Ashley Cole confirms he will not play for Chelsea next season

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Ashley Cole confirmed via his official Twitter account he has made his last appearance for Chelsea, and is unsure of his future going forward.

Just a week ago the 33-year-old defender was left out of the England squad for the World Cup, and thus announced his international retirement after a phone call with Roy Hodgson.

It’s been a trying season for the legend, who ended international duty with 107 caps for his country and currently sits on 229 league appearances for Chelsea.

His contract expires this summer, and despite it being reported that Chelsea were willing to discuss a new deal, Cole is hoping to secure more playing time elsewhere after spending eight seasons at Stamford Bridge.

He has been supplanted not only on the international stage by the younger duo of Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw, but also at the club level by 24-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta, who reduced Cole to just 17 Premier League appearances, mostly in the first half of the season.

Looking at his numbers, it’s no surprise Jose Mourinho slowly transitioned away from the aging star.  He was successful with just 47% of his tackles, according to Squawka statistics, compared to 53% for Azpilicueta.  In addition, he averaged much less involvement in the defensive play, with just half the defensive actions per match of his counterpart.

And while Azpilicueta wasn’t statistically as good going forward, he built a positive relationship with Eden Hazard on the left side, allowing the Belgian to take the spotlight but also supporting well in both the overlap and the cover.

However, all is not lost for Cole.  With Branislav Ivanovic suspended for the Champions League semifinal first leg against Atletico Madrid, Cole stepped in beautifully, and followed that one up with another great performance at Liverpool in Chelsea’s shocking 2-0 win.

There will be plenty of speculation over Cole’s future next season, but it would make sense to see plenty of interest for his services in and out of the Premier League.  Just not at Stamford Bridge.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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