffs, surely Hamburg have realized their weaknesses. It’ll be a busy summer for HSV, one in which plenty of rebuilding will need to be done. But fans of German football will hope that Hamburg’s struggles will subside next season.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.